My name is Mel. I’m 41 years old and I’m a digital nomad aka internet addict.
Don’t worry, this isn’t an invitation to some kind of support group, I can’t work without it you see, and if I don’t work I don’t get paid.
That’s the trade off: choose your own hours, have more time for the so called important things in life, pull your hair out when you can’t find a decent wifi connection.
It’s not for everyone.
It allowed me to wander the globe for two years, whilst house-sitting (unpaid), and ultimately still save enough money to buy a house in South West France.
I now live there with my husband, Nick, and our dog, Dede, when we’re not driving back and forth across the channel or elsewhere in Europe.
So how did I get here?
Eight years ago I was made redundant.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I travelled around the world, alone, for a year and landed up staying with my friend Phil in Montpellier for two weeks, which rapidly became three years once I met Nick. He’s from Manchester, we travelled a long way to find each other, but it was worth it.
Lots of different jobs
Whilst in Montpellier, I had a multitude of different jobs, ranging from cleaning houses and working in shops, to teaching English and babysitting. The kids can take the credit for teaching me most of my French.
I became an Auto-Entrepreneur and so began my love/hate relationship with the French system.
I love the way it works, when it works, but hated the fact that the knowledge of how it works is rather hard to come by unless you know the right questions to ask of the right people.
Now that I do, doors that were once impenetrable have opened fairly easily and will hopefully stay open. The Ladies in Business in France have been particularly helpful and supportive. There’s definitely a knack to it, again not for everyone.
What do I do for a living?
That’s a toughie. I call myself a virtual assistant, but I do pretty much whatever is asked of me on any given day. I have two main clients, my old boss Liz of SMART Specialists (yes the one who made me redundant, we all got the chop) and Paula of Creative Analysis. In between, I do bits and pieces from UpWork (ex Elance and ODesk) as well as the odd proofreading gig and, like I said, anything I can as long as there’s good wifi.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
Much of my work over the years, both internet based and in person, has come through networking.
I’ve always been chatty and will talk to anybody who will listen.
I’m a firm believer in “you don’t ask, you don’t get”. I’ll take a punt on just about anything and rarely say no. I’d be lying if I said that any of this was planned, it all just kind of evolved and, quite frankly, I let it.
When we decided we were leaving Montpellier, Nick set up MontpellierLife in case our freelance careers didn’t take off. They did, so it’s largely static now, but it taught me loads about social media and blogging as did our house-sitting blog StaySitRollover. I’m now running the social media at Creative Analysis and by building CRMs and other online tools am somehow helping others to maybe live a bit like me.
My top tips
- Get your online services working for you (another shameless plug for Creative Analysis there), and set a schedule. I like being able to start later in the morning, but find I have to switch everything off around 7pm. I can’t sleep otherwise. It took a while to realise this, and I’m sure that the people I was emailing at 10 at night didn’t really appreciate it either.
- Have separate accounts on your devices
- And think before you say no to anything!