It’s crazy how quickly things can change in a month. After reading over my October update, which was pretty depressing, I realized how much I have progressed in a short period of time.
To remind everyone, here’s a list of the goals I set out for November:
Find a remote job
- Have a successful launch for The Remote Podcast √
- Create a system for recording, editing and publishing podcast episodes √
- Record 2 YouTube videos √
Start a 30-Day Challenge for using Instagram and Snapchat
- Get out of my negative mindset √
Before I go through them, I want to say that things are going great right now. I couldn’t be more excited or optimistic about starting my travel adventures in January of next year.
So in this post, I’ll attempt to deconstruct how I was able to turn things around. I’m going to work through the bullet points above and, in doing so, share some key takeaways.
#1 ) I Decided Not to Get a Remote Job
If you remember from my update last month, I said that I was tired of working for myself and that I wanted to work in a team with other people.
After going through the application process for several positions and being rejected for them, I realized that I was lying to myself.
I Wanted a Job for the Wrong Reasons
I wanted to get a job because I wanted more financial security through a steady paycheck. That was it.
I had realized that my bank account balance was starting to go down for the very first month. And I freaked out.
I measured my success over the past year based on my bank balance, not on what I had actually accomplished.
I Measured Success the Wrong Way
When I sat down and reflected on my life since I quit my job this past February, I saw a much more positive picture. In a nutshell, I have:
- Written over 30+ high-quality blog posts
- Traveled to Europe for three weeks in April
- Took weekend trips to New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Milwaukee
- Rebranded my blog and grew my email list to 200 subscribers
- Started my own podcast
- Created my own web agency that sustains me comfortably
- Built my personal brand into something truly recognizable
- Met tons of people through my work
- Will be traveling for 7 months in 2017
Takeaway: It’s Important to Celebrate the Wins
You can’t quantify these accomplishments. Yes, I may not be making as much money as I did in my nine-to-five job. But I have fundamentally changed how I live my life and have made an investment in my future.
Like many people, I can be my harshest critic. But I realized that sometimes we need to celebrate the positives and look at things with a long-term outlook.
I did myself a huge disservice by excluding these accomplishments and focusing on just the money. The money will come with time. I’ve built an income stream out of nothing and it will only continue to grow in the future.
I Needed to Recalibrate.
One of the other reasons I wanted to get a job was because I was spending too much time on the blog. I realized that my blog was supposed to be something that I kept on the side, not the main focus of my life.
This misaligned focus was causing me to neglect other aspects of my life, including my health, relationships, and happiness.
So I Took a Weekend Trip to Boston
I went to Boston for a long weekend the first week of November with one of my closest friends Courtnie. And I’ll tell you now, nothing helps you get out of your head better than traveling.
When you travel, you realize that all the minuscule things that you worry about on a day-to-day basis are trivial.
At first, you kind of freak out, thinking things like: “What if people can’t contact me? What if there’s an emergency?”
But once you are on the road, you realize that the world will still go on. With or without you. And that these emergency situations are few and far between.
What I Did in Boston
I had a great time in Boston. It’s a walking city with great public transportation. Which is my favorite kind of city.
I highly recommend walking on The Freedom Trail, which is this marked out path through downtown Boston that shows you many of the historical landmarks.
Boston is beautiful, especially in the fall. And one of my favorite places was the Boston Commons.
Funny enough, I found out the week I was going to Boston that some of my other college friends were also visiting. So we all met up together as well.
Back to Working on the Web Agency
Coming back to Chicago, I realized that I needed to spend more time on building my web agency.
When I thought about it, I was only spending around 10% of my time doing work on my agency and the rest of my time building the blog. Keep in mind, my income from the web agency has been supporting me in the past year.
That’s a ridiculous ROI!
If I spent more time on building my web agency, I thought, I could really make some serious money.
From a Single Freelancer to a Team
When I first opened my agency, I was just a freelancer hiding behind the name of my company Tandem Designs.
I did this so that it would be easier to sell my services because I would look bigger.
But at some point, you realize that the number of projects you can take on is dependent on how much work you can do. Therein lies the problem.
You become the bottleneck. Meaning that you prevent yourself from being able to take on more projects, which means that you restrict the amount of money you can make.
This is the mistake that most freelancers make, which means that they are living month to month, paycheck to paycheck.
I needed to build a team.
Working ON the Business versus IN the Business
I first started working with my sister, who was a designer. This worked great because she could do the web design, and I could build the websites.
During this time, I had a good friend of mine who was my former coworker. He’s a serial entrepreneur from Pakistan and happened to own a web agency based in Islamabad.
He had been telling me over and over again that I should partner with his agency so that they can take over the development work.
This way, he argued, I could focus on building the business. Instead of working IN the business.
I can’t tell you how important this turned out being.
The Key to Making Money is to Build a Team
If you are just working for yourself as a single-person entrepreneur, all you are doing is making the SAME money you would’ve made as an employee. Probably less, too.
The key to growing your business is to build a team and a set of processes. And that’s what I was able to do thanks to outsourcing my work to Team Pakistan (that’s my nickname for my development team in Pakistan) or Team PK.
The key to revenue is to sell. And to sell more, you need a team.
Maintaining Quality through Building Systems
The one aversion I had to outsourcing work is that I wanted to make sure that the quality was up to par. You can do this by creating systems each step of the way.
I did this by breaking my project into distinct phases: design, static website development, WordPress development.
After a trial project with Team Pakistan, I realized that they were exceptionally talented at WordPress development. In fact, they were much better than I was and much faster too.
But they weren’t so good at the other stuff. So what I did was I found designers to take care of the first phase. While I am currently building the static websites.
Starting next month, I expect to be able to take myself of the project process completely and to become just a project manager who interacts with the client.
Here is the most recent project we completed for GreenHouse.
Takeaway: Start Out By Doing the Dirty Work. Create a System or Process. Then Delegate.
My big takeaway from this is that I didn’t need a job to achieve financial security. All I needed to do was to become a true business owner and not a freelancer.
I can’t stress this enough.
When you start out, you NEED to do all the dirty work. But once you gain experience, create systems and find out what you can outsource or automate. Once you have a good idea, take steps to take yourself out of the day-to-day.
I started out talking to clients, drafting contracts, writing code, and deploying websites. Now I interact with clients and then manage a team to do the day-to-day work.
I’ve taken myself out of the day-to-day and that has allowed me to not only save more time but also to make more money than before. This is despite the fact that I’m paying people to do the work.
And to give you a sense of how things are going, I’ve signed on over $10,000 worth of projects in the last month. Keep in mind that these projects run for one to two months so it’s not actually that much. But throwing the big numbers out of context always helps 😉
I won’t get too much into detail since this is a monthly update post, but I also don’t want to leave you empty-handed.
Resources: Here Are 4 Freelancing Articles I Wrote This Month
Since I was in freelancing mode this month, I shared my favorite freelancing strategies and tips in a four-part series:
- How to Get Your First Clients and Build An Amazing Portfolio
- 5 Ways to Instantly Stand Out Above Other Freelancers
- Recurring Revenue: The Secret to Freelancing Success
- How to Write a Bulletproof Contract That Covers Your Ass
#2) Launching the Remote Podcast
So that was the business side of things. Another thing I really enjoyed this month was launching The Remote Podcast.
For those of you who don’t know, my podcast features one-on-one interviews with digital nomads about their personal stories. So you get the behind-the-scenes on how they became location independent.
Growing the Podcast
The podcast launch was pretty successful and I’m getting around 100 listens per episode. This is okay to start, but I’m setting bigger goals.
From what I’ve learned from more experienced podcasters, the quickest way to grow is to interview other podcasters and to be interviewed by them.
The idea here is that it’s very hard to get non-podcast listeners to become listeners. But on the flip side, it’s much easier to get a podcast listener to listen to your podcast.
I’m Having Fun Interviewing Other Digital Nomads
One of my favorite things about being a podcaster is being able to talk to other like-minded individuals all over the world.
As a digital nomad based in Chicago, I don’t get to meet many other people doing what I’m doing. So life can become a bit tiresome since I don’t have any one else to relate to and stay home most of the time.
What I’ve found is that after every podcast interview I do, I become super energized and happy. These amazing conversations reinvigorate me and help me solidify my purpose.
The coolest thing is that I get to share these awesome conversations with you and other listeners!
If you’re an existing listener to the podcast, I ask that you leave a comment below with your thoughts so far. My goal is to make each episode super valuable and informative to you. So if there’s any way I can improve, please do let me know.
#3) Getting the Hang of Youtube
The last major thing I’ve been working on is diving deeper into the world of video. I think I’m getting the hang of it!
I’ve been recording street interviews to get the hang of being on camera, filming, editing and publishing video. I’m doing this so that once I start traveling I can start creating tons of great video content for you.
Here’s my most recent video, titled “How to Ask Girls on a Date”. In this video, I interviewed college girls at the University of Illinois – Chicago and asked them how guys should ask them out on dates.
It was a fun video to do and you can watch it here:
But my main focus for video will be on travel and the digital nomad or remote lifestyle.
Goals for December and Beyond
So my main goals for December are:
- Tie up a few more projects so that I’m covered for the first half of 2017
- To focus on wrapping up a few of my existing projects so I can spend most of my travel time on creating written, audio and video content
- Continue creating great audio content on the podcast
- Complete the SEO course I’m taking right now (it’s call SEO That Works and I can’t recommend it enough)
- Plan out the video content I’ll be producing in the next few months
- To enjoy my last few weeks in Chicago and to catch up with friends before I leave.
As you can see, my goals are to do more of the same! I have around four weeks to go before I leave Chicago and I just want to keep up my momentum before I head out.
I’m a bit anxious for my next update because it will be a recap of my last 5 years in Chicago and looking ahead to 2017 and the unknown. It’s going to be an emotional post for sure so I’m going to put it off for as long as possible.
Until next time!
If you have any questions or comments on anything I mentioned above, drop me a comment below. I look at and respond to each comment personally so don’t be shy!