This interview in my series of interviews with digital nomads is with Andrea Valeria, whose story should spark some inspiration in anyone who’s still trying to figure out how to become a digital nomad.
Originally from Panama, Andrea used to work as a TV news reporter. She later quit her job, followed her passion and became a digital nomad vlogger.
As she gained popularity on social media, Andrea started helping people find ways to work online and travel the world.
She does that by posting plenty of relevant content on social media, sharing her knowledge through her workshop Land A Remote Job and by editing resumes to fit the current demands of the remote job market.
In this interview Andrea talks about how she transformed her own job into a remote one, gives productivity tips for digital nomads and shares lessons she learnt along the way.
How do you make a living working from anywhere?
For me, the name of the game has been evolving and adapting to what I see people are asking me for help with.
Right now, I mostly focus on helping aspiring remote workers land their first remote job.
I offer resources from free web and social media content packed with tips and ideas on how to do it, to paid workshops, tools and services.
My most popular service on my online shop at the moment is ‘Remotify Your Resume’ in which I transform boring word doc resumes to one that will attract remote recruiters.
My most popular free resource on my website is my Remote Job Directory.
What made you decide to start working remotely?
About 4 years ago, I convinced my bosses at my hospitality + photography job in Hawaii to allow me to work from home a few days a week.
Once they realized I was just as productive working without going to the office, I took the leap and asked for a trial period to work remotely while traveling internationally.
I wanted to travel more and have the flexibility to make my own schedules – that’s what made me decide I wanted to start working remotely.
“If you find solutions to people’s problems, you can have a successful business online.”
What do you wish you had known before you became a digital nomad?
As soon I moved to my first international destination (Buenos Aires, Argentina) which had a much lower cost of living, I kept on spending like I did in Hawaii on things like housing.
A few years later, I realized I could live a little under my means to have more money left to invest in myself.
I knew I eventually wanted to become self-employed, and I wish I would have started investing in things like courses, coaching and a virtual assistant much sooner.
Doing that would have made me reach some of my professional goals much faster… major learning experience!
Share one resource that every digital nomad or remote worker should be aware of
My motto is: Whenever you can’t find a tool or resource you’d like to have, make it yourself!
In this case, after building a social media following and creating content centered around the digital nomad lifestyle and working remotely, people were constantly asking me: “where do I find remote jobs?”
And that is why I created a Remote Job Directory which gets updated weekly with new remote opportunities for people in different industries & different levels of expertise/experience.
If you’re currently looking for a job that allows you to work from anywhere, have a look at the directory.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
Hard to answer because I’m literally all over the place with this one.
I work at the very least 2 hours every single day… but, depending on what I’m working on, I can spend one day working 10 hours or not touch my computer at all (and do it all from my phone).
It wasn’t always the case though.
My first remote job required me to have an availability of 8 hours every day, and I built my first online business and grew my social media while doing that. Back then I was working 14-hour days every day.
Now, thanks to passive income (through my book, my digital products on my online shop & affiliate marketing), I have much more flexibility!
How do you stay productive while you travel?
When working while traveling, the most important thing is to be disciplined.
You’ll find a lot of distractions along the way, but you want to always remember that work must be done before you go out sightseeing or for a night out with new friends you just met at the hostel.
I live by the “doggy treat” system in which I have to complete a certain amount of tasks on my work days before I go do something fun.
Also, I’m a big fan of to-do lists to keep track of what needs to be done… and shared to-do lists with my assistant and collaborators.
“Once you get a taste of this lifestyle, it’s addictive and it makes you become more resourceful and creative…”
What are the best cities for remote workers & digital nomads from your experience?
Don’t fully trust what other people say about best places for digital nomads, because it’s all truly based on personal preference.
What I do know for sure is that small islands don’t tend to be the best options because they don’t usually reliable WiFi.
In my experience, my favorite place to live for a remote worker has been Playa del Carmen because of convenience, cost of living, variety of coworking spaces and coffee shops to work from, digital nomad community, walkability and distance from other pretty destinations.
Runner-up for me is Mexico City. As you can see, I’m a big fan of Mexico.
Have you learnt any important lessons from living as a digital nomad?
I’ve learned that being resourceful and creative will truly help you everywhere, but especially in this case, in the online world where possibilities are endless.
Also, that if you find solutions to people’s problems, you can have a successful business online (or anywhere)…. so, that has always been my goal.
What’s your favourite thing about the digital nomad lifestyle?
Being able to be location independent and service my clients from wherever I might be at the moment is hands-down my favorite thing.
It’s what allows me to work from a bar with live music in Mexico City (like I’m doing right now as I type this) or pack my bags and go down to a little town in the mountains of Panama for a month.
Basically… the freedom and flexibility.
Once you get a taste of this lifestyle, it’s addictive and it makes you become more resourceful and creative to keep having a stable and growing income with the help of the internet.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Visas and passports, and a lot of digital nomads will say the same.
You usually spend a lot of money and time finding the best place to move next, and the place that offers the most flexibility allowing you to stay the longest (usually a maximum of 6 months).
Once you find it, you can spend days in immigration offices getting your paperwork in check (and that includes a bunch of immigration fees).
What are your plans for the future?
In terms of business, I adapt to what the market is asking of me, so my platform and offerings will always evolve as I go.
My second retreat is set to be in May of this year, and I would love to continue to meet more people in person through events like this.
I always want to travel often, but not necessarily fast or to be on the road 24/7 like I was doing at some point.
My goal is to always have that work-life balance in check and to continue to inspire and help people who see what I’m doing and want to do something similar!