Just how easy is it to run a blogging business as a location independent professional? It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now, after relocating from the UK to the sunny Caribbean island of Barbados. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Location Matters
Living on an island is a romantic idea, but not all islands are equal. It’s essential to think about the practicalities that will make it easy for you to run a blogging business. You want to make sure your chosen location has running water, a regular electricity supply and good internet.
How does my island stack up? At just 166 square miles, it’s tiny, but it punches above its weight with utilities. Though in the last year some essentials have been patchy, for the most part the lights and water have stayed on. (There was an incident involving an unfortunate monkey and the main transformer that took the power out for a day, but that’s pretty unusual).
Internet access is a big win. The island has fiber optic cables almost everywhere, and although they’re unsightly (above ground), this means super fast internet. You can get 4G LTE via the cell network too, so you can be online if you need to be. These days, the internet is always on, and if there’s ever a blip, the cell network takes up the slack.
2. Find Backup Work Locations
Despite what I said above, sometimes circumstances beyond your control make it difficult for you to get online. If you’re a professional blogger, that can throw your schedule seriously out of whack.
In the Caribbean, storms are most likely to be the reason for this, which means along with your usual storm prep, there’s one more issue to solve: backup work locations.
It’s rare for the power to go out and stay out island-wide for a long time, so make sure you have some alternative locations somewhat removed from your home base.
I know all the places with free Wi-Fi within a ten-mile radius and there are a couple of friends whose houses I can camp out at if need be.
3. Looking After Your Tech
As a professional writer and blogger, you’re always going to need a computer of some kind. One thing you’ll need to establish is where you can buy new tech if you need it and, even more importantly, where you can get it repaired. That sea air isn’t kind to electronics, I’ve found, so you WILL need repairs.
When I first moved to the island, I got an international next business day warranty for my computer and chose a manufacturer who had a local distributor. That worked pretty well for minor issues, but didn’t help with major ones. As I discovered, there’s no guarantee the repair shops on your island will stock the parts you need.
Next time round, I went with a local company who built a computer for me and kept the parts in stock. That worked pretty well, and the specs weren’t bad, though not the latest. On this island, computers don’t attract extra tax, so the price was only about $50 more than I’d have paid in the US. Peripherals are pretty easy to replace, too, but deteriorate much faster in a hot climate. Luckily for me, there’s an excellent and well-stocked computer shop 10 minute’s drive from my house.
My top recommendation is to always have a backup computer so you can keep working even if your main one dies suddenly. My experience shows that you’ll need it - we’ve had that happen to four different computers in the last couple of years.
4. Set Up Accounts Before You Arrive
One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that for sites that don’t offer accounts in the country you’re moving to, or that restrict access by location, it pays to set up those accounts before you move.
Let me give you an example. I have an old Gmail account, set up when I was in the UK, and linked to my YouTube account. However, I set up a business Gmail account after I moved, only to discover later that I couldn’t have a linked YouTube account there, because of my location. That was annoying when I went through a brief spell of video marketing.
Even setting up a new domain can be challenging, as sometimes the authentication calls don’t come through. That’s less of an issue these days, but it still happens.
In many cases, once you have an account, you can login to it and use it from wherever you happen to be. And if you have an issue, there’s always a VPN to handle the issue of region-locked content.
5. Forget the Hype
When you live on an island, you hear a lot of jokes about “working from the beach”. You may even believe that the lifestyle is going to be a lot more laid back. That might be true when you’re not working, but if you’re a professional blogger, then you’ll likely take a more disciplined approach.
That means there’s no partying all day and I don’t have a rum punch by my side as I work. While there’s flexibility in my work calendar, I generally follow a regular work schedule with the same number of hours each day. And I NEVER take my laptop to the beach - sand and laptops just don’t mix. Plus, it would be a total mess to take the time in replacing your laptop and files again.
There are just a couple more things to say about moving to an island. First, make sure you’re entitled to live and work there. People can get pretty uptight about the legalities, and you wouldn’t want to get deported. Thanks to having Caribbean parents, that’s not been an issue for me, but check what the requirements are before you decide to move.
Second, you may find that there are some gigs you can’t apply for on jobs sites, because of IP restrictions. A VPN may handle some of those. Again, I’ve found that having my own site and marketing regularly has resulted in a steady flow of work, so location hasn’t been a barrier to a successful writing career.
Have you ever blogged remotely? What challenges did you face?