Who are Digital Nomads?
Digital nomads are people working from their laptops while traveling across the world. They come from a variety of backgrounds, but share a driven attitude, a passion for self-development, and an adventurous spirt. Each an expert in their own field, they often form dynamic communities that allow them to learn from each other and leverage each other’s unique skills for mutual profit. Drawn by unique networking opportunities, flexible schedules, and higher earning potential, more and more people are dropping their old jobs in favor of this modern lifestyle.
What do they do?
There are almost as many different jobs for digital nomads as there are nomads themselves. There are drop shippers, magicians, freelancers, filmmakers, developers, writers, civil planners, and others. Any job that is done digitally can be done as a nomad. Even if your current work can’t be done from the road, there are skills you could learn in a few months to start making money online.
Three of the most common ways of making money are affiliate marketing, copywriting, and freelancing.
- Affiliate marketing is creating marketing materials, such as a website, blog article, or email, that are designed to sell another person’s product. First, the product seller and the affiliate marketer reach an agreement on a specific commission for each referral that results in a sale. Then affiliate marketer uses specific links that prove they are responsible for the referral in their marketing materials that point to the seller’s sales page. Upon a sale, the product seller will then split the profits with the affiliate marketer that made the referral. The link at the end of this article is an example of affiliate marketing.
- Copywriting is any writing designed to increase sales, such as writing e-mails to convince customers to buy a product or ensuring a sales page is as convincing as possible. Copywriting is similar to affiliate marketing, but instead of directly profit-sharing from the marketing, the writer is hired by a company to write their marketing materials.
- Freelancing is more similar to a traditional job, but instead of getting a single salary and staying at a company for a long period of time, freelancers are hired on a per project basis.
You may have noticed that most of the above jobs focus on marketing. Marketing is the single most important skill a digital nomad can have. You need marketing to sell your ideas, products, or even yourself, in the case of freelancing. That’s why I suggest learning at least some copywriting no matter what job you have now or expect to have in the future.
When do they start?
There are digital nomads of all ages. Most start their nomad career after developing an online business, developing a love for traveling, or reading a book on the topic.
I recommend that anyone considering it become a nomad as soon as possible. You will quickly develop new skills and receive advice from fellow nomads that is better than what you would find in any classroom. Even without succeeding in your initial business ventures, the knowledge you gain will serve you well the rest of your life. Starting now minimizes investment in imperfect jobs and may make compounding interest work for you instead of your creditors.
That said, it is a high risk, high reward lifestyle. Many have invested great time into endeavors that never pay off, while others make thousands of dollars a day. You have to be driven. You have to really want to succeed. Some days you’ll have to make yourself keep working when you’re invited out for to see a museum or explore a waterfall. You can test your commitment now and also offload much of the risk by not leaving your current job until you have built enough online income to support you. This is probably a lot easier than you think as the amount you need to support yourself differs drastically with location. You could live well in Chiang Mai for less than $300 a month.
Even those that have families, careers, and other commitments can still enjoy the nomad lifestyle. Traveling with kids means exposing them to new cultures, giving them the opportunity to learn a new language amongst native speakers, and spending more time with them by working fewer hours. There is also increasing access to fantastic online education resources or schools for expat children. You can read about the experiences of nomadic families at: A King’s Life, Travel with Bender, or The Nomadic Family. I suggest checking them out as they know much more than I do on how to make traveling with a family work. Their about sections are a good place to start.
Where do they live?
Nomads live all over the world. Each person picks their ideal location based on several factors. Common motivators are wifi, community, food, weather, and affordability, but that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. Beaches, snow-covered mountains, and access to opera houses may make others choose Bali, Sweden, or the Czech-Republic. Currently, I live in Chiang Mai as I was looking for a place with a large number of digital nomads and an affordable place to stay to bootstrap my business. You can search for your perfect spot based on these factors and more at: nomadlist.com.
Why do it?
Most people think that traveling is the primary reason to become a digital nomad. I thought the same thing. After all, traveling is what separates a digital nomad from anyone else running an online business. However, while almost every nomad I met started out by traveling, travel is only a small part of what motivates nomads to get rid of their extra stuff and start their business on the road.
After all, many nomads end up spending the rest of their life in a city or country they fall in love with and others are so focused on their jobs that they rarely take the time to explore or sight-see. After being a nomad for awhile, you may find great wifi and good workspaces are more important to you than museums or other tourist attractions. You can always take local trips to see the sights, but day-to-day you’ll want to minimize the commute.
Many nomads reap gains by earning their income in wealthy countries while enjoying the low costs of living in third world countries. This often results in a higher standard of living. This can mean having a pool, eating out for every meal, cheap movie tickets, or daily massages. Your local currency stretches further. There can also be great tax benefits of working abroad resulting in even more savings.
Making your boss’ dreams come true or providing the CEO with another million isn’t thrilling and rarely comes with proper recognition. Human beings are born with a desire to achieve and scratching that itch is often the quickest route to happiness and self-actualization. Once you pursue something you find world doing, you’ll be able to find these feelings in abundance.
The vast majority of people you meet in nomad circles are already successful in their field. They have in depth knowledge and they’re always looking for ways to expand their business. This leads to great advice and networking opportunities.
Working for yourself means living on your own schedule. Do you feel more productive in early mornings or late at night? Is sleeping until 10 AM your body’s natural cycle? Would a midday jog or swim provide you with a perk-up that doubles up your productivity? Then do it. You are your own boss. Being a nomad means you must motivate yourself, but it also means you can provide your own ideal work environment.
Setting your own schedule means your focus is now on what makes your life best, not what is ideal for a corporate environment. This means you finally have time to work out, meditate, and eat well. Anything which makes you feel happier, more productive, or live longer is now your main focus. The time you save learning to do something more efficiently finally pays off. The time you save is yours.
All this investment in yourself will inevitably lead to a pay off, even those that don’t succeed at first will be able to use their new skills to move forward in the corporate world and return to the lifestyle if they choose. Those that do succeed can work on producing passive income that takes little or no effort to maintain and focus their time on the things that interest them most. This opportunity to make lifelong friendships, travel the world, and develop yourself is too good to pass up.
How do I start?
I’ll be researching, interviewing, and finding guest writers to give you an in depth guide to getting starting with various online careers in the future.
In the meantime, I highly suggest reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It’s more or less the digital nomad Bible. It goes through how to get your current boss to let you work remotely, how to be productive, how to outsource, how to create passive income, and the general jargon and philosophy of being a digital nomad.
This article contains an affiliate marketing link which means at no additional cost to you I earn a commission on the product sold through the link provided. I only affiliate market items I have personally used and recommend.