How to Become a Digital Nomad
Tips for learning how to become a digital nomad, working from anywhere and travelling the world.
I’ll be the first to say what everyone else is thinking: sitting at the same desk in a stuffy office for 8 hours (minimum) 5 days of the week is boring. There’s a new movement of people longing for more, tired of sitting underneath fluorescent lights in a cubicle–ready to see the world and work on their own terms. When you become a digital nomad, your office is wherever you can pick up a wifi signal.
It seems these days everyone’s curious about the elusive digital nomad, wondering if it’s an attainable goal. With an abundance of possible digital nomad jobs, becoming a remote worker might not be as far fetched as you think. Here are 8 tips for you to follow to ditch the traditional work life and become a digital nomad.
Make sure you have some savings
Money can sometimes be unpredictable as a digital nomad. You should make sure you have a good amount of money saved so that you’ll be safe while you travel if you fall out of work or if there’s an emergency. Add some funds to your savings by selling off some of your belongings. When you become a digital nomad, you’ll learn that material possessions become less and less important.
Treat this as your financial runway. Estimate the number of months you may go without work (3 is a safe number), the cost of living per month, and $1,000 extra for any unforeseen circumstances. The number changes for everyone, but it’s safe to assume you may want a cushion of $3,000-$5,000 if you have no income when you begin.
Need some inspiration? 119 digital nomads told us about their job titles and salaries in our last survey.
Figure out if your current job will let you go remote
There’s a misconception that you have to be a freelancer in order for digital nomad life to work out for you. However, you’d be surprised at the number of digital nomads who work one of their preexisting jobs remotely. After you spend enough time at a job and prove your work ethic, it’s worth a shot to ask your boss if you can go remote–or at least partially remote. The only caveat with a situation like this is that you might need to work your home country’s traditional office hours, and that can get tricky when you’re in far away time zones. This option can provide you with stability, including a nice predictable income.
Here are 14 tips from digital nomads who’ve already had to go through the negotiation stage at work.
Find a new remote job
As the rise of digital nomads continues, more and more fully remote jobs have become available. Some companies now have fully remote or semi remote teams, and are totally open to hiring somebody that doesn’t come into their offices - check out these 900 companies hiring remotely this year!. Remote digital nomad jobs can range from web design to social media management to much more. Video calls and platforms like Google Hangouts and Slack make for seamless communication between employees and managers. There are even some websites that post mainly remote jobs, such as Remote.co and We Work Remotely. Check job boards often and sign up for newsletters to be the first to hear about new job opportunities. Even more traditional job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor will post remote part time gigs from time to time.
If your current job doesn’t want to let you go remote, or you just simply want to start fresh, you can try freelancing. Now, let me warn you, this is not an easy task. Freelancing is difficult, unpredictable, and requires a lot of self discipline, because you become your own boss. However, this option will give you the most freedom when you become a digital nomad. It’ll take time to build up your client base, figure out what you’re best at, and get into the swing of things, but hard work will pay off. You’ll want to create a portfolio showcasing your strongest work as well as a website to help potential clients find you. You can try cold-emailing businesses soliciting your service or check out sites like Upwork to apply for gigs. Popular freelance gigs include copywriting, graphic design, and social media marketing, but really, the opportunities are limitless!
Consider Passive Income
Passive income is basically a way to make money without doing any active work. This is a great way to have some cushion if you’re going through a slow period with work. There are so many options for earning passive income, so you can do some research and try various things out to see what works best for you. Some ideas include affiliate marketing, selling online courses, or real estate investment.
Figure out where you want to go
You don’t have to plan every little thing out, but it’s good to have an idea of some places where you’d like to go, and more importantly, where you want to start out. Make a list of places you’d love to travel to, and do some research about them. Are they safe for solo travellers? Is wifi readily available? Is it affordable? Are there coliving options for digital nomads? Another thing you’ll definitely need to look into once you figure out where you want to go is the visa situation. Depending on how long you want to stay in a certain place, you might need to apply for a visa, so you’ll want to make sure logistics are in order.
Connect with other digital nomads
Networking is key! Not only will networking help you with possible digital nomad jobs and gigs, but you'll also get some great tips on living a nomadic life, recommendations for places to go, things to see, hostels to avoid–you name it! Plus, linking up with other digital nomads is a great way to connect with like minded people along the road, which will help prevent those lonely homesick feelings. You can even plan meetups or coworking days with your fellow nomads.
Roll with the punches
Digital nomad life is not always going to be sunshine and fruitful paychecks! There will be storms and money droughts. You might get homesick, you might get lonely, you might question if being a digital nomad is actually right for you. Take a step back and allow yourself to feel grateful. You’re living a dream life that not many people get to live! this. Live life to the fullest, be open to new opportunities, and take risks. You'll probably make some of the best memories of your life as a digital nomad, so have fun, work hard, and don’t forget to take lots of photos along the way.
If you’re just starting out or looking for a community to support your new lifestyle, the Outsite Community is full of remote entrepreneurs, creatives, engineers, freelancers, you name it. Here’s how to get access to the Members Slack Community.
Words: Ashley Laderer