Stephanie Conway, a true digital nomad, living the #travelgoals life in Bali, is doing what most of us only dream of doing. Stephanie started in the same place you likely are right now; scrolling through Instagram seeing the glamorous photos of IG models and entrepreneurs living the laptop lifestyle. In her pre-digital nomad life she felt stuck. Working in a dusty office under fluorescent lighting left her feeling bored, unfulfilled, and in need of a change. Stephanie had always dreamed of living in Bali and wanted the freedom to work on her terms. So, she quit her 9 to 5 and started making those dreams a reality.
“I moved because I wanted to be free. I wanted to wake up every day in the sunshine. I wanted to live life on my terms, get a tan, live in a community of supportive friends from all over the world. I wanted to swim in the ocean, try to surf and dive deeper with all aspects of my life. When you let go of societal boundaries, there’s more room for you to be who you’re meant to be.”
Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me! When I saw your Facebook post announcing successfully leaving the corporate world to start your own VA business from Bali, I just knew I had to talk to you!
Tell me a little about how you got started in the marketing industry and how it translates into your business today?
I am a marketing focused virtual assistant and I like to think I have a bit of a holistic approach when it comes to clients. When I worked for a big agency and had clients it was “no matter what they need, just get it done”. I noticed that a lot of times, people who were just starting in business, didn’t have any idea how to brand their business or how important it is to have a specific guideline for your brand messaging.
When I help business with their brand, it feels a lot like I’m molding the company and helping them find their marketing feet.
I got my start because I love a good story. I think the whole point behind good branding is connecting with the human story, and that is what a lot of people fail to grasp when they are starting their own business.
What were you doing before you moved to Bali to start your own business, where was your head at?
I went to America, I was living in LA for about eight and a half years. I worked for some great companies doing branded film events. I would plan massive installations for things like Comic Con and Coachella, and it was really fun. It’s one of those jobs where you get no sleep and your working all the time. I was doing things like partnership deals with limitless budgets. It was really fun.
Then when I moved back to England I was doing PR and marketing.After a while I felt like I was looking at all these digital nomads, and all of these influencers living their best life on social media and I was thinking like “God what am I doing stuck in an office with fluorescent lighting just wasting away.” Maybe I’m not a 5’8″ model, but I can still live my best life. I got sick of it. I’m helping all these people with influencer partnerships make all this money, and I think, “I’ve got this skill set that can be translated and I can use that and move and be a digital nomad myself!” It was just a really rainy day in England, and I just was like Fuck it. I’m going to do it.
I left my job and thought okay, I have no choice but to make this work.I went full gung-hoe, and now I have a full roster of clients, so I bought a one-way ticket to Bali.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Are you making a comparable salary now to what you were making at your full-time job?
I’m making more!
How much are you making now?
￡2,000 a month which translates to $2,600 dollars a month. I’m not a millionaire by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m living in Bali, and I’m making more than I was making back in the UK. The cost of living is cheap here, and I’m enjoying it at the moment.
What made you choose Bali? Why was this the place to go
Every time I had a bad day, I would always say, “Whatever, I’m just gonna move to Bali” It was just one of those things. I really believe that if you put something out into the universe, it happens. I think I said it too many times, and I was like okay fuck it we’ll just go to Bali.
What do you love most about being a digital nomad?
This is such a cheesy thing, but when I was living in LA, there was a woman, and she said to me “Stephanie when you do cool things, you meet cool people,” and I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s so true. Where I’m at now, it’s a transient place. It’s full of digital nomads. I’m surrounded by people who are ambitious, entrepreneurial, they are trying to live that laptop lifestyle.
Only good things can happen from it. There are co-working places everywhere, you’re also exposed to the third world Indonesian culture. Which, to be honest, is one of the most beautiful parts of Bali, because you learn from these people who have the greatest sense of community. They care about each other.
If someone wanted to live this kind of lifestyle, what advice would you offer them?
If you want to live this lifestyle, you have to roll with the punches, and learn not expect anything. Come with good intentions and be ready for anything to happen. I lived in Asia, and the one good thing about Asia is it’s chaotic, and you never know what’s going to happen around the corner, so you have to be happy with change but also come with a positive attitude and you’ll meet some amazing people.
What goals do you have for the future of your business?
I’m one month in, and one cool thing I’ve already started is a club for digital nomads. We call ourselves the #girlbosses. It’s a group of women who live the laptop lifestyle. We all get together on a Tuesday, and we talk about our goals for the week because sometimes it can be quite lonely when you’re carrying around your laptop all the time. We go to our favorite cafes or restaurants. We eat good food and talk about what our goals are in general, and we’ll encourage each other, and we’ll talk about the things that are holding us back in our business and how we can help each other out.
Where did you meet your goal setting girls?
It’s all friends and then friends of friends. They’re all international, it’s incredible. Somehow it’s grown to seven people, but it’s just a great way to network, and we keep getting more and more people who want to be part of the group!
What does success look like for you?
You know what, I think that’s why I’m so positive is like this is it. For me it’s not about becoming a millionaire or anything like that, it’s about having the freedom to be able to control your own life, and I feel like right now I’m so grateful because that’s my idea of success. I feel like I’m sure It will change and grow because we’re all human and we all want to set goals for ourselves. But for now, my idea of success is this. I have the freedom to be able to work and do the things that I want to do.