Hey Andrew! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where are you now? What do you do and why do you do it?
Hi, I’m Andrew Macia. 6 years ago I was a freelance website developer and SEO guy in Orange County, California. After traveling the Americas I came upon Medellin. I am no longer a “digital nomad.” I now own a digital marketing agency here in Medellin called Red Door Studios.
How did you become a digital nomad?
After working as the marketing director for a couple Law Firms in So Cal I decided that I didn’t want to work in someone else’s office. Having a sales/marketing background it was fun and challenging to go out and get my own freelance clients. I was able to get a few good clients back in 2010 and started to make my way down to Colombia.
What are your essentials for every trip, besides your phone and laptop?
Basketball sneakers and a ball. It’s part of my daily routine to shoot baskets.
What’s the first adventure that comes to your mind from your DN career?
One of my most memorable moments has been surfing the Pacific Coast of Colombia back in 2011. The guerrilla army controlled a lot of the land in cauca. On our way to a remote beach city on the Pacific when our bus was stopped by, who I thought were military personnel, but were actually guerrilla soldiers. We were held up for almost an hour until the driver was able to make a deal. We all had to fork over cash, then we were on our merry way.
What’s your daily routine as a digital nomad?
It’s funny because my daily routine now that I’m not a digital nomad is very similar to my routine when I was a digital nomad.
I wake up at 6:00 am and do some exercise. Today, my apartment and office are both 2 blocks away from each other and from a basketball court, therefore, I usually go shoot every morning. When I was a digital nomad finding a basketball court wasn’t as easy, so I’d go for a jog or find a free outdoor gym somewhere.
By 8:00 am I’ve already had breakfast and am on my computer.
As a digital nomad (freelancer) my work day would usually end at 2:00 pm. Today, with a staff of 8 my work days are much longer.
How do you balance your time between work and play?
When I was a digital nomad it was very easy to balance work and play. I’m able to focus on work under most circumstances. So staying in hostels, working from cafes, restaurants, etc. wasn’t very hard for me. My life was mostly play and little work.
Now as a business owner I have people that depend on me and I have goals of growing the business. It’s a different type of journey, but still very fun.
Living in Medellin makes the work/play balance a lot easier because the cost of living is still pretty low. That means that on any given holiday weekend I can get a plane ticket on VivaColombia to the coast and go surfing.
What are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to people wanting to transition to the digital nomad lifestyle?
1. Marketing – If you really want to sustain yourself you need to dedicate a few hours a day to marketing. When I first started as a freelancer 8 years ago I would make the mistake of landing a great client and then getting bogged up with work and I would do no marketing. Then I’d finish that project or the client would cancel and I’d be left hung to dry.
2. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” – Fear paralyzes people and keeps them in the same old rut. I look back now and think about all my friends in California, that are now married, have kids, 40 lbs heavier, working the same jobs, some unemployed, hoping for the new political candidate to change their financial situation. Yes I have had to sleep in cars, yes I have been homeless, yes I had to max out credit cards, yes I had to borrow clothes, yes I had worked 16 hour days, but I can honestly say that there is no obstacle too big for me today.
3. Don’t use credit cards! – The worst mistake I made as a young digital nomad was using credit cards when times got tough. It took me forever to pay them all off. Compound interest is the worst, don’t make that mistake. There are various forms of getting money nowadays. From crowdfunding to a low-interest loan from a family member there are better alternatives than credit cards.
Andrew Macia, Owner & SEO Specialist at Red Door Studios
Andrew Macia was born in Bogota, Colombia. At the age of four, his family immigrated to Southern California, where he spent 26 years of his life. Having started various businesses including a curb painting business at the age of 15 he has worked in various fields. At the age of 23, he started his career in digital marketing. At the age of 28, he decided to discover his roots and travel to Colombia. Making his way down south he lived as a digital nomad until in 2011 he came to Medellin, Colombia, where he resides…semi-permanently.