Elisa Fernandez-Arias is a writer, singer and digital nomad currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland. I caught up with her to speak about her journey and what she’s working on now.
Hi Elisa! So, have you always been a digital nomad?
No! My first professional job was working as a librarian near where I grew up in the Washington DC area. I was still living with my parents and I was miserable! I’ve always loved to travel and I began my journey as a traveller, aged 26, by teaching English as a foreign language in various European cities (I took an intensive CELTA course which qualified me to do this). At a certain point I realised I was changing cities at a rate of almost one a year and it became increasingly hard to find traditional location-based jobs. I wanted more consistency so that is when I looked into remote work. As a writer, I began by looking for remote writing roles.
What projects did you start working on?
For a while I did a lot of blog writing for a variety of clients through a media startup based in California. I have also written for an online travel magazine. I also got some experience working remotely for a travel start up – this was unpaid, but I was able to practise using SEO and writing consistently which helped me to get other positions later on.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on several blogs to get my voice out there. One I am very excited about is www.fridayiminloveblog.com/blog which is a live music review blog. As a musician, I really enjoy going to gigs, interviewing musicians, writing reviews. It’s also been a great way to get to know the music scene in Edinburgh (where I live now). I have ambitions to expand this project to include other cities and, one day, other countries! I am working on my second novel, this is a long term project and I hope to have it finished in early 2020. Yet another benefit of remote working is that I can make room in my life for creative projects like this. I am also looking for new opportunities within the ghostwriting industry.
What’s the best thing about working remotely?
Being able to travel! The fact that I can create a schedule that works for me means that I can work from anywhere I like. I have friends and family all over the world; it’s really incredible how much easier it is to fit them into my life when I work remotely.
What’s the hardest thing about it?
Sometimes, when I find myself moving around a lot, I can’t help but feel a little lonely. Even though it’s an adventure, it can be hard to be away from friends and family. It can also be tough when you’re just starting out to find a good client base.
How do you make friends when moving to a new city?
Whenever I’m in a new city, I go to as many open mics as possible. Because I am a musician and a writer, I find attending these events a great way to meet others like me. Literature events are great too. For digital nomads who aren’t artists, I’d recommend seeking out meet-ups that interest you.
Any advice for aspiring digital nomads?
Firstly, I think it’s important, especially for women, that they really believe that they are capable of doing it. You need to take what you want to do seriously as a business – that way you can guarantee you are doing what you love.
The next thing you should do is get some practise in your skill. For instance, if you want to be a writer you should set up a blog or a website to showcase your talent. If you’re interested in graphic design, get out there and create something for the hell of it – you need to show how capable you are before you can land a paid gig.
You can also volunteer to create content for publication, charities, businesses – check out the UN’s website, they have some great volunteer opportunities.
Once you’re out there, it’s time to connect. Seek out and join as many different Facebook groups for digital nomads and freelancers as possible: there is so much advice and info on these groups!
Remember that it will be hard in the beginning, but keep going! Eventually you will build up a client base and the work will become more steady. Whether you’re running your own business or looking for a remote position, using these resources will be helpful.
Check out Elisa’s live music blog where she regularly reviews gigs in Edinburgh and her Instagram where she documents her life as a digital nomad.
@elisamariarox on Instagram