How I’m 23 and have never worked 9 to 5

in a van on the great ocean road, melbourne

I’m 23 years old, soon to be 24 in June, and have never worked a 9 to 5 job. Ever.

When you hear successful entrepreneurs talking about how they made it, they often can’t put a finger on how exactly they did it. You often hear them say, “I just fell into it really.”

I remember when I was in school and I was picking a university, a subject, and essentially a future career. I didn’t really know what I was going to be yet, and I thought to myself, “How do you fall into a job?”

Now I’m sitting here at a desk at home, nearly 24, and I work for myself, making enough money to live comfortably. I didn’t intend for things to happen this way, they just sort of…well…happened.

I can pinpoint a few reasons why I ended up working for myself; I’m incredibly ambitious, I don’t like authority and I don’t like waking up early. No 9am starts for me.

Today I thought I’d give you a little insight into how I do it, and maybe it’ll give you some inspiration to live a lifestyle by design.

I have a BA in Broadcast Journalism, but whilst I absolutely loved my degree, I just found the news too morbid and sinister. From weeks of work experience at the BBC, I definitely learnt that I didn’t want to report on burglars and murders forever. I love video, I love presenting and I love editing, but not so much the news.

When I left university I felt a bit disgruntled about the UK- everything was just so negative. It felt like no-one was hiring. If they were hiring, you had to go through a gazilion interviews where the interviewers spent the entire time catching you out or putting you down. If you got past the application stage, there were  ‘assessment centres’, where you had to jump through hoops to prove your ‘teamwork skills’.

To cut a long story short, I went traveling.

I went to Portugal. Came back. Worked in a bar and lived at home. Backpacked around Australia and New Zealand. Hopped around the Greek Islands. Came back.

This time though, I was determined to leave the UK and become completely location independent. I worked a bar job and left England for Bali with £800 in my bank account. That was it. So I had to make it work. I knew living costs would be relatively low, but I had to find work if I wanted to live abroad permanently. I ended up staying in Bali for a year.

My boyfriend at the time was a web designer and encouraged me to set up a blog, telling me all about how bloggers are making money on the internet. He set me up with a domain, I picked out a WordPress theme, and started blogging. I wouldn’t say I worked hard at all on link building and SEO- yes I did link exchanges, but I didn’t take the whole “business of blogging” very seriously. I think 2008 was different to 2011 for bloggers.  I saw it as more of a portfolio; if I couldn’t get published, I would publish it myself.

I continued with the blogging, wrote some articles for Bootsnall, and set about looking for work in Bali. I found jobs easily enough. English teaching at English First; a PA job with a fashion designer; but I wanted to do what I loved. Through networking I landed a job at Ku De Ta videoing and editing their events. I also did some social media marketing for a big resort out there. This blog grew in page rank, and advertisers started emailing.

People started contacting me for copywriting, and once I’d been recommended by one person, it spiralled from there. Blogging makes me money, but my main source of income is from my freelance services. I happened to meet the right people at the right time, and they all needed something; a video, a website, a press release…

One thing I found in Bali, was that people wanted to help you and give you a job. And instead of sitting there looking at a CV, they tried me out to see results.

One day, out of the blue I got an email to say that I’d won the Vantastic World Nomads competition and I’d be going on a free road trip around South Australia. I’d filmed and edited my video entry 6 months prior to that, submitted it, and totally forgot about it. So of I went. I was flown out there, given a campervan, a camera and fuel money, and I filmed my road trip for 6 weeks doing a bunch of really cool free activities.

After that I decided I was somewhat ‘over’ living in Bali, and I came back to Europe. I spent the summer in Portugal, went to Morocco, and eventually came back to the UK.

The difference this time is, it’s my choice to be in the UK. As I’m a freelancer, working a mobile job, I can move around whenever I want. So if I stay, I’m staying because I want to. I needed to have a break so I could really focus on business. I’ve broken it up with trips to Belgium and Paris, and I’m off to Austria and Slovenia in four weeks. After that I don’t know. I’m not trying to ‘escape’ anymore, because I have nothing to ‘escape’ from.

You can live a lifestyle by design. It still takes hard work, ambition and persistence, but if you want to succeed at living a mobile lifestyle, you can.

Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

  • Bluegreen Kirk
    Posted at 08:37h, 15 March Reply

    Great post and its so true. Do what you love and enjoy doing first and the rest tend to fall in place. However there is still hardwork and effort that is involved and nothing comes easy. Great site enjoy your travels and your freedom.

  • Erin
    Posted at 09:09h, 15 March Reply

    Thanks for this post, it’s very inspiring. I loved how you said you have nothing to “escape” from now.

    After going the grad school route and struggling in the job market, I’ve recently started following my passion. It’s always great to read about others who have become successful doing what they love. It only seems natural that doing what makes you happy also makes it a bit easier to put in all the hard work necessary to build a business.

  • Anthony
    Posted at 19:18h, 17 March Reply

    Great story Victoria! With risk of sounding border-line kiss arsey; I really admire how you could just crack on with £800 in the bank.

    Wow man. I have a few thousand at the minute and I really don’t feel comfortable leaving with that. I’m currently spending all my time in front of the laptop so I can hopefully create some income when I do leave because the thought of returning to the UK broke makes me just nauseous!

    • victoria
      Posted at 07:18h, 18 March Reply

      Totally know how you feel now though, I’ve been home for six months, and I’m finding it difficult to go away again with the thought that any money I’ve saved up will be spent on flights etc. Sometimes its nice to feel like you have a safety net, although I had an awesome time when I was broke! the key is to have a decent sustainable income, so that you’re never really ‘spending’. keep going with the blog, and write for other people if you can!

  • Anthony
    Posted at 09:54h, 18 March Reply

    Well I definitely don’t want to come back, only to visit. So I guess that’s a lot of financial pressure on myself but it’ll all work out in the end.

    Aren’t you more confident that you can do it again though, now that you left for Bali with £800 and stayed for a year?

    Cheers, I have another site and have just earned my 1st few pennies this week 🙂

  • Rais Manto
    Posted at 08:54h, 01 April Reply

    Surely your method is great. But we Indonesian or other third world ‘mobilers’ face greater challenges like the salary level — actually, this is the worst challenge if you really want to rely your total mobile life. But your post gives me a true example that hard work, ambition and pertinence will pay. How is it in England now, Victoria?

    • victoria
      Posted at 19:21h, 05 April Reply

      I do realise that the salaries in some countries are very low, but I think working online allows you to work with people in other countries where the salary is higher. If you have a goal, and you’re willing to work hard enough, you can do anything. England is great, but I can’t wait to get on the road again, I’m going to Austria this week 🙂

  • Chichi
    Posted at 17:46h, 18 June Reply

    Fantastic post! I’m 24 years old, I graduated from University and I currently, I work as a freelance copywriter and I’ve come to realise that I don’t want to be a part of the 9-5 rat race. I worked in a full-time job last year and I absolutely hated it. I hated working on someone else’s time and I hated feeling trapped. Like yourself, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and I am extremely ambitious, so working for someone else would never have worked out for me.

    Apart from that full-time job last year (which turned out to be a nightmare and only lasted for 3 months), I’ve never worked in a full-time job. Instead, I’ve had many jobs over the years and I’ve had many bouts of unemployment. I’ve had a very turbulent time in and out of employment, but on the whole it’s been quite negative. I’ve constantly been made to jump through hoops and prove my worth, whether that means jumping through a million hoops to get a job, or constantly pleasing employers. I just got fed up of it and I decided that I was sick and tired of proving that I’m good at what I do.

    Going self-employed has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it comes with many perks, including freedom and free will over my time. 🙂


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