Freelance Writers Are Escaping the Cubicle and Working Across the Country and Around the World Thanks to Their Portable Careers

The widespread availability of high-speed Internet means freelancers can live in exotic locales – or anywhere in the U.S. where their dollar goes farther … and still have a thriving career.

As copywriter and American Writers & Artists Institute member Janet Grosshandler faced the fury of Hurricane Sandy devastating her Jersey Shore hometown … thoughts of her second home sustained her. Janet is just a part-time resident of New Jersey. She spends part of the year in tropical Costa Rica, in the beach community of Nosara.

Set on the Pacific Ocean, with perfect waves for surfing or just admiring from a hammock on the beach, tropical drink in hand, it's hard to believe that it would be possible to have a viable, let alone extremely lucrative career, from Nosara.

“I'm not tied to any job or company. My writing career is supremely portable!” says Janet. “And during the three months of my last trip, I finished my third fiction eBook, sent it off to my editor and formatter and met my Amazon publishing deadline. I also contracted for and completed a 12-page website writing assignment and I am negotiating right now for another 10-15 page website job.”

But Janet is just one of many freelancers who makes full use of the freedom and flexibility this career offers.

Janet specializes in motivational women's writing, including self-help eBooks and a strong social media presence through her Get Strong, Girlfriend business. She is a special type of freelancer called a copywriter.

Copywriting, which is used in online and offline advertising for just about any product you can think of, is an ideal form of freelancing. Clients are used to working with freelancers outside of the office. And the work, which is much in-demand – especially for online projects like sales pages and emails, video scripts, among others – pays very well.

American Writers & Artists member Shern Dercheville uses copywriting as a way to make a great living and enjoy the benefits of the Caribbean island paradise of St. Lucia, his home island. For the last nine months he'd been splitting his time between there and Jamaica. All the while he worked for United States-based clients, specializing in financial publishers.

“The truth is no one in St. Lucia understands what I do now, except my wife,” says Shern, who notes he makes much more money than most on the island. “It really is a mystery to my family and friends who all have ‘normal’ jobs.”

“I live just 2 minutes walk from the beach. It's become part of my daily routine to go for swims after a morning of writing.”

That's the beauty of freelancing, especially in the Internet age. There's no need to live anywhere near your clients. All communication is done via email, phone, or an Internet phone service like Skype. That opens the possibility of living and working anywhere in the world.

Of course, not everyone is inclined to move overseas. But the great news is that this type of portable income can take a freelancer anywhere in the United States as well. They can escape a depressed local economy without leaving their hometown. Locations with lower costs of living can provide a great home base for freelance jobs as they work for clients nationwide.

In Detroit, for example, apartments and homes are available for rent at rock bottom prices, just a few hundred dollars a month. In a recent survey, freelance job site Elance found that freelancers there have grown their earnings by 745 percent over the last quarter. That's huge and a good indicator that increasing numbers of residents have decided to join the freelance world.

When a freelance copywriter works for clients in New York and Los Angeles, the money made in depressed areas like Detroit goes a lot farther. Low cost of living with high-paying projects – the perfect combination.

American Writers & Artists Institute member Christine Butler literally had a portable office for several months last year. But not for economic reasons. She and her husband indulged in one of their favorite activities and drove throughout the American West in their RV. Christine worked on her freelance copywriting projects throughout the trip.

“My clients were intrigued about my lifestyle and how I was taking advantage of being able to write from anywhere,” says Chris. “The biggest advantage of a portable career is the freedom. As long as you get the work done on time, your clients don't care when or where you do your writing. It allows me to continue our plans to explore our country while earning money at the same time.”

The trip went so well that Chris and her husband went full time in the RV, and Christine is still working from her office on wheels.

Copywriting has allowed Christine, Shern, and Janet to take their careers – and income – wherever they want to go. They have the freedom, flexibility, and money to do it. And there are thousands of others doing the same thing.

For more information on portable careers, check out this special report from AWAI on the top copywriting opportunities for 2013:

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: February 28, 2013

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