In this Jobs for Digital Nomads interview series, we are meeting Sarah Archer a young Marketing Manager with an incredible story of achievement to share.
While traveling the world as a competitive figure skater, Sarah realized she suffered for not having enough time to explore the city where she was traveling for her international competitions. It didn’t feel quite right, so she hung up her skates and set off for her journey to become a digital nomad and travel the world on her own terms.
And she did it.
You can too.
Read her story and be inspired.
Q1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself first? Where are you from and what you do for a living right now.
I’m originally from Massachusetts, but I’ve been traveling and working remotely since 2018. I’m currently a marketing manager at Anyplace a housing marketplace geared towards digital nomads. I also freelance write on the side covering remote work and travel.
Q2. What is your background? your education and your previous job?
I earned my undergraduate degree in PR from the University of Rhode Island and immediately jumped into the PR agency life in the Boston area. I secured high-tier coverage, planned events and luncheons, managed influencers, and more for Fortune 500 clients — it was fun and fast-paced, however, not suitable for remote work at the time.
With my sight set on the digital nomad lifestyle, I landed a job in San Diego, CA at a content marketing and SEO agency; a career path I was more confident could lead to remote work. I spent a few years working from the San Diego office where I lead content strategy for several brands. In that time, our company grew from a team of 14 to 75+.
It was really exciting to be part of a company that experienced so much growth in a short time.
Q3. What made you decide to become a digital nomad?
I grew up as a competitive figure skater and would get small glimpses of the world during international competitions, but most of the time was spent training and getting into the competition mindset.
The small moments where I could explore the streets of Zagreb, or grab a croissant in Rouen sparked my interest to return and truly experience these places.
So I hung up my skates and began traveling every chance I had with short stints of PTO. I spent hours researching how to become a digital nomad, but it took years to make it a reality. However, I knew that someday I would find a way to immerse myself in another culture without the time constraints of one to two-week vacations.
Q4. How did you transition from a regular office job to remote work?
After spending years in the office, I created a pitch deck on remote work and scheduled a meeting with the CEO. He went in blind, but the title slide read “Transitioning to 100% Remote Work.” He approved it on the spot, and I went on to explain how I’d be an asset to the company despite no longer signing on from San Diego.
Q5. What do you think are the main skills needed to do what you do?
It’s less about what you do, and more about how you do it. You must be self-disciplined and a documentarian at heart.
- When no one is watching over your shoulder, do you still perform well?
- When there isn’t a process in place, do you create one?
When you are working remotely, it’s important to keep everything organized in a central place leaving little questions as to where you’re at with progress.
This is especially important if you’re working with team members across different time zones. The same is true for entrepreneurs, even if you work alone. Don’t rely on your memory; rely on your documentation. You can be a writer, designer, developer, doctor, lawyer — really anything.
I’ve met plenty of people in all sorts of financially stable professions along my travels.
Where do you find your freelance jobs?
I currently write for wrkfrce, a publication that helps professionals and businesses thrive through remote work. The freelance opportunities I’ve landed have come from referrals, but I recommend checking out FlexJobs or the OhMonday weekly remote work email if you’re in the market for a new gig.
Q6. How is a typical working day and what are the main tasks in your profession
Since I work full-time and freelance on the side, it’s important to keep my days consistent and structured. I usually start at 8 am with an online HIIT workout and log on to work by 9 am with a cold brew in hand. I sign off from work around 5:30 pm unless I have later meetings to align with other time zones (in that case, I might start my day slightly later). I keep this schedule regardless of what time zone I’m located in as that’s when I’m most productive. And I’ll usually fit in my freelance work once I sign off from my full-time job or in 2-3 hour chunks on the weekends. My best work as a freelance writer stems from working iteratively.
Being on a marketing team of two in my full-time job means that I cover a lot of different tasks — I write and edit content, manage our freelance team, run our affiliate marketing program, lead our digital nomad community, engage in outreach to earn press coverage, manage our social channels, complete keyword research, and more. That’s the best part about working for a start-up, we constantly evolve our strategy to focus on areas where we’re making the most impact.
Q6. Where have you been traveling as a digital nomad and what is your favorite country (or if you have more than one)? and why?
That’s hard to answer! I’ve spent time in five continents and I’ve enjoyed learning about each and every country I’ve explored. I’d say that one of my favorites was Argentina.
I’m a big hiker, so Patagonia had the vastest and incredible mountain landscapes I’ve seen.
And Buenos Aires had endless cafes and coworking spaces, making meeting digital nomads easy.
If you’re considering starting the digital nomad lifestyle, I’d suggest hitting the top spots where you can easily meet fellow travelers first, such as Lisbon, Bali, Chiang Mai, or Tenerife. That will give you the confidence to go off the beaten path.
Q7. Did the present pandemic affect your work/business? How did you face the challenges?
I decided to leave my agency job in June of 2020 without a backup.
Odd (and just plain crazy) timing with unemployment at such a high, but I was feeling rather stagnant after four years there and was ready to put my energy into something new. The week I put in my notice, I got an unexpected intro to the founder of wrkfrce, a media company centered around remote work, who I still work with today.
I spent time contributing content there and interviewing for full-time positions. In July of 2020, I landed a job with Anyplace, a housing marketplace for digital nomads, as their second marketing hire.
I’m so thankful that I left my previous job when I did because I was introduced to the Anyplace founder by my previous CEO. It definitely showed me the importance of relationship building and networking.
Q8. How do you stay focused and motivated while working on your own? how do you organize your day? Do you use any apps to help you stay organized?
Notion is my best friend — it’s my central hub where I document everything. I have one for work and one for my personal life where I house podcast recommendations, favorite travel destinations, etc. I also recommend Asana for project management, Slack for team communication, BuzzStream for outreach management, and Jira for managing developer projects.
Q9. How much can somebody earn with your profession approximately? Can you give a range?
I’d recommend checking out Glassdoor or Indeed to find this information, as marketing income can vary greatly based on experience, niche, location, etc.
Q10. And last what advice would you give to those who want to follow your path? can you share three tips or as many as you want?
I’d say, it might never feel like the right moment. But if you’ve always wanted to travel and immerse yourself in other cultures outside of your vacation time, just go for it. It took me five years to find the right job, build up the courage, and pull the trigger to become a digital nomad. And I’m so glad I did. Looking back on the past three years as a full-time traveler, I’ve learned so much, grew personally and professionally, and would never change the choices I’ve made. You won’t regret traveling.
Did you enjoy Sarah Interview? If you have any questions don’t be shy and write in the comments below.