Ep: 180: How this digital nomad travels the world with her family as a remote social media marketer with Julia Jerg
In this episode, I speak with Julia who is the founder of Jey Jetter, a family travel and digital nomad blog for aspiring nomads and families.
She has been working and traveling around the world full-time since 2011.
Listen to find out how Julia has been able to travel the world with her family and earn income as a social media marketer.
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Hey everyone! Thank you so much for being here. I’m so excited to speak with Julia today.
Hey, Julia, how are you?
Hi, Debbie. I’m fine. Thanks.
Very excited to be on the show. Thanks for having me.
Me too. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?
My digital nomad journey actually starts in 2011 when I decided to quit my job, sell all my stuff, and pack my bags because I needed a break from my former life. I was a PR and communication consultant and I was basically married to my job. I even had two phones.
I feel like a 50-year old manager but I wasn’t even 30. So I said, “There has to be something else in life.” So I decided to go out and travel for a bit.
The initial plan was only to take a break for 6 months. And yeah, well, things happened on the road and I fell in love with travel and I fell in love with my husband. And so, I decided to turn it into my lifestyle.
Yeah, not regretting it.
And I see, Julia, that you have been a digital nomad since 2011 so that has been a long time for you and you’re pretty much one of the originals, right? And when none of this stuff was really popular, you were already doing what we’re doing now and it’s becoming so much more popular.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I didn’t know that there was such a thing. I hadn’t heard of digital nomads, to be honest. When I started, I wasn’t even aware of the fact that you can work remotely.
I stumbled upon it and that was when former clients from the agency I worked for reached out to me and said, “Hey, since you’re still on the road and you’re apparently not coming back, would you be able to work for us from a distance?” And I was like, “Oh, is that even possible? Okay, sure. I can do that.”
And then it dawned on me. So if they needed help and if they are okay when I’m not impressing you, maybe there are people needing my help. And this was my thought process and I went through many stages.
It wasn’t from day one that I was saying, “NowI’m living with a digital nomad lifestyle.” Then, eventually, I also did a lot of research because I started my blog, through years, into traveling.
Through this, I learned that people are actually living a lifestyle and filled with travels. So, I think, 3, 4 years after I started it, I knew that I was a digital nomad and that I had a label on my lifestyle.
when you finally realize that this is something that you really wanted to do, Julia, what were some of the things that you had done to prepare to make this more sustainable?
Well, in the beginning, I combined my online jobs with offline works. Like the conventional, backpacking jobs that everyone does when they do that gap year travels. And I knew that this is obviously not something that I wanted to do forever.
So since I was lucky enough to have those online gigs falling into my lap and people are pushing me to help them from afar, I knew I needed to change something and I knew that I wanted to go a hundred percent remote.
And then, I simply adjusted my online presence. Like I said, I started a website, a blog. My first thought was I just do the travel blog so I can update my friends and family and also create a following.
And then, slowly but surely, I knew this is my business platform where I wanted to create, like, a sustainable brand and market myself. I learned a lot about blogging and then also since my background is marketing, this helped me a lot.
And I was always interested in social media marketing and actually the last client before I left Germany, for the agency that I work with, they introduced us into the social media marketing part because 10 years ago there were companies back then that we’re wondering, “Do we really need a Facebook page? Is that really something?”
And so, I was lucky enough to have already tapped into this field and I knew it would become big and I knew I had to use it for my own brand as well. So I was really doing a lot of learning and researching about how to use social media marketing and blogging for myself.
And then, after a while, I would simply start to advertise my services as a PR and marketing consultant and turned into a social media coach into what I am today. This is my main business. Aside from blogging, I’m doing a lot of coaching and helping people to be successful with social media and their online business.
I’m so excited all the time when I talk to marketing experts on this podcast because I’m always interested in that. ‘Cause one of the things that I’ve learned in my business is that most of the time as a creator, we just want to create content but we also have to realize that without marketing it, it doesn’t really go anywhere.
So even if you have the most beautiful thing out there and nobody is seeing it, it’s great if it’s just a hobby, but if you want to make it into a business you have to take it to the next level. So it’s always so great to hear that.
And there are always so many different skills that you can also learn when you are trying to figure out your niche. And for you, Julia, this was something that you had already tapped into.
Now. for somebody who wants to learn more about marketing and to maybe grow an online business, what are some of the things that they can do to prepare themselves and make this into a sustainable business for themselves.
Yeah, sure. I was in a lucky position with my background but anyone can start today and work on their online career. And I think social media givest such a great and vast opportunity for people who want to become online remote workers because everybody knows how to use Facebook or Instagram.
If it’s a passion for you to design pins for Pinterest, this could be something that you can look into. And as a marketer, you always look at the picture and how you use it in order to, like you said, create the content.
But then, you use the different platforms and the social media channels to lead everyone, your followers, and your audience, to this one piece that you just created. So it is a little bit like you want to become organized and look at this branch like a tool that helps you to become seen out there and you need to send out.
There are ways to enter into this field and of course, you have online resources. You can read ebooks, do online courses, or simply work with a coach. Think for yourself, “What would you do? Can you help your piece, like, let’s say a podcast or a blog post that you just wrote? Where do you need to be? Where is your audience? What do you have to tell them? Hey, there’s a great new chunk of online context that they have to check out.”
There are so many different ways people can use marketing and as a career.
Yeah, there’s so many out there and there’s definitely a lot of tools that you can use. Do you have any favorite ones for yourself, Julia, whether it’s for marketing purposes or maybe just to make yourself more efficient as a remote worker?
What I would do is I would always look in your own niche like finding the people that are already successful. And then, don’t copy but try to see what they are doing, what works for them, and then try to apply that for your own brand.
I think it’s a no-brainer because if they have figured it out and it works then why wouldn’t it work for you, right?
So instead of going the long way like, I went to an Institute like a private university and studied marketing and have a degree on it and yes, of course, this is nice to have and it definitely helped me, but today, I think, especially during these days and in times of crisis, it can reach your goals quickly.
And a way to start working in that field, when you look at the competition and when you also try to test an area. When you look at your past 10 posts for examples and look at what works, what didn’t work.
And then, of course, don’t repeat what didn’t work, just always repeat those that work. That’s also something that I always recommend.
Yeah, it’s always about testing and then learning from all of those. And that’s a really good tip because sometimes you get so overwhelmed when we don’t see any progress right away, but we also have to see what we’ve done already to see what we can tweak, right?
Yeah. And perhaps if I can add something to this: some people think they have to be present in all the social media platforms at once and I always suggest and advise my clients that they should not do this because you can actually exhaust yourself on social media.
What I suggest is concentrate on one or two platforms at max in the beginning. Let’s say if you like Facebook or Instagram, not if you liked it but if your audience likes it, then you should really master these two first before you also go and open a Pinterest account, Twitter, Tik Tok, or whatnot because you’re spreading yourself too thin and you won’t be able to hold up this constant. amount of content that you need to deliver If you are present on all the platforms.
I think we’re always trying to do everything. You’re right, especially when there are new platforms opening up and you maybe see people doing really well at it from the beginning and you want to do everything.
It does. I mean, it makes you feel super overwhelmed that you actually end up not doing anything at all. So we definitely want to avoid that.
So, one of the biggest concerns that a lot of my audience and community come to me for is they always say, “Well, I don’t have any skills, Debbie. I don’t know what to even do.” Especially now with the whole crisis and pandemic happening and a lot of people have lost their jobs. They’re at home.
They feel like they don’t have any skills that will translate to remote work. What do you have to say to that, Julia?
Well, I highly disagree. We all have skills and sometimes we only need to discover them because we all know how to use a computer and if you know how to type an email and manage your email program or your personal social media channels, or if you’re good at online shopping maybe you’re also want to tap into online selling using Amazon or platforms that are available out there. or if you’re into photography and video.
There are so many different ways and opportunities out there that you can translate into a business. I think what helps is really to sit down and say, “What do I like? What is there that people need and what can I deliver as a solution?” And combine essentially the first two things.
And there has to be something for everyone out there.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s just looking at what you’re currently doing, your current skills. and translating that into remote work. And you’re right, we’re so tech-savvy – most of us. Even my grandmother knows how to use FaceTime.
So, if my grandmother who’s almost 90 years old can do that, we can do that, too.
Yeah. That too.
Currently, there’s been a lot of things happening. Obviously, there’s so much craziness in the world. I don’t know if it’s a setback for you, Julia, but has there been any setback throughout your whole journey or even right now, currently, as an entrepreneur, what has been the biggest one that you are handling and taking care of?
Yeah. To be honest, it’s crazy times and everyone is in panic mode, I feel it’s now easing up and people are starting to relax a little bit. But what has affected me the most is that everyone is talking so negatively about the situation because I actually haven’t been affected as much.
My business is still up and running. Since I’m coaching people in the field of social media marketing and also helping them become digital nomads, I’m actually not really affected by that because people now are seeking advice and they’re coming to me now more than ever.
But still, when you open up to the internet, all you hear is, “Oh, the world is going to end.” This has an effect on one’s self. At least, I feel that. So what I did was in the beginning I was always reading the news and looking at how everyone is doing in the countries where I have friends and family.
But then I decided this has to stop because it will affect my own mental health and stability and I still want to keep up the workflow. I simply keep doing what I have been doing. So luckily my business hadn’t been affected.
Now, we have been stuck in Thailand since January and this was actually very good for us business-wise because now we have to be in one place. Before, we were always moving and changing locations every three or six months. And for us, this is a long period of time staying in one place.
So what helped me really during this crisis is to focus on things that I always put last on my to-do list because I always say, “Ah, no. I’ll do this in our new place or next destination when I really have time,” and then, I’ll never get to it.
So now, I’m working on all these hidden things and tasks and I’ve been feeling very productive. I’m content with myself right now.
I love that. There’s always perspective, right? Because at this point, with us as remote workers and digital nomads, you are in that point where this is made for you. You’re able to create Income from wherever.
And before, I say this all the time: people thought that we are crazy and what we do is not sustainable. And now this is what’s looked at as sustainable. So it’s kind of turned around in a huge way.
And before, we really had to explain what our lifestyle was. Now, everybody understands it and accepts it.
That is so true. Whenever I try to explain what I’m doing and people were looking at me, “Is that really your job?” And I was like, “Yes, this is my full-time job,” and they’d say, “But completely relying on the internet, isn’t that dangerous?”
Now you see how dangerous it is to have a nine-to-five job in an office building. We didn’t expect that. No one expected it.
Yes, you always have to be open and also prepare for the worst situation. I guess.
It’s so crazy. It’s so nuts, but I guess we made the right decision.
So when you and your family are abroad like you are right now, what type of international insurance do you all use?
We have discovered SafetyWing, it is really great for us. It’s such a flexible insurance because it allows us to extend our insurance whenever we go to a new destination. And also now during the crisis, they were really good at keeping us up-to-date.
And with COVID-19 matters, they were all included. So I’m really happy about it and I always recommended it to other travelers because it’s an insurance made by digital nomads for digital nomads. So I think it is the one you should have if you want to go remotely.
Yeah, I love it. I mean, there’s been a lot of big providers recently, especially with this whole coronavirus happening that later on digital nomads, remote workers have found out that they exclude a lot of things like pandemics and natural disasters in their policy cover.
So if somebody actually falls ill and needs treatment for coronavirus or a similar future pandemic, they wouldn’t be covered and would need to pay for their treatment themselves which is really horrible because you’re already may be stuck in a country and you want to go home, you’re paying for all of these extra expenses.
And now you also get sick and you have to pay for all of that. So that’s just like really a headache and also really sad to have to go through that.
That’s why I’m really excited and glad to be working with Integra Global. They believe it’s their duty to support their members in uncertain times like these and stand by them when they need Integra.
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Like, who knew this was going to happen? This is crazy like if we had gone back you’re going to be like, “Hey Julia, what are you going to do in 2020?” And we were like, this is a big year – 2020.” And then, most of the year we’re sitting at home – not going anywhere. Like, every plan has stopped.
It’s so funny that you said that. I actually posted on my website, on my blog, in January something like, “Oh, 2020 is going to be so big.” I also informed everyone, all the conferences and events that I’m going to be speaking at and I was so excited.
I had already my entire year all planned out and this is not really coming for us at all because we always go from “this is slow ” to seeing the destination where we’re going to go next. And 2020 is the first time where we really have so many plans and dates set yet. And all of them are canceled, it’s so sad but what can you do?
But the good thing is you’re able to have a lifestyle that allows you the freedom to be able to still be okay. I mean, being where you are right now, if you guys have not heard this, I mean, I’m sure you do, but there’s a lot of birds chirping in the background where Julia is so she’s outdoors. There’s a lot of nature so it’s not so bad where you are.
And you said there is a beach right there in front of you. That’s pretty awesome.
I’m not complaining. We have been lucky to sit out here in beautiful Thailand.
And yes, I’m always grateful everyday and I’m not taking it for granted at all, especially now. I mean, before, I’m not that kind of person that says, “Oh, this is what I deserve because I made this,” I’m actually the other way.
I’m very, very aware of the fact that this is not something that you can take for granted and I’m so happy that I can share this with my family. And I know that we’re lucky that during the global crisis like this, we don’t feel affected at all. And all we have to do right now is we have to stay put in our bungalow on a beautiful island.
So, poor us. Yeah.
That’s not so bad, right? It’s not so bad at all and it’s just really taking the little things and even the big things and just being grateful for what you have. Whether you have the pandemic or not, it’s always good to have that type of mentality for sure.
So, Julia, I know you mentioned this before how this is kind of the time for you to really sit back and do the things that you never had the time to do before because you and your family usually travel around for 3 months at a time.
You go from one place to the next, how have you been able to make that last for this long since 2011 and now with the whole family, your husband, your children, like, how can you make this last?
Because for me, I’ve tried it and I was like, “I don’t know how people do this. I can’t work and travel at the same time.” Tell us your secrets.
I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.
No, to be honest, my eldest just turned three last week and my youngest is just one year, so doing this with a family is very new to us still. And since the kids were born, we have slowed down and we’re taking it at a very, very slow pace right now.
For example: before we came to Koh Phangan, Thailand, we stayed in Spain on the Canary Islands, that’s where my second son was born and we stayed there for six months which is of course, also, for some people, may sound short for us – it is longer.
And we discovered that this is actually a healthy amount of traveling time. We are now constantly discussing how we should continue because, with children, it is different. I’m not saying it’s not possible but for us, we discovered that 3 to 6 months is better than shorter periods of time.
Before I actually, like, moving around and before I even met my husband, I did a whole year of traveling solo and backpacking around the world. I moved so fast and I must admit it was okay during that time but after the first year, I was kind of feeling burnt out especially when the workload is just getting more and more. I needed to slow down as well.
I think it always depends on everyone’s taste and also the fact that if you have traveled before or not, what I always recommend is do your traveling thing. And then, when you become a digital nomad, you don’t feel the pressure or the need to take off those sites or the places that you really want to see.
Yes. I mean, use the freedom to be able to move from A to B but don’t look at it as a must or as a necessity then, it becomes a lot more enjoyable and you can actually take it at a slower pace and emerge into the new place and the destination.
I think this is so much more valuable if you come to your new destination and be able to stay there and really get to know your surroundings, the people, the culture and explore the food and whatever is connected to this destination.
So I’d say the slower the better and yes, there are other models that you can choose. I have many digital nomad friends that choose three bases around the world and they just move within these three destinations throughout the year which is also understandable If you always want to stay in good weather.
Just make sure you have three destinations that are always summer when you get there.
I think there’s always different stages with our lives, right? And even for travelers, when you’re younger you want to take off all of those different bucket lists that you have. And then, as you get older, it’s definitely a lot slower, and then when you have children, it’s completely different.
So, that’s always a transition and I think it’s really great to embrace all of that and experience everything. Wherever you are right now, take advantage of it when we can finally go back to traveling again. Whatever feels right for you should be what you’re doing because whatever works for me or Julia may not work for you or vice versa.
So, It’s always good to figure that out on your own.
That is true. Totally agree.
So, Julia, let’s fast forward to 30 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?
30 years from now, I would like to be remembered as the person who simply tried it.
I always tell people when they talk to me about my lifestyle followed by doubts and fears about what would happen if they also became a digital nomad and I said, “Simply try it once. Don’t be afraid of any changes that you’re making in life because it’s your life and it’s all about trying new things out and being open towards new opportunities and possibilities.”
And yeah, I want my children to grow up with this mindset that even though they’re living a life right now in a certain way, they might be trying out a different lifestyle the next day or in the future.
I think it’s important to always stay creative and also flexible and not be attached to a certain routine in life because if you haven’t really lived different ways then, I’m wondering what people have said at the end of their lives not having tried out their dreams or always dreaming about it at a certain time.
It’s definitely not healthy at the end of your life. Do you know what I mean? So I’m the person who started living her dream at a young age and I didn’t wait until I’m old. Because most people say, “I will travel when I’m old and when I stop working,” I’m not that person. I do it now.
I do everything now because, who knows, if we’re all dead. Oh, we’ll never know.
Yeah, I mean what if we’re old during the coronavirus and, God forbid, something happens to us – we never traveled or did whatever it is that you want to do.
And also the fact that you’re making it sustainable, you’re still creating income. So I think that’s what a lot of people are really concerned about is, “Well, I’m going to do that when I’m older when I don’t have to worry about money anymore.”
There’s always going to be an excuse but it’s really about what you want. And if traveling is not for you then that’s great. Whatever it is that you enjoy life and if a nine-to-five is what makes you happy then that’s what makes you happy.
But it’s just really living the life that you want to live and making it sustainable is what you should do. And you can definitely do that as a remote worker as everyone can see now – it’s possible guys.
Well, thank you so much, Julia, for being here with us today. I am so thankful for you and for all of the things that you told us about your journey. It’s been so much fun.
Thank you, Debbie. It was great. Thanks for having me again. And yes, it was very fun to be on your show. Thank you.
If our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?
They can find me on my blog, they can reach out to me on JeyJetter.com. I also have my website where I describe a little bit more about my coaching and online services: JuliaJerg.com.
I’m on social media. Basically, you can find me with @jeyjetter in all the channels that you’re at.
Perfect. Thank you so much, Julia.
Audio Engineer: Ben Smith