Digital Nomad Jobs

Note: Written for purely for selfish reasons: The more digital nomads are out there, the more new buddies we have to meet in every country! The bigger the community of nomads and the greater the movement becomes! :)

So what do digital nomad jobs entail?

digital nomad jobsThinking about digital nomad jobs, you may be tempted to limit yourself to only considering roles based around web design and writing online content. This is the part where we have to remind you of something, we are in 2013!

This is the most exciting time in the history of digital nomadism, because it really is possible for anybody who has the will to learn and who has an excitement in being able to freely experiment in different ways of earning their way through life. Sound like you?? Good then you may read on..

Two ways of going about this

You will find a lot of people who are quite tech savvy using their skills to earn money and many of them do quite well. We’re going to assume that if you already know how to create an app, develop a WordPress theme or create websites that earn you money through affiliate sales, you already know what you are doing. In which case, all you need to do is move out of your parents basement and get on a one-way flight and bang – you’re a digital nomad! Hooray!

For those coming into the scene backwards – i.e you want to become digital nomads, perhaps you have already set off but now need a way of funding your nomadic life, we have some information for you – we did the same!

Everything that we know now, we didn’t know when we set off. We saved for six months as a buffer for when it all went wrong and had trust in ourselves that we would be able to survive. All we needed were three things…

  • Time to learn new skills
  • To live in a place with very little living costs
  • The freedom to experiment with different projects, with no fear of failure

None of these we had when we were working full time.

We appreciate that for some people, it would seem way too risky to set off without knowing where the money will come from. Chris Guillabeau once said that the best time to start a new business is while you are still working full time as there is minimum risk. This is pretty much the only advice from Chris that we haven’t agreed with, but this is just a personal choice. For us we needed time, not financial security.

In our non-stop searching online for ways of funding our new nomadic life, we did come up with quite a few options and this is what we want to share with you now. As was said before, it is 2013. There are very little places now that you will go to that doesn’t have some kind of internet connection. This gives you the freedom of living anywhere you want if you just have a way of keeping the money coming in.

Lets look at some of the options..

Teaching/Tutoring Online

Online teaching and tutoring can be done over Skype, MSN or any video calling platform. It may take time to find your client base, but it can be worth it as you don’t need to share your profits. There are also companies such as Verbling.com, which can help you. The only commitment needed for Verbling is a minimum 5 hours a week and you will need to set your own teaching schedule.

Another company you can work for are KukuSpeak where you teach English for 20 hours a week.

If teaching English isn’t your thing, there is always the opportunity to tutor students in a range of subjects through TutorVista.com . Most of the students are from the UK or US, so expect to be teaching during the evening for these time zones.

Here is a great article from an online teacher giving advice for wannabe online teachers.

Virtual Assistant

If you have administrative experience from your old job, then you can likely make a location independent career out of it. With websites like Elance or Odesk you can bid for work and build an online reputation for yourself. An easier option is to contact old work colleagues and see if they might hire your services. This will ensure a higher pay rate as the trust factor is already there. The idea is to try and earn dollars while spending baht.

Here is a post written by a VA with tips for other potential VAs in the making.

Freelancers

If you work in a role where you provide a service, but don’t always need to have face to face customer contact then you should be able to do it from anywhere. This works really well for Graphic Designers, Telemarketers, Marketing and PR Consultants, Translators, Photographers, Illustrators and the list goes on.

Check out PeoplePerHour, Freelancer and Guru.com. These sites are all good places to get ideas of what freelance work people are offering and what they are paying for. As soon as you are living in cheaper locations you will be able to offer quite competitive rates, ensuring return business.

Here’s a comprehensive article that outlines all the steps that you need to consider when becoming a freelancer.

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The digital nomad jobs listed above are really all about providing a service to clients. The list of services you could be offering is endless. We have only mentioned the more popular ideas in order to get you excited about the possibilites, but there is a pattern to be seen throughout all of them.

  • Become an expert at something very specific
  • Offer a service, delivered remotely online
  • Sell that service for a good price

To get more ideas on services, if you haven’t already, check out Fiverr.com. This is proof that the list is endless and it is really down to you to scope out where you can fit amongst all of it and what you can offer the world. Some of the services provided are downright bizarre and require little time or talent such as these human billboard offers.

More automation please?

If you’re like us and are always time-hungry, you might prefer going in a different direction. We always tend to gravitate towards projects that may be a lot of work in the beginning, but which we know will eventually run automatically by themselves.

For example, you could change the teaching methods above. Instead of doing it live over and over. You could record a series of teachings and then sell the videos and some instructions as a complete package. It would be a lot of work at first, but work you would only need to do once. Having more customers now wouldn’t equate to having to do more work. It wouldn’t make a difference if one person bought it one day or if one hundred people bought it. You would earn more money, but you wouldn’t need to work harder.

This makes your business very scalable and passive and frees up your time to do other things.

Digital Products

Creating digital products such as a training video, ebook, artwork, wordpress designs, etc is our favourite way of earning while we travel. Here is why..

  • Once the work is done we don’t have to keep thinking about it.
  • We have as much time as we like to work on projects. No deadlines or strict hours of work.
  • The better job we do, the more we will be paid in the long run.
  • It is more fun and interesting to keep starting new projects rather than doing the same each day.

We have come to believe that it is not really about what skills you possess to decide how successful you will be in funding your nomadic life. It is about the frame of mind you are in and how open you are to new possibilities and how open you are to learning whatever it is that you need to learn. You have to be 100% ready to change everything if that is what it takes.

You will come across a number of opportunities with people you meet, inspiration you get from blogs and training videos and from a variety of resources that you will discover by yourself. Everybody has their own path. There are thousands of digital nomads about with thousands of different ways that they earn their money and a different story to tell.

Digital Nomad Hangouts

When it comes to finding great places to visit as a digital nomad and to get further inspiration, we have done a lot of the hard work for you. Aren’t we nice! We have travelled to quite a few digital nomad hotspots within the last two years and have constructed a list of places that offer a great standard of life, lots of cheap internet, many digital nomad buddies to connect with and a world of opportunity to be explored. There are digital nomad meetup groups all over the world.

Our Income

We try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to how we earn money as we know reader’s will appreciate this. We have written our current two main sources of income, which allow us to travel indefinitely and start new projects without fear of failure. It is important to realise that a lot of digital nomads do have some kind of backup income, whether it be from renting property, from savings or from passive online businesses. We believe this to be an important step in achieving complete autonomy and something everybody should try to achieve in some way. If your food and rent is already paid for, you have much more time to think about moving forward and less time worrying about the little things.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post guys!
    I have been on the digital nomad roller-coaster for 6 months now trying to establish myself as a freelancer so I can move to Thailand :) I know teaching English is always an option but would prefer to work for myself online.. Getting started is the hardest part but once the ball gets rolling, all is good :)

    You will always be learning new skills as a Digital Nomad. WordPress alone keeps me frustrated and fascinated! Youtube is a wonderful thing for learning…
    Adam – Tropical Nomad recently posted..Bamboo Tattoo ThailandMy Profile

    • Dave Erin says

      Cool. The great thing about being a freelancer is that obviously you can be earning dollars while you’re off in Thailand spending baht. Not something you can do as an English teacher though. We knew a few people in Chiang Mai who were English teachers though and they loved it!

  2. says

    hi, good post, i am also doing freelancing now.
    i agree that teaching online is problematic since you need really fast and stable internet. i started an online school for languages called lingolearn.com by the way, if anyone ever look for a job :)

    • Dave Erin says

      Hi Eli,

      Needing fast and stable internet seems to be the problem with most freelance jobs, not just teaching. I am starting to do a lot more designing and writing and this is giving me the chance to do much more offline work which I am happy about!

  3. says

    Thanks, like this post a lot. Great to see someone cracking this open a bit, IMHO there are far too many slightly glib digital nomads out there who just happen to have fallen into a career that SUITS the nomad lifestyle. They make it look too easy! For most of us, reverse engineering is definitely the way.

    Personally, I’m trying a slightly different approach, traveling for a year and trying a new ‘thing’ every week, and trying to work out both lifestyle AND earning options at the same time, because they really do go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

    A great thing for prospective digital nomads to remember is that, just by traveling (especially in developing countries) and keeping your eyes open, opportunities just jump out at you, then it’s just about the guts to follow them up!
    David – My Year In Flux recently posted..Weekly Challenge #21 Walk the Inca TrailMy Profile

    • Dave Erin says

      Hey David. Yeah, reverse engineering through life is definitely the way :) That’s a good way of wording it, I like it!

      You’re right, lifestyle and earning options do go hand in hand. For me, it is very important not to just do something to earn money, it also has to fit into the lifestyle and to be a necessary part of the bigger plan.

      That sounds really interesting about trying a new thing each week. I see you’re already on week 21! Erin walked the Inca Trail a few years back and told me to advise you to chew coca leaves to reduce the altitude sickness :)

  4. Robin says

    Hi!

    Tried sending you a question through the ask part of the site but it didn’t accept the CAPTCH code for some reason..

    My girlfriend and I are brazilian and we’re thinking about travelling the world pretty soon. Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff around the web and came across your site and read this article, very helpful by the way. What I wanted to know in a bit more detail is about the digital products, what exactly do you mean by this? if you could point out some examples of your products that would be great as well. I’m trying to list possible income sources and could use all the help I can get!

    Cheers!

  5. Dave Erin says

    Hi Robin,

    For us, the main digital products we sell are ebooks (being sold on Amazon) and now we are currently working on some wordpress themes (which are basically pre-made web designs that people can buy and then build on top of and customise themselves). As well as our own products, a lot of our income comes from promoting other people’s products (affiliate marketing) on a number of websites. A quick example of that is the WPEngine Hosting affiliate link which you can see on the right of the sidebar on this website. We really liked the hosting company WPEngine and thought they were the best so are happy to mention them on the site. If people follow the link and end up signing up for their own sites, then we get paid $150. (That’s the only link we have on NomadSpirit though as our intention of this blog obviously isn’t to earn money. I was a bit reluctant to put it there at first.)

    There are a few advantages of selling digital products, which is why we went down this path after a lot of research in the beginning. The main reasons were the fact that we wouldn’t need to spend any money upfront and we liked the idea of creating something once and then continually being paid over time.

    My advice, start with what you know and write about it. The most direct way of earning money through doing this is through ebooks. There will be something that you know more about than most people. It will most likely be something that you think is too obvious and may overlook.

    I’ll give you a quick example; you might know quite a lot about living on the cheap as a student. Perhaps you remember that many students struggled, but you always found easy ways of making it affordable and people would ask what your secret was. In this example it would make perfect sense to write a book about it as there will be people all over the world in a similar situation to the friends who were asking you for more information!

    Give great, honest advice and tips in the book, design a great front cover (or pay somebody on fiver if you are no good at design) and then sell on Amazon for $2.99 – $3.99 and get a few friends to read it and give a review saying what they think. No matter what the topic, as long as you do a good job and aren’t writing about something with lots of competition (like writing about travel) then the book WILL sell. Then you have your first passive income. It doesn’t matter how big or small to start with. You cannot see something as a success or failure. You will learn as you go along what you are good at.

    Everything happened quite organically with us. To start with we released a few ebooks about things that we knew a lot about, then we created some websites and blogs. Over time we realised that we actually enjoyed the designing process a lot more than the writing so now we are putting more time into designing things (hence the new web design projects on the go that we will be selling soon). We could have easily gone down a different path if we had preferred.

    We found once we got started we slowly found where we were most comfortable and also found out the areas in which we needed to learn more. I haven’t stopped learning new things since we set off over 400 days ago. Even though we slowly changed our ways of earning money, the first projects we started still pay us each month so I wouldn’t take back any of it. Its all exciting and beats working for somebody else in every way in my opinion.

  6. Robin says

    Thanks for the great advice! It definitely adds on to paths I was already thinking of. Sorry I didn’t reply earlier as I didn’t get a notification that you had replied and today just thought I’d check.
    As for the affiliate marketing I see no problem in getting money for advertising products that you would talk about anyway, it makes total sense to me and as a reader I don’t think it’s in no way intrusive.
    Thanks again for the advice and for the time you put in to it.

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