how to work abroad: my story

When we first moved to Spain, the plan was to live as a retired family without the stresses of work. That lasted about a year. I started to work a few hours a day, motivated more by doing something I love than the actual money aspect.

The question I get asked most is how I make money while living in Spain. Working overseas is often a challenge for an American. Most countries do not allow you to legally work without a difficult to get employer sponsored visa. So how do I do it?

[bctt tweet=”I don’t work. I do what I love: writing. I make money writing from anywhere in the world.”]

Here is my story of how I became a freelance writer.

I was a successful fashion stylist for years. I had the privilege of working with the top magazines, editors and occasionally worked as contributing editor. I learned about the behind the scenes world of advertising, magazines and publishing.

After my career as a stylist, the retail furniture store my husband and I owned in California was a thriving, 7 day per week commitment. We divided our tasks according to what we liked to do. I preferred working on the marketing and web design for the store. Being a hands on person, I learned everything I could about coding, IT security, content writing, keywords, marketing and social media. I composed and produced email blasts, newsletters and catalogs. Our retail consultants scheduled me to do nothing but blog and write content for my company’s website once a week. I did all the work myself to keep the brand identity consistent. As the company grew, I trained and headed a small team.

15 years ago, blogging and e-commerce were still esoteric fields. There were a handful of experts and few options for easy to customize, user-friendly platforms to get a website or blog started. Customers, friends and strangers would call me for help.

I would occasionally help friends out on their websites to clean up the mess the “web designers” they hired for $500 left them to work with.

There was a lot of this in the late 90s/early 2000 to fix (these are screenshots; if you could only see the moving, dancing elephant and flickering burning letters in all their glory):

best worst sites 1

And this (sorry, now you got me started and I can’t help myself):

Jesus really likes rainbows, repeating wallpaper patterns and gradients

Back to the story! The work for friends led to other introductions that kept me busier than I could handle. Newsletters, the dreaded sales letters, graphic design, company blogs, web automation, photography and more landed on my plate. At some point one has to make a choice and pick one job for the sake of sanity. I chose to work less on freelance and focus on the booming retail business. I would accept occasional writing projects for magazines in my specialty fields of luxury fashion and interior design.

When the “is there more to life than this” question started haunting us as a family, we decided to make a big life change. I wanted to be a mom and well rested human. We wanted to live somewhere far away and different. We decided to live in Spain and do some soul-searching. I surprisingly did not miss the retail or fashion world much. But the writing cravings kept bugging me. As did my writing clients. They didn’t care that I was in Spain; in fact, they loved it, since I could now be the “woman in the field” they needed. I could have completed assignments in their inbox hours before they woke up, complete with awesome, optimized photos, ready to go. They could pay me electronically. If they needed to talk, Skype’s easy.

type-awaywebWith singular focus, my writing career blossomed. Life in Spain is a joy for all of us, so why leave? Today I have a schedule of my creation and work with a few diverse clients that are a pleasure to collaborate with. The beauty of having different clients is that the topics and workload are so different. I love that! Some days I am writing highly technical IT or finance papers. The next I could be writing about fashion and beauty. JoyJournist was born as a place where I write in an unfettered, more casual style and share my experiences with those on a similar journey.


[bctt tweet=”If I could, I would give the Internet a big kiss and a hug. It makes my lifestyle possible.”]

The internet can make a life of your own making possible, too. Find what you love to be good at and sell that service to the world! If you have any questions or need more details, I am happy to answer, hit me with a comment.