How Learning Languages Helped Me Build a 6-Figure Business

The story of how I created an international business

Antonello Zanini
6 min readFeb 6, 2023
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

In 2019, I set out on a journey to find a job abroad. It did not go as planned and I ended up discovering my love for language learning, eventually developing an entrepreneurial mentality that helped me build a six-figure international business.

None of this would have been possible without hard work, perseverance, and determination, but what truly made the difference was learning my first foreign language. That opened up a world for me.

This is the story of the pursuit of a dream, and I hope you find it useful and inspiring!

Where It All Began

It was 2019. I had just graduated in software engineering and I was looking for a job. As I was about to find out, the job market in Italy is terrible. Jobs that do not match your skills, low wages, and long (unpaid) hours. You would not believe it. Anyway, I decided to listen to the advice of the university professor I respect the most and took the first job that came my way. I rage-quit after only five days.

On the one hand, I was discouraged, sad, and disheartened. On the other hand, I felt compelled to find a job abroad, something I had never considered and that scared and fascinated me at the same time. So, I opted for a cushy job and started studying English in my free time. My end goal was to find a job in Switzerland or the United States.

I had a lot to learn and decided to devise a strict daily routine to improve my English. It was my first time approaching a new language and the results started to show up only after several months. But I was motivated to achieve fluency and did not give up.

Freelancing

Fast-forward 6 months, it is the end of 2019 and I already got tired of my cushy job. Once again, I quit. This time, I choose to try something more exciting and start freelancing as a software engineer. I manage to collaborate with some Italian startups in the Big Data industry while I keep studying English.

It is now June 2020 and something unexpected happens. I have a life-changing epiphany and realize that studying languages is much more than a simple chore. I still remember the enthusiastic conversation I had with Mark Farnsworth in which I declared my new-found love for languages. That gave me an unexpected confidence boost, and around the same time, I began writing on Medium in English.

After a few months, at the beginning of 2021, some IT companies noticed the technical articles I was publishing on Medium and ask me if I could write similar content for their blog. That marked the beginning of an electrifying and, at the same time, unexpected new chapter of my life.

The First International Clients

I have always been extremely cool-headed, but I must admit that before the decisive call with my first international client, I was shaking with nervousness. It is one thing to write in English, it is another to talk to potential new clients in front of a camera and in a foreign language. Plus, not only was it my first technical call with an international client, but it was also the first time I was trying to sell my services as a technical writer. I felt under stress.

The client was IMG.LY, a German company with an English-only policy. I spoke in broken English and that was certainly not my best performance, but I still managed to somehow convey my expertise. The experience of chatting with strangers in language exchange calls paid off. I was hired as a freelance technical writer.

After finding the first international client, everything changed. IMG.LY always told me that they were very satisfied with my work, so I started to think, “If I convinced them, then I can convince any other international company.” This is when I realized that I did not have to move abroad to find a better job and could build an international business right from home.

The First American Clients

In late 2021, my technical articles caught the attention of some IT giants in the United States. Having to talk and bargain with native English speakers initially worried me, but I had recently started studying Spanish and was thrilled about the idea of collaborating with new companies around the globe.

Dealing with American clients helped me understand how to do business. My mindset changed forever. My hourly rate changed as well. At the end of the day, I was no longer limited to the Italian market and could drastically raise my prices. In a few months, I doubled the price of my articles. Old clients welcomed it thanks to the high-quality work I was putting in, and new clients were happy with my rates.

It was the beginning of 2022, and I was still collaborating 80% of my time with the same Italian startups as in 2020. That would soon change. The more technical content I delivered, the more I received inquiries from new companies.

Launching an International Company

In April 2022, I began writing technical articles in my native language for an Italian company, Cantiere Creativo, and a few weeks later I was hired to write my first technical tutorial in Spanish. My business became truly international, and I found myself communicating in more than two languages for work daily. It was time to make a life-changing decision.

One thing was clear to me, I did not want to open a company in Italy. Bureaucracy, accounting, and dues are too much. Everything is too much. Launching my freelance business had already been a gamble, and I did not intend to go any further. Until I found out that I would pay almost 47% in taxes.

I was making too much money for the Italian standards, and things got even worse in mid-2022 when one of my American clients generously advised me to raise the price of my services by an additional 30%. My accountant and the startup owners I was supporting had no doubt, I had to open a company if I wanted to continue doing business while living in Italy. I considered moving abroad but did not want to rush the decision and eventually accepted to swallow the bitter pill.

In October 2022, I officially became a business owner. Writech, a company that offers technical writing services to businesses from all over the world, was born.

A Client for Each Timezone

Fast-forward to 2023, and I am providing technical writing services to more than 25 companies around the planet. China, Australia, South Korea, Georgia, Israel, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Seychelles, the United States, Canada, Colombia, and Argentina. This is a partial list of the countries where my clients are located.

Language learning has profoundly changed my life. Becoming a language learner has helped me open my mind to new cultures and inspired me to go in search of opportunities that, a few years ago, I would never have taken for fear of failure or not being ready. I am no longer frightened by the idea of doing business in English, Spanish, or any other language. Quite the opposite!

I have learned something valuable from each of my clients. German clients have taught me the importance of a healthy work ethic. Chinese clients have shown me how good it feels when you get paid instantly. Israeli clients have shown me that even though it is business, you can still build a friendly relationship. Swedish clients have taught me how important smiling and being kind are. I could go on for hours.

Writech was born only a few months ago, and my journey as an entrepreneur and language learner has barely begun. In the coming years, I plan to learn new languages and expand my business to new lands. I make no secret of the fact that my dream before retiring would be to have a client in each timezone. Even in the uninhabited islands of the Pacific? Yes, even there!

Conclusion

In this article, you saw how my plan to learn English to find a job abroad turned into a long adventure that led me to create a six-figure international business. I fell in love with languages and transformed my freelance business as a software engineer into Writech, a company that provides technical writing content in multiple languages. I now deal with clients from all six major continents, and as you learned here, achieving that goal would have been impossible without my language learner mindset.

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