Life as a Digital Nomad
There are so many types of digital nomads that it’s actually hard to come up with just one description. However, what they all have in common is that they spend at least a few months of the year abroad, change their destinations frequently (usually every few weeks but can stay up to 6 months), and earn a living while working online.
Enjoy a good quality of life for less money
One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that you don’t need to generate a lot of money to get started. If you choose to spend your time in South East Asia, or most of the destinations in the workation guide, you’ll be able to enjoy a great quality of life for around $1000 a month. You’ll have to work a lot harder and make a load more money to achieve the same quality of life in most western countries.
Important step toward becoming location independent
As explained above there’s a big difference between location independence and being a digital nomad. However becoming a digital nomad can be a great step towards building a location independent business. That’s one reason why many people move to digital nomad hubs with a low cost of living like Bali or Chiang Mai. These are great places meet other digital nomads, collaborate, and learn from each other. Being in an environment like this will mean that you’ll have a much better chance of building a location independent business or start-up than trying to do it alone from home.
If I had tried to build a location independent business back home in Germany instead of South Africa the salaries would have been way too tempting and I would probably have a 9-5 job in the tourism industry right now. In Cape Town, where I lived at that time, I needed less money to enjoy a good quality of life. That’s why it can give you extra motivation to build a location independent business abroad where you can enjoy a better quality of life on a lower salary than in your home country.
Travel the world while working online
Finally, becoming a digital nomad allows you to travel the world. Once you’ve figured out how to stay productive you can reward yourself and go on ‘workations’ to many amazing countries around the world. Want to escape the winter in Berlin and learn to surf in Bali, or work from Rio de Janeiro for a few months? You can do whatever your budget and workload allows you to do.
You might think that the best route to becoming a digital nomad is by taking the entrepreneurial road and starting your own online business. This will undoubtedly give you the most freedom but it’s very difficult to succeed – especially if you have don’t have a lot of experience. And in fact most digital nomads don’t start out like this, instead they get started with remote work or freelancing. This means they are getting paid to gain more experience and skills. Plus it’s usually quite quick and easy. You might often think about how to make money as a digital nomad. You are not alone!
Overall there are many different ways to get started as a Digital Nomad. I believe that anyone who really, really wants a life of more freedom and less 9-5 can do this. Keep in mind that you could get started within a matter of weeks or you might require more time and effort.
Your best path not only depends on your current skills, experience, and budget – but also on your willingness to fail. So let’s get started with the 10 ways of how to become a digital nomad without skills to work online (yet)…
1. Get a job that teaches you the skills you need to know
If you’re young and in no real hurry to become a digital nomad immediately, a good way to get started would be to get a job at a company that will teach you the skills to work online. This is a great way of getting paid to learn. If you apply for a job at an Online Marketing agency for example you’ll learn many skills that are perfect to become a digital nomad one day.
It’s probably the least exciting way of getting started but it’s the most secure way as well. You might also be able to take on a few freelance clients while you work which will make it easier for you to deal with clients in the future.
2. Become a freelancer in your spare time
If your current experience can’t be used to work online (yet), and you need the money from your existing job, you could start a freelance business in your freetime. Remember that you don’t need a lot of money to get started so pick an easy skill from this list to get going ASAP and learn more skills so that you become even better.
3. Study at an Online University
You can get a flavour of the digital nomad lifestyle while studying online. Just sign up with an online university and you could essentially travel the world while learning the skills to work online, and you’ll spend a lot less than you would studying in Paris. It’s a great way to get a degree and keep open the option of starting out in the corporate world one day (or to simply keep your parents sane). So far I’ve only met one Swedish student who’s doing this, but I’m sure there are many students out there who study and travel.
4. Buy an existing Online Business
A super fast, but also risky, way to become a digital nomad is to simply buy an existing Online Business that already generates money or, even better, a passive income. You can buy businesses on sites like Flippa.com. You’re able to see how much money the site already generates and its monetization strategies. This would generate enough income to get started as a digital nomad.
Buying a business this way can be much easier than building a business from scratch. However, be sure that you get some advice from experienced Online Entrepreneurs before you buy anything to reduce the chance of taking on a business that is doomed to fail.
5. Save money and learn in a digital nomad hub
If where you live is so expensive that most of your salary goes towards maintaining your fixed costs, you might consider reducing them and saving up some money so you can move to a digital nomad hub like Chiang Mai in Thailand where your money goes a lot further. Here it will be a lot easier to learn all the skills that you’re going to need to work online because you’ll be surrounded by other digital nomads. You could even rent out your apartment at home and make some passive income that way.
It’s a fun way to get started and could be very inspiring to be around other digital nomads instead of trying to teach yourself alone at home. On the other hand you might get distracted quickly and the chances that you’ll end up wanting to travel instead of putting in the hours to make it happen are high as well!
6. Start with a job abroad
Another more exciting option is to simply move abroad and find a job that allows you experience working online. A good way to do this is by taking a Working Holiday visa in countries like Canada or Australia for example. Why not get more experience in Online Marketing while working and living in Sydney or Vancouver?
Apart from that there are so many other possibilities to get started working abroad like teaching English, working as a dive instructor, or on cruise ships where you could still improve your skills to become a digital nomad in your free time.
7. Move your business online
Do you already own a brick and mortar business? This shouldn’t keep you from working and travelling. Just think about it. There are so many solutions out there that will help you to monitor your business from anywhere in the world without your physical presence. Webcams, Online Accounting, and of course some staff you trust to manage your daily business while being away. It’s possible!
8. Convince your boss to allow remote work
Do you love your job but spend most of your time on the laptop so your presence in the office is hardly ever required? Who knows, if you have an understanding boss you might be able to convince him or her to give you more freedom and allow you to do most of your work remotely. Don’t tell them that you want to work from abroad at the beginning, instead prove that you can do your job remotely from home before taking the next step. Yes it’s true you might be able to become digital nomad without quitting your job. You don’t know if you don’t ask! And once abroad, you can always work out of a co-working space like WeWork which will give your remote time away more ‘credibility’.
9. Find a remote job online
We all know that today there are a lot of office jobs which could be done from anywhere in the world. It’s great to see that today there are more and more companies allowing their staff to work remotely, just as long as the job gets done.
If it’s impossible to work remotely in your current job you might find a better option online. Check local job portals, or international sites like Odesk.
10. Start your own online business
You might think that the best way of being a digital nomad is to become an entrepreneur, build your own online business, and then maybe create some kind of passive income e-commerce business. While it is true that some of most successful digital nomads I know do this, it’s also the hardest route to take if you are just getting started.
It takes a long time to build up the necessary skills to execute this successfully. I believe it’s better to learn fewer skills well and get more experience before becoming a real entrepreneur.