Today we’re delighted to present you a special post: an interview with Barbara Cajkovic, the lady of the Independent Couple! Barbara and her husband are traveling the world – digital nomad style – working on their two projects, Independent Couple – independentcouple.com and Independent Webdesign – independentwebdesign.net . Their domain is focused on Travel Blog, Graphic Design and Web Design, Translation Services and Writing Services.
Luckily for us, Barbara gave us an interview and we are happy to present her inspiring story to you!
Can you tell us about your typical day? How does it begin, what’s your routine?
It is not really predictable how my typical day is going to look like. Because I don’t need to get up early in the morning to go to work, my day is very flexible and can change anytime.
Usually, my typical workday (when not traveling) starts at about 10 am cause I’m really not the morning person. I prefer to stay up longer at night and wake up later. Then I have a long breakfast with my hubby, we talk, drink coffee and read newspaper. Sometimes by the time I get to work it’s already noon. Then, if I have really lot of work, the rest is pretty boring – sitting behind my laptop and working on some projects. When there’s lot of work to do, or I have a deadline coming soon, I often work late night hours as well.
Last couple of months have been very busy and difficult for me, because I have started up new projects with my husband. It is quite hard to build an online business and clientele among the high competition, so I had to fight for it. After half a year though, I have realized that I am spending 12 hours a day behind computer, which is more than I would ever work for any employer. You have to understand, that once you will find out, that there are infinite possibilities how to make money online, it is totally addictive. And certainly it will change your mind when it comes to your view on a regular job. I could not get back to 9-5 job, I’m done with this work archetype.
Recently have decided to slow down a bit and take more care of myself, because it started to be overwhelming. I’m trying to work out every-day and read a lot.
What product/project are you currently working on?
There are several projects I’m currently working on and I am under pressure to get them done finally. I started to write an e-book about useful tips and guide how to travel on cheap in New Zealand. I think I have a lot to offer in this topic, since I have been traveling across NZ (and elsewhere) with my husband for over 3 years and there’s a lot what we have learned on our own mistakes and successes. And since then, lot of people has been contacting us with questions about traveling and wanted advice from us. So I have decided to put it together for anyone who’s interested.
At the same time I’m working on medical translations of various books, studies and articles for one client from English to Slovak – he’s giving me tough time as some of texts and translations need further research to get them translated right and properly, but at least I feel a bit like a doctor already
Nevertheless, I’m continuously working on our Independent Webdesign project with my husband and also trying as often as I can to post new articles and developing design and structure of our travel blog. I am also cooperating with various established blogs and writing custom posts on different topics.
What is your area of expertise? What is the main work you are doing right now?
My area of expertise is mainly creation of WordPress websites editing and using CSS and PHP, and graphic design related to websites – mostly logo design and photo retouch etc. Also I’m doing translation from English to Slovak and Czech languages and vice versa – I didn’t expect such an interest in this field, but it is activity, which employs me the most right now.
Posting, writing and maintaining our blog Independent Couple is mainly a hobby matter, but hopefully will be profitable in the near future as well.
Also every day I’m growing my expertise in writing of blog posts and articles or SEO texts on orders in different niches.
What was your level of expertise in your field when you decided to quit your 9 to 5 job?
Thanks to my husband I had advanced experience in Adobe Graphic Suite as he is professional in fine arts, design and photography, so he learned me lot of things regarding photo editing and design. Web design was always my hobby and dream to do, but I didn’t have advanced knowledge in this area and knew only basics of it. So I decided to invest into prolonged high intensity courses of various coding languages, get certificates in Photoshop and Illustrator programs and of course, spent quite a long time of self-education at home – online on youtube, reading books and lot of practicing…
Then even though, I didn’t consider myself as a professional in this area, I simply started to do small freelance jobs online to learn on the go. This kind of learning taught me even more than any course. When you are under pressure of some job requirement, you have to try to do it no matter whether you know really how to do it, if you know what I mean. It happened a lot of times, that my customer wanted from me to do something I had absolutely no idea how to do it. But I promised ‘yes, I’ll do it’, and thus I was forced to learn and find out how to fulfill it.
Did you finished an “apprentice” time in a company before going nomad?
It wasn’t really apprentice, because I have worked for company as a technical production assistant of manager and did a lot of communication and administration as well. But it was quite different to what I am doing right now. So I guess my apprentice was more about gaining relationship and communication skills, which I could use as an advantage when building my online business.
Did you faced any problems regarding your experience after switching to nomading?
Yes, of course I did. Being a nomad is not as easy and trouble free as many people think. As a nomad you are living exciting and adventurous life, but from time to time you have to deal with loneliness, you miss your family and friends and also have to occasionally fight with the feeling, that you don’t really belong to anywhere. Where is the place I belong to? Should I really come back to home and try to live that ‘ordinary’ life? But when you do it, when you come back home and try to reunite with family, suddenly you find out that this place is either not the one where you thought you belong,…no one really understands you and relationships disappoints you. That’s what me and my husband experienced, in short.
On your travels you meet lot of great people and make new friendships, but in order to travel, you have to say goodbye to them and count that you will never see them again. Not very pleasant feeling.
Another problems are more of practical matters – like constantly looking for new places where you can sit for all day, connect your laptop and work. Communication with some clients may be difficult due to different time zones.
Probably the most challenging problem we have to deal with as a digital nomads is constant concern over our belongings. We have to carry lot of expensive things like laptop, camera, camcorder, phones and basically all our ‘office’ wherever we go and have to take care about it. It can be very inconvenient, especially on the beach or in the countries with higher criminality, where you have to be truly aware of a potential robbery.
Despite all these things can be sometimes very demanding, I would not change them for anything! I am absolutely in love with my current life style, I have find out how to be independent and not to rely on anyone but me. I am the master of my income and what my day will be like. I have freedom to refuse to work on something if I don’t like it and also can turn off whenever I want. I feel privileged and thankful for this freedom.
Most employees have a mentor; does a digital nomad has a mentor? Who is he, why?
My mentor was always in a metaphoric way someone who is writing a blog, and inspiring and teaching others how to live their dreams. There are hundreds of awesome blogs of digital nomads, and I find everyday some interesting blogs of like-minded travel savvy people who are living abroad. Community of these travelers is very supportive and they often write about helpful tips, guides and tutorials how to realize something. When I want to know something, I head to Google or Youtube and looking for inspirational reads or videos of people who are kind enough to share their experience. I always try to leave positive response as a ‘thanks’ as I know how important this is for the bloggers – to be appreciated.
Would you say lacking colleagues is a drawback in acquiring expertise? What about the lack of a boss?
Absolutely not in my case. Well, maybe for certain kind of people it is inevitable to have a boss and colleagues to watch out for what he/she does. But I don’t need boss to watch out for me – I have enough of drive and self-motivation to work hard, and if I like what I’m doing I can be actually quite a workaholic person. If I could work in a company, which could offer to me responsive environment supporting my growth and development and at the same time, allowing the space for my expression and respecting my opinion and decisions, in a group of like-minded and not-envious colleagues who don’t try to sabotage your promotion, then it would be perfect utopic job for me. But oftentimes I had experienced quite the opposite – those ubiquitous hovering of some bosses over their employees, or gender inequality present even in the highly developed countries – this is something which assures me I should be the boss to myself.
I’m a friendly and sociable person but don’t lack any of this…Fortunately, I have one very good and very personal colleague – my husband – who is cooperating with me on almost every project and is able to keep with my fast learning and growing tempo.
What are the sources you rely on for advancing and building your experience?
My biggest source is Internet. I’m very happy I live in the age of infinite possibilities what this invention has given to us. I can’t even describe how I’m thankful for things such as open source, which dramatically facilitates my job. My significant source of developing my experience is my husband – there is always something new he teaches me, despite our specializations are a bit different.
But the most important source of my development is my mind. When I don’t think positively (and I often catch up myself to do it), nothing’s working and nothing really matters. But when you have positive and constructive mindset, it changes the whole situation and moves your life into meaningful perspective.
Do you consider yourself to be a mentor for someone?
Not really. Maybe not right now, I don’t consider myself to be so successful to mentor someone else, but if I inspire, learn or even make someone happy for a while, then this is what truly satisfies me.
Our audience is 80% remote workers and 20% people who are considering to become one soon, what would you like to say?
I would like to say what I have found out recently and try to stick with it because it’s very important in order to make my dreams come true:
Value yourself. Think about yourself, think hard and set your goals and dreams. Use your experience, your past mistakes and successes to find out how to reach these goals. Never listen to others. They will probably try to think you out your dreams and goals. But if you really want something, don’t listen to them. Do what your heart wants and rely only on your own mind and thoughts. People will pretend they are your friends, they care about you and want to help you. But don’t rely on them too much, because human relationships are unstable and often motivated with selfish concerns. Always be with yourself and your mind, focus your mind on positive and productive thoughts. Try to clear your mind from unnecessary noise and focus on solutions And if you will work hard and are devoted to your dream, you can do anything. You will!
This was Barbara’s story, if you think people should learn more about your story too, please let us know in post comments.