It’s a question on many office workers’ lips, and on plenty of freelancers’ minds too: how do I become a digital nomad? Here’s some insight into what to expect from this adventurous lifestyle, and how to get there.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who harnesses modern technology in a way that makes it possible for them to work from any location in the world. All they need is their laptop and a good Internet connection, and they can connect with any client, any time. This gives them plenty of freedom and flexibility, allowing them to travel and explore exciting new cities while still earning an income.
Should I Become a Digital Nomad?
Is the remote working lifestyle right for you? This largely depends on what your priorities are, and what you find fulfilling. If you’re looking to check some big items off your “bucket list” and want the freedom to do it while still supporting yourself, becoming a digital nomad is the ideal solution. Remember though, there are some sacrifices you will have to make for this lifestyle. A few points to bear in mind:
- The majority of digital nomads are self-employed, which means giving up a regular salary.
- Working for yourself takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication.
- You may need to work late or irregular hours, depending on your time zone.
- Being on the road means travelling light, so you may miss the comforts of home sometimes.
- Forget the 9-to-5 routine; your schedule will be pretty unpredictable, especially in comparison to office life.
- Issues like slow Internet speed and unreliable connections can interfere with your deadlines.
Being a digital nomad can be challenging! That said, many people who adopt this lifestyle find that the adventure makes it all worthwhile. The steps you take to become a digital nomad will depend largely on what skills you have to offer, and where you want to travel. If you already have experience with working from home, you may be able to start negotiating more flexibility with your employer. If you are already working for yourself as a freelancer, you may already have a client base that you can harness to earn a living from anywhere in the world.
Here are a few pointers to help you make it as a digital nomad:
5 Steps to Becoming a Digital Nomad
1. Develop in-demand online skills
Many digital nomads work in fields like design, web development and digital marketing. A lot of people want the freedom that comes with working while travelling, so you’ll likely find competition in your field is high, and you’ll need to make sure you have a marketable set of skills. This may mean building on your current qualifications with an online bootcamp or post-grad course, or branching out to a new field entirely.
2. Create a portfolio
Start building your portfolio of work so you can market yourself effectively. Start by helping startups and SMEs with smaller projects to gain experience, and work your way up to bigger, more complex projects,
3. Sell your services
Get onto the right online marketplaces and build up an online presence. Make sure all your contact details are correct and up to date, and give clients a clear indication of how quickly you will respond to their communications. UpWork.com, Fiverr.com, Udemy.com, and Etsy.com are all great examples of digital marketplaces where international freelancers offer products and services. If you’ve got the skills or the connections, you can also build your own website and promote yourself via social media channels.
4. Cut the clutter
Living a nomadic lifestyle means you might not have a traditional “home base” for months or even years at a time. This means you’ll need to eliminate some barriers and free yourself up to travel. You may want to lease or sublet your home, sell your car, and sell some of your personal belongings or put them in long-term storage. Decide what you’ll need to take with you, and leave everything else behind.
The good news is, the same technology that allows you to work remotely will also help you to stay in touch with friends and family back home!
5. Start your nomadic journey
This is the fun part – it’s time to choose your destination and book your tickets on the first leg of your nomadic adventure. The kind of location you choose to visit will depend on the type of activities you want to enjoy – but here are some guidelines to ease you into your first trip:
- Choose a location known for its safety and friendliness towards tourists;
- Find a city with a choice of coworking spaces and hot desks;
- Look for a place where there is already a strong digital nomad community;
- Choose a place with some great tourist spots, tasty food and a pleasant climate to enjoy.
Looking for some inspiration? Join a coworking retreat in Bali, Cape Town or Budapest, and experience just how much fun it can be to become a digital nomad.