Refuga – the place where entrepreneurial minds meet

Office to travel - refuga 8

 

Our interview series with founders of great digital nomad events continues with one of the veterans in the field. I am happy that I had the chance to find many great insights about Refuga workations and will share with you how these events can help digital nomads and entrepreneurs grow both personally and professionally.

Nikolaj Astrup Madsen, the Refuga founder, started organizing trips for location independent professionals a few years ago as a personal experiment and ended up having one of the most well-known companies that organize niched events.

 

1. Tell us a few things about your background and how Refuga came to life

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 10 years, doing a lot of different projects. Some years ago I moved to China and suddenly I felt very alone in my work life and I wanted to expand my own personal network of like-minded adventurous professionals, so I just wrote on my personal blog if anyone wanted to go to Spain for a week of work, good food and adventure. I just expected a few people and then we could rent a nice apartment or something, but it went a bit viral and within one week I had 20 participants who all had paid $1000 each to join and from there it just became a concept (this was all in Danish).

Office to travel - refuga 4

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Surf Office – the (co-working) place to be

Office to travel - Surf Office 1

Once you spend time in Lisbon or Las Palms, the chances are that you will go to Surf Office to work and met other location independent professionals. Peter Fabor is the mastermind behind the concept and does a great job providing an environment where like-minded people can meet and work. He shared some of his insights and future plans with us.

 

1. Tell us a few things about your background and how was Surf Office born

Back in 2013 I wanted to work from Canary Islands and I needed a stable place to work so I created one. After some time, other people liked the idea so much that they joined me in the office while working on their own things. Eventually I started to work on making this idea better and grow it to the point where we are now.

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Why I decided to launch a digital marketing agency with a team of digital nomads

the smmile - the social media mile

Some businesses are built from a passion or innovation, others from great ideas, or from the wish of providing services for the market’s needs. Or maybe for some it is just the natural step to take, but most of the new businesses are created from the desire of making more money. Or maybe it’s a mix of those reasons. As it was my case. After working in press, advertising and in different companies, combining economic and advertising studies with work experience as an employee, freelancer and consultant, I decided to take it to the next level and put all my know-how into practice for higher purposes. A project that I believe in and provides some real value for all the parts involved.

So, I decided to create a digital marketing agency that provides tailored services to international clients, while opening the door to working with amazing digital nomads professionals. Why I am telling you this?

Personally, I would like to see more stories like this. I want to know what drives people to create a business and why they chose that idea over another.

So these are my reasons:

 

The rise of the digital nomad lifestyle

I truly believe that the number of people who chose to work while traveling will grow. Even if it’s not a lifestyle for everyone, there are lots of people who are thinking right this second about how they could create a nomad lifestyle while earning at least as much as they earn in their corporate job. Maybe even when they read this article.

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Digital nomads stories – how they work & travel (Part 2)

RioStill want to read more stories about digital nomads? Last time I interviewed three digital nomads about how they work and travel, about their fears and failures, but also about the beauty of this lifestyle. Now I am back with three more stories. Nomads from Poland, Germany and Croatia opened up and told us why they chose this lifestyle and what are the lessons they learned on the way.

 

Alan Ciechalski, Sales differently

Alan
Can you briefly tell us who are you and what do you do for a living?

My name is Alan Ciechalski, from Poland. I’m a freelance web designer and an internet marketer. I help small businesses get their first clients online through Google AdWords and Search Engine Optimisation.

 

How did you become a digital nomad and what made you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
I went on holidays to Rio de Janeiro while still being at a full time job. I met Johannes Voelkner who told me about the digital nomad lifestyle. From then on I wanted to become a digital nomad and have a business I could run as location independent individual. It took me 4 years of different trials and errors but this summer I decided it is the time to make the jump.

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How to become a digital nomad

OFFice to travel - How to become a digital nomad

 

Becoming a digital nomad may be a dream for many and unfortunately, for some will remain just that. But if you are reading this article, you probably already have an idea about what this means and would like to know where to start. I have to tell it won’t be easy, but it might be much easier than you expect. Let’s see where you should start, what you should do to earn money while traveling and even build a location independent business. 

Before you commit to this road, read as much as you can about the nomad lifestyle, ask people who are already doing it, understand what are the advantages and disadvantages and think if this style of living is for you. Join communities of digital nomads, discover their stories and learn directly from them – Digital Nomads Academy is one I definitely recommend. If you want to travel the world, you can do that in extended holidays or in a sabbatical year. Or you could pick a place you love and look for a steady job there – you can enjoy the beach from Costa Rica when you work in a resort too. And then just move around and find a similar job in Thailand or Bali, for example. You need to figure out what will make you happy in the end. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with working and traveling, dealing with difficult situations, facing the lack of WI-FI and love to slow travel, you are in for the ride.

The problem most people have is related to the insufficient budget while traveling and search places with low cost of living. I believe there is no right answer in earning money and I think that each and every one of us has at least a set of skills that will help becoming a digital nomad. Before we go any further, you also need to know that this will take time. You need to research, choose your path, make plans and then go pursue them.

 

Choose your path

I filtered and set for you 4 different situations that will hopefully make this decision easier for you. These are presented in the order of their difficulty range.

  1. I am leaving but I am taking you with me – the remote employee

Are you still employed and like your job, but would love to travel the world at the same time? If you are sure the sabbatical is not for you, try negotiating with your employer to work remotely (at least for a while). I highly recommend (re)reading The 4-Hour Workweekthe chapters where Tim Ferriss explains step by step what you should do to convince your boss that you can do an amazing job by working remotely.

 

  1. Freelancer or consultant with the skills you already possess

If the ship above has sailed and even though you love your job they won’t let you do this (or maybe you love what your work involves, but the employee or the schedule was awful), it’s clearly you have to stick to what you are really good at and find a way to turn it into a profitable business. Think in what way could your skills translate into location independence.

Maybe you work in finances and could become a consultant for small businesses, or you are a yoga teacher and could hold yoga classes on the beach or in association with a beach hotel. The solutions are endless, you just have to be open-minded and explore your options. This is probably the most common situation for digital nomads, at least in the beginning – they rely on the skills they already have and emphasize their knowledge. This is also my situation. And if you don’t know where to start from, here are some methods to find clients as a freelancer that helped worked for me. You can also try finding gigs on Up Work (formerly Odesk), Freelancer or any other niche platforms.

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5 ways Blab can help you grow your business

To Blab or not to Blab? We can see almost everyday new apps, ideas and trends that more or less try to cover our needs. Three months ago another one was born. Is it just a trend or could it be the future? I guess time will decide but I would bet some money on its success. Being already a Periscope fan, I didn’t think I would get hooked, but I have to admit that it’s kind of addictive.

 

But what is Blab?

It could be the next big thing. It’s a live broadcasting app that allows you to join conversations with various people on different topics. You could say it’s similar to Periscope or Meerkat, but it has the advantage of jumping on a broadcast even if this is not your “blab” and go live. The admin can let 3 other people in and talk about the chosen topic, so if you ask to join, that could be you.

 

Blab - join screen

Live Blab

 

Something interesting is that broadcasts can be scheduled. This way your followers know when you’ll be live and can plan the day accordingly, if they really want to see you. You might want to do that, because compared to scopes that usually take between 5 and 40 minutes, Blab broadcasts can go on for hours.

 

Schedule a Blab

Schedule a Blab

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OFFice to Travel at DNX – the first global digital nomads conference

Berlin. Saturday morning. 6 AM. My alarm clock rings and even though I am not a morning person (actually I hate waking up in the morning), this time I am quite excited. It’s DNX conference day and I came to Berlin (like I needed another excuse to spend time in the city I love) to meet like-minded digital nomads.

And I have a good reason to be excited about this. In the past 3 days I’ve already met some of the attendees and they exceeded my expectations. People from USA, Czech Republic, France, Croatia, Germany and many more countries joined DNX. Actually their origins are not even that important because in the end we are all citizens of the world. We are only defined by what we want. And these days Berlin was our home.

Stefano_Borghi & Office to travel 1

Formal and informal meetups

Even before the conference had started, we had a 4-Hours Workweek event at Betahaus, then Natalie Sisson gathered some of us to meet and get to know each other and we also got together for a BBQ on Tempelhof, which is an old airport that ceased to function in 2008 and now it is open to public. It’s a great place to spend some time at a picnic, riding a bike or flying a kite. But since Germans know how to party, the evening ended in a pub where more networking was at its best.

On Friday the event actually started and some of us already knew each other. Workshops, networking and more ideas came to life.

Looks like we were all eager to meet some location independent fellows, because it might be a great way of living your life, but sometimes it gets lonely. Marcus and Feli created the perfect environment for us to meet and discover other ideas, businesses and, of course, people or even future friends.

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11 Social Media content tips for hoteliers

It’s summer, the holiday season is at its peak and hotels are probably full, but what about the off-season? What do you do to keep your guests keep coming and attract new ones? If you own a hotel, B&B, resort or even an Airbnb apartment, you might want to check if you are already applying some of these ideas. And if you are not, keep in mind that your competition might and could steal your guests.

 

Did you know that?

– 2/3 people share their travel dreams on Social Media

– Over 50% of people are inspired to book by their friends’ pictures

– Over 70% of people share content while on holidays.

– Over 50% like pages to a specific destination

 

Take advantage of these numbers and reach your audience with nice surprises.

 

1. Talk about the surrounding

You don’t always have to talk about your hotel or resort. You’ll run out of ideas anyway, so use that empty space as an opportunity. Tell a story about the mountains, the seaside, horse rides, surfing experience etc. Tell your potential guests what is happening around and at least one of the activities might attract them. The room booking comes after. Remember that your place is not necessarily the reason people come to that city/town or island, but the place itself. The environment is the one that attracts people and your job is to make that experience even more pleasant; the complete package. Once you do that, their whole memory of the vacation will include your place too.

Office to travel - Malta surroundings

 

2. Share events

You have to be up-to-date with all the events that are happening. A concert, a festival or a competition will bring people into town. So why don’t you tell them about it and create the whole pack? You could even have some kinds of arrangements that can attract people to stay at your hotel. For example, maybe an international artist is performing in your city, but your hotel is too far away, comparing to your competition. Offer your guests a free ride to the concert and promote it.

 

 

3. Forget the stock photos

Yes, some of you will be outraged. I am not talking about not using them at all in Social Media, no matter the business, but you are not promoting utopic ideas or untouchable services. Show your guests what’s waiting for them, details, views, food and all that can be found at your hotel. Hire a great photograph and let him do the magic. It would be great if you could have him or her every week to capture new things, but you can also can have a complete photoshoot once per season, to emphasize the fall’s colors, the clear water or the Christmas decorations.

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How to find clients as a freelancer

Your decision is made: you want to become a freelancer, so I am not going to give reasons to follow this path or not, I will not show you how to write a compelling email, nor will I give you different utopic ideas on how to become rich as a freelancer. I’ll just share with you my top 3 ways to find clients after trying lots of ways and coming down to this short list.

Lately I heard this question more often than I used to. Maybe more and more people want to become freelancers or maybe they are just curious. Whatever the reason, it made me decide to share my experience with the ones who need advices and directions on how to find clients when you choose the rocky road.

dreamstime_s_8082220

Yes, it’s hard(er) to find work when you are a freelancer. Being used to having all the clients brought to you by your employer, now you are facing the harsh reality of being on your own. It’s not that you aren’t good at what you do; you might be the best, but since nobody knows about you, it’s not easy to prove it.

When I became a freelancer I read a lot of articles on this subject and some of them helped while others… were there just to make the article look bigger, I guess. So, I won’t bore you with long lists. Instead, let’s see what have worked for me so far.

1. Recommendations
I am not a big fan of the saying “good things come to those who wait”. I think it’s a big mistake. Good things will come to you only if you do something about it; you take action and make things happen. In this particular case, it’s a mix of the two. Most of my clients came through recommendations – ex-colleagues who knew my work, friends, ex-collaborators and later on, ex-clients (the project based ones).

I know; you’ll say that people will get to know your work later on, but what do you do in your first week as a freelancer, cause you have no background. True and false at the same time. You have no experience as a freelancer, but you definitely had a job before, had collaborators and people who know what you are capable of. So, in the first days, you could just concentrate on calling people you know and drop the bomb: I’m a freelancer now, I have decided to take it on my own, I am confident and I am open to new contracts. In case you need my services, you know where to find me. Simple as that.

I have to admit that every time someone comes to me and says that X recommended me, I have an overwhelming feeling; it’s more than just the money that will come and it’s beyond the pleasure and excitement of working on a new project (I have that thrill all the time); it’s the recognition that I made a client happy and he’s willing to recommend my work to his friends, colleagues or business partners. It’s a big thing and I totally understand it and appreciate it.

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5 Social Media Ideas For Your Hotel Marketing Strategy That Can Double Your Income

I just came back from one of my travels and I found myself again in a hotel marketing industry that seems to have forgotten that social media should be part of their strategy. I know this is not your case. But exactly because you probably know by now that social media shouldn’t be left out, I want to help you stand out with minimum effort.

If you already have a nice hotel, great staff and a lovely view, this article is for you. Marketing strategy can become a problem if you’ve been in this business for a long time. And believe me. I’ve seen this. Because things are not as they used to be. Things are changing, the internet is a must have nowadays for reservations, when 57 % of all travel reservations are made on the internet and 65% of same hotel reservations are made from a smartphone. This is huge.

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But what can you do to refresh your marketing strategy and bring more guests? When social media is not a one-way communication anymore, your guests can have a great input. So, I have 5 smart, innovative and really simple ideas for you. Not to mention cost effective.

 

1. Give your guests FREE WIFI… and benefit from it
Have you recently checked your Facebook newsfeed? Or your Instagram account? These days, social media is filled with holiday pictures that make the ones at home green with envy. It’s the WOE (word of eye), the new WOM (word of mouth). It’s the perfect opportunity to give your guests all the tools to promote you for FREE and make their friends want to come to your hotel.

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