Become a digital nomad. Live the freelance lifestyle. Earn a living while travelling. Many are seeking out digital nomad jobs so that they could earn a living without being bound to the 9-5 and the rush-hour commute.
This type of lifestyle isn’t for everybody, and it can be tough, especially when compared to the predictable nature of a monthly pay check. In this article, I’ll explore the nature of the digital nomad lifestyle, the types of jobs that best suit this purpose, and how you can start off on your own exciting journey.
Of course, digital nomad jobs do have a slight different from freelancing or having a remote-based career. Digital nomads mainly revolve around travelling the world while working remotely. For the sake of the discussion, I’ll just lump everything under one main purpose: to build a remote-based career.
So while you can end up being a freelancer who lives in different countries a few months at a time, it’s totally fine to be a freelancer based in your home country.
Before we delve further into the topic, do note that I’m writing this from an ex-freelancer’s perspective. I’ve sold my words on a freelance basis for more than a year before returning to a full-time job (I had an offer I couldn’t refuse). Throughout my career, I’ve met like-minded people who sold their skills (ranging from web developers to photographers) without being attached to any company.
So if you’re wondering whether or not it’s possible to realize this dream in the country, the answer is a resounding yes. With the mushrooming of new companies, especially in the tech industry, the opportunities for a remote lifestyle are only increasing.
Now that we’ve got the possibilities out of the way, let’s talk about the type of career paths you can choose to create a remote-based lifestyle.
These digital nomad jobs consist of, but are not limited to:
Most of these jobs have been born out of technology, but more established professions have started to follow suit as well. Believe it or not, even accountants have the ability to work remotely in this new economy. It’s just not highly recommended, as some industries such as this do not have the relevant infrastructure in place.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to this lifestyle. There will inevitably be roadblocks you’ll need to face. But the payoffs can be similarly great as well, depending on your needs. Let’s dive further into this topic to see if this is for you.
More of a night-owl than a morning person? Hate being stuck in rush-hour traffic? Want to wear sweatpants all day? Well I got good news for you. Being a digital nomad means you get to set your own rules. After all, working for yourself ultimately means being your own boss. And as the boss, you’re in charge of everything.
Because you’re not wasting time on needless commute, or having to be in the office even when you’re done with work, you get much more time that you can spend on your personal projects (or those related to your business). This directly benefits your wellbeing, and it allows you to explore the things you want in life.
You’ll be able to operate from anywhere in the world, so that means waking up to a beach view if that’s where your heart takes you. Some digital nomads really do the term justice, and never ever settle in one country. If you’re an adventurer, this will probably be a major plus point for you.
Have a sudden spike in web-design requests, and you want to start focusing on it because it’s bringing in more revenue than your photography business? Want to have the best customer service in your region than other freelancers? You get to determine where your business is headed, both on a macro and micro level.
Living the digital nomad lifestyle essentially means running a business. And like any other enterprise, you have the opportunity to earn much more than you ever could through a fixed income.
This lifestyle doesn’t automatically mean smooth sailing. Things may look great on the surface, but there are huge challenges involved in the pursuit of freedom. Here are some less-than-optimal things you may face in your journey to a remote-based career.
Alas, the allure of the digital nomad lifestyle is also its downfall, as you’ll never really know what lurks around the corner. This is especially true when you’re just starting out, and you’re unsure if you can make next month’s rent. Factor in insurance, health, entertainment, and business expenses, and you have a lot of things to think about.
Freelancers can offer different services, but there’s one thing that’ll always unite them all: chasing for payments. For the thin-skinned, constantly hounding late-paying clients can be a gruelling task. When your livelihood’s on the line, there’s a high chance you’ll turn into someone you don’t like, all because of the nature of this lifestyle.
Travelling for a living might sound great for a while, but there will come a time when you’d much rather spend Christmas or New Year’s back home. But where is home? And who do you go home to when your live has begun to revolve around travelling across the world?
Let’s say you reach a day when digital nomad jobs don’t cut it for you anymore. You want a steady income and finally settle down somewhere. The only trouble is, freelance work doesn’t necessarily translate well onto a resume. So you won’t be able to pick up where you left off where your career’s concerned. Definitely something you should look out for.
Let’s say you work as a software developer for a company. You clock in, you do your work, you leave. But as a digital nomad, you have to market yourself, learn the accompanying marketing tech, then build your own assets (such as your website) if you don’t have any. You’ll be your own accountant, negotiator, copywriter, analyst, creative department, and to top that all off, you’ll have to perform the service you’re actually selling. This road will be tough, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. On the flip side, it’s not something unattainable as well.
First things first. Before you sell off your possessions and take to the road, there’s one thing you should know. You’ll need a salable skill. That, and you’ll need to be very good at it. There’s no escaping this. You can market yourself as the best coder in the country, but you’ll inevitably have to back that claim.
Think about it from your clients’ perspective. What would they stand to gain from hiring you, compared to approaching someone else? Can you justify your prices through your work? Do you have a good overview of your industry’s processes, and where you fit in?
If you don’t have the skills, where can you get them? And if you do, where do you get paid gigs?
Spend a lot of time thinking about this before moving on. Also, make sure it’s a skill that you actually care enough about to improve in.
No matter what it is you choose to do, having a ready portfolio will save you so much trouble. In fact, a strong portfolio will outweigh paper certifications in most cases. More often than not, this will be what your clients will be basing their decisions off. So don’t skimp here. Show off your best work, and present it in the best way possible. If you’re a coder, put your projects up on Github, or if you’re a digital marketer, prepare a page that showcases the results you’ve managed to get from your marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve picked up a skill, and have prepared your portfolio, you’ll need to figure out your peripheral needs. This includes knowing where to find your potential clients, having decent digital marketing skills (you wanna be a digital nomad after all), having the necessary equipment, and preparing promotional material for a start.
This is where you decide if you’ll be working in a different country every other month, or if you’ll hunker down somewhere with a huge demand for your skills. If travelling is not your thing, an alternative would be to seek out co-working spaces as your office.
Just going out and paving your own path might be intimidating. That’s why I’ve also included quick profiles of people who are living on their own terms. If they can do it, so can you!
Mainly a writer, Kepnes started off his digital nomad journey by creating a blog to document his travels and to generate income. His practical travel tips and stories resonated with the public, earning him his huge following today (1 million visitors a month). He would also become a New York Times best-selling author, and it all sparked off from his first trip overseas!
Having graduated in Pharmacy, Ping joined NEXT Academy’s coding bootcamp due to a mixture of interest and pure curiosity. She would then become an engineer, mentor, tech lead, and entrepreneur in a short span of time after her graduation. She now sets her own working hours and can even work remotely. But as an entrepreneur, she puts in more hours than when she did as an employee.
Jeff Bullas got into digital marketing when he was between jobs, and built his legacy from just USD10 (his website costs at the time). Today, he gets up to 5 million visitors a year, and has a host of accolades, with awards such as #1 Global Digital Marketing Influencer under his belt.
Living the freelance lifestyle — or finding digital nomad jobs — can be a very rewarding path to take. There’s a certain cool factor to it, and only your efforts directly determine your results. On the flip side, it’s far from easy. It’ll take a long time before you start to see initial results, and even more before you’re able to find your footing.
Persevere, however, and you might just live the dream.