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How to Become a Digital Nomad

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woman on a laptop working as a digital nomad

Remote jobs are becoming more accessible since the Coronavirus outbreak. Many companies are allowing workers to work from home to prevent the spread in public workplaces. With more remote jobs available this means more people will be entering into the digital nomad lifestyle. But what about the people that don’t have remote jobs. What if they want to know how to become a digital nomad.

How to Become a Digital Nomad in 8 Steps

1. Reduce Expenses and Cut Location Ties

This is one of the first things a digital nomad will recommend. Starting out, most digital nomads don’t get consistent income so it’s crucial to eliminate as many expenses as possible.

You’ll want to start cancelling those gym memberships and subscription services. Reduce the amount of time you eat out and stop ordering services that you really don’t need.

If you’re not able to pay off all of your debt within a reasonable time period then you should focus on setting up payment plans. Since credit cards are associated with high interest rates it is recommended to pay as much of that off as you can. Many of us have student loan debt so figuring out a payment plan would be highly beneficial.

If you own a vehicle you should consider selling it unless you plan on using it for traveling when you depart into the digital nomad lifestyle. Other belongings you own such as furniture, stereos, home appliances, electronics, or anything else should be sold. Traveling light is all part of the digital nomad lifestyle. Material items don’t really serve an important purpose in the life of a digital nomad. Remember that you won’t be using these items in the long term so it’s best to get rid of them.

When you’re travelling extra expenses can weigh you down. If you have to go through a period without steady income you’ll need money to fall back on. Reducing your expenses and paying off your debt will allow you to put more focus on your work and travels.

2. Have Backup Money

Having backup money is a top priority as a digital nomad. You never know when you’ll go through periods where your not making any money. Most digital nomads don’t get consistent paychecks. You also never know when trouble will hit and you’ll require money to get yourself out of a bind. Let’s say you’re a digital nomad traveling in an RV and you break down. You’ll need funds to get it repaired. A savings account set aside for emergency use is one of the most important things to have as a digital nomad.

3. Identify Your Skillset

Digital nomads make their money through the use of technological devices with internet access. This means that you’ll have to have a specific skillset that will allow you to work remotely. You will need online skills to become a digital nomad. The most common types of remote work jobs include things like web design, marketing, copywriting, graphic design, editing, managing social media, and customer service.

If you have a specific skillset that you would like to focus on but feel like your lacking knowledge there are plenty of online resources out there where you can learn more. There are websites like Skillshare, Udemy, and Lynda where you can take online courses or watch interactive videos that aim to sharpen your skills.

4. Start Your Freelancing Career

Once you’ve gotten a grasp on what your skillset is you can dive into the freelancing world. There are a number of ways to find work but it can be tricky starting out if you don’t have a portfolio. The key is to stay positive and don’t give up. Eventually you’ll catch a break and the work will be rolling in.

You need to build up a reputation and get your name out there. You can start simple by creating business cards, running email campaigns, reaching out to friends and family, posting on Craigslist, handing out flyers, placing ads in your local newspaper, getting involved in the business community, networking, and making phone calls.

Another approach is to check out remote job listing websites such as UpWork or We Work Remotely. If you use remote job listing websites to find jobs make sure you get positive feedback from clients. Positive reviews can go a long way and can help you obtain more jobs in the future.

5. How to Become a Digital Nomad by Growing your Business

This is your time to shine. You’ll have to work hard and stay dedicated to reach your goals. The focus is to not give up and keep pushing until you’re able to either find a steady freelance job or until you are able to gather enough clientele to keep yourself afloat. There are remote jobs out there that offer steady and consistent work but they can be hard to come by depending on your skillset.

If you happen to stumble across one of these remote jobs then good for you. If not then you’ll have to continuously seek out clients. This can be exhausting and time consuming but after you build up a good reputation for yourself the clients will be lining up to get services from you.

Word of mouth and referrals can be very powerful so make sure you do a good job and ask your clients to leave you positive reviews. When I talk about reviews I mean Google business reviews, Facebook reviews, Yelp reviews, reviews on remote job listing platforms, and reviews that can be left anywhere else on the internet.

To increase your online presence you could make a portfolio website and create content with a blog and promote that content through social networks. Digital nomads are a rather diverse group that contains both individuals who own their own businesses and others who seek out clients or work random jobs as they travel. You’ll have to decide on what it is that you want to do.

One major thing that many digital nomads focus on is passive income. Passive income is money that you consistently receive on a regular basis. For example, lets say you are a web designer and you charge your clients $20/month to host their website. If you manage to get 20 web design clients then that is $400/month of passive income.

6. Set your sights on a destination

When you feel like you’ve built up your business enough or if you’ve stumbled across a remote job that offers consistent income then it’s time to think about your destination. There are many exotic and exciting places in the world so it’s best to narrow it down to ones that fall within your budget while keeping security, safety, and quality of life in mind.

The standard of living is different in other areas of the world so you’ll want to do your research. Will you need to rent a living space? Will you be eating out at restaurants? What will you do for entertainment? Will you need travel insurance? All these will need to be planned out before you depart. For a great resource to help you narrow down your choices you can check out Nomad List.

7. Decide how you want to live

After you decide on what locations you’d like to travel to you’ll have to decide on how you’ll want to live. Are you going to be traveling in an RV? Perhaps you would like to try out the newly popularized vanlife. Are you going to fly by plane and stay in hostels or an Airbnb? Will you rent out an apartment? Being a digital nomad offers you true freedom so you’re able to mix it up a bit and change accommodations as you need.

8. Create a plan and set goals

It is very important to set goals and follow through with your plans as a digital nomad. You need to be clear on what you want, where you want to travel to, how long you want to stay there, and what you will need to make it all happen. Living the digital nomad lifestyle, things don’t always work out as planned so you want to make sure you have a backup plan.

You will also need to remember that living in other areas of the world are different. Laws, insurance, and healthcare are just to name a few. Make sure you research the places you travel to and prepare yourself for any situation that may arise.

Final Thoughts on How to Become a Digital Nomad

As more and more companies make the shift to allow employees to work from home the digital nomad lifestyle will become more popularized and sought out to live a more location independent, adventurous, fulfilling, and a quality of life you can’t get working a stationary 9 to 5. Some digital nomads get lucky and get themselves established within a few weeks. For others it takes a bit longer but with hard work, dedication, and proper goal setting you can make it work.

With all the digital nomad communities out there and online resources you can find all the information you need to start you on your journey of how to become a digital nomad.

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