Welcome to the 23rd edition of “How to Make Money While You Travel” which features successful nomadic teams and interviews with travel entrepreneurs.
“On the whereabouts of conflict and development”
Q1: So, how do you make money while you travel?
The idea is to pitch stories to clients and going to make those stories. Then it’s a matter of finding new stories on the way. This usually works quite well, although it can mean that sometimes there are gaps and no stories to make. These periods you’ll have to abridge by doing acquisition and for example polishing your archive, portfolio and websites.
Q2: What were you doing before 'Video Journalist Africa'?
I was a news reporter at the regional channel in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Q3: What are your reasons for becoming location independent?
It was a rather gradual process. In 1989 I started as a freelance print journalist for local media. Then I managed to make the jump to television which proved to be my life passion. Through learning on the job I became a television news reporter which was great. But having reported on big stories outside my comfort zone Rotterdam made me realise I wanted to see the wide wide world and to report stories from there. This lead in 2001 to the decision to quit my job and to continue as international TV freelancer. From savings I bought my own TV equipment and that brought me across the world and for the last years I live a rather nomadic life on the African continent. And currently I am again looking for new and further horizons by engaging in nomadic projects that are outside Africa.
Q4: What challenges do you face in your career while you work and travel?
There are many challenges that come with being a foreign journalist operating in difficult areas. That’s in the game, but sometimes it’s not easy to cope with the loneliness that comes with it, having no sparring partner to project story ideas on, and sometimes not being able to join the happy moments of your friends at home. But happily with social media nowadays it’s possible to maintain a kind of peer group wherever you travel.
Q5: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from becoming location independent?
That under normal circumstances we tend to stick to daily routines that makes us limit our potential. Being location independent makes more flexible and prone to acquire new skills because you are forced to; like for example learning languages and social skills required to deal with difficult situations. But I for one still tend to create routines by for example having a fixed daily schedule wherever I am. But being on the move this might be necessary to be able to keep delivering assignments on time. Since as a nomad I have to deal with clients who are not.
Q6: How do you find work while you travel?
Keeping my eyes open while on the way. Reading local news, keep my emails going, reading newsletters, and pitching stories to existing and new clients. The best inspirational trick I use is to plunge myself in daily situations. If I find myself travelling in a bus it’s likely that a bus related story comes out. Also it’s important to study local signage and read notice boards. It’s incredible how many ideas are just hanging there. Then it’s important to do a lot of movements by foot. Asking the way is a great way to start a conversation with people who look interesting to you. Don’t lock yourself in taxis, and if you have to go far use public transport since all the stories are seated there. This attitude results in a huge amount of information. Best is to sit down at the end of the day with laptop and a beer to let it settle down. Chances are high you’ll wake up at night with an idea you won’t have forgotten the next morning.
Q7: What’s a typical day for you? Do you have a set schedule?
If I am on shoot then I am filming that day and it breaks the normal routine. Which is waking up early. Have breakfast with the news. Then go to coffee shop for the news, emails and acquisition. The afternoon is usually reserved for creating. Which is writing scripts, do editing and do the necessary work on my archive en websites. This routine is quite the same wherever I am and I make that important since being nomadic there is nobody that looks over your shoulder.
Q8: What would your advice be to someone who wants to quit their desk job to become location independent?
Two things. Like what you do and be good in it. The life is wonderful but also full of challenges and deceptions. Your skills will get you through and if it’s tough it’s your love for the job that pulls you through and make you better in what you do.