Being a digital nomad is an awesome experience! You can be one too, but don’t believe it is as easy as just booking a ticket.
I am often asked – where and how do you start? Being an unexperienced digital nomad – I have just started – I thought I could share what I would answer to any aspiring nomad.
1 – Be mentally prepared
Constantly travelling alone means you will be on your own a lot and it is a thing you do for yourself in most cases.
You will have to leave family and friends behind and go on a selfish journey (there are couples traveling, I know, but this is the perspective of a solo traveller).
Because of this you need to consider other people’s feelings when you decide for a life on the road as you could get a lot of feedback and resistance from them.
That was my experience. The usual doubt is, “how will you make it financially?” “What about safety?” “When are you coming back, and what about your family back home missing you?”
Keeping in touch on the road is easier than ever before, but the physical part is gone. And you might not know when you will return home. For some “home” is where they rest their head.
At first you will feel homesick. It is not easy, trust me, but you need to work through it if you really want to become location independent.
Personally, I was at the beginning happy when I found small things that reminded me of home, like Norwegian Salmon.
My advice, as I did and if you have the opportunity, go somewhere for 1 to 3 month, alone, and get a feel for it. If you feel that you could continue, do so, if not go home and reevaluate your situation.
Two great books that helped me to get started:
Therefore get your mind on to the mission first. It is no use to spend all that time wanting, and then you realise that you were not ready for the sacrifices you needed to make.
2 – Digital Nomad Jobs
How can you make a living on the road? I you feel the desire to set sails, start looking for jobs to earn money online.
First, asses your current skills. If you are a developer of some sort, a graphical designer or have a specific technical skill and currently work behind a computer, you could start with posting work on sites like Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer.
You don’t even have to leave your basement or quit your job to earn money, there are also plenty of sites offering remote work – check out the job section on my site for some links. Or check out these sites:
If you don’t have anything specific, but love to play around on the computer, you should think about something you find interesting.
For some it is developing webpages or apps, for others digital marketing and for those that are more artistic make logos, poster etc.
There are many sites today offering free and paid online courses to get you going. Such as:
But you can even use Youtube. I learnt how to make a simple website from watching videos there, which lead me to make one in WordPress. From there I did the free Google Adwords and Analytics partner training and exam.
However having some previous experience with social media management or similar makes it easier. Due to my previous experience in the online world I found the learning experience interesting and fun.
Be aware though, that learning a new skill takes time. And for some time it will be hard to come by. In conclusion, if you really want this life, prioritise your time and start as soon as possible.
3 – Landing your first gig
Probably the most difficult aspect when all else is sorted as this might involve some elements of luck.
I was lucky, I met someone that worked with a friend and we hit it off real good. He needed more help with some digital marketing, although I was a novice he believed in me and offered me to work for him.
With the help of him and the experience I gained I signed two more clients and as a result I had enough income to live a location independent lifestyle.
The keyword here is networking. Therefore you need to leave your desk and get out into the real world and meet people.
Say you for example spend some time getting skilled in PPC management (Adwords etc), you can start with asking friends and family that run or know someone who runs small businesses. If they have a website they might not know what you can do for them, and with a good sales pitch, you could be helping them increase profits.
When you have the basics down you could also reach out to local ad agencies and propose to intern with them for a while. While you must not expect to be paid much, it is a great way to get valuable experience.
Landing the first gig is not easy, and many people’s dreams of being a digital nomad falls through because of this. Stay focused, be the best at what you do and persistence will pay.
The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss has some really good insights to get you going. Probably the book that influenced most digital nomads out there.
And that is it.
In conclusion, if you have the skills (or gain them), the mindset for it and have found a way to make an income from it you are (almost) ready to start planning the next stage – and maybe the most exciting one – where to go first.
Written by Paul Arnesen of Diginom Solutions