I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
What if I tell you that listening is much more important than speaking?
Most people often forget that we have one mouth and two ears, which means we should listen twice as much as we speak. That way we will be able to connect with others on a spiritual level, not being driven by our egoistic instincts which make us speak without listening.
The world would be a better place if people listened to each other more. Communication would be real, everyone would say what they want and won’t keep it in their head, conflicts will lessen and people will refind their compassion.
Listening is an art, a path to other people’s heart, an effort requiring patience, sometimes a battle with yourself, and a skill you need to learn in order to evolve as a person and unleash your potential.
How does listening help us and the ones we communicate with?
1. You help those you listen to.
People yearn to be heard. They have so much going on in their life and head, that everyone who is willing to just sit and listen to them is like their savior.
So why don’t you help someone today by listening to what they have to say? Make them feel comfortable and let them speak.
You may be surprised what a positive effect on you this may have.
2. You learn.
There are many ways to increase your knowledge – by reading, doing, watching, being taught, failing, etc. – and listening is one of the best and easiest.
Ask questions, engage in conversations, listen to public speakers and lectors, hear what your friends and parents tell you, take advice and learn whenever you can. Just imagine how instructive a story from an experienced person can be.
Some time ago, while I was working at a sea resort for the summer, I had the chance to meet foreigners from all over the world. There were many Jewish people as well. Of course they were there on a holiday so nobody from the hotel’s staff and local shops tried to get to know them. But I was very interested in their culture and wanted to learn all about it from Israelis themselves. And from one word to another, I became friends with most of them. They are a wonderful nation and I was glad I asked and listened carefully to what they said. It turned out that they were rarely given much attention and were very happy to get it from me, a young girl eager to learn about their country. Some told me about the history of Israel, others talked about wars – an inevitable part of their life. I had an interesting 2-3 hour conversation with two women, goldsmiths, that had been traveling all their life and been almost everywhere. Another girl had just been in the army and had many moving stories to tell me. This is how I learned so much about the people, lifestyle and history of a certain country together with other very interesting facts and stories and made friends by just listening.
3. You develop patience.
Mastering patience helps you control your mind. It is a highly respectable virtue that true leaders have developed. It is that thing without which you simply can’t handle what life brings you.
Everyone has something to say and wants to do it now without listening to the story someone is telling us. But real strength, self-control and will are measured by the forbearance from doing it. By resisting the urge to talk, humbly listening and responding adequately to the other person, we build patience and character.
4. You show compassion.
Compassion is a rare phenomenon nowadays but I believe that everyone can manifest it by realizing that it lies deep inside us. And by being ready to show it to every creature, to show respect and love and try to help however we can, we also help ourselves.
Becoming compassionate and practicing it while listening is a great way to get in touch with your soul, to become a better person.
Only this way are we able to be wise in our actions, feel what others think, and start giving. Don’t be afraid to develop that quality and never doubt that it will take you to a higher level of living, to success in its pure form.
5. You understand.
Somewhere in the process of listening a magical thing happens – you start understanding. Without asking questions, you suddenly find answers concerning yourself, life, love, the other person and many other sacred things.
Listen as much as you can, do it for everyone who has something to tell you.
Then, among their stories try to find the moral, the lessons that you wouldn’t have had the chance to learn otherwise. And when you do, thank that person, send him your love, and help him in return.
Because even if you don’t realize it now, he has left a mark in your life.
So during the next small talk you have, try to stop thinking, eliminate shyness and all the barriers between you, close your mouth and just listen. Listen with all your mind and soul, understand the body language, try to hear what else he wants to say but doesn’t yet have the courage to and let him know that you are trustworthy.
How important is listening to you? How else can it make you a better person?
Writing is what I love doing and I managed to turn it into my career. But that wouldn’t have been as enjoyable without having the freedom to work from anywhere and move to my favorite country. So after I became a freelance writer, I also took a few steps to become location independent.
Let me share how that journey looked like for me and maybe inspire you to take the leap and not just become a freelancer but also travel the world or just leave your home country and never look back.
Stage 1: Overcoming The Doubts
I believe all change happens on the inside first. In the case of becoming a freelance writer and a lifestyle designer, you’d first need to do a couple of things related to developing a strong mindset.
To begin with, define what you don’t like about your current lifestyle. Be clear about it and see yourself living a better life some time from now. This vision will also help you realize what you truly desire.
For me, it was freedom and independence but in a specific way.
I mean, I don’t really need to travel the world. It was enough to spend a few weeks in Thailand and to always have the chance to get back to a destination like that if I feel like. But what I truly desired was to leave my home country, Bulgaria, and instead move to the Netherlands.
However, my transformation started many years ago, before I even knew that’s where I wanted to live. First, I wasn’t satisfied with my life back then. I was already in my 20s and I always felt like I wasn’t spending my time right. So something had to be done.
Doubts are scary.
In fact, they are one of the reasons why so many people all over the world never start a business, end a relationship, travel or else.
Once you get through that stage though, you start having hope, you visualize a better life, and you finally take action. And once you take the first step, magical things begin to happen.
For me, that first step was to define my passion (personal development) and combine it with writing, which I simply loved doing and felt like it was the right way to spend my time.
English is just my second language. I had no official degree in what I’m doing. I wasn’t tech-savvy and had no idea how the Internet actually worked.
But the desire for a different life and more meaningful activities was stronger than any lack of knowledge or experience. So I dedicated the 4 years of my life during university to building the foundation of my online business and the lifestyle I enjoy today.
Stage 2: Getting The First Clients
I began writing, first on my blog (more on that below), then for others. But the magical ingredient here is reading.
I spent a ton of time (still do and probably always will) reading about people who were already living the life I was after. And that changed it all. I overcame all the doubts because I saw all that I wanted was possible. If other people were living like that and they all started from nothing, then it’s just a matter of time till I get there too.
That encouraged me. And my motivation never decreased because of some people I started following consistently and seeing their progress kept me action-oriented too.
It was time to earn my first dollars freelancing.
The good thing about the Internet is that you don’t have to be anyone in order to land your first gig. Once you do, the second one is easier. You just need someone to pay you for your freelance services so you can have confidence in your abilities and improve your skills.
I never thought I’d be able to call myself a freelance writer, not to mention be location independent together with that. But I left the big picture behind for a while and focused on simpler things. Such as:
What can I do today to land my first client?
After researching, I realized there are sites for freelancers where employers post jobs and I can apply to each that seems like a good fit for me. And so I did.
I created my profiles, had low rates (because any money was good money for me then if it was online), and applied for a few jobs. I had no idea what to say exactly so I just went with what felt right.
I introduced myself when pitching clients and told them how I can help them with their project. Rejection here is normal as there’s a ton of competition.
Eventually, someone hired me for a job and I made my first $20 or so.
It was a short and sweet gig and I did a good job. The communication with the client was smooth.
It’s hard to land someone for the first time, especially in my case. On my profile they could see Bulgaria and that English isn’t my native language. Also, that I’m new to the site and have no previous feedback. Basically, not the most trustworthy freelance writer to hire.
But there are new employers to such platforms too and they are ready to hire you as long as you have something to offer them.
So if you want to make money online and eventually turn that into a business, become location independent and work remotely, or just want to do what you love freelancing, then create your profiles on sites like Upwork, Guru, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour and start pitching.
Stage 3: Building a Blog and a Brand
The 3rd crucial step in my journey to becoming a location independent freelance writer was this blog.
Let’s Reach Success started as a personal blog on self-improvement. But consistency was the key and I seemed to be good at this. It’s because I love writing too of course. It eventually turned into my biggest project and today it’s my portfolio.
There are more than 1600 articles in the archives, a whole book store, proper design (thanks to this premium theme), authority, and a story behind it. Which makes me and Let’s Reach Success kind of a personal brand.
If you haven’t started a site yet, you’re wasting time. Whatever it is that you wanna do online, you need that one platform.
I’ve written a quick guide on how to do that. Check out How to Set Up a WordPress Site on Bluehost. Don’t worry, the technical aspect is easy and I’ve outlined the few simple steps you should take to have your site up and running in less than 30 minutes.
Blogging is a must for every freelance writer. Here’s why:
First, you get to showcase your work. You can write articles all the time and show them to clients. Whenever you want to start writing about a new topic, you’ll simply start covering it on your blog and then provide samples to employers.
You become known as an expert. If you stay consistent and provide unique and quality content frequently, people will know you’re the go-to blogger in the niche. Together with your unique voice and all other things you’re doing on the side, you can build a name for yourself. That means clients will start finding you soon.
Blogging is a learning experience. There’s a lot going on in the archives on my blog. If I go back, I can even see how I’ve grown over the years. Your writing will change too and that’s okay. Your site becomes your biggest project, especially if you’re a writer yourself. Also, it’s thanks to wanting to improve Let’s Reach Success that I’ve learned so much about optimizing content, making money from a blog, and more.
Stage 4: Setting Up an Online Business
Now that you’ve overcome the doubts, have landed your first freelance client, and have your own blog, you can turn that into an online business soon.
First, of course, you’ll need to have some decent income monthly to be a proper location independent freelance writer. Although plenty of people register a company from the beginning and then slowly grow their freelance business.
However, in the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. I was paying taxes and fees for the freelancing platforms I worked with and that was enough. I wasn’t sure how much more I could make each month.
When I got to a few hundred dollars monthly, though, (which is an amount you can live with back in my home country if you aren’t paying rent), I decided to fix the legal part and register as an independent worker there and start paying my taxes.
Over the next months, I truly believed I’m now a freelance writer earning money from my craft and loved it. Of course, I also wanted to grow, build skills, land better clients, improve my site and see what else I could be doing online.
Stage 5: Choosing Your Ideal Destination and Moving There
When I was making $1000/month from my blog and freelance writing services, and because the business was online, I finally felt like I could soon move away and start a new life.
The country I wanted to live in was the Netherlands. I already had friends there and knew it was the place to be for me. So I booked a place in Amsterdam with AirBnB and dedicated these 10 days to finding my new home.
I needed it to be affordable and in a good neighborhood and that’s exactly what I got.
Because I wanted to be there so much and worked hard for it, there hasn’t been a day since I moved that I didn’t wake up with a smile on my face.
That’s one of the main aspects of lifestyle design. Doing work you love and making just enough to be able to live the way you like.
Of course, Amsterdam isn’t cheap so I had to limit my expenses and change things.
Stage 6: Living The Location Independent Lifestyle
I did some traveling too. Spending 5 weeks in Thailand cost me a lot in terms of money (although it could have been cheaper too but I didn’t prepare well) and focus. But it’s safe to say these weeks have been the craziest and most adventurous ones in my life.
I might go back there, but that’s not necessary. I love my daily life too and don’t need an escape from that. The important thing about being a location independent freelance writer is that you have to enjoy the freedom of being where you are. And if you earned your chance to get there, it tastes even better.
Stage 7: Mastering Working Remotely and From Home
Location independence and freelancing aren’t for everyone as it’s not easy, there are sacrifices to be made and plenty of challenges. One of them is getting distracted and not doing focused work on a daily basis.
One thing I did right though was to build some good productivity habits and eliminate procrastination and distractions early on. In fact, that was when I started making my first money as a freelance writer.
It’s nice to imagine how you can live and work from anywhere 6 months from now. But if you don’t build the discipline in advance and learn how to structure your day so you can do your best work, you won’t make it.