Around five years ago, I was a starry-eyed new graduate, ready to take on the world! But wait, is this what I had signed up for? I would get up early, get to the subway (what New York City calls its metro system), wait about 5 minutes to get on because of all the people, then sit at a desk all day to work a job I really couldn’t care less about. I thought to myself that there had to be a better way.
Enter the Internet. We all take the Internet for granted these days, but it has changed the way we work (aka earn money!) forever.
Those “Skills” Employers Want? Where do you learn them, college? Nope. Internet!
I remember sitting in class one day. The class was called “Social Media Marketing” or “Social Media Networks”. Either way, we spent an entire class going over Facebook, how to make an account, how to post, and so on. Keep in mind that Facebook had already been out for more than five years and I didn’t know a single person that wasn’t on it, let alone didn’t know how to update their FB status, make a group, etc… I knew this for a fact since everyone in the class was basically on Facebook the whole time anyway.
Naturally, I wasn’t exactly paying close attention either (sorry mom). One day, while browsing the web, I saw that you could work from home by freelancing online or offering your skills to other people for a price. One day in class, while we were going over Twitter statuses or something (yawn), I looked at one of these “online freelancing” sites and saw what people were offering services online AND were getting paid for.
Things like writing, SEO, graphic design, and programming seemed to be at the top of the list. There were even things like video testimonials from people who looked like they were just using their phones to say how great a product was! That’s when I realized I knew how to do a lot of these things and thought that maybe I should give working online a shot myself. However, endless partying in college got in the way, and I didn’t take it all that seriously.
It wasn’t until my first job that I knew I had to figure online freelancing out. I already knew how to do things like writing and editing pictures, but what were “SEO” and “WordPress”? Just like with any other question, I turned to my favorite teacher of all time – Google.
I soon realized that I could learn all these in-demand skills online, usually for free, and the best part of it all? I could get paid for it.
Freelancing Online: Working and Traveling at the Same Time?
The Rise of the Location-Independent and Digital Nomads
After freelancing for a while, I got in touch with other people who were doing the same thing. I soon learned that some of these people, though they were from the U.S. like me, were working and living in the craziest places like Thailand (isn’t that just the place from Hangover 2?), Barcelona (I’m part Spanish), and even as far as Kenya.
A fellow freelancer told me about the book that had inspired this whole movement that I was just learning about – The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, a guy who seemingly does nothing except travel the world and set obscure world records. While I didn’t believe that anyone could work 4 hours and travel at the same time, a lot of people were following Mr. Ferriss’ lead and moved to all these places that were cool, exotic, and cheap! (NYC rents anyone??)
These people referred to themselves as “location-independent” or “digital nomads”. The difference between location-independent and digital nomad is, that while both are location-independent (their income is not dependent upon living in one place and say, going to an office), nomads tend to move around or travel as they work since they can work online. Honestly, though, the difference is just semantics.
Basically: YOU CAN WORK ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD THAT HAS AN INTERNET CONNECTION.
When I realized, I thought that it was the coolest thing ever. While I don’t travel around as much as other freelancers, it is nice having that option.
Still Want to Work for Someone Else? Here’s How to Compare Salaries and Even Rate Your Boss!
Hey, I get it. Maybe you’re not ready to take advantage of the Internet and all the ways it’s impacted how we work (while I sit on a beach somewhere…).
There are still ways to take advantage of the greatness of the Internet when it comes to working and how we earn money.
Now, you don’t have to take the first job that’s thrown at you and realize that the interview was all lies and that your new boss is an a**hole. Sites like Glassdoor will not only tell you how cool (or uncool) your new manager or boss will be but also how much people with similar jobs are getting paid (don’t take their first offer!). Imagine doing that 20 years ago – oh wait, you couldn’t.
Is the Internet the Best Invention Ever?
Is the Internet the best thing since sliced bread? Maybe, I still love my PB&Js. But honestly, if it weren’t for the Internet, I’d probably still be on that overcrowded, disgusting (it gets super hot in the summer) New York City subway going to the most boring job ever.
It’s clear that the Internet has changed how we work, earn money, and even choose a job. While I can’t cover every way that the Internet has changed our lives, I can tell you that it has changed how we make a living forever. You can learn skills online; you can offer those skills to people and get paid; and best of all, you can live anywhere in the world while doing it.
My only regret? Not starting sooner.