Becoming a Digital Nomad

Becoming a digital nomad is easier than most believe it to be. I am one of millions across the world who has opted for a location independent lifestyle, and the phenomenon is growing rapidly. Although flexible jobs have come under quite a bit of scrutiny from “academics”, people are starting to think about a more lifestyle-based way of working.

After all, do you want to work in an office for 40 years to save up enough money to retire? Or, would you prefer to live the life you love while earning money? I know which one I’ve chosen and I haven’t regretted a second of it! Don’t get me wrong, I thought to myself “this is never going to work” many times but, here I am, writing to you from Hue in Vietnam.

As the first real post on the Working Remotely page, I’m going to go into more detail about the basics of becoming a digital nomad. I’m also going to share some of the great and harsh realities that come with the lifestyle you are thinking of choosing.

What is a Digital Nomad

Google will tell you “Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.”

I’m going to break that down for you a little bit. Becoming a digital nomad means you can work from anywhere in the world with the help of your computer.

In other words, you can live the life you want. You don’t need to sit in a cubicle for the next forty years. You don’t have to be checking the clock every five minutes, in the hope that it is 4, 5, or even 6pm.

“A digital nomad can make friends from across the world. You can see and experience new things every day. Not only can you work with clients in different continents but you can choose your office of choice every day. You can learn new cultures, skills, and basically, have the time of your life in the prime of your life.”

Becoming a digital nomad means you can choose your office

Why is it Easy to Become a Digital Nomad?

Honestly, I wouldn’t say becoming a digital nomad is particularly easy. Truthfully, the hardest part is taking a leap of faith towards this lifestyle that has been niggling at you for so long. Once you get the “what if’s” out of your system you’ll never look back! 😉

Moving forward a chapter, a digital nomad is someone who works from a computer, that’s the easy part. You, your computer, an internet connection, and a backpack with a few clothes: easy peasy lemon squeezy. For those of you who aren’t great on computers, don’t worry.

a) You can learn new skills online. (I’ll go into this in more detail soon enough)

b) There are other options that can allow you to leave a nomadic lifestyle without the digital. (And yes, I’ll go into this in more detail as well)

The most important steps towards becoming a digital nomad are:

– Running the opposite direction to all the “what if’s” and-

– Start doing something! Yes, something. In fact, anything. Start brainstorming at home and that eureka moment will pop up quicker than you think.

Becoming a digital nomad cuts out the need for material posessions

Skills You May Need

That all depends on what you know, what you want to learn, and what you believe you could be good at. Take me for example. When I was at school, I studied art. During that time, I played professional squash as a junior. After school, I went on to graduate from a BA in events management while studying freelance journalism (online). I then completed a project management course (online) and finally started a career in events management. Now I write for people. Simple as that.

I’m not saying all the steps I took to get where I am were useless but they are definitely not the reason I do the work I do. Firstly, art and squash were never going to allow me to make the money I wanted to make to live the lifestyle I had chosen. Secondly, events management was too stressful for me. Journalism may have helped me with my writing. And, lastly, I can’t remember anything from my project management course (what a waste!).

A Good Understanding of the Internet is Key

Now, I market myself as an SEO copywriter (fancy, right?). I learned everything I know from the internet and a little from my lovely boyfriend. When I say: the internet, I mean Youtube. Youtube can give you virtually everything you need to know to learn a new skill.

Aside from Youtube, Google Garage is a great place to learn the basics. Google University could help you get your foot in the marketing door. And, Hubspot is my go-to place for all things marketing. When it comes to writing, I take notes from individual clients feedback. I also often ask friends and family to have a read-through my work. So, becoming a digital nomad starts online!

If you don’t want to go into SEO or copywriting, or both, there are thousands of other jobs. To name a few: data entry, virtual secretary, graphic design, website design, all sorts of other design, programming, basic writing, millions of marketing jobs, and the list goes on! Don’t be shy, check it out online if you don’t believe me 😉

Advantages of Becoming a Digital Nomad

I could go through the advantages of becoming a digital nomad for hours but everyone chooses this lifestyle for different reasons. Instead, I’m going to give you three examples of lovely people I know.

Jon

My lovely brother worked as a partnership director for a large company based in England. Although he did have physical meetings and offices, he spent his time traveling around for both work and pleasure. Taking regular trips to The States, around Europe, Central America and further afield. He enjoyed the world while earning money to sustain the lifestyle he wanted to. Now, he owns his own company with his friend Jim, Flux. He has recently written and published a book Democracy Squared. And, currently, he is working from the comforts of Morillon in the French Alps.

Becoming a digital nomad means you can live by the sea

Tom

Tom is my lovely boyfriend <3. He used to work for a marketing firm based in Nicaragua, Central America. He then went on to work in a fishing village doing marketing for a variety of hostels in the area. After this, he moved back to the capital and worked in call centers. Since we decided to travel, he’s gone back into marketing. He works remotely for a huge firm in Washington State. He enjoys a different country every couple of months doing what he loves- traveling. We’ve got over 20 countries on our bucket list for the next 2 to 3 years and we’ve loved the first two so far.

Becoming a digital nomad means you can go trekking in Vietnam while earning a living

Alun

Alun, a lovely Welsh man we met in Vietnam use to work as part of an IT support team. He described it to me as “the most miserable job in the world”. He started working remotely from the comforts of his home in Swansea. Now, he is Vietnam, heading home in ten days to see his family. He is getting rid of his flat and buying a ticket back out to Thailand to see more of the world. Since I’ve met Alun I’ve heard him say “what a time to be alive” every day and he is a real happy chappy!

Becoming a digital nomad means you can work from the comforts of a homestay in the Mekong Delta

My point is, we all do different jobs. We all “do have a very particular set of skills” (Liam Neeson from Taken). In my opinion, these skills should not be limited to the confines of a cubicle for the majority of our lives.

Disadvantages of Becoming a Digital Nomad

There aren’t any! Just kidding! There are always some downsides and, of course, these depend completely on you. I can only speak from experience so here we go:

Not having regular internet can be a pain in the ars*, especially when you’ve booked somewhere that says there is! The number of hotels in South East Asia, Europe, and Central America that claim to have internet when they don’t is, frankly, annoying. But, hey, it happens. Cafes are always an option! In fact, cafes are often a great way to get out of your hotel and take yourself out for a date.

Starting below your pay grade can be another frustrating aspect of becoming a digital nomad. Many can start their own business earning more money. Coming from a girl who, before traveling, worked for a big firm in London, my paycheck took a huge hit when I set myself up as a freelancer. That said, I’m here to tell you about the mistakes I made so that you don’t do the same!

After that, it comes down to the personal. Missing family and friends often come into the equation. Wondering if you’ve made the right lifestyle choice is something that can pop up like a little devil on your shoulder. I’ve been through the process and it’s always come back down to: “would I be able to do this if I worked in a cubicle in London?”. If you change your mind about becoming a digital nomad, there is always a way back into the rat race anyway!

By becoming a digital nomad you can end up far away from the people you love

Ways in Which you can Become a Digital Nomad

I could write a whole new post on this, and I will. The internet is the key to all your problems. Some are established enough or have a good enough idea to get going from the comforts of their old job, or by building their own agency. Others, like me, opt for websites such as Upwork, Freelancer, People Per Hour, and more.

Now, you can find jobs on the big job search engines such as Indeed. Also, LinkedIn is a great way to find remote work while We Work Remotely offers good, well paid, higher responsibility jobs. Becoming a digital nomad is not limited to one way. There are thousands, and I will give you an intro to a few different ones in my future Working Remotely posts.

Finally…

Have I convinced you to take a leap of faith towards becoming a digital nomad? If so, stay tuned for more info on how to get there by subscribing to the Who Needs Shoes website here! Alternatively, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Get in touch, I don’t bite!

All the best

Sarah 🙂