For more than five (5) years now, I’ve been leading a nomadic lifestyle — this means that I constantly change locations as I travel from one country to the next in a random manner. (How to Become a Digital Nomad)
In hindsight, it seems like a ludicrous idea unless I was actually born rich; but the truth of the matter is, I’m not from a well-off family. I made this lifestyle possible and YOU can do the same too, no matter your financial background.
The short answer: by working as a digital nomad.
With this profession, I was able to live in places around Europe and Asia, and I was even able to check off all 7 continents as well as 60 countries to date! After all, through the help of my laptop and a stable internet connection, I am able to do online jobs and businesses that help me earn money. The icing to the cake? I can work anytime and anywhere!
This location-independent job truly helped me gain the freedom that I wanted, and if you want to learn how to become a digital nomad, do continue reading my comprehensive guide below!
What is a Digital Nomad?
According to Wikipedia…
Digital nomads are individuals that leverage technology to perform their work. It’s generally done in a nomadic manner wherein they work remotely — from home, away from home, while on the road — to accomplish tasks and goals that used to have traditionally taken place in a single stationary workplace.
These digital nomads are often online business owners, web designers, graphic designers, software developers, and other types of knowledge workers who can perform work duties irrespective of physical location.
Simply put: a digital nomad makes full use of the technology (ta-dah: the Internet!) in order to work and earn income, and they can do this whenever they want and wherever they are.
You absolutely gain full freedom for dictating your work schedule — no more waiting for work leave or day-off requests because YOU get to be the boss of your own time.
For the most common representation of a digital nomad: have you seen those photos of people sitting by the beach with a laptop on their laps…? Probably even sipping a piña colada while they’re at it?
Well, those are us, the digital nomads — or to be precise, that’s how our lifestyle is portrayed to the public. I say this because it’s true in some aspects but for the most part: it’s over-romanticized.
If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you would know by now how I always like to show the reality behind any situation so that any misconceptions can be cleared early on. Therefore, let me break down this digital nomad lifestyle for you…
» Benefits to being a digital nomad
- The freedom to be your own boss. Time to say goodbye to messy office politics! You can even control how much work you’ll do now as well as when to do it; therefore, you have great control over your own time and your own rhythm (e.g. setting your ‘play’ and ‘work’ times, etc.)
- Travel the world. This is the biggest selling point of this lifestyle. As mentioned previously, this type of career is ‘remote’ given how you can do your work online — a realm that is not bound to one stationary place — so it’s really no news to know or see digital nomads who hop from one exotic destination to the next.
- Apart from this enriching travel experience, it can be helpful to your budget as well since you can travel to countries that have lower costs of living; thereby, lessening your monthly expenses.
- More experiences and more friends-to-be. There is much to do in this world and it’s a given that you’ll be thrown into situations where you can get the chance to connect with like-minded individuals (locals, travelers, and fellow digital nomads).
- This is a great thing because you could also have the opportunity to bounce off ideas with people that would not only help improve you as a person but could also help give you ideas in ascending your career and in building a remote/online business (which is customarily the grand goal of any digital nomad.)
» Downsides to being a digital nomad
- It’s not all about travel & pleasure. Most people think that what all digital nomads do is spend time away lounging on the beach since they only work a few hours in the day. Well sure, that can happen (because I work less than 4 hours a day now)BUT not everyone can do that immediately especially when you’re still starting out.
- In the beginning, you’ll most likely be shedding blood, sweat, and tears, working 80% of the time (or even more) in a coworking space, internet cafe, coffee shop, restaurant, or hotel room as you try to focus and stabilize your workflow. Trust me on this because this is how I was before — but sure enough, once you get past that grueling entry stage, it can get smooth sailing from then on.
- Additionally, as you struggle with this process, productivity can also suffer from too many distractions.
- Traveling can lose its magic. As they say, if you do something so much, the novelty will wear off. Plus, it can get exhausting to move all the time! Sometimes the idea of traveling just equals to “working” for me too and it can be such a downer.
- A decent internet connection tends to be hard to come by. This struggle is real. Digital nomads rely on the internet, and an unreliable connection is a great inconvenience. Regrettably, this is a problem that we almost always face as we travel around the world, especially when we base ourselves on budget destinations that have poor internet quality.
- It can get lonely. This is most likely to happen if you’re setting out in this lifestyle alone or if you don’t take the initiative to connect with people while you’re on the road. But then again, it’s also possible that no matter what you do, that feeling of homesickness will still creep in from time to time and it can be quite tough to beat.
With that said, it’s vital to manage your expectations about this lifestyle.
Once you get to read through the above blog post and your mind is still set on learning how to become a digital nomad in order to do remote work and pursue a nomadic lifestlye… then that’s GREAT!
Let’s get you started.
How to Become a Digital Nomad?
Let’s start with 5 “quick ways” (starting from typical situations to extreme ones).
- Go solo. This means that you quit your job and transfer your current work online. This scenario works best for consultants (any type), teachers/tutors, lawyers, accountants, etc.
- Transition to remote work. If you don’t want to leave your office job, strike a deal with your current employer to let you work online instead. This works best if the majority of your tasks involve working on a computer; in other words: your physical presence isn’t needed in the office. (If you want tips on how to approach your boss about this, you can read Tim Ferris’ book, the 4-Hour Work Week).
- Physical to digital. If you already own a brick-and-mortar business, consider ways to move your physical business online — if not ways on how to manage it remotely. There are a LOT of tools already available, online and offline, that can help you make this arrangement possible (online accounting applications, Amazon selling, webcam surveillance, manager hire, etc.)
- Online entrepreneur. It’s one of the fastest ways (provided that you’re ‘loaded’ or prepared to take a big fat loan) BUT it’s also the riskiest especially if you don’t have any prior experience or connections to help you succeed. That being said, it’s important to learn the trade first; better yet, get a mentor!
- Buy existing online businesses that you can run or that you can get passive income from. But remember: this is very risky (much like #4 above) especially if you’re not an experienced business owner. Some of the ways to buy businesses: franchises, online websites on Flippa, or online businesses on FE International.
That being said, CLEARLY, not everyone has a flexible boss to permit you to work online, or a bank account full of money to buy or start a business.
However, the fact remains that YOU can still become a digital nomad.
You just need to start from the ground up. To do so…
• • •
STEP 1: Identify your skills and choose your preferred remote work.
NEVER underestimate what you can do and what you already know.
You might think that you have no skills right now to become a digital nomad; however, the fact alone that you can type and use a computer is a skill in itself that can already land you simple online jobs like data entry, translation, virtual assistant (VA) tasks, and more (that CAN pay a lot!).
Secondly, other than taking advantage of your current skills, look into your hobbies as well since there’s a chance that some of it can be turned into money-generating work online (vlogging, writing, crafts, etc.)
A perfect example of this: my story on how I quit my job and travel the world.
To give you a gist of my past, ever since I was 13, I was fond of learning and doing graphic and web designs.
I enjoyed it a lot and I continued to do it only as a hobby and as a way to help friends who were in need (while I also continued to polish my skills and learn new ones). But when I started to meet digital nomads when I was 21, I realized that it was something that I can totally turn into a profitable and remote profession.
I discovered that it could help me gain more income than what I was earning as a fresh graduate in an investment bank and that it could also make me lead a traveling lifestyle! Right then and there, the door to a varied list of possibilities opened up for me — and it could be the same for you too.
Later on, I also found out that I can earn from my hobby of writing, and that’s why this blog was born! Today, it still helps me earn a 6-figure passive income and if you want to do it too, you can easily learn and DIY how to start a travel blog.
All in all, in order to gain more ideas on what kinds of digital nomad jobs that you can do or which you might love to do, check my article below…
TIP: As you decide on the type of remote job that you can do, remember the notion of ‘diversifying your portfolio’. What do I mean by this? Well, for instance, other than eyeing the kind of work where you do data entry or administrative assistance, try to learn another set of skill too that can make you gain more job opportunities.
After all: more work = more income.
And of course, remember this GOLDEN RULE: pick the kind of work that you LOVE to do so that it won’t feel like ‘work’ at all. It’s really imperative to choose something that you’re passionate about because, in this way, it’s easier to be productive, and also definitely easier to be a master of it in the long run!
Along with this is another equally important piece of advice that I typically impart…
So always keep your wits with you, be resourceful, be proactive, be artful — be opportunistic (but of course, without disregarding your ethics and principles -wink-).
• • •
STEP 2: Learn or polish the skills that you’ll be needing.
The way I see it, there are 3 main ways to learn digital nomad skills:
- University Degree or Job Experience. If you’re still young, why not enroll in a university course or degree that’s related to the kind of digital nomad work that you’d like to do in the future? Or if you’re a fresh graduate that wants to experience the office or corporate scene for a bit, go and aim for work in a company that can teach you the skills you’ll be needing in your future nomadic lifestyle. Through this way, you can also gain contacts that can be useful for your upcoming online work (example: working for an agency that does online marketing and advertising, etc.)
- Paid Courses. This is a no-brainer, but there are a lot of offline and online courses available that can teach you ALL of what you need to know. The downside to this is that it can be costly; but for sure, it’s a good investment in your future and in yourself.
- Self-study. Another no-brainer and THIS is actually what I’ve done! My knowledge about design, HTML, SEO, online marketing and others were topics that I did NOT learn in school, work, or formal classes (I got a business degree and my first official job was in an investment bank after all). In short: I just learned it all by myself and you cannot believe the number of FREE resources online that you can take advantage of!
- Moreover, the great thing about digital nomad jobs is that most employers do NOT require their freelancers to be degree-holders on the jobs they’re offering. What they are mainly concerned about are RESULTS. So your knowledge alone can take you far and this is often proved best by showing samples of your past work (via portfolios, testimonials, etc.)
How did I self-study? I read books, but I primarily read stuff online. And like I said, there are tons of FREE and cheap resources on the internet that can already make you learn a certain subject extensively!
You just need to look hard enough — or refer to the number of links I’m sharing below (as based on a list of digital nomad professions in this article).
» HELPFUL NOTE: Aside from reading books, surely a quick Google search will already show you a VAST list of articles, courses and resources; but listed below are just some of the best ones that I know or heard of — both FREE and paid ones. Still and the same, I advise you to read MORE than what I have suggested below in order to expand your knowledge further. For sure, it will help you gain leverage in your online applications.
– PBC is short for ‘Paid but cheap’
– ★ for top resources
- ★ FREE: How to Start a Blog
- FREE & PBC COURSE: Udemy
- PBC BOOKS: Blogging
Photography & Videography
Graphic Design, HTML, Programming, Web Design, Web Development, etc.
- ★ FREE GRAPHICS COURSES: Envato Tuts
- ★ FREE PROGRAMMING COURSES: Tech Nanodegrees at Udacity
- ★ FREE SEO COURSE: SEO at Moz
- FREE SEO COURSE: SEO at QuickSprout
- FREE & PBC GRAPHIC DESIGN COURSES: Udemy
- FREE & PBC WEB DESIGN COURSES: Udemy
- PBC VARIETY OF COURSES: Shaw Academy
- PBC BOOKS: Graphic Design, Web Design, Programming, App Development, Web Development, HTML & CSS
TIP: If you want to do graphic and web design like I did, apart from reading through the websites I mentioned above, it helps to simply “stay curious” at all times!
So scour the internet continuously for whatever tutorials/guides you can find and then soak it all in. I can’t exactly list ALL the websites I’ve read through, since I can’t remember anymore what they were. However, my experience alone can tell you that the internet could already teach you a LOT of things without the need to go through a formal course.
That’s why, whenever you’re clueless about something, just Google and read up about it! Watch YouTube videos and read articles. Of course, I can’t say that I was a professional at what I did before, but I had enough knowledge that met the needs of my clients and that’s enough.
Content Writing, Copywriting & Proofreading
- ★ FREE & PBC WRITING COURSES: Udemy
- FREE COPYWRITING COURSE: Kopy Writing Kourse
- FREE WRITING POSTS: Copy Blogger
- PBC BOOKS: Writing
- ★ FREE: Trading Academy
- ★ FREE & PBC TRADING COURSES: Udemy
- FREE: FX Academy
- FREE: Investoo
- PBC BOOKS: Trading
I have never tried online poker, but one of my friends did this before as his ‘nomadic profession’ which enabled him to travel the world sustainably. Below are some resources that he personally recommends:
- ★ FREE: www.PokerStrategy.com
- FREE: www.PokerListings.com/online-poker-guide/
- PBC BOOKS: Poker Books
Online Sports Betting
I don’t have personal experience with online betting either, but I know a handful of nomads who have succeeded with this and below are websites that they recommend:
- ★ FREE: www.Beginners-Betting-Guide.com
- FREE: www.GamblingSites.org/sports-betting/
- PBC BOOKS: Betting Books
There are platforms like the ones below which can make you learn various interesting skills that you can offer on numerous work sites online (see Step 4 for those kinds of sites).
- FREE: edX
- FREE: Coursera
- FREE + PBC: Udemy, Coursera, MasterClass or SkillShare
- PBC: Creative Live
- ★ FREE + PBC: List of MOOC sites (Massive Open Online Course)
It helps to note that the beauty of this all is that you can learn these skills on the side while you’re studying or while you’re still working a corporate job — I did this exact same thing back when I made it a plan to quit my job and travel the world!
• • •
STEP 3: Register and market your services.
YOUR BANK FINANCES & TAXES. Before you start to offer your services to clients, it’s important to properly register your business with the relevant authority in your country. There is no single procedure for all because it varies for every nationality, but most digital nomads will either register themselves in their home country as a freelancer/semi-professional or as a sole proprietor.
NOTE: Some people choose to do this AFTER, when they are actually starting to earn from their online jobs — and it is actually what I did back then. Meanwhile, others would just file it as mixed income while they’re still working an office job. If you don’t want to get in trouble with the authorities, it’s vital to ask for advice from a local accountant or tax consultant in your area as early as now.
If you’re from the Philippines like me, I signed up with BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) for a sole proprietorship. If you’re from the USA and want to start something similar or maybe an LLC, LegalZoom.com is a great website that will help you register your business.
At the same time, set up a bank account with one of your local banks. Better if you sign up for a good credit card that will help you when you start traveling (in the USA, Chase Sapphire is often a favorite amongst traveling nomads).
– – –
Now, it’s time to start posting your profile and scouting for jobs that will work best for you! Of course, aside from spreading the word to your family and friends (for ‘word of mouth’ referrals), it’s important that you scour freelance job websites such as the following…
- Online Tutor/Teacher
- For Digital Nomads
Create YOUR OWN
- Create your own website to build your own portfolio space on the internet
- A great thing to show to your future clients
- Get samples of your work. If you’re a total beginner in your field of remote work, it’s still imperative that you show samples or previous experiences on your work portfolio/profile. The best way to go about this is to offer your services for FREE at first in order to get some feedback/testimonials that would beef up your CV.
- If offering it for free is too much, you can of course offer your work towards a client at a discount.
- If offering it for free is too much, you can of course offer your work towards a client at a discount.
- Be proactive: Signing up on freelance websites and setting up your profile is NOT enough. Go and bid jobs, seek out clients, pitch your work wherever and whenever you can!
- Adapt best ‘practices’. Check out the profile of fellow online workers, as well as their portfolio. Take note of any thing that might have made them stand out more and then try to adapt it as your own.
- Better yet: NETWORK. This is VERY important. Networking with fellow digital nomads will help you gain more insight about the job market; additionally, they can also help you find jobs (or even hire you!). I suggest that you keep this in mind at all times because this kind of attitude helped me a lot when I was starting out. By developing relationships with fellow nomads and even online entrepreneurs, it helped me land a stable and well-paid freelance online work that enabled me to confidently quit my office job. Later on, my connections helped inspire me as well to set up an online business of my own! So other than networking with the nomads in your vicinity, try networking online too via:
- Get testimonials. Great feedback helps instill trust from other potential employers, it can help increase your chances of being hired again by the same client, and it might also help you gain future additional work via referrals!
- As you go on, remember to update and improve your profile or portfolio too.
• • •
STEP 4: Plan your nomadic lifestyle.
Once you ensure that you will be having a steady cashflow every month from your online work (or simply after you get a decent travel fund saved up) it is absolutely fine to start planning your exploration around the world!
I’ve already discussed this process thoroughly on my 5 steps article for starting a life of travel; so it helps to read that first. But to reiterate, the main points that I mentioned there in order to properly prepare for your future nomadic lifestyle are as follows…
Where to Go?
It’s normally difficult AND expensive to go to 1st world countries if you are a 3rd world passport holder like me (we tend to be treated as an overstayer or a possible criminal — yep, no joke about that). Rest assured, it’s still possible with the right kind of preparation!
– How to Travel the World on a Third World Passport
– Top Tips for Visa Applications
So for starting nomads who have a limited passport like I do, it helps to set aside those first world countries for a bit because the cost of living can be quite high.
If you’re looking for the best places that can fit a starter digital nomad’s lifestyle, Asia and South America are two great continents to start looking into. To know more about the best countries, check Nomadlist or see my article below:
It also helps to travel to visa-free countries at first. To check where you can go without the need of a visa see iVisa or Travelscope — better yet, inquire at your local embassy.
NEVERTHELESS, it’s totally fine if you just rather want to base yourself in your home country! In fact, as of this moment, I’ve chosen to base myself in the Philippines and I just travel to other places for months or more whenever I want.
Other people who live in places like the USA or Europe choose to live in a van or RV, and there are others who live on a boat — whatever your choice is, it doesn’t matter. The main point is that a digital nomad life gives you the freedom to be location independent!
It depends on where you’re planning to go! Some visa-free countries applicable to your nationality will enable you to stay indefinitely (by just applying for an extension); but for visa-required countries, the most that you can stay in their territory is 3 months — unless you apply for specialized visas like a working holiday visa, a self-employment visa or long-term residence visa.
You can also check out my other visa guides.
Where to Stay?
AirBnB is a favorite amongst digital nomads when it comes to long-term stays, whereas Booking.com is the best platform when you’re looking to book hotel stays (plus, its system of ‘paying only after you check-out’ is helpful because you can easily use your ‘bookings’ as proof of accommodation without the need of paying for it first. You can make a last minute cancellation too!).
TIP: Research the details of local rental websites in the city/town that you’re heading to because there could be better deals there.
For other ways of scoring cheap and free accommodation around the world, see these other articles…
– How to Get Cheap & Free Accommodation Around the World
– How to Travel on a Budget
What to Prepare?
FUNDS. Travel naturally involves money, and though some people will leap into a travel lifestyle with little to no funds, it’s definitely not a good decision if you want to be a smart traveler. After all, sudden emergencies can happen abroad, and if you have nothing to fall back on, it’s gonna get messy. So hear me out! It’s best that you..
- Save up: There are many ways for you to lessen your expenses! Some people have gone to the extreme of selling all of their possessions, but if you don’t want to do that, you can simply manage your finances better or find a side hustle. For more ideas, you can read my article about how to save money for a life of travel.
- Stabilize your remote income first: This is a case by case basis and it’s definitely a conservative approach; however, it’s a lot better to be prepared than not. So when I made the decision to quit my job and do remote work, I did NOT quit ASAP. I decided to juggle both at the same time — working on my office job and working on my online work. Once I earned more than triple of my office salary as well as scored an online work contract, I knew that I was ready to set off and hand in my resignation! If you rather want to build an online business, make sure that everything is set and that you’re making money so that everything’s smooth sailing.
TAXES. By now, you should. be a law-abiding citizen who is properly paying his/her taxes (quite important, if you ask me, because some visa applications as well as immigration centers need your tax documents). However, the dynamics of your taxes may change once you decide to do remote work abroad and it’s important that you consult with an accountant or tax expert about your situation.
American citizens, for instance, are required to pay taxes even if they are abroad, unless they spend most of the year outside the USA and that they are paying taxes in a foreign country. This is why some people often register their business in more tax-friendly countries like Hong Kong, Cyprus and Singapore (who are also more lenient to accepting foreigner registrations).
Customarily, however, you pay taxes in your home country (especially if you’re still under the definition of being a resident); but once you stay in a foreign country for a longer period of time, make it a point to recheck your tax situation since it might be required for you to pay additional taxes to where you’re planning to stay in for long.
All in all, I can’t provide one universal answer for this because every situation is different as dependent on your nationality or country of origin — so again, it’s advisable to seek out a professional’s advice.
(Customarily however, you pay taxes in your home country but once you stay in a foreign country for a longer period of time, make it a point to recheck your tax situation since it might be required for you to pay additional taxes to where you’re planning to stay in for long.)
VISAS: This is self-explanatory. As already mentioned above, always check first if you need a tourist visa to the country that you’re heading to.
“Do digital nomads need work visas instead?” Though it is not technically allowed to “work” on a simple tourist visa, as a norm, entering a country with only a visitor/tourist visa is fine if you’re a digital nomad, because you’re NOT really working for a ‘physical business’ in that country’s territory — you’re NOT also illegally taking away the jobs of the locals.
Truth of the matter is, most countries do NOT have clear regulations yet for digital nomads but it’s generally tolerated and allowed (irregardless, it is your responsibility to research the laws of the foreign country that you’re heading to since they might have different or new laws that goes against this concept.)
TIP: When you’re at the immigration counter, just say that you’re entering the country for tourism purposes. No need to say something like “It will be my new base as a digital nomad” because not a lot of people are that familiar yet with this line of work, and if you say something weird to their ears, they might misinterpret your words and then forbid you to enter their country.
But surely, if they ever ask about your work, it’s best to just mention that you are a self-employed freelancer or business owner (as dependent on the work that you do) and that you are paying tax and working for a company in your home country. This will be an assurance to them that you’re not heading to their country to search for work (even though “technically” you’ll be working there, but only ‘online’ thereby not affecting the local employment).
UPDATE: To date, I discovered that there are some countries who are open to providing work visas to digital nomads, namely…
- Costa Rica
- …and more, check out my article about digital nomad visas
GADGETS. Depending on your line of work, you need to identify the items that you need to save up for and buy. Some of the basic items you’ll need for your remote work lifestyle are a high-performing laptop, an unlocked smartphone that you can take anywhere, a hard drive for storage/backups (or DropBox can already work), a VPN for browsing privacy, and theft protection software.
Additionally, you’ll also need the right travel gear!
• • •
STEP 5: Finally, take the leap to the digital nomad profession!
It’s time! Here are some last tips to remember…
FLIGHTS. Always check websites like SkyScanner that will help you find the best flight deals worldwide! Meanwhile, if you ever need proof of onward travel when entering immigration in new destinations, just use OneWayFly.
RELATED READ: Best Travel Apps
VACCINATIONS: To check if you need to acquire certain vaccinations for your destination, do a quick Google search or check with CDC.
INSURANCE: I highly suggest SafetyWings because it’s a travel insurance that is affordable and specially catered for digital nomads! You can easily buy or even extend your coverage even while abroad — it’s not like other policies where you need to come back home to renew or avail of one. (Another alternative is World Nomads).
RELATED READ: How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance
BANK & PAYMENTS. Check with your bank to notify them of the fact that you are going to be staying abroad for a long time. Additionally, you should determine how you can send international wire transfers from your clients or customers. Most people would recommend PayPal, but if you want lower transfer fees, I suggest using Transferwise. Other than these two, owning a Payoneer account is also ideal.
TIP: It also helps to have copies of your work portfolio on hand, as well as bank statements and any other work-related documents in case of emergencies (yes, a copy of your passport and IDs too!).
REACH OUT. Start reaching out to expat communities in the countries that you’re going to visit! There are a lot of online groups for these and it’s a great way to meet new friends. Other ways that you can meet people, as well as locals, are through tours, workshops, events, etc. (The app Meetup is also a nifty way to be updated on any local gatherings by niche!
BE CONNECTED. As digital nomads, it’s vital to check your destination’s internet connection. If attaining great internet in a certain accommodation proves to be futile (e.g. hotels, etc.), take note of the coworking spaces available in the city (you can use CoWorking list or WorkFrom for that, or simply ask around the digital nomad communities I previously mentioned.)
RELATED READ: Lost in translation? Check out the ‘Best Translation Apps for Traveling‘
TELL YOUR LOVED ONES. Apart from security purposes, it’s vital to tell them — this is not about asking for their permission, but about simply notifying them of your plans. Most of them will even think you’re crazy, but don’t let them dissuade you!
• • •
BONUS: The Ulimate Goal
Now that we’re done discussing the steps on how to become a digital nomad, I’d like to take this moment to talk about the ultimate goal of those who are in this profession. It’s vital to talk about this because I always say this in my posts and I will never get tired of saying this: it REALLY helps to “always think long term.”
The thing about basic digital nomad jobs like those I’ve listed above is that they still require hours of work and effort. There are even chances that you could get fired by your online employer or that jobs are suddenly hard to find (it’s always possible).
That’s why ideally, what you should aim for in years to come is to achieve a kind of digital nomad work that is highly sustainable — a kind of ‘enterprise’ that you personally own or run while only requiring a few hours of your time.
One fine example is setting up an online business that fits your remote lifestyle!
Other people even generate products or services that are of digital form (e.g. courses, eBooks, etc.)
For my case, my first online business is this blog (it took me a while to realize that it was a business in itself!). Today, I am earning a 6-figure income from it and passively at that too — which means that I can ignore it for months, and yet it will still generate income without my intervention!
The second business I had was my Amazon online business (as of 2021, we sold it to the highest bidder). It’s different from the popular dropshipping businesses because what we did was private labeling. We sold physical products under our own brand but we don’t have to deal with the meticulous details and huge expenses of shipping, logistics, and inventory (since Amazon handled it for us on our behalf at a monthly membership cost. As a result, I only worked 3-4 hours a day before or maybe even less).
You can do something similar by signing up with Amazon Seller Central, but I am warning you now that without proper mentorship and knowledge, this can be a tough business model to break in (we managed to set up this business successfully because of the mentorship that we had gained during our digital nomad lifestyle).
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There are also Udemy courses available that will teach you the basics of FBA selling on Amazon, private label products, and dropshipping!
• • •
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Everything CAN be learned — so even if you don’t have skills nor experience now, you can take free or paid courses to learn the topics that you need to know (a lot of these resources are available online, with just a tap of your finger). Much like how you go to school to gain skills and experience, you just need to go through the same study process and you can be a digital nomad in no time!
There are a few countries worldwide that offer digital nomad visas. For countries that do NOT offer this, in theory, you have to apply for a work visa — without one, you are technically doing illegal work if you only enter the country as a tourist or visitor… HOWEVER, the whole remote work idea is new and it lies in a grey area. Given that you are just working online and are not taking away jobs from local people, it’s a difficult policy that is not wholly enforced. As such, this is why a lot of digital nomads are still able to work abroad even under a tourist visa.
A LOT! They can be bloggers, influencers, writers, graphic designers, virtual assistants, data encoders, translators and so much more! See here for a complete list of digital nomad jobs.
Absolutely! In fact, there are already a lot of digital nomad couples that take their kids along in their nomadic lifestyle (most of these children are typically homeschooled, while others make the effort to enroll them into schools abroad).
Income can start as low as $5 per hour, but on average, a lot of those who are doing well would be earning about $30 per hour. But according to this survey, 1 out of 5 digital nomads earn more than $100,000 a year which is higher than what a regular employee would normally earn. Naturally, once a digital nomad sets their own online company or business, income can skyrocket to higher numbers and even millions a year!
As of 2020, there are about 11 million digital nomads in the USA alone! Plus, with the 2020 events, more and more workers as well as businesses can see how their jobs can truly be done remotely, so these numbers will continue to rise.
The most basic of all would be the right set of skills, a laptop (or even just a smartphone or tablet), and a reliable internet connection!
IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s important to point out that some people succeed in this profession, and some people don’t. But much like any new business venture or job, everything will depend on your attitude, work ethic, and perseverance. The fact of the matter is, this kind of work is doable — you just need to work hard and smart!
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Becoming a successful digital nomad won’t happen overnight BUT the fact remains that it’s a career that can be started by anyone. Besides, with the right mix of discipline and resolve, you can reach your goals sooner than you think! (Add the help of this guide and hopefully, I can help hasten the process even further for you).
All in all, let me know what you think about this post! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Loved your article! I follow my traveling husband around a lot and work from hotels and my favorite place–working from Disneyland! Your article is very thorough, gives even me much to think about.
I’m happy to hear that! I wish all the best for you! ^_^
Hi, Aileen. Your blog really inspired me to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle. I was searching articles on Filipino Digital Nomads and I came across your name in one of Business Insider articles. It’s a great article I bookmarked it and shared it on Facebook. Though I am not planning to be a true-blooded digital nomad, the allure of building your career online has always been enticing me. I already worked as an Online Proofreader-Copyeditor before, so earning online is really possible and not a far-fetched reality. Now, I opened an e-commerce store on home lifestyle products. I really believe that you’re one of the successful travel writers/bloggers in the world. You’ve established yourself well in this industry and with that you’ve become an inspiration to us all. Cheers!
Hi, thanks for a hugely informative article!
I’m working on my skills to become a Digital Nomad, and a lot of what’s covered here is what I’m doing.
Good luck wherever you end up next!
Hey Aileen, I am currently in an almost five-and-a-half year stay in a 9-7 shift (yes, that’s 9 hours! *excluding break*) solutions/consulting company. I’ve been reading your articles every night, for two days (after work), and I have been having insights and guides on this digital nomad lifestyle. I am already planning (again) on having my resignation this December and i’m planning to be a freelance software engineer instead at home, and if I find a sustainable work/job, I might also travel the world. I find your website very helpful and informative as I am having second thoughts on this path that I am planning to take, so, thank you!
Hey Frank! Thank you for sharing your story, and I’m happy to have been a part of this journey of yours. I know how difficult and nerve-wrackign this stage must be for you — so I’m wishing you all the best! Keep in touch!
I must be very honest with you, reading is not my fave pass time but with your articles, it kept me curious and basically it gives me so much idea about the things that I wanna do. I started running a concept tour business in the Philippines though I am base here in the UAE. Again, thank you so much for sharing all that you know, you are extremely generous with your experience. Keep it up and god bless you always with your trip.
I’m happy to hear this Zen. Thank you! I wish all the best in your business!