“Digital Nomad” is no longer a questionable term, but rather a trending lifestyle. Digital nomad retreats, communities, meetups, and co-working/co-living spaces are popping all over the world and the rise of the digital nomad is here to stay.
Why are people looking to become digital nomads?
Freedom. It’s that simple.
The digital nomad lifestyle allows you to work where you want when you want. It gives people a flexible lifestyle and because of this, it creates a stronger “work/life” balance.
Imagine your office right now…does it look anything like this?
Working 10+ hours a day in an office that has no fresh air and barely any sunlight, surrounded by duds with no depth to their personality, sitting on your ass for hours at a time, slowly but surely adding more fat to your muffin top because you’re eating shitty food at you desk and don’t have time to work out…and now you’re starting to develop carpal tunnel too.
Well…that just sucks. Nobody wants that.
Working the hours you choose, traveling the world (or staying at home with your family), meeting and collaborating with interesting and inspiring people from different backgrounds, having time to see friends and family whenever you choose, having the time and flexibility to take care of your mental and physical health all while earning money that supports this lifestyle.
Digital nomad is clearly the way to go.
So you want to become a digital nomad?
That’s awesome. I’m here to tell you that, for most cases, it’s not going to be easy to get here. But, it’s worth the journey.
If you want it…really really want it, you’re going to have to put in the work and also face some seriously tough challenges. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not going to happen overnight and to just keep pushing.
This piece is about my personal journey of how I became a digital nomad. And let me tell you…there are plenty of ways to do so!
However, my journey was a bit different than most. I do not have a niche “digital” skillset…such as coding, software development, building apps, graphic design, SEO, or any other of the highly desired digital skills that companies are looking for. I am just a millennial with a sales background who occasionally bartends on the side for extra dough. All I was looking for was the opportunity to travel the world, make some money, meet new people, and experience as much as I possibly could. In order to do that…I needed to step away from the office. Permanently.
Here’s how I did it.
Step 1 – UNDERSTAND YOUR MOTIVATIONS
Why do you want to become a digital nomad?
- Do you want to stay at home with your family?
- Are you looking to travel?
- Do you hate the office culture?
It is important to understand your personal motivations to switch to this lifestyle. It needs to be something that you truly want. If you’re just frustrated at your job right now and think this will be a quick escape…Think again.
While the digital nomad lifestyle has its perks, it is not for everyone. There are some major changes that you will happen when switching over. For example:
- No more office = no more seeing coworkers on a daily basis = a possibility for a lonelier environment
- Flexible hours = it is your responsibility to motivate yourself to work = how strong is your self-motivation? Are you easily distracted?
- Location independent = looking to travel? Do you have enough money saved up? Are you ready for the culture shock? Are you willing to work from coffee shops or co-working spaces? Do you have reliable internet?
- Income = if you are freelancing or an entrepreneur, it might be more difficult to maintain a steady flow of income. Do you have projects lined up?
Have a long hard think about the life you want and if you’re truly ready to make the jump to a nomadic lifestyle.
For me, the DN lifestyle was so appealing because I wanted…needed the freedom to travel the world. I have never been someone to settle in a specific location for long periods of time, so working in an office was just not the right fit. I also just generally despised working in a strict corporate office.
Step 2 – RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH
As you may already know…a digital nomad is someone who is location independent and uses technology to perform their job. Meaning, no more office and the freedom to work from anywhere in the world (as long as there’s wifi). Otherwise known as…my dream situation (and probably yours too). There are many ways to go about becoming a digital nomad, but first, it is important to understand these different types of DNs.
Digital Nomads typically fall under one of these categories-
Types of Digital Nomads:
- Someone who is self-employed and uses their specialty/niche skillset to perform their jobs. They will not work on a salary basis, but rather a contractual or hourly basis.Freelancers are able to make a ton of money…if they are experts in their field with high quality and high paying projects lined up. It typically takes a long time to become a truly successful freelancer because you usually need to build up the experience (unless you’re an absolute legend at what you do and can deliver results). Many digital nomads freelance on the side.
- Those who start their own business(es)…therefore they are in charge of the way they work – schedule, location, etc. Many entrepreneurs become digital nomads in order to meet others in the same boat as them. Of course, becoming an entrepreneur comes with many risks (mainly financial), so it is important to have somewhat of a plan before selling everything you own and buying a one-way plane ticket!
- Full-time or Part-time Remote Workers
- These guys are salaried and work for a specific company that gives them the freedom to work remotely. Some would say these are the lucky ones…just because they will typically have more stability with work and benefits too. There is a lot less risk involved when you’re officially employed with a company!
Please also remember that if you’re trying to travel the world and earn some cash, you can also consider vagabonding – which is basically just traveling and picking up jobs along the way (bartending, working on boats, working at hostels, etc.). These guys are nomads…just not digital 😉
Typical types of digital nomad jobs
Alright…so now to get into the types of digital nomad jobs. Below are some of the most common jobs that digital nomads have. But remember, the possibilities go way beyond this list! A digital nomad is to earn an income while performing their job digitally.
- Web or app development
- Graphic design
- Web design
- UX/UI designer
- Freelancer (various)
- Blogging or Vlogging (video blogging)
- Teaching/tutoring English online
- SEO Specialist
- Affiliate marketing
- Content writing or copywriting
- Virtual assistant
- Photography, Videography, Content Creation
- Running ecommerce shops
- Social Media Management
- Marketing analyst
- Life Coach
- Data entry
- Online customer service
- Human Resources
- Project management
- Sales and business development
- Instagram fame (eye roll please)
- The list goes on….
The thing most people struggle with (myself included) is picking one of these jobs that you could realistically do. I personally don’t have a specialty digital skillset…such as graphic design, or coding, photography etc.
Step 3 – EVALUATE
Look at the different types of jobs (see list above for guidance) that will sustain the digital nomad life and then make a realistic list of what you can do. Seriously consider your background, experience, and skillsets that companies would pay you for. For example, don’t consider Social Media Management just because you really like Instagram…that doesn’t count.
Also, make a list of jobs/skillsets that interest you and that you would like to learn more about.
WRITE DOWN YOUR LISTS.
For example, my lists looked something like this:
What can I realistically do?
- Teaching online
- Business development
What would l like to learn to do?
- Social Media Management
- Content creation
Step 4 -FIND WORK
Here comes the fun part. Finding work and income that will give you the freedom you’ve been seeking! This takes a lot of research online. Check out these sites listed below and if you have other recommendations, please share!
Start off with joining Digital Nomad Facebook groups:
Many people will post jobs on these pages.
Then check out the Digital Nomad friendly job boards (don’t forget to sign up to their weekly newsletters!)
- – subscription required (for aspiring writers)
- (bloggers and guest writing)
- (for graphic designers to display their work)
For Full-time/part-time jobs
- – vagabonds or teachers
Also consider going to networking events in your city, messaging hiring manager from companies that interest you on LinkedIn, looking at company websites directly, speaking to other remote workers for advice/networking!
Step 5 – LEARN NEW SKILLS
Learning new digital friendly skills will only help with sustaining this lifestyle. Remember your list of what you’d like to learn? This can be your side hustle. And after months or years of learning and experience…possibly your main hustle.
Take a look at– there are plenty of courses on social media management, coding, web design and development, photoshop, etc.
The more you learn, the more you have to fall back on. For example, if you lose your contract or remote job, use these skills that you’ve been developing to pick up other work!
Step 6 – PULL THE PLUG (but have a backup plan)
Quit your office job. Don’t look back. But, don’t quit if you have absolutely nothing to you up financially (because finding a remote job can take time!).
I personally quit my office job without having a remote job in place. I picked up some bar work to give myself the time to focus on finding a digital nomad job.
Step 7 – BEGIN YOUR LIFE AS A DIGITAL NOMAD
Welcome to your new life! To freedom! Know there is a huge community of digital nomads that are here in the same boat as you.
If you are considering traveling solo – take a look at. This site shows some of the most digital nomad friendly cities and also has a messaging system where you can connect with others in the same city as you!
There are also plenty of Digital Nomad programs including:
Personally, I like to travel solo and rent out Airbnbs for accommodation. But, I definitely see myself joining one of these programs in the future as they are a great way to meet other digital nomads!
There are also plenty of Digital Nomad facebook groups. I suggest joining smaller groups focused on your destination. For example,for Digital Nomads in Playa Del Carmen.
Before you get up and travel – make sure you are set financially! Many people sell all of their belongings and pack up a suitcase with the intention to be on the road for months or years. I personally want to keep my apartment, so I sublease it out when I’m traveling. There are plenty of options – just make sure you choose what’s right for you and don’t screw yourself over if shit hits the fan.
Any questions? Feel free to ask! 🙂