Becoming a digital nomad is the new buzz within the travel community; the ultimate holy grail to be chased in the ever-developing, fast-paced world of the internet and social media. Shifting your income to an online revenue allows you to travel and earn as you go. It’s a lovely thought, but is it actually an attainable goal? If so, how do you go about doing it? The answers are that yes, this career path is attainable, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. You can either concentrate on building up enough work and a sturdy client base before you travel, or you can start your search once you’re abroad.Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to secure an online job before you travel. Sure, this leaves ground for instability and uncertainty, but sometimes the power of having no other plan can be a good driving force in getting exactly what you want. We’ve created this guide to talk you through the initial steps, giving you helpful tips and resources that will help you on your way to becoming a digital nomad.
Where To Begin
Firstly, you need to figure out what it is that you want to do. What you are good at or have experience in will lead you; is there a sector in which you already have good contacts? If you have some idea of the direction you want to go in, you can start to develop it into a niche.
TIP: Check out our article on top digital nomad careers for examples of jobs that you can do, as it may be that one of these that is suited to you.
Once you have an idea of what direction you are headed in, research it as much as you can. Before you even start speaking to potential clients, find out what the going rate is, what is a good and a bad deal, how long would it take you to complete a piece of work, and what the industry standard is.
Look into your competitors. As an example, if you are really set on being a blogger, what kind of blog do you plan to write? A travel blog? If so, is that a solo adventure travel blog or a luxury travel blog? Are you better suited to backpacking, or to family holidays?
To continue the example, once you’ve made a decision about which kind of blog you want to write, you need to do some research. For example, how can you monetize your blog and captivate your audience? What are the tips and tricks to drive your stats and followers up? Who are your competitors? Which people doing the best in this niche? What makes them stand out? What makes them popular, and what can you do to compete with that?
TIP: It may also be worth investing in a course. For example if you want to teach English, look into completing a TEFL, CELTA, or ESL /EFL course. If you wanted to work as a virtual assistant, look into courses in administration or book keeping that could benefit you and help you stand out against the competition.
How Do I Start Finding Work?
For more specific freelancing such as graphic design, copywriting, web design and so on, there are multiple avenues that you can go down. The easiest is to sign up to a freelancing platform such as Upwork. However, the catch is that a lot of the work is vastly underpaid, so you have to make a decision between cherry picking well-paid work, which can be few and far between, or doing bulk work for less money. Also bear in mind that Upwork takes a commission fee from your earnings.
In the same vein as Upwork, there are an abundance of opportunities for teaching English online via platforms such as VIPkid, Cambly or through apps such as Palfish. Again, remember that these companies will usually take a commission fee from your earnings.
There are various free online job boards that you can search for independent remote work, such as Jobspresso and Remote. These sites will link you to jobs you can apply for of your own accord and not have to worry about paying for a sign-up fee or handing over portions of your pay in commission.
Another option is to set yourself up with a professional portfolio or website and send out a lot of cold pitches by yourself to websites and companies. Obviously, the main concern here is that there is no guarantee of getting a response, and the effectiveness of this strategy can vary dramatically.
Other avenues to explore can be found on sites such as Jobbatical, Wanderbrief or Content Castle, where you can find jobs placements and internships with startups and other creative companies. Some offer experience instead of money, while others offer the opportunity to work in a different country on a new project for a set amount of time.
TIP: Accepting an internship can help you gain some credibility in the industry, offers the opportunity to network for some good contacts and builds up your portfolio if you’re just starting out!
What Else Do I Need To Consider?
It’s certainly worth researching your accountability in terms of national insurance and tax payments for your home country whilst earning abroad. This usually depends on how your income is being earnt, in which currency, and what bank it is paid into.
If you intend to stay put in the same country for a certain duration of time, then where you intend to go and what their visa requirements state about earning money will also have an impact on what will be required from you.
We hope this guide has given you enough information to start considering whether a remote job is for you, and has helped you start out as a digital nomad abroad!
Have you worked as a digital nomad? Share your tips for other people in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!