Welcome to the 4th edition of “How to Make Money While Travelling” which features successful nomadic teams and interviews with location independent entrepreneurs.
This week I interviewed Diego Morodo, the founder of Offcyclers, the first online platform for sustainable design and art. A site that aims to advance sustainability through premium creations made by artists and artisans around the world.
So, how do you make money while travelling
Well, I am a photographer and a videographer so apart from selling some prints I also collaborate with businesses who need to tell their story. I also have a background in Marketing and International Business, so I decided to start my own path as an online entrepreneur not too long ago with Offcyclers.
I am a huge upcycling geek, and before I started my nomadic life I used to make sculptures with reclaimed wood. During that time, I realized that there wasn’t a place online for real professionals who could sell high quality, premium pieces without appearing next to a pair of tacky earrings made with bottle caps. Although I love that people upcycle, and have much respect to anybody making their own DIY inventions, I felt this was a huge problem for real professionals who dedicate their life to their crafts.
I also felt story-telling was a huge part of the selling process, and it wasn’t taken into account anywhere by any other marketplace or platform. After talking to a bunch of artists and artisans, and seeing this was a real problem for all of them, I decided to create a platform that could put everything together. So I launched Offcyclers in April of 2016 with the idea of creating a highly targeted platform that only offered exclusive sustainable creations while focusing also on telling the stories behind those creations. It felt like a perfect fit for me, putting together my capabilities as a storyteller, my love for handmade creations, and my geeky upcycling passion.
What were you doing before Offcyclers?
Before I started traveling in 2011 I was a Brand Manager and Area rep for 25 action sports brands in Spain. I love board sports and they are definitely a part of who I am.
After a year on the move I had a terrible motorcycle accident in Vietnam that almost took my leg, or worse, my life. I had to go back to Spain to recover and started teaching English for some months. As soon as I recovered I moved to Chiang Mai in Thailand, where I started working as a Marketing Director for a boutique travel company. After that, I started my entrepreneurial path.
What are your reasons for becoming location independent?
It’s funny because most of the people always say the typical “I was tired of the 9 to 5 job”, but this wasn’t my case. I loved my job! My job as an area rep, which was sort of location independent ( I was a freelancer), allowed me to move around Spain without any problem and gave me all the freedom I needed..
Unfortunately Spain has been in a deep recession since 2008. Around 2010 the economical crisis hit its worst moment. There were no purchases, shops were closing down, and the whole thing started to collapse and become a nightmare. It was so bad that it got to the point where I was losing money to work! It made no sense and I had to make a decision: I either doubled down and tried to make my job work out, or I could just call it quits and start traveling the world, which I had wanted to do since I was 14. I packed my bags and started traveling.
Chiang Mai is a city plagued with digital nomads and online entrepreneurs. I started learning about Location Independence, Digital Nomadism and the roads to heaven opened for me.
Do you face any challenges while both working and travelling?
When you’re working you travel much slower. Be it the need of a stable internet connection or the fact that I’ve been traveling for quite some time already. I find myself looking for places to stay in for a longer time, it helps you network with interesting people and really does help with productivity.
I guess the biggest challenge is merging both of them without leaving any of the two behind. You have to work, but you also want to travel, but you also have to work ( and so on..) It’s not easy, but it’s far easier having a job in which I can work from anywhere I want ( and I don’t mean working literally from the beach… that’s the biggest “digital nomad myth” ever!)
How do you find work while travelling?
Facebook. I know it sounds crazy and most people just laugh when I say it, but it’s true. Normally each local community has a local Expat Facebook group. Those groups are a huge source of potential clients.
My first job in Chiang Mai as a Marketing Director? Facebook! All the gigs I find for Photo and Video? Facebook! It’s nuts, but it’s great!
Why do you think businesses should offer more remote working opportunities?
Obviously not all businesses can afford to have their workers being remote. But for those who can it means, first off, not having to pay an office rent or all the infrastructure to have people in cubicles or desks.
The other reasons I believe they should do it is because people ( not all, but a lot) become more productive, and in many more cases more engaged to their job. When you work from home, or a coworking space, or wherever, your job becomes a huge part of “your story” and if someone is proud of the work they do they have a completely different psychological approach to it. It’s not the same when you “have to go to work” than when you “have to work”.
If you were to give advice to someone who wants to quit their desk job to become location independent, what would it be?
I’m going to borrow a bit of this from the guys over at Tropical MBA, but here it goes: Stop trying to be Mr Genius Ideas, and start thinking of the things people are already paying you to do, and just do them better!
Read, learn, and explore, and keep your eyes open! And if you really can’t stand your 9-to-5 job, quit! If you just can’t find a job, create it! Move your ass, and stop conforming with “meh!” You are the only person who is standing on your own way.
What is your favourite travel quote?
I have a favourite quote by Gandhi that was written on the whiteboard of our home in Chiang Mai, and that can be easily applied to travel, but to life in general. The original quote is a bit different, but here is the version that was written and that I read every morning just as I was starting to craft the life that I live now.
Do you have a mantra, slogan, or catchphrase?
When I encounter problems or when I’m down I always say something to myself to get me pumped up again. VAMOS DIEGO VAMOS JODER! Which means, and excuse my language, “Come on Diego Come on, Fuck!”