Just so everyone understands, I’m not planning to move to Mérida so I can retire early. I’ve only been working for 26 years, and I should be considered what’s called “mid-career.” But it’s got to be freelance work or some sort of entrepreneurial venture.
For now, I’m still working for a huge publishing corporation. Last week, our company had a “town hall” meeting in which we see how badly our financial situation is. It’s been rough. And the areas of our company that are showing hope and progress, well, those are other departments. One ray of hope: the writing and design work that I do is commonly offered on a freelance basis, and something I’ve done “on the side” for years.
International Living steered me to a global freelancer course, which shows you the ins and outs of online labor marketplaces like Elance. This will put me in competition with writers and designers from the Philippines, Bangalore or wherever else the work I used to get “on the side” has gone to. I can’t completely compete on price, but I’ll charge less than I did five years ago. I might actually win my old clients back, assuming print doesn’t absolutely collapse by the time I move down to Mérida, and the social media skills I’m honing will be worth something.
Or maybe I can reinvent myself completely. When I see what Erich and Rob have done in the last couple of years, or Stan and Brent, or Lisa, or Adele, I see the potential in Mérida for business. It’s ironic that it’s easier to set up business south of the border, which is known for burdensome bureaucracy. I don’t even need a storefront, although I’ve thought about that as well. Is there an Imagine Mérida SA de CV in my future?
I have also been reading “The Four-Hour Workweek,” a 2007 book that has nothing to do with reducing your workweek to four hours. It promotes hiring inexpensive virtual assistants (who may or may not live in the Philippines or Bangalore) for every little thing you can farm out. You can reach your personal potential, and enjoy your life, unshackled from unfruitful endeavors. Plus, they can handle tasks necessary to businesses you should be running, earning you passive income. Blogs and niche websites could be created by your virtual assistants, build an audience and page rank, and be flipped by you. The idea sounds so five years ago, but it’s been interesting to explore because it’s so opposite to my approach to life — get a corporation to like you and hire you, then try to do good work until you’re laid off or your division is sold.
I’m testing the waters of independent publishing as well. I’ve already mentioned my friend with an interesting personal story, which we’re crafting. She also owns rights to cookbooks she wrote 20 years ago, and I have obtained the reprint rights. Now I’m thinking of releasing one or two of her previous books first, reestablishing her in her field of expertise, and then sharing her autobiography. Paul and I also have some ideas for Mérida-centric books, none of which involve guidance on “living in Mérida.”
These are all things I’m absorbed in learning right now, which is my excuse for ignoring my Spanish lessons. I might not arrive in Mérida full-time for a couple of years, but I’d really like to arrive with a portable income. Because money talks, too.