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Walker Rowe – Expat Programmer and Tech writer living in Chile

Walker started his freelancing career 4 years ago when he moved to South America. Having 30 years of programming experience he is now working as a freelance tech writer. For him the best part about freelancing is the freedom and flexibility he now has. No boss , no office, no fixed working hours are the three main benefits for him . Walkers secret to success is quality instead of quantity...

1) freelancermap: Hello Walker, thanks for taking part in our Freelancer Insides series. First of all, can you tell us and our readers a bit about yourself?
I am an American who worked in IT in the USA for 30 years as a programmer. 5 years ago I moved to Chile. I learned about this country when I first came here in 2005 to write a book about it. For the past 4 years I have worked as a freelance tech writer. Because I know IT I write exclusively on that.

2) freelancermap: If you would search for your profile on Google, which are the three keywords you would type in the search bar?
Analytics, big data, cybsersecurity

3)freelancermap: What was your inspiration and when did you actually decide to become a freelancer? Did you work full time before starting freelancing?
I decided to become a freelance tech writer when I moved to Chile. In addition I wanted to work from home and quit going to an office. I also wanted to move out of the city and live in the country. Here I have a dog, horse, and garden.

4)freelancermap: In your opinion, which are the main benefits of working as a freelancer?
No boss. No office. Set your own hours.

5)freelancermap: You are now both programmer and technical writer but your career started as a software developer. When and how did you find out your passion for writing? Which jobs do you enjoy the most - writing or programming?
I started writing in highschool where I was co editor of the school newspaper. I have always been a writer, I loved reading Thomas Mann and other important Germans. You have to be a reader to be a writer. Then I wrote 3 books on wine before I started writing full-time as a tech IT writer. I also write news on Latin America for IDG Connect in London and China US Focus in Hong Kong.

6)freelancermap: Is there anything you’ve learned in your professional life that really surprised you?
Yes. It is easier to meet a payroll than you think. I no longer have any employees. I did that back in the states when I had 10 people. So the point is you can start your own business if you are reading this. It is not difficult.

7)freelancermap: How do you manage the pressure of meeting deadlines? Do you use any specific apps or software tools for self-organization, invoicing and something else?
I do not take on many clients. I work slow, so that I can focus on doing the best possible quality work. That is how I have had such success here. As for tracking I use Google Sheets and just enter my schedule in there.

8)freelancermap: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a freelance career?
Find a niche. If you do, say, “writing” you will be competing with 30-50 people for every task. But if you say, “marketing of a particular service and press releases” you can find a niche. Not only will you have to compete against fewer people, you will build up experience in that area. That makes it easier to win that type of work. And be patient. It will take at least 1 year to build up a reputation.

9) freelancermap: Last but not least, what are the top three books, blogs or magazines you read to stay up to date in the IT-market?
I don’t read tech news. It is boring. I read The New Yorker and newspapers.

10) freelancermap: Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
Don’t bid low. Bid high. You will win more work that way and help lift up the whole market. The majority of people in Asia bid low and because of that they have ruined their market.

    Where to find Walker: profile: Walker Rowe
    Portfolio: Walker's portfolio

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