In today’s interview, we had a nice chat with Thalassa Van Beek, a digital nomad from Netherlands who told us about her path as a traveling freelancer
If you want to be a digital nomad, I believe one of the best ways to start is to learn from other travelers’ experiences. The first steps towards location independence can be quite tricky, and other digital nomads often have valuable information to share.
Our interview today is with Thalassa Van Beek, a friendly and skillful digital nomad from the Netherlands. She is fascinated with online business and has recently released her online magazine, The Travelling Freelancer.
Firstly, I’d like you to introduce yourself, and tell me how long have you been a digital nomad for?
Hi there, my name is Thalassa van Beek, I’m 29 years old, born & raised in The Netherlands. I quit my office job end of 2015 and started working freelance back then. From day 1, I made sure all my work would be online, even before I knew ‘digital nomad’ was a thing. It took me about 5 months to earn a full-time income while being location independent. I work in online marketing with a focus on social media and in addition, I run an online magazine for digital nomads.
Did you start your journey with a reasonable amount of money or you already have a steady online income when you started?
I basically had zero money when I started working towards being location independent. I build up my freelance work with 20 hours per week (clients + LOTS of acquisition) while working 30 hours a week at a local café. Over time, the hours at the café became less and less, while the freelance work became more and more, up till the point where I didn’t need to work at the café anymore and all my income was online.
Explain briefly your business model, and the advantages/disadvantages of it?
Depending on the type of work, I charge my clients per hour or per month. The good thing about this is that I can be flexible for clients with smaller budgets. The downside is that it’s a bit more chaotic than working for just a few big clients; then again, that also keeps things interesting. The online magazine is being sold per issue and on subscription base. It only launched recently, but in the future I might add some limited advertising, although I’m being a bit reluctant with that. I’m not making money with it yet, but I’d rather take a bit more time to have happy, loyal subscribers, than to create a magazine aimed at advertisers rather than at the readers.
After you quit your job, what was the first destination you chose as a digital nomad, and why?
I went to Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain. I was looking for weeks, maybe months, at cheap tickets, destinations, possibilities… then I found the website of Worldpackers and on there was an offer of SEO in the SUN (who also own Coworking in the SUN). The offer was free accommodation and using the coworking space in exchange for helping them a few hours per week with their online marketing. The work was obviously right up my alley and would allow me enough time for my own clients. Also, I love all things Spanish and since it’s the ‘island of eternal spring’ I knew the weather would be great. It was just exactly what I was looking for.
What are the main reasons that determine your choice of place for working?
Very abstract: it needs to feel ‘right’ for me. Usually it’s a combination of curiosity, having talked to some people about it, a bit of ease (I don’t wanna have to travel for 50 hours and take 4 flights and a bus ride to get there) and because of the magazine, I have a whole list of places I heard about and now want to visit; SunDesk in Morocco, Sun & Co in Spain, and Coworking in Bansko, Bulgaria. I really enjoy coworking and coliving spaces, so that’s definitely something I’m looking for, too.
How long to you plan to maintain your lifestyle as a digital nomad (if you do plan things at all)?
I’m not really planning anything, although I don’t see my lifestyle changing anytime soon either. I’m only a part-time nomad, travelling 4-6 weeks at a time, thinking I will do that two to four times a year, plus some additional smaller trips of 2-7 days or so. I’m not planning on having children ever, so as long as I feel that itch to travel, I will.
Do you have any advice for people willing to quit the rat race?
Do it on your own terms. For me, it helped me feel more secure to have that café job on the side to get started, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the bills. Also, I thought I would go nomading full-time, but as it turns out, at least for now, part-time suits me better. And that’s ok. Try some things and see what works for you. If you don’t wanna leave everything behind for good, you don’t have to.
Then again, don’t be afraid to make decisions either. It can seem very scary when you’re at the start, but once you’re actually doing it, it’s not as intense as it seems beforehand. Even if you do make a mistake, there are always ways to fix it. So do things on your own terms, but don’t be afraid to actually do something.