How slow travel helps this remote lifestyle writer flourish and build community with Julia Guerra Slater
Meet Julia Guerra Slater. She’s an SEO and content marketing strategist and digital nomad lifestyle blogger currently living in Barcelona. Welcome to “Life by design”. This Discovery Sessions interview series probes inspiring individuals that work online and travel, and people designing their lives around freedom to inspire readers just like you.
Rosie Bell: Where are you from or where do you feel local to?
Julia Guerra Slater: That’s a good question and one that has lots of layers to it. I was born and raised (for most of my life) in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. My father is from Guatemala so I have dual citizenship to both countries. As a digital nomad, I’ve lived throughout Latin America and have spent extended time in the Philippines. Most recently, I lived for two years in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, but right now I’m based in Barcelona, Spain.
RB: How did you start as an SEO and content marketing strategist and digital nomad lifestyle blogger?
JGS: It happened through a series of steps, life events and opportunities. I always loved to travel and for several years had backpacked throughout Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. I would hold odd jobs – waitress, bartender, receptionist, maid – and then would blow all the money I had saved on continuously travelling. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually, I got tired of never building anything or having a purpose in life.
I wanted to have a career, so I went back to California and worked as an intern at a small nonprofit. There, I noticed that the marketing staff got to work from home. Even after a few months there, I knew office life wasn’t for me, so when the position for the social media marketing intern opened up, I jumped at it and was able to successfully pivot. Once my original contract ended, I renegotiated to be able to work from home.
It was a game-changer. I was 10X more productive than at the office and I loved working at my own schedule. For my next job, I knew I wanted it to be remote. I ended up finding a position at a US-based company that had a large international-based membership.
I’ll never forget the moment when I very timidly asked my boss if it mattered where I lived. He knew immediately what I meant.
“Oh you want to go international?” he said. “Go for it.”
Within about 10 days I had a flight booked to the Philippines and I’ve never looked back. That was eight years ago.
RB: What advice would you give someone looking to start as an SEO and content marketing strategist and digital nomad lifestyle blogger?
JGS: First, you need to pursue whatever it is that interests you. Second, you need to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. Eventually, the two will come together and you’ll find your life’s passion.
RB: What does a typical day in the life look like for you (if you have one)?
JGS: I don’t know if the digital nomad life is quite as glamorous as it looks on TikTok, where influencers are hopping around to new destinations every month, living in penthouses and doing cool new activities every day.
I like to live my life more slowly and intentionally. I usually pick one country and then live there for a year or two. Over the course of that year, I’ll do a few weekend or week-long trips to other parts of the country, to get to know it better.
On a daily basis, I work from home, go to the gym and try to eat healthily. I try to work between 20-30 hours per week, which gives me time to relax and socialize. When I lived in Playa del Carmen, I liked to paddle board and scuba dive. Now that I’m in Barcelona, I like to do day trips to the beaches outside of the city or go on a hike.
RB: What’s the biggest challenge of life as an SEO and content marketing strategist and digital nomad lifestyle blogger?
JGS: As a freelancer, there’s not a lot of job stability. You could be let go at any time and you’re never quite sure how much money you’ll make on a monthly basis. Recessions can be particularly tough as contract workers are the first to be let go.
On a personal level, living the digital nomad life can be hard on relationships, whether they are with family, friends or a partner. All my loved ones are scattered around the world and I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.
RB: What’s the biggest reward of life as an SEO and content marketing strategist and digital nomad lifestyle blogger?
JGS: Living this lifestyle allows me to pursue not just professional goals, but personal goals as well.
Growing up Latina in the US, my Spanish was quite spotty. I would understand the context but would respond back in English, and felt ashamed that I couldn’t speak it better.
Having a remote job has allowed me to live throughout Latin America, including Guatemala, where I’ve been able to practice my Spanish and become fluent.
RB: What habits, principles or ideas have served you the most in your life?
JGS: I like to travel slowly. I think a lot of new digital nomads get really excited and want to do everything and go everywhere the first year, but then I see them either burn out or spend all their money. Slow travel allows me to focus on work, stay healthy and develop a strong community. It’s what has allowed me to live this lifestyle for eight years.
RB: What do you wish you did differently (in work or life)?
JGS: There are a couple of things, mostly to do with finances and work. In college, I studied International Relations, which was a subject I was interested in but it didn’t end up benefitting me at all for a career. I also wish I had been better about my finances sooner such as saving for retirement earlier and getting clear on my tax strategy as a digital nomad.
RB: How do you measure success?
JGS: To me, success means having the freedom of how to spend my time. I feel so grateful to have a career that allows me to be creative, provide for myself and save for the future, travel the world and have a flexible schedule. I also feel grateful to pursue activities such as trekking, paddle boarding, scuba diving and improving my Spanish. And finally, I have the most amazing community of friends, who are so loving, creative and innovative, and who inspire me every day.
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