This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Suto, a writer, founder, and scripted podcast producer. She co-founded Kingdom of Ink, a writing services company, with her partner Kyle Cords to help creatives build freelance writing careers. She also runs the company Kingdom of Pavement, which produces scripted and unscripted podcasts, including The Last Station, a podcast about the last radio station to survive the apocalypse. When she’s not running companies, she’s ghostwriting memoirs for people all over the world or working on her novel.
What was your inspiration for living and working nomadically? What factors inspired you to leave the stationary lifestyle and start earning money remotely?
I started working remotely when I began my career as a memoir ghostwriter over five years ago, but the pandemic really kickstarted our fully nomadic life. We value the ability to work remotely and create our own schedule, so we built our companies Kingdom of Pavement and Kingdom of Ink to do just that. We travel with our collaborators and produce podcasts with creatives all over the world, and teach people how to have freelance careers through our high-end writing services company.
What unexpected challenges and hurdles have you encountered so far as a digital nomad?
The basics are a lot harder when you’re constantly on the road: things like printing and signing documents and business management can get complicated especially with multiple companies, so we hired a business manager to help us make sure that everything is covered while we’re traveling. We also keep in regular communication with our freelancers and employees, using things like Discord and Monday.com to help us organize our tasks and also to facilitate conversations.
We were staying in Nashville, TN in January, and we had the craziest snowstorm — the worst they’ve had for the past decade! — while we were trying to mail some important documents. We were driving around the city trying to find a place to help us, but everything was closed. We were lucky and found a lone open FedEx and got things sent before the snowstorm really kicked into gear.
Do you have any personal anecdotes or stories about the hardships you’ve faced as a location independent worker? How did you overcome them?
Our biggest hurdles have been learning how to build a team of freelancers and employees that are aligned with our vision of creating more ethical business models while also working remotely. We’ve worked hard to find incredibly talented digital artists, web designers, animators, sound designers, and social media managers that are located all over the world from Italy to Singapore. We use thorough job applications and test tasks that help weed out candidates that don’t care about our mission or aren’t willing to put in the work to get the job.
Has any aspect of the lifestyle and career been easier than expected? Is there anything that you thought would be difficult but, in reality, hasn’t been?
The easiest parts of our job have been doing great work for our clients at Kingdom of Ink. We’ve assembled the most talented writers in the world to ghostwrite memoirs, business books, social media and website copy — and any other written form you can think of. All of our clients have been thrilled with their work, which makes our lives easier and allows us to continue to develop a one-stop shop for any writing needs for businesses and individuals.
In Kingdom of Ink we’ve also created a unique mutual aid model for our freelancers, where a percentage of every contract gets distributed as cash payments to support our writers so they can do their best work for clients.
What character traits would you say are the most important or essential for successful digital nomads?
Digital nomads need to be adaptable: when traveling, a lot of things can go wrong and you have to adapt. Whether that’s adjusting travel plans, finding pockets of time to answer emails and take care of calls and press interviews or table reads for our scripted podcasts can be a challenge, but being flexible is the key.
If you were starting over from scratch today, what would you do differently?
If we started over from scratch, we would spend more time on hiring and developing our rigorous hiring process. For Kingdom of Ink, our acceptance rate is 0.9%, and we’ve received thousands of applicants from some of the most prestigious institutions and universities. Being able to find top talent fast has helped us stand out.
What would you say to aspiring digital nomads looking to get started on a similar career path? Any words of wisdom or cautionary tales?
To be a digital nomad, you need to find something you love more than anything and build a freelance career or business around it. For us, creating scripted and unscripted podcasts and offering high-end ghostwriting services came organically from our background of writing in Hollywood and ghostwriting memoirs all over the world. We leveraged our skills to create self-sustaining companies that allow us to travel while doing what we love.
What were some digital strategies that originally helped get your business or service off the ground?
Google Ads was a great way for us to target exactly the type of customer we wanted to find for our business, and our Instagram helps us to share our brand values and what we care about while we put out beautiful content. We try to think of Instagram as an interactive museum gallery that’s both aesthetically pleasing and a way to form a community. We’re moving into TikTok as well. Social media is a fantastic way to build communities and share your values to find other collaborators. Paid platforms like Google Ads are also one of our key drivers of traffic.
To follow Amy’s digital nomad journey, connect with her on social media (@sutoscience) or follow her blog at AmySuto.com.