Being a Digital Nomad: Where to Begin
So you want to try being a digital nomad, but aren’t sure where to start?
Just like with everything in life or on the road, the most important thing is to follow your passion and create your own route, pace, and intensity, instead of replicating someone else’s. If you want to become a digital nomad and live on the road indefinitely, or simply have the freedom to work and travel as you please, you’ll need to figure out a lot of things… all on your own.
However, there are some universal things that can help you get started. I’ve put together some of the very basics of being a digital nomad: where to begin?
The Who: Can Anyone Become a Digital Nomad?
The short answer is, yes. The slightly longer answer is: yes, as long as you’re willing to be creative!
A lot of people assume that you can only be a digital nomad if you take stunning photos, blog, write, or make amazing videos. While all of these can become a lucrative source of income, you don’t have to be an artist or a writer!
The key is to transfer your existing skills, talent, and passion online, and there are thousands of ways to do it. Are you good with numbers? Online accounting might be a fantastic way to work from anywhere in the world. Love organizing things? Become a virtual PA. A sommelier? Start tutoring people about wine! Whatever your profession, you can always consult, teach, or market online.
Not sure how you can transfer your physical skills to online work? Check out some of the most popular freelancing websites, like Upwork or Freelancer, where you can find online jobs ranging from legal, project management and consulting to engineering.
Want to change your professional life altogether? Transform your hobby into a living. With social media and the rise of personal brands, literally anyone can make money doing just about anything – as long as they are 100% passionate about it. Have you heard about the Chicken Whisperer? Yes, someone has actually created a full-blown career whispering to chickens! I’m not saying you should start researching poultry; but I am saying that your unique talents and passion can become your source of income.
The What: Doing the Actual Work
So often, people give online work a try and, if they don’t get instant results, quit. “It’s impossible if you don’t have the right contacts”, “the market is saturated”, “maybe I’m just not cut out for this” – these are the most common excuses. That’s just your fear talking; acknowledge it, but don’t give it power.
It’s rare to get instant results in anything. Did you learn to ride your bike overnight? Can you understand a new language within a few days? Master piano playing in a week? Well, it’s the same with being a digital nomad: you have to keep showing up.
If editors rejected five of your article pitches, send the sixth. If you can’t find work as an online manager, try a different approach. If you don’t have a solid portfolio, offer your services for free in return for publicity or networking opportunities. Put the hours in, adapt to market needs, and think about ways you could improve your pitches, your services or your efforts of finding work.
Don’t let your ego get in the way. “They don’t understand my genius!”, – might be your first thought when a potential client rejects your offer. And sure, you might be the undiscovered talent who will someday change the world; but for now, understand that rejections aren’t personal – it’s just that they don’t need this precise idea, story, skill, or technique that you’re offering right now. Don’t despair and keep on looking – you’ll get there!
The When: What’s the Best Time to Take the Plunge?
Now! The answer is always now. If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad, start today. It doesn’t matter whether you just want some extra income to supplement your current earnings, or whether you’re ready to commit fully: the time is now.
Why? Because plans become reality much quicker than dreams. It’s okay to fantasize about becoming a world-famed author, a motivational speaker or a marketing guru with a substantial passive income, but it’s never going to happen unless you actually do something about it…right now. Make a plan, then stick to it. Not sure where to begin? Check out:
- This great resource about eliminating debt and creating a passive income
- This short guide on where to start as a digital nomad
- These tips for people who are NOT IT-skilled but want to work as they travel
- These seven ideas for internet-savvy freelancers
- This great article on 14 Skills You’ll Need to Succeed as a Digital Nomad
The Why: Income Stability
Becoming a digital nomad may sound scary: you are plunging into the unknown, and in the beginning, you may not have a stable income. In my first year as a digital nomad, I sometimes earned $1,000 a month and sometimes – mere $300. It took a while to build a portfolio, network, and create reliable relationships with editors, publishers and private clients. But is a “regular” job that much safer? You can be laid off, have an injury or an accident, your company may begin downsizing, your industry may experience a decline. A regular paycheck might create an illusion of safety, but just how reliable is it, realistically?
As a freelancer, you call the shots. It’s up to you how much you work, how much you charge, and how much you want to earn. You should absolutely put some money away every month to generate savings, have a good insurance, and a pension plan that works for you – that goes without saying. But you do not have to be tied to one office, city, or country, and you do not have to adhere to other people’s schedules, dress codes, or micro-management.
Essentially, becoming a digital nomad is about sustainable, long-term freedom: freedom to travel, discover, and do whatever you want to do.
Ready to give it a go? Here’s a list of helpful resources to get you started:
For writers and journalists:
For bloggers and social media marketers:
Legal, Accounting, Consulting, Project Management, Design, Personal Assistant, Customer Service:
Think a life of a digital nomad is just for millennials, hippies and #vanlife folk? Think again! Here’s an awesome resource featuring regular people who had regular jobs, then transformed their lives. Dozens of inspiring and informative podcasts about living on the road:
Words: Egle Gerulaityte
Do you work and travel? Share your tips and questions in the comments below!