This week I had the good fortune to interview Jimmy Thakkar, a web designer and SEO expert from Mumbai, India. Jimmy has more than 15 years of experience in the information technology business. Along with website design and SEO, he also provides other services such as software development, website maintenance, content writing, and digital marketing. He is the founder of Jimmy’s Value World and has sold his products and services in more than 75 countries.
What was your inspiration for living and working nomadically? What factors inspired you to leave the stationary lifestyle and start earning money remotely?
Initially, it wasn’t really a conscious decision on my behalf to work as a digital nomad. Working as a website designer from 9 to 5 would leave me stressed and tired by the end of the day; to be honest, it wasn’t a bad job, but I was stuck in a routine and I realized that that wasn’t for me, so at the end of the 11 months period I resigned from my job and have been working as a digital nomad since then. The main reason I had started working as a digital nomad was because I wanted to be my own boss, I hated routine and I loved travelling.
What unexpected challenges and hurdles have you encountered so far as a digital nomad?
Hosting issues, DDoS attacks and snail paced internet are few of the many challenges I have faced as a digital nomad but what gets me the most is the attitude of the people around. It is actually a gift that you can work from anywhere and enjoy yourself at the same time (after your work is done) wherever you are, but not everyone understands the
concept that you can’t actually work from “anywhere, anytime”.
The attitude of people around you is often that “Oh, you can work from anywhere” so let’s take a trip and you can work from there. Well, that is the whole idea of being a digit nomad but there are times when you have to put in
more hours and focus on your work completely which the people around you might not realize. There is no such rule that only a person sitting inside an office is supposed to be passionate and focused about his/her work.
Do you have any personal anecdotes or stories about the hardships you’ve faced as a location independent worker? How did you overcome them?
Initially, I lost a lot of clients because I worked as a digital nomad and a location independent worker. There are certain kind of people and companies that will not work with you if you do not have a proper office with loads of employees in it. Maybe it is a trust thing but people normally want to visit you in your office, discuss the details and then
hand over the order to you and those kinds of deals cannot be done at the coffee shop or a coworking office. I would be honest with my potential clients about my lifestyle and share with them the kind of work I had done. Many potential clients would see my sincerity and quality of my previous work and give me the orders.
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?
Unexpectedly, the earlier part of my nomadic career was very fruitful. I would see the people close to me working nearly 24 hours a day and still not making a decent amount of money whereas I was earning as well as enjoying at
the same time. I would decide the location and time of my work and the results and money kept rolling in. I thought I would not be getting many orders or much work because I wasn’t sitting behind a huge desk in a big office. Surprisingly not everyone is looking for that and if you provide quality work in a timely manner then that’s all you need, period.
What character traits would you say are the most important or essential for successful digital nomads?
You should be able to handle your finances properly. You should know when to work and when to have fun. You should be passionate about what you’re working on. You should be able to get out of your comfort zone and do odd jobs every
now and then.
If you were starting over from scratch today, what would you do differently?
Be organized. When I started working as a digital nomad, I worked like a robot and just relied on my email for everything. The clients would contact me via email, I would deliver them their work (whether it was software or website) via email and the money which I received was also via email (through PayPal). I never kept a log book of all my clients, all my income, what all I was spending on or what my future was looking like. You never feel the need for savings or cutting back when the money is flowing, but if that spending takes over your earnings when the times
are tough then you are really done for. Some people have got to learn it the hard way, unfortunately. So, if I could go back in time and start all over again then I would start with an excel sheet where I would make a column called savings and check on it every first of the month.
What would you say to aspiring digital nomads looking to get started on a similar career path? Any words of wisdom or cautionary tales?
If you want to be independent or love to travel, then I say go for it. Please note that when you are working as a digital nomad you are travelling while working and not working while travelling – there is a difference. Be carefree but do not keep a casual attitude towards your work. Follow a proper routine and be organized; if you misuse your liberty then you will find yourself spending more than what you are earning.
Initially, how did you get the word out about your services and attract clients?
While working on a website along with my buddy I discovered that search engine optimization is the key or the lifeline for any website. I picked up basic tips and tricks of SEO while working with him and that has helped me, my website, and my business a lot. There are many challenges that I have faced regarding increasing my visibility over the course of my nomadic career. Do not put all your eggs in one basket – I remember the time when my website lost ranking and I was getting fewer inquiries by the day; no website visitors from search engines meant no inquiries and no inquiries meant no business. This is when I made a decision to put money in social media marketing and pay-per-click advertising, which went a long way toward boosting my business.