How to Live and Work Anywhere, be creative and get paid in a growing tech marketplace :
Gareth and Clare were welcome newcomers to our most recent InterferenceOs meet.
Post Globetrotting, they run a booming tech business.
As Appfidelity they’re experts in iPad and iPhone development, based right here in my Home Town of Oswestry, England.
I wanted to get a feel on the reality and viability of How to Live and Work Anywhere in the World, so I arranged an interview, which turned out to be awesome.
Then read on for an honest account of how location independence pans out in the Real World
Adam : Sounds like a dream business! run from anywhere in the World – You’ve been travelling for fourteen months before coming to live in here in Os. Have you actively been building your client base in that time whilst on the move?
Gareth : It’s been great running a business exploring more of the world although it can be tricky at times! Appfidelity is still ticking along nicely too despite all our movements : ) We wanted to create a good work life balance and being location independent has been ideal for us for a while! In some respects we have done some on the move ‘living’ rather than traveling. Traveling always brings up visions of either tourists in hotels or of backpackers/Flashpackers.
Clare and I are neither. We like to live in other peoples houses for the most part! That way you get a real feel for what it’s like to live in a country and see its culture. So, on the last most recent trip we have stayed in places around the UK; Buckinghamshire, Devon, Cotswolds and Wales but also spent time living in Berlin and Prague (two months in each). And we went to Bali for a month after a brief holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Each time we lived in someones house or apartment whether it was a holiday let, house sitting or someone renting our their own private home (Airbnb).
We did try to build our client base but it is quite tricky to build relationships when you’re constantly on the move. If we had been selling a product, rather than a service, I think it would have been easier. Bali was particularly tricky because of the 8 hour time difference and when we had a conference call with a client, the resident Gecko started calling out ‘Geck-o! Geck-o!’ which echoed around the room! Being in Europe was obviously far easier to manage with only being one hour ahead and no noisy wildlife! Now we’re settled in Oswestry though, we’re really pleased to have the opportunity to meet like minded people and build more relationships. Instead of having half our mind planning travel and half planning the business, we can focus far more on building our client base. It’s a lot easier when you’re a bit more settled, although we would still recommend location independent businesses if you love to travel! Actually, when you think about it, it’s only because our business was already location independent that we were able to move to Shropshire from Essex so seamlessly.
Adam: How did you get into app design? what do you love about it and how did you identify that there was profit to be made from your passion?
Gareth : I got into app design after we returned to the UK from living in New Zealand. I found myself unemployed and not being able to find a job in developing in the corporate IT world where I had come from. The first iPhone had been released and Apple had recently made available the software development kit and I’d always been a big Apple fan. I thought to myself I would have a go at making an app in between time spent looking for a job. Clare had already got herself a job pretty much as soon as we arrived back so I was left on my own with little to do during the day!
After a few months of learning I released Monkey Maps to the world. It didn’t make us rich…. To date we’ve probably made about £30 from it. I think that probably has something to do with needing to do some marketing!! However, a friend of a friend heard about my newly acquired development skills and suddenly I was making an app for them. That’s when I realised there could be some slightly bigger money made from app development. Shortly thereafter, Appfidelity was born….
Adam : What do you bring that’s unique and how did you stand out enough to work with clients like Lulu Guinness?
Gareth: I think with Lulu Guinness in particular it helped that I was the person who went to chat with them but also was the person who was actually going to do the work for them. They had other visits from companies, but from what I understand those firms sent sales people. That definitely worked in our favour as I could both answer their questions there and then, but also make suggestions on what might be good. I think it probably also helps that we don’t blind people with tech speak and are honest i.e. if something is going to take 5 minutes, then that is how long it’s going to take!
Adam : In my own experience as a business owner nothing beats getting face to face with a decision maker. By the way, were the start up costs huge?
Gareth : Not at all, the business was started on a shoestring really. However, being Apple fans it did sort of help that we had two Macs, two iPhones and an iPad : ) If not, then there would have needed to have been a £5k budget for equipment for starters!
The logo was the biggest investment as we hired a graphic designer to do that. Although we are firm believers in doing stuff ourselves wherever possible. For the website we used WordPress, bought a template from a theme provider and then I learnt how to edit it until it looked how we wanted it.
Adam : Nice logo, nicer than mine! To be fair I only paid £3.29 for my blog logo from Fiverr How did you get a gig with such good clients?
Gareth : I think by being approachable, presentable and professional. But also honest.
As I said before, Apple make a lot of features of apps fairly quick to implement as they’ve already done all the hard work. So there’s no point in us pretending we’ve spent a day doing something which only took 15 minutes. I think that’s probably bad karma right?!We’re not in the business of ripping people off, we just want to make a living. Certainly having a portfolio of work with good feedback also helps. We specialise in iPhone and iPad only, we considered Android for a while but it’s not half as enjoyable to code and we’d rather love what we do, if you don’t it reflects in the quality of your work.
I’m also wary of IT firms who offer a dozen different services, why not just pick a few and be really good at those rather than being mediocre at half a dozen? And if I’m wary of that, then I’m sure other people are too.
Adam : How did you promote yourself to them to start with?
We started out marketing ourselves using Google AdWords which we found worked quite well. We only ever spent tens of pounds on it so only had to get one paid client off the back of any campaign for the investment to pay for itself. I think it also helped that there weren’t so many people doing app development at the time. Thankfully our website is now ranking in Google based on the content rather than the cash being spent.
Adam : Do you feel you’re riding a wave of growth in the app market and how big do you see this market becoming?
Gareth : We think the app world is growing at a massive rate particularly now with the iPad as well. I believe that apps will either replace websites or the two will evolve into something else. I think it’s a similar story to the web, 10 years ago not everyone had a website but today a lot of people expect a business to have a website. And if you don’t have a website then what’s going to happen when people Google for you!?
Websites became a must have for most businesses and sometimes apps are starting to head that way too particularly for online service based businesses (Amazon, Lovefilm, eBay, PayPal etc.) There is a bigger expectation now from consumers that a company will have an app to compliment its services, and that demand will just continue.
Adam : The mobile device ipad/smartphones is changing the way we live and work. What sort of person uses your more business oriented apps?
Gareth : Our most business orientated app is used by people who are interested in financial research for investment purposes. The iPad app allows investors to search for relevant research material and puts that information in front of them in a smart simple layout as quickly and as easily as possible. What’s great is our client identified how they could add value to their service offering by making the information available to investors using an iPad app. They had previous tried a web app on the iPad but the quality and lack of features weren’t as strong as a standalone app. Going forward we anticipate more businesses identifying how they can offer their client more value by adding to the service they currently offer.
People want to use apps because they are convenient to use on the move, they have a streamlined purpose. Business apps are a utility and they have to make ‘something’ easier for the client. We also anticipate more businesses using mobile technology in the workplace. Because mobile devices, iPads and iPhones are so portable there are huge opportunities to improve processes and efficiencies, particularly in businesses where staff aren’t necessarily at a desk throughout the working day. But that would be a whole other discussion!
Thanks to Gareth and Clare for such an interesting and open take on how to live and work from anywhere
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like my interview with Colin Wright at Exile Lifestyle. Colin is a Minimalist who describes himself as a ‘Flashpacker’ and Digital Nomad.
Gareth and Clare @ Appfidelity
From my own perspective I’m increasingly able to work from anywhere using a Smartphone at minimum; I’m finding I have to work around two hours a week to maintain the bulk of my income when I’m not actively growing my business.
In fact I probably spend more time on this blog.
I love my Lifestyle, it’s not perfect yet but it’s improving all the time, with a few worthwhile mistakes along the way.
What’s your take?
Have you worked location independent?
Do you want to learn How to Live and Work Anywhere?
What are the downsides and the rewards as you see them?
We’d love to hear from you and help you achieve whatever you want, so get busy with your comments now.