Freelance writing can be a great way to for location independent professionals to earn a living from anywhere with a decent Internet connection. 22 year veteran Sharon Hurley Hall shares some of the her experiences as a writer and Barbados resident. I think Sharon has mastered the art of lifestyle design!
How long have you been living in Barbados?
I’ve been living in Barbados for just over three years now.
There are a number of great reasons to live in Barbados. On the practical side, it’s an English speaking country so there’s no need to learn another language. (I speak French and Spanish, but others in my family don’t). Most utilities work well: there are few power cuts and you can drink tap water which is naturally filtered through the island’s limestone base. I’ve got a 2MB ADSL connection which works well most of the time, so working from home is no problem. Other reasons include the weather (of course), a good education system and family ties.
What is the cost of living like in Barbados?
The cost of living in Barbados is high – no doubt about it. A two bedroom apartment could set you back US$1500 a month, but you could pay double depending on which area you live in. The West Coast, which has all the best hotels, is more expensive than the South Coast. Think New York prices and you will get the idea. Your internet connection could cost US$50-70 a month, depending on the speed you want. Eating out varies. You can get a delicious local meal for two with a cocktail for about US$40, but go to one of the top restaurants and you will pay $100 or more. Most things are imported, supermarket prices can be high.
What is your visa status? Is it difficult to stay long term in the country?
I’m lucky. My dad is Bajan, and though he no longer lives there, I can live on the island without a problem. Even without that, I’d be allowed to stay for six months at a time because I’m a British citizen. I think that applies to Americans too, so it’s easy to make it a base for a nomadic lifestyle. If you want to stay long term, there are ways: bringing business into the country or doing an essential job that locals don’t offer can get you a work permit and, eventually, residency.
How do you earn a living?
I work from home as a freelance writer and blogger. Most of my clients are in the US and UK. It helps to have a good net connection as I can use email, Skype and social media to connect with people all over the world.
With all the low cost outsourced writing services, how do you find new customers?
When I started, I went to bidding sites and agencies, but I soon built up a clientele. These days, I don’t spend much time looking for work as I have enough regular clients to keep me going. Some of my clients are escapees from low-cost outsourcing hell who have learned that it is better to pay a bit more for quality and reliability.
Do you recommend freelance writing as a career for others?
If you have writing skills, don’t mind spending time on your own and love learning about lots of new things, then freelance writing is perfect for you. If you are going to miss the company of others and a structured office routine, then it’s probably not.
How many hours a week do you work?
It varies. Probably about 30-35 hours, but I may do more or less depending on deadlines.
Is there a reason you write for others, as opposed to focusing on your own ebooks and niche websites?
I like the variety of writing for other people, though I also want to spend some time on creating my own ebooks. There are a couple of new websites in my future, too.
Do you have any plans to move to another country?
I’ve lived in several countries and am happy living in Barbados. It has an international airport, so it’s easy to get to other places. I can be in the US in 4 hours and the UK in 8 and this year I have worked from Mexico, Chicago, Florida and Nottingham in the UK. I never say that anything is forever, as it’s good to be open to the possibilities that life throws up, but for now Barbados works for me.