Stepping Into Freelancing and The Digital Nomad Life

Magalie Shah —

Digital nomads: a quiet revolution that has been slowly washing over the communications workforce and that has started to challenge the traditional eat-work-sleep-repeat lifestyle. Indeed, some go by the title of influencers, but most work as freelancer or content creators who have decided to find a better balance between work and life. Meet MariePier, one of our lifestyle ambassadors who has been thriving in the latter way of living.

To inspire those who (might) have been thinking of abandoning the 9 to 5 once and for all, here is a Q&A with our favourite digital nomad.


What do you do exactly and why did you choose this lifestyle?

My work is divided into two parts. First, I am a doctoral student at Ottawa University and, second, I am a freelancer in communications for different companies. I mostly do social media management, writing and content creation such as photography and articles.

I chose this lifestyle because I tried working the 9 to 5, but the conditions and lack of flexibility wasn’t for me. I love the work I was doing but I hated the routine and the repetition that it imposed on me. The stability that comes with the job isn’t for everyone, and that is okay! Consequently, I chose this lifestyle because I wanted more freedom in my schedule and on the daily. Freelancing seemed to be the optimal path to combine my passions, my studies and the type of life I was craving.


What are the challenges of freelancing?

Working abroad brings on its own haul of challenges: dodgy Internet connections (or absent Internet connections), jet lag with clients, managing hard drives and travelling with all of your equipment…

Day to day, I can also struggle with schedule managing: keeping my agenda up to date, counting every working minute to ensure profitability, juggling different clients while keeping up with my studies, and, most of all, trying to put my work aside and take time for myself…

Does this make me regret my choice of career? Not in the least!


Is this type of work profitable?

Before determining if freelancing in communications is profitable, we first have to define the meaning of “profitable”. My definition of the term is very personal and most probably differs from your own. But if I were to explain with my definition in mind…

For me, a profitable job is one that enables me to be financially autonomous, not a job that makes $150,000 a year. Which would be nice, don’t get me wrong! But I wouldn’t want to have to work like a maniac to do it. To be able to buy myself 2 or 3 trips per year, a few diner dates per month, a haircut or new clothes (bathing suits) here and there… That is well enough for me. I might not have kids, I live in a condo and drive a Honda Fit (still, a Sport Honda Fit), but these are choices that I have made in order to live the life I wanted to live.

Depending on the task at hand and how much time I spend on each of them, I can make from $450/month to $2,500/month per client. It is up to me to decide whether I want to take on more or less!

I want to try! But where to start?

1. Find Your Field of Expertise

First determine what you would like to do without going overboard and trying to do everything. You may be an excellent writer, a skilled photographer and have an eye for digital marketing, but you are better off offering a single service and perfecting it. “Jack of all trades” are good in everything but are not the best in anything. (This may be a debate for another time…)


2. Prove Yourself

Before convincing a client to work with you, build a strong portfolio. Gather up your best pictures, videos, copy, designs, etc., and find an interesting way to present them. If you have nothing to show for, start creating! Spend a whole weekend writing away or inventing Facebook posts for Company X. You’ll eventually have enough examples for your work to present to your future clients.


3. Choose Your Clients Wisely

Choose to work with clients whose values meet your own, with whom you actually want to work and who understands your choice to freelance. It’s okay to say no to an offer!


4. Don’t Quit Your Job Before Having a Stable and Fixed Revenue

Wait until you have made enough money before quitting your job and giving all your time to freelancing. You might have to work long hours to reconcile your regular job and your business. Slowly but surely, you’ll see more opportunities that will enable you to let go of your 9 to 5 job and live the true digital nomad lifestyle!


In the end, remember that the world of freelancing is extremely heterogeneous and experiences vary from one self-employed worker to the next. Surround yourself with good people, ask the right questions, dare to take the leap! It’s as simple as that!