It was great to talk with Erika Dougoute from atworkcafe.com about her location independent lifestyle.
What do you say when someone asks you what you do?
Basically I answer that I am a web content manager working freelance for foreign clients. Most people I met ask me if I am working OR travelling (they know by my accent that I am not a local) and I love their surprised looks when I say that I do both at the same time. Then I have to fully explain what I am exactly doing and it usually takes a couple of minutes and is followed by a long conversation on how they could do something similar. A lot of people aspire to location independence!
What activities are currently making most of your income?
Most of my income comes from my work as web content manager. I currently only have a couple of loyal clients and I could not handle more, because the rest of my income comes actually from my way of living and what I am not spending… Indeed I am also a full time house sitter – pet sitter, which means I usually have a large house, most of the time with a large garden and a bunch of pets – often dog(s). This means I do not pay any rent, any utility fees, any Internet fees, any car insurance and car maintenance (owners let me use their car) or any other expense you usually pay when you own and rent a house. But this also means I need to spend at least a couple of hours per day to take care of all this. And because I love dogs, I always do my best to give them back to their owners fitter, healthier and sometimes more ‘’trained’’. I sometimes spent up to 4 hours per day training and exercising their dog(s) beside my other working activities. I am totally using the best of the ‘’sharing economy’’ and it is wonderful. Always owning more things do not make me richer or happier, it only prevents me to move freely. Which began as a way to save money became a kind of life philosophy!
When and why did you become location independent? What were you doing previously?
I have the travel bug for as far as I can remember and this is why I decided to become location independent. It has been only a year that I have this specific lifestyle though. After having graduated in 2011 from a French university, I got a position as a web-marketing intern at a fast growing corporate housing company leader in Montreal. At this moment, their marketing department was only made of a few trainees myself included. Then by the end of my internship I was employed with a proper full time position and soon became their MarCom manager. But I already had the travel bug deeply within me and after a year and a half of service in their headquarters I decided to go on travelling again. I was lucky enough to keep my position and work remotely for the same company, but as a freelance. I lived in New-Zealand and Australia since then, and this is how I realized how important wifi-cafes are when you are a travelling freelance…
What makes a great coffee shop to work from?
Some people refer to their favorite wifi cafe as their ‘’coffice’’ – it says a lot about our expectations. In my opinion, a good wifi connection is the most important thing, along with a decent number of outlets. Then if the chairs are comfy, the staff friendly with a kick ass barista and some tasty food, we reach the perfection… I also fully detail what would be the best work-cafe on my blog – atworkcafe.com !
What’s the best piece of advice you would give your former selves at the point of leaving the 9-5?
I would give myself ‘’Breaking the Time Barrier’’ a free ebook from Freshbooks which is great to read before starting a freelance activity. To realize that being freelance is not always about charging hours for fastidious work done for greedy clients is much more motivating! http://breakingthetimebarrier.freshbooks.com/
What are the tools or resources you just couldn’t live without for your biz
I use all the following, devices and softwares, at least once a day:
– Internet !! Of course.
– My laptop, which is powerful enough to run a few softwares at a time: Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and XnView for easy fast picture batch processing.
A few cloud services: Freshbooks, Basecamp, Gmail and most Google apps (Drive, Hangouts, Voice..) Evernote, Hootsuite, wetransfer.com.
– My smartphone (I have a nexus 4) and a bunch of apps that are actually the cloud services I use the most use while working on my laptop too .
What does your average day look like (where in the world you may be from morning to night)
My average day schedule is arranged to mind the time difference with my clients. Being in Australia at the moment and my clients being in Western Europe and North America, It is not really easy!!
Here is my actual average schedule:
First thing in the morning: monitoring my emails from my favorite wifi cafe in town , being online to chat with my canadian team who are finishing their work’s day.
Then going for a 2 hours walk on the beach (currently living in a beautiful setting in Coolum beach, Queensland). Having a brunch or lunch on my terrace, reading a book.
Spend a few hours working either on my blog and its social medias, invoicing, running personal errands online or in real life.
Going for a walk again, enjoying the surroundings, thinking a lot. Come back home and spend a couple of hours working for my clients. Have (a vegan) dinner. Enjoying my evening with friends or on my laptop reading news from my Feedly and sharing them within @workcafes or @Erika_D_ on Twitter!
One of your funniest travel stories / dramas is
Cape Reinga, North Island, New Zealand. I went for a very long day walk and being an enthusiast photographer I stopped too many times for too long. It was dark when I finished the track and there was not mobile network in the area. 3 kilometers before the carpark, I ended up in a middle of a field with sheep and cows and all their lovely blood sucker companions. And I had to cross another field in the dark with in bonus a terrifying big black bull in heat inside… I am terrified of bulls and this one was something. I don’t know how I found the courage to jump the fence and ignore the bull and followed some truck tracks to get out of here but I finally did (probably after getting attacked by a thousand mosquitoes I thought it would be better to move on)…Hopefully the bull was totally focused on the cows in the neighbour’s field.
It was the best and the worst thing I did in New Zealand! Sounds silly now but that was pretty scary at the moment.
If you had all the money and time in the world (with all your ingenious ideas) what would you start right now?
Help wildlife conservation NGOs make this world a better place (financially and in person) and open a real Work Cafe in Montreal, Canada. A perfect one!
Learn the 6 principle for achieving location independence.