You might have seen the pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Girls and guys sitting with their laptops next to beautiful rice paddies in Bali or on the beach in Thailand. It looks pretty cool, right? but what exactly are these ‘digital nomads’ doing and how can you do it too?
What is a Digital Nomad?
According to Investopedia,
“Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. Digital nomads work remotely, telecommuting rather than being physically present at a company's headquarters or office.”
Essentially, the definition of digital nomads includes everyone and anyone who earns money from their computers and is reasonably mobile. I like to break it down into the two words. Digital, meaning that the work digital nomads perform can be done using digital technology, and Nomad, meaning that digital nomads are able to travel while they perform this digital work. Digital nomads enjoy a freedom that was simply not possible before the advent of modern technologies such as cheap and ubiquitous internet access, smartphones and voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
So what kind of work can be done as digital nomad?
The answer is really anything you can think of that doesn’t require you to be in any physical location. Most commonly, digital nomads are working in the areas of marketing, design, IT, writing and consulting as work in all of these industries are now predominantly performed using computers. Unfortunately, not everyone can be digital nomad as many jobs are inherently location dependent. For instance, any job in which requires physical labour is highly unlikely to become something you could do with just a computer. The good news however, is that for most of us working in the knowledge economy, the transition into remote working might be easier than we might think.
How Can You Become a Digital Nomad?
Becoming a digital nomad is really quite simple. You just need someone to pay you for work you do on your own computer. There are infinite ways to achieve this. You could become a freelance web developer, selling digital products online or even trade stocks on the stock exchange, all from your laptop, anywhere in the world. If you already work in a largely digital profession, you’re already a step of the way there but if you have no experience working with computers, you can still learn a digital skill and become a digital nomad. Let’s cover the former scenario first and then cover how you should go about it starting from scratch.
Already digital? Here’s how to go Nomad?
Perhaps you’re already a designer, developer, marketing professional or some other kind of digital profession. Chances are that you’re employed on a full-time or part-time basis and need to come into the office most days. One thing you could do is try and take your current job remote and this can be as simple as having a conversation with your boss. I won’t go into a full process but this is something that Tim Ferriss talks extensively about in his must-read book for digital nomads, The 4 Hour Work Week below..
What if I don’t have a digital job already?
Perhaps you’re not already a digital professional. In that case, the extra step for you is to learn a digital skill that you can take on the road. These days it’s easy to find free and inexpensive learning resources online. So, you don’t have to go back to school to follow this new path. My advice would be to start on Google and search for tutorials on the skill you want to learn. If you follow the rabbit hole further enough you should find who are the best online educators in your desired field of work. If you’re not even sure what skill you want to invest your time into learning then I suggest you do your research to figure out what are some of the ways that digital nomads are making a living, write them down as ideas for yourself and then research deeper into each of these fields of work. A simple Google search can do wonders to both figure out what jobs digital nomads are doing and how you can learn a similar skill.
The Final Step: Free Yourself to Travel.
While work is usually the main factor that holds people back from location independence, other aspects like family, friends and fear can play a part in limiting your perceived ability to travel. Being able to work from anywhere makes the digital nomad lifestyle financially sustainable but you still need to be comfortable with packing up your life and travelling into the unknown. Luckily with apps and resources like Wandergo and the big community of other digital nomads, there’s plenty of support out there for newbie nomads. I took the plunge 2 and half years ago and I have zero regrets. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the next post! Until next time, Christopher Dodd