Looking at my stats, I’m not exaggerating when I say this blog is essentially about having a conversation with myself… Nothing wrong with that. In truth, forcing myself to write things down is probably the single biggest thing that helps me to achieve more clarity.
I feel this is especially important to do, if you are trying to do something beyond the norm. See, that is already one of my big writing wins! I can now at least kinda pinpoint what “beyond the norm” actually entails for me…
Here are the glorious 3:
- Not being bound to one place, i.e. working a location independent job, ideally one I love
- Making health a true priority in my life (sleeping more, eating a Paleo / Primal diet, exercising every day, walking every day)
- Staying away from the traditional relationship paradigm; you know, the whole get married, have kids, cheat on each other and finally get a divorce thing…
I’d say I’ve been moving forward with all three of these over the last year or so, but there can be not doubt that no.1 is still presenting the biggest issue. I mean, it’s great to travel the world and experience new cultures if you still have enough savings, like I currently do; but eventually, these savings are going to be gone. What then?
So we are finally getting to the title of this particular conversation with myself: Questions I currently struggle with. There are a few things that have been keeping me up at night lately (not exaggerating) and if you truly love me, you are now going to suffer through my introspection with me.
1) Which type of freelance online job should I go with?
Once you have done the usual digital nomad stuff (told your boss how much he reminds you of a certain animal / sold your business / sold your belongings) the real biggie is to figure out how to make money on the go. Even us freedom loving digital nomads still need to pay the bills – bummer, I know. So a few months ago, I started to compile a list of different freelance online jobs, that could theoretically start making me money right away. Stuff like working as a virtual assistant to someone would count (if you score a job, you start making money right away), while something like writing a blog would not count (waaay to long term, even if it should eventually make you money). The three top choices I came up with are copywriter, translator, and online tutor. None of these I’m especially excited about but all three of these I can definitely do, with the skillset I bring to the table, in German, mind you. I’m currently leaning towards copywriter the most and have even started my first job already. But I also noticed that sitting down to do a bunch of rather meaningless writing takes significant energy away from other similar, but more important tasks in my life, like working on my PhD thesis or making progress with this blog. So I’m wondering if should maybe give the online tutoring a try, since I here I would be working with real people via Skype. That’s still not too exciting but at least it doesn’t require the exact same type of mental energy that I would like to reserve for my other, more important writing projects.
Answer to myself: Just set up an account with one of these online tutoring companies and see what it’s like. If it’s less energy expenditure than the copywriting, completely switch over to online tutoring.
2) How to exchange being an online working drone for doing something you love?
As much as working a location independent job is a step in the right direction, it is still hell. My definition of hell being: If what you do for a living is not something you would do unless someone paid you for it, you are selling your soul. It sounds dramatic but this is really how I feel. Doing some stupid thing someone else wants you to do in order to be able to buy groceries is just not my idea of a meaningful life. As a consequence, I guess, you need to be doing something on top of what you do to make money, the long term goal being that you eventually substitute your working drone job for the thing you love doing. Which delegates the problem to my next question:
3) How the hell do you find out what you love in the first place?
It’s not quite as bad as it sounds: There are few things that have been with me throughout the years, things that I obviously deeply care about. Personal development is one such thing. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another. Reading and writing is pretty high up there. Teaching is a favorite. And so are a few other things. So I have somewhat of an idea what I like doing. It’s just that in order to make a living, you usually have to do one thing, a lot. And I still have trouble deciding which of these things excites me the most, to the point of the possible exclusion of the others.
The best idea for a solution to this I have come up with so far, I actually stole from the late Scott Dinsmore. He proposed that you start a blog under your name and make yourself write for it on a regular basis. In the process, you inevitably will come up with the thing you care about the most, as the majority of your articles will naturally revolve around that. Well, I’m doing that with this blog you are currently reading, and yes, it helps. At least it has significantly narrowed it down to a few topics that I keep coming back to: Habit building, personal development and learning; all closely related anyways. And I also discovered that I like blogging in itself, a lot. I love writing, I love teaching and coaching, and blogging is a vehicle for all of these things. So right now, it seems like blogging about habits, learning and productivity is what I like the most and what I should be doing on top of my working drone efforts. But it’s still a somewhat shaky conviction; I can feel that. I have not yet completely convinced myself that this is it. I need that though. I need to know I am truly committed to something, in order to go through with it. That’s just how I have always operated. My best guess for this is to keep doing what I’m doing with the blog right now until that conviction either manifests itself or something else emerges.
4) Am I just running after a dream here?
What also really nags at me in the context of blogging: I can’t shake the fear I might just be chasing an impossible dream here. I mean, there are professional bloggers, I even know one personally now. But there is also a billion bloggers out there who never make a penny. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect to get rich over night, especially not with blogging – I am not that crazy. I think I am very much the kind of person who can consistently work on something for a very long time (e.g. 10 years), trusting that it will eventually pan out. But I have doubts if blogging is really one of those things… I could see myself investing 10 years in it only to find out there is no living to be made from it, at least not with the kind of blog I want to write (habits, personal development, learning) and the tone I like to use.
5) Is blogging in English really a good idea for me?
Final question I struggle with: If I keep going with the blogging, hoping against all odds that it will work out, because consistent effort always works out – should I do it in English or in German? As you are probably aware of, English is not my first language, and writing in English does not come easy to me. In contrast, my proficiency as a writer in German is exceptionally high – not boasting here, just years and years of doing the same thing. Plus, my beautiful thoughts of course… But seriously, writing in German would be much easier. There might also still be more of a niche for the things I talk about in the German market, while the English personal development market is extremely overcrowded. So competing with almost no one vs. competing with a bunch of native speakers? Seems an easy one, at first glance. But then again: I have started projects in the past that had kind of a built in ceiling; meaning they were very niche, with little competition, and as a result, worked out well, but then naturally hit a ceiling. They would simply not grow any further. If you are limiting yourself to a local market, that’s what tends to happen. And I hated that, every single time. Posting in English does prevent that – English is effectively the lingua franca of the internet, so here the only limit is really the sky. But gosh, does it make things more difficult… The extra time in writing. Paying the proofreaders. Constantly having the feeling that your stuff sounds rather naive in this language that is not yours.
I think I still lean towards English though. I hate the ceiling problem. And I also hate suspecting myself of taking the easy way out by doing it in German. Other people wrote world literature in English as non-native speakers (Joseph Conrad and “Heart of Darkness”; Vladimir Nabokov and “Lolita”; Ayn Rand and “The Fountainhead”). If these people were able to rock the literary world as non-native speakers, I should be able to write a stupid self-help blog in English, shouldn’t I?
Questions, questions, questions… But it does help to get them out of your system and onto a page. I promise to write something less navel-gazing next – at least my proofreader will appreciate that! She HAS to suffer through all of this…
Until next time.