I lie on the beach, a starfish mask in my face, when suddenly the sky opens and money rains down. Then I write a bit of nonsense on this blog and Instagram comes along in person and bombs me with checks. "How can you travel all the time?" A mystery at least as exciting as the disappearance of MH17. Perhaps I have inherited a bunch of money, found gold in the groundwater or simply have some loose screws?
The truth is that one day I filled out a form for tax registration on very German environmentally friendly paper in order to throw it into the mailbox of the tax office. While I was on my way to the pension insurance office on the top floor of a concrete block at the outskirts of a boring little town. Founding a company in Germany. It's euphoria riding tricycle on cocaine.
Since then all I need to earn money is my laptop and WiFi. No, I don't sell dubious energy drinks. No, I don't work in hostels in New Zealand. No, I don't make a dime with this blog. Yeah, I can live off my job. Greatly. Because I'm finally free.
This is an honest report. Of how I manage to work next to traveling for six months and why it is a nasty lie that everybody can easily do the same.
Nine panels. The glass of my office window has nine panels between the plastic rods. Prison. A well-paid, warm and secure prison. Something is wrong with me. I studied journalism and public relations. Was it the wrong decision? I am the social media manager of an art museum. Isn't that fancy enough? I'm freaking out. Something is wrong with me. I want to take my computer and throw it through the window with the nine panels.
Then my contract ends. It is April 2017. I get on an airplane and embark on the adventure of my life. Four months solo in a car across the USA. My childhood dream. I had saved for it for ten years. Since I was 16 years old. I have an almost mischievous seriousness when I want something badly. Things don't just happen. Things only happen when you make them happen.
Then I am back. Tarred and feathered - by a 7.500 mile road trip, magical nature, unbelievable encounters with people of all cultures and beliefs and the feeling of having lived. Not like a low fat cheese, but really fat!
Back to the next full-time job. I'm not Scrooge and the whole USA trip did cost me $12.500. YES, let's talk about money, you maggots! Why always talking around things! Everybody is curious and everybody keeps whispering. It's like cheating in school.
My next job is even worse than the window with the nine panels. I quit after one week. My boss thinks I have mental cholera. But I just realized what was wrong with me. I love my job. But I can't work like this! Not from 9 to 5 on an ergonomic chair with a flash burn of lifetime at fiberglass speed. 6 weeks of vacation at 52 total weeks in a year. 5 days a week in the office at 7 days of a week. Sometimes even on weekends. True, that's normal. Many people have less vacation or would love to have a job at all. So shut up and march on.
Because that's what you've learned to consider as "normal". Take it with gratitude. Kindly. For me, that was crooked. Slightly crooked before my long trip and as crooked as a politician two days before his election after my trip. I had seen the world. The beauty of everything out there. The door was open. I had walked through it. I couldn't go back. But it wasn't raining money on the beach. Nobody was waiting for the 500th travel blogger, who wrote about the most vegan bar in Bali. And my rich auntie must have accidentally fallen off the family tree.
Right behind my back rent, health insurance and the employment office scratched on the blackboard with their fingernails. So what in devil's name am I supposed to do?
After numerous sleepless nights, I finally decide that I won't even fit into the most modern part-time home-office-concept of Silicon Valley. I don't want hours or days off. I want a free life. The last conclusion: If there's nothing that fits, I have to create something that fits. I'm starting my own business. Since January 2018 I am offering my services as a freelance journalist, copywriter, press officer, photographer and social media manager. Sure, I have to be present at a certain place to take pictures - but everything else can be done via telephone, e-mail and internet. I don't give a fuck from where I do this. I can write wherever my laptop is. I can send my results to customers wherever I have WiFi.
It's working. I earn an average of $1.400 per month in my first year by working round about 3 days per week. I could do more and earn more. But that was not my intention. I wanted time. It pays for my already deliberately minimalistic lifestyle and I can even put something aside or use it for travel. Next to my job I travel around for 11 weeks. Two weeks on a road trip through Normandy, three weeks on a road trip through Andalusia, two weeks by train through Italy, two weeks back to the USA and then for another few days to Paris and Hamburg.
Romance off - reality on! Before the violins fall from the sky, I will detune the guitar at the campfire of enthusiasm for just some seconds.
Why did this work out so well?
I had a major job for two years with a fixed sum right at the beginning
By taking all this into account, I can say honestly - and disagree with many "coaches" and "motivation trainers" - no, not everyone can do that! It's a lie that everyone can just throw away his life and make a lot of money with some online shite and travel the world. It is not enough that you had been an author of the school magazine in High School or that you write about the ten hottest cafes in Amsterdam for fun. What I'm doing is business. Customer acquisition, accounting, advance return for tax on sales. The smoothie drinking travel blogger with his tablet under the coconut flake palm is the mirage of the 21st century. No one out there is waiting for you and your ideas with open arms by throwing colorful banknotes.
Besides that: Not everyone is made for this lifestyle. Would you still be able to sleep well if you don't know how much money is in your account next month? Could you motivate yourself to write another text on a Sunday night? Would you limit your consumer behavior to work less, earn less and have more time in return? Are two, four or six weeks of annual vacation enough for you and do you need a fixed daily routine?
My lifestyle is not the ultimate ratio and salvation of mankind. Copying someone else's life has never really lead to anything except paper jams in the tray of a free development of the individual. What is really important is: Are you happy?
No matter how you live and work and what you dream about.
Since January 2019 I do have a business partner. Together, we founded the PR agency "frei getextet". Which means something like "Writing to be free" as well as "Creative writing". Our clients include major German companies from tourism and travel organzations to food companies, museums and even the government.
On my last birthday I was the photographer of an event from the President of Germany.
While my less travel-loving business partner is our manager and keeps things together in Germany, I traveled for six months last summer - including five months to the USA to see my boyfriend and fiancé, whom I met on my big trip in 2017. I've been working all summer long. I wrote articles, researched, called and sometimes skyped. With my business partner, with clients and even with the tax and revenue office. Sometimes I had to stay awake until 1 AM in the morning in order to talk to a client about the third correction run at 9 AM German time - with eight hours of time difference.
This year I earned an average of $1.700 per month with 2 to 3 working days per week. In February it was almost $6.000, in July it was $700.
The freedom and time that this job pays me off, however, cannot be outweighed by any salary in the world. If someone asked me, I'd say I was rich. Because I'm so happy that I could burst into never-ending smiles. Never before have I traveled so much, spent so much time with my loved ones, did so many hobbies and have eaten and slept as well and healthily as now. Never before have I been so rarely ill, dissatisfied or stressed. Never before have I felt less like I was missing out on something.
I am taking my location-independent job really serious and don't make any compromises. Unfortunately, I sometimes have no choice since as I am my own boss, I can pin a sick certificate straight into the garbage. Here come my top five places where I've worked so far:
Yeah, I'm on the road all the time. And yes, damn it, I do have a job! I have found my personal way to happiness and no longer feel as if something is wrong with me. Amen.