Digital Nomad Interviews: Kit Whelan – Social Media Consultant and Founder of 7in7 Digital Nomad Conference
There are so many ways to make money while traveling the world as a digital nomad. This week I’m interviewing Kit Whelan a social media consultant and founder of the 7in7 conference for digital nomads.
Kit Whelan has been a digital nomad for over seven years, traveling with her partner and running a solo social media consulting business from all over the world. She’s also one of the founders of the 7in7 conference for long-term nomads. She has no home base, travels only with carry-on bag, and loves going to cat cafes.
The work and travel lifestyle is a dream for so many people. So can you explain briefly how you make money while also being able to travel?
Absolutely! I have a social media consulting business where I help small-to-medium businesses – mostly boutique luxury hotels – engage and grow their audience online. I love my work because I get to be in charge of the entire creative process from strategy to execution. As long as there’s wifi, I can be in a Starbucks in NYC or a coworking space in Bali, the work stays the same.
Sounds good! So what made you decide to work like this and how did you make it happen?
I had already started freelancing as a social media manager when I lived in Los Angeles in 2009. I was lucky that I had a mentor who helped me start my own business, so when my partner’s company was shut down I was in already in a good place and I leapt at the chance to put all our stuff in storage and travel the world for a year. I didn’t really plan anything, and back then there were no digital nomad guides, I just took the leap and hoped for the best!
What do you like the best about this lifestyle?
My life is entirely of my own design. If I feel like spending a summer in Berlin with all my nomad friends, I can do that. If I want to hide away on a remote beach, I can do that. I can wake up early or late. I can work a lot or a little. Whatever I find missing in my life, I have the freedom to seek it out.
But nothings perfect right? Are there any downsides to being a digital nomad?
Of course there are! I’m lucky that after seven years I’ve built up a solid community around me so it’s basically impossible for me to be lonely, but it took a long time. That’s why I started 7in7, with the goal of creating stronger community ties amongst those of us living the location independent lifestyle long-term.
Also I can’t have a cat, which is a bummer. I make do with cat cafes.
Do you have one standout highlight, favourite destination or biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement has to be creating a strong community of friends around me. Every time I introduce two people and they hit it off, my heart sings. I love bringing people together.
And what has been the greatest challenge?
Balance. The trouble is that when you can work anytime, you can end up working all the time. Or, if you’re burned out, you don’t want to work at all. I’ve recently started taking vacations like a “normal” person. Once or twice a year I unplug and go for a road trip or go hiking or just sit on a beach. No laptop, no reading Twitter… just me and a good book to reconnect with myself and the world around me.
I can totally relate to this! What do you wish you had known before you started working remotely as a social media consultant?
That the way other people live their life isn’t necessarily the way I should do it. You have to find your own path. You decide how you work, how fast you travel, and what success means to you.
So true! So, what are your plans and ambitions for the future?
Well, I’ve just launched a nomad conference that’s going to hold 7 events over 7 years on all 7 continents, even Antarctica. So making that a success is definitely my top priority until 2022!
Wow sounds amazing! Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what tips would you give for people wanting to follow in your footsteps and become a digital nomad?
Try not to worry too much about choosing the perfect business or destination. Just pick something that speaks to you and go for it! Find your people, build a community, and you’ll get all the support you need to make it happen and pick yourself back up if you fall. The worst that happens is you get a great life story and an incredible group of friends.
Thanks for such an inspiring story and great practical tips Kit!