Back on the road at last ladies and gents. Such hype. Much excite. If you’re insane enough to want to follow me on a daily basis, then do sign up to my Instagram for music, updates and pics/stories of my life on the road day to day.
I had a really fortunate start to the trip and took on some new clients for my digital marketing biz literally the day before I left which has certainly helped the financials.
Fortunate because I hustled my ass off to get clients by the way and this is not easy in digital marketing these days. There’s a huge amount of competition internationally and you’re (obviously) competing with the whole world if you’re working online. You need references, experience and to play the numbers game signing up for all the major freelance platforms/networking/LinkedIn outreach etc. Don’t give up, more failures = more lessons.
So since I left on Thursday things have only just got going and not much to report so far on the travel front. That said, i thought I’d kick start with an overview of the awesome way I’ve found to travel rent free.
So, ya – the foundation of of my journey across the Uk is house sitting for various people I met via TrustedHousesitters.com.
This is a great site for so many reasons. You get to stay in nice family homes instead of hostel, you get privacy, it’s clean, there are wonderful animals to play with… plus from a more clinical work perspective, it means an area where I can get peace and quiet to focus on biz without a different party every night as a background temptation. In fact this particular site is international and there’s a lot of available houses in Australia, New Zealand and the US which are all on my hotlist after I leave the Uk in September.
Obviously the site is a based off peer review (and more importantly trust) so if you do go down this route make sure you treat each home and animal with the utmost respect and be honest about your experience to any host. These are people’s homes and lives, don’t fuck about.
Anyway, basic human decency aside: This means travelling rent free all summer and staying in some lovely homes in return for minding some pets. As both an animal lover and a remote worker this made a lot of sense and I hopped on the opportunity.
It costs £89 for one year of membership and is absolutely worth the cost. That’s what, three nights stay in a hostel or two nights minimum in most air bnbs and for me has meant being fully booked pretty much all summer bar a few breaks I’ve deliberately left for myself for a bit of freedom and travel in the areas I couldn’t get sits – namely Scotland and Ireland.
Through the app I’ll be staying in the Cotswolds, Cardiff and many other locations up and down the Uk.
Currently minding this wonderful pup for 9 days near Portsmouth.
On another less relevant note:
I haven’t really spoken about my music too much in the blog so far but I’ve had a passion for writing since I was in my early teens.
I’m going to be putting out a bit of acoustic and rap music over the next few weeks. I’ve got so much (partially) written material it seems silly not to do something with it.
As to why: There’s an element of ‘oh shit you’re 3 years from 30 bro’ to this TBH. 😅 So, will be putting pride, fear and artistic integrity all asside in a push to ensure I don’t look back and regret never having tried. 😁
Here’s a hastily thrown together sample of things to come:
So ya, short and sweet. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
Find below a ridiculously succinct guide to LinkedIn lead gen and a few other methods for my fellow freelancers and B2B heroes:
Read time: 8/9 minutes
You’ve prepped your sales decks and growth strategy, you’ve built a stunning website and optimised the hell out of it (guide to SEO here), now time to stick your feet up and wait for the flood of customers to storm the gates, right?
Wrong! Of course! If only life was that bloody easy for us freelancers/small business owners. Nono. If you want custom sir/madam, you must hustle. On that note, find below a brief guide (to be updated) on how to get your freelance business some shiny new clients.
You should be using Linkedin no matter what. Use it to network, use it to learn more about lead gen (LI learning here) and of course: use it to reach out directly to people you think would be interested in your services. Here are some key stats:
Linkedin has over 560m users
61 million of which are senior level and 40 million are in decision-making positions
44 percent of LinkedIn users have incomes over £60,000
75 percent of LinkedIn users have incomes of over £38,000
LinkedIn is the #1 channel B2B marketers use to distribute content
80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn vs. 13% on Twitter & 7% on Facebook.
LinkedIn generates 3x more conversions than Twitter & Facebook.
I use LI often for a lot for my own lead gen so this is what I’m going to focus the post on. There are of course loads of other ways to generate leads for your business, some of which I touch on v. briefly later on.
Right so, LinkedIn lead gen. Go:
First, get a free trial of LI Sales Navigator. You don’t HAVE to have this but if you can afford it, it’s actually a badass tool. (They’re not paying me to say that) The free trial will do for now.
Go into sales navigator from your LI dashboard, click create a new search.
Identify your target prospects – At this stage, you want to narrow down your key clients by as many criteria possible. Where do they live? What job titles are they likely to have? What size company are they? Is it a specific industry or audience? How far from you would you be willing to travel to meet them? Apply these criteria and you’ll be presented with a targeted search.
Refine your lists and bring them down to manageable sizes, removing companies/people who aren’t relevant. (Maybe split by Industry/location/tags) Remember, it’s better both time and conversion rate wise to target fewer more relevant parties than just including anyone/everyone.
Right, you’ve got your lists – it’s time to create a messaging/content strategy.
The messaging and approach will differ depending on your target market and the way you’ve split your lists.(Seniority of targets etc) focus on value add.
We want to be building long term relationships here as well as landing more immediate sales.
Thus the best tactic I suggest is to first offer some free value. Maybe some advice, maybe an article you wrote or maybe a relevant video. Lead the conversation into your service and don’t be pushy.
Now optimise your profile. Many people make the mistake of having a LI profile which looks like a CV. Your LI profile should be client facing and working hard for you 24/7. Your bio shouldn’t list your achievements but should talk about how you can help potential clients.
When optimising your profile remember to add your skills. Not only can others endorse you for these skills, but they also function as keywords so recruiters/clients can more easily find you using LI’s search tool.
Start reaching out to your prospects. Remember not to marry on the first date.
Make a note of where you are in the conversation in an excel doc or your CRM system and make use of sales navigators ‘tags’ to manage within LI. Make sure you make a note of these off the platform for when your trial runs out.
Join groups + get involved in the conversation – This will help you learn, meet potential clients and build future business relationships. Research groups that are relevant to you by searching for them in the search bar within LI and using relevant keywords.
Remember to follow up and continue to nurture leads over time, be professional but also be yourself – people want to buy from real people.
Ah, the classic. Find local business directories in google (Literally, google local business directories, lol), build yourself a list of potential customers and ring through (politely) asking relevant companies if they’d like to talk about the product/service. (Put some thought into your pitch but remember to play the long game. Don’t be too pushy and try to add value)
Bonus tip: Use google spreadsheets for free with your google account to track all those leads: docs.google.com/spreadsheets
You can get leads by hosting free (or paid) events, workshops and webinars and promoting these. Here’s a nifty site for easily hosting your events/workshops, Eventbrite found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/
You can use loads of different services to host, some of the good ones are: Gotomeeting, Livestorm and Everwebinar.
Free consultation calls
You can promote free consultation calls to generate leads and host them free of charge on Skype, Whatsapp and various other platforms. Alternatively, you can cough up the dough for Zoom and you can record calls for team training / to remind yourself of conversation specifics.
Your own website
Make your website a lead gen machine. Have a clean, simple user interface. Include CTA’s (Calls to action – ask for people to take an action: buy/book a call, sign up for a newsletter etc), allow customers to book a call/meeting directly through the site, have a form so customers can enter info for a callback. Build trust on the site with quality content. Offer incentives.
Don’t have a website? Build one yourself easily with Wix, Shopify or WordPress. You could throw together a half decent lead gen site with any of those options in a couple of hours.
Landing pages – Create well-designed landing pages to drive lead acquisition. Remember your CTA’s, keep it simple, keep it smooth. Make sure to gain trust and prove security.
Forms – Create surveys/forms which offer an incentive in return for contact information
Content – Create quality content – more on. this below
Definitely an option if you have a trusted source. Largely I’d say this is a bit risky though and that we should be cautious as a little fish. From what i understand many of these big lead databases are sold to many parties simultaneously or are pre-rated for quality with bigger companies getting first dibs and acquiring the best at volume.
Referral marketing is when you offer an incentive for a customer to refer your services on to others. An example would be to offer a 10% discount on a month’s services for both a client and one of their contacts if their contact also takes on your services.
I’ll post a longer content specific article later. For now though it’s worth saying quality content is a fantastic lead driver, especially if used alongside paid methods. Quality is more important than quantity, but try to be regularly producing value add content for your audience… Remember to include CTA’s, not to appear too pushy and try to start conversations.
You know this already but there are a million ways you can produce content, follow what already works in your industry then put your own twist on it, or break the rules entirely. 😀
Podcasts – Guides, interviews, reviews, behind the scenes
Videos – Guides, reviews, case studies, behind the scenes
Email is long from dead! Build a database for future lead gen opportunities. Send out an email offering a discount / announcing a new service to your database. Don’t spam though, make sure you get GDPR right and nail your copy.
No jargon, minimum technobabble – find below an easy to follow guide to SEO for nomads, small businesses and the terminally busy.
Reading time: 9 minutes
All of the below is completely manageable on your own and it should only take a few weeks of steady progress to get the groundwork done. That said, if you’re time poor, have major ambitions or would just prefer to focus on another area of your business then it might make sense to hire a Freelancer. (Like me!)
The Fundamentals: What is SEO & how does google work
Check off the on-site basics
Create a keyword list and strategy
Make a content plan
Write content/hire content writers
Optimise that content
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is the art of tweaking an entity so that it reaches the top of the results within a given search engine. This can refer to the ‘classic’ search engines such as Google/Bing/Yahoo but it can also refer to Youtube, Apple’s app store and anywhere else you can manipulate a listing to rank higher.
Google is the world’s biggest search engine and therefore the obvious starting point and what i’ll be using for all the examples. That said you should also be considering how to reach the top of the rankings in Bing, Youtube and any other search engine which is relevant to YOUR business.
How does Google work?
Google has a piece of software which is constantly scouring the web for new pages and grabbing basic info on their status/performance
Once discovered these pages are then added to their database
Google then shows the ‘best’ results to its users in a descending order based on the words or ‘keywords’ users type into the search bar
How does Google decide what the ‘best’ results are and what do i do with it?
Google’s ranking criteria is regularly updated but according to various studies the below are some of the key factors:
User intentbehind the search – for example: Do people want to make a purchase (Transactional intent) e.g ‘buy watch’, or are they researching a product purchase ‘Best gold watches’ (investigational), asking a question ‘How do i..’ (informational), a local search ‘ … near me’, or hunting down a particular website. (Navigational)
The volume and quality of links to your website, within it and away from it.
The experience a visitor has once they land on your site (How many people click through to your site from Google once they see your listing? (CTR) Do lots of people leave your site shortly after landing on the page? (Bounce rate) How long do people stay on the page etc? (Dwell time)
Optimised content – Content length and quality are both ranking factors – the correct placement of keywords on the page is also vital.
Domain Age (65% of top 10 results in Google are at least 3 years old, and URL (Site address and the links within the site and how relevant they are to the keywords)
Technical SEO – Keyword placement in: Header tags <h1> etc in your blogs/articles, titles, meta description (the long description of a link underneath the main link in the search results) the site load speed, does the site look good / work on mobile?
Social signals – Google says social links do not count towards a website’s rank but Cognitive SEO did a study of over 23 million shares and found a clear positive correlation. This is potentially because more people sharing a link simply means more visibility and others are more likely to share that link off social media. Additionally, social media platforms seem to rank quicker which means more visibility for your company on google. Either way, you should be considering your social strategy.
Search engine optimisation is simply not an area where you can expect a big overnight impact. As a rough rule of thumb: An Ahrefs study showed it takes between 2-6 months to rank in the top 10 search results on google once a given page had been optimised.
But… Once you do rank, you can enjoy all that tasty ‘free’ traffic. Mmmmmmm. Just remember your competitors are chasing those same yummy keywords so don’t settle and keep going after new keywords and occasionally refreshing your content.
Make sure you audit your technical SEO efforts and tidy off other hygiene factors like checking for broken links etc on the site. You can use Screaming Frogs crawler to review both your own and competitors websites for common SEO issues. There’s a free version. Here: https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/
Make sure your site looks good/works on mobile devices. You can check how it looks in your browser if you use chrome by clicking the triple dot menu button, hovering over more tools and clicking developer tools. Then press the little device button on the top left hand corner. (Big ipad, little phone) + refresh the page. Or just use this Google tool, lol: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Make sure your site loads quickly ( Check in Google analytics or use another tool, here’s a good one: https://gtmetrix.com/ ) If it doesn’t, reduce the size of images, remove any unnecessary plugins, scripts etc. The tool will give you a list of areas to focus on.
Make sure your website shows signs of providing a good user experience – Look at heatmaps (crazy egg have a free month trial here: https://app.crazyegg.com/email-signup) so you can see visually how people are interacting with the site, check your google analytics account for pages where you see high bounce rates, low dwell times, high exit rates etc. http://www.google.com/analytics
Keywords are the words/phrases people type into search engines and it’s really important you get this bit right. In fact, it’s a key part of the process. *wince* If you chase keywords where there isn’t enough demand for example, or target too many keywords at once, then you can end up ranking for none of them or succesfully ranking for keywords which don’t deliver enough traffic to get you return on investment.
You want to be targeting keywords (more specifically, creating content for those keywords) which have a decent amount of monthly searches but low enough competition that you can get into the top 10, and ideally no.1 spot. The longer tail (more words) a keyword has, the more specific it becomes and naturally the search volume declines but the word becomes more niche/targeted. (Which can mean better conversion rates)
How do i find keywords?
Get a free trial of SEMrush (if you’re on a budget, you can cancel before the end of your free trial) and steal the keywords your competitors are using. It’s easy to use but there are guides on how to use the tool. Google it! You can also use spyfu and get access to your competitors top 10 kw’s for free.
Based on this, expand out and make a big list of all the keywords you can think of that are relevant. (This is every word or set of words you think people would type in to google to find your website) and remember all the modifiers: Best, cheapest, discount etc
Take your keyword list and expand it by using these free tools:
Keywords everywhere chrome extension (See keywords literally everywhere in google, it’s free)
Keyword shitter (Terrible name, good free tool – enter a keyword and it spits out 1000’s of variations on the theme. Use it with the keywords everywhere extension to get search volumes, competition and cost per click also included in results.)
Google Keyword planner (the ugly, clunky classic, still works though!)
Dump all these keywords into a spreadsheet with 4 columns initially ‘Keyword, monthly search volume, CPC (cost per click) and competition score’
Filter these by search volume and competition score. You want high volume, low competition keywords relevent to your business. Once you have a short list, start checking what already ranks for those keywords. Do you think you can create better content than what is currently ranking? (Better content could mean a more comprehensive blog, it could mean a custom tool, it could mean an infographic, it depends on the keyword and the user intent, don’t reinvent the wheel check what’s already working and ranking)
Don’t overwhelm yourself and give up, start with whittling down to just 5 keywords. (You’ll get way more than 5 anyway because google sees the same words in different orders and with seperate ‘stop words’ individually. So ‘relationship advice’ will also likely rank for ‘advice for relationships’ ‘advice relationship’ ‘advice on relationships’ etc.
Awesome. Next step.
3) Make a content plan
Use the keyword list you’ve built yourself and put a content type and topic next to each keyword. Then input a rough guide on what you need to deliver to rank for that keyword based on who is at the top. (Again, check what’s already working for those keywords and improve upon it if possible – with your own flair, of course!
For content ideas you can also use tools like Buzzsumo, google alerts and social media platforms to see what is trending.
For bonus points you can stick all the other important pages on your site in this same list and plan target keywords for those also
For double bonus points can also make a note here of where you’re going to promote the content once it’s done. One piece of content can be reused many times in many different forms. Be smart about it. (Social channels etc)
4) Right – time to get that content written. Couple of options here:
Make sure the keyword you are targeting with each bit of content appears in: The H1 tag, (H2 + H3 tags also weak ranking signals), the title, the URL, the meta description, related images (and ‘alt text’ this is text for those who are visually disabled and IS a ranking criteria) and naturally within the body copy.
Make sure you’ve got your internal linking down: Link to other relevant posts and pages on your site that you’re particularly keen benefit from some extra search engine juice. When in doubt, stick these links at the bottom of each piece of content. (Also link off site to other authoritative domains where relevant)
Once you’ve done this, use a tool to audit yourself: If you have wordpress, Yoast is good. Other includes ‘All in one SEO’. For completeness sake i’ve included a big list of every SEO tool in the monitoring section below.
6) Content optimised? Groovy – time to get some links
You want to gain links naturally from high authority (trustworthy websites) – you can check the authority of other websites for free by downloading the MOZ toolbar here: https://moz.com/products/pro/seo-toolbar
Some quick tips:
Don’t buy links or persue ‘Black hat SEO’ techniques – google could penalise you and delist your site. Yeah. Not worth it.
Get yourself listed on relevant business directories, ensure info is consistent
Create quality content (You should already have done/ be doing this) which people will naturally want to link to.
Put your content in front of influencers with a big following who can help you get heard. (Bloggers, IG influencers etc)
Get links from friends and relevant business partners
Share your content on social media (Remember different platforms favour different content flavours so don’t just copy + paste – tweak)
Use Moz, SEMrush or other tools to look at competitor backlinks as these people may also represent an audience for your content
Bonus tip: To get some high quality links right from launch how about sending out a press kit to the major news sites …
7) Page 1, don’t mind if we do! Now to monitor performance…
There is a metric ton of different tools available. Here are some of the good ones:
On Page – Yoast, All in one SEO, Screaming frog, Moz on page tool… If you’ve really got a budget i’ve heard amazing things about Cora but it’s £250 p/ month. https://seotoollab.com/cora.php
Keyword research – Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Spyfu, Keywords everywhere (chrome extension), Keyword shitter, google keyword planner.
Right i haven’t really touched on local SEO yet which is a whole topic in and of itself. But, here are some quick golden wins:
Set up & optimise your google my business profile immediately. This appears at the top of search engine results and saves you a lot of time and effort ranking.
Business reviews also appear in GMB – ask happy customers for a review. Reviews are a ranking criteria, and they just plain look good.
Make sure your business information is available and up to date across all the key directories as this is one of the most crucial local SEO ranking factors. This means including your name, address, phone number and website address. This info should be the same on all platforms. Inconsistencies can impact rank. For a quick audit try Moz local, here: https://moz.com/products/local
Have a good think about local and industry specific keywords people will be using: ‘ X near me..’
I’m alive. Alive in the UK that is (gah) and since i’ll be staying a bit longer than originally planned I’m going to get cracking again. Don’t want to leave you guys all high and dry. 😉
I’ve put off the flight to NZ and the next stage of the adventure for two reasons, 1) it’s bloody expensive, 2) it’s bloody expensive.
It turns out that boot-strapping an ecom store, launching a freelance business, writing a doomed album, battering my head against a doomed blog and planning an equally doomed trip across the world simultaneously amounts to a complex, emotionally conflicting and undoubtedly costly affair.
Also, despite vivid daydreams to the contrary, nobody seems forthcoming with a massive wad of cash. Boo, hiss. Thus poor ol’ Seb must toil along with the unwashed masses until freedom beckons forth once more.
Blackadder: Oh God! Bills, bills, bills. One is born, one runs up bills, one dies! And what have I got to show for it? Nothing! A butler’s uniform and a slightly effeminate hairdo! Honestly, Baldrick, I sometimes feel like a pelican: whichever way I turn, I’ve still got an enormous bill in front of me!
I’m kidding about the unwashed masses, but not the work, unfortunately. I do enjoy it though. Mostly because I choose how and when i do it, which was the whole point. Freedom is within reach, my friends! (Almost) I’m still not earning anywhere near where i was as a full-time sales manager in London but amso much happier, dictate my own schedule and business is picking up.
Anyway, v brief update out the way – I’ve been contemplating some lessons learned from my first few steps into location independence (ew) and the realities of (wait for it) Digital Nomadacy. *Throws up*
What i wanted to focus this brief post on is a bit of an ego boost for YOU (ya bloody legend) and the importance of ongoing education.
The whole show is about you – start to finish
Let me make this super clear. You should be investing in yourself. You’re worth it. You can do it. £11.99 on a course from udemy.com is a bazillion times more valuable to you than that extra 10-bag of herb or those 3 pints during the week. Nobody will get your knowledge/success/money for you. (And it does come in that order)
And for the more aspirational readers: If you seriously want to change up your lifestyle and successfully work remotely or set up your own web-based business then you’re going to need a whole host of different skills whichever route you choose. This will take time, so get started now.
Besides, ask any recruiter – you get some serious brownie points for showing off your efforts to continually improve yourself.
Platforms & resources
I’ll be setting up a page which breaks down my favourite learning platforms which i’ll put here. Use it. Bookmark it + come back to it. If you’ve got no money – that’s fine. There are loads of fantastic free resources which i’ll be adding over the coming weeks. To take one example: A great way to get set up as a DN is through freelance coding. Harvard (yes, Harvard) have their famous CS50 computer science course + web dev course available online for free.
No coding? No problem. How about writing, teaching, sales, design, analysis, entrepreneurship… The list goes on. Don’t feel like you have to get it right first time either, most of these areas give you transferable skills so it’s not time completely lost. Just get started with an hour a day.
Prove to future clients/employers that you’re the guy/girl for the job by getting certified. Certs can vary a lot in weight so make sure you do your due diligence first. Following on from the point about RE: computer science just as an example – EdX work with the insituations they promote to offer certification. Basically you can get a qualification from Harvard for under £100 and have a fantastic CV / LI / Upwork bullet point. You’re welcome.
This is especially vital if you’re moving into an entirely new industry/role with no prior experience of course…
Social media communities
Make sure you involve yourself in communities related to what you want to do. There are awesome for passive learning: FB groups, Discord chats, Sub-reddits and blogs galore exist for each and every topic. Don’t be overwhelmed or expect to become an expert over-night. Lurk and read, then start asking relevant questions. If you’re already an expert then these boards are still great for networking and finding work.
Also, it pays dividends to switch up the media you use to consume content. Mostly because it keeps things fresh. Try out videos (youtube, it’s free), podcasts (soundcloud, it’s free), books (kindle, pretty cheap) etc and always remember that the practical application of this knowledge is the best way to quickly cement it within yourself.
Give yourself structure
Structuring your learning is key for the best possible results. As a rough guide, try 1 hour each weekday with a quick review each Sunday. This is what i do and find it works well for me but the important bit is to plan your education around your life in a way that minimizes barriers. (For me as much as i hate it, it’s first thing in the morning)
To keep yourself organised use:
Calendar (Such as ical for mac)
To do lists (Wunderlist, as an app and browser so you keep your to-do’s across every device)
Notes (Evernote or Onenote) – Use these tools for storing articles, different bits of media and related info all in one place.
And that’s a wrap
Hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful. If you did then show your love and give me a follow! Settling into this project for the long haul now. 🙂
Definitely. I had planned to stay for a week and ended up there for almost 3. Barcelona is the first city i’ve visited on this trip so far that i could really imagine myself living in. It’s got all the standard amenities you’d expect in a modern metropolis but comes with the added bonus of a fantastic climate (i was camping on a beach in December) and a super laid back culture – all set against a backdrop of beautiful vistas and some bloody tasty munch. (Tapas / paellas etc)
Also, you can’t turn a corner without stumbling on some Gaudi masterpiece or gothic wonder. As usual though for me Barcelona was all about the folks as i met some really beautiful souls.
What were the best bits for you?
People, weather, laid back culture, remote working setup
I stayed in quite a few different hostels during my time. Itaca hostel (9/10 Hostelworld) was good for the community vibes, St Christopher’s (8.9/10 HW) was essentially rooms built over a bar so good for socialising but it felt a tad touristy and if I’m honest, rather smelly.
My favourite place to stay without a shadow of a doubt was Born Barcelona. (9.6/10 HW) Walking into this gem you felt like you were the newest member in an incredibly eccentric family all bouncing around one giant apartment. The staff were fantastic, the location was central and the facilities were one step up vs the usual fair. We’d eat/drink together on the balcony each night and usually end up exploring some part of the City together.
In retrospect the team at Born really did go above and beyond for pretty much every aspect of hostel life from joining us on excursions around the city which i’m sure they’d seen a million times before, to helping us out when we were lost or stuck (daily) and introducing us to the groups favourite (low key/budget) bar in central Barcelona. Go to Mariachis for good vibes: lots of people making music, laughing and smoking weed in the street, plenty of tourist-friendly Spanish peeps and competitively priced alcohol. They even sell mead!! (Fermented honey)
Where can i work?
If you’re not feeling particularly social then working within the hostel itself is always an option as there are usually quiet places you can settle down and get on with things. One of the advantages of Barcelona, however, is the plethora of Co-working spaces available to nomads. There a good breakdown of spots here: https://www.shbarcelona.com/blog/en/live-barcelona-digital-nomad/ and i agree that the Sant Martí district is the place to go. There are loads of beaches, parks and various co-working spots including the trendy Valkiria Hub.
Is Barcelona good for remote workers?
Very – I completed a few different pieces of client work, managed to get a good volume of teaching done and spent a happy few days kicking off my latest ecom project. I’ll start sharing more info on how i’m marketing / scaling these projects as they grow.
What should i do when i visit Barcelona?
Go check out the view of the city from bunker hill (It’s here: Carrer de Marià Labèrnia, s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain) you look down on the city from some bunkers built in in the 1930s and it’s the best view you’ll get of Barcelona. You’re welcome. 😀
Also while you’re here obviously you need to check off all the basics: Watch some flamenco dancing (they start dancing at a very young age and the performance is incredible) and check out all the Gaudi stuff especially Park Guel and Sagrada Família (a cathedral),
Oh, if you’re into working out check out the calisthenic park on the coast. It’s awesome getting a pump in the great outdoors surrounded by waves and like-minded people pumping hench portable speakers. (Here: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 17, 08003 Barcelona, Spain)
Right, booze – Go drinking in the gothic quarter as there are quite a few trendy bars scattered through the meandering streets, definitely hit up Mariachis… Oh and you’re in Barcelona so obviously do go clubbing, there are quite a few good ones right next to each other on the coast by the marina. (DO NOT TURN UP LATE, THE QUEUES ARE HORRENDOUS)
Barcelona Cock up count: 2
Deleted my Instagram in a drunken moment of madness so there go 1k followers, gah. Also, my wallet was stolen which meant going almost a week with NO money and NO cards in a foreign country. Eep. (I was saved by the kindness of a gentleman called Juan who also happened to be a complete legend)
Learn from me
There really are LOADS of pickpockets in Barcelona, watch yourself, i had my wallet and some cash go missing on separate occasions.
Book Born Barcelona hostel
Escape the city
Don’t delete your Instagram account? … *Facepalm*
Scooters are to be avoided at all costs (Context below)
The best bit of my stay in Spain was actually the moment i ventured just outside Barcelona. The plan was to escape the rush and camp out on a beach we’d discovered a few days before at this place called Garraf.
But… This wouldn’t be how not to travel if things went smoothly…
Juan and i heard a rumour on the grapevine that there was a man with a tent we could use. After a suitable period of procrastination and several drinks, I set off to pick up this up without closely checking the route on my phone. (Obviously)
What had seemed ‘close’ in a moment of madness was actually a brisk 2-hour walk. I didn’t realise this until 25 mins in and because i had no cards or cash and only 15% battery i had no option but to run.
I arrived just in time, overheated and disgruntled with a dead battery. After some kerfuffle asking random people in broken Spanish to borrow a phone and message the gentlemen in question i finally got hold of him on facebook.
Unfortunately he’d lost the bloody tent.
We rustled around his basement for an hour and I had to do most of the searching because the poor lad was hobbling around on crutches having clearly had some sort of recent accident. After an hour it was decided that the fabled tent of destiny was clearly contemplating a warmer climate at his parent’s place ‘around the corner’.
Thus began a completely unnecessary but undeniable exhilarating break-neck race through the mean streets of Barcelona on the back of ‘tent man’s’ scooter. Suddenly it became all too clear why my man was on crutches.
We tore it the whole way there nipping through every minuscule gap in traffic. Bear in mind that throughout this entire ordeal my arse was hanging off the back of the bloody thing – i’m too lanky to own a scooter let alone ride shotgun. Terrifying.
After 3 near misses, several excited ‘wooooooops!’ and more than a few drops of wee, we made our way unscathed into the mountains at the back of the city and safely arrived at our destination. I peeled my shaking hands off the scooters flimsy handles (the only thing preventing Britain’s finest export from flying off a ‘road legal machine’ the size of his left bollock) and crossed my fingers.
SUCCESS! Unfortunately, tent guy needed to go, so i was left with a 3 hour walk across Barcelona to get back to my hostel and rendezvous with Juan. You wouldn’t believe how dark the internal monologue got at this point – BUT WE HAD A TENT!
The week we spent on the beach was fantastic, it was a real break from hectic city life and a dose of what freedom could really taste like. Every day we’d rise with the sun and every night we’d stumble home in the dark to build a fire, then play guitar, sing and talk until the alcohol hit us and we passed out to the sound of the waves.
We climbed a couple sketchy mountains without serious incident, slept on a boat thanks to a lovely local woman we met in a bar, slept in the back of a van one particularly freezing night (thanks to another new acquaintance) and spent 5 serene/hilarious days messing around on the beach. Beauty from the chaos!
A particularly memorable moment was hiking through the hills to a Buddhist temple to meditate. Before this little break from the madness I’d never had much time for the concept but I’ve kept the habit since and find myself indulging more and more. I know it sounds a little hippy and ethereal but i can’t recommend enough taking a little time every day to stretch, meditate and just .. Be.
One final note on the fine people of Garaff: they were without exception incredibly friendly and helpful. When it became clear over the days that we were on a shoestring budget we were given gifts of food, tobacco, accommodation and beer at various points. Even without this kindness though it was clear the locals were a good sort. Approachable, intelligent and very eccentric. Case and point the nutters annually welcome the near year by holding hands and running into the freezing waves together. I’ll add the vid below in the next few days..
Suffice to say i was sad to leave and i will definitely be back.
So there we are – more cock-ups, more memories and more ‘learnings’ . Fellow and aspiring nomads, you could do a lot worse than Spain for a home from home!
That week in Garraff was particularly poignant for me because it was during this time i knew i’d made the right decision, that i was going to be travelling for a while and that things just might be okay after all.
The blog is on temporary pause as I’m kicking my heels in the UK for a few weeks before heading off to NZ, Australia then working my way through Asia.