Becoming a digital nomad is not as hard as most people think, but it will require some extra time and effort depending on your skills.
First of all, let’s talk about what being a digital nomad actually means! The most common misconception is that being a digital nomad is a profession or career. Well, it’s not! Digital nomad is just a way of living, NOT A JOB.
If you travel around the world and either work online or run a business remotely at the same time, then you can call yourself a digital nomad.
You can also say you are location independent, a remote worker, or whatever else seems right for you. In fact, there is no precise definition for any of these terms.
How to become a digital nomad in 2020
- Switch your current job from a physical office to a “remote office”
- Switch your full-time job to a freelance career
- Start a freelance career from the scratch
- Create or manage a remote agency
- Starting a new business from the scratch
- Searching for FULL-TIME / PART-TIME remote jobs
- Starting a rental business
- Become an investor
- Start trading
- Other examples of jobs that allow you to become a digital nomad
What does being a digital nomad mean?
If you change your location every week or month and you are really actively working while traveling, then that would be a definition of “digital nomad.” It could be one hour a day, part-time or full time but as long as you are working while traveling, you’re living as a digital nomad.
What does location independent mean?
If you live, let’s say 6 months of the year in one destination and then 6 months back in your home country, then that would be called a location independent/remote worker.
What’s the difference between a digital nomad and a location independent worker?
It’s really hard to explain the difference between a digital nomad and a location independent / remote worker. Since these are very new concepts of living, there is only an “estimated difference” of how fast and often you change your location but it doesn’t matter as long as you have your freedom, right?!
What skills do I need to be a digital nomad?
Skills to become digital nomad really depend on the remote job that allows you to work from anywhere! The most common jobs are programming, virtual assistant or teaching languages online. For each of these, you need a different set of skills.
How much does it cost to be a digital nomad?
The cost of a digital nomad lifestyle can be anywhere between $500 per month up to $3000 USD+ depending on your destination and spending habits. If you work from a place like Thailand, Indonesia or Mexico, your budget can be as low as $500 per month and for around $1500 a month you can live a life of luxury.
What are the most popular digital nomad locations?
The most popular locations for digital nomads to visit are Canggu and Chiang May in Asia. In Europe that would be Lisbon, Barcelona, Budapest, and the Canary Islands. In South and Central America, it would be Medellin, Mexico City, and Playa del Carmen. Check out our full list of the best cities for digital nomads in 2020!
How to become digital nomad & work from anywhere
1. Switch your current job from a physical office to a “remote office”
There are plenty of digital nomads out there who never quit or changed their jobs, they just switched to a remote office.
If you can take your work from a physical office to a home office, then that means you can be a digital nomad! If you can do your work, communicate with clients or your team via online tools and still achieve results from home, you can do the same while abroad!
What might stop you is your employer simply not trusting that you can deliver the work. If you can earn that trust, get your work done and be productive from HOME (or anywhere in the world), then your Digital Nomad life can begin!
Usually, this is possible with professions such as:
- graphic design,
- online marketing,
- and so many more….
2. Switch your full-time job to a freelance career
Another way is to become an independent freelancer using your skills and knowledge from your full-time job.
The idea is simple. If you can bypass your employer and do your work directly for a client, you are ready to go!
If you can utilize your knowledge and put it together as a service that you can offer to clients (B2B or B2C), you can become a freelancer and scale for a remote position.
How to scale that? Again, keep it simple! DO NOT take personal meetings, deliver results, stay productive, and try to stay away from clients. Manage it all online, get the client’s work done well, and sooner than you know it, you are not just a freelancer but a digital nomad working for clients from sunny BALI.
Usually, this is possible with professions such as:
- Freelance programmer,
- Graphic designer,
- Marketing manager,
- Paid Ads manager,
- and so on…
Helen Simkins – Freelance content creator and marketing strategist
I went from working a corporate 9-5 at a digital agency to freelancing full time as a content creator and marketing strategist. My freelancing career took off organically as I was working with multiple clients in multiple industries in cannabis marketing, biotech, real estate, and the travel industry. By going through career switch from 9-5 to freelance I realized what’s more important is showing aspiring nomads the ropes into creating a remote career of their dreams and then my next venture started: helping others find location independence.
3. Start a freelance career from the scratch
The idea behind this is the same as above, but in this case, you start from scratch!
That means before you become a freelancer, you need to learn some skills, do some sample work / free projects and build up your skillset and portfolio.
The best way to learn skills would be taking an online course or enrolling in an online university that will help you to start gaining those skills.
Here are a few common examples of freelance careers:
- Becoming a Freelance VA aka Virtual Assistant (Best Way to Start) – If you are ready to learn and you have basic tech knowledge, you can start working as a Virtual Assistant. You will gain basic knowledge of website content management, business processes, online tools, etc. We will talk about this more in the Virtual Assistant job section below.
WE RECOMMEND VA in 30 DAYS course!
- Becoming a Freelance Programmer (Best Paid) – You can find plenty of websites offering various “LEARN TO CODE” courses. This is a long term investment of your time and not easy to learn but one of the best-paid skills!
- Become FB Ads manager – If you are familiar with FB marketing, you can try to become a FB Ad Manager and manage big paid campaigns. You’ll need to learn about A/B testing, conversion tracking, budgeting and creative processes.
- Become Social Media Manager (Easy to Learn)– Social media is something we are all familiar with! Therefore, you might already have some basic knowledge on how to run a FB page or campaign. Boost it with some great online courses or a bunch of amazing books and you might be ready to take on your first client soon!
- and the list goes on and on… (you can find more info about remote careers and professions below in section n.10)
4. Create or manage a remote agency
Did you just quit your project manager or team leader job? Well, you can also use those skills to become a digital nomad and start working remotely.
You can run your own agency and manage a bunch of freelancers that do the work for you, and you just consult with the client and manage your team.
For example, you could run a web design studio, graphic design studio, or a marketing agency with a few freelancers that are really skilled! Your role would be finding new clients, communicating with those clients, delegating tasks, and managing your team.
You will need great management skills and a strong network of professional freelancers.
Also, if you have those managing skills, you don’t necessarily need to start something NEW, you can look for an existing remote work company and apply as a remote project manager there (check section n.6). You will do almost the same job as in your office job but as a digital nomad from anywhere in the world.
Craig Lewis – Pinterest Marketing Agency Owner
- Visit his agency website
- Check his FB: Craig Lewis
Creating a sustainable business while traveling takes commitment and grit, but so worth it. I now get to call Bali my full-time home after creating a successful multiple six-figure Pinterest Marketing Agency, all while working remotely.
5. Starting a new business from the scratch
Many digital nomads start a new business from scratch after they quit their full-time job or while they are still working part-time (side job).
If you scale this new business as a remote business that you can do from anywhere, as soon as it takes off, you are free.
There are plenty of options and million-dollar business ideas out there and you might be the lucky person if you put time and effort in it and play your cards right.
For example, you could start a niche e-commerce shop, create your own clothing brand, develop an affiliate blog, create a useful mobile app, or create online video courses.
6. Searching for FULL-TIME / PART-TIME remote jobs
If starting a new business or working for clients is not your thing, you can simply go on JOB LIST pages and look for remote positions.
Put your CV together, upgrade it with some online courses and skills if needed and you are ready to start applying.
Here are the most popular FULL-TIME / PART-TIME job listing sites:
7. Starting a rental business
Renting your property or subletting an apartment can be a great way to start earning passive income!
What’s more, you can automate and outsource most of the tasks and manage your rental business remotely.
Many people are doing this with Airbnb, with places they own but also even with places they just rent.
You can either focus on short-term rentals or long-term rentals.
You can make more money with short-term “vacation” rentals but these will require more time and effort because of the constant flow of check-ins, check-outs, cleaning and maintenance.
On the other hand, long-term rentals will make you less profit but will require less of your time (giving you more freedom and less stress).
8. Become an investor
Sometimes, all you need to become a digital nomad working from tropical islands around the world is the money.
The investing world is huge and there are tons of opportunities. If you have the capital to invest, the door to digital nomad life is open!
Investing always requires a lot of knowledge and research! That would be your remote job.
Doing research, making phone calls, calculating investments, looking for new opportunities, and creating steady income from your investments while traveling.
9. Start trading
There are plenty of people trading on a daily basis and living as digital nomads. They do daily research, daily trades and earning money while working remotely.
Trading requires capital and a certain level of knowledge but if you have time and you are ready to start something new, then go for it!
In comparison with investing, you will need to spend more time trading daily but it lowers the risk.
The most popular trading options are:
10. Other examples of jobs that allow you to become a digital nomad
If you have a knack for writing, copywriting is right up your alley.
Copywriting consists of writing short posts and descriptions for a company, eCommerce shop, marketing agency, blog, or a magazine.
As you might imagine, writing is a perfect job for remote workers. The faster you can type, the more words you can output in one sitting. Because there are so many spellcheckers and proofreaders on the internet, you’re all set to write an amazing article.
We recommend: Best selling Freelance Writer in 30 days Course!
Topics for copywriting are very diverse. One day you might be writing about the latest baseball scores, and the next day you are crafting a product description for a toaster oven.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert on all of these subjects. That’s why the internet is there for research, and because you are already online, it’s a perfect match. Keep in mind that all written work must be original. You’re not allowed to duplicate text from another source. In essence, put everything in your own words for maximum effect.
Luka Trček – Email Marketing / Ecommerce Copywriter
I started working on Upwork as a copywriter for eCommerce businesses for $10/hour. Over 1 year I’ve built up my profile, reviews, and scaled my rate up to $65/hours. All you need is a better proposal than your competitors and then do a great job and deliver your best work!
Teaching Languages Online
If you know a language people are interested in, it could very well be the best remote job for you.
Teaching languages online is very profitable at its core. Tutoring already generates a lot of revenue, and foreign language tutoring is even better.
Few website where you can become ONLINE language teacher:
People around the world are looking to learn languages for work or as a hobby. This is one of the best parts about teaching languages. You never know which client you will be matched with. You could end up teaching someone on the other side of the globe, and language is something you have in common.
For this job, you’ll want a camera on your laptop in order to provide the best lessons possible. You’ll be asked to help people with speaking and how to perfect their intonation. Others will ask for writing practice and possibly to read through a newspaper together. This job is very popular among real-life teachers. In the evening, they can go home to a couple of international students who share their love for teaching and learning.
Data entry consists of entering numbers and figures into some sort of spreadsheet.
If you have fast fingers and eyes, data entry is perfect for you. You’ll be able to enter the data with quickness and accuracy. Because it is a relatively basic task, this is a great time to put on some headphones and tune out for hours. Before you know it, you will have fulfilled all of your daily tasks.
Once you are done, you might be asked to double-check your work to ensure that there are no mistakes. Other times, there is software that will perform these checks for you. Again, this is a great job for people with little to no education.
There are nearly no prerequisites, and you’ll be able to prove your worth with quality data entry. There are so many opportunities for advancement as your data entry speed skyrockets.
Ecommerce has taken over as a job of its own. Experts in eCommerce are able to buy and sell products online with the click of a button. Later, they buy or sell once again to make a profit. If you have a background in economics, you’ll excel at this job. It’s all about identifying which products are hot on the market and when it is the best time to take action.
One caveat is that payment can sometimes be delayed while you are waiting for a transaction.
However, if you have the patience to wait this out, you’ll make huge profits in the end. Once you get your foot in the door, you can make connections with buyers for long term deals.
Here are some guides on how to start ecommerce business:
- How to start a dropshipping business
- Starting with AMAZON – FBA (step by step guide)
- How To Start Selling On Amazon If You Live Outside The USA
Graphic design can be done from anywhere in the world. In fact, online graphic design can be even more powerful than in-person graphic design.
With all the tools of a computer, you can achieve incredible graphics that simply cannot be done by hand. All you really need are some basic editing software to make life easier. It also helps to have a resume or portfolio of art projects.
If you have a large imagination, you’ll make a fantastic graphic designer. Companies across the globe are looking for graphic designers to beautify their websites or logos. If your design results in a major increase in sales, there’s a very good chance you’ll be hired full time.
Virtual assistants are so useful in this day and age. A virtual assistant does a variety of small tasks for a larger company or entity. This is an excellent job for recent high school graduates.
It doesn’t require any formal training, and all of it can be conducted remotely. These tasks can range from taking a survey to jotting down some numbers that pop up on a screen
Best places to find a virtual assistant job:
Because you’re working as an assistant, it’s important to be very responsive on your computer. While you might have some downtime, you need to be present at the moment there is a request.
In particular, this is why virtual assistants are desired from around the world. Companies actually want people from different timezones on their staff. This ensures that someone will be online at all times of the day. As long as you have an open mind and a strong internet connection, you’ll make a terrific virtual assistant.
Valery Pityakova – VA at Nomad Cruise
Sending CV’s have never worked for me. While I was in Kyiv, I’ve organized a few events with foreign digital nomad friends. One of my speakers was Johannes Voelkner, founder of Nomad Cruise, who I knew from being a participant of Nomad Cruise a year earlier. Thanks to my little community Johannes had time to know me better, find out about my previous projects and saw me in «action». Basically I’ve got an invitation to join Nomad Cruise team by making my work visible and building trustful relationships.
Although programming takes a little bit of experience, it’s really not hard to get into. Take a moment to learn some basic coding languages and interfaces. Then, you’ll be ready to tackle any programming task that comes your way.
Travel Developer Course – Work Remotely as a Digital Nomad – Learn how to design and build websites while working anywhere in the world.
Even the biggest tech companies are turning to online programmers who can get the job done from a different time zone. Tech has progressed so much in recent years that there is simply no need to collaborate in person.
Coding is naturally done online, so it makes sense that programming is one of the hottest remote jobs on the market today.
TIP: one of the best places to score high paid coding jobs is Toptal.com
Similar to programming, building websites is a job of the future. More and more businesses are moving their resources online to benefit both themselves and their clients.
Each of these companies needs a reliable site, so they turn to website builders to get the job done. In particular, you don’t need to be located in the same city as the business.
Because many sites use a similar structure, page builders, CMS (content management system), and pre-designed templates it makes this job easier than you would think!
Thanks to CMSs and templates, you can build and manage websites without any coding skills! In fact, you can build a FULL ON web designer freelance career just by knowing one of the CMSs very well.
The best website builders and CMS for building website are:
- WordPress, Joomla – for standard websites
- Magento, Prestashop – for e-commerce (online stores)
- Shopify, Bigcommerce – website builders for e-commerce
- WIX, Squarespace – popular website builders
What is the easiest way to become a digital nomad?
If you are starting from scratch, set your mind in LEARNING NEW SKILLS mode!
Start with virtual assistant jobs because that’s when you can learn a lot of skills. If you are proactive, you will learn a lot more. You will learn basic skills of WordPress (or other web management systems such as CMS), content editing, SEO, account management, email marketing, etc., whatever new task they give you, will be great for your skillset “puzzle.”
Also, you get to learn how businesses work, what processes look like and how the money is actually made. For example, you will get to see e-commerce businesses from the inside, affiliate businesses, and how blogs generate money. These are great skills when starting from scratch or if you’re planning to run your own business in the future.