Teaching For Freedom: Your Ticket to Digital Nomad Life

by Sasha Savinov
the paradise pack

One of the most common questions we get is “How do you guys travel all the time?”

Since 2016, we’ve been working remotely and independently. It wasn’t exactly a smooth and easy transition into digital nomad life. We had some help along the way.

One of the biggest reasons we’re able to live a location-independent lifestyle is teaching English online. That’s why Rachel created an online coaching program, Teaching For Freedom to show you how to do the same.

If you spend hours a day staring out the window, daydreaming of traveling more, and working on your own time, then read on for everything you need to know about Teaching For Freedom and going, location independent.

How Teaching English Online Changed Our Lives

I don’t know about you, but I was never cut out for a “real job.”

For one, I can’t stand the thought of sitting in a cubicle for 40 hours a week. I also don’t like asking a boss for time off and I can’t fathom only having two weeks of vacation a year.

Teaching English online has allowed us to have so many incredible experiences; traveling South America for 7 months, seeing incredible wildlife in Costa Rica, and attending the Easter processions in Antigua, just to name a few.

The past year has been crazy with COVID. We haven’t been able to travel like we like to, but we were able to ride out the pandemic in beautiful Puerto Vallarta and continue earning a solid income.

Now that live music is back (our favorite thing on Earth), we have big plans to travel around the USA this summer. We’ve got a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks, lots of concerts, and family visits on the calendar.

Life is good.

the paradise pack antigua guatemala

The famous Arch in Antigua, Guatemala

This fall, we might try our hand at house sitting. Or we might go backpacking in Europe for a bit (when they open back up to Americans). Perhaps we’ll move back to the other side of Mexico and use it as a base to visit places like Belize and Cuba. Who knows?

Having the freedom to do what we want, when we want is invaluable to us.

It’s been a learning process as we moved from teaching English in China to being digital nomads. Without the option to teach English online, I truly believe we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Here’s a bit of a backstory so you can see just how far we’ve come in a few short years.

Catching the Travel Bug

When we were living in Beijing, we had pretty cushy lives. We had a nice apartment in a great area, well-paying jobs in one of the best English schools, and a great social circle. Even on weekdays, we could afford to go out for dinner and drinks with friends.

Weekends were full of fun day trips and wild nights, and short holidays were spent exploring China.

Even though we had it made, it just wasn’t satisfying enough for us. We knew we wanted to travel more and on our own terms.

As such, we saved up $25,000 and hit the road on a gap year trip. In that time, we traveled across the western USA, all over Southeast Asia, and visited a few more places in China.

It was an incredible experience that we just didn’t want to end.

Skydiving over Canyonlands National Park; one of many things we did during our gap year

Sadly, our bank account deemed it necessary for the trip to end. We were spending more than we were making, so it was time to get back to work.

Rachel signed a contract teaching English in Kunming and we “settled down” again. I had a mountain of freelance work to do, so I just picked up some teaching hours on the side and mostly worked from home.

Needless to say, it was a tough transition back to “real life.” Rachel had to work six days a week, which seriously limited our ability to travel together. She had a working visa, but I was just on a tourist visa. As such, I had to leave the mainland every 90 days on visa runs. Because of her schedule, she wasn’t able to come along with me.

We knew something had to change.

Let’s Move to Bali

Bali is high on our list of favorite places. There’s just something special about the Island of the Gods. It was there that I got the idea to save up and quit our jobs to take a gap year. We returned on our gap year and had another amazing time exploring the island.

While we were in Kunming, I decided to apply for the Darmasiswa Program to study the Indonesian language and culture at a university in Bali. I was writing for an Indonesian blog and I had already been there twice, so I figured I was a shoo-in. We set about planning our wedding but held off on making plans for that fall until I got the result.

teaching English online Bali beach

Enjoying life in Bali

One evening, I was sitting at my desk writing when I got an e-mail. A minute later, I ran into the living room and asked Rachel, “So… wanna move to Bali?

I was accepted into the program, and we were going to move to our favorite place in the world for an extended honeymoon! The only problem was – how the hell were we going to afford it?!

Searching For a Way to Make Money Online

In Bali, it’s very difficult for foreigners to get hired locally unless they have some sort of specialized skill. There isn’t a high demand for ESL classes like there is in China.

At this point, I was making pretty good money writing and editing videos for the language blogs. But Rachel had only been working as an English teacher in China.

Grateful Gypsies (this blog) was still quite new, and we really didn’t know what we were doing with it. We both agreed that we needed to put more time and effort into it and that we could start earning an income from it.

Once again, a small problem faced us – running a successful blog that actually earns money ain’t easy.

In fact, it’s very difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. Just Google “how to start a blog” and you’ll be overwhelmed with millions of entries.

So we found an online course about blogging and decided that’s what Rachel would do with her time in Bali, monetize our blog into a business.

Becoming Digital Nomads

Once Rachel finished up her contract in Kunming and joined me in Bali, we were officially digital nomads.

In addition to attending my Indonesian classes, I was still writing and editing for the language blogs. Since she was now a “Balinese housewife,” Rachel got to work on learning the business of blogging.

During that year in Bali, we had a lot of epic adventures. We bounced around fancy Bali villas with friends and family, celebrated the Day of Silence, and even trekked Mt. Rinjani over on Lombok.

A nice cold tub on a hot Bali day!

More people visited us in Bali over the course of nine months than they had in six years in China.

Go figure!

It wasn’t all fun and travel, though, as we learned a ton about blogging, SEO, affiliate marketing, and a lot more. Although we learned a ton and we were seeing progress, the blog hadn’t started earning money by the time I was wrapping up the program.

Teaching English Online

With our time in Bali coming to an end, we debated what to do next.

Of course, we could always move back to Kunming to teach again. That felt like going backward, though, so we wanted to do something different.

We began looking into teaching ESL in Latin America but were disappointed to see how little most jobs pay there.

As luck would have it, Rachel learned of an opportunity to teach English online for a Chinese company called VIPKID. While they’re quite big and well-known these days, this wasn’t the case back in 2016.

teaching English online setup

Just another morning as a VIPKID teacher

Thanks to the community she had built, Rachel got in with VIPKID before they really took off.

After she finished her first contract successfully, I decided to apply as well.

With both of us teaching online, my freelance income, and the growing traffic to our blog, we felt confident enough to hit the road as digital nomads.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

First up on our journey as digital nomads was Mexico.

We caught the bus headed across the southern border to Monterrey and then visited Mexico City, San Miguel, Guanajuato, and Guadalajara. Perhaps it was the tacos and tequila, but we fell right in love with Mexico!

Next up was a month in the popular beach town of Puerto Vallarta. As happens to so many other gringos, we got sucked right into this beautiful place. We ended up staying there for seven months thanks to the low cost of living and an abundance of fun things to do.

Even though we love Puerto Vallarta, we still got itchy feet.

Thanks to our newfound location independence, we hit the road again, this time to South America. For the next seven months, we traveled across the continent as digital nomads.

We based ourselves in amazing cities like Medellin, Lima, and Santiago, where we studied Spanish, found the best cafes and co-working spaces, and explored on weekends.

teaching English online South America

Just a sampling of our epic trip to South America

In between those longer stints full of productivity, we embarked on some pretty epic adventures. We stayed at a floating hostel in Colombia, visited the freaking Galapagos Islands, celebrated Carnival in Brazil, toured the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and trekked our way to Machu Picchu.

Take that, bucket list!

It was all thanks to teaching English online. We had other income streams with my freelance writing, but teaching was our largest source of income.

Starting to See Results

I’d be lying to you if I said I was all gung-ho about putting all this effort into growing our blog. It just seemed like such an insurmountable task. What can I say – I’m a hippie slacker and I really don’t like to work that hard.

However, even my pessimistic attitude couldn’t deny the results we started to see.

Our blog started to get more and more visits each month. People were sending us e-mails asking how they could get started teaching online, so Rachel offered to coach them through the process.

While we were traveling around South America, I was offered a few well-paying jobs writing for some of the most popular travel blogs out there.

We also managed to partner with a few tour operators in the region, getting offered discounted or even free tours in exchange for covering them here on our blog.

Machu Picchu Trek the paradise pack

We were offered a discount on the Jungle Trek in exchange for blog content

Thanks to the knowledge we gained, we began implementing some affiliate marketing strategies on Grateful Gypsies. After a few years of making zero to very little money off of the blog, we finally saw some dollars coming in. We’re even an official business now with cards and everything!

It’s been an exciting couple of years, and we really can’t wait to see where we go next.

Interested in Becoming a Digital Nomad?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you landed on this post because you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad yourself.

Teaching English online is the fastest way to become a digital nomad and it may be the very thing to help you finally move abroad or start your nomadic lifestyle.

It was the thing for us.

Rachel had so much success with VIPKID that she wanted to share it with everyone. The problem was that they only hire North Americans with a Bachelor’s degree. She knew there had to be other options so she got to work doing some major research.

And she was right! She found a whole treasure trove of online teaching platforms. I’ve watched her spend hours on end doing research and vetting all the different platforms she found. She’s put tons of effort into it.

And now after 5 years of traveling full-time as an online English teacher, she has broken down the transition to location independence into a simple 5-step process. 

She calls it the Teaching For Freedom Method and it’s the very thing she teaches inside her online coaching program.

So I’m going to turn this post over to her and let her explain it to you.

Teaching For Freedom

Rachel here!

After successfully coaching a handful of people through the process, I packaged up all my knowledge and expertise into an online, self-study coaching program, Teaching for Freedom.

This program will show you how to start teaching English online and ultimately transition into a location-independent lifestyle so you can travel when you want, where you want, for as long as you want.

Teaching For Freedom Course Image

It’s the culmination of years of learning, researching, trying, failing, and trying again that allowed Sasha and me to create a life of travel thanks to our online English teaching business.

Teaching For Freedom not only gives you the tools to start teaching English online, but it also shows you how to build other income streams, as we did with our blog.

But you may be wondering…

What Do You Need to Teach English Online?

Besides a computer, a webcam, WiFi, and a headset, you really don’t need much. 

Most people think you need:

  1. formal teaching experience
  2. to speak a second language
  3. a Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate

These are 3 big myths about teaching English online. I’m going to bust them real quick.

No, you don’t need formal teaching experience.

The platforms that require it have a very loose definition of teaching experience. Here’s a short list of things that count:

  • Babysitting
  • Daycare
  • Nanny / Au Pair
  • Teaching music lessons
  • Coaching of any kind
  • Swimming lessons
  • Summer Camp counselor
  • Tutoring
  • Homeschooling

You do not need to speak another language.

Teaching techniques you should learn will help you teach even the most beginner students without knowing their language.

As for needing a Bachelor’s degree, not all platforms require one. So you still have options if you don’t have one.

Getting a TEFL certificate is not difficult. You can get one quickly and easily online by taking a TEFL course. Sasha and I got ours from BridgeTEFL and we highly recommend them.

Now, you might be wondering why you would need my program if you’re already taking a certification course.
 
Allow me to explain!

Why Should You Enroll in Teaching For Freedom?

There are so many reasons why but I’ll try to keep it short and stick to the most important ones.

Teaching For Freedom guides you through the steps to take after you get your TEFL certificate. You’ll learn the specific teaching techniques you need to teach beginners and nail your interview as well as the best online English teaching jobs. There’s even a thorough explanation of the application process, complete with examples.

If you want to be able to control your own schedule, live your life on your terms, have the freedom to travel and live around the world, all while earning a sustainable income, Teaching For Freedom is your ticket.

After reading our story above, you know we can attest to that. We would not have had all those amazing experiences over the past 5 years if we had never started teaching English online.

This is NOT a course that just helps you get a job teaching English online. No, no, my friend. It goes way beyond that.⁠

It’s a full-on coaching program to help you create a lifestyle of your own design, where you can travel and live anywhere you please without having to ask anyone for permission

That’s what makes Teaching For Freedom different from other programs out there.

You’ll also get access to our exclusive, student-only Facebook group where you can connect with other traveling teachers working towards the same goal. There’s nothing like getting support and accountability from your peers who are also beginning their digital nomad journey.

Our blog is what started this dream for us. Teaching English online has given us time and money to invest in it.

That’s why we included our mini-course “Digital Nomad Jobs You Can Start Today” as a bonus. It’ll show you how to create other income streams, thus protecting your location-independent identity.

In short, I will do everything I can to help you take your life and business to the next level.

Click here to check out Teaching For Freedom!

Back to Sasha…

the paradise pack hanging bridges costa rica

Now that’s something to get excited about!

Conclusion

Enrolling in Teaching For Freedom is really a no-brainer if location independence is what you want.

Since we started teaching English online, Rachel and I have gone from no idea how to achieve this lifestyle to becoming online English teachers and growing our blog into a business that earns money month to month. All this while living by the beach and traveling to multiple new countries.

Not only will you get multiple resources to help you attain the lifestyle you want, but you’ll also get an amazing community of like-minded people who want to help you succeed.

We are honored that you are considering Teaching For Freedom and we can’t wait to see you on the other side!

If you have any questions or concerns at all, drop a comment below, and let’s talk about it!

 

 

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