In this post, I will share my experience, some of the issues I faced and how I handled them in the hopes that this will help other freelancers who are concerned about moving. This post should be of interest to anyone who is interested in becoming location independent.
Prepping for the Move
I am a planner, so from the moment we decided to move across the country I began figuring out how to make the process as smooth as possible. Besides packing and all the other tasks involved in the actual move itself, I had to consider the possible affects this could have on my clients. I had several projects that I was currently working on, and most of my communication is done via email, so knowing there would be several days without solid internet connection was an immediate concern. I am pretty much connected to the internet and on a computer all day, five to six days per week, so being limited to only a smart phone and possible evenings in a hotel room on a laptop with free wi-fi as we drove across the country was going to be a significant change.
It didn’t take much consideration to decide this was going to be a week without work. The final day packing and loading a trailer, then the four-day cross-country drive, followed by move-in time meant I was not going to be able to service my clients at anything close to normal capacity. So rather than try to provide limited service, I informed my clients that I would be unavailable during this time, except by phone on an emergency only basis. Fortunately, most of my clients understand the true meaning of emergency only, and they were fine with the situation. I had also planned my current projects with timelines that allowed for the week off, so everything was relatively smooth in the preparation process.
I think the biggest key here was the communication with my clients. Keeping them informed and reminding them of my availability dates set the foundation for little or no affect on my business during the week I would be moving. In essence, it was a very similar situation to what I would do when taking a week off for vacation, so these principles could be applied to that context as well.
Downtime During the Actual Move
Once we hit the road, I was able to make the best use of my downtime by answering emails in the hotel rooms each evening and even sometimes via phone during the drive. Thankfully, no emergencies arose and there was very little need for me to take care of business while we made our way across the country. I credit the preparation of my clients as the most helpful step in the process, and it actually made this portion relatively painless.
Setting Up Shop in the New Digs
When I was younger, the first thing I would set up when we were moving into a new place was always my surround sound system. It was my baby, and it was the provider of music to add motivation and a soundtrack to the move-in. However, since I began freelancing full-time as a web and graphic designer my priority has changed a little, and the first thing I set up is my work area. Computers, desk, printer, etc. are first on the list to make sure I am ready to go as soon as necessary.
So, another preparation step I took before I left was to set up the appointment for installation of my internet connection. I did this far enough in advance that I was able to set the appointment for the morning after we moved in. Once the installation was complete, I was able to dive into catching up on anything I had missed during the move.
Keeping Local Clients When You’re No Longer Local
Most of my business is not local. In fact, I have clients all over the world. It’s the nature of what I do combined with the modern technologies that give us the ability to communicate and connect with anyone anywhere instantly. Still, I did have a few clients from Florida and I didn’t want the relocation of my business to cause us to stop working together. Again, the communication was key. I informed them well in advance, and made sure to point out the benefits that time difference, etc. could have for their business. I did not lose a single client, and, in fact, I’ve even worked with a few new clients from Florida since I’ve been in California!
Your Relocation Tips?
I can’t stress communication with clients and preparation enough. Everything taken care of before the actual relocation started made for smooth sailing along the way. We have now been back in California several months and are settled in completely. My business is continuing to grow and we love our new life here. Perhaps you have relocated your freelance business and have some other tips, experiences and suggestions to share. Please do so in the comments below so we can all learn from each other and be best prepared for whenever relocation is on the horizon.
Image by CRASHcandy