If you’re ready to try your hand at the digital nomad life and run your business from abroad, I’m here to help you determine how to practically make remote work with clients, work!
I worked as a web designer for 4 years and only had 1 client that was local who I met in person while working on their project! All the rest of my clients were either across the country or even on the other side of the world.
While most people think it’s a little bit odd that I’ve never met my clients face to face, I’ve found that our location difference really wasn’t a big deal at all.
So today I’m going to share a few tips & softwares that makes remote work, work, so you can go and live out those digital nomad dreams!
While yes I will get into systems which makes communication easier, the thing which will most impact the ease of working with clients remotely is to plan your process with timezone differences and travel in mind.
Having to work odd hours is what many call the ‘expat tax,’ that is, just the price you pay to be a digital nomad. However, we can minimize the annoyance of timezones a lot if you get strategic with your phone calls with clients and how long your project is.
When you plan plan your process (or replan it if you already currently have one!) be sure you take the time difference and frequent travels into account.
First, I would start all of my web design projects with a phone call on the Monday the project began to discuss all the site content, inspiration websites, Pinterest inspiration board and website template. I realized when in Europe with my clients mostly in the USA, those phone calls weren’t happening until my Monday was almost over. As such, I basically lost a day I could have been working on their project. Not ideal. Had I thought of the time zone difference beforehand, I could have changed up how and when I did calls (maybe the Friday before the project began) to make the most of the time I had with clients.
Secondly, when you travel a lot, it can be stressful to have client projects running between your travels and different locations. I was always stressed I wouldn’t find good enough Wifi for a clear client phone call when I just arrived in a new location or that some sort of travel mishap (eg. cancelled/delayed flights) would mess up the work and amazing service I was supposed to be providing to my clients.
To combat this, I worked with 1 client at a time and squeezed their project into a very short time frame. I’d do a website and brand and sometimes e-commerce setup too, all in 2 weeks. This enabled me to work with clients for short periods of time and be completely free to go off the grid other times, as their projects weren’t spanning weeks or months where I was always at their service while hopping around the globe.
Back and forth emails to try to find appointment times for initial consult calls or even mid-project check-ins is a massive waste of time, not to mention a straight up pain in the buns. My fav appointment scheduler is Acuity. Their Emerging Entrepreneur plan (which includes time zone conversions) is free to Squarespace users. So if you have a Squarespace site, definitely take advantage of this freebie!
You can sign up for a free trial of Squarespace here and I also got ya a little off the price, use code PAIGE10 for 10% off your first year. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link!)
If you’re doing something like web design, brand design, social media, etc. which requires your clients to give feedback on your online work, then doing this via a screen shared video call can be a HECK of a lot faster and more efficient than back to back emails.
So be sure to find a fav video conferencing software which allows screensharing and which is super simple for your clients to use. While we may be super used to hopping on video calls online, a lot of our clients are not. (Especially if they’re of the older generation.) You really don’t want to waste the first 20 mins of your appointment with your client explaining to them how to install a video conferencing software (believe me, I’ve done it).
While I would say that Zoom is the best video conferencing software I’ve used yet, it does require your clients to download an application. If they seem tech-savvy enough, it could be worth using Zoom and asking your clients to install it.
If they’re really not tech savvy, Appear In is my go-to video conferencing software which is super simple. You just send your clients a link, they click it and click ‘request to join’ your meeting room, and they’re in. It happens all from their browser, there’s no software to download.
So depending on your client, pick your software accordingly.
And then enjoy breezing through feedback at lightening speed on your video call and never having any awkward miscommunications that often happens when trying to communicate visual edits in a written format.
If you don’t want to do the above and get on a screen-shared call with your client, then make use of a screen recording & sharing software.
I use Loom which allows me to record a video of my screen along with audio and then send the video to my client with 1 click. It’s SO fast and simple to explain things, or make a demonstration or tutorial video. If you want to discuss something visually on your screen, without hopping on a call with your clients, this is the way to go.
While being able to digital nomad around the world is a blessing and a half, it can cause some uncertainties and worries in your clients who have never worked with someone halfway around the world before. I never recommend lying in your business, so if clients ask you where you are, tell them truthfully. Granted, if they don’t ask, you don’t need to bring the topic up and cause unneeded worry.
By making it seem as though you were working just around the corner from them however, it means that you need to fit their schedule and make things as simple on them as possible.
I used to schedule my emails (with Boomerang) so that they sent during my clients 9-5 workday. I also alway gave available appointment times for calls and consults that fit their time zone best. That did mean that now and again I was at the coworking space at midnight, but I was in good company, as there’s often others also there at that time.
While we’re used to amazing wifi petty much everywhere back home and fee wifi at every cafe, that’s not the case in the rest of the world. Some countries really are pretty behind with wifi connection which you wouldn’t expect (I had to postpone a webinar in Germany twice because the wifi wasn’t good enough). Internet in Cuba is both slow and expensive, and in some countries there’s a limit on how much wifi you can use per month in apartment rentals/AirBnB’s.
So do what the digital nomads do, and make solid, unlimited wifi a top priority when determining where to go. NomadList is the perfect website to check on wifi speed and to read about other digital nomads’ experience when it comes to connection in certain destinations.
So there you have it…my top 6 tips for working with clients as a digital nomad? Cheers making $$ while traveling the world!