But this isn’t a decision that you’ll want to make lightly, since it will transform your life. If you’re considering the digital nomadic lifestyle, there are a few things to know before you make the transition.
Plan Your Digital Nomad Journey
Digital nomads have the luxury of being able to travel to and work in different places, because their work can be done entirely online. These nomads are freelancers and may work in fields like writing, design, marketing, translation, and even customer service. Some digital nomads move frequently, while others stay in one location for longer periods of time. Either way, this lifestyle allows freelancers the opportunity to experience many different locations and travel much more than a traditional job with vacation time would allow.
It’s an enticing prospect, but life as a digital nomad brings its own challenges, too. Choosing the right location to settle for any given time can affect your success. For instance, it’s ideal if a freelancer has clients in the United States, where pay rates are high, while they’re physically residing in a location with a lower cost of living where that paycheck can go further.
Do thorough research into each potential destination, local healthcare options, the cost of transportation to the destination, and more. Be sure to build up your savings before making this transition, so you’re not entirely dependent on having a full schedule of client work to survive. Ideally, establish some part-time freelance work first thing so you already have a base of clients before you make the leap into becoming a full-time digital nomad. By locking these elements in place before you begin the full transition, you can make the change easier and more enjoyable.
Showcase Your Work
As a freelancer, it’s so important to showcase your work well so that potential clients can easily view it. Having your work samples located in a central location, like a website, makes it easier to market to potential clients and to refer interested clients to relevant work samples at any moment. Because being a digital nomad usually means working for a handful of clients at once, and not all of those clients being lifetime contracts and lifetime sources of income, it’s important that you’re prepared to onboard new clients at any given moment if necessary. Because of this, having your work in an accessible place makes it easy to jump on opportunities the second you see them pass your metaphorical desk.
Because your website will represent you professionally, you need to make your website work smarter for you. Choose a font and layout that is professional, clean, and easy to read. Make sure that your site follows a logical layout, and that visitors can easily find the relevant work samples that they’ll want to see.
Many websites even offer portfolio features which can help to organize and present your work in a visually attractive way. Choose your samples carefully; you don’t have to include every piece of work you’ve completed, but should instead choose an assortment of your best work that reflects your talents and what clients can expect of you. If you have some basic design skills, you can probably create your online portfolio, yourself. Otherwise, it’s well worth the investment to hire a web designer to help you create a website that shows your work off in the best light possible.
Create a Marketing Plan
To find work, you’ll need to learn how to best market yourself. Rather than applying for available freelance jobs, focus on approaching potential clients directly, so you’re not competing with the countless other freelancers looking for work.
Your marketing plan will need to encompass your website, and email marketing is a powerful tool for helping you to connect with potential clients. Rather than sending out blanket form emails to hundreds of potential clients at once, personalize those emails and take the time to make sure that you’re contacting the right person at each business or company before you ever hit send. Work on refining your emails and your subject lines, and experiment with different follow-up techniques. Track the results of all of your efforts so that you can improve and develop your marketing plan.
Even if you have a full schedule of work, don’t let your marketing go. Freelance projects have little stability, and if one or two of your clients run out of work or cancel their contracts, you could find yourself in a tough spot if you haven’t been actively marketing yourself. Budget some time for marketing your business every day so that, if work dries up, you’ll have plenty of other warm leads to reach out to.
Pitfalls to Avoid
The digital nomad life offers freedom, but that freedom, itself, can be a potential pitfall. It may be tempting to move anywhere, or to move frequently and on a whim, but this can jeopardize your ability to do quality work. While freedom of location and schedule are perks of this lifestyle, you need to involve planning and strategy when choosing your next location. It’s important to research the cost of living, the availability of affordable housing, and access to reliable internet in any location that you’re considering.
Because this lifestyle is so flexible, you’ll have time to explore and experience these new destinations, but you’ll also need the discipline to make time for your work, too. If you haven’t worked as a freelancer, do some freelance work before you become a digital nomad. This experience will let you develop the discipline and structured schedule that you’ll need to meet deadlines, market yourself, and even learn about how you work best.
The digital nomad lifestyle is an exciting opportunity, and it can make for some unique lifetime experiences. With some planning and research, you can give this lifestyle a try and see if it’s right for you.
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.