Now that I’ve really settled into the the remote working lifestyle, I wanted to break down exactly how I got here. It’s definitely something you guys ask about the most, and I’m so excited to be sharing how I transitioned from full time in my 9-5, into becoming completely location independent in a business I built from the ground up.
Essentially, I’ll be talking about how to become a digital nomad, and how to figure out if this is the path that’s right for you! If you’ve ever wondered how to become a digital nomad (or what the heck that even is) I hope this gives you the roadmap you’re looking for to make it happen!
Zach and I have wanted to move abroad for ages and we realized there were a few different ways to make this happen. I break down exactly how and why we decided to move abroad, right here.
If you’re there though, it means the thought of becoming a digital nomad has at least crossed your mind. Maybe you’ve seen someone lounging poolside working on their laptop. Maybe you noticed that someone was working from the beach (I’m guilty of posting about that) but, the reality….
Is actually quite a bit different.
While I wouldn’t change it for the world, there are some harsh realities that come with this kind of lifestyle. Enough chatter out of me. Let’s dive in!
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What is a digital nomad?
Okay, first things first. Let’s talk about what a digital nomad is. The term “digital nomad” is thrown around a lot these days, but essentially, a digital nomad is someone who is location independent and is able to totally leverage technology and work from anywhere in the world. All that’s needed? A laptop, and a solid Wifi connection.
Okay, but isn’t that just a remote worker?
I hear you. The difference between someone who works remotely, and a digital nomad, is essentially that a digital nomad moves around much more frequently. Meaning, they’re putting the “nomad” into digital nomad. They might be working from coffee shops in South America one week, and in a café in Prague the next.
Someone who is a remote worker, will likely stay in the same place for much longer periods of time, though they have the freedom to work from anywhere they’d like (like this coffee shop in Barcelona, I’m currently in!)
Okay, if you’re over there shakin’ in your boots because you’re so excited and perhaps you’ve been wondering how to become a digital nomad for ages, and are ready to take the first step to make it happen, this is the post for you.
I’ll be breaking down a few ways to become a digital nomad, and how (spoiler alert) it’s not always as glamorous as it looks.
But at the end of the day? It is so worth it!
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How to become a digital nomad: finding work online
Take your current job remotely
Think this is out of the realm of possibility? Think again. Did you know that in 2018, Forbes stated that 50% of employers offer remote work to their employees. THAT’S HALF. Let that number sink in.
In fact, I have met numerous people since being in Barcelona who have done exactly that. Though they’re living in a different place, they’re still able to do the exact same job they were doing previously with the joys of modern technology.
Can’t make an in person meeting? Hop on Zoom, or Skype. Use Slack to communicate with your teams on the regular. Use tools like Trello or Asana. It’s 2019, people. So many jobs today can be done 100% remotely.
Remember, the worst your boss could say is no. And if Plan A doesn’t work out, you could always move on to Plan B. Which leads me too….
Work online for a different company
Okay, so maybe your boss didn’t buy the whole “I want to work remotely full time thing” (laaaame). Another option is to work for a company that does allow remote work. Dare I say, encourage remote work? Companies like MeetEdgar, for example, have 100% remote based teams.
How cool is that? It means that you don’t have to go into a physical “office” everyday, but you’re still receiving a very steady and reliable income.
Start your own online business
And this is what yours truly has decided to do.
A few years ago, I thought that in order to work online I had to know how to be some epic coder (I was very wrong). As I researched more, I realized that I had a skillset (I have a background in Digital Marketing, PR, and Communications) and I would 100% be able to transfer these skills online. I knew when we moved abroad, I didn’t want to take a step back in my career, and this was the best route to go down.
Your business could entail anything from a service based business where you take on a client roster that benefit from your services (what I do) to an ecommerce business, to an educational platform, and the list could go on and on.
My biggest piece of advice here is too not think small. Whatever that business idea is in your head–make it happen! This is going to take a loooot of hard work (believe me you’ll be sacrificing many nights and weekends) but at the end of the day…
It. Is. So. Worth. It.
The best part? You’re your own boss. You get to work with the clients you love working with. You get to sell what you love to sell. You get to share what you’re best at. This is your secret sauce to share with the world.
I’m gonna say something right now….
YOU COULD START FREELANCING TOMORROW. Read it again. Then let that soak in. From project management, to virtual assistance, to copywriting, to coding, to photography, to design, your skills are very much in demand. I promise you, you possess the skills within you to make this happen!
Sites like Upwork, Lysted, Fiverr and even Facebook Groups are awesome places to look for freelancing gigs, and they are constantly looking for help.
Are you a badass copywriter who wants to offer one off services? Boom. This is for you.
Are you a marketing guru who’s skills need to be shared with the world? Boom. This is for you!
I recommend this as a way to get started, or to “dip your toes” into the digital nomad world before you transfer these services in a full on service based business.
Biggest knowledge nugget to take away from this? You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person about a certain subject, you just have to be more knowledgeable than the person hiring you.
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How to succeed as a digital nomad
Create multiple income streams
Okay, okay. So you have your main income stream in place. Why not utilize this unique time in your life to pursue a side-hustle? Or better yet, this is the perfect opportunity to monetize your own personal online brand. We live in 2020, and whether we like it or not, we’re so connected with one another that each of us have our own personal “brand.” Utilizing this to the best of your abilities will allow you to create multiple income streams, and potentially even passive income.
This could come in the form of monetizing your blog, monetizing your Instagram, creating passive income products (like an e-book) or even teaching english online a few hours a week!
Diversifying your income stream is not only a smart business move, but it’s something that so many of us do! We live in a generation of side-hustlers, of go-getters, and of high achievers. Utilizing your unique magic to create a stronger financial base is one of the most strategic and intelligent moves you can make as a Digital Nomad.
Stay in places for significant periods of time
One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone thinking about living this lifestyle, is to not transfer locations ALL the time. Let’s be honest, you’re going to get super worn out if you’re constantly on the go. You can still put the “nomad” in digital nomad, and not travel every single week.
My advice? Do weekend trips, or stay at least a few months in each location (Airbnb does long term sublets, and that’s a perfect way to make this happen!)
We use Barcelona as our home base, and travel throughout Europe whenever we get the chance. Having a homebase prevents burnout, but still gives me the freedom to pick up and go (as long as that Wifi is strong, ya know?)
If you travel every week, you truly don’t get enough time to enjoy the place your visiting, while still having the freedom and flexibility to build and grow your business.
Find your community
Oh man, if I could underline capitalize and italicize this a million times, I would. One of the things I miss the most now that I’m a digital nomad, is having coworkers to talk to everyday!
When we first arrived in Barcelona, I worked from home a lot. Or from coffee shops. It wasn’t until I started putting myself out there (not something that’s all to natural for this introvert) did I start to finally build a community here in the city.
Some of the best ways to do this are in Expat or Digital Nomad Facebook groups, or on Instagram! I’ve met so many incredible other entrepreneurs here in Barcelona that way, and it does wonders in terms of creating a new community of like minded individuals.
The reality of being a digital nomad
You’ll work harder than you ever have before
Have you ever read the quote that’s something along the lines of….
“Entrepreneurs work 100 hours a week for themselves, so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else”
This couldn’t be more true. Sure, you might have seen pictures of a digital nomad working from the beach, but I can tell ya right now, the reality looks a lot different than that.
Your success here is 100% based on the work you put in. No longer are you going to work and showing up for a paycheck (even if you have an off day…)
As you’re building your business, you will definitely sacrifice nights and weekends, but at the end of the day, it’s giving you the freedom to be able to work from anywhere that you have a strong Wifi connection.
If that trade off is worth it to you, becoming a digital nomad is definitely right up your alley!
Vacations as you know them no longer exist
RIP PTO, RIP. One of the things about being a digital nomad, is paid vacation for the most part is a thing of the past (unless your employer happens to still offer it, and if that’s the case, go you sugar!)
But for most digital nomads, this is not the case.
We travel quite a bit, but those aren’t what I would consider a normal vacation, because I’m working the whole time. I get up early to work, stay up late to finish anything I need to, and make sure everything gets done during the day, despite us being in a different location. To me, this is definitely worth the sacrifice, but it’s something all aspiring digital nomads should keep in mind!
People might not “get it”
I can’t count on two hands how many people have mumbled something along the lines of…
“What a fun thing to do while you’re abroad, but are you going to get a “real job” when you come back?” OR…
“That seems like a great opportunity, but of course you can’t make a proper salary doing that….”
Well my friends, this is when you get to smile graciously, and know that sometimes people might not quite get what you’re doing. But the beauty of all of this?
This can become your full time career. You can match (or exceed) your previous corporate salary. Believe me, I’m walking proof. The thing you need to get you there? A hell of a lot of motivation, to stop caring what people might think.
And to start caring about what would happen if you truly embraced the life you want to be living.
When that happens? Nothing can hold you back.
So tell me…would you ever become a digital nomad? Share with me in the comments, and be sure to keep up with my digital nomading adventures on Instagram!
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