Have Internet, Will Travel: A Freelancer Case Study
Melissa Antonelli didn’t start out wanting a freelancing life—but she found it suited her adventurous spirit.
I met Melissa in 2005 when we were both studying journalism as graduate students at New York University. She had recently graduated with honors with her bachelor’s in English from Penn State and was ready to get her feet wet in New York City.
During her time at NYU, Melissa worked for a travel magazine and realized, rather quickly, she hated working from behind a desk all day. “I liked the work, and the people I worked with, but I knew that the typical 9 to 5 job wasn’t for me,” she says. Her number one passion in life is travelling, so after completing her Masters, she decided to take advantage of the transition in her life and spend a year in New Zealand.
The Impact of Travelling
What she learned from working her way around a foreign country for a year is valuable stuff: how to be self-sufficient, the importance of independence, that you can create family wherever you go, and that travel is almost as valuable an educational tool as a graduate degree.
When she moved back to the U.S., Melissa didn’t have a plan, but a few different things brought her to San Francisco, where she currently lives. “I did some freelance jobs here and there while job hunting—everything from writing articles, to ghostwriting, to research,” Melissa says. She eventually got a job as a marketing communications specialist in Silicon Valley, and worked there for over a year before she started a full-time freelancing career.
“I’ve actually been freelancing since I was 19-years-old,” she says. “Back in 2001 I was living in Philadelphia and met a woman at a networking event who wrote for a living from home. It sounded like a dream job and I wanted to know her secret!” Melissa eventually became an intern for this woman, who helped her publish her first article. It was a mentorship Melissa won’t forget.
What prompted Melissa’s freelancing career was the elimination of her marketing job in Silicon Valley. Her boss asked her if she would continue writing for them as a consultant. She jumped at the chance.
I was doing the same job without the stressful commute, and I wasn’t tethered to my desk all day. It was perfect.
Melissa mentioned that she has since worked with many other clients in a variety of industries, creating web content, SEO, blogging, writing press releases, you name it. And since her clients are scattered all over the country, Melissa can work where she pleases.
“As long as I have a computer, a phone, and an Internet connection, I can work from wherever,” she says. “I just spent five weeks working from Florence, Italy!” Melissa currently splits her time between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, which allows her to get her city fix, and then head for the mountains when she needs some peace and quiet.
“Every month I spend about two weeks in San Fran and two weeks in Tahoe, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from each other,” Melissa says.
In San Fran I can take coffee breaks at my local café and morning walks in Golden Gate Park. In Tahoe I have two ski lifts in my neighborhood, so I can go snowboarding during my lunch breaks. It really is the best of both worlds.
I completely agree!