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This post is brought to you by Anne-Marie’s book: “Writing for the Legal Cannabis Industry.“
This is the latest interview in a series featuring digital nomads talking about their lives and lessons (click here if you want to be interviewed). The goal is to help demystify the process of making money online, wandering the world, and living an unconventional life!
Anne-Marie learned about nomading the way many of us do: she heard some success stories while living in Costa Rica and recognized she had skills she could turn into a remote career. She follows our belief that life doesn’t have to include the typical rat race.
Thank you for hanging out with Freedom Is Everything, Anne-Marie!
Key takeaways from Anne-Marie’s interview:
“If you’re going to nomad, you’ll have to be prepared to give up your creature comforts. Sometimes you’ll stay somewhere that just has no wifi access, so you’ll be forced to take days off (which isn’t a bad thing!). You may also find yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone and may push you to your limit. Take those opportunities as a growth experience and as a way to test your own perseverance through difficult decisions.”
“You do have to have discipline if you’re traveling and working at the same time. Sometimes you will have to make sacrifices and miss out on things because you do indeed need to work. However, you can make your own schedule, so you can schedule the times in which you need to be disciplined, set goals for tasks accomplished, and then take the rest of your day to enjoy your surroundings. When traveling, I much prefer hanging off a zip line for my work break than just sitting around doing nothing!”
“My business is intentionally kept where I want it to be. For instance, if I feel I want to focus on work for a while and make money, I’ll do just that – work comes when I’m ready and willing to work. When I want to take time off, I’m free to do that as well, and I lay off the accelerator and take a break from putting myself out there. I control the tap of my workload!”
Table of Contents
Introduce yourself! 🙂 Who are you? What do you do for work? And what is your nomadic story?
I grew up in a small city in Ontario but always knew the world was bigger and had more to offer me than that small town. Early into my university career, I discovered travel, making my first trip to Ireland and falling in love with the traveling lifestyle, prompting me to take a semester-long exchange at The University of Limerick in Ireland for my last year of university. I was lucky after I graduated that I moved into a career within the higher education setting that allowed me to travel across Canada, the U.S., down to Guatemala, and finally to Kenya and Rwanda that cemented my career and life as a traveler.
It wasn’t until 2016 that I got fed up with the rat race, as many do. I felt stuck and like a prisoner of the golden handcuffs, even though a generous salary and full benefits is nothing to scoff at. It was that year, after returning from Africa, that I had a “f*ck it!” moment and decided to sell all my belongings and move with my then partner to Costa Rica. Neither of us had been before!
I have a Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and History, which always fueled my passion, and skills for writing. In fact, I’ve been a writer my whole life. As a child, you could always find me at my family’s kitchen table writing my stories, and I always wrote various fan fiction, poems, and short stories.
When we decided to move down south, I helped my partner open a tattoo studio which was an adventure in itself, yet, I knew I needed something to make money, and a path for my own career, and this is when I discovered freelance writing.
After about a year of freelancing for general industries – and I did some VERY boring content writing work – I discovered the niche need for content for the cannabis industry, and thus, CannaWrite was born, my company that has been serving the global cannabis industry since 2017. This job has allowed my nomadic soul to roam across Central America, back to Canada, make an eventual move to BC, and travel all across the United States in the last few years, never staying in one place for more than a few months at a time.
What inspired you to start nomading? And how has nomading changed your perspective on life?
I was inspired while living down in Costa Rica, especially working within the tattoo shop and meeting transient people who were making a decent living through only an internet connection. These people had a great lease on life and could tell some of the most incredible stories of the places they’ve been and the experiences they’d had. While I had been “settled” somewhat down in Costa Rica, I knew that I could continue my travels and realized that I, too, could continue to make a living without a permanent address and only an internet connection.
Please tell us the detailed story of how you started your freelancing business.
All it took was a website, a social media account, and believing in myself. Luckily, I had done so well in freelance writing that by the time I decided to focus on cannabis, I had a bit of a portfolio behind me.
When I came up with the idea of a “cannabis writer,” I put my idea to paper, created a website, and used the power of social media and SEO to gain a slew of clients.
I intentionally keep my organizational budget very low, with a computer and an internet connection being the only thing I need to work.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about nomading?
If you’re going to nomad, you’ll have to be prepared to give up your creature comforts. Sometimes you’ll stay somewhere that just has no wifi access, so you’ll be forced to take days off (which isn’t a bad thing!). You may also find yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone and may push you to your limit. Take those opportunities as a growth experience and as a way to test your own perseverance through difficult decisions.
On the professional front, you do have to have discipline if you’re traveling and working at the same time. Sometimes you will have to make sacrifices and miss out on things because you do indeed need to work. However, you can make your own schedule, so you can schedule the times in which you need to be disciplined, set goals for tasks accomplished, and then take the rest of your day to enjoy your surroundings. When traveling, I much prefer hanging off a zip line for my work break than just sitting around doing nothing!
What are the 2-3 favorite places where you’ve lived/traveled to and why?
Rwanda was one of the places on this earth that greatly impacted who I am. The stories of genocide are chilling to their core and one of the saddest periods of human history. Yet, the Rwandese are healing from their history, and it’s evident through the vibrant, loving people they are.
Since I lived in Costa Rica for two years, I attribute that country to giving me the greatest growth as a human being. I had many fish out of water experiences, got to reflect on the cultural aspects of my being another white woman benefitting from the infrastructure of a country that was not my own, and got to learn Spanish while there. Sometimes I still think in Spanish to make sure I don’t forget the language!
This past year, during the pandemic, I made the decision to spend the summer down in the United States south. This was after the murder of George Floyd and when the Black Lives Matter protests had been at their height. It was incredible to see and experience the racial tensions down in Virginia and to see the history of the Old South play out in front of me.
As a woman, what should other people who identify similarly (and who haven’t traveled much) know about traveling/nomading?
As a strong and independent woman, I’ve had my moments where my confidence and comfort likely didn’t match my surroundings. I tend to live “fearless,” which doesn’t always translate to different cultural contexts.
For instance, I once made my way across Nairobi, Kenya, at night time to get to a destination. When I showed up there, alone, I was scolded by my hosts for traveling alone in Nairobi at night.
Since launching, what has been most effective to acquire/retain clients?
Even though you may live a carefree life, you must show that you are dedicated to your work when it’s time to sit down and deliver. While you may think your lifestyle is amazing, your clients likely won’t care that you chose to go to the beach rather than work on their project. So, in short, although you may live carefree and free, you never want to miss a beat in serving clients because experiences cause reputation.
What digital tools do you use for your work/business?
Hootsuite, Zoom, Slack, Canva
What scale is your business at today, and what are your future goals?
My business is intentionally kept where I want it to be. For instance, if I feel I want to focus on work for a while and make money, I’ll do just that – work comes when I’m ready and willing to work. When I want to take time off, I’m free to do that as well, and I lay off the accelerator and take a break from putting myself out there. I control the tap of my workload! That being said, I do have enough work at all times to sustain my financial goals.
For someone interested in becoming a freelancer in your field, what’s the best advice you would give? And what books, podcasts, thought leaders, or other learning resources do you recommend?
I actually wrote a book on this subject exactly! It’s called “Writing for the Legal Cannabis Industry” and can be found on Amazon worldwide. This book contains all my tips and tricks on how I went from an idea to a fully functioning profitable business.
If you only had a few minutes to live, what are the most important life lessons you would share with the world?
You weren’t born to pay bills and die.
What do you travel with that you couldn’t imagine traveling without?
My dog Roky! Despite being free from most things that tie me down, he is the only “obligation” that I have. Luckily, he’s a 4.5.lb chihuahua who travels like a dream. My dog has traveled more miles and has gone on more planes in his five years than most humans!
What small change has made a big difference in your life?
Realizing that you’re NEVER stuck, and it’s in your own power to make the changes that will lead to ultimate happiness and fulfillment in your life.
Tell us about a deep passion of yours! What has your journey been like, and what advice/resources would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about this topic?
My passion is cannabis, and it has been that plant that has allowed me to create this lifestyle that I so very much enjoy. Cannabis is NOT legal everywhere, which has been an adjustment when I travel, coming from Canada where it’s fully legal. It’s been very interesting to live and travel to other parts of the world where they don’t have the same views or laws on cannabis that we do in Canada. I’ve learned never to take for granted the legal status of the beautiful, powerful plant in Canada!
What is your philosophy on being happy and/or finding meaning/purpose in life? And any recommended resources for people navigating this journey?
“If you wake up and ask yourself, ‘If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with the life I created?’ and you say ‘No,’ change something” – That’s my motto!
How can people learn more about you and your work?