So in my last article, I talked about what a digital nomad is and how to see if you’re ready to be one.
You can read that article here.
As I’ve said before, and as I will say countless more times, being a digital nomad is tough.
If it doesn’t suit your personality, you are not going to like it.
Like everything in life, it requires a lot of hard work and dedication; it is not the glamorous lifestyle that some people make it out to be.
But you have probably heard an “internet marketing guru” talk about how it’s the most amazing thing ever.
Well, internet newbie, you need to be aware of scams. If I were trying to sell you something, I would probably tell you that I could make all of your dreams come true.
Now, maybe being a digital nomad does indeed sound like a dream, but it’s also not 100% lounging by a pool in a tropical land of magic.
Again, if I were trying to sell you something, I’d show you a picture like this:
Looks nice, right?
But this situation also came without internet, power, and unlike the sparkling pool and the palm trees suggest, it was surprisingly cold.
But here’s the flip side of that picture: One day I wanted to work beside a luxurious pool in Kuala Lumpur… so I did.
That’s the beauty of being a digital nomad. I can make spontaneous decisions and live a life free of stability.
If that’s also exciting to you, you may be looking for a way to start working as a digital nomad.
But before I get into how to find a digital nomad job, I want you to know that you can perpetuate a life of travel without being a digital nomad.
People were nomads before the internet existed…
I’ve met plenty of travelers who make money on the road by doing offline jobs.
You should only be a “digital” nomad if you have a job that you love and it happens to be based on the internet.
Let’s look at some “non-digital” nomad ways of making money:
I have met travelers who take photographs of their travels, print them out, mount them on some posterboard, set up shop in some public space, and sell them. I have also met painters, sculptors, digital artists, etc. who do the same thing. All you need is a little bit of creativity and some confidence, and you can sell your craftworks as a means to sustain your travels.
I see this one happening a lot, and I have met many friends who have had success with this all throughout the world. If you are a performer, musical or otherwise, you can always go to a public place and perform. It’s best if your act is something unique (like playing a Shakuhachi while riding a unicycle), but even the typical acoustic guitar/singing routine will be successful. As a former acoustic guitar playing singer myself, I can personally vouch for the validity of this method. Again, this one takes a lot of confidence.
Assuming you’re traveling outside of your own country (that doesn’t speak the same language), you can almost always find an opportunity to teach your native language. As a native English speaker, I can pretty much go to any non-native English-speaking country and easily find a teaching job. For other languages (Hindi for example), there are plenty of opportunities out there if you go looking for them. Remember this: Wherever you go in the world, someone is looking to learn your language.
-Offer Other Services
You definitely have some kind of marketable skill. Maybe you can do massage, or give acupuncture, or teach dancing, or teach yoga, or give haircuts, or provide psychological counseling, or perform tea ceremonies, or write poetry, or whatever. Everyone has some kind of skill that can be offered to the people of the world. Wandering Earl gives some good examples in this post; he mentions a woman who would refer clients to tour services for a commission. If you know how to be creative and tap into your innate human abilities, you can make some decent money on the road.
Now, don’t expect to break the bank with any of these money-making methods. But if you want to sustain a level of perpetual travel, these things can surely get you there.
That said, if you’re looking for more serious, more fulfilling, and more profitable work, pursuing a digital career is a great way to go.
Here are the three most common types of digital nomad jobs.
Note: Not all of these jobs will land you million dollar paychecks. Again, working on the internet requires a lot of really serious work. The more work you put in, the better your chances are for making a lot of money.
Three Types of Digital Nomad Jobs and How To Get Them
If you’ve ever read any post here on SML, you know two things about blogging:
- It can be done from anywhere.
- You can earn a lot of money.
In terms of how to earn money blogging, well, there are a number of ways.
If you know how to do content marketing, you can probably do well selling affiliate products.
If you know how to get a lot of traffic to your site, you can probably do well with AdSense or other kinds of advertising.
There are countless ways of making money blogging.
But again, you need to put in a lot of hard and smart work.
You can read this article to learn more.
The big question is:
- What do you want to blog about?
Well, the easy answer is this:
If you’re reading this, you probably like traveling. You could blog about that.
You also probably like working online. You could blog about that.
Maybe you like dogs. Or building houses. Or writing comic books. Or whatever.
Whatever it is you like, you can blog about it.
Try not to overthink what is appealing to you. You may even know what niche you should be blogging in but are too afraid to commit because you think there’s no commercial appeal (i.e. no way to make money).
But this is not true.
If you know how to do proper keyword research and content marketing, there is always a way to reach the top authority spot of your niche (and make money).
When working online as a blogger, again, you need to work really, really hard.
And again, this is not the glamorous lifestyle many people think it is. Even the bloggers who advertise what a glamorous lifestyle it is know that it’s not as glamorous as they make it sound.
Even if you just want to make enough money to maintain a bare-bones level of travel, you need to put in a lot of really serious work.
And even then, your blog will probably not start earning any money for several months.
Even THEN, you may not be making enough money to sustain your nomadic lifestyle.
But if you put in the necessary work and are sincere about your niche, you absolutely can make money as a blogger.
And if you keep at it and persist, you can absolutely maintain a level of travel with your blogging earnings.
If you’re really struggling to find your niche, check out:
How to become a blogger:
I’m not a blogging expert.
But Harsh is.
ShoutMeLoud has all the resources you need.
Start with this guide.
2. Remote Freelancing
So yes, freelancing is a pretty broad topic.
But it needs to be said:
If you can do anything that involves working on the internet, you can find online freelance work.
For instance, I’m a writer and an editor.
I can go to any online publication and freelance with them.
Every single website that has writing on it (i.e. the vast majority of them) needs to have a writer and/or an editor. These are essential roles of pretty much every website.
But it doesn’t stop at writing…
If you are a photographer, many websites need photography. If you are a designer, many websites need design work. If you are a statistician, many websites need statistical analysis.
If you have any kind of skill that involves the internet, people who run businesses on the internet need that skill.
Here’s an example:
- In the ShoutMeLoud team, there are writers, editors, designers, researchers, and managers. We are all freelancers working in our various specialties, and we all work remote. I randomly met up with Harsh one time, and I have never met any other team member in person. All of our communications are done via the internet.
If you have a skill that can be performed online, there’s no need to commute to an office every day.
Think about what kind of skills you have that can be translated to the online world, and then find that kind of work.
If you really don’t think that you have any online skill, you can always take a free online course and become educated in some online field. Go here and learn more about that.
Freelancing is all about working in a way that makes you happy. Don’t ever work in a way that doesn’t make you happy.
The life of a freelancer is varied and unpredictable. Some days you will have a lot of work, and other days you will have a little work. It’s best to learn good time management skills and how to stay productive.
Now, this is very important:
There will almost definitely be periods of downtime where you have no pending contracts and no “work” to do. During these times, you should spend about 75% of your time looking for work opportunities and the remaining 25% practicing your craft.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you land a job but are unprepared to perform that job adequately.
Always be maintaining your craft, even when you have no “work” to do.
If you want, you can even offer to do quick and easy “free” jobs just to maintain your discipline. If you’ve ever worked in the entertainment field, you’ll know that this is a common practice (actors/musicians working for free just to keep up their craft).
If you’re a writer, you need to be writing.
If you’re a coder, you need to be coding.
If you’re a photographer, you need to be photographing.
You get the idea…
Keep the wheels of your craft greased so that when you get a job, you can adequately perform that job to the best of your abilities.
If you don’t do this, not only are you hurting the business that hired you, you’re hurting your chances of finding future work, becoming an expert in your craft, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining your digitally nomadic lifestyle.
How to find remote freelancing work:
Firstly, before you do anything, I would suggest setting up a personal website which contains a portfolio. For instance, if you’re a writer, you should have a website that has a portfolio of your writing. If you’re a photographer, you should have a website that has a portfolio of your photographs. And so on… This is not a requirement, but it helps A LOT.
So in order to become a freelancer, you need to start thinking like a freelancer.
The best part about freelancing is the “free” part (“free” as in “freedom” not as in “work for free”).
This means you have options.
You aren’t bound by any one job or any one office. You make your own decisions about when and where to work. You have all the power.
So when you go to look for work, remember that you are indeed a highly desirable employee. Many different people need you for your many different skills.
Don’t forget this.
To find freelance work, you can always go on freelancing sites:
Check out this article for some more sites.
And remote freelancing job boards:
You can also find a company that you know you want to work for and see if they’re hiring.
Check out this list of the best companies that hire remote workers.
And while all of these methods are great, you may not have much luck with them.
This is because freelancing sites have a lot of problems. If you’re not well-established on the platform, you could very easily never find a job.
And freelancing job boards feature companies that are almost immediately inundated with thousands of resumes from highly qualified people. Even if you’re good at what you do, someone else probably has a better-looking resume.
So here’s a trick:
Prepare a resume, prepare a portfolio (link to your website), and send out a letter of inquiry to a company/website you want to work for.
This is how I’ve gotten almost every one of my freelance projects.
This works because when you present yourself in a professional and coherent way, businesses can’t help but accept the value you are offering them.
But there’s a major catch:
- Don’t send out a generic email blast!!!
You need to do your research, carefully craft a letter of interest, and ensure that the business you are targeting actually needs your services.
I can’t tell you how many emails I have received from “internet marketing masters” for a domain I own that didn’t have a website on it. If they really were an internet marketing master, they’d have done their research and seen that I don’t need them to market an empty domain.
No one… NO ONE likes spam.
Don’t become a spammer.
You will be ignored 100% of the time and no one will want to work with you.
Instead, identify what the website needs and plan out a smart approach.
If you’re a web designer and you find a website with a bad design, send out an email, attach a resume, attach a portfolio, and tell them how you can help.
*And here’s the real secret to landing freelance clients:
- Send out a sample of what you can do for them.
In our website design example, send out a snapshot of a re-designed homepage.
Or if you’re a logo designer, send them an example of a nicely designed logo (be sure to include a watermark so it doesn’t get stolen).
If you’re a writer, include a sample piece that would work well for their website.
If you’re an editor, take some of the text from the website and edit it.
Whatever it is that you’re good at doing, offer up a sample so that the company can get a taste of how good you actually are.
This also shows the company that you’re serious about contributing to the greater good of their business and are not just interested in making money.
Here’s a good example from a Shouter who uses Twitter to find freelance writing work. But you can replace “writing” with anything. This is a great technique to follow for finding any kind of freelance work.
If you follow this technique, you will find work. Guaranteed.
But remember: DO NOT SEND OUT SPAM EMAILS!!!
Not only is spam annoying, it will only waste your time.
You will not find work. Guaranteed.
3. Your Current Job
So let’s say you already have a great job that you love, but you also want to work remote.
Unless you work in a physical retail environment (restaurant, clothing store, car dealership, etc.), you can likely figure out a way to keep that same job and work remotely.
Here’s a story:
I once knew a writer who was working for a large travel website. Her job was “content writer”, which for this site essentially meant “travel blogger”. But she had to go and work at the office every day! She was writing about being a lifelong traveler, but she had to do it from a physical office while working a “traditional” 9-5 job. How absurd! Even more ridiculous was that her company’s HQ was in a different country, so all communications were done online!
The company wanted to keep everyone together in an office setting to “encourage team morale”, but it was having the opposite effect on my friend who felt stifled and unable to perform her job.
Eventually, she convinced her boss to work remote, which had the effect of her increasing her productivity and output. Because of this, the company also had an increase in performance simply by allowing their employee the freedom to work remote.
Now, again, there are definitely situations where this won’t work. You can’t be a remote barista or a remote pastry maker. Maybe at some point in the future, but definitely not now…
However, if you work in tech, there is likely a way for you to maintain your current workload while working in a remote environment.
How to talk to your boss about working remote:
So, if you’re reading this, you are likely feeling discontented with your current working situation.
But it’s possible that you love your job, you just hate being stifled by the office environment.
If you think you can do your job remotely, there’s only one thing you need to do:
Talk to your boss about how you’re feeling. Tell him/her that you’re feeling stuck and really don’t like working in an office.
If the company values you as an employee, they’ll figure out a way to make your workflow entirely internet-based.
Again, you really need to have the company’s best interest at heart- this is the most valuable kind of worker there is.
Show them that you really like the company, not just the paycheck they give you every month.
Offer to do a remote-based trial to see how it goes.
Offer to spend time in a training session to learn a new skill that you can apply to this new style of working.
You can even offer to take a pay cut (if you truly value your freedom above making money).
The point is: Be honest and clearly communicate your needs and expectations. If you’re a valuable member of the team, the company will want to see you at your happiest and most productive.
If it’s really not going to work out, you have three options:
- Accept defeat and work for a company that makes you feel stifled.
- Find a company that lets you work remote.
- Become a blogger/find freelance work.
Ok, there’s actually a fourth option:
- Find offline traveling-based work (see the intro of this post).
But before you do any of these things, see if there’s a solution to be had with your current employer.
There’s even a company that helps you talk to your employer to figure out how you can work a remote job while organizing all of your travel arrangements, accommodations, and adventures (but because they’ve gotten so popular, they’ve become very selective ((and very expensive))). Check them out here: RemoteYear
BONUS: Become An Online Entrepreneur
This is something along the lines of “blogger”, but is a little more generalized.
An online entrepreneur is someone who builds some kind of business enterprise that is based online.
While this could be a blog, it doesn’t necessarily need to be one.
The more common types of online entrepreneurs run some kind of eCommerce site, but again, an online entrepreneur’s site doesn’t necessarily need to be an eCommerce one.
It’s important to remember that businesses are based around providing service, so if you’re trying to become an online business person, you need to be able to provide a service.
Examples of online-based non-eCommerce service sites:
- Payment Systems
- SEO Checkers
- Freelancer Marketplaces
- Job Boards
- Social Media Platforms
As an online entrepreneur running a website, you may want to maintain a blog in order to effectively market your services. But here, your focus is only on marketing your product, not on getting your blog to make money.
Even still, maintaining a blog is one of the best ways of getting people to know about what it is you do. It’s a fantastic marketing tactic that you should absolutely utilize when you decide to launch your own business.
As an online entrepreneur, it’s entirely up to you what you want to do.
If you have a service that you want to give away for free, you’ll probably need to get some advertisers on board so you can earn an income.
If you want to charge money for your services, then you’ll probably want to stay away from putting ads anywhere on your website.
Whatever you decide, make sure you prepare a well-defined business plan.
How to become an online entrepreneur:
I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, but I do have some pointers.
Entrepreneurship requires two things:
- Creative thinking
As an entrepreneur, you first need to think outside of the box.
And next, you need to continually battle failure.
As any kind of entrepreneur (including blogger), it is highly likely that you will fail multiple times over.
But you can’t let that stop you from achieving your goals.
Get back up on that proverbial horse and keep going.
If you have a really good idea, figure out how to achieve it.
I’d love to give you some good entrepreneurial ideas, but I can’t. While there are some hallmarks of an entrepreneur, there is no way to “teach” entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is like being an artist; you can’t teach someone to be an artist, but you can encourage a person’s creativity. When that creativity blossoms, this person will produce a great piece of art.
Start a website, market it, get people talking about what it is you do, seek feedback, and keep growing. If your product is truly great, the market will appreciate it and you’ll be successful.
If it isn’t, then you need to either keep refining it or find something else to do.
Again, being any kind of entrepreneur requires a lot of patience and dedication. Just because you think you have a great idea doesn’t mean the rest of the world will understand it.
But don’t let that stop you.
Never stop going.
Other things to do:
In order to maximize your potential as a valuable online worker, you should do a few basic things:
- Build and maintain an active social media presence (especially LinkedIn).
- Build and maintain an up-to-date online portfolio.
- Keep all relationships professional (don’t ever spam anyone).
- Always be looking out for new opportunities.
- NEVER STOP TRYING.
Becoming A Digital Nomad
As I have said many times before, and as I will continue to say, being a digital nomad is hard work.
It’s not nearly as glamorous as everyone makes it out to be.
That said, it definitely does have its perks.
For me, I love the freedom of traveling whenever and wherever I want. I love being able to decide to go somewhere one day and then go there the next day. I love being able to intermingle with all kinds of different people. I love sampling different foods, speaking different languages, and learning about different cultures.
And I love writing about what I learn.
These are the perks of being a digital nomad… for me.
I encourage you to explore what the perks of being a digital nomad are for you.
Find out how you can live the kind of life that you want to live.
Find out how you can break free from the office, break free from a boss, and break free from the “traditional” way of life.
Find out what the world has to offer.
Find out what it means to be a digital nomad.
You know that you want to do it…
You know how to do it…
Now all you need to do is…
Get up and do it.
Are you looking to be a digital nomad? What kind of skills do you bring to the online world? Have you ever tried being a digital nomad before? What worked? What didn’t? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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