5 Main Challenges Freelance workers face all the time

“If you believe passionately in what you are doing and whom you are doing it with, success is bound to follow. “

advice for sale
Advice, anyone?

Do I have to downgrade my level of life if I want to work for myself and be location independent in a high-cost western country (more specifically – America)? Can I still afford to pay the rent for my house and car and still be free to work from my own garden with a laptop? Or do I have to go to live in Thailand to afford being free? These are the questions, that I’m having all the time.

Unless you got a big heritage or a millionaire family, seems like you have only 2 choices to earn money if you want to live in a place, like California – to become a “slave” of an employee and be imprisoned for 8-15 hours per day in an office/factory to afford a mid-level life, or become a location independent worker and struggle to earn money (at least in the beginning).

It’s not only me, having this issues. So I researched to see what other freelance workers are saying and what do they think. Here I summed up the 5 main issues that freelancers/location independent workers face:

  1. Finding remote work online, that will pay your bills in a high-cost place, like America or any European country – especially when starting out.

    ocean - z
    My husband working on the phone in Venice, CA. – Photo by Mariam Sargsyan.

    If you follow the bloggers, who work and travel all the time, you will see that their earnings are nearly enough to afford a life in a place like Thailand or Malaysia (of course, there are always exceptions and people who choose to live that life). Yes, you can live on the beach in Brazil and be a freelance worker, but can you afford to live on the beaches of Santa Monica, CA with the same business/income? I think I can even write a PhD Thesis on this topic, but you got the idea 🙂

  2. Competing with freelancers, location independent professionals from low cost countries.

    The running never ends. – Photo by wwarby.

    This is the ever-actual one. How on earth do you compete with graphic designers from Pakistan, who offer to work for $4 per hour or even worse, a native English content writer, who lives in Thailand right now and can afford to work for $10 per hour? And I’m not saying it’s bad to have a competition, I’m just really curious how I can charge that low, when the minimum salary that will make sense for me to work for is $30/hour. And if you check the job postings on pages like freelance.com or upwork.com, you’ll see, that even Silicon Valley-based companies are looking for the lowest possible rates to hire for.  (This reminds me of competing with production in China, but that’s a topic for another post 🙂 )

  3. Diversifying income sources.  

    eggs in baskets
    Keep your eggs in different baskets 🙂

    A lot of freelance workers say that their main challenge is to get more income sources – whether it’s getting more clients to diversify the income sources or doing different jobs not to depend on 1 income stream. If nothing, there’s always a chance that some day your client might prefer a $4/hour employee from point 2 above 🙂

  4. To get big clients, you still have to meet with them from time to time to show you are real.

    Endless meetings with clients.

    Whether you are working as a freelance contractor or a remote employee, most of the companies still want to see you weekly or monthly, if you want them to be your long-term clients. Of course, it’s nothing compared to sitting in the office all day long. I guess it’s human to want to see and “touch” something physically to trust in it, but then it  makes it hard for me to work for a company in New York, for example. If I’m not available to meet, then the chance is that I can get short-term, low-cost projects only.

  5. Dealing with the legality of working in another country if you want to travel and work.

    farm work.jpg
    If you are lucky, you can even work on a farm while traveling 🙂

    No country allows you work legally if you are there with a tourist visa, which is how most of the freelancers travel. Making money on the way, while still being legal and not facing a deportation, concerns a lot of “digital nomads”, especially when they travel for longer periods of time. The only way is to work for cash or food/stay on the go or run your business online, while paying taxes in your home country.

There are a lot of steps, that you have to take before becoming location independent, such as registering your business, getting a health insurance, paying your taxes in a right way etc. and it can be scary or not as much, depending where you live :). But don’t be scared, we’ll go through everything together.

As I’m living in Los Angeles, CA, I’m going to put step-by-step guides about registering your own business in California, getting a health insurance as an independent worker and organizing everything legally. I’m going through all of it – doing all the research and preparing to register my company, so I thought you might as well benefit from my work. Just follow my blog to get notified about new posts.

I’m sure there are a lot of other issues, which we freelancers face. Please, write in the comments bellow what difficulties are you facing while working for yourself and how are you trying to overcome them. You can also put your questions for which you would like me to do some research and find answers.

Yours with love,

Mariam 🙂

Venice Beach – Inspiration For My “Ocean Collection”

Hi Guys!

I was looking for a theme for my new jewelry collection, so I went to Venice Beach yesterday (privileges of being location independent and not having an office job on Monday 🙂 ). Not that I need any reason to go to the ocean, but this time I went alone to spend some time with me, to think about new colors and patterns of my new designs and, you know, to think about how to save the world.

Ocean is my most favorite place on our tiny dot in the universe and it’s a blessing that I can be there by just driving for 20 min.

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The cozy fairy tale of lamps – Venice, CA.

Venice (originally called Venice of America) is not like any other beachfront city. It was made as a replica of Venice in Italy. It has a very European look and feel to it, so I go there, when I miss my time in Europe. Honestly, Californian Venice’s canals look greener, more colorful and smell better than the original Venice, that I saw 🙂

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One of the Canal streets in Venice, CA.

Well, we have no gondolas here any more, but they were here at the beginning.

Being built by white millionaires in the beginning of 1900-s as a copy of their home town in Europe, it was abandoned by LA city after their death and nobody really took care of it. It was too expensive to maintain and clean the artificial canals and it was a slum until 60-s. As the houses and living were very cheap, it attracted mostly artists and creative immigrants from Europe. That’s how it got its European artistic style and feeling, being so highly valued today in real estate market 🙂

Nowadays Venice is one of the “happening” places in LA, especially after the opening of the Google’s new office in 2011. Canals are now surrounded by multi-million dollar designer homes and boats.

So, I walked for good 3 hours in Venice, breathing the crisp ocean air and looking to brave surfers, trying to catch the waves in the freezing water 🙂

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We all walk to the sun 🙂

I’m always so amazed by the color palette of the ocean. It’s never the same and I can watch it for hours, creating patterns and designs in my mind.

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Just look at these colors. Isn’t this crazy?

And I’m definitely going to have these brown/yellow mix in my collection.

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How many shades of brown do you see?
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Wouldn’t you wear earrings like this?

So, I already started to work on my collection and I’ll have it ready-to-wear by the end of this week. Now the hard part is to choose how many of my design ideas are going to become real pieces and where do I stop when creating them? 🙂

Ocean-and-beach-inspired color palette.

Follow my social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintesrest) to see the work in progress and the final products.



Can you really be location independent?

photo for location dependent post

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

Have you ever dreamed of leaving your office job and just working for yourself? Have you ever looked at your watch at 2pm during the workday and felt that you are in prison and you will die if you don’t get out of there (and it doesn’t really matter if it’s a cool high-tech office or a small garage)?

So, I did it! (And I’m proud of it actually, although I couldn’t have done it without my sweet husband’s support and encouragement 🙂 )

I left my office job nearly a month ago and decided to be independent and work for myself only. Honestly, I was afraid and I still am. And who isn’t? But my wish to be free was more than my fear and at some point I didn’t really care what’s gonna happen. I didn’t plan for it for years, I didn’t have huge savings, I just felt it’s time to grow up and be myself.

While everybody else tells you what to do to become independent, I’m going to share with you my journey. I have no ready answers, I’m going to try out a lot of things and share my experience with you. I know that there are a lot of people out there like me, who are educated, creative, like being free, don’t wanna work for anybody else’s dreams and wanna build their own lives.  I think that even if there are just 100 people like me, it’s worth writing and sharing it, ’cause I also would love to hear about all your experiences and journeys to your desired lifestyle.

Living in Los Angeles you see a lot of people around you that have flexible schedules, can allow themselves going to the beach during workdays, travel all the time and it all seams so easy. But is it?

When you google “how to be location independent” you feel like your dreams have come true. There are tons of tip-articles that advise you how to ditch your office job, start your own business and go lie on the beach with the cocktail.

Most of the times, when people talk about working from anywhere, they consider that you want to travel ALL THE TIME. The idea of being a “digital nomad” is a hype now. There are a lot of interesting pages and Facebook groups, like Webworktravel – Digital Nomad Network, Digital Nomads, Escape, Nunomad, Location Independent etc. if you want to work for yourself AND travel. They will help you find everything from most affordable countries to co-working spaces and local communities.

But what if you don’t wanna travel all the time? I’m all for traveling. I’ve been in 13 countries, I love airports and trains and can’t imagine my life without going to new places. But do I wanna do it all the time? No. I have a family in LA, I want to live and work here and I can’t consider travelling during the whole year (taking into account my family members’ lifestyle preferences and expenses).

Last year Forbes did an extensive research on the “digital nomad” lifestyle and found out that 75% of digital nomads are self employed or small business owners and that most of them try to live in low-cost countries like Indonesia or Thailand, while charging their clients by higher rates in western countries.

So, the question is can you make a decent living (if not become rich) by working for yourself and still living in an expensive city like Los Angeles?   

Now I’m trying to find the answer to that question. So, I decided to do what I love most and try make a living sitting in my LA apartment (well, also going to ocean sometimes 🙂 ).

I’m a journalist/marketing specialist by background and I did it for a lot of years but I’m also going crazy for creating art in a form of jewelry or other design pieces (check them here). Eventually, I decided to combine them – create art, write about it and my experiences on the way and see where it goes. I started creating the designs that I long had in mind and opened my Etsy shop.

Now it’s time to manage all of that – create, write, spend time with my husband, cook healthy food (we try eating at home for most of the time), travel and manage the house (my FAVORITE part 🙂 ).

So, if you are going through the same, had a good or bad experience or even if you are still afraid to leave your office, please, share it with me. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And I’ll keep sharing my stories with you.