…And we’ve landed…

…in France. And it’s bloody cold. And it’s only autumn… That’s the first thing that hit us, the cold. We went from hot humid Manila, to sunny Dubai (ok, just for a few hours) to grey C.O.L.D (but still beautiful) Paris. But that’s a detail really, cause it’s good to be back in Europe.

I managed to get not one but two croissants in the plane (it’s the little things!) and that can only be a good omen for this new chapter in our life. Only one thing is for certain, this is another big change. After leaving our life in London to volunteer for a year in the Philippines, we’re kinda starting over again…different country, different jobs, different fields.

Ann has been many times to France but has never actually lived here. As for me, I spent the last 12 years abroad, so moving to France almost feels like moving to a new country in a way. I’m not sure when the culture shock will hit (both of us) but it will for sure (and no amount of nutella and/or wine will change that, though of course it helps). There is of course the various tasks that come with settling in a “new” country, from finding a place to live to (re)learning cultural traits while to sorting out visas, mobile phones and finding one restaurant that has a vegetarian option on its menu (quite a feat in France…), but more on that soon. One of the first thing for us to do, the one activity that we will occupy our time from now on and the thing we’re most excited about, is our new career as freelancers.

It all started about half-way through our year in the Philippines. A combination of events and thought processes came together and we decided to (for lack of a better expression) “give it a go”. It started as a side project to our volunteering and it steadily grew to take more and more of our time. In France, we’ll freelance on a full-time basis. It’s quite a change of mindset to go from being an employee with a regular paycheck to being your own boss and having to find your own work in order to get a most likely – ahem –  fluctuating income. But the challenge that comes with it is also a big part of the excitement. We have of course dreams of setting our own hours, forgeting what commuting means and perhaps best of all being able to work from anywhere in the world, but after a few months of testing the water we’ve realised that it also comes with a very steep learning curve on running a business, finding clients (and keeping them), managing the uncertainty of income and avoiding going back to the office “for a minute” at 11pm just because it is just upstairs.

What is it that we do exactly as freelancers?

Well, Ann chisels words, manipulates punctuation and generally crafts sentences of Beaux Mots working as a writer and editor. You can find more info about her services on her website Present Pathway.

I specialise in cloud computing, my services are based around Google Apps, Postini, and security. You can find more details at Sudden Leap Technologies.

We’d be very grateful if you could forward these links to people you think might be interested in our services. Also, although our skills and experience are well developed to actually do the work, we’re newbies at running a business so please do send us some feedback and any insight you may have, it will be much appreciated.

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12 thoughts on “…And we’ve landed…

  1. Cool blog! I too am an earth-wandering freelancer, translating the tongues of the world (or of a few countries) to communicate the messages of all (or of a few human beings and their companies). One bit of advice: mark a sacred no-internet/smartphone/business time period EVERY week (we do weekends- blackberry is turned OFF, computers are shut down). Otherwise, freelance work will slowly eat away at you and your relationships like a flesh eating bacteria.

    I’m an old hand at freelancing, but I’m new to the blog world. Hop on over and check me out at http://ironedunderpants.com/2011/10/31/20-benefits-of-being-a-freelancer-in-spain/
    and let me know what you think!

    Good luck! It sounds like you two have very interesting thoughts to share!

  2. Gloria Wells says:

    Having run my own business as a real estate appraiser for 20 years before I retired and moved to Sun City – yeah, I go back a bit, think it’s called being an early adapter or Pilgrim or something along those lines – I can certainly “ditto” the comment above. Managing your own business, especially one that involves a home office, is a whole new world and requires a change in mindset as well as work habits.

    The first comment I often got from people who learned that I ran my own show was that it must be great to have control – to chose what you do and when you do it and how you do it. Welllllll , not so much! Getting clients and servicing them with all their quirks in order to keep them as clients while also having a life of your own is a constant balancing act. I know the advice you get is often to “have set hours” or “close the office door” and that has some validity. However, trust me, that business of yours is ALWAYS on your mind. If you’re not thinking about/working on a current project, you’re wondering where the next project is coming from and/or how to get that next assignment. Work flow in the appraisal business was ALWAYS a problem and I seemed to be either “snowed under” or sitting at my desk with no appraisal assignments wondering if I’d ever work again.

    Don’t mean for this to sound totally negative, but I have just seen so many people go joyfully down the “I’m going to work from home and on my own and it’s going to be great” road only to hit the reality and be unable to cope. Your lives over the recent past and your maturity have certainly better equipped you to deal with the uncertainties of this path and I know you will be very successful.

    Guess the best thing I can say is that I did it for a long time and would do it again – and GOOD LUCK/BONNE CHANCE!.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Gloria,
      Thank you for your comments. A balancing act it is indeed. We’re both working with clients around the globe and phone calls can sometimes happen at 2am because “it’s the only time the client was available that day”. We’re very much learning as we go in terms of time management and working from home, but that’s part of the excitement also. There is certainly drawbacks to this way of working and added anxiety regarding where the next project will come from but I’m really enjoying so far. I’ve heard from several people who’ve been doing freelance work for a few years that they would do it over again despite some of these drawbacks, and that’s a good sign. We’re definitely up for the challenge.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good Post Chris. One thing is for sure, Ann’s French will improve dramatically out of necessity; so good she is young and seems to handle change with ease and grace.
    We are the fortunate ones as we experience your lives and live vicariously through your adventures. The year you gave in the Philippines will bless you and others for years to come.
    I am still wading through Ann’s last grueling assignment and I marvel at her abilities and her tenacity. Carry on children, I love you both, MOM

    • ann says:

      hehe…ease and grace…if only! i must be committing journalistic crimes if you think i’m graceful in the face of change! i’ll try to be more honest from now on…

  4. Shoshana Levin says:

    All I could think of while I read this was croissants…. and nutella. I even went out and bought nutella yesterday. Am I pregnant or something? =)
    I will definitely forward your information to anybody that might be interested in your services. Tell your parents I say hello!

    • Chris says:

      Nutella IS good for pregnant women, no doctor in their right mind would say the opposite. Right? Well, if I was a doctor, I would prescribe it to pregnant women. And everybody else.
      I hope you and Brian and the little one to be are good. Take care.
      My parents say hello as well, they actually asked about you a few days back.

  5. ronaldanne1 says:

    I do enjoy reading what you write…nutella on pumpernickle, a strange but true combination…I am forwarding your links to everyone I know and asking them to do the same, hopefully you will go viral.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Ron, it’s great that you’re forwarding our website links, it’s very much appreciated.
      Nutella on pumpernickle sounds nice to me but I do tend to try nutella with strange things, probably knowing that having nutella as part of the combination there is almost no change that I’ll be disappointed anyway…

  6. Jeska says:

    Yay! Be your own boss!! Way to go guys! Definitely keep us posted on how that’s going, and I’ll forward your info to anyone who might find it useful. Love you!

  7. […] Chris and I’ve put our websites there (for your express convenience!) but since we just posted about all that, I won’t ruthlessly plug our new endeavors yet […]

  8. […] little less than a year ago, when Chris and I had first begun talking seriously about going freelance for the longer term, we had a lot of questions.  ”What Will We Do?” is a personal […]

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