Becoming a digital nomad is a dream for many people. It’s hard not to like the idea of total freedom to live and work wherever in the world takes your fancy. Being your own boss and working whichever hours you choose also has plenty of appeal. The popularity of this way of life is no doubt why the term ‘digital nomad’ was coined in the first place.
When life becomes a holiday, there is no need to dream of distant retirement days. All you need to become a digital nomad is a specific, marketable skill, a laptop and a backpack. There is a huge market for online workers now, with many freelance agencies and job boards waiting to sign you up. Remote work contracts can be easier for both employers and contractors, as they cuts costs and free up much time.
If you haven’t yet started your digital nomad lifestyle, you may be wondering about what steps you need to take to start traveling the world. Our six pointers below will give you an idea of how to get your location independent lifestyle off the ground:
1. Identify or develop your skills
The chances are that if you’ve worked before, you have a skill that can translate into online work. For example, if you’re particularly great with the English language, you could quite easily become a language teacher online. If you’ve been a personal assistant, you can become a virtual assistant. If you’ve built a few websites, you may be able to become a web developer.
Or, let’s say you love traveling and helping other people travel better with a travel plan. You can plan travels for clients while roaming abroad as a way to make money! As long as your skill is needed and people are willing to pay for it, you can become a digital nomad.
One of the great things about remote work is that (depending on your industry), it’s more about reputation than qualifications. Experience is gold, so you’ll just need to establish yourself as a strong worker. Jobs well done attract more jobs, and you can build your remote career from there.
If you don’t currently have a strong enough skill set to market yourself as a freelancer, consider studying something that appeals to you. You can teach yourself practically anything online these days; there are online courses for everyone from marketers to teachers.
2. Consider which professions suit you best
There are so many ways to make your living on the road. Consider some of the following, which are among the most popular careers:
- Content writer/marketer
- Graphic designer
- Virtual Assistant
- Digital product seller/drop shipper
- Web or app developer
- Data entry clerk
- Affiliate marketer
There are also plenty of jobs that require little to no experience; although they won’t pay much, it can be a good way to get yourself into the world of online work and get some ratings as a freelancer. Plus, here are even more ideas to get money for travel.
3. Build your online presence
It really helps to do all you can to stand out from the crowd. Online work doesn’t necessarily require CVs these days. Shining profiles on job boards such as Upwork could be all you need to get work. Check out successful freelancers’ profiles to see how they’re presenting themselves and what fees they are charging. Initially, you can align your fees with those who have a similar level of experience.
Profiles serve as CVs anyway, and a LinkedIn profile and/or personal website can help to present yourself in a much more attractive way. This way you can detail your skills and experience while showcasing your work and winning personality.
Your online presence is important; your profiles and webpages are somewhere you can immediately send clients when they want to see what you’re made of. If you are going to become a digital product seller or affiliate marketer, you’ll definitely need to set up at least one website. You can do this relatively easily through sites like Squarespace or Shopify.
4. Start attracting clients
There are a lot of freelancers out there, so unless you are going to work in a niche industry, you’ll have quite a bit of competition. Don’t worry though – there is also lots of work out there and new jobs pop up every day. The beauty of online work is that you can work for clients who are based anywhere in the world.
Good ways of finding clients are:
- Sign up to several job boards: Fiverr, Upwork, or any of these popular boards.
- Word of mouth: ask your networks for recommendations and to share your news.
- Social media: post on your social media channels and make it shareable. Likewise, post in Facebook groups related to your chosen line of work.
- Cold emailing: send CVs and/or profile links to prospective employers you would like to work with.
Don’t forget to ask previous employers for testimonials and references that you can share with new clients or publish on your profiles and sites. These kinds of recommendations will go a long way toward gaining trust from prospective clients.
5. Save some money as a buffer
When you haven’t worked in another country before, costs can be unpredictable. Coupled with a brand new online career that may bring in inconsistent earnings initially, it would be smart to have some savings behind you.
Before you leave your current job for the nomad lifestyle, amass a buffer amount that would cover you for things like:
- Laptop and equipment theft/damage/loss
- Unexpected accommodation or transport costs
- Apartment deposits
- Medical costs abroad
- Flights home if necessary
Working abroad is an amazing experience but foreign countries can bring unexpected challenges that end up denting your budget. If you want to be able to stay on the road and have some free time while you find your feet and acquire new jobs, take some time to save first. Not covering these eventualities could put you right back where you started. Check out these travel hacks to save you money when you’re preparing to leave and while you’re traveling abroad.
If you can even sign up some clients before you leave to get some level of income coming in, your first time abroad will feel more comfortable.
6. Be patient and strategic
Becoming successful as a digital nomad probably won’t happen overnight. It can take time to build up a reputation so that you can put your fees up and earn a decent living from it.
You may even need to work part time (or full time) taking remote gigs as they come up, before you can go completely location independent. You will probably find that you have to take low paid jobs at first to establish your reputation as a reliable worker.
Although it can be a little frustrating waiting for the freedom you crave, if you keep your eye on the goal and start out with a sound plan in mind, there is no reason why you won’t soon be working from a beachside café on a daily basis with the other lucky digital nomads around the world. Good luck!
About The Author: Cal Bailey runs www.MountainLeon.com -— a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about his life and travel experiences, make sure you read his blog.
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