Paula Pant-2016A decade ago, I had the lifestyle everyone expected: I held a job.

I had always loved reading and writing, and I was thrilled when I landed a position at the local newspaper. My business cards said “News Reporter.” How cool was that?

And it got better. My colleagues were incredible: funny, smart, friendly. My office was within walking distance from my home. My assignments were varied and interesting.

On the surface, it seemed like I had my dream job. But something wasn’t right.

No matter how much I loved the journalism field, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was shackled.

First, I was location-tied. I couldn’t just fly to New Zealand or Italy. I needed to live in one particular spot. And that made me feel constrained.

Second, I was frustrated by not having control over my time. If I needed to take an afternoon off for a dentist appointment, I needed written permission. If I wanted to take a one-week camping trip, I needed to submit a formal time-off request. I understood the benefits of these policies, but I didn’t want to live under those restrictions.

After all, I was a responsible adult. I knew how to manage my work. If I had pending projects and deadlines, of course I wouldn’t skip town and spend the day at an art gallery. Of course I’d honor my responsibilities.

But if I worked efficiently and managed my responsibilities, why shouldn’t I be able to spend a few days away from the office? Why did some arbitrary, one-size-fits-all policy govern the hours of my life?

I’m not disputing the wisdom in creating office policies. These policies enforce fair standards – and that’s great. Fortunately, I have a choice. And I know that type of lifestyle doesn’t suit me.

I wanted flexibility and autonomy. I wanted to be able to work from anywhere on the planet: Bali, Paris, the Seychelles.

The vast majority of my time in the office was spent either on the phone or typing into a computer. I didn’t need to be inside of any particular building to conduct phone interviews and research stories. In theory, I could work from anywhere.

I also knew that my employer would never agree to a remote-work arrangement. The only way I could create a location-independent lifestyle would be by quitting my job and creating a laptop-based full-time job for myself.

And that was a thrilling notion.

In 2008, I handed my editor my resignation letter. I bought a one-way ticket to Cairo, Egypt, with plans to continue onto Southeast Asia and then Australia. I ended up traipsing the globe for more than two years.

I intentionally didn’t work much during that two-year period. I lived on savings and focused on full-time travel.

When I returned to the U.S. in mid-2010, I pursued a freelance career in earnest. I decided that the best way to establish a reputation within a certain “vertical,” or topic area, would be to begin blogging. In my mind, a successful blog would help me build authority as a writer within that field.

I started a website called My blog initially had zero readers, but it grew month-over-month. And then something strange began happening.

Editors from other publications would find me through my blog and ask me to write articles for their websites, or to manage their Facebook or Twitter accounts. I started matching my previous income. Then I surpassed it. Substantially.

By 2012, I had a client workload that was too intense to handle on my own, so I began hiring my own freelancers. I transitioned from “self-employed soloist” to “business owner and delegator.”

These days, I earn triple my previous salary. I work remotely from any corner of the globe of my choosing. And I have the autonomy to pick-and-choose the projects I want to accept.

None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t started blogging.

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