“Digital Nomad” might just be the most desired profession in the entire world right now. Bored with numbing corporate jobs, millions of people dream of working for themselves while travelling the world, setting their own hours and earning passive income. It really sounds like a job that’s too good to be true, doesn’t it?
The truth is that thousands of people—at this very moment—are already working remotely on their own terms. It’s one of the huge perks of living in the digital age. While your parents might still think this is all a fad, the people who do this kind of work prove that it’s not. Digital nomads exist. And the best of them even make a decent living of it.
What Is a Digital Nomad?
“Digital Nomad” is a term that needs some further explanation, so let’s zoom in on what a digital nomad actually is. Wikipedia describes a digital nomad as someone “who uses telecommunications to earn a living and conduct their life in a nomadic manner.” Come to think about it, the term explains itself.
A digital nomad is a person who moves around a lot (nomad), making a living online (digital). These people rely on the internet and mobile devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets and cameras to earn an income. They’re often self-employed, although some digital nomads work for larger companies that allow them to work from home (or from wherever they want).
Places, where digital nomads might work, include coffee shops, libraries, home offices, hotels and RVs. Digital nomads tend to be “location-independent”, meaning that they can work anywhere they want. That’s arguably one of the biggest drawcards of this relatively new job type.
How to Become a Digital Nomad?
There are all sorts of digital nomads. Every kind has its own requirements and background. If you’re still working for someone else, the first step might be to simply talk to your boss and ask if you can do your work from home. This works best for people doing computer work in cubicles—a lot of those tasks can easily be carried out from your home kitchen table. Lots of studies indicate that people are actually more productive if they can do their work in their own time.
You can also become a digital nomad by quitting your job and doing something completely different. The thing is, though, that you need to make sure you’ve got something lined up when you do that, or have sufficient savings to get you through the time you’ll need to build your own online business, product and service.
Digital nomad work is widely varied. It includes everything from freelance writing to website and graphic design to travel photography and blogging and even playing online poker professionally. The beauty of it is that this huge number of possibilities means that virtually everyone with internet access can become a digital nomad.
Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
The obvious pros of being a digital nomad is that you’re completely free to go wherever you want and that you work for yourself. You can plan your days, schedule your work and create the work/life balance you prefer. Nothing is as liberating and motivating as that.
On the downside, the life of a digital nomad isn’t all sunshine, hammocks and cocktails on the beach. It requires a ridiculous amount of dedication and work. You need to organise yourself, deal with the uncertainty of a life without a fixed monthly income, set your own agenda, deal with times of solitude … Plenty of stuff to consider. In addition to that, digital nomads need to stay on top of visa requirements, taxes and local employment laws.
Keeping in touch with friends and family back home is another challenge that's often overlooked. That is why a large proportion of digital nomads live that kind of life for a few years but eventually decide to settle for something more permanent. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The prospect of going back to a settled life at some point should not hold you back. Even if it is just temporary, the experience will help you grow and become a more rounded personality. In an inspiring interview with Mark von der Heijden, also known as the Backpacker Intern, we discussed some interesting thoughts on this.
The Digital Nomad Conference (DNX)
If you’re serious about offering your products or services online and becoming a digital nomad, you might want to look at the DNX or Digital Nomad Conference. The DNX is a convention that’s created for people living or aspiring to live independent lives, from online entrepreneurs to freelancers.
It’s a fantastic place to network with likeminded people, learn more about business, sharpen your digital nomads skills whatever they may be, and attend motivational talks. This year (2017) DNX takes place in Lisbon, Portugal on September 9 and 10.