27th January , 2014

Freelancing as a nomad

Note: The photo for this post is my Taiwanese family (not by blood) that I've lived with for the last 3 months. It's meeting people like this that really make travelling worthwhile.

I've been thinking about it for a while and I think I'm going to take the plunge and begin to work freelance as I travel. I recently did a small job for a friend after I mentioned I was looking for some work as I live in Taiwan and learn Mandarin. After doing that I've realised how much I enjoy freelancing and how much I still enjoy developing. It's been a nice break from coding day-in-day-out, but I think it's time to step up and make a decision. My travelling could probably last the rest of the year as a backpacker, but I like this lifestyle. I want things to be more sustainable, and that means working - and not as an English teacher (no offence to English teachers, it's just not me).

Location independence

We, as web developers have the gift of a location independent job. We're also all super self motivated, I haven't met a single web designer or developer that doesn't learn things in his spare time. There just simply isn't enough traditional education to train us to do what we do. That's why 99% of the material we learn is from blogs, books, online courses and conferences. What I'm trying to get at is, we have the ability to keep learning and keep getting better at our jobs, no matter where we are and we can work from anywhere. This is one of the ultimate blessings of those that work in our industry.


I was initially inspired by John O'Nolan who more than 2 years ago did the same thing that I want to do now. He was doing for a long time and started Ghost (a blogging platform) that work remotely as well. And then again today I was reading about Simple Milk's departure from an office. It made me feel inspired, if they can do it with a whole company, why can't I take the plunge with just myself. The web is changing the way we work, it makes us more efficient, it allows us freedom and our office is where we want it to be. As long as we're connected.

I've also been inspired by people like Benny Lewis, who is a polyglot and basically just travels the world whilst learning languages. There are many like him that earn living by blogging and writing e-books. This is why I'm going to keep this blog running. For me it's going to be a record of what I've done and the lessons I've learnt. But if it ever gets popular, that'll be a plus and I'll know my writing has improved!


So here's my plan. I'm here in Taiwan for another week before I go back to Malaysia for Chinese New Year for the first time since... ever. Then I go travel around Malaysia for almost 4 weeks, before returning to Taiwan on a fresh tourist visa. In that week before I go to Malaysia I'm going to finish designing and release my portfolio site and then I'm going to begin looking for work starting March 2014. It's scary, but it's good scary.

Until my new site has been released:

If anyone needs a designer, front-end developer or WordPress build please send me an email at jeff-lau@live.com