Trash the dress: bridesmaid style

When I first took off around the world with my growing business and my dog, I worried that it would make me less marketable. After all, that’s what I kept hearing and feeling from friends and family. What if I lost my clients? Would they rather work with someone local? Would the time zone thing be an issue? And what about travel days?

Like so many times before, though, I didn’t let anyone’s else’s untested opinions drive my big life decisions. Instead, I decided to test those opinions myself. And if traveling full-time didn’t work? If I lost clients? If the business started to limp? I could always come back and work from Denver again.

So I left. I packed up my sturdy laptop and my determination and I headed to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I spent a month writing content for a university website, taking long, damp walks along the Water of Leith Walkway, and attending weekly freelancer meet-ups over breakfast.

And as that first month, and the subsequent months, unfolded, a surprising thing happened:

I discovered that doing this thing that I love, traveling the world, meeting new people, was actually good for my business.

First, there were the benefits of productivity. Particularly in Europe, I found that my productivity skyrocketed. After all, the majority of my clients were in the states. And so in the mornings, when I’m most on top of things, they were asleep. There were no emails or phone calls to interrupt my work. Just me, alone in one quiet apartment or another, getting things done.

And then there were the benefits of meeting and connecting with people all over the world. I picked up a client in Scotland, after planning a meet-up with them. I got queries from Italy because of a piece I’d written on my personal blog about the client’s region. I had a business meeting in the Louvre. And I was free to spend time in places where I wanted to woo a prospective client.

But even more interesting than all that, I found that traveling, particularly full-time with a business and a dog, made me interesting to people. And that interest started to translate into trust and project opportunities.

So here’s the point: when it comes to breaking into a career (in content or other creative fields), you don’t have to hide your interests, your big dreams, your wacky ideas. Employers (and clients) like confident, creative, interesting people. We want to work with people who are passionate about things.

(And do you really want to work for an employer or client who thinks it’s ridiculous that you’re a world-traveler or an aspiring book writer?)

Those things open the door to conversations, they show your personality, and they show some of those intangible skills that employers love—things like passion, confidence, self-motivation, and creativity.

I’ll leave you with one example that isn’t from my own life:

Years ago, my aunt was a very successful business owner and event planner, traveling the world and planning fabulous corporate shin-digs. And when it came time for her to hire an assistant, someone who would be her right hand, one thing stood out among the interviewees:

It was one girl who had backpacked around Europe.

In itself, this isn’t that uncommon. But this girl had planned the trip and, at the last second, all her friends bailed on her. Everyone told her that it was a sign. She wasn’t supposed to go on that trip. But she squared her shoulders and went anyway and, of course, had the time of her life.

And when my aunt heard that story, she saw a go-getter, a person who didn’t shy away from change, a problem-solver. In other words, she saw exactly the kind of person she wanted to work with.

Needless to say, that girl got the job.

(And, years later, my aunt was still telling the story of that one brilliant hire.)

So that’s my tip for today: be interesting.

Don’t gloss over your professional experience or ignore your education, but do let your personality shine through. You never know when someone will think, “man, this is the exact kind of person I want to work with.”