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I love living in the middle of nowhere.
- The kids can be loud and run around outside.
- I get to raise plenty of animals.
- The smell after a rain is indescribable.
- Lots of privacy.
But, as many perks as there are, there’s one aspect of country living that’s hard to deal with as a freelancer.
Lack of internet options.
You see, we don’t have cable. Or DSL. Or a T-Line. Or any other form of fancy, unlimited high-speed internet available.
I have exactly two options currently.
- Internet through our cell phone provider.
- Satellite internet.
Over the decade we’ve lived here, both have been used. We started off with satellite, then switched to using our cell phone provider, and eventually came back to satellite.
Here are the details about our current plan:
We have 15 GB of data to use anytime each month.
We have 50 GB of data to use between 2AM-8AM each month.
Despite the claims, satellite internet is not really what most people would consider high speed. It’s a step-up from dial-up of course, but not that huge of a step.
Our cell phone provider definitely provided faster service. But they also charged an arm and a leg if we went over our data allotment. The plan we’re with currently doesn’t charge extra. They just slow our speed down even more.
For the record, we frequently go over our limit. 15 GB is not that much, especially when working from home. But we already pay nearly $100 a month for internet, so bumping up to the next highest plan isn’t currently in the budget so we’re making it work.
Here’s My Best Tips for Freelancing with Satellite Internet
If you’re in the boonies and considering starting a freelance career, first know that it’s definitely possible. You just have to rethink a few things before you dive in!
Know How Much Data Activities Take
When you’re paying for a limited amount of data, you learn real quick what you can download and what you can’t.
Before you stream a video, see if you can find how many MBs it is. It’s not always possible to find, so if you can’t, use the data tracker that your provider uses and write down what you’re at before streaming.
Then stream the video and write down where you’re at now. A little math will reveal how much data that video just used.
Do this with websites you visit frequently (Facebook is a huge data hog!) Once you have a better idea of how much data activities take, you can better plan your month.
I tend to catch up on videos from my courses either in the early morning while our plan’s bonus data is still active, or at the end of the month if we have a surplus on data.
Don’t Blindly Download
One large file from a client can really mess up my data plan. I’ve learned to always check and see how large a file is before I download it from home.
Don’t just hit that button–take a minute to investigate first!
Find a Nearby Location with Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is my friend! Of course, living in the boonies means my locale isn’t exactly overflowing with options. But I’ve learned that:
- The DOT garage 1 mile away
- The school bus garage 3 miles away
- The public library 7 miles away
All have free Wi-Fi. That’s huge! See what’s available near you and make plans to hit up the Wi-Fi when you need to download or upload a large file.
Don’t Do Video Calls on Satellite Internet
Satellite internet has a bit of a lag. It’s nearly impossible to successfully participate in a real time video call (like Skype.)
My clients know I can’t take video calls without scheduling them in advance, and have been very accommodating. Whenever I need to make a call, I either use my cell phone and it’s data, or head to a Wi-Fi spot.
Be Careful Accepting Clients
Not all clients are a good match for a freelancer with satellite internet. For instance, if a client needs frequent Skype calls, that wouldn’t work well for me. It’s too much of a hassle to load the kids up and head out, or arrange for a sitter for a bit.
I make it work when I need to, especially when meeting with a potential client, or for going over details. But, if I had to Skype everyday it wouldn’t work out so well!
You know your limitations. Don’t take a client who will continuously push you past your limits. It won’t end well for either of you.
Watch the Snow
Snow build-up on a satellite can really interfere with your ability to get online. In the winter, keep a close eye on your equipment and use a broom to carefully clear off any excess snow.
Also know that winter storms are likely to block the signal you need. Which means your internet could stink even more (or stop working entirely.)
Have a backup plan! That way you don’t miss deadlines because of your internet.
Don’t let lack of unlimited, high-speed internet stop you. It’s definitely possible to grow a freelance career with lackluster internet. I’m doing it right now.
Just be aware of your limitations, and think creatively to get around them! If you’re dealing with a similar internet situation, I’d love to hear how you make it work! Please share in the comments section below.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.