About the author

This guide was written by Darren Cronian. Over the last 7 years, he has secured numerous remote jobs and built a successful freelancing business. Frustrated at automated rejections or struggling to find freelance clients? Your remote work coach is here for support.

If you’ve decided that it’s time you ditch your 9-5 job to work and travel, it might feel like you don’t know where to start to become a digital nomad.

There’s a lot to do to become a digital nomad, ranging from funding to expenses and housing options. Before you embark on the journey of a lifetime, carefully ensure you’re able to check off everything on this list.

How to become a digital nomad
What is a digital nomad?

If a lifestyle of traveling to different locations and setting up your workspace sounds ideal, then you might consider becoming a digital nomad. Simply, digital nomads are people who work in places like libraries, coffee shops, co-working spaces, or anywhere they can set up a hotspot with their mobile device.

In this way, the world becomes their office, and they are free to travel as they please. As more and more people begin working remotely, digital nomadic lifestyles continue to become increasingly more popular.

This is the ideal lifestyle if you’re interested in traveling the world and don’t want to be confined to an office space.

Here are the benefits and realities of being a digital nomad.

Benefits of nomad life

There are a variety of benefits to becoming a digital nomad. Contrary to the idea that you simply lounge around exotic destinations all day, being a remote digital worker means that you’re going to be on the move from place to place often.

To be successful and to find the real beauty in this lifestyle, you need to be clear on your goals and very organized. There are plenty of benefits to entice you to keep on your journey along the way.

Embrace new experiences

As a digital nomad, you’re rarely in one place for long. This means that the constant travelling will keep you out of your comfort zone so you can adapt to new environments. Increasing your brain’s capacity and attention to new environments gives you skills for the future.

In other words, the more you travel and then longer you’re a digital nomad, the more adaptive you become.

The fancy name for this is synaptic play, which is a scientific way of saying that creativity happens when you push together seemingly unrelated concepts to create new ideas. Working as a digital nomad gives you so many diverse experiences, increasing your chance that a breakthrough idea will come about.

It’s no secret that today’s on-demand work schedules leave little room for a life/work balance. As a digital nomad, you’re going to have more time to do the things you love. You’re more likely to find relevancy in your day to day if you have time to experience it. After all, we should be working to live, not living to work.

Types of jobs for a digital nomad

Digital nomads earn money doing remote work either as employees, contractors or as freelancers. To help you find the right employment, you should know what you’re good at and whether or not your skills are in demand.

Once you know the answers to these two questions, you’ll have a clearer path on how to make money. Being a part of the gig economy gives you the freedom to pick and choose which projects are a good fit, giving you yet another reason to strike an amenable work life balance.

There are countless roles and industries with which to align yourself as you begin to embrace the digital nomadic lifestyle.

Contrary to traditional employment, the beauty of digital nomadic remote work is that your skills can easily translate into a variety of industries.

In turn, this makes you more marketable and ultimately, more profitable.

Skills needed to be a digital nomad

It might feel disingenuous to market yourself for digital roles, since it’s a completely different arena than traditional employment, but having the freedom to travel and work remotely is entirely reliant on your ability to set yourself apart from the rest of the applicant pool.

Understanding how internet searches work and how people use them can leverage you to make yourself appear more frequently in search results.

Critical keyword placement on your CV will help you get noticed and hopefully help you land a remote job. When you’re showing up more frequently on freelance remote sites, clients are more likely to select your profile.

Common digital nomad categories

Consider how you fit in to the larger digital nomad lifestyle. Developers are going to approach the lifestyle differently than creators. Common digital nomads can generally be broken down into seven categories:

  • Internet marketers – SEO, pay per click adverts, social media management
  • Media producers – vlogs, videos, musicians, podcasters
  • Programmers/developers – develop, customise, tweaking code for applications
  • Teachers/translators – tutoring, ESL, professors
  • Virtual assistants – web updates, emails, calendars, light design work
  • Wordsmiths – content writers, copy editors, ghost-writing
  • Online Education – courses, membership communities
Resolve issues for others

It’s a general rule that people like working with people they know. If you can alleviate a revolving issue for people you already know, you’ve taken the first step to becoming a digital nomad. That wastes no time because there’s no learning curve involved.

Once you have a few gigs under your belt, consider looking at ways to create passive income. Remember that each work experience and travel locale are going to build on the skills you already have. This is going to help you hone the ability to see the world as an entrepreneur.

Gaining an understanding of what others in your niche need will help you see areas where you can help facilitate income without having to do the work.

Recommended personality traits

The fact is, people will try and sell you the dream of being a digital nomad – sit on the beach with your laptop while sipping a cocktail. It isn’t the reality, and the truth is making money online is not easy.

You will have to have certain personality traits to become successful:

  • Strong work ethic – your clients and customers have to be your focus
  • Highly organised – a daily routine is a must
  • Trustworthy – be trusted to get work done, and on time
  • Good communicator – keep your employer and clients informed of work progress
  • Passionate about your work – be passionate about the work that you do
Build your personal brand

Remember that everyone’s version of being a remote digital nomad is going to look different. Learning how to build your own personal branded empire with less effort will give you the opportunity to create meaningful and lasting experiences.

Dial in to your own processes to help you figure out what works for you to help you maintain a level of success in the long term.

Identify the skills you already possess and look for a way into that industry without having to go out and reinvent yourself. Chances are, there are needs waiting to be met with the skills you already have.

You will not be working on the beach

Of course, being a digital nomad isn’t about beaches and travel. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into making sure you remain accountable.

You need to be quite organized and a self-starter to sustain the lifestyle over time so that you can enjoy your travels and enjoy your work. When you’re ready to embrace life to its fullest and you’re willing to work hard to make it happen, becoming a digital nomad is an easy choice.

Remove unnecessary expenses

It seems obvious, but it’s a major pitfall for many beginning digital nomads.

A careful review of your monthly budget will show where you can trim expenses. After all, there are likely a number of services you’re no longer going to need when you travel.

Eliminate those first. Then, remove subscriptions that aren’t going to be useful while you’re traveling. Paying off debt as much as possible before you hit the trail will serve you best in the long run.

Have a backup money fund

Long before you’re able to hand over your flat keys and start traveling, you need to have plenty of income available. This means that wherever you’re heading, you should have at least three months of safety money available.

You never know when an emergency will arise, and because you don’t have the luxury of a constant pay check, then you need to plan for the worst and hope for the best. A great way to create a sizable nest egg is to sell everything you’re not going to need as a digital nomad.

This way you’re not paying for a storage unit while you’re traveling, and you can get on with your new life sooner.

Travel or health insurance is essential

Without the benefits of being an employee, you need to source your own health insurance. If you get sick on the road, or need emergency dental treatment, the costs can be crippling. Travel health insurance ensures that you remain shipshape no matter where you are in the world.

Do careful research when purchasing a plan and make sure it can be used everywhere you’re planning to visit.

Unlock your mobile phone

Moving from country to country can be difficult if your phone isn’t unlocked. The simplest way to overcome this obstacle is to call your mobile carrier and asked that your phone be unlocked. Then, you’ll be able to use your phone in any country with the addition of a country-specific SIM card.

Tips for digital nomads

As a digital nomad, it’s essential that you stick to a budget. This is especially important for freelance workers who have to constantly mine for their next projects. Along with your nest egg, your budget should be carefully managed each step of the way.

Adopt a new mantra where you plan for the worst and hope for the best. Living abroad means there are always going to be unfamiliar scenarios.

Make sure you have backup plans ready to go and avoid being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.

Can be a lonely existance

Life as a digital nomad can feel a little lonely at times. It’s good practice to seek out other nomads when you reach a new location. Or join an online digital nomad community. This will help you reduce the learning curve that comes with embracing a new lifestyle and you’ll be contributing to open share learning.

Research your destinations well so you have clear expectations of what’s waiting for you when you arrive. This is another area where being a part of an online digital nomadic community can be of benefit, since it’s possible that where you’re heading, others have gone before.

Being a digital nomad is an adventurous lifestyle. It takes some planning at the start but it’s well worth it to be able to travel the world and embrace other cultures. Staying focused on your end goal will help you amass the skills you need so you can hit the road well prepared for whatever adventure awaits.

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