While the term might be new, there has never been a better time to become a digital nomad. Here are some tips on how to get started and be successful in your new life as a wayfarer in our modern digital world.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘digital nomad’ before. Everywhere you log in online nowadays, numerous ads and promotions pitch to you different digital nomad programs and opportunities. This trend has been especially prominent during the Coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns have seen many people turn to online platforms for jobs that allow them to work remotely.
Picture a lifestyle where you get to see the world and work at the same time! While it seems too good to be true, such is the life of a digital nomad. Despite past speculations that this was an unrealistic lifestyle choice, today many are actually able to pull it off. Living a version of life that their parents probably couldn’t imagine.
Those who have embarked on this journey describe the idea as freedom. They have the freedom to choose their travel destination knowing they can get their work done anywhere and anytime. Truly a life of freedom that many are seeking.
But how does one break free from the monotony of the desk job or corporate rat race? Below is our guide on how to get started as a digital nomad.
Ditch the 9-5 and Work as a Freelancer
Flexibility is the main reason why freelancing is ideal for a digital nomad’s lifestyle. Freelancers are their own bosses and don’t need to hold fixed hours or ask for the bosses approval for vacation requests. If you have the skills and the self-discipline, becoming self-employed or freelancing can be an ideal place to start your life as a digital nomad.
Only through the internet’s incredible innovation can being a digital nomad even become a possibility. The internet has changed the way we communicate and work. The amount of information and resources available to a new freelancer is astounding. Sites like Upwork, Fiver, Flex jobs, Indeed, and many others mean even that it’s easier than ever to get started as your own boss. These platforms offer remote tasks and jobs for almost any set of skills. While some tasks are simple like assisting in online surveys, others require more in-depth skill sets., These can range from being a virtual assistant to content writing to tutoring. Set up profiles on a few platforms to get started quickly. Be sure to include any skills you may think are relevant. Millions of tasks are posted every day and you never know what will be needed at any given moment.
Find Your Niche and Develop Yourself to Succeed
As a freelancer, it’s important to remember that your greatest asset is yourself. Developing your skillset over time will help you improve as a freelancer and, of course, earn more. At first, you may take a number of tasks across many different areas. As you develop yourself, find a niche and seek to become more proficient in it. You’ll find that starting out rates may be lower but as you develop you’ll see that change as well.
The right skills give you a reasonable income which makes life on the road both affordable and enjoyable. Once you have developed a business model for your freelancing you can move on to find reliable clients. With a steady income stream, you can truly become the digital nomad you wish to be. If you’re not sure which direction to go in your development, consider skills such as copy/content writing, web design/development, and even blogging. Some of these skills are easy to develop and probably require no college education. However, some skills like programming, require rigorous training and sometimes proof of certification to win jobs.
Once you have a niche to specialise in, you’ll need to create a digital portfolio that showcases your skills and experience. For example, if you’re a web developer, you can start a website that showcases your skillset. A good portfolio can help secure a consistent flow of work.
Be Realistic in Your Planning
Before you get too excited about golden beaches and exotic islands, it is important to figure out a practical plan that strikes a balance between work and pleasure. If you plan to travel to foreign countries while working online, it’s essential first to establish work consistency and have a work schedule that you follow, regardless of your location.
Balance is crucial for a digital nomad. If you’re spending the week in the Bahamas, there’s no point in being in the hotel all day on your laptop. Conversely, it would be irresponsible to spend your week indulging in pleasure and neglect your clients. Balancing the trip and your work is not easy but, with self-discipline, certainly possible.
A smart digital nomad has a plan. One that caters to their clients, and their wanderlust. Part of planning is organising all your paperwork so all the little things don’t become big headaches. Make a plan that includes details like paying taxes abroad and travel-friendly bank accounts. Make sure to arrange reliable ways to be paid for your work and keep as much of it as you can while still paying taxes to the proper authorities.
Know Your Limits
Transitioning from a sedentary localised lifestyle to a digital nomad comes with uncertainties. Before hopping on a plane, plan your trip carefully to avoid unnecessary expenses.. Think about accommodation, transportation, travel insurance and internet connectivity.
Depending on your travel plans it may no longer make sense to have a permanent home or flat. It may not make sense to pay rent on a flat while also accommodation at your travel destination. You may even consider posting your current flat on a site like Airbnb to earn another source of income while away.
When you’re travelling abroad it is important to know the options you have for accommodation. While the world is full of luxury hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals, as a digital nomad your goal is to stay within budget. Usually, a less expensive option in your accommodation will mean more budget for other things. This idea extends to getting to your destination as well. As a digital nomad, your luggage represents a large chunk of your material things. To ensure that it arrives at your intended destination intact is all the more important to a digital nomad. Consider a Luggage Delivery Company to take the hassle out of your frequent air travel. The best luggage delivery services for digital nomads offer tracking services and door-to-door delivery.
Finally, it is paramount to plan for any possible medical expenses you might have. Travel insurance is essential for a digital nomad. There’s no way to know what you will need in the future so a plan with broad coverage is important. Medical expenses can be incredibly large so be sure to plan insurance for each destination carefully.
Network with other digital nomads
There are many growing communities of digital nomads online. Joining one of these communities should be a high priority for anyone considering becoming a digital nomad. No need to reinvent the wheel when a community forum can give you access to advise and suggestions from all over the globe. You can ask questions and find useful tips from those who have already been where you are.
If you’re unsure about taking the leap, a good forum can help alleviate this. Experienced digital nomads will be happy to offer advice and tips to make your transition easier. Sometimes just having a friend in the community is enough to help be more confident in your decisions.
It may take time to accumulate resources to secure a digital nomad lifestyle and it isn’t the path for everyone. However, for those with the right mix of skills, courage, and wanderlust it can be an incredibly rewarding way of life.