Working From Home: Episode 12 – Living that digital nomad lifestyle during COVID: my horror story – with Liam Carnahan
In this episode of Working From Home, Nelson connects with Liam Carnahan from Inkwell Content. Liam is a content strategist and SEO specialist who had just decided to go travelling when the COVID crisis struck.
Topics of conversation include: initial struggles in transitioning to the freelancer workflow, benefits businesses gain by collaborating with freelancers, the divide between white-collar and blue-collar remote work opportunities, finding community as a freelancer, and other topics.
[5:15] – Liam’s early ambitions to embrace the freelance lifestyle and the struggles he faced.
[7:57] – What inspired Liam to attempt working from home for a second time later in his career.
[9:56] – Hiring a business adviser to support the transition. “This is the number one resource that freelancers don’t talk about enough, but that everyone should use.”
[13:58] – Traveling through Asia as the business starts to take off in early 2020. The arrival of COVID, and the crisis that ensued.
[22:13] – Nelson’s experience of being quarantine with family during COVID.
[27:59] – The benefits of business owners receive when collaborating with freelancers.
[32:10] – The divide between white-collar and blue-collar jobs and the ability to work from home.
[33:43] – Finding community as a freelancer. The willingness to be outgoing and to seek out people that may want to connect. Joining online communities.
[39:26] – Transitioning from landing clients at in-person events and through public speaking to finding clients digitally.
Nelson: [00:00:40] Welcome to the working from home podcast with your host Nelson Jordan. That’s me. Today, I’m delighted to announce that I have Liam Carnahan, who is joining us today. He’s the content strategist and SEO specialist at his company, inkwell content.com. Liam, thank you for joining us
Liam: [00:01:00] And thanks for having me excited to be here.
Nelson: [00:01:03] You are quite welcome. So first things first, I’d love for you to give our audience a flavor of just who you are, how long you’ve been working from home and kind of what that entails for you.
Liam: [00:01:15] Sure. So like you said, my name is Liam. I am a content strategist and I work in SEO. I actually have two businesses, so I have one business that serves those kinds of clients and services, and the other one is a fiction editing company, which I started about 12 years ago. So for me working from home, I did it once 12 years ago for about a year, and then I had to give it up cause I wasn’t doing very well, and then I took an eight year break to go back to the office, and then I came back just about a year ago and started working from home again, running my own business and doing it right this time. I hope so. That’s kind of my story in a nutshell.
Nelson: [00:01:55] Awesome. So you’ve had a couple of different companies that you’ve been running, kind of almost at the same time in various guises.
But one of the reasons that we’re kind of talking is I think you’ve got like a really interesting story in terms of kind of your digital nomad experience and how that kind of panned out or didn’t necessarily pan out. So I think we’re going to delve into that in a little bit, but first I just kind of like to hear a little bit more about what you do and your role as a content strategist and an SEO specialist, if that’s okay.
Liam: [00:02:30] Sure. So I just, I work with businesses of all different sizes from startups to multinational companies and basically my goal is to help them use content marketing to bring more organic traffic to their website, to engage their audience, to rank better on Google and achieve their business goals. So I’m a writer by trade. I have a degree in writing literature and publishing, so I approach it from that angle, have a really high standard for the quality of content. I’m an editor as well. So, you know, to me, it’s all about making sure that content is really high quality, really creative and also achieves goals. And there’s, it’s not easy to do all three of those things with content, that you’re just kind of making up as you go. So that’s where I come in because I create strategies that sort of plan, the whole thing end to end. I build SEO into that. So I’ve got a technical SEO background as well as obviously content SEO. So finding opportunities within that strategy to really boost people’s visibility online, and just basically help businesses bring more people in and define who they are through the power of certain words. So it’s, it’s been fun and I’ve been doing, I mean, that’s what my long term job was as well. So I’ve been doing content marketing and content strategy for about 10 years now. Just the last year solo.
Nelson: [00:03:52] Fantastic. So were you working as part of an agency or in-house before?
Liam: [00:03:56] Yes. I’ve been working in agencies for most of my life, most of my adult life. Anyway, I got hired by an agency right out of college because back then I was just desperate for anybody to pay me to write. So I was like, what jobs are available 2008, as you may recall, not the best time to enter the job market though. Probably better than today. And I managed to find this company.
I had no idea what content marketing was. I’d never even thought of it, but that company hired me. And at the time they were. More or less the content farm. So, you know, I was like strapped to a desk and writing 300 word articles about the most inane stuff, condoms, dog, food, you name it, and then I worked my way up in that company though.
And so I blinked and eight years later, I was still working in a different agency in a different country and I was the director of content in that department. So I was running the whole department by myself.
Nelson: [00:04:56] Fantastic. And when did you kind of decide to start working from home? What, what was kind of the precursor to that?
Liam: [00:05:05] So I’ve always been, like, fantasized about the freelance lifestyle for a long, long time. Basically, since I learned what it was. Because, I love to travel. I love personal freedom. I love running my own schedule and I hate being managed or micromanaged. So it has always been a long term fantasy for me.
I tried it right after college. That’s when I started my fiction editing company. And I think I was like 21 or 22 and I was, I was young. I didn’t know how to run a business. I didn’t know. You know, I wasn’t charging nearly enough for my services and I found out pretty quickly that I could not make a full-time job out of reading bad novels. So some of my clients, my clients are really good in all of this, I have had some amazing novelists come across my desk, but there was also a lot of like bad erotica. So I gave it up because it was just too stressful for me and I just wasn’t doing it, and also back then in 2000… must, must’ve been 2008, 2009. Yeah. So I guess I got that job at the agency in 2010. it just wasn’t. it just wasn’t working for me and so I, also I think the tools didn’t exist back then for freelancers like we do today and you know, like what we’re talking on right now, zoom, that didn’t exist. So, I gave it a go years later after I had sort of done my time, figuring out how to run a business and how to really sell my services.
Nelson: [00:06:23] Okay. Perfect. So you mentioned the tools there. I think that’s something that’s been absolutely key and we’ve only seen, you know, during COVID, Corona virus, those sorts of things, massively accelerating and that’s, that’s wonderful to see. I think it provides people like us with far more opportunity.
You know, you can work from anywhere in the world and even something like, the other day I needed a new contract signed, right, and I didn’t have to go and find like a library or an office or anything like that to, to print something out because it didn’t have a printer where I was, I could just use an electronic kind of PDF signer, and it’s very, very basic and it worked really, really well.
So what was, kind of the, the trigger this time around, to, to kind of go out on your own and start working from home. I know travel was a big part of it for you
Liam: [00:07:20] Well, there was actually like a bunch of triggers all at once. And at the time it seemed like the universe was kind of sending me a message.
So, I think I mentioned I was living abroad, so I’m from the States and that’s where I am now, but I moved to Australia and in Australia, as I basically, the way it worked there is, I was an immigrant, right, so I could only work if my company sponsored me. So I had to stay at my company as long as they sponsored me. So I spent a year and $10,000 getting permanent residency there, so that I would be free from that. And it came through right at the same time that my job really became extraordinarily miserable because of some management being shuffled around and some really contentious stuff happening and a lot of drama that I really did not want to be.
And so those were like the two work triggers. And at the same time, I was in a long-term relationship that kind of was coming to an end naturally anyway. And also I was getting sick of Australia, and just kind of feeling like I had done my time, you know, six years there really far away and miss my family, miss my friends, wanted to see more of the world.
And Australia is a great, wonderful country, but not the best place to be, if you’re, if you have a really bad case of the travel bug, because everything is. Far away, even local, those things are far away. So I was like, okay, I’m about to be single, I hate my job, I’ve got permanent residency. and I know what I’m doing. Like I can do this.
I was so scared, but then basically I started chatting with a bunch of freelancers and a business advisor, and between those two sort of conversations I was having, or many conversations I was having really gave me the confidence to just say, okay, I can do this and so I quit. And three months later, I had a three month notice period so it took me three months to get out of that job, but I did, and it was a good time.
Nelson: [00:09:14] Okay. Yeah, it sounds like it. And did you find like the business advisor helpful?
Liam: [00:09:19] Oh, my God. I’m obsessed with her and I’ll give her a shout out.
Nelson: [00:09:23] Give her a shout out. Right now
Liam: [00:09:24] Hi, Kylie Burke, my hero. She works for this place in Sydney called creative plus business, and they are basically an agency that helps creatives who are freelancing and building their own businesses succeed. And Sydney gave me, for the city of Sydney or the state of new South Wales where I lived, gave me four free sessions with Kylie. And she changed everything for me, just like I call her my business therapist. Cause she like takes a lot of my anxiety away and she just kind of helps me get organized and set myself up so that I don’t have panic attacks when I’m thinking about work, and ended up actually staying with her even after the four free sessions and paying her. And then when I left Australia, I got another business advisor here in the States. Cause I really think it’s like probably the tool that freelancers don’t talk about nearly enough that everyone should use.
Nelson: [00:10:15] Okay. And how did you find your, your one in the States? Just through a Google or through, through a friend.
Liam: [00:10:22] Like a late night. I hate my job, panic, Google, experience. Yeah, like just mashed like free business advising Sydney into the keyboard and then, you know, it’s power of SEO. The people who were on the first page got my clicks and happened to be creative plus and the new South Wales business advisory. So I was able to get those free sessions.
Nelson: [00:10:46] That’s awesome. And so once you’d got the free sessions, I guess, set up your website, or was there kind of another thing in between.
Liam: [00:10:55] Yeah, I did set up, well, first I got everything set legally because that was one of the mistakes I made the first time around is I like, I didn’t like get my taxes all set up. I didn’t like set myself up as an official business and all of that. So I did all of that stuff. Then I started working on my website. Don’t tell anybody at my old job, but I did it while I was being paid by them. My last three months there, basically I gave up all my responsibilities to the people who were replacing me. So I just kind of would come into work and quietly sit at my desk and build my website, I basically got a very like basic website out like a home page services page and about us page and then I, but I was already looking for clients basically from the moment I decided to really go for this.
Nelson: [00:11:40] Fantastic. And I guess you, the beauty of your position is you, you must have known quite a few people in the industry already, right?
Liam: [00:11:49] Yeah in Australia. I did for sure. I mean, I knew so many freelancers and then that was kind of my first order of business when I started to transition out was to just tell everybody I knew. I mean, everybody I’m talking like waitresses baristas, like anybody who would listen basically, regardless of whether they can or not. Oh, yeah, no, it was just, I was informing people beyond their consent. And, I actually got jobs out of it. You know, you never know who is going to be your aunt’s friend’s cousin might know somebody who knows somebody who needs content and then suddenly you have a job.
So, yeah, I was like very, very verbal about it and looking for those.
Nelson: [00:12:31] No, I think that’s obviously served you very well, though, right?
Liam: [00:12:35] Definitely did when I was in Australia. It’s a bit of a different story these days now that I’ve relocated to America, I’m used to being a big fish in a little pond. Now I’m like a medium sized fish in a huge pond. So I don’t, I don’t have as many connections here in the States as I did and obviously COVID makes it a little bit harder because I’m not going to any events or doing any public speaking. That’s okay, because I’ve got clients all over the world and I’m growing my presence here in the States too.
But back then, yeah, it was a huge advantage to have those connections for sure.
Nelson: [00:13:07] Okay. So you’ve set up your website. you’re kind of coming to an end at your time in Australia. What happened next?
Liam: [00:13:18] Then my entire life fell apart all at once because, like everybody else COVID happened. So basically this all happened. I basically stopped working at my job in, I think it was january or no? Yeah. Must have been January of 2019. You know, I kind of transitioned out so July, August, September, no, no, sorry, September 2019, so a year ago. And so I had a few months of absolute bliss, right. Where I was like done with my job. My freelance business was growing. I was on the cusp of all this travel, you know, going through a breakup, but like honestly the best breakup that you could hope for is very amicable and, you know, as kind of gentle as it could be. And then I was like single and for the first time in five years, and you know, on the cusp of this huge trip, my family was coming to see me in Australia because they knew I was leaving and some of them hadn’t had a chance to come visit me yet. So that was step one was like this huge trip with my family around Australia and New Zealand. And they were going to go home and I was going to continue on and I’ve always wanted to go travel through Asia. It’s like, I haven’t been there yet I’m dying to see Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, all of that. My business was going so well. The whole plan was basically, I was going to go with a laptop and a suitcase and, you know, live a really nice lifestyle because I was making plenty of money in Asia where I could, you know, be very thrifty if I needed to be and was so excited and I made it to New Zealand with my sister and my brother-in-law the first, literally the first leg of the trip. And that’s when we were in New Zealand and turned on the TV on the third day of our escape and there was the prime minister saying, get out of this country if you’re not from here because we’re locking down and you gotta go and so I had a couple of panic attacks and then send my sister and my brother-in-law packing, canceled my parents’ trip altogether, canceled anything I had set up for Asia. And was really lost. I’m not going to lie. Like that was probably the lowest point in my entire life. Because I didn’t have a home, you know, I was supposed to be living out of Air bnbs and suitcases.
I was supposed to go back to Australia one more time to say goodbye to all of my friends that I’ve made over the last six years and Sydney was in lockdown complete and total lockdown at that point. So that wasn’t really an option. I wasn’t ready to go back to the state debt. I didn’t have any clients set up there. I didn’t have any lights set up there. My family was there, but, you know, I was really like, it was hard. It was really dark and bad, and I didn’t even realize how upset it was at the time. I guess, because maybe I was still holding on to a lot of hope at that time that COVID wasn’t gonna last that long, or it would just be a few weeks and then we’d all get out of this mess.
It’s naive now thinking back, but I didn’t know what to do. And so I decided to go back to Australia, and made a really bad choice to quarantine with this person who I didn’t know very well. He was this guy who was like, a bit of a romantic interest for me. And so I thought, well, better to quarantine with somebody who’s like kind of cute and fun, then quarantine alone, right? At least until I can get out of quarantine and have my going away party, it was kind of my thought. That’s not what happened, because this person turned out to not be who he said he was at all. And in fact, turned out to be a bit of a serial psychopath who yeah, basically like tried to ruin my life by gaslighting me, brainwashing me, and tricking me into thinking that I was the crazy one, in about eight weeks.
And I kind of became trapped with him. And I guess that’s kind of a theme for me of what’s happened since this whole thing is, you know, I left my job because I was feeling trapped, strapped to a desk and I was like, Craving the sprain finally got the freedom and then I got trapped in Australia and then I got trapped in quarantine with a true psychopath and had to really fight hard to get away from him because he had me so confused.
Fortunately, my family swept in and helped me see that this man was like, definitely abusing me in pretty much every way you could think of, I had to get a restraining order on him in the middle of COVID, had to go to the police department in the middle of COVID in a foreign country, move out of the Airbnb I was in because he had keys to it too. Then I was like, in this, Airbnb. I like, I basically ran. I went to the hospital because he was driving me so insane that I had to get away from him. And I went from the hospital, I had my friend who was a military guy, he was like this big muscular guy, come with me to make sure he wasn’t still at the apartment, helped me pack up all my stuff, ran to this other Air BNB that was like hidden behind the beach where this man couldn’t find me. And then I was like, well, now what am I going to do? Because now I’m like, I’m like this guy had been driving me so insane that I’d stopped working. I was losing money. I was stuck, and I was like, what the hell am I going to do?
And fortunately, I have amazing family and friends who were like, come home. So I said, all right, that’s it. I’m going to, at this point, the restrictions in Sydney had lifted. So I was able to have a going away party, not the like dramatic party that I had been planning, but the fun gathering with a few small people from six feet away, better than nothing.
And I said, all right, I’m going home. So I bought a plane ticket. And that’s when I found out that because I was a permanent resident, I wasn’t allowed to leave Australia and I had to apply to leave and I was denied five times and every time I was denied, I had to re flight and change it again. I was living in an airport hotel in the abandoned Sydney airport for five days and ended up having to get a member of parliament on my team to write directly to the Australian federal police saying, please let this person out of the country. And then I finally made it out. I got on a plane for 16 hours with, by myself and like 10 other passengers, everyone wearing masks and finally made it back.
Nelson: [00:19:22] Wow. What a story, what a story. I mean, a ton to unpack there. Like, as you said, like you called your, your business advisor, your therapist, I don’t, there’s too much and I’m, I’m not qualified enough to, to kind of offer anything there, but it sounds like your, friends and your family kind of where they kind of sweeping in. So that’s fantastic
Liam: [00:19:52] Yeah at the time there were people in my life who were watching from the sidelines. I’m very scared for what was happening to me because this person, he took over my phone, he took over my computer, he wasn’t allowing me to send messages to anybody.
And so obviously my friends and family were freaking out and I was like, so confused and thinking that I was going insane. I didn’t know how to help myself. And so fortunately getting away from him and going to the hospital, that was the best choice I ever made because at the hospital, there was a psychiatrist there who sat me down and she was like, you don’t have any of these crazy things that you, this person is telling you that you have, you’re actually quite a same person. And honestly, he sounds dangerous. So that kind of was like a wake-up call, strangest feeling I’ve ever had in my life. Like. You ever seen the Truman show? You know, like when you realize that somebody has built this whole world around you, that’s absolutely fake and it just goes up in a puff of smoke. Very scary stuff, obviously pretty traumatic, but I made it out.
Nelson: [00:20:56] So you’re in Maine at the moment, right?
Liam: [00:21:00] Yeah. Yeah. So instead of traveling, would be through Cambodia right now, I’m living in my parent’s spare bedroom in rural Maine, it’s almost as good.
Nelson: [00:21:11] If not better. I mean, no, no shame in that, you’re talking to somebody who in currently recording this podcast from his parents in law’s house because we were in kind of a similar situation, my wife and I, and then about maybe seven, eight weeks ago, something like that. We moved back from Valencia in Spain. So very different, from kind of gone from the Med, nice and sunny to Stoke, which anyone in the UK knows is not quite as glamorous as Valencia, but you know, it’s close up there.
So yeah, there’s, there’s pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to. you know, in the last few months thought they’d be doing something completely different at this point in the year, this summer, and kind of moving, moving into autumn, it’s bizarre. It’s honestly bizarre.
Liam: [00:22:10] I don’t think enough people talk about freelancers and like what happened to everybody. Cause like these huge communities are digital nomads, right? Must’ve been scattered like the wind, you know, like all these people who are living all over. I mean, I have a friend who was trapped in Vietnam, you know, a friend who was on the cusp of moving home and then decided to say, it’s like for people who were living in a kind of transient lifestyle, it’s pretty devastating. You don’t have a home to quarantine and so what are you supposed to do?
Nelson: Yeah I’ve heard you kind of a few horror stories, to be honest, about people getting trapped in, in different places and depending on the country that you’re from and the country that you’re in, it can be super, super difficult and especially as there’s not as much advice out there as there probably should be from certain governments because they don’t necessarily have the time or the resources to say, okay, well, if you’re from this country, then you need to do that. If you’re from this country, you need to do that. So they tend to like group them in terms of, okay, well, if you’re from a country within the EU, this is what you should do.
But even within like countries in the EU, there’s so much difference between what’s happened in each country? Nothing, nothing is the same. Obviously we were in Spain at the time, which was very badly hit. Okay Italy was the main one kind of in Europe. And then I think, I think actually we got it from, I think that the Valencian or maybe the Lavante football team, I can’t remember which went to play a game somewhere in a different country. And then basically I think a lot, the team caught it and a journalist caught it who was covering the game and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really, really hard if you don’t have that family or that friend or that support system or anybody that you can kind of call on if you find yourself stranded in these countries, it must be super, super difficult. And trying to balance that with also working full time, trying to bring on clients and stuff like that. Like I lost my biggest client, maybe two, yeah actually, it was probably longer than that, maybe like three or four weeks into the quarantine in Spain. They were actually US-based and they kind of handed their notice in, I was fortunate that I managed to get a new client that replaced most of that income a few days later, but I’m definitely not the only one who like even within my network, I know people who were working for just one, one company and, have been, let go.
But I also know people like I was on a, a copywriting webinar yesterday and they lost their entire customer base. You know, they have multiple clients and they lost all of them. Yeah, it’s been a crazy tough time for the freelancer community. I think probably the only benefit, not even a benefit, but I suppose it was the kind of silver lining is that we were the people that already knew how to work from home. Like it was our, our norm for lots of us, whereas a lot of people in the UK, for example that have been furloughed, this was kind of a new experience to them and not one that they had chosen right. It was one that was pushed on to them.
Liam: It’s so funny, you read all those articles out that are coming out now about like how to survive working at home. There’s like this whole gullet of articles that are on that topic and reading it I’m like that’s old news to me, but I think in terms of that silver lining, I also think there’s a good thing that’s going to happen for the future.
So, you know, people are getting so used to the idea of working from home, the idea of meeting over zoom, the idea of working with somebody who doesn’t live in your state, or even your country. That I think, you know, kind of like naturally in the past, when people heard the word freelancer as a business owner, they might kind of recoil at the idea and now they’re all learning like, Ooh, there’s a whole benefit of working with freelancers and hiring freelancers.
Nelson: Yeah, definitely. So let’s, let’s talk about those benefits for, for a little while because I think it’s just quite an interesting thing. Obviously there’s the, the fact that you don’t have to pay somebody a full-time salary. You don’t have to find them an entire job to do. You can work with them on like a project basis and you can find really, really great people out there. Whereas once, if you were just tied to a location, say for example, you had a business in a city, basically you are limited to just people that could commute to that city or, or lived in that city. Now, if you want some specialist sat on the other side of the world in a different time zone, for example. You know, I think, I think you’re right people are kind of opening their eyes to that a little bit. I think there are some people out there that I’ve seen in various job boards, apps taking advantage of that a little bit in terms of how they’re pricing certain jobs. But I think if you’re doing kind of quality work in this sort of environment, that shouldn’t be too much of a an issue for you? Fingers crossed. yeah. No, it’s, it’s, it’s very interesting. I was talking with somebody a few days ago, for this podcast actually, Lydia Lee, and we were talking about how this is probably, by this I mean kind of COVID and coronavirus has probably acted as a bit of an accelerant. I think a lot of things were already going this way and have been going this way for a few years and COVID has just moved us on two or three years in terms of, okay well we were looking at video conferencing technology right now actually there’s more money probably been poured into it than any other time, because it’s, it’s so important.
And you saw that in kind of zooms Zoom’s growth rate kind of mid quarantine, and things like that. So those sorts of technologies, and people kind of working out processes, working out work-life balance and that sort of thing it’s kind of like anywhere our focus is when enough people get in there, it reaches this kind of critical mass and then suddenly businesses or people that make these products and these solutions are like, okay, well that justifies, enough people actually paying attention to this that justifies us, you know, putting extra effort into this particular product or trying to get this service off the ground, whereas they might not have done that before. So I think that’s super interesting as well.
Liam: [00:28:58] I agree and I think, another sort of in a similar vein that’s kind of happening is there’s just such a boom of creativity right now I think going on because first of all, people are bored and like lonely. So they’re like, you know, I’m not, I’m not just talking about. Like obviously like there’s people doing crafts and new skills and that kind of a thing. But I think when it comes to working too, people are just getting far more creative about their solutions because they’re faced with all these problems that literally nobody has ever had before. Like how do you run a team of a thousand people when everyone is in their own office and at home. And so people are just really thinking outside the box, maybe collaborating in ways that they hadn’t expected to collaborate or wouldn’t have collaborated before and it’s just cool to see, I mean, Sure. I would rather be outside and like having fun with my friends, but in the meantime, I’m having a lot of fun watching people figure things out and try new things and come up with new ideas.
Nelson: [00:29:54] Mm yeah. That team, how do you manage a team kind of question is very interesting.
I think a lot of people are going to look to successful companies that already were running a remote teams. You’ve got people like base camp, for example, and I think they’ve been running, I think pretty much all of their employees are, unless I’m wrong, kind of remote workers and have been for a long time and then it’s interesting you get into this divide, I guess, between kind of white collar and blue collar jobs, where some of them can be done from home and some just can’t with the current technology and maybe will never be done from home and I think there’s been a bit of a divide there. that’s probably affected people and in different ways, financially.
Liam: [00:30:43] Definitely. I mean, not to get too heavy for your show, but of course, you know, the people who are on the front lines are people who have to work, have to work in those kinds of jobs, where they have to be facing the public in order to keep society running. And unfortunately, there’s also a large overlap between those people and at least here in America, you know, people who aren’t as well compensated for their work.
So maybe there’s a wake up call coming. I’m a little bit too jaded with my country right now to say that I think that’s definitely going to happen, but I hope it does wake some people up to the fact that like, different jobs have different values at different times based on what society needs and like right now we really need grocery store workers and like electricians and all those people to help keep us alive. Certainly more important than me finding keywords for some random businesses.
Nelson: [00:31:38] Unless you’re finding key words for those electricians and grocers
Liam: [00:31:42] Right? If you’re a broker and you need those services, i’m here
Nelson: [00:31:48] There you go. So one of, one of the things I’d love to get your take on Liam is community. So I’ve been freelancing, in various guises, you know, firstly with digital marketing and then with copywriting since January 2019 so coming up to coming up to the two year point in a couple of months. One of the things I’ve struggled with most is the lack of interaction and occasional loneliness, to be quite honest, not having enough people to kind of, talk to on a daily basis and you know, just the, the interactions that you miss sometimes when you’re at work.
Our first guest, Rob Jones, we were talking about how sometimes there are these little interactions that just can’t be replicated at the moment through technology. So it’s stuff that falls between the cracks that isn’t important enough to send an email about or a Slack about or record a loom video, whatever. You know, they’re little things that you would, perhaps, if you’re in an office lean over to your colleague or your friend and just say, Hey, what do you think of this? Or can I get your opinion on this with regards to work, but also how do you, you know, I’ve always been in the fortunate position that at my workplace, I’ve made a lot of friends, you know, and those friends that they were colleagues at work, ended up becoming some of my best friends and obviously came, came to our wedding and stuff like that.
That’s kind of something that I don’t have an answer for. And I just wanted to get your take on some of the things that you’re doing to kind of retain those or kind of accelerate those friendships or grow them.
Liam: [00:33:39] Yeah. Hmm. It’s hard because, You know, I kind of have two answers with that: one is that I do miss some of those interactions from the office for sure. I also don’t miss a lot of them, you know, like a lot of those unnecessary conversations or conversations with people who you wouldn’t really want to talk to outside of work or about non-work things. Those take up a lot of time when you look at the grand scheme of things and working in an office, maybe I just worked with a lot of annoying people, but, I think that’s something I don’t miss. I do miss though. Like just having, you know, someone to even just like tell somebody what I’m working on and ask them what they think of it, or what are you eating for lunch? That kind of thing. You know, those, I do miss those and before COVID I think it was a lot easier to replace those interactions because, you know, I could right now, for example, you know, if I was feeling lonely, I would probably ask a friend to meet me for lunch, or you could at least go to a cafe right. And then you might have some of those interactions. Like when you accidentally bumped into somebody on the way to the bathroom, you can apologize and chat. You know, those kinds of little micro interactions that you get used to in the office, you can find them in public, but now we can’t go out in public and so it’s very difficult and that’s one of the things I’m struggling with too. I think for me, what’s changed is that I’ve just been more willing to be outgoing with random people on the internet. I’m like, you know, LinkedIn or Slack or whatever, Facebook, even, you know, if there’s some, I think a lot of people are, it’s kind of like, when you go to a party and nobody knows anybody at the same party, everyone kind of is like, Oh, I don’t know who to talk to I’m nervous. I don’t know who to talk to, kind of standing alone in a corner by yourself. You can do that digitally too, if you’ll let yourself. But I find most people are lonely right now. So if you like what somebody’s posting on LinkedIn, and you think they’re interesting, or you just want to say something funny to them, send them a DM, send me a DM if you’re listening to this, like, I love a good chat with somebody random on the internet. And the nice thing about internet chats like that is you can walk away from them. Unlike when you’re stuck at a water cooler with somebody and you can’t get away from them. So trying to have those little micro interactions and then collaborating with people, you know, working with people. I mean, Nelson, you and I have done it right, where you know, just so having somebody who’s a buddy of yours, who you can say, I just wrote this article, do you think, or I’m, I’m interested in this topic. Do you have any experience with that?
There’s especially in the freelance, it’s a community. There are people out there who are desperate to have those kinds of things. A big first step is just sending the message and saying, hello, being outgoing in that way is uncomfortable. But remember the worst thing that happens is they don’t reply.
Nelson: Yeah, exactly. And, it just in general, like being a, being a freelancer or working from home and being responsible for your own business, like there’s a lot of normalization that needs to happen with being uncomfortable, like a lot of our lifestyle is like being uncomfortable. As much as there’s some, some great things like pitching for me, for example, I’m trying to find new clients – insanely uncomfortable. You know, like I’m somebody who actually was fortunate that at my previous agency, even when I started and I was very junior, just through necessity because of the skillset I had to get involved in new business pitches all the time. And weirdly enough, when I’m doing like a presentation I’ve been invited to pitch, I love that. I love getting up in front of people and talking to them now, weirdly enough, like you’d think me just cold pitching somebody over email or LinkedIn or something like that would be a lot less scary, but I still find like, I’m like way more hesitant to do it and I think that’s something I need to get over.
So yeah, I agree. Kind of send those messages. If somebody, you know, you see them on social media, you like what they’re doing, or you’re reading that blogs and you’re getting some value from it, just tell them like. You don’t know, it might lead to something at worst you’ve just made somebody’s day by giving them a compliment so it’s all good.
And like in terms of communities, Liam and I first met because we’re part of a right minds Slack group for copywriters and I think there were, there were a lot of different, Slack groups and communities for you know, people that are working from home. Whether that’s, you know, just people in general, or like particular niches, like copywriting, digital marketing course creators.
So just do a quick Google or ask any other colleagues that, you know, in the industry to kind of define those. I genuinely think they’re of massive value, just in terms of like the amount of contacts I’ve made in the last couple of months after joining some of these communities, it’s, it’s made the world of difference and like to see people that are, you know, at your level, your peers, but people are also more advanced on their journey and also to be able to help people that you know, weirdly enough, even somebody that’s just been doing this for a few months, I’ve actually got some knowledge to pass on to people that are just starting today. Right. Or just thinking about starting. So I think you’ve always got some knowledge to give in return to these people, which is really, really nice.
Just in terms of before Liam, you mentioned that part of the way you used to get business was kind of going to these in-person events and through public speaking and stuff like that, have you found anything to kind of replicate those in kind of a digital way?
Liam: Yeah. guest blogging is a big one and I actually just had a guest blog published on the content marketing Institute and I can do that. Thank you. Yeah, I’ve written for them before and this one was really fun. I did it with Robert Rose who’s one of the main guys there and we did this collaborative article together. Mostly just did it for fun. I like randomly reached out to him. Like I was saying, I just, one day sent a random email to him and we ended up talking and then we ended up deciding to write this article together and then I got that article published with my name on it and three days later, I had a new lead in my inbox on LinkedIn. And he literally said, I read your article with Robert and I loved it. Can we chat? And so, you know, that kind of thing, that’s exactly what would happen at a public speaking event right. I go to public speaking event, ultimately talk in front of 50 to 100 people and usually would have three or four people come up to me after that event and say something or email me a week later and tell me, they saw me speak. So guess what? Guest blogging is a big one. And the other one, I’m doing it right now with you because, what doesn’t come across I think in a guest post is your personality as much. Sure you can show your personality and your writing and actually to be a good writer, you have to, but not nearly as much as you can if you’re standing up on stage with pictures behind you and personal stories to tell, and you’ve got people’s captive audience, right.
But that changes with a podcast or a video cast or a webinar like this you know, you have people very much saying I want to come and sit down and listen to you and there, I’m only going to do that. You’re not forcing it on them. They are choosing to be there. And so you have that kind of captive audience that you might miss.
But do I miss the cocktail hour after the talks and the snacks beforehand and like the fun conversations and the banquet dinners that sometimes happen to these events? Hell yeah, I do. And like I miss all of those little things that you really can’t get with a digital event. I am a believer though that we will emerge from this COVID nightmare at some point and resume some sort of life where I can get on a stage and speak in front of a group of people again.
So for now, pretty happy with the guest blogging and podcasting combo.
Nelson: [00:41:39] Well we’ll get you on a stage again. You’ll just have to wear a mask, I guess.
Liam: [00:41:48] Spiderman suit. It’ll keep people interested.
Nelson: [00:41:51] That would interest me
Liam: [00:41:55] Spiderwebs. Oh my God. Gosh, these ideas, they just, this is where they come from you know.
Nelson: [00:42:02] Spiderman costumes all the way. The other thing that I might need to replicate is the like cocktails or the happy hour through like the podcast. So maybe next time we’ll just do this and I’ll just say grab yourself a drink and the conversation will probably flow a lot better as well once we’ve both had a couple of beers.
Liam: [00:42:24] Well, with our time difference, one of us is going to have to be drinking in the morning, but I’m not above that.
Nelson: [00:42:29] I’m more than happy to prepare to make that sacrifice, but
Liam: [00:42:37] You do miss it. We can have a drink.
Nelson: [00:42:43] So, the other thing I wanted to ask Liam, just before we wrap up, is where can people find you?
Liam: [00:42:50] Oh boy, you can find me anywhere you want. But, the best way to find me is probably if you want to just straight up email me it’s Liam , like Liam neeson – Liam@inkwellcontent.com. You can find me on LinkedIn. I think I’m like the only Liam Carnahan out there. You could just type it into Google and see what comes up and you can visit my website inkwellcontent.com. See what I’m all about. And honestly, I love hearing from people even total random strangers. So do not hesitate to say hello.
Nelson: [00:43:20] It’s basically just going to be weirdos in Spider-Man masks now.
Liam: [00:43:25] Bring it on.
Nelson: [00:43:30] Amazing. Well, thank you Liam, for coming and talking to us today. Really, really appreciate it. And thank you to everyone who’s listened to the working from home podcast with your host Nelson Jordan. Thanks again. Bye-bye.
And that’s it for today. You’ve been listening to the working from home podcast with me, Nelson Jordan. We’ve been talking about the good, the bad and the ugly side of remote work. Thanks so much for listening and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the time you spent with us today.
If you’d like to discuss the podcast, you want to make a new friend or you’re interested in working with me on a copywriting or digital marketing project then visit Nelson-jordan.com. That’s Nelson-jordan.com, where you can also sign up to my newsletter to hear about this podcast and other exciting projects. Until next week, goodbye.