Digital nomads are successful because we use technology to maintain first world jobs remotely. We often live in less developed regions and enjoy a life that is cheaper than the location of our employer. This allows us to work less, if we choose, and spend more time doing what we like.
Having a source of income that can be earned from anywhere is the key to becoming a digital nomad. Your choice is to adapt your existing career or start a new profession that can be done remotely. Depending on where you start this can be easy or life-alteringly difficult. The good news is that once you’ve got work figured out, the rest will fall into place without much trouble.
There is no set of guidelines for you to follow. Certain types of jobs are naturally easier to perform remotely. If your job can be done using a laptop and an Internet connection, you’re off to a good start. Webmasters, software developers, designers, business owners, writers, bloggers and Internet entrepreneurs can find plenty of opportunities to sustain their lifestyle on the road. People with more hands-on professions such as mechanics, doctors, teachers or chefs may have to be more creative in order to pay the bills.
Freelancers and Consultants
Refer to our freelancing section for more information.
Adapting an established freelance or consulting business is the easiest way to get started as a digital nomad. You will have to consider your clients and should notify them of changes to your availability and work hours. It is likely you will lose some clients, but this shouldn’t be a big deal if your goal is to sustain a location independent lifestyle. Chances are you’ll want to work less anyway.
Service professionals often have a difficult time adapting their business to a remote workplace. It’s less of a problem if you are experienced with an established client base. If you’re just starting out you may need spend considerable time building a successful business first. Finding clients on the road is tough, and offering a service remotely can be troubling if you don’t have established relationships with your customers.
Set proper expectations with your clients while you are traveling. Communication is essential, especially with service-related businesses. You’ll want to make sure you can stay in contact with your clients, especially when dealing with time zone differences. Do everything you can to make clients comfortable with your new lifestyle.
Telecommuters and Nine-to-Fivers
Refer to our telecommuting section for more information.
Telecommuting jobs are a natural fit for a digital nomad. If you already spend time working from home then you are half way there. You’ll need to figure out how you can continue being successful without ever showing up to the office.
Discussions with your colleagues and employer will help you figure this out. Show that you are organized and have thought through your plans. Demonstrate how you have gained trust by giving examples from your past telecommuting experiences. Be prepared to prove your case. We go into further detail in our Successful Telecommuting article.
If you are a typical nine-to-five employee now, you may consider taking your job on the road. If others who do similar work can telecommute, there’s no reason you can’t. The trick is to convince your employer to allow it.
Proving that you can adapt your job to being done remotely will help convince your employer. It is important that you build trust with your employer over time. Start small by working a few days from home, take longer trial runs, and if all goes well make it permanent. For more information see our article that discusses transitioning your 9 to 5 job.
Business Owners and Entrepreneurs
If you own a business that can be run remotely, you shouldn’t have much difficulty adapting it to a location independent lifestyle. You may need to shrink your business to reduce your workload. You may also consider outsourcing or hiring a virtual assistant. Focus on automating as much as possible.
The effort of adapting your business will mostly be spent dealing with logistics. You’ll want to make your enterprise easy to manage on the road. This means having a plan for banking, legal concerns, accounting etc. Be aware of how becoming nomadic will affect your business. For example, insurance and taxes may change given your new lifestyle.
Increasingly, digital nomads are finding ways to make money through Internet-based entrepreneurial opportunities. Some are travelers-turned-digital nomad such as popular travel bloggers who monetize their website through advertising revenue.
There are many opportunities for tech-savvy individuals to make money online. But these are not get-rich-quick schemes, establishing a consistent source of income requires knowledge, a little luck and a lot of upfront effort. There are many resources available online and in print that can help you discover these opportunities. Those who have done it are becoming increasingly transparent by providing detailed information online that caters to their specific type of business.