Becoming a Digital Nomad: a step by step guide

“Digital nomad” is a fancy buzzword that has ignited the urge to quit jobs and travel the world among millions of millennials. While the nomadic lifestyle is exhilarating, and it’s one of the best ways to work, being a digital nomad is not easy. It requires a lot of initial hard work, sacrifices, and planning. 

So, what is a digital nomad, and how can you become one? Let’s find out. 

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is a collective term used to describe people who work remotely from foreign countries, public libraries, coworking spaces, etc. instead of working from a fixed workplace. They rely on telecommunications technologies and spend most of their life in a nomadic manner. 

Digital nomad jobs

The beauty of being a digital nomad is that you can make a living by doing anything that requires a laptop and an internet connection. Fortunately, most jobs nowadays require nothing but a laptop and internet connection, which makes becoming a digital nomad easier than ever. Here are some of the best jobs for digital nomads:

  • Programmer – web developer, web designer, app developer
  • SEO professional
  • Social media marketer
  • Digital marketer
  • Customer support executive
  • Online teacher
  • Writer
  • Video editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Blogger

And the list goes on. Just keep in mind that if you can make a living doing something with your laptop and the internet, you can become a digital nomad. 

How much do digital nomads earn?

The salary of digital nomads is not fixed. Some digital nomad jobs can pay more than $100,000 a year, and more than 40% of digital nomads earn more than $50,000 a year. So if you have the right skill set and you know how to scale it, you can make more than an average worker. 

How to become a digital nomad?

Now that you know what it is like to be a digital nomad, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to become one. Here’s a step by step guide to follow. 

Start reducing location ties

The first step towards becoming a digital nomad is to identify things in your life that are tied to a location. If you have a job that requires you to stay at the office, you should start looking for flexible work opportunities. 

You’ll also need to address any long-term leases on apartments or vehicles if you have any. If you have a large apartment with a lot of material things, start getting rid of them. You can also consider moving to a smaller apartment that is cheaper to maintain. 

Identify your skills

To be a successful digital nomad, you’ll need to identify high-income skills that pay for your travel costs, along with the usual savings you need to make. If you don’t have the skills, take some time, and upskill yourself. 

Start small

Being a digital nomad usually requires quitting your job. But unless you’re already making a significant amount of money from your side hustle, it’s not advisable to quit your job. When starting, begin as a freelancer and start taking up projects on weekends or after work. You can slowly scale it up and start doing freelance projects daily. 

You can quit your job once your side income has surpassed your primary income, and you have at least 12 months of an emergency fund. 

Build your business

This phase is probably the toughest for aspiring digital nomads. You’ve just left your job and taken a huge pay-cut, so the entire burden of your expenses will be on your side hustle. At this time, it is important to stay calm, confident, and motivated. You have made a decision, and there’s no going back. So, spend more time and effort on building your freelance business. 

The next step is to scale your business. The digital nomad lifestyle is costly. You’ll have to pay for everything – accommodation, food, internet, and transportation. Before choosing your first destination, scale your business to a point where it can pay off your travel costs, and you’ll still be left with enough money to save or invest. 

Start with local destinations as a digital nomad

Once you’ve eliminated any locational ties and developed a freelance business big enough to fund your nomadic lifestyle, it’s time to pack your bags and head out. But if you don’t have a lot of international travel experience, it’s better to start with different locations in your country. This will help you become acquainted with the nomadic lifestyle and prepare you for the next big step. 

Choose your first destination

Now, decide on your first destination. You might already have a place in mind, and it’s absolutely fine to pick a place you’ve where you’ve always wanted to stay. However, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a location for being a digital nomad. These include:

  • The cost of living (it should not be too high)
  • A fast and stable internet connection, because the internet is a digital nomad’s lifeline
  • Coworking spaces, just in case you feel lonely
  • Connectivity – public transport, airport, etc. 
  • Visa requirements

Decide how you want to live as a digital nomad

Being a digital nomad, you can choose from a wide range of accommodation options. If you’re a social butterfly and want to be around people, opt for a hostel or co-op where you can easily make new friends. On the other hand, if you want peace a solitude, Airbnb could be a great option. 

Create a plan and goals

You’ve quit your job, developing your freelancing business from scratch, said goodbye to your country, and started working from a new location. It might seem a lot of work, but it’s just the beginning of the journey. It’s important to set goals and be clear about what you want. For how long do you plan to stay at your first location? Where will you go next? How do you plan to further scale your business?

Conclusion

The first few years as a digital nomad could be tough. You’ll need to develop skills and work extra hours to build your freelance business. But once you survive the hard phase, things get easier, and certainly more enjoyable.

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