How to become a digital nomad

OFFice to travel - How to become a digital nomad

 

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.

  1. 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 Workweekthe 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.

 

  1. 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.

[…]

How to find clients as a freelancer

Your decision is made: you want to become a freelancer, so I am not going to give reasons to follow this path or not, I will not show you how to write a compelling email, nor will I give you different utopic ideas on how to become rich as a freelancer. I’ll just share with you my top 3 ways to find clients after trying lots of ways and coming down to this short list.

Lately I heard this question more often than I used to. Maybe more and more people want to become freelancers or maybe they are just curious. Whatever the reason, it made me decide to share my experience with the ones who need advices and directions on how to find clients when you choose the rocky road.

dreamstime_s_8082220

Yes, it’s hard(er) to find work when you are a freelancer. Being used to having all the clients brought to you by your employer, now you are facing the harsh reality of being on your own. It’s not that you aren’t good at what you do; you might be the best, but since nobody knows about you, it’s not easy to prove it.

When I became a freelancer I read a lot of articles on this subject and some of them helped while others… were there just to make the article look bigger, I guess. So, I won’t bore you with long lists. Instead, let’s see what have worked for me so far.

1. Recommendations
I am not a big fan of the saying “good things come to those who wait”. I think it’s a big mistake. Good things will come to you only if you do something about it; you take action and make things happen. In this particular case, it’s a mix of the two. Most of my clients came through recommendations – ex-colleagues who knew my work, friends, ex-collaborators and later on, ex-clients (the project based ones).

I know; you’ll say that people will get to know your work later on, but what do you do in your first week as a freelancer, cause you have no background. True and false at the same time. You have no experience as a freelancer, but you definitely had a job before, had collaborators and people who know what you are capable of. So, in the first days, you could just concentrate on calling people you know and drop the bomb: I’m a freelancer now, I have decided to take it on my own, I am confident and I am open to new contracts. In case you need my services, you know where to find me. Simple as that.

I have to admit that every time someone comes to me and says that X recommended me, I have an overwhelming feeling; it’s more than just the money that will come and it’s beyond the pleasure and excitement of working on a new project (I have that thrill all the time); it’s the recognition that I made a client happy and he’s willing to recommend my work to his friends, colleagues or business partners. It’s a big thing and I totally understand it and appreciate it.

[…]