The digital nomad lifestyle is not all glamour as sometimes portrayed. Yet, the idea of traveling around the world remains an attractive appeal to many. Backed by remote jobs or careers, digital nomads enjoy greater geographical flexibility which allows them to travel more freely.
This lifestyle has piqued the interest of many travel enthusiasts as they seek a way to extend their adventure indefinitely.
The common yet generic question of “How do I become a Digital Nomad?”, often stems deeper down to financial considerations, such as “How do I sustain my adventures financially?”, “What skills can I learn to make it work?”.
Every digital nomad does it differently based on their lifestyle and you can hear some of their stories and lifestyle/business tips here.
Digital Nomads and Remote Work
Digital Nomadism itself is not an occupation. It is simply a lifestyle made possible by some level of geographical or temporal flexibility at work. This level of flexibility can vary from nomad to nomad, depending on what they do.
Some can have total autonomy, while others might have to follow certain working hours. There are nomads who limit themselves to specific locations to fulfill time zone or job requirements. There are also others who are moving regularly as part of their business/career.
Since it is a lifestyle, there is no one size that fits all. Only what suits you best, depending on your living needs, life goals, traveling preferences, career goals, etc.
Captivating images working by the beach or pool paint an idealistic image of the lifestyle. But, make no mistake! A sustainable nomad lifestyle is built upon practical business/career decisions and constant hustle.
Remote work can generally be achieved through three options:
- Get employed by a company that allows employees to work remotely
- Become a freelancer in a service that is possible to deliver remotely
- Run your own business that operates online
Having met a fair share of digital nomads, these are some of the common businesses or remote jobs that I’ve seen digital nomads engage in. These allow them to support themselves while also having a good level of flexibility.
The good news is that most of the skills needed to take up these popular jobs for digital nomads can be learnt through online materials.
Freelancing/Jobs for Digital Nomads
If you are considering freelancing, here is an article on things to know for freelancing beginners.
The IT industry is one of the areas that are most receptive to remote working culture. Companies see the cost savings in not having to run large physical spaces while also opening them up to a greater pool of talents worldwide. Technology is also a core enabler in making remote work possible and easier in today’s world. It is not surprising that a good bunch of digital nomads are developers.
I know many programmers are also used to working weird hours, coding late into the night when they get “into the zone”. They can be freelancing or working for a company that allows them to work from anywhere or anytime. There is also a high market demand for many IT skills, such as cloud computing, blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence in recent years.
By planning ahead, nomadic coders can code locally without having to have internet connectivity all the time. It creates more flexibility in location selection.
You can also use travel VPN to hook up to necessary resources while on the road.
With the world getting more engaged in the digital space, this area will continue to have demand in the foreseeable future.
Some key digital marketing areas will include Social Media Management, Search Engine Optimization, and Search Engine Marketing.
Management tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout, etc are often used to set up automated execution of planned strategies, which means more time flexibility. If you can generate Return on Investment with marketing spendings, you can be sure clients will come your way.
Some excellent and free resources to get started on learning digital marketing includes:
The world is a visual place; aesthetically attractive design is always appreciated in print and digital space. Graphic Design spans a broad scope, and there will always be demand for it.
A good place to start will be to get familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe is the most dominant player in the graphics creation tool space. There are also many new tools in the industry, such as Sketch, Affinity, Invision, Figma.
One of the downsides is the regular need for fast internet bandwidth when working with large graphic files. Plan ahead to avoid working with slow internet connectivity. This can be a limiting factor in your selection of travel locations or activities.
For just learning the knicks and knacks of these design tools, Udemy is a good and cheap way to start digging into it. Skillshare is another affordable platform with a bunch of courses. Adobe also has their own tutorial series.
Online language learning has grown in popularity in recent years, especially since COVID-19 started. With so many languages is the world, this is one of the most popular jobs for digital nomads.
The improvement of video conferencing technology and internet infrastructure has paved the way for online learning.
For students preferring teachers from native speaking countries, online learning also provides a channel to bridge that geographical distance.
English is evidently in demand, but the platforms require certain certifications like the CELTA or TEFL most of the time. Some platforms also have nationality requirements, preferring teachers from native speaking countries.
English is not the only choice! If you happen to have the advantage of knowing other languages, you might also do well in that space. You need a stable internet connection with high uptime, that is also fast enough for streaming.
The straightforward title says it all. Virtual assistants are remote workers that help with a range of administrative and data organizational work. The idea is that clients already expect a Virtual Assistant to be working remotely, so you have flexibility in choosing your place of work.
The job scope of virtual assistants today has spread wide and far; some even touch the realm of social media management or writing at times, depending on their clients’ needs.
Market demands are diverse and varying, but if you have a knack at organizing information and doing various administrative tasks, this can be a comfortable area to start. It is one of the jobs for digital nomads that is easy to start.
If you are good with the pen (or keyboard in this digital world), then writing might be where you can start! I find that seeing the world increases your perspective, and can trigger thought-provoking ideas.
Content writing is applicable almost everywhere, and not only in mainstream publishing mediums where content takes the central role.
There is also a lucrative careers in writing for businesses. These include copywriting of sales and marketing materials and writing SEO-friendly articles.
An advantage of writing is that you don’t always need very fast internet speed. You can plan and structure the story even in more remote parts of the world. It does, however, demand much greater focus and an uninterrupted me-time to collate the thoughts.
Here is a paid resource from successful freelance writer Alexandra Fasulo, who started on Fiverr and has made over a million dollars. Hear more on our podcast interview here. It involves tons of hard work but definitely shows freelancing is a viable remote career path.
Freelancing and Job Seeking Platforms
So, where can you start finding projects, clients, or employers? Here are some job seeking and freelancing platforms that can get you started. You can also build up your network of contacts and start spreading by word of mouth.
General Freelancing Platforms:
Job Type Specific:
Job Seeking Platforms:
I am collating an extended list of websites that is too long to list here. If you like to get access, just drop your email below.
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Online trading is another popular option for those who have the appetite to tide the market’s highs and lows. In contrast to mid-long term investments, day traders look to get in and out of the market within the day or in a much shorter term.
Trading gives you a lot of freedom because you don’t have a client to satisfy. If you want to take the day off, it is totally up to you. However, when you do work, you might need to match your schedule with the opening hours of the markets you choose to dabble in.
It is crucial to acquire the necessary knowledge and temperament in doing online trading, such as pattern and data analysis. These skills do take practice and time to hone. While it is increasingly easy to open a brokerage account, it is essential not to go into it with a gambling mindset.
Dropshipping has grown in popularity with its low startup cost model. However, it has also garnered some negative reputation, partly due to self-proclaimed gurus selling dreams of overnight successes.
Without going into that deep hole, the dropshipping model is indeed logical and suitable for digital nomads.
A simple way to see this is like a typical reseller e-commerce business, but with the product manufacturers handling the logistics of product fulfillment direct to end consumers.
Without handling the shipping or storage of goods, this gives you geographical freedom to run the business from anywhere. However, not having control over the supply chain comes with its fair share of challenges.
A practical tip is to avoid getting sucked in by claims of easy or overnight successes. Treat it with the same commitment and difficulty of building an e-commerce business or brand, and you will at least be starting with the right mindset for success.
Blogging in itself is a huge industry where there are multiple ways to generate revenue. These include ad placements, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, sponsored reviews, etc.
Simply put, if you can build a blog with a significant readership, you can monetize it through various creative means.
Travel blogging is one of the most popular themes in the digital nomad space because it ties in with the whole nature of a nomad. It also portrays the more glamorous side of the lifestyle as everyone usually sees the fun but not the hustle.
This is also a very competitive space since barriers to entry are low. While there are many travel blogs, there are very few successful ones. Building a successful blog business today is more business than simply passion, demanding a combination of skills mentioned above.
Sell your own Digital Products
Online courses and ebooks are popular choices in this area.
Consumption of digital content is increasingly growing and it is not surprising that e-learning and knowledge consumption has also gone online.
Technologies and platforms these days have made it easy for one to publish their content.
One massive advantage of these products is their potential to become a passive income stream; a financial goal for most digital nomads, if not everyone.
Digital products just need to be created once; and when paired with the right marketing/sales funnel, they can generate revenue continuously without much further intervention.
As with many other options, you can start selling from your website, or it can be through other platforms that generally works on a revenue-sharing model. For courses, this can be Udemy, teachable, while for ebooks, there is Amazon, Lulu, Payhip, blurb, etc.
Remember that digital products don’t just mean courses and ebooks, there are also…
- Photographers licensing photos and selling presets,
- Graphic designers selling design templates,
- Videographers selling stock videos…,
so anything is possible as long as it is digital and has a demand! Get creative!
Get Thinking And Get Moving
While these are common businesses/jobs for digital nomads, they serve more as a starting point for exploration rather than a strict guide.
The list is non-exhaustive; The goal is to have a sustainable income source without being permanently grounded to a specific location.
You will find that even among nomads in similar industries, the method of operations and goals can differ, depending on the lifestyle each individual pursues.
Start looking into what you are interested in and see how you can make it location independent! The world is huge, and opportunities are aplenty; you just need to find what suits you.
It is important to remember that a sustainable income is not the only thing to consider when transiting to a remote lifestyle. Here are other tips to becoming a digital nomad.
Once you are ready to get started on your adventure, consider these popular digital nomad hubs around the world. Don’t forget to check out a list of platforms and resources that will help your nomadic adventure!