Working as a business journalist in London three years ago, Clare Harrison knew she wanted to do something different with her life, but she didn’t know what.
“I didn’t know much about self-employment or entrepreneurship or anything like that. My job as a journalist was covering big stories about corporations and hedge funds. It wasn’t even startups. It was a very different sphere for me. I knew a couple of people who had been freelance but hadn’t taken the plunge myself.”
While traveling, she started getting freelance gigs coming from home. “I thought, ‘Well this is interesting. There might be something to this.’ I was in India, and I was getting work and I was realizing I didn’t have to work all that hard to live on a beautiful beach in Goa.”
She got her first real introduction to entrepreneurship when she took a chance and moved to Bali on a whim.
“I joined Hubud, [the Hub-in-Ubud], and interesting things kept happening. I met a lot of people. You know what it’s like. It’s full of people who are writing their own rules and doing things differently.”
At Hubud, she found an international mix of people with a diverse range of skills.
“You don’t have to be a dropout to have freedom. A lot of people in Ubud are hardworking and ambitious, they’re smart, switched on, often well-educated, and they read a lot. But compared to most desk-bound office workers back home, they are free.”
It’s an inspiring place. I think you go through your life living and thinking there’s only one way of doing things and then you learn that there’s this whole other area.”
She learned a lot of skills from them that she wouldn’t have thought to learn otherwise.
“Suddenly, things that seemed like a really tall order don’t seem very difficult. I had this mental shift. Previously, I just had a job. And my job was writing articles. And someone else’s job was marketing the publications.
“It’s developing this mindset where I can try my hand at a bit of this and a bit of that. Where you realize you’re deficient, you either learn a new skill or you find someone who can help you. You can tap the shoulder of the person next to you, and ask for help. That’s huge. I was lucky at Hubud because there were lots of different skills under one roof.”
“You don’t have the same corporate environment where people have to work so hard for money. They’re more willing to do things for free. And I did a lot of that too, just helping people out as a friend. I enjoyed that.”
Clare described just how much her lifestyle changed living and working in Bali.
“There are so many advantages to living there. Especially when you come from a city with a high cost of living. You’re used to just having a very difficult existence. You go from commuting on a packed train to whizzing around through the countryside on a moped.”
“Bali in particular, is such calming place which is weird because it’s also very chaotic. I didn’t need the same escapes, like partying or drinking, that I needed in London. You’re living in a rural environment here, so if you want to do something nice, you can just go for a walk, you don’t have to go the pub – you can go surfing on weekends. I love all the nature. Even when the monkeys invade the coworking space and steal things, there’s something magical about it to me. It doesn’t get old.”
Though she really can’t compare her life in Bali to her previous life, Clare does acknowledge the less appealing aspects of island living.
“One of the hardest things about Bali is that it’s a very small community. I’m from a small town in England so I know what they’re like. You meet a lot of people and you always bump into people.
“And the flip side is that it can also be a little bit insular. It’s important to stay connected. Bali can be a bubble. I don’t believe in completely turning my back on where I’m from.”
Right now, she’s got three projects cooking. The first project is her blog, the 8,000 Mile Startup, a blog soon-to-be-book about getting away to get on.
“Writing a blog is amazing for you accountability, but it’s also a good way to reach out to other people and make contact with people.” In her blog, she interviews startup founders from around the world, but writes mainly about her personal projects.
She’s also working on a project called Start Me Up, helping young people around the world get start up experience beyond the typical startup hubs like San Francisco, London, or Hong kong.
“It could be Cambodia, Spain, Vietnam, or Chile. There are all these alternative hubs springing up. I think they offer a good chance for young people to get start up experience without having to entail the costs of going to live in a city like London or San Francisco and get into debt as they start their careers. In Asia, for example, they can get a relatively low cost experience.”
With years of experience as a journalist, Clare wanted to explore how she could use her existing skills in a scalable way. Her new project, Story Scientist, is inspiration and story pitching for bloggers. She provides a service where she produces story articles, blog headlines, or story pitches to the media. It’s targeted towards small business owners who just don’t have the time to think up their own story angles or who might not be confident about coming up with strong angles, or those who just need a bit more inspiration. She recently launched a 30-Day-Pitch service to help people get their content published in major publications, and the first pitch appeared in Forbes the next day.
“I want to build something sustainable and something that also has impact. Something with a bit of legacy. I hope that travel and business are a part of my life long into the future. I don’t see myself going back to live in one place forever and not moving around. I see myself as having an international job. I think the best way to do that is to design your own business that allows you to do that.”