Vianessa Castanos is a 35-year-old digital nomad from Florida, USA. She has been a freelance digital marketer for the last 13 years, but only started becoming truly location independent last year, after she left her professional acting career in L.A.
When she told me her story all I could initially think of is why would anyone ditch their professional acting career to become a digital nomad? We all think that the Hollywood life is all glitz and glamor, so why did she leave that for a quiet life in Barcelona?
When a Former Work Connection Opens The Path to Freelancing
Vianessa’s story begins with her childhood fascination of performing in front of an audience. After joining a theatre group in college, she decided that she wanted to become a professional actress. In 2003, she finally graduated and wasted no time in looking for ways to earn money so she could pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood star.
A few months later, she found herself a job as a copywriter at an advertising firm, which sparked a new interest in writing. She stayed for a year, but left after hitting her financial target so she could focus on polishing her acting skills: “I enrolled to an acting school and after a semester, I knew that I didn’t want to do anything else unless it was acting. I also knew that acting in D.C. wasn’t going to go anywhere, so I packed my bags and headed straight to L.A.”
After moving to L.A., she wanted to find another source of income to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. Then one day her ex-colleague from D.C. called: “My ex-supervisor told me that he had just started his own advertising agency and he was looking for someone to write press releases for him. Since he was familiar with my work, he gave me the job instantly.”
How to Use Your Blog as a Platform to Share Your Experience and Get More Work
Although her copywriting job was a small one, it helped Vianessa pay the bills. It was also flexible enough to keep auditioning for acting roles, and she even had enough spare time to write about her experiences as a Latina actress in L.A. on her blog. The blog attracted a lot of attention and helped Vianessa score invites to local social events for bloggers, where where she would take the opportunity to talk about her freelancing work.
From there, she connected with a local group called We All Grow Latina, where she contributed as a writer for their website. A few other times, she would also get jobs from various groups for PR professionals on Facebook.
When I asked Vianessa about how she manages to differentiate herself from other freelancers, she attributed it to her ability of connecting with people: “When it comes to marketing, my goal is to elicit a response and the best way is to build an emotional connection and engage with people through entertainment. While every story I try to tell is different for every client and audience, I approach my own projects with a comedic take to it.”
Before You Leave, Make Sure You Secure Long-Term Clients
As she was getting a handful of work from freelancing, she also took up a bigger challenge in her acting career by switching to producing, directing and starring in a show called Gringa Latina.
With deadlines for both her freelancing work and TV series piling up, she found herself working nonstop. This took a toll on Vianessa and left her mentally exhausted. She decided to take some time off from her Hollywood life, and treated herself to a trip to Spain. After she came back, she realized that she didn’t want to continue staying in L.A. She wanted to take her freelancing work back to Spain.
Vianessa was determined to make her move, but she knew she needed something more stable so she could go full nomad. She started searching for a long-term client and applied to almost 300 remote jobs on LinkedIn, Facebook groups, AngelList, Jobpresso and Remote.co. Talk about dedication!
While she managed to score a number of interviews, it took her a month to succeed in a tough hiring process for a digital marketing strategist in an online agency – which she found posted on a Facebook group.
As luck would have it, Vianessa even found her second long-term client after stumbling upon their website during a Google search: “I was researching about co-living and co-working spaces around the world and I saw that this co-living space in Egypt posted a job listing for marketing help. I sent the owner an email straightaway and we just clicked.”
Looking For a Freelance Job is a Job Itself
Nowadays, Vianessa balances between her two clients where she creates marketing and content strategies, as well as developing content for her website, Hustle Juice. She came up with the idea to start a website as she wanted to inspire people to become successful freelancers, and be able to travel the world just like her.
And after 13 long years of freelancing, Vianessa has learnt a lot about how to manage her work as a freelancer digital nomad:
- Join every professional Facebook group and LinkedIn network so you can talk about what services you provide;
- Read everything you can about the lifestyle, the type of work you want to do and industry trends to adapt well with your clients;
- Adjust your clock to your clients’ time zones so you can be accessible to your client and know when it is a good time to discuss your work;
- Looking for a freelance job takes time – make sure you’re dedicating enough time each day or week for your job hunt;
- Secure a long-term client before taking the leap so you would know how much money coming in every month;
- Before you leave, get rid of your financial obligations and invest some money if you can for a good safety net.
Interested in Following Vianessa’s Footsteps?
P.S. Her acting career taught her a lot about interacting with clients. What can your job teach you about business? 🙂