Jonathan Pochini is a true digital nomad whose minimalist lifestyle can easily inspire you. Basically, everything he needs is his laptop. I had the opportunity to meet him during his last nomad trip to Las Palmas de Grand Canaria.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I'm an Italian SEO & Online Marketing Consultant. I've been specializing in offering Italian Online Marketing campaigns for international clients. But I also provide other services such as campaigns for the English market, Multilingual SEO (with help of some international native speaker co-workers), Wordpress Development, AdWords campaigns, Social Media campaigns and Content Marketing.
I also have some small revenues from my websites (which does help when you have to face the challenges of a freelance/digital nomad lifestyle). Nowadays I'd like to focus more and more on my own projects, maybe start an e-commerce, maybe some other online business.
Tell us more about your experience as a digital nomad...
At the end of the 2012 I was living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (Sydney, Australia) and I was practically working from home!
So I realized it was time to explore a digital nomad lifestyle and I went to Chiang Mai, the Digital Nomad Headquarters.
I just stayed there for a couple of months and it was great! I think I'll go back there some time soon... There's plenty of digital nomads and they are all pretty much willing to share their experiences, tricks, projects... in other words: they are eager to network with other fellow digital nomads!
I think I got more inspirations (for my work, for my projects) in 2 months on Chiang Mai than in years in Australia or Italy.
Anyway, after Chiang Mai, I went back to a small island in the gulf of Siam (Koh Phanghan) to finish an intensive yoga course I started a year before (it was the second time I was in Thailand); I stayed there another month and then I went back to Italy.
Back home I was looking for a new place to stay: a place with a good climate, but a place in Europe with no visa issues for an European citizen (after all, I've been struggling with visas for years in Australia). Canary islands seem the place to go: so I arrived in Fuerteventura in October 2013 and stayed there for 5 months!
Fuerteventura is pretty much like a desert: very quiet, not many people, not many opportunities too. So after 5 months I was happy to try and live in the "big" city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
How did you start and what do you recommend to the people who dream about this lifestyle?
I started working as an SEO in 2006 in Italy, but after a couple of years (and a couple of agencies) I decided I wanted more from my life. I gave up a fair contract and I moved to Australia. I went there for a 12 weeks English course and after that I found a job as a contractor for a Web Advertising Agency. Long story short: I lived in Australia - on and off - for 4 years!
During these 4 years I developed my network of online clients: it started as a necessity when my agency didn't have enough work for me, but during these 4 years it just happened that the work from the agency became less and less and the work from my online clients became more and more.
So, first thing, I must say that I reached the status of "location independent" slowly and gradually.
But I think you have to make some "strong" decisions along the way: my first strong decision was definitely to give up a fair contract and go to Australia and see how life was down under. I could have gone the other way (to the West) and given America ago. And worked for a company like Cardinal Digital Marketing but I decided to go to Australia since it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I had to take it.
In Australia I could have found a job as an employee in some SEO, Digital Marketing agency, probably I would have earned much more money and now I would have my Australian citizenship (salaries in Australia are quite good by the way). But to do that I should have given up my freelance lifestyle, which I started to understand I was enjoying it quite soon.
So, assuming you already became a competent professional, I would say you might need patience (it took me 4 years to develop my network of online clients), courage (seriously, think about giving up a big contract and see if you really want to live this lifestyle instead) and passion (you really need to enjoy what you are doing, because sometimes the feeling is that you are wasting your time in some online activity; e.g.: no one will pay you to develop and promote your own website). To start any business, customers are essential. Using online advertising agencies such as Gladiator Law Marketing for example, could help you to increase your client base, whilst also assisting your digital platforms to grow.
I actually tried to explore the digital nomad lifestyle a couple of times for shorter periods before taking the final decision to leave Australia for good: I passed a few months back home in Italy, working just for my online clients, and 7 weeks during my first trip to Thailand (didn't work that much in those 7 weeks actually).
What kind of hardware and software do you use during your ‘digital nomads' travels?
I think you don't need much to make the shift from your office-based lifestyle to a digital nomad one (it will depends on the job of course): you just need your laptop and a way to talk with your clients (Skype installed either in your mobile or in your laptop with headphones and a microphone or a webcam).
I don't use any fancy software either (except for some that I use specifically for my job): I just make my invoices with OpenOffice Writer, export them in PDF and count my hours in some spreadsheets.
It might be wise to use Dropbox or Google Drive desktop applications to backup your files automatically though! Just in case something bad happens to your laptop... and your work!
Said that, I have a laptop (of course), a couple of external hard drives, an iPhone and a Kindle (but let's say the last one is more related to my lifestyle than to my job).
Recently I gave myself a present and I bought a Google Nexus 7, which it was intended to be used for some light web surfing and for reading my feed reader (keeping myself updated is part of the job): it's just more comfortable reading web pages lying on the bed or on the sofa then sitting in front of the computer!
One thing that is important to me instead is to have a number of options for payments and for withdrawing or transferring your money: bank cards sometimes stop working! So, I have at least a couple of bank accounts with smooth online banking procedures (one is Italian, one used to be Australian, now it's a Spanish one) and a number of credit/debit/prepaid cards. And Paypal of course!
How do you manage your communication and tasks?
Usually Skype is more than enough and of course I have a credit on Skype so I can call mobile or phone numbers overseas when it's needed (not many people actually know that you can call mobiles and phone numbers with Skype... and that is quite cheap too).
Regarding project management tools... I actually just organize myself with spreadsheets, folders, notes... but I need to work on that: I'm sure there is a better way! :)
What are your favorite mobile apps?
Probably feedly (available for desktop and mobile): an app that replaced pretty well the famous Google Reader. As mentioned before, reading blog posts regarding my industry is an important part of the job.
Do you have some special hack you want to share?
I would give the strangest advice: we need to exercise! Our body is not designed to sit in front of the computer for hours! This leads to postural issues and calorie surplus (e.g.: we get back pains and we get fat!)
But even for our productivity is important to "unplug the mind" and have a regular physical activity (at least 3 times per week).
In a digital nomad lifestyle this could be quite a challenge but also more fun: if we don't have the chance to get used to a "routine" in which we go to the same gym 3 times a week, on the other hand we can explore different activities based on the location we are visiting: surf in Canary islands, yoga in Thailand, hiking, running on the beach, snorkeling, scuba diving, beach volley, dance... whatever... but it is important to take care of ourselves and our bodies.
Funny thing: I know a lot of this stuff because for a couple of years in Sydney I attended a Fitness course (I am a qualified Personal Trainer in Australia); the only way to stay in the country for me (keeping on with my freelance life) was applying for a Student Visa: since I had to do that, I applied for something fun... :)