If you’ve ever wondered how to become a digital nomad I’m here to tell you that it’s not as easy as you might think, but it’s a straightforward process that’s not any harder than becoming anything else.
For many people becoming a digital nomad is a dream but if you start small and take steps in the right direction you’re only setting yourself up for success.
In this post I’m going to go over what a digital nomad is, how to earn money while travelling abroad and the most effective ways to start your own location independent business.
Rather than jumping right in to this lifestyle I recommend taking some time to learn all you can about what it takes to become a digital nomad.
If you’re looking to sip margaritas on an exotic beach and spend 1 or 2 hours working per week while earning a passive income then you’re in the wrong place.
If you’re not willing to work 60-80 hours per week to start your business then this lifestyle isn’t for you.
I’m not trying to deter you from trying but it’s a lot easier to get a standard job and enjoy a few weeks of vacation per year rather than building your own online, location independent business from the ground up.
Not only will you have to be willing to spend a lot of time working but you’ll need to learn to accept the fact that as a digital nomad you’ll be faced with new challenges every single day, and to succeed you’ll need to overcome these challenges or adapt.
Whether you’re starting from scratch and wondering how to start a travel blog or you’re already experiencing some success and you want to automate your website there is always something new on the horizon that you’ll need to conquer.
As I mentioned earlier you’ll need to set aside some time from traveling to get your online business, travel blog or location independent skill-set off the ground.
Personally, I don’t know anyone who was able to become a successful digital nomad while travelling full-time, but once you start learning the ropes and everything begins to fall into place you’ll be able to enjoy yourself abroad without the restraints and responsibilities of a traditional, 9-5 lifestyle.
What is a Digital Nomad?
At this point you might be asking yourself “what is a digital nomad anyways?”. Well, there are many different types of digital nomads so it’s hard to give a specific or direct definition.
There is one thing that each of them have in common and it’s the fact that the majority of digital nomads spend most of their time in different locations while using the Internet to build their online businesses and earn a living.
One of the main goals that many digital nomads have is to become location independent.
This means not having a fixed home address and living abroad for multiple months at a time.
Some of the most popular tech hubs in the world including New York City, San Francisco, London and Tokyo are quite expensive to live in and the costs associated with paying for rent and traveling around in these cities can really add up.
That’s why people interested in the digital nomad lifestyle prefer to live in inexpensive places like Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and certain areas in South America.
Many of these underdeveloped areas will have all the same amenities you’ll find in the more expensive areas but the low-cost of living means that digital nomads can spend more money growing their business and expanding their skill-set rather than spending it on high rent and higher costs.
What are Some Good Skills to Have?
There really aren’t any special or unique skills that you need to work online or make a living through the Internet.
As long as you how to use the computer and can use Google to troubleshoot any tech issues or travel issues then you’re already well underway towards becoming successful with your transition into digital nomadism.
Whether you want to build your own website, grow a business or find freelance jobs online there are plenty of opportunities using the Internet that will be provided to you as long as you put in the work and do the research.
The Benefits of Location Independence and Working Online
Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few benefits to becoming a digital nomad.
It’s a dream for a lot of people to earn money online and live in an exotic location but if you’re willing to work hard it’s definitely achievable.
Being Able to Take Advantage of Geo Arbitrage
Getting any business off the ground is a lot easier if where you’re living and working is an inexpensive and affordable place.
Geo arbitrage is where you take advantage of low prices in a lesser developed country while living on a higher, Western-appropriate income. For example, if you have a few thousand dollars of savings and you want to quit your job to work online your money will go further if you move somewhere like Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe than it would in Toronto or New York City.
Rent is much cheaper, the prices of goods are much lower and there are less things to worry about when you are living in a new country on your own and trying to grow your business online by taking advantage of geo arbitrage. In many of these nomad-friendly cities you can take advantage of a very high quality of life for less than $1000 per month.
Not Being Tied Down to One Location
One of my favorite things about being a digital nomad is that I’m able to up and move whenever I feel like it. If you’ve always wanted to travel or you find yourself getting bored when you are in one place for too long then being location independent gives you a lot more options when it comes to where you can go and when.
If there’s a certain event you want to check out in a different city or you want to spend the holidays somewhere special it’s always up to you to decide where you want to go and as long as you are earning enough online to support you abroad then there’s nothing stopping you from going wherever you want.
The Chance to Try Something New
In a typical job you’re only going to be able to participate in so many different things that fall under the scope of your employment.
As a digital nomad you don’t have to ever decide on one thing that you want to do for the rest of your life. There are so many different avenues of online earning and different methods to try out that you can dabble in everything or change your mind and try something new whenever you feel like it.
This is the case for me and not only do I have this website but I also create YouTube videos, write e-books, offer travel consulting services and every day try to learn something new that will benefit me in the future.
For many people these might sound like hobbies but I’m always looking for the best way to monetize these passions of mine while being able to provide value to the people that I’m interacting with.
Remember, It’s Not Always Fun and Games
It definitely sounds awesome to be able to travel around the world and live in all the cool places you want but inevitably something always goes wrong.
Whether it’s your computer breaking, technical issues with your website or a personal issue from back home, reality always comes knocking and reminds you of your place in the world.
Sometimes you will have to work all night while your friends are out having fun or you’ll have to spend days trying to troubleshoot a problem on your own but in the end, I believe, it’s all worth it.
Here are 5 different areas of online earning you can pursue in order to achieve your goal of becoming a digital nomad.
If you don’t currently have any skills relating to these areas, don’t worry!
You can definitely teach yourself the basics of any one of these and with enough practice you’ll end up becoming an expert!
Work as a Remote Employee
Before quitting your job and heading out to explore the world it’s a good idea to lay a financial foundation to help keep you afloat.
Tim Ferris mentions this in his popular book, the 4-Hour Work Week, and he goes on to say that rather than quitting your job right away you should speak to your employer and see if you can do your job from home.
Start with small steps, like an afternoon here or a full-day there, and if you’re successful with working from home and working remotely a few days at a time you’ll eventually be able to segue that into full-time remote work.
Many jobs, especially computer based jobs, don’t really require you to sit in an office all day, it’s more for keeping up appearances. If you’re a good employee and friendly with your boss I suggest pitching this idea to him/her and see how they react.
This is a good idea if you don’t have any savings or you’re worried about taking the leap into digital nomadism entirely. This way you can continue to work and earn money but slowly gain the freedom to work from home and follow your other goals, whether you want to travel or just keep out of the office.
If you have a skill-set like programming, development, or anything in IT you can always find remote positions online that pay quite well. You’ll have to apply with a portfolio, a qualified resume and you’ll likely have a Skype interview but once you get the job you’ll be able to work remotely and travel around while still earning a relatively stable income.
Become a Freelancer
Of all the methods listed here becoming a freelancer is one of the easiest ways of becoming a digital nomad and it has the least barriers of entry.
If your employer won’t let you work remotely than your next best bet is to use the skills you already have and apply them to becoming a freelancer. It’s a good idea to determine what you’re good at and what your skills are in order to find something that will be profitable for you.
You might be thinking that you don’t have any skills that you can apply towards becoming a freelancer but everyone has something they’re good at that other people can benefit from.
For example, if you’re good at writing you could sell your writing services as a freelance writer to blogs, websites, newspapers and the countless other places online that are paying writers for their content. If you’re good at programming you could easily find businesses and individuals looking for various apps and other programming related help.
Even if you’re not good with computers there are still options for freelancing. You could offer your expertise as a consultant for online businesses or you could teach people how to become better at whatever skill they’re looking to improve.
For many digital nomads freelancing is the first step they take towards gaining their location and financial independence. By taking advantage of the skill-set that you’ve already developed you can definitely help others who are looking for more information regarding a specific skill and turn your knowledge and expertise into a profitable business venture.
Some of the best websites for freelance jobs include:
Start a Website or Blog
The reason I would say that this is the method with the highest barriers of entry is because there are so many different aspects of starting a website or blog that it’s hard to lay out just one foundation that results in success.
Unlike freelance writing or creating a tangible product, where there are only a few different aspects of running that specific business, blogging and starting your website requires technical skill and large amounts of hard work.
You have to learn about hosting, search engine optimization, marketing, advertising, social media, building relationships and so many other things that it’s impossible to list them all here.
Sure, anybody can sign up on WordPress and get a website online in just a few minutes but driving traffic, creating valuable content and monetizing your readers is extremely difficult.
However, managing and building your own website will give you the ability to become location independent and once you have learned the skills required you can apply them to future websites and increase your earnings even further.
If you’re not planning on starting a website I suggest you reconsider.
You don’t have to start one with profit in mind but it’s still a great place to track your success with other methods and endeavors as well as use it to connect with fellow digital nomads and travelers.
Even if it only acts as an online diary it’s never a bad idea to have your own website.
You could eventually turn it into a portfolio or use it to drive traffic to one of your products – the options you have with your own website are limitless.
Create or Design Something Tangible
Every day people buy countless products that help them to solve any problems they have in their lives.
There are so many different areas where people are looking for more information or a product that can help them out with a problem they’re currently experiencing.
For example, if you’re wondering how to save money you’re going to buy a book that helps you with budgeting and explains the best ways to manage your finances.
If you’re wondering about how to develop iPhone apps you’re going to take a course on Udemy or another online learning site.
Everybody is interested in learning more about something or getting help with an issue they have and that means there’s always a market if you’re able to provide a relevant and high-value product to help them.
As I just mentioned earlier you could design an online learning course based on anything you have previous knowledge in, you could write an ebook and sell it on Amazon, or you could even create a product that will directly solve someones problem.
Whatever aspect of creating or designing something tangible you’re interested in you need to focus on making sure that it provides value and will truly help.
Anything scammy or low value isn’t doing you or anybody else any favors and taking shortcuts won’t help you in the long run.
I hope I have covered some of the main points when it comes to how to become a digital nomad.
I want to reiterate that this lifestyle is possible for everybody and it is endlessly rewarding if financial and location independence is what you’re looking for.
If you’re tired of working for somebody else, you feel stuck at your job or you want the ability to travel while making a living then I recommend you start taking the steps necessary that will bring you closer to what it is you want in life.
If your goal is to become digital nomad and create an online business you need to take action immediately.
The sooner you start the sooner you will be able to reach your goals and if you try hard enough and never give up then you are pretty much guaranteed success.
It has never been easier to live a nomadic lifestyle and the longer you wait the harder you’re making it for yourself so start planning for your future, setting goals and before you know it you’ll be working online and enjoying that blissful location independence and nomadic way of life.