by John Lim, founder of Ansel
Over the last 24 months, I’ve had to adapt to live in places with limited connectivity like Patagonia and the Sahara Desert to places made for the digital worker like Seoul, South Korea.
In order to run my business, Ansel (a growth agency for brands, non-profits, or individuals who want to make a positive impact on this world), I’ve picked up several tips for success. In the last year, I paid off over $40,000 in college debt thanks to mentors and fellow entrepreneurs (as well as a handful of professionals, including expat tax experts).
Because of technology, becoming a “digital nomad” is so incredibly possible. There are tons of places popping up that focus solely on serving young people who are working while traveling (Selina, WIP, Cartel House, La Maquinita, K10). All of these places have wifi, conference call booths, rooms, and coffee.
Here are some tricks I pulled together that have been useful over the last year to help me travel the way I want while continuing to work the way I need to:
1. Send one email a day.
You don’t have to quit your day job to become an entrepreneur. In fact, I strongly recommend against doing so. Instead, when people ask me how to get started, I tell them to send one email a day. If you’re unsure about what to do, send that email to an entrepreneur who’s been there and can help walk you through it. If you have a skillset you’re confident in, send an email to a brand that needs you. In 3 months time, you’ll have sent 90 emails & had dozens of productive conversations that will guide you to your goal.
2. Don’t be afraid to spend money… in order to make more money.
Spending extra money comes up the most for me with trade shows/conferences that are out of town. It really sucks to see that it’s going to cost you $700 for a plane ticket and then $300 for the show, but if you get 5 leads from the conference and land 2, you’re looking at profiting off that conference. Let’s say you do really well with those 2 clients and they refer you to 2 more… you just doubled, tripled, and quadrupled your initial investment.
Another example might be an online course. Would taking the course give you a marketable skill that you can sell online?
3. You must find something you can do online.
One of the main benefits of traveling out of the US is how crazy cheap the living expenses are. I certainly don’t miss paying $20 for avocado toast in SF. That being said, even if that avocado toast costs $1 instead of $20, if you’re unable to work while traveling, you still won’t be saving any money.
Here are some jobs you can do on the road:
- Graphic Design
- Video Production
- Teaching English
- Virtual Assistant Work
- Ads & Marketing
4. Travel to warm countries.
This one is pretty simple. Winter clothing is heavy ($150 overweight baggage fees are no fun), take up a lot of space, and costs a lot of money. Stay in warm countries and minimize how much you need to be carrying (and overall wellbeing!).
5. Take advantage of the tax benefits.
THIS IS THE BIGGEST ONE. If you’re outside of the USA for 330 out of 365 days in the year, you can qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exemption (talk to a tax professional to see if your situation applies). This income exemption covers your first 101.5K! If you were to make $101,500 – you’d be paying $26,246 in taxes. That’s a lot of money to be saving. There are expat tax experts online who can really help with the filing process.
John Lim is a 24-year-old entrepreneur and full-time remote worker. He founded his company, Ansel, with a mission to help positive-impact companies grow its brand through marketing and advertisement strategy. Prior to Ansel, John moved to South Korea to teach English and “figure things out.” From there, he applied to and was accepted to travel with Remote Year. From 2017-2018, John has been (and continues to be) a “digital nomad.” By the end of Summer 2018, he was able to pay off over $40,000 in college debt from Swarthmore College.