Tiffany’s desire to freelance actually stemmed from becoming an expat. It all began with a short stint in the Turks and Caicos Islands where she was volunteering at a museum as an archivist. While she was there, she met lots of expats and she thought “I want to do that!” The expat dream was born on a small 7-mile long island. For the next four years, she looked for an expat job. Being archivist makes it tough to get a job and even harder outside your home country.
Four years later, she was on a plane to Doha, Qatar. She spent four years in Qatar working as an archivist at an American university that had a campus there. That brought on more wanderlust and eventually, she decided she wanted to travel more. The only way to keep travelling was to become a freelancer. So the freelancer life began. This week, Tiffany is moving to Greece to make it her base while she continues to travel and do her freelance work.
What is the background of your business?
Prior to becoming a freelancer, I was an archivist which is hard to turn into a freelance job. I had also started my own travel blog so I used the skills that I have learned running my own blog to build my freelance business.
Now I help people set up websites, troubleshoot technical issues, manage social media, write content and work at an online magazine as a curator. Each day is never the same and I can work from anywhere as long as I have internet. Some days that means I am at my kitchen table and some days that means I am in another country working at a hotel desk.
Do you think being an expat changes what you offer and the way you do business when compared to others in your field?
Many of my clients are expats or have been expats and I know their needs may be different because of that. They are looking to make sure their business can move when they move. I also know that because they might be in a different time zone, I may need to work different hours and schedule calls at unusual times.
Are their unexpected challenges you didn’t anticipate when you took your business to a new location?
Since I move around a lot, I need to have a backup plan for the internet. For Greece, I have invested in portable wifi as a backup to my apartment wifi in case there are times when too many people are using it. In Antigua Guatemala, I sought out a coworking space so I could have some quiet time to work. It is good to research wifi and coworking spaces before you go so you have a plan.
What are the benefits of being an expat freelancer as opposed to just working as a freelancer in your home country?
I can go where I want when I want. I don’t need to tell anyone as I set my hours for all my jobs and clients. They shouldn’t notice a break in any services with me.
Are there any external frustrations that make it hard to do the work at the standard you expect.
I have managed to find solutions for any problems I could face – like the portable wifi I mentioned above. Sometimes when I am travelling, I can’t find a comfortable chair to sit in for many hours a day, but that is really my only complaint.
How much of your work is for local clients and how much is for overseas clients?
Most of my clients are in the US and the rest are in other countries. Due to work restrictions, I am not able to take clients based in Greece at the moment. My visa limits my ability to work in Greece and that applies to freelance as well.
Is language a barrier when doing your freelancing?
Not so far, all my clients are from English speaking countries so far. But I am learning Greek just to help myself out while living in Greece.
Tiffany Schureman is from the US and is a freelance digital cosultant and about to move to Greece. She has travelled extensively and has also lived in Turks and Caicos and Qatar.