I often receive emails asking me how to get started as a digital nomad. In this blog post I will do my best to answer it. I have been a digital nomad for a long time and never realised it. This is because what I was doing didn’t have a name, but now it does. If you are dreaming of packing in your 9-5 job to travel the world and make money by working on-line, like I did, then read on. As well as explaining the life of a digital nomad I have included information on the top 18 digital nomad jobs. Now is a great time to begin your journey as a digital nomad, so read on.
What is a Digital Nomad
To be as succinct as possible, a digital nomad is someone who works on-line to make money to sustain a nomadic lifestyle.
What are digital nomad jobs
Digital nomad jobs are basically any professions or jobs that can be done on-line and that can be combined with traveling.
How to find a Digital Nomad Job
Before I get into the types of jobs you can do as a digital nomad I will answer the question “How do I find a Digital Nomad Job”? So here goes, here are my suggestions on how to find a digital nomad job.
- Ask your current employer if you can work remotely. This can sometimes be an option but if not I suggest
- Set up a website and/or a social media channel and market, market, market yourself and your services or products.
- Approach potential clients – get yourself a media kit which sets out your rates and send out emails to targeted clients.
- Register through specific websites – there are many online sites to register with such as Fivvr, Airtasker, Upwork, Freelancer, FlexJobs and Remote to name a few.
Tip: To be a digital nomad I would suggest you choose one service to offer. Concentrate on that to grow it before expanding. It is better to be a specialist at one rather than mediocre at many.
How to be a Digital Nomad
In my opinion to be a digital nomad you need two things. Firstly skills that you can use on an on-line platform and secondly, the right equipment that allows you to work on-line.
Everyone has skills, even if you don’t realise it. You then adapt these skills to an on-line platform. And if you don’t have skills you can always do a course to help you get skills. For instance, I like to write and travel so I did a travel writing course and then a proofreading and editing course. Now I offer writing services and proofreading skills via an on-line platform, my website. And I have a number of clients that I provide travel articles for and also I proofread other people’s work. The best part is, I get paid to do these things and even better is I can do them from wherever I may be. I also have a travel writing course I teach. Find details about my travel writing course here.
As well as my writing and proofreading skills I have done courses in social media which I found through Udemy. Udemy is an on-line platform that offers courses in many areas. Check them out here. I am also considering doing a TEFOL course so I can teach on-line. I have found a great course through i-to-i. If you are also considering this get details of their TEFOL courses here.
To find out what jobs digital nomads do read my post 10 Digital Nomad Jobs.
The other thing you need to be a digital nomad is the right equipment. Depending on what digital job you intend to do you will need equipment. Equipment I suggest includes a laptop with appropriate software. A power adaptor to so you can use power points no matter where you are. A powerbank to ensure electronics are always charged. An electronics carrier bag to keep electronic bits and pieces in. A camera or GoPro with accessories. And access to a fast wifi connection either at my accommodation or in a co-working space.
Once you know the skill or skills you will use and have your equipment you can begin your digital nomad lifestyle. Possibly you might want to set your digital business up before you get on the road so you can concentrate on making money while you are travelling.
18 Typical Digital Nomad jobs
Digital nomads do a variety of jobs to make income to sustain their lifestyle. The list of professions that can be done remotely which suit the digital nomad lifestyle is getting bigger every year. Here are 18 typical digital nomad jobs to get you started.
- Write and Publish an ebook
People are writing and publishing ebooks on a wide variety of topics. Once it is written you will need to design it and then be able to sell it on a variety of platforms. Most people have their own website where they sell it or they use a platform such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Here’s the link to my ebook Live Work and Play in London and the UK on my website and also on Amazon so you can see what I mean.
- Start a Blog and Monetise it
A blog can be a great source of passive income. Most who start a blog monetise it in a variety of ways. The most popular include writing an ebook, creating a course and offering their services. But the most popular is joining affiliate programs to make money. Basically when a visitor clicks one of your affiliate program links and if they purchase a service or product through the link, then you receive a commission. For instance, I have joined the Booking.com affiliate program. If you are looking for accommodation and click on my link on my website and book and pay for accommodation, I will receive a commission. There are plenty of affiliate networks out there. Some are run directly by the organisation like HostelWorld, Skyscanner or Amazon. Or you could join a platform that runs affiliate programs for customers like CJ and Commission Factory.
- Create an on-line course
If you have specific knowledge or skill on a subject then create an on-line course. The course can be on anything like travel writing, professional development, web designing, etc. Pretty much anything really. You will need to create and structure the course and generate sales of it. Plus be around to interact with the students via email. You could market your course on your own website or through online platform sites like Udemy or SkillShare where you could have your course available. Check out my travel writing course to see what I mean – it is available via my website only at this time.
Related: My travel writing course
- Virtual Assistant (VA)
A Virtual Assistant assists someone who needs assisting and there is a growing need for them. Essentially you perform the role of a personal assistant and do jobs requested. The type of help you can provide can include accounting, bookkeeping, admin, customer service, database control, content creating, proofreading and editing, appointment making, etc.
- Start an On-line Store
If you aren’t familiar with drop shipping or Amazon you had better get yourself up to speed. Once you decide on your product niche you can set up your store and begin selling product.
- Software Programmer / Website /App Developer
These are very portable professions where results matter and not where you live or work. As long as you have the right knowledge, skills and equipment you can work anywhere. And there are many people who require software, websites and apps developed for them. Often with ongoing assistance required. So if you have skills with WordPress, Shopify, WIX, Squarespace you could find building website gigs on sites such as Upwork and Fiverr. Or post your services on social media.
- SEO Specialist
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and this is the art of optimising content so search engines can find the content. Many individuals who have websites plus organisations often seek an SEO specialist to help them up their game and stand out from the crowd. They do this by ensuring the content is fully optimised so when search engines crawl them they will rank on page 1. They do this by tweaking the content to contain certain highly searched for keywords. This ensures people find what they are searching for. That’s why skilled SEO experts are highly valuable in today’s digital environment.
- Social Media Expert
Everyone needs social media marketing these days. You can easily earn a substantial living if you love using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other social media channels. Even if you aren’t an expert in all fields of social media you can provide businesses with a social media strategy with a specific channel. For instance, if you are great at making pins you could concentrate on Pinterest strategles for businesses. You will need to know what you’re doing if you’re looking to help others with their social media efforts as a client does want results for spending their money. But if you can build, refine, analyse and manage a client’s presence you will be a treasured part of any brand.
- Freelance Writer / Content Creator / Copyrighter
Publications, both printed and electronic rely on contributions to fill the pages of their publications. Every website, ebook, email, social media post and video has been touched by some kind of writer. And the people that supply these contributions are freelance writers. No matter what genre there would be a market out there. Some people contact publications directly while others register on sites such as Freelancer and UpWork to find writing jobs. And the great thing is you can write from anywhere – while enjoying a coffee in an Internet cafe, on a train or to sitting at a table by the beach. My Travel Writing Course helps you to develop your writing skills to sell saleable content. Check it out here.
- Graphic Designer
If you have the skills then offering your services on-line while you travel would be ideal. So if you are good at designing logos, newsletters, book covers, etc. then by all means do this to help you live the digital nomad lifestyle.
If you are a good typist you might want to consider transcription work. This involves listening to recordings and viewing video footage and writing down every word that is said. This can be in an interview setting. It can be tedious but as long as you have skills and equipment it is a good way of making money while travelling. You can find such work through transcribing sites such as REV or Transcribeme.
- Teach English Online
Teaching English face-to-face in an English Language School classroom has long been a way for travellers to work and make income to further their travels. To save students having to go to an English Language School many are opting to take English lessons on-line. So if you have a teaching qualification there are opportunities for you to teach on-line. There are a number of on-line agencies that link you with students. If you don’t have a qualification check out the courses offered by i-to-i here.
If you already have a qualification contact a company which has a platform for teachers and students to come together. These include VIPKID, Kids and Say ABC. This career fits perfectly with travellers as long as you have a computer, secure internet and enjoy interacting with others from other cultures.
- Do on-line Surveys.
If you have spare time you might want to do surveys on line. You register with on-line survey sites and sit back and answer questions on products and services and be paid for your opinions. Some people make a lot of money but it can depend on how many surveys you qualify to do. If you want to know more about this read my article Doing Surveys Online.
- Proofreading and Editing
There is so much written content being produced and released daily and all of it needs to be proofread and/or edited. You may hear the saying ‘you are only as good as your editor’. If somebody reads something and notices a word spelt incorrect or knows a fact is wrong then the credibility of the person who wrote it goes straight out the door. This is why it is imperative that work needs to be proofread and/or edited. To find such work you can set up your own little company and advertise it on a website to link to clients or join websites such as Airtasker where you can offer your services.
- Provide professional services
If you are currently a professional such as an accountant, lawyer, marketing whiz you could offer your professional services. These services would be offered via the internet on your own website or through sites for freelancers such as Upwork or Fivvr.
If you know another or even multiple languages really well you could find translating work. With the interaction between people from different countries there are opportunities to translate documents and even websites. Some website owners like to have their website content available in a number of languages – and this is where you could help out. Many find work by approaching employers directly or through agencies such as Gengo or Onehourtranslation. Even Upwork and Fiverr.
- Data Entry
If you are a good typist including numerically you could find on-line data entry work. It can be pretty simple work but very manual. It might not be the most fun but it Is a good way to start being a digital nomad. The jobs available are mostly entering data into sheets, databases or websites for a variety of e-commerce, marketing and private customers. I have been doing data entry on and off for years.
- Video Creators
Video is dominating the on-line world and video creators have plenty of opportunities to make money. Businesses and individuals are seeing amazing growth opportunities by using video marketing. That means there is a high demand for high quality video makers. And videos are required for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other media to help brands build their presence. If you enjoy and have the skills for creating, cutting and adding effects to videos then this could be a digital nomad job for you.
The most popular software options include Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro and iMovie. You can either approach organisations offering your video services or register with on-line platforms such a Behance Jobs List, ProductionHUB, Stage32 and even Upwork or Fiverr.
Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
Before you throw in your current job consider the pros and cons of being a digital nomad. They might just help you decide whether or not to make the leap to being a digital nomad.
So the pros. You can live in other parts of the world and make money to support your new lifestyle. By living in another part of the world you can immerse yourself into the local culture and experience the place differently to just visiting for a week or two. Then you can move on to another place. And if you don’t like the cold you could follow the sun! Sound good?
Now the cons. As wonderful as it sounds to travel the world and live and work in amazing places, you need to keep in mind that this lifestyle may not last forever. You will need to work also to bring in an income to enable a nomadic life. The amount of work you will need to do will vary and it has been known when you are just starting out you may be working much longer hours than your previous 9-5 job! Time zones are something to consider also. What if your client is in a different time zone to you and you have been given a deadline – will you meet it? And if you don’t make enough income what will you do? In that case I suggest you save as much as you can to help fund your travels until such time as you are making enough money to sustain the nomadic lifestyle you want. There is nothing wrong with being ‘just a backpacker’ backpacking around the world.
Life as a Digital Nomad
The definition of a nomad is someone with no settled home. They are continually moving from place to place. A digital nomad travels with their devices and use them to make money so they can continue moving. They can live in their transport such as in a van or can set up home in accommodation for a few weeks to months or longer. Maybe house sitting could be an option. Your accommodation should have an area where you can work on-line. If interested to book some accommodation check out Booking.com. I wouldn’t suggest staying in a hostel as you may not receive the privacy you require to work. Many digital nomads rent a co-working space. Most cities have them. So with those things sorted you can immerse yourself in the place you are in.
Popular cities and countries to be a Digital Nomad
I personally feel you can be a digital nomad wherever you are, because that is the point of being a digital namad. Many digital nomads though are ranking some cities and countries. They do this by providing details on living costs, the cheaper the better, and availability the of digital nomad infrastructure, such as how good the wi-fi is. What I am hearing from other digital nomads is top destinations for digital nomads are: Canggu, Bali, Indonesia; Lisbon, Portugal; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Medellin, Colombia; Tbilisi, Georgia; Seoul, South Korea; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Budapest, Hungary; Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain; Tallinn, Estonia; Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. But remember, you can be a digital nomad wherever you are as long as you have the skills and equipment.
I hope this post has helped you gain a clearer picture of the possibilities of becoming a digital nomad, or not. There is no harm travelling the world as a backpacker who has saved and resigned from their job and then hit the road. If the digital nomad lifestyle doesn’t eventuate you can always pick up physical work along the way. Read my post How to find jobs as you travel the world. Most of all, enjoy your time living, working and playing around the world – however you do it.
I have travelled most of my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. I have travelled with my family, as a single person, in a couple and now with my own family. When I was single I went to the UK on a working holiday and was inspired to write ‘Live Work and Play in London and the UK‘. And I have specialised in providing working holidays, gap years and work and travel overseas information ever since. I continue to travel and currently call Melbourne home. Read more.