Plenty of freelancers travel for business or leisure, but Fiverr Pro Damien Walter is a certified nomad who is more comfortable in transit than at a fixed address. A self-proclaimed "story geek," Damien has proven his skill and versatility with big brands and publishers ranging from BuzzFeed to the BBC. He had the good fortune and good sense to learn from giants like Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link, and gives back with advice for other writers. Here's how he balances it all.
Nico: Welcome and thank you very much for accepting this interview. For those who don't know you, can you give us a little background about yourself and what you offer on Fiverr?
Damien: Hi, and thank you. Well, I'm a storyteller. That's my passion and my profession. I help people tell great stories about their business, their brands, or their own lives and experiences. Stories are powerfully persuasive – they're the best way to sell a product or get a message across. People don't buy the features, they buy the story.
Nico: You're writing for several publications such as Wired, BBC, and The Guardian, just to name a few. Do you have any writing productivity secrets to help you develop ideas to write about? Where do you get your inspiration?
Damien: Good writing is good thinking, so I get my thoughts clear on a topic before I write any words. I try to find an original argument or intense emotion at the heart of every story. Then I express it as a single sentence first, which often becomes the title. People talk about lots of tricks to go viral, but I think the only thing that works consistently is great ideas that people really want to share.
Nico: Let's turn things upside down. Imagine now that you are a buyer on Fiverr and you are looking for a content writer. What would be the qualities or unique traits that would help you identify your ideal freelance writer?
Damien: It might sound obvious, but I would choose the writer who can structure a good sentence. We all know how to write, but professional writers need a much deeper understanding of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Some naturally gifted writers excel at a few tasks, but ideally you want a writer who has honed their talents with extensive training.
Nico: Do you think that creative writing is a natural skill that a person is born with, or can anyone be trained to become a creative writer?
Damien: I've taught people creative writing who could barely write a sentence and ended up publishing stories. It might take time, but if you really want to write, all the skills can be learned.
Nico: In 2013, you made the decision to go nomad. Are you still an on-the-road-writer or did you settle yourself? What's the number-one quality a successful digital nomad should have?
Damien: My base is in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but I'm still traveling and have no plans to stop. In March, I'm heading to Da Nang, Vietnam, which is an upcoming nomad hotspot. Nomad life really is a constant adventure. If you value change and diversity over comfort and the familiar, then maybe nomad life is for you.
Nico: Staying within digital nomadism, can you tell us what is the good, the bad, and the ugly about becoming a digital nomad?
Damien:The good is freedom. The bad is loneliness. The ugly is some of the tattoos I've seen along the way.
Damien is a freelancer in the purest sense, tied down only by his principles and interests, not by any one client or any one place. He's demonstrated a real talent for finding interesting tales and intriguing people everywhere he goes. His work as a digital mentor is a great reminder to us all about the importance of giving back as we advance in our careers. And the next time you want to take your readers on a wild literary ride, consider connecting with him on Fiverr.
Does Damien's nomadic life appeal to you, or do you enjoy the routines of home? How do you stay productive and creative when you're on the road? Share your thoughts in the comments below.