In this series of Remote Work Case Studies, I interview inspirational digital nomads and location-independent entrepreneurs. I hope these Q&A’s show you this lifestyle IS possible.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Amour Setter, a writer, growth hacker, filmmaker, and single mom who managed to start a remote business and travel the world–all while homeschooling her son!
- How long have you been a digital nomad?
I hit the road five years ago in 2011 with my teenage son. I sold everything I owned and reduced our lives to four suitcases.
- Please describe your location-independent business.
Before I began traveling I owned a small film school in South Africa. In order to travel, I turned the business into an online school and began marketing my online courses to students around the world. It was a very time-consuming business initially, but I managed to streamline my work to the point where I was working only a few hours a day. I outsourced web development and design, and had a remote assistant for many years. The most time-consuming aspect of that business was marketing. The business was aimed at students who were unable to get to college or university to study or who lived in remote areas where there were no film schools. The business had its ups and downs, so I also used to get freelance work as a business development consultant for companies in the advertising industry along the way while I was traveling. About a year ago I began scaling down my online teaching business as I wanted to move into a different direction. At the moment I am contracted to a SaaS company in Amsterdam as a Business Development Specialist, working remotely. I have a new online business incubating in the travel industry which I’m hoping to launch in the next six months.
- What inspired you to start your business?
I had been working in the advertising industry as a filmmaker for many years, so when I saw a need for some hands-on training I dived at the opportunity ten years ago. I’ve owned a few different businesses over the years (I started my first business when I was 16 years old) so I saw this as an exciting opportunity to continue working for myself. My new business is focused on helping others to do what I do, which is travel the world while working remotely to fund your travels.
- What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle was home-schooling my child, traveling and running a remote business at the same time. That was very difficult and I had to find creative ways to juggle everything. It was also quite challenging trying to find freelance work along the way when my income dropped, which it did from time to time.
- What lessons did you learn from overcoming this obstacle?
Time is precious and you have to learn how to use it wisely. Once you learn how to manage your time effectively you can get a lot more out of your day. I learned to persevere through the tough days and I also learned to trust the process and myself more.
- Where have you traveled to since becoming a digital nomad?
Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, USA, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Middle East, Slovakia, Hungary, Africa. I’m probably forgetting some countries, LOL.
- How much revenue does your business make? How much does it cost to run your business?
It varied from month to month as some months were really good and some months I earned an income from freelancing along the way when my business income dropped. I would say my income averaged around $6,000 per month when I was running my remote business full-time. I’ve since changed direction in my career and I’m now setting up a new online business which I hope will yield me at least five times what I used to make.
- Do you make enough to support your lifestyle?
Yes, definitely because my overheads are low. I’ve learned to live on less and I find very good travel deals along the way.
- What’s a typical “day in the life” for you?
I don’t really have a typical day. At the moment I’m waking up at 06h00, meditating for 15 minutes, writing for half an hour and preparing my day’s work. I spend about 1 – 2 hours each morning surfing the Internet for information and then I get a good 6 – 8 hours of remote work in. I’m slow-traveling at the moment so my life is more focused on working and setting up my new business. When things are back to normal, I’ll resume traveling. But no matter where I am and what I’m doing, my early morning routine pretty much remains the same. In the evenings and on weekends I’ll spend time with my friends, catch a movie, opera or ballet or have a barbecue (in the summer). I also enjoy spending time alone, so a few evenings a week I’m watching a movie on my laptop, reading, writing or Skyping with my family.
- What advice would you give someone considering becoming a digital nomad and/or location-independent entrepreneur?
If it’s something you really desire, start planning it. Downscale your lifestyle considerably and save money for your first year on the road. Get skilled up if you need to and nurture your online network. Don’t give a toss what other people have to say. If I had listened to people I would never have hit the road. I’ve survived for the past five years and if I can do it, anyone can do it. Being a Digital Nomad is tough so make sure you have a digital support system to help you through the tough times.
Amour Setter is a single mom, entrepreneur, writer, growth hacker and digital nomad who has been traveling the world for the past five years. During the first two years of her travels, she home-schooled her son while running a remote business.
If you liked this, be sure to read the rest of my remote work case studies! Are you a digital nomad who’d like to be featured here? Email me at email@example.com.