Bum – (noun) A traveler, with no particular purpose or destination.
Nomad – (noun) A member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture.
Interesting. It seems the two are not the same even though I’ve been called bum and a few other choice things. Truth is, it is just a word and it is one that could not be farther from the truth when talking about life as a digital nomad. SECRET #1 – Being a digital nomad or running your own location-independent company requires as much, if not more, work than any corporate position you may have previously held. There is no one to bring in clients other than you. The work can’t be passed on. In fact, the buck stops with you usually. Your office supplies have to be purchased by you and then carried around by you. There is no office closet that rivals the Office Depot. When working as a nomad you have to be responsible for every second of every day or else your business will suffer and ultimately you will suffer (be it emotionally, physically, mentally, etc) But where do all these online jobs come from? How do you find examples of revenue generating online businesses? How can you escape working for someone else and figuring out how to work for yourself?
I have found that two jobs channels almost exclusively allow you to make a living by working online. Don’t be fooled though. There are a number of web sites offering jobs for digital nomads. I only recommend two though:
Why Work Through A Freelance Site
Using a site like Elance or Upwork gives you access to an infrastructure that is reachable by potential clients. If you were to not use them you would need to develop that infrastructure on your own as well as a web presence, logo, marketing campaign, etc. Full-fledged business start slowly in the brick-and-mortar world as well as Online and require quite a bit of startup finance. While I am fond of digital nomads who have invested in their own business I find that for the reason of becoming a digital nomad it is easier to work through a freelance site. Those very sites allow opportunities to interact with potential clients and to build continuing relationships with minimum investment. The platform is already there. Clients already use it and look for contractors that can contact them directly. Payment is verified. And perhaps my favorite reason, you are working by the project so you can work when you need to/want to and explore when you want. Owning a business requires constant attention and client nurturing. Freelancing speaks more to the idea of live/work/explore balance.
A Word Of Caution
I have a wife, a daughter, a truck (with accompanying payment), a travel trailer, and several other monthly obligations. I can’t ignore those so holding down a corporate yet location-independent job is ideal for my situation. I could do freelance but freelancing is a cash flow operation. Work = Money. No work = No money. There is no passive income to rely on when you are a freelancer. There are no monthly contracts, no service fees, etc. You are the one providing the service and doing so according to your contract.
Before you log on to Upwork though and create a profile remember SECRET #2. Being a digital nomad comes with an emphasis on digital. Your clients, your contractors, your boss, expects you to be connected with regularity, be able to receive instructions and make assessments, update them regularly, etc. You must be digital and must have a stable Internet connection. Communication is key to being a good freelancer. The better freelancer you are the more job opportunities will come your way.
Being a digital nomad means you can work AND travel should you choose. It also means you work from home with the ability to travel when you want to. SECRET #3 though is to be flexible. If you need dual monitors and an ergonomic keyboard, a bamboo plant in the windowsill, a special chair with extra lumbar support, etc. then the life of a digital nomad will be tough. Some days I work from my chair in our travel trailer. Other days I saddle up at the counter in a cafe. Some days find me catching up with a client from a stone seat next to a water fountain in a public park. I have worked while in transit and during hours when the rest of the world is fast asleep.
Jobs are available. Much depends on flexibility though. If you want to be a digital nomad and survive doing so you have to understand that there are responsibilities with every job. You need to have skills that you can market. You need the discipline to work from anywhere and not get distracted. It can be done though and when done right, can offer a truly adventurous life!