How do I become location independent?
March 27, 2015 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I need a portable, work-from-home career that pays enough to live on (for me, about $30K minimum). I'm introverted and unhappy with my current location, and I like travel and having the freedom to move when I want. I'm frugal.

Things I could do with a minimum of training right now are: technical writing, other kinds of writing, tech support, and graphic design. I'm interested in learning programming and plan to take online courses in it. I'm interested in software testing and would be open to learning about being a virtual assistant and other similar jobs.

TaskRabbit and Uber and such are probably not a good fit for an introvert. I'd like my contact with clients to be minimal.

So, MeFi, do any of you support yourselves in similar ways? What have I left out, and what has worked for you?
posted by Beethoven's Sith to Work & Money (15 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Start one project, get it going regularly, add another project, rinse, repeat. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, is the recommendation I constantly see/read/hear, and I'm in the process of doing something similar with much the same skill set myself. (Though at the moment, my motivation isn't flex-location, it's flex-time, because flex-location won't be practical for another 5-6 years.)
posted by stormyteal at 5:55 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Once you acquire some programming skills look for jobs with smaller colleges that are located in the middle of nowhere. Sometime they have a hard time attracting candidates, they might offer you a 100% telecommuting position.
posted by WizKid at 6:54 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do this through a couple of etsy shops, mostly selling jewelry and craft supplies. Other than my inventory being a hassle to move, I could pick up and go live anywhere I wanted, anytime. And I don't have to see other people unless I choose to.

Digital files are allowable to sell through etsy, and I know some people do very well selling various graphic design-related things - logo design, customer-printable files such as event invitations, etc.

I imagine there would have to be a lot of back-and-forth with the customer if you offered customized work, and I realize you said you want minimal contact with clients. There is also always the necessity of providing customer service with any sort of online shop. I mention it only because this might be something you could do part-time while also trying to build another portable job.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:00 PM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Well, with technology today, a lot of jobs can be done remotely. My job isn't a remote job, but I asked to work remotely because I am a skilled, desirable employee (I think) and I don't need to work in an office to do my job. Focusing on one feature of a job ("all I want is to work from home") is not really going to lead to any sort of long-term happiness, in my opinion. You can still hate a job that you do from home. I would focus more on finding a career that you find satisfying, and then looking for remote opportunities within that career. You seem to be looking at this is a backward sort of way.

You don't specify if you went to college and if so for what, or what sort of work experience you have, so it's hard to suggest specific viable career paths for you to consider.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:26 PM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I work remotely as an instructional designer, which has a lot of similarities and overlap with technical writing. It's been great for me, happy to tell you more over memail.
posted by Flamingo at 7:32 PM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

You like to travel and you are frugal, could you write travel journalism or frugal travel tips?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:50 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you can truly learn programming, this should be no problem. Check out the listings on We Work Remotely. There are some non-programming jobs there too, but it's mostly coding. The salary will be multiples of 30k if you can get yourself to qualify for those jobs.
posted by primethyme at 9:20 PM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

There are an increasing number of professional jobs where working from home is a negotiable benefit that one can obtain, typically in lieu of salary increases, once you've demonstrated a certain level of competence. I've worked with not just software developers but also UX folks, project managers, business analysts, QA people, accountants, lawyers, actuaries, project managers, etc. who work remotely. (And that's just in my corner of the professional world.) While there are jobs that are by definition always remote (e.g. TaskRabbit type stuff), my impression is that remote work, in general, is becoming so common that it is really no longer restricted to any specific job but rather is something that some companies / organizations do well, and others do poorly.

The real question might be, given your background and current job, how do you transition into something with more remote-work flexibility? However, that's hard to answer without more information.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 PM on March 27, 2015

Response by poster: Here's more info: I used to be a freelance writer, but it has changed so much that I don't know how to do it anymore, and I got burned out. It seems like it's all poorly-paid content mills these days and I was spoiled by .30/word and up rates. I've been working odd jobs for a while.

I'm fine with remote contact with clients, but face to face is draining for me.

I'm taking a class in hardware repair (PCs). I'm hoping that will boost my technical knowledge so I can do more tech writing than journalism.

I'm an artist and would like to sell my original works without having them be able to be taken off a website for free.

My degrees are in the humanities and not really relevant.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:52 AM on March 28, 2015

I think a prerequisite to the goal that you've outlined is first determining the skill area where you are the strongest and also where you have the best chance of differentiating yourself from the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of others who are trying to achieve the same career goal as you. Although working from home can offer a lot of rewards, it does come at the expense of opening yourself up to worldwide competition.

Determining how you're going to compete has a lot to do with how you're going to reach clients. All of the online platforms already mentioned here cater to different types of work. Once you choose the type of work you think you can be most effective in, then you can start to figure out which marketing channels are most effective in those areas of work. This part of the process might take experimentation, I think it requires a more specific goal than wanting to work from home.

Also, companies hiring freelance individuals are typically not interested in waiting for freelancers to upgrade their skills. You have to focus on the areas of work where you can immediately offer expertise.
posted by bkpiano at 8:42 AM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Repairing computers is one of the jobs that would top my list of "cannot be done remotely." I'm failing to see why you would be taking classes on repairing computers if your career dream is to work remotely. My organization instituted a company-wide teleworking policy and the department that is not allowed to work remotely? IT. You need to be able to physically be where the computer is, which is in an office filled with other people, probably. For what it's worth, you can teach yourself how to repair computers with some time and YouTube. Using only YouTube, I learned how to build computers from scratch, and I've built several now and have helped friends with repair.

Writing is absolutely a job that can be done remotely, but freelancing for sketchy content mills and random click-bait websites is not the way to go. The pay will always be garbage and the prestige is non-existent. You should try to get a job somewhere in digital communications -- writing marketing emails, website content, etc. If you have no communications experience, try interning somewhere and learn how to write things like press releases, op-eds, email blasts, website copy, Facebook posts, tweets, etc. Once you get that kind of real work experience in an actual career path, you will have a better opportunities.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:35 PM on March 28, 2015

I've worked for several national or international nonprofits/NGOs that let people work remotely. In most cases, people do work in the office at first and build up management's trust in their work product and productivity. Have you thought about working in fundraising (many of these roles require a lot of writing) or a writing-heavy communications role?
posted by lunasol at 7:27 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm using the A+ cert as a springboard to other careers in IT or programming that CAN be done remotely. It is a foot in the door. It will also help me have more cred when looking for tech writing jobs. I am attending the program for free and couldn't pass up the opportunity. Also, short-term tech support work is probably better than retail if I have to work for someone else til I get up and running. I don't think I'm suited for anything PR-ish due to my introversion, but maybe I'm wrong and remote marketing would not require me to be a people person.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:47 PM on March 28, 2015

I don't think I'm suited for anything PR-ish due to my introversion, but maybe I'm wrong and remote marketing would not require me to be a people person.

Both communications and fundraising have lots of different roles - you would want something that is more focused around content creation (ie, writing web copy, emails to supporters, grants, etc.) than something like working as a major gifts officer (where you're meeting a lot with potential big donors) or a press secretary (where you're talking to reporters a lot).
posted by lunasol at 6:22 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do web design/development and technology consulting in a niche area (the arts) for this purpose (minus the introvert part, mostly). It took me about 2-3 years of doing it on the side to start making enough to live on, but I probably could have done it faster. (It's now full-time for both my husband and me.)

We both have music degrees, so it can be done!
posted by nosila at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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