Hi Jenna! Introduce yourself – where are you from, where are you now, where are you going next? What do you do, why do you do it?
My name is Jenna Wiebe and I am freelance Graphic Designer. I was born in Seoul, but grew up in Vancouver, BC and now living in Costa Rica. I have been traveling through Costa Rica and Panama for the last month and a half, but have decided to settle in Costa Rica for a while and continue to travel throughout Central and South America when time allows for it. Prior to Costa Rica I lived in Bali for a year, and that is what kick-started me going fulltime into freelance work as it allows me the freedom to not be tied to one place.
How did you become a digital nomad?
I have worked as a Graphic/Conceptual Designer for 10+ years, but in agency and design firm settings, and took freelance projects on the side from time to time, so it was natural to break off onto my own when I decided to move to Bali. It has allowed me to travel and live anywhere in the world and continue to work with incredible clients that are also based all around the world.
(Read: Digital Nomad Stories – Andrew)
What are your 3 essentials for every trip, besides your phone and laptop?
Camera, coconut oil, water thermos
What’s the first adventure that comes on your mind from your DN career?
Bali was my first DN adventure and really what made me fall in love with the DN life. It isn’t always easy and at times can be stressful because you don’t always know when the next contract will come in, but you learn to roll with it and work always finds you at the right time.
What’s your daily routine as a digital nomad?
1. I wake up between 6:30-7:00am and check my emails, text messages, and social media feeds and respond to anything that needs responding to. I do not like letting things accumulate so I try and always only have emails in my box that I am waiting for a response.
2. Some days I have contracts to work that can have me tied up all day and other days I do not. When I don’t, I try and do other things such as work on my passion project, help my partner with his business, learn Spanish, cook, do yoga, go to the beach or river, etc.
How do you balance your time between work and play?
Work comes in waves so I have learned that I can be crazy busy for 4 weeks and after that I may be free for 4 weeks, so you have to make sure you enjoy your down time when you have it as the busy wave will come again where it is hard to find time to come up for air.
What are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to people wanting to transition to the digital nomad lifestyle?
1. Make sure you are good at managing your time and if you aren’t, it is something that you should probably learn before you fully transition into being a digital nomad. Your work falls completely on you and referrals are massive in the digital nomad world so you want to always under promise and over deliver.
2. Be passionate and genuine in the service you provide. I do not just take any contract now because for me I have to be passionate about whatever project I am working on. If I am not, I know I will not provide the client with my best work and I do not think that is right when someone is paying me even if it is my job. Clients in the end appreciate this and will respect you more as a Graphic Designer knowing that you genuinely care about them not only as a business opportunity/form of income.
3. Know your value/worth. In the beginning you can’t charge as much, but as your experience grows your rate should as well. When I started I took pretty much any contract because I needed experience, but now I always evaluate the client and the project they are presenting and talk honestly with them to make sure we are a good fit.
My rates are pretty firm, but depending on the project, communication, and timelines my rate fluctuates slightly. It is better to hold off taking contracts that aren’t paying you your value/worth as you end up losing out on the opportunities that will.
(Read more Digital Nomad Stories here)
Jenna Wiebe, Freelance Graphic Designer
Jenna holds an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Vancouver, Canada. She not only graduated with honors, but also was nominated at a later date for the alumni wall of fame for her early success in her field of study.
Jenna has been in the industry for 10+ years with experience that encompasses not only graphic design, but commercials, fashion, and in the most recent years system software (user Interface design for web applications, iOS iPad apps, iPhone apps).
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