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127: How this former Chemical Engineer fled Venezuela and made it his mission to teach people in developing countries how to freelance with Anthony Muhye.

In this week’s episode, I speak with Anthony Muhye who is a former chemical engineer who fled Venezuela after an unprecedented socio-economical crisis took hold of the country.

Anthony started a career in freelance writing and is now teaching people in developing countries on how to freelance and escape similar crises.

Listen to find out more about Anthony’s journey.

Listen Below:

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Show Notes:

Debbie:

Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us. I am here with Anthony. Hey Anthony, how are you?

Anthony: 

Hey, I’m great. What about you?

Debbie: 

I am doing well. Thank you so much for joining us. So, before we get to your awesome tips, can you give us a little bit more background about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Anthony:  

I’m a freelancer and I have been one since 2015. I live in Venezuela and things here aren’t very easy. So, the best way to go forward and to be successful is to have an online job such as a freelance job.

Debbie:  

And what type of freelance work do you do so that you’re able to travel to all of these different countries?

Anthony: 

Well, I love writing. Writing is my passion. I have a lot of interesting projects and ideas. I am a fiction writer, a copywriter, and a content writer. My career is actually a chemical as a chemical engineer, but it’s not my favorite thing. Writing is my passion for sure.

Debbie:   

How did you actually go and transition from being a chemical engineer to, now, being a full-time writer? And becoming a freelancer?

Anthony:  

To be honest, it’s not easy when you don’t like what you studied, it’s not easy when you’re doing something that you’re not too passionate about. I’ve always loved writing. It’s what moves me, moves my emotions. And I’ve always wanted to write a book and that’s what I’m doing right now, actually, I’m writing books. So, among other things, I love it. I really love it.

Debbie:   

Was it an easy transition for you or did you have any doubts beforehand, before leaving a job or you know, you pretty much went to school for so long to be able to do this and then, all of a sudden you just left it and then did something completely different to what you knew.

how to freelance

Anthony:

It’s a good question. The thing is when you work as a chemical engineer, I mean studying, maybe you won’t know exactly what career is about and maybe you say, “Hey, let’s give it a shot”. But then, when you start working as one and you realize that you don’t want to be claiming on distillation towers or checking measurements on storage tanks, and then you realize, “No, this is not for me. I want to write, I want to do what I’ve always wanted to do”. There’s a chance now to make a lot of money or at least enough money. I mean, it’s not only about the money, it’s about finding something that you enjoy and that you can do online from your home. So, that’s basically what moved me.

Debbie:  

When you finally decided that you had to do this, you wanted to pursue something that you were really passionate about. One of the things that most people always worry about is how much should they have saved in order to leave this and be comfortable and not panic. Did you actually save anything before you set off to be a freelancer and how did you actually make that last if you did?

Anthony:

That’s a really good question. What I mentioned earlier was that since it’s a very complicated situation in South America where I live, you won’t be able to save that much in a traditional job. Most people in South America, they worked to just to have day to day allowance. Freelancing, for example, allows me to make more than I could make as a chemical engineer. That sounds weird, but yeah, that’s how it works down here.

Debbie:

Did you have any budgeting strategies in order to kind of stretch your money while you were trying to find work as a freelancer, as a writer?

Anthony:

I made sure to save as much as I could at the beginning because when you start off as a freelancer, you’ll be making around two digits, three digits weekly. So, I had to save up and slowly, client by client, I started to charge more, which is the most important part of being a freelancer. You have to charge more and you can choose how much you charge.

Debbie:

Yeah. And when you finally were able to do this and you’re writing, did you ever have that “what now?” Moment?

Anthony:

Oh yes. I actually had a recent “what now?” moment that I want to talk about. I was working for somebody and I was making a good amount of money. And the funniest part is I was making good amount of money doing chemical engineering. So, yeah, that’s odd how freelancing led me back to square one. But, suddenly, he decided to pause the contracts out of nowhere and I was left with a bit of confusion, “What do I do now?” But thankfully, I networked and found my way out of it, otherwise, I’d be having trouble.

Debbie:

And that’s, I think, the most important thing when you’re doing freelancing is you really have to be very flexible and you need to be very creative when it comes to your income streams coming in because you don’t know if that client that you have is going to be gone tomorrow. So, again, budgeting and making sure that you have plans B, C and D ready to go when something like that happens. So, that’s good that you are able to do that. Otherwise, I’m sure you would have been at a panic.

Anthony:

Definitely. Imagine being stranded somewhere in the middle of the world without money. It’s a worrying thought.

Debbie:

Yeah. Anthony, you are not originally from South America and I’m sure you did your research before you chose the country that you wanted to settle in. What were the criteria that you actually looked for before you left to live there in Venezuela? Why did you choose it there and what was your thought process like?

Anthony:

I’ve been in Venezuela because practically it was my parents’ choice, but my family lives here – half of my family. So, while it wasn’t my choice, I’ve decided to stay. I mean the standard of life isn’t the best, but the cost of living is low, so I can use it as a base meanwhile and travel. But yeah, I’m going to relocate pretty soon. Things are getting ugly.

Debbie: 

Now for other travelers who are also thinking of moving somewhere, especially in South America, what would be something that they should look out for when they are looking for somewhere to settle down in for a few months or even if for a few years?

Anthony:  

I like that question, Debbie, because many people look for different things. We have to start with that. Some people want to be around expats, but some people don’t like expats and they prefer to be around the natives. So, what I would recommend is that they look for places with a community of welcoming people. It doesn’t matter if the expats are not. For example, in Medellín in Colombia is really attractive to both expats and people who want to be around the natives because they speak good amount of English and it has it’s own European type of thing going on. Buenos Aires in Argentina as well, it’s a really nice place to be in. And I would finally recommend Santiago de Chile in Chile, it’s really a welcoming place.

Debbie: 

Yeah. There’s so many amazing spots in South America and obviously also in other parts of the world but just doing your research and making sure that it has all the things that you need and obviously if it doesn’t, you’re a digital nomad so you can just up and leave. So, it’s never irreversible in that sense.

Anthony:   

Yeah, that’s true. The digital nomad life is a life of freedom. I tried to tell my friends who are a bit closed to the idea, they don’t want to risk their savings and head out though. I started to tell them that it’s a life of freedom. You can still make a living, you can still have a life around your family but it means that you can also get the chance to travel. So, I don’t know why, but many people say they’re afraid of this life.

Debbie: 

I think that’s one of the big misconception; if you’re a digital nomad or if you’re a location independent, you always have to constantly be traveling, but you don’t – it’s just freedom. If you want to stay in one spot then you could, if you want to travel full time, you could do that as well. So, it’s definitely a huge misconception for many people.

Anthony:   

Yeah. Thanks for agreeing with me ’cause sometimes they just disagree. They say, “No, that’s not a free life. It’s like you’re forced to travel, you’re forced to relocate because you get bored at places”. I don’t get bored of places. I just want to see more of the world.

Debbie:  

Well, it’s different for every individual. I think most people just look at the people who constantly travel and this is where that misconception comes from – but it’s not. There’s so many people that stay in just one spot but they work from home and that’s really what it’s about. So, that’s good that you keep telling people that. And I’m sure it’s hard to try to explain that when others around you are not doing the same. So, speaking of, I know right now you are surrounded by family, but what about one year on the road? What is that like? Do you ever feel lonely when you are off on your own and then, new environment?

Anthony:   

Oh yeah. The places I go, the things I do there with my partner, she is a digital nomad as well. I’ve kind of convinced her to do it. I forced her into it. The way I see it is that if we can find someone to share our dreams with, we can accomplish big things as digital nomads. Of course, some people love being alone – that’s okay, that’s acceptable. But if you do feel alone, try to get in touch with somebody, travel with somebody – can be a friend, doesn’t have to be a partner. That’s what I’m doing right now.

Debbie:   

It’s awesome that you were able to convince your partner to do this with you full time. Was she kicking and screaming in the beginning?

Anthony:

I wouldn’t say kicking and screaming, but it’s kind of tough to decide. Look, I’m not going to do what I studied for ’cause she’s a chemist and it’s kind of hard to abandon your career, but at the same time, the travel side is too tempting for some. And if you like to travel, this is life – this is it.

Debbie:  

Is that what finally got her to join you on the dark side, the travel part of it?

Anthony:

When we met, she kept going about, “Oh I want to travel someday, I want to go to Egypt (Cairo) and I told her, “Yeah, you have the chance”. “How?” she said. “Let me show you”.

Debbie:  

And then, lo and behold, you are both traveling the world and being location independent and now you have the freedom to do that, which is incredible. And also another misconception that a lot of people think is that it costs a lot of money to do this, to start this lifestyle. What is your take on that, Anthony?

Anthony:  

I think the misconception is they see a lot of the luxury side. I mean, many people don’t show the budget side. They don’t show when they stay at a $5 per night hostel for example. That’s a misconception created because people are showing the luxury. But there’s a lot of budget travel going on. I recently read an article, not sure where I saw it, sorry about that, but it talked about how in the time of luxury travel, there’s a lot more of budget travel and that’s excellent because that means you can make a living and spend less while traveling the world.

Debbie:  

Yeah, absolutely. And if you’re just smart and creative about how you’re budgeting, you’re definitely going to go a long way in this type of lifestyle. Now, Anthony, you have been through a lot trying to live a life that you really want to live. What has been the biggest setback that you’ve encountered so far?

Anthony:   

Well, I would say that this biggest setback was what led me to become a freelancer. As I said, I was living in Venezuela, I hadn’t traveled much before freelancing. Suddenly, I had a big problem at home and I had to find a way to support myself entirely. A friend led me to freelancing. So the moment that I started freelancing, I didn’t believe I was gonna make a living. I mean, I said, “Yeah, I’m going to be able to buy groceries and a side gig”. But it turned out that it was the biggest decision ever. Right now, I’m full time freelancing. I also teach people how to freelance. I really like your website, by the way. I like how people share their value because we need to share our value. We need to teach, we need to help, we need to pass it down to other people. Possibly the knowledge to other people. And that’s what I’m trying to do – that’s my role in life now.

Debbie:  

Yeah. And it’s also good to be able to share what you do with other people in that sense. Because a lot of times we tend to tell people, but most of the time what convinces them to do certain things is just really observing what you do. And if you’re successful at it, that’s how it gets them to actually do something different as well. And I’m sure you’ve had a lot of encounters like that when I’m explaining yourself and your lifestyle.

how to freelance

Anthony:      

Yeah. Some people, they grasp the idea kind of quickly, quicker than others. I mean, the general result of trying to teach someone to become a freelancer is that they don’t become a freelancer in most cases because it’s a difficult shift, come on, let’s accept it. But many of them, out of the many that I’ve taught, many do become freelancers. Even if it’s just a side gig, they decide, “Well, let’s give it a chance. I’m working from home. Come on. That’s not an opportunity that everyone can give you. Every, every boss can give you every company”. So, yeah, they give it a chance and it goes pretty well.

Debbie:    

When you finally set foot in the freelancing world, how did you actually get the clients that you have and continue to have that relationship and to also make sure that you have a more stable income?

Anthony:   

I started off on Upwork, It’s been my main source of clients. But I’ve also found great people at Facebook groups and LinkedIn. I’ve had a few messages mostly lately because before I didn’t really pay attention to LinkedIn, but it’s a very good resource. It’s amazing.

Debbie:  

Yeah. There’s so many different resources that you need to be able to utilize in order to do this. And again, you have to be very savvy because if you are leaving your nine to five back then, you will have people to tell you when to do things. They already have paying clients. All you need to do is do the work. Now, you have to source everything yourself. And I think that really what puts off a lot of people, not necessarily because they don’t want to travel and have the freedom, but because of all of what entails all of the other work. And a lot of times you actually work more, especially in the beginning than you did in your nine to five.

Anthony: 

That can happen. I remember when I used to start working at 8:00 PM and finish work at 3:00 AM. So, as a freelancer, there were complicated times, but just like everything, you have to start from the bottom. Very few people are gonna find a six-figure client at the beginning, you have to have a really big, a really nice resume to get that. So, yeah, you have to start from the bottom. I remember my first paying job, the guy paid me like $45 per week. So , you start from the bottom, you get to the top. Every success story is the same.

Debbie:  

Absolutely. It’s like with anything else, right? The more you put the effort into it, the more it will grow. And now you and your partner are able to do this and I’m sure it’s crazy right now in Venezuela and I’m sure you’re going to be leaving soon – I hope. I’m sure it’s getting crazier. What’s the environment like there right now for you, Anthony, that you’re really trying to get out soon?

Anthony:

Well, yeah, Debbie. I’ll admit that I’ve been staying for longer than I should’ve, but it was mostly because life is enjoyable despite the chaos. Life is enjoyable around your family, around the people you know, around the places, you know. Being a digital nomad, sometimes you just want to relax and stay where you are. But yeah, the situation… I wouldn’t say I’m only leaving because of the situation, but because I want to continue seeing more of the world full time, not just traveling from one place to another. The situation, as you said, it’s really ugly. I was remembering that last year, they tried to take power and tried to remove the President and yes, every day you see news, some type of chaotic news. Yeah, that’s crazy.

Debbie:  

Yeah. Well, I hope you guys are keeping safe, but I’m sure that you’re also protected and you have friends and family who keep everything fun at least for a little while, right?

Anthony:   

Yeah, definitely. Every time I’m with my parents or with my partner’s family or my family in the capital, we have a great time. I mean, this type of situation leads people to get closer to each other. It makes people appreciate what they have because when you don’t have money or when you’re not happy, you appreciate those moments, those special moments.

Debbie:  

Yeah, absolutely. There’s more of a bond there for you because of the situation as well. And there’s always something to look forward to and even in times that it’s pretty low. So, Anthony, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?

Anthony:

To begin with, I would like to have created enough to retire with. But leaving that aside, my dream is to create an academy of sorts. I want to help people out, I want to help people in this situation because I’m not sure why not. This hasn’t been mentioned yet – I’m originally British. You may have noticed from my accident and I want to help people in developing countries. This situation has helped me realize how bad some people have it and how much they need help. So, I want to help. I want to help them learn to make money online, to start their own business, to travel and just learn to change their lives without having to do anything too over the top, you know?

Debbie:

And do you find that when you’re in the developing countries that it’s really a huge thing to be able to teach someone all of these different tools and techniques so that they can also work from home and be digital nomads? Because really in a lot of these developing countries, there is no work at home in the country that they’re at. So, being savvy and working online could be a really useful thing for all of them.

Anthony:

Yes, Debbie. I, for one, believe that everybody has a chance, everybody has something they can monetize. I mean, nobody is born or nobody grows up without any skills. Even the person who is lost, the most confused person who doesn’t know what to do with their life has something they can offer. I mean, there are translators, there are writers, there’s virtual assistants, accountants. Everybody can do something and that’s what I teach. That’s what I tell them. I say, “Hey, don’t think that you’re useless. Don’t think that you can’t do anything just because you haven’t freelanced before. You can freelance, you can start freelancing today, tomorrow. You just have to believe in yourself”.

Debbie: 

Absolutely. And I think we also underestimate ourselves and our skills because most of the time we already have the skills to do it. It’s just applying those skills online and for different people.

Anthony: 

Yeah, for sure. People think that they have to get a formal education to do something. They think that they have to be a formal writer, as a professional writer. It’s not necessary, I mean, I didn’t get to graduate as an English literature master or something and I love what I do and clients love what I do. That’s just one example.

Anthony: 

Yeah, absolutely. And we’re also going to be talking more in the extended interview with Anthony and how to do freelancing and developing countries. So make sure you stay tuned for that. Now, Anthony, is there anything that you’re working on currently that you are really excited about?

Anthony: 

Well, yeah, several projects, actually. Right now, the biggest one that I have is my website, it’s called BeginWandering.com. It’s a website, it’s an academy. The initial part of an academy to teach people how to make money online, starting their own business and travel around the world. We just want to start teaching people how to transition from a nine to five worker to a digital nomad, like, slowly. Right now, we’re starting our own podcasts and videos to help them, you know, people who don’t like writing because we’re mainly a blog, but we want people to use all of the resources they can to teach them the way we did it and show them how they can do it.

Debbie:  

That is a really great resource to have for a lot of people who are really willing and/or curious to do this because there are so many questions that we’re always trying to ask other people. And so when you have it in one spot, that is really useful to have. So, Anthony, is there any last thoughts that maybe you have been mulling or thinking about yourself that has been really helpful for you?

Anthony:   

Well, if you have the will then you can find a way. That’s the way I see it. If you want to travel around the world, don’t wait until you’re 40, until you’re 50 to either regret it, the regret of not doing it, or waiting until you have, like, a lot of money to be able to travel. Find the way to make your dreams happen now. Don’t let time pass because you never know, life can end in any second with the single flick of a finger. So, yeah, that’s my philosophy

Debbie:  

That is a really great one. We only live one life, so you never know. Now, Anthony, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?

Anthony: 

I’m going to give you these three ways to find me. We have the website is BeginWandering.com and you can find us on @beginwandering on Instagram, and if you want to contact me, I’m on Linkedin as Antony Muhye and I hope you get that right, It’s a complicated surname. You can find me and we can talk because I have other projects. I have a project that we’ll be talking about that in the extended interview, I hope, about another project that I have for developing countries. So, yeah.

Debbie:

Perfect. Thank you so much, Anthony, for giving us all of these incredible tips and I really appreciate you being here with us today.

Anthony: 

I really appreciate having been invited here, so thank you, Debbie.

 

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY WHERE HE SHARES HOW TO SUCCEED AS A FREELANCER IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 

 


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Show Credits

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith


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