Learn the how to live in a nomadic way with a location-independent and technology-enabled lifestyle by becoming a digital nomad. This article is the step-to-step guide on how to become a digital nomad and the pro and cons to consider before fully committing to the lifestyle.
Segba Eseoghene Keva Laya, Author
Keva is a content writer for Career Karma owner of Contentpreneur Bootcamp, with extensive experience in the field and with her own blog. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in History and International Studies from the University of Uyo, Keva hopes to become a life coach and continue sharing ideas on her own website.
Working from home can provide a myriad of benefits but also downsides for people. With this career path, you will need to be dedicated and accountable to pursue remote work. Focus and discipline are key factors in achieving a fruitful career in remote work. If done correctly, however, it can be a lucrative source of income.
The rise of digital nomads is a new phenomenon that stems from the prevalence of remote and hybrid work during the pandemic. If you want flexibility and proper work-life balance then this career is for you. This article will discuss how to become a digital nomad and the pros and cons associated with it.
A digital nomad is a professional who works remotely through laptops and other devices opposed to the traditional 9 to 5 office job. Instead of in-person synchronous communication, digital nomads often have the ability to choose between online synchronous and asynchronous communication. With this benefit, digital nomads are not location-dependent - typically they travel and move from place to place.
Digital nomads have a ton of freedom to do the things that they want. Since they’re not bound to a single place, they can travel around the world and explore various cultures. Many digital nomads are self-employed or run their own businesses, allowing them to choose their working hours.
The ability to customize your workday leads to higher levels of satisfaction and contentment. Many digital nomads work on projects that they love and are enthusiastic about. This unorthodox way of life is frequently associated with a more conscious way of existence.
With this kind of lifestyle, nomads tend to have better work-life balance. Many are engaged in activities such as yoga, meditation, and minimalism. This gives them the peace of mind to appreciate their belongings, improve their mental health, and get more enjoyment out of life.
Being a digital nomads opens the door to more financial flexibility. They have the opportunity to make financial decisions that are not common for location-bound workers. On top of that, many digital nomads set their hourly rates for clients; and with higher qualification, they charge at higher rates for their expertise.
The incomes of digital nomads are highly dependent on their work output. Job instability is a possibility due to the freelancing nature of the lifestyle. Moreover, housing can be a double-edged sword. While the digital nomad can move with ease, continuously moving from place to place can also create distress and insecurity.
Remote work can take a lot of effort. It can also take some time to settle into your nomadic lifestyle. There’s a tendency to work long hours due to various projects, therefore boosting productivity when working from home is crucial.
While some companies offer remuneration for sick days, you also have to understand that often holidays and sick days are not paid. Ultimately, this comes down to your agreement with your client.
You can meet a ton of people through your travels. However, you may find it difficult to establish long-term friendships due to the fact that you’re constantly on the go. There’s also a chance that you will get homesick or miss important occasions with friends and families.
Working fully remote can also limit your ability to make friends with teams and colleagues. Ultimately, it can lead to a lack of trust - which is essential for effective communication. Find out how you can build trust in hybrid settings here.
After you have accessed the pros and cons of becoming a digital nomad, here are some realistic steps that you can take if you want to become a digital nomad.
You need to consider why you want to be a digital nomad. List down some reasons why you want to become one; along with benefits and drawbacks specific to you. Secondly, try to determine any alternatives that are available. If you like the work-life balance of the digital nomad lifestyle, you can try to push for a remote work setup in your current occupation, or you can try out freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
Do some more research on what it’s like to be a digital nomad. You can check out videos or articles about the lifestyle, so you can get a feel for what it’s all about. You can also connect with people who are currently in the lifestyle for more first-hand opinions. By doing so, it helps with setting expectations as you enter the lifestyle.
It’s best to take a test run before fully committing to the lifestyle. Check to see if you’re disciplined enough to have fun and still be productive. Take note of all the ups and downs that you experience on the trip.
If your current job doesn’t let you work from home, you can hunt for freelance work after hours. Even if you’re pressed for time, you must be willing to work long hours. These situations will help you determine whether you have the necessary skills to become a digital nomad and whether you would enjoy this type of employment.
You have to build a financial plan before venturing into your first digital nomad trip. A rainy day fund can help you have some financial breathing room during your travels. Since you’re going to have tons of responsibilities, it’s best to have a financial safety net. A financial plan can help you be organized so you can make responsible and informed decisions when traveling.
Here are some jobs that you can take to become a digital nomad. Most of these occupations have a hybrid or fully remote work setups which are a perfect fit for aspiring nomads. Below are the common industries and jobs that are digital nomad-friendly. You don’t necessarily need formal education for these jobs, however, you do need to be proficient and equipped with appropriate skill sets in the field you want to pursue.
There’s a huge demand for people who are skilled in writing and editing. This line of work entails the creation of articles or blog posts. To find work in this field, it’s best to build a writing portfolio and find yourself a niche where you can call yourself an expert. This can help you narrow down your target clients and make it easier for you to find projects.
Virtual assistance (VA) is the process of aiding businesses in various tasks like customer service, clerical work, or data entry tasks. This is great for versatile professionals who can perform different types of work. If you have never worked as an assistant, there are a ton of online courses to get you started in this field. To better showcase your skill sets, experiences and increase employability, it is good to build a portfolio to attract potential employers.
The digital marketing field provides a ton of job options for digital nomads. It can span from social media marketing, graphic design, and content creation and management. Online advertising can be a lucrative career for a digital nomad. You can learn digital marketing through online learning platforms and websites.
Furthermore, you can also pursue a career in search engine optimization (SEO). This is the visibility metric of websites within search engines. The goal of a SEO professional is to optimize content within websites to ensure they’re visible within search engine result pages (SERPs).
If you like to build and design, you can try your knack for web design or development. There’s a high demand for web designers and developers within the online job market. Moreover, there are various jobs that you can pursue within the field like UI/UX design, backend development, front-end development, and full-stack development. You can learn more about web design and development through online courses and tutorials.
Software development and engineering are also good options for digital nomads. The field entails lucrative job options and a good work-life balance. However, these types of occupations involve some relatively high levels of skill and proficiency. You’re going to need a portfolio of your previous projects in software development or engineering.
In addition, you can enrol in coding boot camps or learn through online learning platforms if you really want to pursue this as a career. There are sites like Codecademy, Skillshare, or Coursera that have plenty of options to learn about the subject matter.
Digital nomads make use of tech to do their work. If you want to become one, then you must be willing to do remote work and equipped with the self-control and organization to be accountable independently. If you lack knowledge in tech, you can enrol in coding bootcamps like Thinkful, General Assembly, and Coding Dojo. You can register in these institutions to gain tech knowledge and provide ease in your digital nomad journey.
The lifestyle may have high barriers to entry for some people. However, it’s best to understand your current situation and be realistic about your goals of becoming a digital nomad. There are upsides and downsides to this line of work-life balance and you have to be prepared for it. You can set strict boundaries with yourself to ensure you don’t overwork and burn out.