Freelancers, Remotes, Location Independents, Digital Nomads & Entrepreneurs

DIGITAL NOMAD JENNI LEIVO: LIFE AS A DIGITAL NOMAD & THE PANDEMICS INFLUENCE ON OUR PERSPECTIVE OF LIFEHow The Pandemic Changed My Vision Of The FutureBy Charlotte Lavin

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FDN Life Magazine Issue 10 (July-Dec 2021) - Jenni Leivo - The Life of a Digital Nomad & Our Perspective During Pandemic
Age
: 30
Location: Finland
Occupation: Graphic Designer
FDN: Digital Nomad

Jenni Leivo is a thirty-year-old graphic designer from Finland. After a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Scotland, she decided to keep travelling the world with her husband, while working. In 2020, with the effects of the pandemic, the couple had to settle down: they are now living in Finland. Jenni shares some useful tips on how to keep a work-life balance as a digital nomad, while opening up about how COVID-19 changed her vision of the future. 

IN CONVERSATION WITH DIGITAL NOMAD, JENNI LEIVO

HOW DID YOU BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD? 

At seventeen, I left Finland to study English in the United Kingdom and spent a year living with a host family. Living abroad had been something I had wanted to do ever since I was a child. Living in the UK, I loved how everything was different and it was a whole new world for me. It felt like I could be who I wanted to be. After this experience, I went back home to complete high school, which also allowed me to save some money for the future. When I turned twenty, I moved to London to work and keep learning English. My dream was to study and achieve a university degree. But, as with most youngsters of that age, I had other dreams too, and was a bit lost when it came to deciding what to do with my life. When my year in London came to an end, I ended up going back home to study in Finland. Yet, the travel bug didn’t want to leave. After my studies I packed my bags and set off to Spain where I lived and travelled for a while. In 2014, I got accepted to study Graphic Design in Edinburgh and I moved to Scotland. During the course of this master’s program, I moved to China and ended up spending a couple of years there.

HOW DO YOU EARN A LIVING CURRENTLY AS A DIGITAL NOMAD? 

I am now a freelance graphic designer and design consultant, focusing on creating marketing materials for campaigns, branding and web design. Dan, my partner, works in digital marketing.

Finding jobs as a freelancer is not always easy, especially at the beginning. You have to be perseverant in your search, and know the right tools to help you find jobs. I mainly use the online platform Upwork. It takes a bit of persistence at the beginning to find jobs, but it becomes easier with time. Upwork uses a “points” system so you usually do not have to pay anything to use their services. 

If it has never been easy to find freelancing jobs before, with Covid-19, it’s been even harder. Now, I am lucky to have one client who I am working for consistently, which is my fixed income base. In addition to my freelance work: I still take on some shorter projects every now and then when I have time. 

HOW DID THE PANDEMIC IMPACT YOUR LIFE? 

We had been living in different countries and travelling for the last three years before the pandemic. With the pandemic and the lockdown, we had no choice but to settle in one place. Now we have a ‘proper flat’ in Helsinki and we are not planning to leave before the pandemic is completely over and life is back to ‘normal’ – or whatever normal means now. What has changed is that now we have a ‘home-base’, which we never really had before. Surprisingly, I grew to love having a home-based environment. Before COVID-19, I had no fixed abode and had to move all my belongings with me every time I moved countries. Now I feel more confident looking ahead that I will keep travelling but will have a place to leave my personal belongings and return to if and when needed. I grew to love the convenience of having everything in one place. 

FDN Life Magazine Issue 10 (July-Dec 2021) - Jenni Leivo - The Life of a Digital Nomad & Our Perspective During Pandemic
DID THE PANDEMIC IMPACT YOUR EARNINGS?

I am lucky enough that the pandemic did not impact my earnings too much. I experienced a small pay cut in the early days but it seems that things are starting to get better and I now have more clients again. I also decided to hire an accountant to help me with my taxes. It helps me a lot and I recommend doing that – I tried to do my taxes on my own for a long time and I lost money because I made mistakes. She is a massive help. 

HOW IMPORTANT IS A DESIGNATED WORK AREA FOR YOU AS A DIGITAL NOMAD? 

It’s necessary for me to have a good desk setting in the places where we stay (AirBnB/rented flat) or to go to a co-working space. I must say, I have a really nice setup in my flat in Helsinki now, which I designed as I knew we were going to stay for a while. It is so much easier to work, and helps against procrastination as you can implement a routine in your day more easily.

THREE TIPS TO PREVENT PROCRASTINATION

Breaks are super important! As freelancers, we can sit long hours on end, which is not all that great for our health. I incorporate yoga and other types of sports into my routine to keep active and healthy. I organise my work days as I would if I was going to an office: wake up at the same time every day, get dressed, have my morning coffee, have lunch at regular hours, all this is very important if you want to keep the freedom of being a digital nomad without getting overwhelmed. 

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE THE LIFE OF A DIGITAL NOMAD
  • Exciting
  • Challenging
  • Adventurous

    (You also have to be very organised.) 
TOP 3 POSITIVES & NEGATIVES IN THE LIFE OF A DIGITAL NOMAD?

PROS
Seeing new places and taking the time to explore new cities. Trying different food, and discovering new cultures. Meeting new people. You learn every day. I want to learn more about this world – learn a new language, cook different dishes, meet new  people and do a lot of hiking. 

CONS
You don’t always have comfortable work space. Being a digital nomad can sometimes be lonely. The Internet when travelling can be a problem. To work, you need to have an excellent internet! Tax can be a bit of a headache too, which depends on your work and living situation

Jenni Leivo is a thirty-year-old graphic designer from Finland. After a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Scotland, she decided to keep travelling the world with her husband, while working. In 2020, with the effects of the pandemic, the couple had to settle down: they are now living in Finland. Jenni shares some useful tips on how to keep a work-life balance as a digital nomad, while opening up about how COVID-19 changed her vision of the future. 

CONNECT WITH JENNI
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