If you landed on this article, you’ve probably Googled ‘how to become a digital nomad’, huh? Welcome to my website, a resource for digital nomads mixed with personal stories from my travel life. My name is Mandy and I’ve been living in London, Madrid and Santorini. I work as a digital nomad and in this article, I’ll try my best to explain how to become a digital nomad. Ready? Vamos!
1. Can you handle it?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that you work less than you do when you’re in your typical office job. The truth is, I never worked this hard before in my life. There are days when I don’t even come out of my apartment. There are last minute Skype calls I have to take that completely change my work plans. There’s so much self discipline involved I sometimes feel like my life is set in this amazing power productivity routine that helps me get work done and learn a lot. The truth is, the digital nomad lifestyle’s not for everyone. No matter what kind of job you have, you’ll have to work hard to sustain yourself – this job is not a shortcut.
Characteristics of digital nomads:
- Good communicators
- Amazing work discipline and hard working
- Time management and organizational skills
- Adapting to various tools requested by your clients
- Technology savvy
- Patience – can you handle the terrible upload/download speed of some countries?
- Stay calm under pressure
- Planning in advance (especially when you want to take holiday – your client won’t be happy with paused work from your end)
- Accepting and learning from bad feedback
- Working for your clients
I want to address the last point. The truth is, “being your own boss” as a digital nomad is a myth. You’ll need an ongoing job to sustain yourself and this usually means having a boss. The only difference between being a digital nomad and not being a digital nomad is the location of your work (and getting 100% more work experience and often having to work weekends).
2. What do you want to do?
Forget about “where do you want to go”:
The first step of becoming a digital nomad is looking at your skills you can bring to the table – what are you 100% good at and what are some things you’d be willing to learn? Can you work remotely with your current job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Write them down.
If you don’t have much experience, get a few certificates to show off your skills and willingness to learn. Udemy and other online course websites make this a bit easier. Do this while you’re still at your full time job to make for an easier transition.
3. Start freelancing on the side
Before I became a digital nomad, I spent roughly 6 months freelancing on the side to determine whether or not I can actually make a full time living from it. One thing I learned is that clients come and go, so you have to get used to the flow and figure out what you’ll do during the time when there are no clients. It’ll happen.
Where to find freelance jobs for digital nomads:
Read also: How to stand out on Upwork
4. Adjust your location to your jobs
This is important. While living on Santorini is one of the most magical experiences ever, I struggle with weak internet on a daily basis.
If your job requires you to upload videos on a daily basis, you need to scour locations that have generally good Wi-Fi and an amazing upload speed. You’ll need a decent download speed to do work no matter what, so probably a lot of dreamy abandoned locations won’t work.
5. Work hard and enjoy it!
In my opinion, being a digital nomad is one of the hardest jobs you could have. Once again, this is not a shortcut way to make easy money. It’ll test every part of your work ethic, but it ultimately shapes you for whatever you’re looking to do in the future – your work skills will be appreciated by big companies once / if you’re ever ready to come back to an office job. Or, if you’re anything like me, it’ll give you entrepreneurial passion to start thinking about having your own business.
It hasn’t even been a year of my digital nomadism and I’ve learned a lot more and got amazing work experience. What I love about being a digital nomad is having the chance to work on things normal 9-5 companies often overlook. It gives you an excellent canvas to develop your skills and work with a wide range of tools. On top of all that, you will network with companies from all over the world!
But I really mean it when I say being a digital nomad will test every part of your work ethic.