Becoming a digital nomad may be a dream for many and unfortunately, for some will remain just that. But if you are reading this article, you probably already have an idea about what this means and would like to know where to start. I have to tell it won’t be easy, but it might be much easier than you expect. Let’s see where you should start, what you should do to earn money while traveling and even build a location independent business.
Before you commit to this road, read as much as you can about the nomad lifestyle, ask people who are already doing it, understand what are the advantages and disadvantages and think if this style of living is for you. Join communities of digital nomads, discover their stories and learn directly from them – Digital Nomads Academy is one I definitely recommend. If you want to travel the world, you can do that in extended holidays or in a sabbatical year. Or you could pick a place you love and look for a steady job there – you can enjoy the beach from Costa Rica when you work in a resort too. And then just move around and find a similar job in Thailand or Bali, for example. You need to figure out what will make you happy in the end. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with working and traveling, dealing with difficult situations, facing the lack of WI-FI and love to slow travel, you are in for the ride.
The problem most people have is related to the insufficient budget while traveling and search places with low cost of living. I believe there is no right answer in earning money and I think that each and every one of us has at least a set of skills that will help becoming a digital nomad. Before we go any further, you also need to know that this will take time. You need to research, choose your path, make plans and then go pursue them.
Choose your path
I filtered and set for you 4 different situations that will hopefully make this decision easier for you. These are presented in the order of their difficulty range.
- I am leaving but I am taking you with me – the remote employee
Are you still employed and like your job, but would love to travel the world at the same time? If you are sure the sabbatical is not for you, try negotiating with your employer to work remotely (at least for a while). I highly recommend (re)reading The 4-Hour Workweek – the chapters where Tim Ferriss explains step by step what you should do to convince your boss that you can do an amazing job by working remotely.
- Freelancer or consultant with the skills you already possess
If the ship above has sailed and even though you love your job they won’t let you do this (or maybe you love what your work involves, but the employee or the schedule was awful), it’s clearly you have to stick to what you are really good at and find a way to turn it into a profitable business. Think in what way could your skills translate into location independence.
Maybe you work in finances and could become a consultant for small businesses, or you are a yoga teacher and could hold yoga classes on the beach or in association with a beach hotel. The solutions are endless, you just have to be open-minded and explore your options. This is probably the most common situation for digital nomads, at least in the beginning – they rely on the skills they already have and emphasize their knowledge. This is also my situation. And if you don’t know where to start from, here are some methods to find clients as a freelancer that helped worked for me. You can also try finding gigs on Up Work (formerly Odesk), Freelancer or any other niche platforms.
- Freelancer on a new topic
There is the third situation when you hate your job or just want to switch to something else. And here’s a great exercise for you:
1. Make a list of things you love to do
2. Make a list of things you are good at
3. Make a list of things people would pay you for
Now check them all and see if there’s any result on all the lists, because that should be your answer. If it’s not, then pick the things you love doing and translate them in a product or service that people would pay for.
For example, if you hate working on your laptop but love to workout, why not study a bit more about this, pick a niche (businesswomen who only have 20 minutes a day to work out) and create a special program for them: be a fitness coach, create YouTube videos weekly, write an e-book and have become an affiliate marketer for the products you love.
Or maybe you only love to meet people and hangout with them. You could choose a niche, meet people and connect them with others on different projects, on a commission. You can also emphasize your skills and knowledge by taking some e-courses, attending workshops or becoming a “digital intern”. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that it might take some time, so don’t expect to quit your job today and have your first client tomorrow. Create a plan and stick to it. You can find more helpful resources on Webworktravel.
- Become an entrepreneur
If you think that becoming a freelance is just switching from having one boss to more (or if you have been dreaming for a while to have your own business), this could be the thing for you. Either you want to have an online shop, develop a new product or create a start-up (or more), design a compelling plan and make it work. You can check out Natalie’s website, Suitcase Entrepreneur, Nomad Together, Tropical MBA or Consulting Fuse podcasts for more tips on growing and running a business on the road.
Take the extra step
No matter the path you choose, people you connect with are one of the most important elements to contribute to your success.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@ancamuraru” hidden_hashtags=”#DigitalNomads”]Remember you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.[/tweetthis]
Thus, you should be surrounded by people who share your views, encourage you and support your dream, even though you are only virtually connected. This doesn’t mean that your family and friends don’t want what’s best for you. But if you are like me, you might have wonderful people around you who unfortunately have other opinions and can’t totally understand your choices.
Your progress is even faster when you spend time with people who’ve already been where you are now and reached success. They can give you tips and even mentor you to set and reach your goals.
If you are lost, you are not the only one. You can join any of the available membership programs, but I totally recommend Digital Nomads Academy where more than 650 nomads at different stages of their journey share knowledge and resources. I’ve been a member since spring 2015 and enjoyed every moment I spent with the community. Beyond the huge resources base that Cody McKibben successfully put together, there’s a forum and a Facebook group where we discuss daily. But probably the most important thing for me is the mastermind weekly call. Here I met a bunch of people who support me and keep me accountable every week while helping me reach my goals. I never met these people face to face but I feel like they are my friends.
So if you want to be part of this community, I am waiting for you on the other side to take a step forward. Join Digital Nomads Academy!
These types of events can help you get a glimpse of how this lifestyle suits you. Workations are organized camps for digital nomads who meet, live and work in a house for a definite period of time, while checking out the surroundings and enjoying the life they have chosen. You can join my workation in Transylvania or pick the one you suited for you. Check the Were We Co offers or just Google them and see what’s perfect for you.
If you haven’t joined any groups yet, this is probably the first thing you should do right now. Search for the targeted keywords or just type “digital nomads” and a bunch of groups will pop up. You can find me active on Webworktravel, Digital Nomads Portugal, Digital Nomads in Romania, DNX Global and Digital Nomads Academy (this is available only if you join Digital Nomads Academy)
Events and meetups
When I was at DNX, there weren’t only established digital nomads, but also students and people who wanted to pursue this dream but needed to find out more about the lifestyle from people who were already living it. You can do the same. And you don’t even have to wait for the next big event, but look for online groups in your city that also organize live meetups. These things happen in Berlin, Prague, Barcelona and Bucharest. Why shouldn’t it happen in your city as well?
You see, there’s no perfect way or secret recipe. You just need to find your path, try new things and adapt on the way. You can even break the pattern and figure out something else that suits you better than the ones stated above. If this is what you really want, the worst-case scenario is that you’ll go back home and start looking for a new job – most probably the exact situation you are in at the moment. So what are you waiting for?