How Online Freelancing Became Our Ticket to the World

Having run a blog for a while, my senses have become deadened to a lot of the material produced by other blogs. Specifically, blogs that serve up clickbait.

Titling an article ‘You won’t BELIEVE what Don Burke wore to the Hawker races’ or ‘7 mind-blowing tips to freshen your knee pits‘ is the go-to strategy to get people to look at your shitty, shitty content.

MEDICAL QUESTION: what is the term for the armpit of your leg?

So, despite feeling the heavy urge to name this sucker ‘Top tips to extend your travels by freelancing’ or somesuch, that was followed by another heavy urge to chuck my guts up. Also, we called ourselves Look What We Done, not We Done Some Shitty Advice For You.

So, what did we done?

Originally, our recent travels were to be six months long. Leaving in March of 2015, we had a return flight to Australia booked for September of the same year. We had a little money saved up – just enough, it seemed, to get us through – and were happy with how comprehensive our trip would be.

As it happened, we ended up staying until February 2016. We squeezed five extra months of travel in, almost doubling the amount that we seemingly had the budget for.

But HOW?


Welcome to the future, nerds. It’s called online freelancing, and it is the absolute tits.

Online Freelancing
Despite what it may look like, I’m hard at work here, NOT having a beer and watching footy

For Fun and/or Profit

The Sizzler and I both enjoy writing, or ‘word spews’ as the kids say. I can probably trace my love back to when I got full marks for a pimp acrostic poem of my own name in grade one, that I’m fairly certain started with ‘More better than the rest’ (My given name is Michael, not Fishy. Sometimes the truth is boring and shit, I KNOW).

We already had a blog up and running by the time we left as a Facebook update alternative, because if there’s one thing worse than not knowing what detached acquaintances that you haven’t seen for ten years are up to, it’s knowing exactly what they’re up to. Especially if that something seems fun.

The bastards.

We also had the good fortune of running into another blogging couple early on in our trip who showed us how to professionalise our little site, making it look as schmick as a non-premium WordPress theme and no working knowledge of computers would allow.

While holed up in Lima for a few days waiting for the start of a tour, Sizzle had a flash of motivation. She thought that she’d try to put her medical skills to good use, and see if there was any way she could write up radiology reports remotely. It was a specific (and usually generously reimbursed) skill, and it could be seemingly used wherever an internet connection existed.

While the medical side of things didn’t end up being a goer, the investigations revealed a world to us that neither even new existed.

Online freelancing is fuckin’ HUGE.

Online Freelancing
The office

Think of any job that you can do on a computer. These days, that’s a metric fuck-tonne of jobs. Graphic design, online marketing, website construction, music composition, journalism, video editing, life coaching; if you can do it through a keyboard and a webcam, you can do it wherever you find an internet connection.

But what could we bring to the table? Nothing more than the ability to put two words together.

It’s important to note that despite the fact I was at the very leading edge of my class when it came to earning a pen licence in grade five – the ability to write with a pen is a privilege, not a right, and some people would do very well to remember that – neither of us have any proper writing qualifications.

In freelance writing, you don’t need to. All you have to do is point people to where you’ve written something, and they’ll either say ‘niiiiiiice’, or ‘you kept swearing and overusing italics and uppercase’.

I told those people to kindly FUCK OFF.

That being the case, we already essentially had a live CV at the ready in the form of this very site. And apparently our inane drivel was proof enough for most that we could string together a sentence.

What’s online freelancing like Sizzle?

There’s Dead-Set Something for Everyone

What’s your talent? What’s your passion? If you’re serious about sustaining long-term travel, you’ll find something that you can do for money online, guaranteed.

Can you produce the sort of silky smooth tones that are ideal for a voice-over? Can you notate a musical score? Do you simply have the patience to strap yourself to the beast and bash out hours of data-entry? If you’re travelling in cheaper parts of the world, you may only need to do an hour or 2 of work a day to get by. In Bolivia, for example, we were sustaining ourselves by working a total of four hours each, per week.

But let it be said – we got lucky.

The thing is, freelancing sites (we predominantly use Upwork, but others like Fiverr are worth a look) are mostly populated by freelancers from places like South East Asia or the subcontinent. They offer diabolically cheap rates, like $2 to the hour, and can make picking up work a bit of a shitshow at times.

Thankfully for us, when it comes to penmanship, these suckers can lack in tone. Writing in that uniquely Australian drawl, with an over-reliance on slang and salty language, is apparently a fuckin’ skill. Thank the newborn baby Jesus.

The ‘work’ theme of this post is reason enough to use this majestic shot. ‘Pondering the construction job atop a cemetery building’, oil on canvas, c. 2015

So, being of a particular skillset (i.e. happy to spit on the Queen’s own English), we could command a higher rate. In some cases, it was the sort of rate that I honestly hadn’t ever earnt before. The sort of rate that I’d more often associated with young ladies (and men) of a very particular and different set of skills, wink wink.

It’s just a matter of finding your unique skill. You bring something to the table, no doubt. You just have to work out what the heck that is.

Have a Go, You Mug

The actual process of starting up in freelancing is simple – five minutes on Upwork and you’ll have created a sharp little profile – but the process thereafter requires patience. You may need to sell your soul for a cheap price initially in order to get a few jobs under your belt, but once you’ve garnered a bit of a reputation, the world is your oyster.

Online freelancing opens so many doors. It allows you to travel pretty much anywhere, and do so for as long as you want. In the end, we could’ve kept travelling indefinitely. The last 6 or so months of our trip were entirely self-sustained. But by February, we simply got a little tired of living out of a backpack.

Of all our travel photos, this is the most businessy. Rather than 1000 words, this picture tells 5: A deal was fucking DONE.

Think that you might not be able to hack it? I am the living, breathing, typing proof that you can. If the words that you’re reading right now aren’t evidence enough that any halfwit with a laptop and a spare couple of hours can’t freelance, I don’t know what is.

If those feet are itching, and the only thing holding you back from circumnavigating the globe is your bank statement, have a go. Sign up to a freelancing site. See if you’ve got some valuable skills.

Your ability to swear in italics at strangers could very well be your ticket to the world.

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