How to Become a Digital Nomad
3 Paths to Location Freedom
Howdy Nomads ⚔️,
Today I want to teach you everything I know about How to Become a Digital Nomad and the 3 different paths YOU can take to achieve location freedom.
Heads up! Here’s the video if you’d prefer to watch instead:
I’ve been experimenting with this lifestyle for the past few years and I want to give you the information I wish I had when I started this journey. Let’s dive in!
If you’re not aware, a Digital Nomad is a person who earns a living working online in any location that they choose - instead of being forced to live in a fixed location because of their work.
Step 1: Identify Your Income Streams
The first thing you need to consider before making the jump to a location-independent lifestyle is your wallet. Like it or not, money makes the world go round and island hopping aside, even if you’re backpacking, living in hostels, and eating canned beans; you’re going to need some cash.
But thanks to the internet, there are more options than ever before for making money online and I’ve broken them into 3 groups:
First on our list is Remote Work, an increasingly popular route to achieving the digital nomad lifestyle. If you're eyeing this path, it could involve a transition - either moving your current career towards a remote role or, more likely, entering a field where remote work is more accepted.
The tech industry is a prime example of this. And I hate being the “everyone should learn to code!!!” guy - but learning to code could be your passport to work from any corner of the world. You can find work as a:
These roles were practically made for remote work!
That’s what I did to become a digital nomad - I learned how to code specifically with the intent of landing a remote job that allowed me to travel. But that’s by no means the only option to becoming a digital nomad.
If you have a love for Writing or Communication, you can find remote work in:
Social Media Management
Teaching/Translation jobs if you speak multiple languages.
There are also more and more remote opportunities in Business for roles like:
Customer Success Manager
For finding specific remote jobs that I’m interested in, I primarily use LinkedIn with the “Remote Only” filter, because it works well for finding tech jobs, but websites like RemoteOK show remote jobs only so you don't have to spend time filtering job posting sites. - I’m just a bit of a LinkedIn fanboy!
You can check out my list of the Top 20 Platforms for Finding Remote Jobs and Freelancing Gigs for the best places to find nomad-friendly work.
Unlike a full-time remote job where you work for a single company indefinitely, freelancers complete work on a contract-by-contract basis.
Freelancing has less stability than full-time remote work but you do get the freedom to set your own hours and your own rates. I like to think of freelance as a stepping stone from a 9-5 to entrepreneurship and it’s a great way to supplement your income, and develop new skills, all while having the freedom to work from anywhere.
But that being said, freelancing is all about being really good at a skill so you can sell it.
It can take a few months to a few years to get going and build client bases and reputation but I know people who do incredibly well from freelance contracts alone - and it allows them to work from anywhere they’d like so the reward could very well be worth it.
If you’re not a master at your skill, it might be worth postponing this route and investing time into becoming great at your skill and building a portfolio that shows potential clients why they would want to hire you.
With all that being said, if freelancing is the route you want to go, you're going to find an almost overwhelming amount of job platforms to choose from - but I’m here to guide you through them.
2. Fiverr (For Creatives)
Fiverr is a great platform for creatives looking to sell their services. Think graphic design, video editing, and even voice-over work.
3. Toptal (For $$$)
If you're an absolute top-tier freelancer, a master at the service you provide, and are looking to take your freelancing business to the next level, you might want to check out Toptal; A freelancing platform that is highly competitive but offers lucrative contracts for those at the top of their field.
For those of you interested in the tech and startup scene, AngelList and Product Hunt can connect you with fresh and exciting companies that are hiring and raising money. I found my first internship in data science through AngelList but do be extra cautious as a lot of these companies are brand new and some of them are kinda shady.
And for the artists and designers out there, 99Designs is a dedicated space where you can compete in design contests or directly work with clients.
These sites are great, but to be honest… I don’t think I’m cut out for freelancing.
I like the comfort and stability of my full-time remote job and if I’m going to work on something outside of that, it’s going to be something with leverage that could potentially generate income outside of the time I put into it.
This brings us to the final, and in my opinion, the best path to becoming a digital nomad…
Running an Online Business
This path is about carving out your own unique way of generating income online. And with the power of the internet, it's easier than ever to start a business and manage it from anywhere. Here are a few types of online businesses you can consider and some that I’m currently building myself:
Think ebooks, online courses, templates, or webinars - anything you can make once, put online, and sell repeatably. Even if you’re a beginner, there are tons of other beginners interested in hearing your perspective enough to pay for it.
Creating digital products can generate passive income, as the same product can be sold over and over to different customers. This is also why running an online business is the only path we’ve discussed that allows you to divorce your time from your money - which is the ultimate goal here.
If you work a full-time job, you’re capped at your salary and the number of hours you’re allowed to work. If you’re a freelancer, even if you have infinite clients, you’re capped by how many hours you physically can work per day.
Running an online business by creating and selling digital products gives you unlimited leverage because you did the work one time but can sell the value over and over again. Creating digital products can also be something you do on the side of your full-time or freelancing job or even something you can do to benefit from some of these other business models.
You can create a membership service or website where people pay a recurring fee to access premium content, community features, or any other benefits you choose to offer. This method, if done right, can easily make you more money than a full-time job. Selling a $7 monthly membership to only 1,000 people will earn you $84,000 before taxes. Pair this with frequent, high-performing content and a good offering… $1M/year doesn’t seem unreasonable.
E-commerce: E-commerce is another great option - especially if you’re a content creator. With e-commerce platforms, you can set up an online store and sell physical products. I will warn you that dropshipping, a type of e-commerce where you sell products you don't physically stock, is another attractive model, especially for digital nomads but I would personally recommend you stay far away from this side of e-commerce (aside from print-on-demand services to make your own merch or customer products). Either make a really great product and sell it to people (which will require its own marketing) or go in reverse - build an audience and open an online store with items that they would like.
And finally, we have this, writing this newsletter…
This path is about creating valuable content for a particular audience - be it videos, blog posts, newsletters, or social media posts.
This is what I'm doing right now, creating content for people like you who want to learn how to leverage the internet to gain more personal freedom. Creating content does pay and could theoretically be a full-time job, but at the very least it’s a mechanism to spread your ideas, name, and products out into the world. And there’s not a single business model that I named that wouldn’t become supercharged by adding valuable content into the mix.
See you in the next one!