Office with sea view

6 Dec

My office on the beach

I completely forgot that it was Saint-Nicolas’ day today (the saint that brings children presents, in Belgium at least). And he also had a present in his sack for me: my first freelance copywriter assignment. So I had to set up my office on Boracay beach. Easier said than done. There were some local sunny challenges to deal with.

Networking with some bubbles

It was a few weeks ago that I went to a Dutch language conference organized by the Flemish ‘national’ TV (how can Flemish be national???). As I was getting serious to register as a ‘freelance copywriter’ I thought I’d better wiggle my big ass into this language environment (and learn a bit of Dutch at the same time – as they changed Dutch spelling about twice probably since I left school).

Bubbles get networking going

Of course these big events go together with lush buffet meals and lavish amounts of wine (I wonder who pays for this, as registration was free? Tax-payers who fund the national TV station? So I should say thank YOU for your investment in my future ;-) No better setting than over a glass of bubbles to start to connect to some ‘future colleagues, future jobs, future euro…’

I bumped into some teachers of my copywriter evening course, who were having desert with some copywriter colleagues, who poured some wine to customers of theirs, etc. Chit-chat was seemingly innocent, smiles were disarming, conversations gauging one’s copywriter weight, slowly hidden agendas were peeking through and finally business cards exchanged (all that in 5 minutes).

The view from my office

A (future, potential, tentative, desirable,…) copywriter colleague told me to send him some of ‘my work’. That would be a perfect course of action to get somewhere, except it was also my weak point (or strength?). You see I have lots of English writing experience BUT am not a native English-speaker – I’m native Dutch-speaker BUT with limited writing experience.

  • So where does that leave me?
  • Fish nor meat? Vegetarian? Doomed to starve (as copywriter)?

When the need is near, Tony is too (figuratively speaking at least)

Office at the bar ;-)

Now it turned out that one of the copywriter contacts from the conference was flooded with work. So he needed some ‘good people’ to cooperate with, and sent me a little email “whether I’d have some free time on my hands over the next few days/weeks”. Thank you Saint-Nicolas!

An Australian school that was opening a campus in Brussels had their website and brochure translated into Dutch, but a bit too literally. The words were Dutch, but the sentences, ways of saying things, the expressions, etc. were not. So that’s why the world needs copywriters: to make things sound ‘right’.

  • He told me I could have a go at it, as a sort of a test-assignment for him,
  • but under the condition “No Cure No Pay”.

Setting up office on the beach – challenging!

  • But I was in the middle of the Philippines!

A little struggle with the sun

So what? That’s no problem. If there’s an internet connection, there’s a way. Since I bought my netbook I have organically become one with it and could not imagine life without it anymore (like the mobile phone some years ago and facebook more recently). It has all it needs: wifi, text processor, track changes function, email, time registration file,…

There was a wireless connection in the hotel, with a view over the turquoise sea & white sands, shaded by the coconut trees. The only electricity plug in the terrace area of the hotel was behind the bar, so initially I set up office at the bar.

  • But what’s the point of being at the beach and sitting inside in the hotel?

Dangers of working on the beach...

So I ventured out onto the beach (you could still capture the wifi there!!), with my netbook and notepad, working away. Till my battery was empty – then I would go and work at the hotel bar again, plugged in till the battery was full – and then back to my beach office again ;-)

The main challenge however was the sun. It’s damn hard to read anything on a screen out in the sun, even when you’re under the coconut trees (with all its dangers!). But nothing that a sarong cannot solve! (see pictures);-)

  • So this means I could actually be working ‘for real’ from the beach or any place in the world? Hm, that creates perspectives…

Looking at work from the sunny side

Keeping the sun out of my screen and eyes ;-)


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