A Definitive Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad

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A digital nomad lifestyle allows individuals to be their own boss, travel, and develop a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, research shows that 49% of digital nomads earn a higher income compared to their previous salaried positions. For individuals planning to become full-time digital nomads, this article by Happy Remote Work will explore tips on getting started, finding clients, and keeping finances in order.

Join Digital Nomad Communities

Before starting out, take the time to learn all there is about your future lifestyle. Becoming a member of community groups on social media is a good first step. In these groups, you’ll learn about the best practices to land clients, reviews of locations others have visited, common challenges faced in this line of work, and more. Additionally, building a network will help find mentors, receive referrals and build a support group.

Whether you’re planning to travel to a nearby state or internationally, check out vlogs made by other nomads. These will help clarify your questions regarding managing accommodation, internet connectivity, culture, local lifestyle, etc.

Find your Niche

Developing a positive reputation is one of the keys to becoming a successful digital nomad. Consistently meeting client expectations can open doors to referrals, long-term projects, and the ability to demand higher pay. But, when starting, it’s best to channel your effort towards a niche market, garner a customer base, and branch out as you grow.

Choosing a niche will depend on your skill set and expertise. For instance:

  • Professionals with experience in management positions can pursue business consultancy roles.
  • Creative professionals who have a writing/art/video portfolio can work as freelance writers, graphic designers, or video editors.
  • Individuals with extensive knowledge in any discipline such as finance, healthcare, public policy, etc., can become technical writers.
  • Educators from all levels can explore online tutoring opportunities.

Other popular niches include – virtual assistant, website designer, app programmer, and full-stack developer.

Reduce Your Expenses

Given that you plan to travel shortly it’s important to streamline your finances through the following steps:

  • If you have any high-interest debt, pool money towards paying it off as early as possible. Early payments will reduce your interest burden, potentially saving hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  • Create a monthly budget and take steps to keep all unnecessary spending to the minimum. This can include eating out, shopping, etc.
  • Consider selling assets that you’ll have no need for in the near future. For example, if you plan to live abroad for the foreseeable future, selling your car is a viable option. Adopt a similar approach for furniture and other excess belongings.

Find and Manage Clients

Landing your first client is always challenging, but here are two ways to make the process simpler:

  • Regardless of your niche, remote work job boards will have numerous positions to apply for. The key is to choose roles that fit your expertise and consistently apply for jobs.
  • Reach out to your personal and professional networks for referrals. Being referred increases the chances of getting hired, even if you’re just starting out. Publishing a post on LinkedIn and social media platforms can help you get on the radar of clients looking to hire new freelancers.

The beauty of working as a digital nomad is that you can work with as many clients as you like. But, providing exceptional service and having good communication is important to convert them into repeat customers. Here are two types of software to help you do just that:

  • Project Management Tools: Managing multiple projects always runs the risk of confusing deadlines or mixing up deliverables. As reported by Grip Recap, a project management tool overcomes these risks by helping you create clear schedules and add reminders for each submission.
  • Invoicing Software: Using an online payment tool will ensure you always get paid on time. Additionally, it will help you design professional-looking digital invoices through which clients can make direct payments.

Plan Your Move

Once you have secured a few clients and a steady stream of work, turn your attention toward the moving process.

Determining the cost of living will be the first step. This should include the expenses of groceries, utilities, transportation, and leisure activities. When it comes to accommodation, consider renting a room to share the cost with others, especially if you’re moving to a city. But, if you’re relocating to an area with affordable housing costs, having your own space is a plausible option. As a freelancer, you have the power to set your rates. Hence, don’t hesitate to negotiate compensation when taking on new projects, especially if a higher income is needed to meet living costs.

In addition to good housing, other amenities to look for include:

  • Good internet connectivity: As most of your work will be done online, having reliable internet service (at least 4G speeds) is necessary.
  • Co-working Spaces: For individuals who prefer to work in a professional setting, having a handful of co-working spaces near their home should be a firm requirement.
  • Outdoor Spaces: Digital nomads spend most of their day in front of screens. Hence, post-work it’s important to disconnect and spend some time in nature, such as taking a walk in the park or a nearby beach, visiting local trails, etc.

Now that you know what it takes to become a digital nomad, it’s time to start planning, select a destination, and count down the days to start a new chapter in your professional life.