Combining work and travel: how to become a digital nomad

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Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—generally from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces and even recreational vehicles—to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace.” This is how Wikipedia describes digital nomads, people who not only adopt a nomadic lifestyle, but also decide to work in international environments and merge with local digital communities. As Anna Franchi, digital marketing freelance leaving soon for Bali.

1. What do you do? But most of all, where are you right now?

I do digital marketing as a freelancer. I specialise in SEO, content writing, social media and email marketing. I have clients all over the world, from Australia to the USA and Europe and work in Italian, German, English and Spanish. I can work remotely. My goal is to build a web agency with an innovative business model for remote workers.

I’m also working on some startup projects.

I’m still in Italy at the moment but I’m about to move to Bali.

2. At what stage of your career did you decide to become a digital nomad and what does it mean to you? 

My story is strictly connected to life circumstances that made me move a lot. I went to Miami for a semester abroad 4 years ago. At the end of the program, I wanted to stay in the US, so I got an internship in New York and spent there 4 months. I then went back to Italy to graduate and got to New York right after graduation. I spent there 1 more year and did a training in a leading art PR agency. I honestly wanted to stay in New York, it definitely is the place where I can see myself living forever. But life keeps surprising you: I had to leave the States for visa reasons and find a job elsewhere. So I moved to London for a year. I wasn’t happy with my life, my job and the city I was in. When a friend asked me to join her in Chile to help her with her startup, I didn’t think twice and flew to Santiago. We were part of a startup acceleration program called StartUp Chile, in a very creative, dynamic and young environment. I felt at home immediately: for once, everyone was like me, they had lived around the world and had no clue where they would have been the following year, but everyone knew they were fully living, answering to their need to become entrepreneurs and do something disruptive. This is when I realized that I belonged to this group and that I’d move around to be part of it.

When I then started working as a freelancer, my perspective changed: before I was moving around to chase work, now my work is coming with me!

3. How do you choose your next destination? What features do you look for?

Bali is the first destination I am choosing as a conscious digital nomad. There are many reasons and they are mainly connected to the already existing and active community, to the good offer of co-working spaces and internet connection. In addition, I’m very passionate about yoga and in Bali I can practice it as well as take care of my spirituality.

I think the most important thing are the people. If you work as a freelancer, the people in your co-working space are like your co-workers. You can make really good friends and everyone is usually really helpful. You all become a sort of big team. I saw it at StartUp Chile and in similar environments and I honestly expect to find the same in Bali.

4. You worked at Talent Garden Brescia for a certain time. Why did you choose our space?

When I got back to Brescia after Chile I started working as a freelancer and I was looking for a space where to find the type of community I was mentioning before. Talent Garden was the natural and first choice and I can say it fully met my expectations. I found some friends and it was also really useful for my career. Networking is everything!

5. What’s the hardest part of this life and what is the most gratifying part?

To me the positive aspects are definitely more relevant than the negative ones. First of all, I am always very proud of building my life and career counting on my own strengths only.

I have always been a very curious person always looking to learn more about the world. So I really love meeting interesting, positive and diverse people from different backgrounds. I am usually good in keeping friends despite the distances. After 4 years living around, I can say that I have friends almost everywhere and if I travel, I usually have a contact in that country. With the network I built, I can help my friends when they need someone in a specific place, as well as have a better and easier career.

When I stay in a place I tend to learn and live the local culture and mingle with locals. It gives you so much, not just from a personal point of view, but also from a professional one! I know this life made me more patient, tolerant and open for what is new and unknown. Working in a new culture is a really interesting challenge, which I also consider one of my strengths.

The hardest part for me is to pack every time and not to have my home.

Starting from scratch so many times is not a problem yet but I think this aspect might affect my future choices.

Of course, being so far from my family and friends from home is hard. Luckily, technology can really shorten the distance. I can actually see that geography made a sort of natural selection: the deepest relationships became stronger, while the superficial ones became even more loose.

6. What would you recommend to the ones who want to choose this type of life?

I think the most important thing for this type of choice is to be brave when going against what society expects from you and don’t be affected by its opinions. Do what you feel, knowing that you are building the most important thing, your own life. Being in an open and international environment helps a lot, especially because you’ll find people that are living the same experience and know how you feel.

I would also say to try, you don’t know until you do the experience. But you know nothing is forever. You might leave and realize this is not your life nor your world. You can come just back. You’ll inevitably change because you’ll have known yourself better and you won’t have the regret of not having tried.

I think it’s important to stop only when the time is right and you are ready. I know I’m not at this stage yet and I know if I didn’t go to Bali, I’d regret that I stopped this journey too early. I know things will change one day and I’ll be happy to settle somewhere. But this will be another story. For now, I’m happy about the career I’m building and my nomad life.


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