freelance Work Online to Travel Longer

If you have ever spoken to me, or ask what I do, chances are I said I work online as a freelancer. Most people give me this confused look and often have no idea what I am talking about. The freelancing world is an awesome way to make that side cash needed to save up for a new trip or whatever else you might need, and it’s blowing up. If you have any skills that are able to translate to a position that you can complete with a computer, then you can probably find some freelancing work. I might be confusing you now, so let’s discuss this freelancing business further and talk about how to work online…

Let me warn you, this is a long post, but if you want to see if there are opportunities for you to work online… read on!

If you’re feeling lazy, skim it by reading everything in bold.



1) What the heck is freelancing?

So what exactly is freelancing? Let’s get that out-of-the-way. Freelancing is where you
 provide services to complete projects or short-term work for a client. This is not a long-term position and can often be done based at your own home and with your computer. 
To put it simply, freelancing is an awesome way that you can earn money without even putting pants on. Sweet!

The way freelancing works is by applying for projects on a website. There are a few 
websites that I would recommend and there are a few other options that I have not used before.



The two that I have used are: odesk.com and elance.com

*** UPDATE: These two webites have merged and have now become UpWork

There are many more available and you can check them out here, here, and here.


Office on the Ganges in Rishikesh, India

Office on the Ganges in Rishikesh, India

2) OK, so what jobs can I actually find on these sites?

Well, something that I started out with was writing. I provide articles to clients about anything and everything travel.
 There are blog articles needed for an array of websites about anything from technology and electronics to gardening to first time mothers and even whole ebooks. Yes, the list of subjects and opportunities for writing seem endless.

You might say, well Nina, you suck at writing. How do you write? You don’t even have experience with this, what are you doing?! Well, you’re not wrong. I didn’t have experience writing before I signed up as a freelancer. However, I have been writing for over two years now and I  have continuous writing projects.  Plus, you’re still reading right?

There are other jobs that are offered on these sites, but I haven’t had the pleasure of working on these projects, because they are so far from what I know and I just simply don’t have the skills. However…. you might? 

Other freelancing jobs:

If you happen to know another language, there is plenty of translation work for all the popular, and even not so popular, languages of the world.
 Are you an awesome typist? Things like transcription and other dictation services are also offered for those who can bust out a million words a minute. I wish I could type quickly and accurately… These jobs are so easy!

If you are super awesome with computer
s and web design, there are plenty of opportunities for you to create websites, website programs, digital design, media and all those other super technical and computer related jobs. Think about it – all you need is your computer right? So of course you can find jobs like this without going in to an office.

If you happen to have any experience being an assistant, there are plenty of opportunities 
for doing secretarial type work like being a virtual assistant or doing some kind of technical phone support, and other customer service type positions. Besides a computer, you might need a real phone for these positions.

You’ve heard me talking about getting a TEFL certification so you can teach English abroad, now you can also be an online English teacher. Some online learning sites even have a need for teachers for other popular languages. Just another way on how to work online! There are so many choice…

Other random positions like accounting, bookkeeping, legal work, project management, marketing and sales are all “freelanceable.” I just made that word up and I really like it…. There are so many freelanceable jobs out there, screw the office, work online!

These types of positions make the nomadic life that more obtainable. While these jobs are not 100% permanent, in fact, many of them are just on a per project basis however, it’s money. Money that can extend your travels. If you are really dedicated to diligently apply for jobs, complete them quick, and get some new ones, you can earn extra cash.


With that said, I have seen some long-term jobs as well. I’ve blogged for a few sites for over a year.


Nong Kiaw, Laos

Nong Kiaw, Laos…. Office for the day, just outside my room



3) So how does it work?


To put it simply, the way these sites work are employers are looking for freelancers, so they post their job on the freelancing website and see who bites. The freelancers who are looking for work can apply to their job if they feel they possess the skills needed to complete the project. The employer reviews the applications submitted for their job, and they select the freelancer they want to hire. They click hire, you do the work, then get paid.


To get more into the details of the way this works….

You get a certain amount of ‘credits’, or applications, that you can submit per month. This prevents people from abusing the freelancing sites and applying to every single job on the board. So for example, let’s say that ABC freelancing site gives you 10 applications to start. This means you can only apply for 10 jobs until the new month comes around and ‘refreshes’ your applications.


Now, while you might think it’s not enough applications, and I do agree, the more activity on these freelancing websites equals more applications. I started with I think 15 applications on Elance and now I have 40. I don’t even use all of them.


In your application to the employer you are going to make a custom proposal. You will briefly write about why you will be great for the job, provide some of your experience, and then place your bid. Your bid is the amount of money you expect to be paid to complete their project. You get to name the price, if they agree, they hire you.


Alright, so now you applied to jobs and you got hired. Congrats! Sweet! Now get to work. It’s as simple as that. The employer provides the information needed to complete your project and there is a messaging system on the freelancing website so you can keep in touch, ask questions and send files…etc.


You are probably wondering about the money now. Of course, the most important thing. How do you get paid? The freelancing website acts as the middle man. There is a way to look at the profile of your employer to see if they have been verified and have the money in an escrow account on the website. When your work is completed, this will be released. You have an account on the website where the money is held until you transfer it to your Paypal. It’s really quite easy and I can honestly say I have never had a problem with payment. 




4) Is this a scam?


Well, from my experience, I have never been scammed. Like I said above, the money goes to a middleman, the website, and you get paid. Other websites work differently, but from the two that I used, it’s pretty cut and dry. You do the work, you get paid.


What you might find are some job postings that are scams or ethically wrong. They might be asking you to visit a site and pay money to make money….one of those things. You just simply don’t apply to that job. You need to be smart with how to work online… Don’t accept everything.


Vang Vieng, Laos

One of my fav office views…. Vang Vieng, Laos. Crappy photo though!


5) So what are my chances of getting a job?


Well, I can’t give you a straight answer on this one. However, I’ll tell you what I took me to get started. For Elance, it took me nearly three months to get my first job. Talk about unmotivating! But I didn’t give up. Once I got my first job, then the ball started rolling.


On these websites you have a profile that you need to fill out. It’s pretty much like an ongoing online resume for yourself. It has your information and work history. If you have no work history on the website, it makes getting a job a bit more difficult. Just wait for your break though, it will come.


With Odesk, it only took me a month to get my first job however, I had a better profile at this point. I had a few jobs on Elance and I was able to post some of my past work from that on my Odesk portfolio. So I now had some samples to show my prospective employers.


If you are less lazy than me, I would recommend doing a few samples to put in your profile. Yes, you are essentially working for free a bit right now, but it will be worth it. Hindsight is always 20/20. If I had done this initially, I doubt it would have taken me three months to get my first gig.


Your chances of getting a job also depend on how much you are applying. If you hardly apply, you will never get hired. Once you get the ball rolling and have some jobs that you have completed, you will actually start getting INVITED to jobs which makes things easier. This way you don’t have to file through jobs and research. The employer already saw your awesome profile, liked you, and decided you might be a good fit for their job. So all you need to do is read what they want and apply if you are interested.


It only gets simpler as time goes on… I promise.

freelance to work and travel.png



6) How much do I get paid?


Every job differs. Don’t get discouraged by the job posts for $3/ hour. There are some really really REALLY low paying jobs on these sites. With that said, there are really high paying ones as well as everything in between. One thing I will say, when I started, I did work for less just so I could attract an employer and get some good feedback. After 1-2 lower paying projects my price went up and up.


Just to give you an idea on how mobile and decently lucrative freelancing can be, I traveled through Laos and Cambodia for 6 weeks and I ended up SAVING money. I saw everything I wanted to see plus some, but I worked a few days out of the week on my freelance projects and made enough to pay for my travels with putting some extra cash away. Really? How can you travel and not want to freelance?! This is the epitome of how to work online WHILE traveling.


Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia

Work spot for a few days on Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia


Last minute tips:


– Make a nice and truthful profile. Post samples if applicable, remember to update it as time goes on, and make sure it’s concise and attractive. If you copy and past some BS on there, you won’t get a bite.

– Apply often. Jobs are posted every hour and even every minute. Apply Apply. Don’t forget, after a few jobs, you will get more applications.

– Use the information provided to provide a good bid. If you see they are giving you a range like: “We will pay $200- $250 for this project.” Obviously don’t bid $500. If they say, “You must have _____ qualifications…” and you don’t. Don’t waste an application, your time and their time. It’s just common sense.

– Provide a custom application. Most employers, especially the ones paying in the price range that you would be interested in, are going to know if you used a copy and pasted application. While I do copy and paste PART of my application, like my experience related to the position offered, I always customize it. I add personal touches that they will notice and see. They will see I didn’t blindly apply, I took the time to read everything and I am a serious candidate.

– Never initiate a job where an employer is asking you to do things off the website. Like, communication off the website and project completion off the website etc… This can result in a mess. You might not get paid, you might be scammed …who knows. If you keep everything on the website, you are safer. The website acts as the middle man for a reason. You might be able to do this after some time and building trust, but don’t start off this way.

– Don’t apply for jobs that you are not qualified for. You’re wasting your precious applications that you don’t have many of. Also, if you do actually get hired and do a crappy job, they will give you a low rating and then your chances of being hired again plummet.




The work online world is blowing up now. In a day in age where we can do everything from a computer why does the whole ‘get early up in the morning and go to the office’ thing still need to happen? Virtually everything can be done… well, virtually!

This trend is only increasing, definitely hop on while you can. This type of work is great even if you are a stay at home mom, someone who only works part-time, or if you are a person who has a shopping habit that needs to be funded.

However, if it’s the nomadic life you are seeking, the opportunity is really at your fingertips…Unless you type like my dad, then in that case, your fingertip.

While it might not provide you with all the riches in the world and pay your mortgage or anything super extravagant, it’s money. Money that you can make at midnight before you go to sleep, while you are bored on a rainy day, or even before you set off to a beautiful beach for the day like I am about to do right now. 

Do you know how to work online already?

Feel free to comment/ask questions below!


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How to work online as a freelancer to travel


Expat nomad and travel blogger. I’ve been epically failing at the American Dream for six years and counting. I’m a professional beach bum, nature lover, and I’m in a serious relationship with bread and cheese. I slow travel because I get distracted easily, I never purchase round trip tickets, and I enjoy playing with hula hoops.

My blog aims to give it to you straight in every aspect without skimping on details. I talk about the realities of making a life abroad by working for it while maximizing on your travel experiences.