Do you ever think about all the things you could do if you worked for yourself instead of someone else? For many people setting their own hours and the freedom to travel is the reason for making the switch. Ben is a freelance everything-er, who moved to Thailand three years ago.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m forty years old and currently live in Thailand. I love the warm weather and friendly culture here. I’m originally from England and grew up interested in outdoor sports and anything computer related. I’ve been working for myself on and off for the last fifteen years. First, as a self-employed driving instructor but more recently, as a digital/remote online worker.

What made you decide to start working for yourself?
I didn’t like having a boss looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do and when to do it. I’m a fan of working hard and doing a good job, but I prefer working in my own space and at my own pace.

Did you have any formal training to develop the skills needed to work for yourself?
Originally, no. I have very few traditional formal education qualifications. I’ve developed most of the skills I have from years of doing similar things for my hobbies and interests. I believe that almost anything I don’t know can be learned through YouTube or relevant online forums. This can sound very alien to people in the traditional world of employment because they would need to show their qualifications to employers. However, when you work for yourself and find your own clients, I’ve noticed that people are more interested in the previous work you’ve done rather than a list of qualifications.

What type of projects do you work on?
I do several different things such as writing blog articles, editing videos and photos, some 3D modelling, converting YouTube videos to WordPress posts and I’ve even done some voice-over work. When there’s a dry patch I’ll pick up a customer service job that I can do remotely. The variation keeps things interesting.

How many projects do you work on at a time?
Excluding my personal projects, two or three. Right now I have two and I’m looking for a third to fill in a few more hours.

Do you feel like your location has any impact on your work?
Not all organisations in Thailand want to hire remotely so this changes the type of work I typically come across compared to working in the West. My clients tend to be smaller companies who want short-term projects rather than large corporations where someone might stay for ten years and build a career. Otherwise, it’s also cheaper living outside of the West so I can do less work and save more money.

One more thing to note is that contrary to nomad Instagram photos, you’re not going to be working on the beach — the wifi is terrible and the sand gets everywhere. Before you know it, you’ll be getting your hours in from a co-working space or the comfort of your own home. The balcony is normally about as adventurous as I get when working outside on a nice day!

How do you find new customers?
A combination of word of mouth and remote work sites like Upwork. Not to mention that repeat business increases over the years so the need to find new customers lessens the longer I’m doing this.

What do you enjoy most about working for yourself?
Being able to choose where and when I work (within reason, there are still deadlines) and I’m learning new things all the time. Also, my progress is decided by my personal development, not by an office hierarchy and company training schedule.

What’s the most challenging element about the way you work?
Self-motivation is the biggest challenge; making sure that I sit down and get things done without leaving them until the last minute. Also, it’s easy to be isolated because I’m not surrounded by co-workers so I need to make sure that I’m going out and socialising regularly.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to go from working for someone else to working for themselves?
It can seem like a massive and scary leap so break it down into bite-sized pieces. First, learn a skill. Then, pick up a part-time job that you can do after work. Then, another, and so on. It’s completely achievable but rarely happens overnight. If you study and work hard, before you know it, you’ll be earning as much in your spare time as you do at your job. You just might have to sacrifice some TV or drinking time when you’re getting started, but whatever you’re planning, start today.

Are you considering working for yourself or have you already taken the leap?