Joanna is a CERT Five content writer and digital marketing specialist on a world travelling adventure! Read more about her fantastic lifestyle, made possible with a little help from PPH.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?
When I went on maternity leave with my daughter, now six, we were broke! My husband had gone back to university and wasn’t earning any money, and the baby was a bit of a surprise. I decided to see if I could earn a little money while I was at home.
I started writing for pennies. Literally. I would earn about five pounds for a 500-word article, sometimes less, but I knew I wouldn’t get anything better until I’d proven myself. After several months of blood, sweat, tears and a lot of wine I finally started getting decent job offers.
It was just about time for me to return to my full-time job, so I had a decision to make. My daughter was just adorable and I didn’t want to miss all her magical moments by putting her in day-care. Plus, I was starting to like being able to work in my pyjamas with no make-up on. So, I took the plunge and quit my ‘proper’ job for a life of freelance freedom.
My business was thriving, and in May 2014 we made a decision that has changed our lives forever. My son was incredibly unhappy at school, and my husband’s job as a dentist was giving him a bad back (and a bad temper). Not ready to accept that this was how life should be, we took the drastic step of selling everything we owned, giving up our house and taking the kids out of school to travel the world.
For the first year, we toured Europe in a motorhome. The trip was a huge success, and we watched our kids flourish and grow as a result of their ‘worldschooling’ lifestyle. After returning home to visit family in the summer of 2015, we decided to continue this lifestyle further afield.
In September 2015, we left the UK for South East Asia and have not been home since. We have visited Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and we are currently in Indonesia. We have agreed to go home to see our families for Christmas, but we are fully expecting to continue our adventures throughout 2017.
Living this way costs less, so we can work less and do more. I am eternally grateful to PPH and to myself for having the courage to take that first shaky step on the road to self-employment.
What was your previous job before deciding to go freelance?
I worked in sustainability. Mostly I talked to small businesses and homeowners about being more energy efficient and making sustainable alterations to their properties.
How did you come across PPH?
I was on Netmums hunting for ways to make money from home, and someone on there was singing PPH’s praises! I did try some other freelance platforms, but the interfaces were clunky and the jobs low quality.
What was your first job like on PPH?
Horrible. It was a data entry job that paid peanuts. I must have worked for around 20 hours to get it finished, but it was so important to get that first positive feedback. It was worth the sacrifice.
What is a typical day like for you?
We live in hotels and Airbnb’s all over the world, so usually we’ll wake up early and eat breakfast together as a family. After breakfast, my husband will supervise the children’s schooling while I catch up on emails and any loose ends from the night before. We’ll usually head out mid-morning to a museum, beach, park or gallery then grab some lunch before heading back to the hotel. It tends to get very hot in the afternoons so we usually rest or play in the pool until it starts cooling down again. In the early evening, we’ll pop out for dinner, then once the kids are in bed I can get on with some work for a few more hours.
It’s not always like that. Sometimes we’re out all day, sometimes we’re travelling all day. Some days I just need to get my head down for a good few hours so either my husband will take the kids out or I’ll pop off to a café to get some serious work done. We take each day as it comes, and have a fabulous work-life balance.
How does freelancing compare to a 9-5?
I could never, would never, go back. The thought of being apart from my family for all those hours every day would kill me! Plus, I’m yet to find a 9-5 job where you have the option to work on a beach in Thailand, on a balcony overlooking the sprawl of Kuala Lumpur or in a café in Hanoi as you wish.
What benefits have you found by using PPH?
Great jobs, great clients and great colleagues. I’ve made some amazing contacts through PPH, some of which I am grateful to call my friends. Freelancing can be a lonely place, and having the Facebook group and community pages to bounce ideas around is very welcome.
What does your future hold? Where would you like to take this?
I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. We’ve just finished a 14-month tour of South East Asia, which has been incredible, but the world is a big place and we’ve only just scratched the surface. We’re going back to the UK for Christmas but we are already planning the next leg of our adventure. South America? Australia? Russia? As long as there’s WiFi, the world is my office!
What are your top 5 tips for freelancers who are new to PPH?
- Keep trying. Every “no” is one step closer to a “yes”.
- Be reliable. There’s nothing worse than a flaky freelancer and a bad reputation is hard to repair.
- Do your very best. Whether the job pays pennies or not, always show your best work because you never know where that job could lead.
- Apply for jobs. Don’t just post hourlies or wait to be contacted. Get on and proactively apply for jobs. Don’t copy and paste your application!
- Don’t give up. It can be hard, it can be lonely, but freelancing can also be the greatest thing you’ve ever done.
What are your top 5 writing tips for small businesses?
- Make time for it. Quality content is so important in today’s marketplace, it deserves your time, attention and investment. Don’t rush it or shove it down your list of priorities.
- Find talent. Don’t give your blogs to the office junior to do. Either find a team member with a flair and passion for writing or hire a professional.
- Be consistent. If you’re doing a weekly blog, do it every week. Content marketing will struggle to be effective if you’re unpredictable with your contributions.
- Make it easy to read. Writing for the web is not like writing a novel. Use bullet points, sub headings and short sentences to make it easily digestible for the time poor surfer.
- Proof read! Proof reading is so, so important. Not just to pick up grammatical or spelling errors either. Sometimes you’ll have made a mistake in your tone of voice or a stylistic error, so give yourself a breather and have a good read of your work before it reaches your audience.
What web browser do you use?
Google Chrome. I love that it saves all my passwords.
If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?
Ummm… maybe a cat? I truly love my sleep and always look at cats with a pinch of envy as they luxuriate in bed while I must get up and do stuff.
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