Frank and Norma’s Story: Working Full Time From the Road
(living the dream)
People often ask us how we are able to travel full time and work full time (at the same time), or what we have been calling our work-cation.
They see pictures or videos of us visiting San Luis Obispo one week, Santa Monica the next, then Sedona, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Topeka and all points between.
They read about the legs of our journey; Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida…
Here’s our story
We work full time from the road in our 32-foot 5th wheel RV.
Norma and I are blessed to be able to grow our business, serve our clients, and still see North America while we are young enough to enjoy it — and do it as if we never left the office, at least to our clients.
We explain, “If your career is mostly technology based, chances are you can work full time from the road too.”
Now, it takes discipline to put in the hours and work when the sun is shining and nature is calling. Just like any small business, we work full time and then some. But we also play full time and then some.”
We call it “work hard, play hard.”
Recently we wanted to get healthier and be more active, so we bought bikes for exploring our surroundings while getting exercise.
We bought tennis rackets too.
Norma is able to do her photography and graphic design work from anywhere, at any time. I do my speaking, writing and consulting. I am the techy one while she’s more visually creative.
Norma loves to swim. I love to relax with a good cigar and a camp fire.
How do we get online while bouncing around?
We are often asked, “How do you connect to the internet to do your work?”
Getting online from the road is pretty easy nowadays.
First thing you need is a smart phone or jet pack that includes a mobile hotspot. 4G is usually pretty fast, almost as fast as cable and certainly faster than DSL or dialup. 4G availability is widespread but in some areas you might have to go with 3G, which is still workable.
If you need to do data-intensive work, such as uploading or downloading a big video, you are going to want access to free WiFi.
Just about all the RV resorts promise free WiFi but it is usually s-l-o-w. These parks have good intentions of letting the RVers check their email and Facebook but what ends up happening is people play video games and watch Netflix, which slows down the whole system.
Long story short, you can’t count on the RV park’s WiFi, so you mostly use your 4G data plans.
One other option when traveling. Coffee shops usually have free WiFi; just be courteous enough to buy something. Many a time we have enjoyed a latte and a snack while getting a few hours of work done, her at her laptop, me at mine.
What about getting the mail?
What about an office, a fax, a phone?
People still use U.S. mail? We do, when we have to, but almost everything can be done through email and online banking today. About once every other month, we have a box of mail and our magazines sent to us (thank you, family and friends). If anything is urgent, someone back at home will scan it in and email to us.
You really don’t need an office, per se, anymore. We have our cell phones. We have a printer, scanner and copier. We get faxes through online fax services. Everything travels with us. We lack nothing.
How, exactly, do we make money?
People usually ask this question in a roundabout way, so as to not offend, but they want to understand how two 40-plus-year-olds can make a living from the road.
“Are we spending our life savings?”
Here is how it works for us.
This can work for any consultant, author, speaker, trainer, coach or other professional who wants to cut the cord, travel and blaze his or her own path.
In today’s world, you must serve “your community.” They are online.
These are your peeps. Your heart and soul. You “get” these people (chances are you were one). You know their frustrations, their wants and needs. You have (or create) solutions to what ails them.
For me, it is chamber of commerce employees, chamber professionals. I used to run a chamber of commerce for years. I was active in our state chamber association. I went through a three-year advanced training and professional development program. I joined and got active in the national chamber associations, etc.
This is our industry and we love it.
We built a vibrant community, a tribe, of thousands of chamber pros from all across North America and the world who look to us for networking, knowledge and resources to fix their pressing needs. We do almost all of this online, digitally.
Specifically though, how do we serve our tribe (and make a living)?
First, we created and continually fed this blog. It is specifically about chamber professionals and their needs. We provide content that educates, entertains and inspires; we tell stories and we share opinions. We teach. We connect people.
This blog is our online headquarters. It has more than 900 articles about every aspect of the chamber industry. Here is the important thing: There is no charge for accessing the blog posts and articles. It’s free.
We also created a Facebook group that is only open to active chamber professionals. Upwards of 1,700 chamber pros engage in that group on a regular basis, helping each other, sharing their successes and failures, asking questions, getting answers, laughing and commiserating with their colleagues. Again, it is a free resource.
Furthermore, we are active on most of the big social media outlets where chamber pros hang out. We create original content and share it on those outposts pretty much every day.
We endeavor to solve the problems and worries of chamber pros by giving them guidance and solutions in ways that are most convenient to them.
Sometimes, we come across someone else’s resources that apply to the chamber industry, so we share that content to. This is called curating and we try to do it each and every day. We do this for free. (Starting to see a pattern here?)
That is how we created and grew the Chamber Professionals Community.
But how do you make money if everything is free?
Some things aren’t free.
If someone wants into our inner circle, the Chamber Pros Insider, it takes an investment on their part. Not too much though, just a couple of hundred dollars a year to access premium chamber-specific training and network with the best chamber pros in the world.
In exchange for their investment, they get access to thousands of dollars worth of content.
Then there is public speaking and training.
This isn’t free either. As I mentioned earlier, there are about 7,000 chambers in the United States. Most Canadian cities have chambers also. Nearly every state and province has a chamber executive’s association.
Between all those chambers and all those state and national chamber organizations, that is a lot of speaking opportunities. I generally speak at one or two conferences a month. I also instruct for the Institute for Organization Management.
We do a lot, 90%, of our work online.
Airport-to-airport traveling can be a bit of a slog, but it does allow me to serve a lot of people at once, so it is worth it a couple of times a month.
Working from the RV is better because we sleep in our own bed and cook in our own kitchen.
Then there is consulting.
Chambers contact me to help facilitate board retreats, help with CEO job descriptions and searches, to help with staff training and coaching and to guide them on creating their short-term and long-term strategic plans.
My expertise is in anything having to do with social media, digital marketing, technology and modern business strategies for chambers and business. I guide boards and staff on general chamber topics, as well.
So there you have it.
That is how we travel full time and work full time.
What’s your story?
Would you enjoy traveling and working full time?
Share your comments on our Facebook Page.
Join the Chamber Pros Group on Facebook (it’s free).