I was resistant for a very long time to write an article titled “How to become a digital nomad” as there is a lot of bullshit out there in the Digital Nomad community about sitting on the beach doing nothing while having millions pour into your bank account. Firstly shit like that doesn’t exist, sorry to burst your bubble and a few people are selling that dream of being a “digital nomad” to make a quick buck.
Read more: What is a digital nomad?
Also, I don’t typically identify myself as a digital nomad, despite working and traveling the world full time for over a year. I just believe in doing what you love, for now, its travel, if I decide tomorrow I don’t want to travel, I’ll just stop.
One of the main reasons I finally decided to sit down and write this is because I’m always asked by my Instagram followers and I receive tons of emails from this blog asking me “How to become a digital nomad” or “How do I get started?” or “How can I travel the world and work, like you?” or “How can I become a digital nomad?” etc. Well, this article is a little long but it’s full of actual practical advice and tips and is what I would do if I started today with no connections and no money!
There’s no course, ebook or system I’m selling at the end. I’m just going to give you the most practical tips that I would give my own best friend! But you do have to implement them and put in the work to make them a reality! I’m not an expert, nor am I claiming to be one, I’m just sharing what I’ve done and what has worked for me in this guide on How To Become a Digital Nomad
First, You need to understand that it’s all about value! In the capitalistic society that most of us live in, everything is about value! Most people are used to working and earning by the hour, but even there it’s about value. How? You are exchanging your time for a paycheck. The reason you are paid an X amount per hour is that you are bringing enough value to your employer that it’s worth for him/her to pay you that much per hour.
Let’s me explain that in a simple example, let’s say I run a video company and that makes 100$ per video, but I’m not good at editing. So it’s worth for me to hire someone to edit my videos for ~30$ as that person is bringing me value by not having to learn how to edit and saving me time so I can focus on other things. Now, I don’t care about this person’s degree or qualifications or which part of the world he is from if he can deliver actual results. He could be sitting on a beach in Thailand or in an office in India. However, if his/her edits are shit, I won’t hire him/her, as he/she is bringing me absolutely no value.
Over the long term, your degree, qualifications or who your father is, doesn’t matter if you can’t bring vaule to the marketplace and deliver.
Start out with the mindset of value. If you as an individual can provide value and you learn how to convey your value to others, you won’t ever need to worry about being able to make money! How can you provide value? Well if anything you do can save someone else time, money or energy, or make someone else more money, you are bringing them value.
I started by talking about value because the mindset shift is what most people need to do before starting. Okay now lets to the actual golden nuggets you are reading this article for
How to Become a Digital Nomad
So here’s what I would do if I were starting today with no skills, money or connections.
Freelancing & Remote Work
Firstly I would take a skill, something that I like or at least have an interest in, it could be anything from website design to copywriting, to video editing to translations. I would pick one that was of interest to me, next I would learn that skill and get really good at it using the internet for free.
Using the internet, you can learn almost anything for absolutely free. You don’t even need to pay for a course or anything!
If you are reading this and say that you can’t, you are just making excuses and aren’t ready to put in the work. Seriously, no one wants to listen to your complaints.
If you want to learn to code, go to Codecademy and do it for free. Want to learn computer science? Go to edX.org and audit Harvard’s course on computer science for… wait for it… free! There are endless resources to learn on the internet for free.
Here are the sites and apps I personally use to learn
- SkillShare: You can learn anything from cutting vegetables like a professional to building a website. With a membership, you can watch an endless amount of classes. Try out the free 1 Month trial and see if it brings you any value.
- Udemy: From business management to public speaking to SEO! There are a lot of courses here, however in my honest opinion, a lot of them are overpriced for the value they bring but there are always discount offers, usually around the weekend that sometimes let you get 200$ courses for 10$. There are a lot of free courses that are good too.
- YouTube: Skip the trending tab and learn something instead. Instead of watching fidget spinners or whatever the hell is trending nowadays, you can learn on Youtube for free. My favorite channels on Youtube are as follows: Gary Vaynerchuk, Kurzgesagt, TED, Practical Psychology and Fight Mediocrity (Until he went AWOL).
- Audible by Amazon: Don’t have time to read a book, Audiobooks could be a good substitute! Listen to them while making your breakfast or while at the gym and get some knowledge during that extra downtime! You can get 2 free audiobooks by signing up for the free trail. Recommendations? Check out the 4 hour work week and Vagabonding!
- Podcasts: I started to listen to podcasts recently and I’m in love with them! My favorite ones are The GaryVee Audio Experience, The Tim Ferris show and I just started listening to The Smart Passive Income Podcast and would recommend it!
- Sites like Coursera, Edx are great for free courses from some of the best universities in the world eg Harvard, Standford, MIT.
You can also play to your talents here; if you have a good voice, look into getting good at doing voiceovers for Videos etc! The options are endless when it comes to picking a skill, just pick one that is of interest to you. Why do I say that? So that when it comes to learning it, you’ll be more likely to put in the work to get good at it if you like it.
Using the resources above, you can now improve the skill you chose. Next, you need start getting paid to do that skill for other people! How to go about doing that? One path is freelancing.
There are a lot of freelancing platforms, many people like them but I’m not a huge fan but here are the two biggest ones. UpWork, Fiverr . There a couple of platforms that are specific to certain niches, eg 99designs for graphic designers etc. Do the research for your own niche using Google. I personally work with Startups and Businesses as an SEO consultant.
How Do You Get Clients As A Digital Nomad?
It varies from skill to skill but now you need to start networking. Start networking on Facebook, LinkedIn and other places on the internet, DON’T BE A SPAMMER! Network and form connections and human relationships with other people!
Getting clients always seems to be the hardest part for most people, I’m going to share the way how I got my first clients.
Well, I learned how to build websites using Youtube and Google. I just knew how to build basic WordPress websites. I didn’t have a portfolio and I was an 18-year-old college dropout with no connections, how could I get any clients?
Here’s what I did; I made a list of all the cafes in a city using Google Maps. Then came on Facebook and did the same and filtered down the list to the ones that had a Facebook Page. I then went through the Facebook pages and canceled out the cafes that had a website.
Why did I do that? Cause now I had a list of cafes that understood the benefits of marketing online but didn’t have a website. This entire process took 15 mins. I then went to each of these cafes and at the end of the day, I had a client.
I then got referrals, got more clients, networked, grew my portfolio, got more clients and networked more. I traveled for half a year building websites.
Now every industry will require you to network differently, copywriters will have to network in Facebook groups with writers, Virtual Assistants will have to network in groups of business owners etc. But the excuse that you can’t get clients is absolute bullshit, you are just not willing to put in the work.
When I say that your complaints are bullshit, I’m not dismissing them! You might not have the support of your friends or family, you might be broke and from a third world country like India (like I was) or whatever the hell other excuses you have. I’m not dismissing them, they might be real, but complaining doesn’t ever achieve anything!
It may seem like I’m using my motivational life story to sell you something like most ads you tend to see on Facebook and in reality, I guess I am, I’m trying to sell you the idea that you can achieve anything, which in this case is becoming location independent but only if you are willing to put in the work.
The other way that’s popular is to get a remote job. Remote jobs are getting popular each and every day as companies are realizing that you don’t need people to be in an office to get work done. Even companies like Amazon, IBM have joined the bandwagon! It’s useful to have a portfolio or some proof of work before applying to any of these! Here is a list of a few sites that list remote jobs that you can apply for.
- Flexjobs: Currently hosts more than 20K job listings including part-time and freelance opportunities!
- We Work Remotely: This site is sure to host remote opportunities at some of the hottest tech companies.
- Working Nomads: Working Nomads delivers a curated list of remote jobs right to your inbox.
- Here are a couple more: WFH.io, Angellist.co and Stack Overflow
- My friend Mike from Hobo With A Laptop made a great directory of these sites where they are categorized by the niche and type of work. Check it out here.
Why do I recommend freelancing or getting a remote job? Well, cause that’s what the majority of Digital Nomads do! Most of them are service based individuals and it’s the truest and tried path! It’s also how I started which maybe another reason I recommend it!
Now let’s talk about online businesses now,
I would start out by freelancing or getting a remote job and build an online business in the background. Why? Because most online businesses take time to grow.
Keep in mind that this is what I would do, if you have a job that can pay the bills, I would start building the business directly during the free time instead of watching the new season of Game Of Thrones!
There are a lot of options here from an E-commerce store to a Youtube channel. Here’s my take on it and what I would do/did. Build a business around on your passion or interests. Why do I say that? Because when you are working on something you love it doesn’t really feel like work!
I would pick an interest and start either a Blog, a Youtube channel or a Podcast around it. Why three options? Well not everyone can do all 3, I personally would suck at a podcast (have you heard me talk!? if not join me on Facebook Live sometime), but I’m killing it with blogging and just started with YouTube.
Why start and grow an online business? Well because it can make you money even when you don’t work. Let’s say you upload a video to Youtube and you decide to monetize it by running ads before the video, now if someone watches the ads and the video while you are asleep or even surfing you will earn a small amount. Now, what if a thousand or 10 thousand or a 100 thousand people do that?
Long Term Benefits
You could talk about Smurfs or whatever you want and make a living doing it. Ads are the easiest form of monetization. You could do affiliate marketing too where you can recommend products eg books on Amazon and earn a commission if someone buys something. Now the person buying doesn’t pay extra, but you get a % from Amazon’s cut! Almost all companies have a program like this where you can earn a commission on products if you recommend them. Just Google “*Company Name* Affiliate”!
Other than that you can grow your channel or blog to the point where companies will sponsor you, eg Take my coffee vlog on Youtube, I just started it and have less than 50 subscribers as I write this. Over the next years I’m going to grow it and someday it could possibly start out like this, “Welcome to The #CoffeeWithJeremy Show, this episode is brought to you by Starbucks!”
“Haha oh sure Jeremy, lol! Like that will happen?! People who reach that point are just lucky”
A little over a year ago, I sat in college Googling “How to make money traveling” now I’m on the first page of Google if you search that and I’m 19 years old! So cut the bullshit excuses and “lucky” and actually put in the work.
Here are basic guidelines I would follow,
- Podcast: I haven’t done a Podcast (yet) so I can’t advice when it comes to that. But I’m sure they’re a ton os videos out there.
- Youtube: I would recommend you watch this video by Practical Psychology if you want to grow your YouTube Channel.
- Blog: This is where I know my craft and I have an entire article on how to start a blog and make money that is packed full of resources and that’ll help you get started in less than 30 mins.
Here’s a special offer for you guys: SiteGround is a hosting company I recommend to use to host your site, I personally use it to host this site. If you buy your hosting from SiteGround through my guide, they will set up your blog for free! Check out my SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review.
What did I start out this article talking about? Value! Bring value with your content, that’s how you are going to succeed in whichever medium you choose! You need to provide helpful information!
Take this article, for example, it is packed with helpful knowledge and information on How to become a digital Nomad and I could have made it into an ebook and sold it, instead, I gave it away for free, Why? because firstly I’ll help more people and also down the line when I do write a book or something, the people who were impacted positively by this blog or article will be more likely to buy it.
There are a lot of other online businesses you can start too, eg dropshipping, e-commerce etc. I have no experience with them hence have not talked about them. I recommend one of the above as the cost of entry is super low. You can just record a video on your phone and upload to Youtube right now for free. Even if you choose to run a blog, it’s insanely cheap, I spend more on coffee in a week than I spend per month on this blog.
So that’s what I would do if I started today with no cash and connections! Digital Nomads aren’t some exotic breed that have a hack with respect to How To Become a Digital Nomad! They are normal people just like everyone else who put in the work!
That’s the variable that I hoped this article helps get across, hard work and patience! It’s never been easier to make a living traveling the world, just go out there and do! Actually go execute and don’t just read article after article, start doing!
Read Next: Get Paid To Travel – 10 practical ways to make money traveling!