One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “how can I do what you do”, or “can you teach me how to become a digital nomad“. This nomadic style of living is becoming extremely popular as social media grows. So I thought it was time I’d write a detailed post with my personal advice on the best way to get started.
How to become a digital nomad
First off, a few myths to bust. Are you reading this article hoping to build a business that allows you to work on a beach while drinking a coconut and getting a tan? If you are, it’s best you stop reading this article now. The truth of the matter is it’s highly undesirable working on your laptop at the beach. Not only is the glare almost impossible to work with but the salt rusts your laptop’s insides. Plus who wants to work while at the beach anyway?
The truth of the matter is that articles like this one are created to show off what is possible, but no one actually works like this. It’s much more comfortable in an airconditioned room having a chilled coconut at a nearby cafe escaping the heat outside.
However, being able to produce an income online does allow us to travel the world and go and explore in our free time. To me, that is definitely the biggest incentive to all of this. For those who have the entrepreneurial vibe, you will also see the potential for outsourcing, scaling and automating for creating even more leisure time.
That’s great, but where do I start?
Deciding to become a digital nomad and actually becoming one are 2 very different things, and there are many decisions to be made. There is no one size fits all but the fundamentals are all the same. With a bit of brainstorming and research, you may find your new path to becoming a digital nomad.
What is a digital nomad and what does it mean?
You’ve probably started seeing the term ‘digital nomad’ being thrown around everywhere at the moment, and the definition is starting to lose its meaning. I personally think there are 3 types of people when it comes to becoming a digital nomad.
- First is the digital expat, someone who has moved almost permanently to another country and continues to work on their business whether remotely from their location or fully online.
- Second is the location independent nomad who has built an established business online or monitors it remotely and has the full independence of where they are or where they want to go. This type of person will most likely travel continuously for years with no real plans of settling down.
- Last is the modern digital nomad. This is someone who is in the early stages of building their online empire and usually travels for up to 6 months at a time, usually jumping from place to place every month or so.
That’s my personal opinion and whichever stage you are at doesn’t matter. It just means you will need to plan a little where you want to go, what your budget is and what you can afford to do.
For example, if you are quite new and only making up to a couple of thousand per month, you may want to look into moving to a less expensive part of the world like South East Asia and Central America. When I first started as a digital nomad, I spent a lot of time in places like Bali, Bocas Del Toro and Chiang Mai which I could easily live in for around $2000 USD per month.
If you are working online, the end goal should always be being location independence. Nothing worse than working on a massive budget when you’re visiting amazing places, as you’ll usually never visit the same place twice. Something to think about when you’re starting your new business.
Knowing the skills to help you get started
One of the misconceptions about becoming a digital nomad is that you need to have gone to university (college) or worked in similar industries before pursuing your new career. The thing is though if you know my story you would know that I am a high school drop out, and a builder by trade. All the skills I have acquired throughout my career in the online world has been either self-taught or through training I have purchased from others.
You may also find that you already have some skills you can use towards getting your first gig or building your first income stream. Most of the time though you will have to educate yourself further to get the result you want. Another thing to think about is the trade-off when it comes to actually go through the initial phases of your business. You will either spend money investing in training or education to help learn about a topic faster or try and learn everything yourself spend significant time figuring it out. It’s always going to be ‘Time vs Money’ so decide what is more important for you.
A few words of wisdom before we get started
Just before we get into the nuts and bolts of some avenues you can go down, I’ll just share a bit of advice that I would give to a younger me before they started.
- First of all, don’t try to become a digital nomad when you’re broke. I’m not sure why people wait until they’re almost bankrupt before deciding to start something online, but it’s a common occurrence. What I would do is Instead become extremely tight with money and get another job if need be, but save as much money as possible. This will buy you time and you can invest in not only your business but your knowledge which in the long run will save years of struggle.
- Secondly, know that it takes discipline to become your own boss and understand that you are now in control of what your future life. You can’t just buy a camera and expect to be a photographer, you need to first practice your skill and if it means helping people out for free, then so be it. Also be prepared to invest significant time, in the beginning, to get your business off the ground. You can enjoy the coconuts on the beach after.
- Last but not least, know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Good things will take time but it is all 100% worth it. Those who stick with it and push through the uncertainty and cloudy moments, reap the rewards.
10 ways how to become a digital nomad
Majority of people would initially think the best way to becoming a digital nomad would be to start your own business and ultimately ‘be your own boss’. This would be the most desirable but it’s not as simple as it sounds, especially if you have no experience. I always recommend to learn from successful people and invest in your knowledge. It will save you time and money in the long run.
Below I have put together some ideas that you can help you get working towards a goal, and hopefully allow you to become a digital nomad.
1. Work as a freelancer
One of the most popular avenues to go down and start making an income is being a freelancer. Websites like Upwork will be the best place to look and then research the types of things people are looking for help with. This could be anything from writing articles, taking photos, translating documents, acting, taking video footage, drawing pictures, literally anything.
I have a few friends that got paid a few hundred dollars each, for just reading a few paragraphs from a script. The employers required people with certain accents so it was literally money for jam. There are a LOT of jobs out there so expect to spend a bit of time looking for ones that suit your expertise. You never know, maybe you’ll find the industry of your dreams!
2. Look for a job that allows you to travel
While many people want to be entrepreneurs and be their own boss, some people just want to just find a job that allows you to travel. Whether you want to work for a publication, make coffee all around the world or become a surf instructor, there are many jobs where you can easily hop from destination to destination. If you’re lucky enough, you could even work for a travel agent who flies you to locations to scope out their client’s establishments.
3. Build your own E-commerce Store
Building an E-commerce store is a great way to create a new business. Whether you’re drop shipping or your importing goods and using fulfilment stores, you can make it as automated as you want. I definitely recommend investing in a course or finding someone who has had success using this method, as it usually takes a lot of time to get the nack of it. You’ll need to know about marketing, how the different platform works, what type of products will sell and copywriting that converts.
4. Encourage your employer to allow you to work remotely
If you have ever read the book ‘4 hour work week‘ by Tim Ferriss, you’ll know the concept of persuading your boss into work remotely which will benefit the both of you in the long run. This, of course, depends on the industry you’re in, I don’t think a barista could work remotely but if you are currently working on a computer all day, this could be right down your alley.
5. Create your own online digital products and courses
One thing that I have learnt from the ‘Expert Secrets‘ book by Russell Brunson, is that people want to learn from people that are just a few steps ahead of them. If you find yourself teaching others the same things over and over again, most likely you have something a LOT of people would love to know. This book teaches you how to create a digital product or course that helps solve the problems many people are facing, and you can create a nice income in doing so. A massive game changer for me.
6. Learn about trading and investing
During my journeys around the world, I have met and seen many nomads who only trade stocks and currencies for a living. It blows my mind. I once tried investing in Crypto when the big boom came, and of course, it dropped straight after (fml). Lesson learnt though, I was just chasing a quick buck. I’m sure if you dedicate time, talk to people who have been successful long-term in the industry or buy a course from someone who has, you can make a career out of it.
7. Create a Youtube channel
Something that is starting to become more popular is becoming a Youtuber. If you love being in front of a camera, have great things to talk about or share and you have some time up your sleeve, creating a Youtube channel might be perfect for you. Keep in mind there are millions of other YouTubers out there in the world so it can take a while to gain traction, so ensure you don’t rely on this for an income straight away. Have another income stream while you are building your channel.
8. Start your own consultancy business
I know a lot of people who have created remote consultancy businesses in the personal development, fitness, health or business niches. If I was skilled in this area I would definitely give this a crack as people really love having that personal one to one chat each week, that can share their thoughts and problems with and how to overcome them. I love the whole idea behind it and it’s a highly lucrative industry too! You will have to be an expert in your field to actually take on this role, but everything is teachable!
9. Pitch a TV show idea and look for funding
One of the more unique cases is creating an idea, pitching it to an entertainment channel or tourism company, and then filming it. I have only met 2 people who have ever gone down this route, 1 for an Indonesian “off the beaten track” experience. The other biking from Timor to Malaysia. Something to think about if you’re a great storyteller and videographer.
10. Start your own travel blog
This is where I find most people will start! Deciding to start a travel blog is a really great way to learn about the internet and sharing your experiences as you go. The reason I decided to start a travel blog was that I felt like all my hard work in my previous jobs had left me with nothing. As soon as I quit, I had nothing to show for it. Starting a travel blog though is something I created and it’s about me and my stories, as well as sharing helpful information for others.
From creating the blog I have been able to build a following, create an income, speak at multiple events and go on funded travels around the world. One of the most important things to remember though is that I treat it like a business, not a hobby. Keeping that mindset present when building it will help you grow it quicker and monetise it better. Nothing worse than seeing bloggers of 4 years having zero success and return for their efforts.
Final thoughts before you go
Hopefully, this article has expanded your mind a little to see what’s possible and give you a few ideas on how you could become a digital nomad. Just know that starting off is always going to be the hardest part, but once you gain momentum, things will just fall into place. That’s when the fun starts you can really live life on your own terms. Moral of the story, get started sooner rather than later because every day you put it off is another day you could have spent at the beach on a tropical island drinking coconuts.
Stay hungry and never stop learning. If there are events or networking opportunities in your area or somewhere where you are heading, take advantage of that. One of the most powerful quotes I have found is “net worth is your network” which is very true. Knowing people in different industries, niches and areas of expertise will benefit you in more ways than you thought possible.
So what are you waiting for? Time to get those fingers working and build something that could shape your future. Don’t forget to join my Private Facebook Community for some daily inspiration too!
See you on the beaches of the world!