Living a life of freedom takes many qualities including persistence, faith, courage, among a few others. But when you really think about it, even if your original plan to live a freedompreneur type of lifestyle doesn’t work out long term, you will always be okay no matter what. Luckily for our feature, Sofie, her leap of faith into the world of traveling full-time worked better than she anticipated and she continues on with her journey in which she’s able to sustain her traveling lifestyle.
Let’s hear from her directly on how she made this transition and how she’s able to make it work. She has a new project worth knowing about as well that has to do with chasing one’s dreams! Sofie is from Belgium and is a full-time travel blogger and copywriter.
Sofie of Wonderful Wanderings
Before I dive into questions regarding your online business/project, tell us a little bit about your background and life growing up.
I’m afraid there’s not much exciting about my childhood. I grew up happily in a small Belgian town between the cities of Leuven and Brussels. My parents kick ass and my little brother’s not too bad either 😀 I went to the same school my entire childhood and teenage years before going to university in the city of Leuven, where I now live with my boyfriend.
What are your interests and passion in life?
Travel, obviously! And aside from that I love everything language-related. I studied Literature and Linguistics and am fascinated by how languages is used and how it changes throughout time. I love helping people put their ideas into words and crafting texts that do exactly what they need to do, whether that’s sell, inspire or inform.
Related to that, I also always loved reading fiction but have to admit I’ve let that slip ever since I started blogging. Most of the books I read nowadays are related to marketing.
And lastly, I love dancing. I’ve been taking dance classes for more than 10 years now and although I only dance a couple of hours a week, I wouldn’t want to miss it.
Are you still working a 9 to 5 job?
Nope! I handed in my resignation letter December 1, 2014 and left the office February 5, 2015, less than a month before my 3-year anniversary at the office. The company I worked for was the Belgian branch of an international publishing house specialized in B2B publications concerning “dry matter”, as I call it: personnel policy, property management, business legislation… Basically everything that had to do with money and law for businesses.
I started there as a copywriter and marketing coordinator for the Flemish region of Belgium and the Netherlands, writing sales copy in Dutch and overseeing our direct marketing campaigns from creation until the moment they went to print. Later I transitioned to doing the same for our campaigns in France and Spain, with the difference that I then had local writers delivering the copy.
It was a very typical office 9-to-5.
How was the process like to quit something so stable?
Liberating, really. It was so unlike me to quit. I’m someone who hesitates for ages before taking a decision on just about anything and for most of my life, I’ve always taken the safe route. I did well in school, went on to study what I’d always planned to go study, found a job right after in-line with my studies and then… I got so terribly bored.
I launched WonderfulWanderings.com as a passion project but it soon turned into a way out. When I quit my job, I knew it had potential but I wasn’t nearly making enough yet to sustain myself. Yet I had the biggest smile on my face when I handed in my resignation letter and wasn’t nervous to do so at all. I’m pretty sure that was the first and only time in my life I did something important without dying inside.
In terms of finances, I did have savings. Being Belgian, it’s kind of in my blood to save up and I’d always been saving for something important. The first two or three months after quitting my job I used a bit of that money for living expenses, but quickly earned it back and I haven’t had to touch my savings since.
What are your current projects/business/plans?
I’ve just launched #Anydaysgood, a year-long project going against all those posts that tell you you need to visit x countries before you’re 30 or do y things before you’re 25. I want to tell people any day’s a good day to start chasing their travel dreams and to prove that life doesn’t end at 3° (I’m kidding, of course it doesn’t), I’ll be chasing 30 travel experiences I’ve always wanted to had but never went for while I’m 30.
While some of them are pretty “big”, like wanting to ride a hot air balloon, others are much smaller and personal, like wanting to spend a night out partying with a local somewhere.
The goal is to get people to create their own list of travel goals and to motivate them to check those of one step at a time, and to help them not to postpone those steps indefinitely 🙂
I’m curious to know more about your project (this can be a travel website, business etc). What led you to start this project?
A few months ago I was talking with a friend and she suddenly remarked that I should throw a party for my 30th birthday. I absolutely didn’t want to do that, but it did make me aware of the fact that even though it’s just a number, that birthday might be a good reason to start a new project and do something cool. When I later bumped into one of those “30 before 30” articles, I knew what that something had to be.
When did you launch your project?
I’ve actually just launched it as my birthday is February 12 so I’ll be doing the #Anydaysgood challenge from now until February 12 next year!
What is your project’s mission?
To inspire people to chase their dreams no matter where in life they find themselves and however silly they think those dreams might be.
What hurdles have you faced thus far with this project?
Because I only got the idea late November, it’s been a bit challenging arranging everything logistically. I was stressing about it rather badly in the beginning but now I’ve just decided to plan things as I go. I know I could just book everything, but as I don’t want this to be about having to money and time or not to go after your dreams, I’m also trying to partner up with some cool brands along the way. It adds a difficulty level – but I need to look out that it doesn’t become an excuse to postpone things!
How did you overcome these hurdles?
I’m still working on them 😀 As it’s a year-long project, I’ll be planning, traveling and reporting all-year-long. Maybe you should ask me again in 2018 🙂
Who or what helped you along the way to make your project a success?
So far I’ve gotten great responses from the travel community, which is really motivating.
Tell us more about your traveling life. How often do you travel?
My friends and family ask this all the time and I always say the same: it depends. Sometimes I’m home for a month and sometimes I make four different trips in a month. I really depends on the projects I’m working on, the assignments I get and my mood, really.
How does your project complement your passion for traveling?
It’s all about having special experiences while traveling the world. There are definitely things on the list I could do at home in Belgium as well, but that wouldn’t really be a challenge 🙂
Sofie shares with us her favorite travel moments.
My first trip to Los Angeles. It opened up a whole new perspective on life for me, making me realize there’s more than the traditional path I’d always envisioned I’d follow.
My trip to Quebec in winter with my Boyfriend. It was the first time I tried skiing and snowboarding and thus also the first time I really tackled my fear of heights. He’s passionate about winter sports, so this trip really allowed me to connect with him on another level while doing something I’d always been afraid to do.
Every first 15 minutes in a new city. No matter how much I hate the whole getting there part, as soon as I’m walking around in a new place, I’m reminded of how much I love to travel.
How do you define success for your project?
It’ll be successful if I manage to experience all the things on my #Anydaysgood list and inspire people to create their own list and go through the challenge together with me. Even if just one person has an experience they’ve always put off until now, it will have been a success.
What have you discovered about yourself as part of this process?
It’s not really a discovery, but I’m quite the chicken. I love interacting with locals and doing new things, but I’m often too shy or not confident enough to take the first step. This project really forces me to get out of my comfort zone and do exactly those things.
How do you manage to afford traveling?
As a travel blogger, I earn money in several ways. I do freelance travel writing for other websites and magazines, I work with travel brands and destinations on marketing campaigns, I have Adsense up on my site and I do a bit of affiliate marketing. Aside from that, I also do copywriting and the occasional translation work (English <-> Dutch).
What advise do you have to those who are thinking of pursing their passion that require quitting their 9 to 5?
Before you do, ask yourself if your passion can be a job and if you’re sure you even want it to be a job. Maybe you love doing what you do exactly because you do it in your downtime. Or maybe you’re crazy about it but only five other people in the world are. Make sure there’s a demand for what you want to do and… make sure you save up first.
It might work out, it might not. Either way, it’s easier if you don’t have to worry about rent and being able to buy food.
Did quitting the 9 to 5 kind of career and working for yourself turn out the way you envisioned it to be?
Better, actually. I honestly thought I’d give it a go for a year, but would fail and then have to find a new job. Luckily, that’s not how it turned out. I love the freedom and being my own boss. It’s hard. I have the occasional panic attack and the “I’ll never really make it” thoughts, but I never consider quitting. Doing this energizes me just as much as it occasionally wears me out 🙂
I realized that I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to work. I never liked the structure of school: not being able to advance at your own pace, needing to be there at specific hours of the day and not being able to choose who I surrounded myself with. But I loved university: planning my work as I saw fit, having a much more flexible schedule and mingling with like-minded people. I guess you could compare school to the 9-to-5 and university to freelancing – although there’s still a lot more freedom in freelancing.
Are you living a life with more freedom now than before? Feel free to elaborate.
Yup, see above 🙂
How many countries have you been to?
I always have to count because honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care. There are people who’ve been to 80+ countries but they’ve only been there once for three days. I tend to travel a lot around Europe and visit the same countries over and over again to really get to know them. But so to answer your question, 20, I think.
What other countries are on your list?
There’s hardly a place I wouldn’t want to visit.
Name one thing you miss the most when on the road?
To wrap up, I asked Sofie a few more questions:
Which do you prefer? Mountains/nature or city life?
City liiiiiife! I honestly don’t know why. I like discovering new bars, new eateries, cultural things… I guess that’s more related to cities. I love being in nature too, but there has to be something to discover or eat 😀 I’m not someone to go hiking for days at an end just to look at a green scenery.
Describe the word, FREEDOM.
Freedom comes from choice. As soon as you can choose, you can choose freedom.
Name 3 qualities that you think are the most important in accomplishing one’s dreams?
1.Persistance – to work hard and keep at it even when things don’t go well
2. Down-to-earthness – to realize what’s achievable and what it takes to get there
3. Patience – lots of it
Thanks Sofie for the wonderful and real insight on how it’s like to transition into a life with more freedom. Many of us are intimidated by the thought and you just proved that no matter where you are in the process, with faith and persistence, it is possible to sustain a life where you get to be your own boss and travel on your own terms. Goodluck!
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