Being a digital nomad is still pretty uncommon worldwide and I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been asked: “Hey Alex, how can I become a digital nomad like you?”, and fair enough.
To some, it sounds really crazy that you can do all of your work online and travel at the same time. And, YES, it can be pretty amazing, but it’s also a lot of hard work, even though media and some digital nomads like to romanticize the whole concept.
I don’t usually label myself as a digital nomad, but I’m still working online and living my life as others would refer to a “digital nomad lifestyle”. After living like this for 5 years full-time, I think it’s time that I share my best tips on how to become a digital nomad!
What is a Digital Nomad?
According to Wikipedia: “Digital nomads are individuals that leverage technology to perform their work. It’s generally done in a nomadic manner wherein they work remotely — from home, away from home, while on the road — to accomplish tasks and goals that used to have traditionally taken place in a single stationary workplace. These digital nomads are often online business owners, web designers, graphic designers, software developers, and other types of knowledge workers who can perform work duties irrespective of physical location.”
In Short: Someone who do their work online and travels from place to place (even though some are staying longer than others). Digital nomads are usually able to do their work from wherever and whenever as long as they have a stable Wi-Fi connection.
Pros about being a digital nomad
- The freedom of being your own boss – That’s obviously a big pro to a lot of people as you won’t have someone else telling you what to do. You will be in charge of making the most out of your time and planning your work schedule.
- You will be able to travel the world – Probably the biggest perk of being a digital nomad is the fact that you’re location independent and thus able to travel wherever you want as long as you got the funds and a Wi-Fi connection. Also, some countries have lower costs, so you will even be able to save money at the same time!
- You’ll meet a lot of people – Most long-term travelers will tell you that it’s not about the destination, but rather about the people you meet along the way, and I tend to agree, even though I’m still fascinated of all the beauty Mother Earth has to offer!
Cons of being a digital nomad
- No-one else will do your work – That is unless you pay someone else to work for you, thus enabling you to take a step back and earn money semi-passive.
- Without decent internet you’re in deep water – Luckily most countries do have quite good Wi-Fi connections nowadays, but there are still many places with a poor connection.
- It’s not all about pleasure and having fun – With freedom comes responsibility, and you need to make sure that your income is always higher than your spending. This means that you will not be able to hang out at the beach or go partying every day, you DO need to WORK (most digital nomads I know work more than regular 9-5 hours.)
- Life as a digital nomad can get lonely – Sure, you will meet a lot of people, but your friends and family will likely be home. With that said, the whole community is pretty awesome and you can meet lifelong friends while traveling as long as you avoid rogue people.
Step-by-Step guide to become a digital nomad
This is by no means the only way to become a digital nomad. This is meant to be a point in the right direction and motivational where I want to show you that it doesn’t have to be that hard.
1. Identify your skills and figure out what you want to work with
First, just sit down and think about what you’re main skills areas of today. You might be surprised when you actually think about it, and please don’t underestimate yourself!
Even if you don’t have any particular skills or aren’t a pro at something, you can still learn through YouTube videos, classes or books, or simply by trial and error. I would recommend trying to learn from others though since that will save you lots of time. That’s what I did when I started out, I watched a ton of YouTube videos and read about blogging and social media.
It’s also important to choose 1-3 things that you want to work with. I always recommend people to choose something that they’re passionate about. I mean, if you’re not enjoying it, what’s the point of being a digital nomad in the first place? It won’t be long term if you don’t like it, at least not if you want to enjoy your travels.
But of course, you also need to be smart about your choice. You might not be able to create your dream job right away, and that’s totally fine as long as you’re always working towards your end goal!
2. Learn the skills needed or improve the skills you already have
Set aside as much time as possible to learn the skills you need. And even if you already have experience and the knowledge required, you can still improve and be better!
- Watch YouTube Tutorials
- Look at the top players in your niche
- Read books
- Read helpful articles (you’re already on your way by reading this)
3. Advertise your services and aim to become an authority in your niche
If they can’t see you, you don’t exist, so it’s in your biggest interest to get noticed and let people know about the services you’re offering. Don’t overdo it though, no one likes a spammer. Be strategic and be active on the right forums. If you’re going to work as a web developer, you will want to be active within that community and make yourself a name!
Also, work to become an authority within your niche. You want to be the person that they turn to when they want inspiration or help. If you achieve that you will have no problems finding well-paid jobs.
Spread your services through friends and family and ask for their help to spread it mouth-to-mouth, but don’t forget to register on the various freelancer websites out there! Below you have some of the most common freelancer websites for digital nomads.
General Freelancer sites for all kinds of online jobs:
Digital nomad job listings
4. Be flexible and make sure to collect testimonials from every satisfied client
At the beginning of your digital nomad life, you will most likely have to be flexible with clients. Unless you have clients already from previous jobs or other contacts, then you can be pickier since you’ll already have testimonials.
But if you’re just starting out as a web designer, for example, you can’t expect to land the biggest client right away. You’ll more likely have to accept a lower wage and smaller jobs in the beginning to build your portfolio.
That’s also why it’s so important to get those valuable testimonials whenever you have a satisfied client!
5. Plan for the future and work towards your end goal
Always think long-term. Your future self will thank you a lot, and you’re likely to become more successful by doing so as well. Everyone has an end goal, or at least the majority of people have a dream or vision of what they want to do in their life.
It doesn’t have to be something very big, it can be as simple as being able to have your own house and grow some vegetables and not being dependent on others. It could also be that you aim high career-wise and want to be the best of the best within your niche!
However, no matter what your end goal is, it’s important to follow your dreams and always have that end goal in your mind to motivate and force yourself to stay on the right path.
Examples of jobs that you can have as a digital nomad
These are just 10 quick tips on jobs where you’re able to be location independent. I’ve made another big list with 60 ways to make money while traveling, which you can read here.
- Travel Blogger (Yay, that’s me!)
- Marketing jobs
- Customer Service Agent
- Web developer
- Graphic Designer
- Web designer
- Social Media Influencer
- Tour Guide
- Day trader
Do you have more questions on how to become a digital nomad? Feel free to leave a comment or send an email.