This week I had the true pleasure of interviewing Jason Moore, the host and creator of the top-rated Zero to Travel Podcast, where Jason shares thoughtful interviews, unconventional perspectives, and actionable advice to help you travel the world on your own terms. He is also the co-founder of Location Indie and the Lifestyle Launch Academy.
What was your inspiration for living and working nomadically? What factors inspired you to leave the stationary lifestyle and start earning money remotely?
My first stint as a nomad started in 1998 when I stumbled into a career as a touring professional. What I thought was a one-off cross-country traveling job turned into a decade-plus of living the voluntarily homeless lifestyle. My career choices were focused on anything that kept me traveling which included many jobs as a marketing events manager, work as an adventure travel tour guide leading camping trips, a year as a tour manager for a famous band and even driving a giant tabby shaped cat van around the USA (that’s another story).
As fun as these jobs were, I was only able to dictate my own travel schedule in between jobs. The places I went on the jb were dictated by whatever company I was working for. After a decade I got burnt out and decided to settle in Boulder, CO, and get a “real job”.
It didn’t take long for me to long for the road again. It was around 2009-2010 that I first read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and first heard the term “location independent”. Alarm bells went off in my head. I already had the itch to do my own thing and learning about the remote work lifestyle sealed the deal. Being able to control my time and my travel schedule was the freedom I craved. I was in!
What unexpected challenges and hurdles have you encountered so far as a digital nomad?
Building a business is hard. Building a business when you are running around the planet, crossing time zones and battling internet connections is even harder. Most digital nomads will tell you that slow travel or long stays in one location are a better way to work on your business while still having the time to enjoy the places you visit.
Do you have any personal anecdotes or stories about the hardships you’ve faced as a location independent worker? How did you overcome them?
One of the hardest parts is getting started. Like a lot of people I thought I had to have a fancy website, blog, youtube channel, podcast or some kind of following until I could “make it” as an entrepreneur. But there are loads of businesses that can succeed without any of these things. You just need what all businesses need, a product or service that solves a problem and that customers are willing to pay for.
Has any aspect of the lifestyle and career been easier than expected? Is there anything that you thought would be difficult but, in reality, hasn’t been?
The flexibility that comes with the remote work lifestyle is huge. If anything is easy it’s the ability to change your lifestyle to match your current interest. Don’t like a place? Book a plane ticket and leave! Miss your family back home, go visit them! When my Dad had cancer I was able to fly home and surprise visit him just before his surgery. No having to ask for time off or get anyone’s permission. Visiting exotic locations rocks but better than having location freedom is having time freedom so you can spend more time with loved ones and doing things you enjoy.
What character traits would you say are the most important or essential for successful digital nomads?
You need to be proactive instead of reactive. That means saying “No” to things more than saying “Yes.” It means protecting your peak creative hours and making sure you do your high-level work then. It means making a To-Do list the night before so come morning you don’t spend 45 minutes screwing around on social media and wondering what the hell to do today. It’s not easy to choose being hunched over a laptop over a day at the beach (#firstworldproblems) but sometimes you need to do it.
The most successful nomad business owners do what all the best businesses do – they focus on serving others and doing right by their customers. Keep the focus off yourself and what you want and focus on helping others. It always leads to good things.
Lastly, don’t take things, or yourself, too seriously.
If you were starting over from scratch today, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t mess around trying to find the “perfect” idea or the “perfect” time to start. Find something that is already working for someone else, use it as inspiration, and put your own spin on it. Competition is a good thing, it means there is a market for what you want to offer. Create an MVP (minimal viable product) and start trying to validate it by getting actual paying customers before you waste too much time or money on something that might not work.
When I started out, I did a lot of floundering around trying to figure out what ideas might work. My focus was scattered. It’s far better to get your ideas out of your head and into the world as quickly as possible. Even if your idea doesn’t work you’ll learn a ton, make new contacts and most likely discover new ideas and iterations that might be the thing that succeeds.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment. We ran an online challenge that had over 700 participants then the next one had only 25. Just because something works like gangbusters one time doesn’t mean it will work again. Try different things out.
What would you say to aspiring digital nomads looking to get started on a similar career path? Any words of wisdom or cautionary tales?
On the business side, focus on potential income-generating activities instead of vanity metrics or other time-wasters until you find something that works. When it comes to travel, when you are out and about, be present. Get away from the screens. Leave the phone behind. When you give yourself physical and mental space from technology you can connect with a place on a deeper level which is much more fulfilling than knocking out a few emails here and there.
What were some digital strategies that originally helped get your business or service off the ground?
One of the biggest challenges for anyone is getting and keeping people’s attention. The best marketers know how to do it but there is no magic pill. Strategies constantly change. It’s important to read, stay on top of trends and then try things out. Again, don’t be afraid to experiment.
I think the #1 thing you need to do is actually care about the people you are serving. This isn’t a “strategy” , it’s just the right thing to do as a human being. When you provide value to people things have a way of coming around.
My podcast has been huge for me. It now has nearly 8 million downloads but when I started it was small, like everyone else. I just focused on building a real relationship with my listeners and giving them as much value as humanly possible in every episode. Over time this leads to growth. By engaging with them I was able to learn what products or services I could create that would help them. Then I created them.
Whatever platform(s) you choose, use them to allow people to get to know, like and trust you then give them something that solves a problem and improves their life in some way.
We have always struggled with software platforms and have realized that none are perfect. That being said, we have settled on a few. Right now we use Might Networks to host the social side of our membership community and our content lives on a WordPress site. We use Drop Funnels for our marketing funnels. I host my podcast with Podbean. We use Convertkit for our email marketing, slack for communications with our remote team and Asana for project management. Those are the basics.