So you’re itching to become a digital nomad?
You’ve trawled the picture perfect Instagram feeds, you’ve gawped at the images of people working from the beach. You want a piece of the pie, right?
Well my first bit of advice is this..
Go ahead and do it!
I will highlight the good and bad of being a digital nomad below but first and foremost, if you really want something, work hard and make it happen.
The single biggest mistake you can make is dreaming about it, putting it off, and not actually working towards becoming where you want to be.
I firmly believe everyone reading this will have some skills that could ultimately allow them to work nomadically.
Just being able to type and work with a computer could be enough to work remotely as a freelancer. Although having other skills or knowledge sets will give you an even bigger platform to start from.
If at all possible, make sure you work within an industry or niche you have a real interest or passion in.
No one wants to resent the work they do – and doing it in exciting locations only makes you dread it even more!
Before I give you a few ways to become a digital nomad, let me burst the bubble a little bit...
The pictures of us all sitting on beaches or calmly gazing across lush vistas are a lie…
(Hence the satirical header image)
If we did that we would end up with sand in every usb port available, and we would be far too hot and distracted to work productively.
Occasionally we will work somewhere beautiful but the truth is you are more likely to find us in quiet bars, coffee shops, libraries and sometimes co-working spaces.
The ideal place often needs the right temperature, privacy, a power outlet and the holy grail – a decent wifi connection.
Although sometimes it is nice to work at a postcard-worthy location if we can get away with it.
To become a digital nomad – especially setting up your own business – requires hard work, patience, discipline and motivation.
If the only reason you want to be a digital nomad is so you can travel the world, then maybe saving up for a gap year as a backpacker will be more rewarding.
It will be far less stress and will allow you to spend your precious time soaking in all the world has to offer.
If you’re still eager, here are some great ways to get into the world of being a digital nomad.
Turn your current job into remote work.
Imagine becoming a digital nomad without needing to leave your job?
If you work on a laptop all day in your current job, it might be possible to work remotely for that company.
Don’t be scared of putting in a formal written request to your employer highlighting the advantages of you working from home.
It will be best not to tell them you plan to travel the world, just tell them you would like to talk about the possibility of working from home.
Tell them you have a laptop, desk, office, phoneline at home, and maybe request remote access to their servers if that’s a necessity.
Your company may find financial advantages too, for example, they could offer you the same work on a freelance basis and not pay for your equipment, lunch and holiday days.
Talking about freelancing, if you are working from home it gives you the opportunity to develop your skills by offering freelance work to other clients. One day, you may have enough clients to leave your main job and live the life of a digital nomad.
Become a freelancer.
If you don’t work in a job that could translate into digital freelance work, then take it up in your free time as a hobby.
Have you always fancied yourself as a logo designer? A content writer? A blogger? A photographer? A yoga teacher?
Start learning and honing your skills until you feel comfortable enough to find clients.
This is the way a lot of people become digital nomads but it takes time and a lot of effort.
This can be an exciting and varied career, but the money isn’t a guarantee. Sometimes the work just isn’t there and you can have a really quiet period.
Be wise with your money and always have enough for a plane ticket home, I’ve met people before that have ended up on the streets with nothing.
One guy in particular called Jose had all his gear stolen and had zero money to pick himself back up, so a word to the wise, GET INSURANCE ON YOUR EQUIPMENT.
Get a job abroad.
If your goal is to quickly up sticks and start working abroad, this is a great option – and can lead to some great location free opportunities.
You could get a working visa in places like Australia or Canada and find jobs that help build your freelance skills.
If you have a confident and social personality you could find bar or hostel work.
When I worked briefly on the hostel and bar crawl circuit in Barcelona 2013, I met plenty of people who funded their stay in ways I never thought about before.
Some hostels provide you with a room and food instead of actually paying you, every hostel is different but often people need other income streams like bar work to make ends meet.
I met a few people who offered private English lessons. They would advertise in coffee shops and find clients who wanted to brush up their English.
They didn’t have to speak the clients native tongue, just have a general coversation over a coffee and help them with sentence structure every now and then.
One guy told me he saw each client once a week and it felt like having a coffee and a catch up with friends. He loved it and offered the same service wherever he was in the world.
These types of work normally require you to stay longer in each place but it gives you the opportunity to really feel the city as a local, and you can always work on your freelance or online business as you go along.
Find a remote job online.
In this new computer age the amount of online jobs is increasing, rapidly.
More and more businesses are allowing their staff to work remotely and finding freelancers to fulfill jobs.
Find a job that you will enjoy or will teach you the skills necessary for you to break away into freelance one day.
Set up an online business.
This is the way I did it and the way some of the most successful digital nomads do it.
It’s also the hardest if you’re just starting out.
Whether you want to build your own e-commerce empire, a website offering your skills and services, or a blog with a revenue stream, it will take a lot of work.
If you don’t have the knowledge to build or design your own website, you might want to look at outsourcing it, and that can cost thousands.
Someone to build the website, someone to design your logo, products and social media images. Someone to SEO your website and someone to market it properly.
It costs a lot and you will need some capital to start with!
If you already have the skills to do some or all of them things yourself then congratulations, you’re halfway there!
If you are starting from the very bottom with little to no income or experience, you might have to go down the toughest of all routes – learning how to build, design and market your own website.
This is the route I took.
I did it all myself with the only money I spent at the start being on a domain, and hosting for a year at a cost of about £4 ($5) per month. It was hard, and a long journey filled with mistakes, but it’s been 100% worth it.
My first website (RIP) was a shambles, it was awful, but it was progress. Fast forward a few years and my business Perfecto Print UK is doing well. I like that I know every detail of how my business is run and if there are any problems, I can fix it myself.
This way can take years to get right. It WILL cause you to question your life choices, but ultimately, it can be the most rewarding.
There are a huge amount of opportunites out there to start working remotely so choose your direction and follow it through to the end. If you have any questions get in touch on my social streams.
However you do it, keep me updated with your progress in the comments below and good luck!
The Wanderlost Biker