Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box in Barcelona

Ed left an interesting comment on one of my earlier posts about working in Spain that got me thinking.  As I've mentioned before, work for newbies is rather limited here, and if you're planning on getting a job in the corporate world once you've learned Spanish, or even better Catalan, don't expect a great salary, but do plan on spending ten hours a day at the office.

Still, when I walk around Barcelona, there seems to be a boutique business popping up every week: bike tours, custom jewelry, party organizers.  I guess it's why Barcelona's ranked as the top expat destination.  So, for anyone with a little bit of spunk, imagination and time, they are options.  Best of all: most only require a website and setting up a Paypal account to get started, which is both cheap and easy.

A few examples are:, which offers hard to find expàt food, especially breakfasts.  To save on the costs of opening a restaurant, they instead found a locale willing to host them once a week.  Then there's DJ Roger, a long time deejay whose pushing the funk and soul, when hearing it is as rare as seeing someone spin vinyl, and budding photographer Peter Crosby. All three offer examples of people trying to earn a living doing something that they enjoy.

As the Guardian pointed out, there's also a growing demand for personalized tours that cater to a niche interest.  In the case of the woman interviewed, it was little off the wall clothes shops and trendy restaurants.  But you could expand this to include authentic Barcelona, or seedy Barcelona or hidden Barcelona.  Whatever Barcelona, you're living, you know?

Likewise, for those of you who've been teaching either here or elsewhere for a while, instead of working for an academy, why not print some fliers or send some letters?  Work for yourself, earn more, have greater control and avoid the question of papers.  If you've got an interest or a hobby - like photography, painting or cooking - you could target companies or people specialized in these areas, pitching your expert knowledge against some normal teacher who hasn't a clue.  Meanwhile, those of you who've worked at restaurants or bars, as most visitors can confirm, there are many establishments here which could use a crash course. 

In fact, if there's a group of you with ad sales or magazine experience, a monthly about learning English is possibility to earn some decent money.  Sure there's Speak-Up.  But if you add a little Spanish or Catalan for the local market, there are enough English bars, acadamies, schools and businesses to sell ad-space and fund it.  Plus, the Spanish have a near Quixote-esque obsession with improving their English and the same chances of success slaying that dragon, meaning there's definitely a market for it.

Got a taste of the nightlife, art or music? Barcelona has hundreds of little venues, bars and spaces where you can indulge in your passion, whether it be playing, displaying or promoting.  As an article in the Metropolitan explains, it's not like it was, but there's still plenty of places out there and as Ed said: a supportive audience.  Maybe, it's because the Spanish and Catalans are generally risk-adverse and conservative, but they sure do seem to have an affinity for us crazy guiris who've come here and tried to start up a life.  I guess in pop psychology terms, it'd be living vicariously through others.

Of course, none of these will make you Bill Gates rich, but they do offer the potential to earn a living, blending what you like to do with work.  And, maybe at first, you'll need to keep a day job, but at least you'll be stimulating that creative bent that probably brought you out here.

So feel free to use any of these ideas and I hope it works out for you.  Let me know if it does, and I promise not to ask for a cut of the profits.  But, like the lead character in the cult eighties show, Stingray, I might one day ask a favor, which Karma and my Ak-47 dictate you must honor.

1 comment:

  1. Have to say I agree Jeremy. The more niche the business the better the chance of success as long as it is well targetted I think