Getting started… slowly, slowly

Today is a half day, which is what I’ve planned for Saturdays. My basic plan is to work long days Monday through Friday, a short day on Saturday that frees Saturday evening, and take Sunday off. Each work day will start with some quick exercise and end with something enjoyable. Last night it was the Thai market on Chang Moi; Amp and I strolled through the rows of stalls selling all manner of amazing foods and fresh fruits enjoying the scents and the cool air.

Of course, with working longer hours, some personal tasks will be mixed in by necessity. But that’s okay. I’m not just here trying to build a freelance business; I’m building a freelance life.

Today I spent some morning time returning the scooter and looking for a new rental shop (I think Aya Service will be the choice, but I won’t be able to stop by there till tonight). I’ve also chosen a new way to track spending, downloading the MoneyWise app for my android phone. I’ve been using Mint, which is great for tracking my American accounts, but which doesn’t have an easily accessible feature for tracking cash.

My current financial goals for this month are to spend only 10,000 baht more (including a quick visa run and a month’s motorbike rental, which make things tighter) and to earn at least 5,000 baht online and/or through private teaching. For the foreseeable future I’ll be trying to keep my normal expenses to $600 dollars each month (about 18,000 baht). A typical benchmark for people living here is $500, but since I’m following a Paleo eating style, the price will go up a bit.

As far as work is concerned, I’ve been doing a bit of research on successful freelancing tips. This is what I’ve found that stood out most:

  • Make a business and marketing plan, set goals, check-in regularly
  • Create a unique reason for people to hire you
  • Be human, and be a partner for your human customers
  • Focus on the core of your business – don’t waste time with the extraneous
  • Spend time growing your business
  • Find allies
  • Stop waiting for someone to give you permission (from a unique marketing article, here )

I’m going to spend some time this weekend evaluating options for the freelance jobs I’ll focus on. I’ve completely expanded my resume today to include all the experience I have, and created a list of things that I actually feel excited enough about to really put in the hard work to pursue. Here I’m also considering the ideas of Cal Newport, particularly this: often, passion follows mastery. When deciding on a major life course to pursue, the question is not, “What am I most passionate about?” (which leads to confusion), but “What am I willing to dedicate myself to mastering?”

My next update will be on Monday, with a preliminary decision on where to dedicate my next efforts. Wish me luck.

Passion follows mastery -- but what am I willing to dedicate myself to?
Passion follows mastery — but what am I willing to dedicate myself to?

Day 1: some lessons learned

Alright, so hopefully this saves someone out there some trouble: if you’re creating a Freelancer profile, select all of your skills at once. I didn’t, and know I’m only able to select eight of the total of twenty. Such is life. As my friend Lee said, I’ll probably make a lot of mistakes while trying to create an independent income, and I need to fail often and make it through those failures as quickly as possible.

On a more encouraging note, I’ve found a couple of interesting leads on the Freelancer job boards. I might be able to create a solid income just doing product design and CAD/CAM which looks like a lot more fun than writing blog posts for someone else’s website at $0.50-$0.80 per page (not a typo – that’s how little the going rate is). With a little work, I think I could also begin bidding on the WordPress jobs and learn more about web development. Possibilities.

What happens next?

New City, New Work — No Job. New Adventure!

My new office
My new office

This is the first day of the work portion of a new grand experiment. I’m back to living the questions, done with mindlessly going along with an easy path.

My primary goal right now is to create a livable income independent of a job before the end of the year. Of course, livable here in Thailand is much more achievable: I need about $600 per month for a basic-yet-comfortable living.

I’ve just signed a six-month lease on a beautiful apartment with my girlfriend of two years. If things work out well for us here, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to re-sign the lease at the end of April for another year. For me to feel financially successful by April, I’ll need to be earning $1500 or more per month. That seems big right now, but knowing that others have done it in less than two months, I know it’s very feasible.

My new home
My new home

Other than that, I want to have a good time here. One of my best friends from college (university to you Brits) is here, and he’s introducing me to the freelancer social scene. I also want to get more fit and healthy… I guess that’s about it.

Thanks to for inspiration in living this freelance life in Chiang Mai and also to for an idea about how to measure the quality of your life: are you living all of your best self?

So, completely soft, that’s the goal for being here: I want to live more of myself.

My new yardsticks
My new yardsticks