What Is A Digital Nomad?
One of the questions I am most often asked is ... What Is A Digital Nomad?
And I understand why people ask it so frequently - it's kind of a vague term! And it has only risen to popularity in the last 3 - 5 years.
I'm Stephanie Linder and I founded Lost In Linderland (the blog you're reading right now), but I had never heard of the term digital nomad before I became one 1.5 years ago.
In my case, I decided to leave a corporate job in the fertility/healthcare industry because I wanted to live abroad. And when I first left, I had very little idea of what I was going to do to generate income. I had a savings account that would sustain me for a year, and I knew I was relocating to a country with a low cost of living, but beyond that, I didn't know much. Which is kind of the best thing that could have happened?
Fast forward a year later, I ended up doing a lot of little odd and end jobs to sustain myself. But a year later, I'm still working in the same industry but in a very different capacity. But that's great - because now I get the location independence AND I'm still working in an industry I love. I also supplement my income by working on my own business where I help other content creators learn and I teach English online. But more about that later 🙂
So, let's talk about what a digital nomad is, and if it interests you after reading - let's talk about how you actually become one.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
Despite what people may think, almost anyone can become a digital nomad. Let's break down the term.
The word digital insinuates working on a computer. The word nomad is defined as someone who goes from place to place, and in essence, doesn't have the traditional sense of a home. Put those two words together? A digital nomad is someone who works online and/or on a laptop who has does not stay in one place. There you have it. A digital nomad.
Can I Be A Digital Nomad?
People often ask me this question and my first answer is - of course! It's not quite as complicated as some perceive it to be.
How Do I Become A Digital Nomad?
Ok, so I told you that you can become a digital nomad. Great. But how do you make it happen?
First, although a lot of digital nomads are freelancers and entrepreneurs - you can still work for a large, corporate company and be a digital nomad.
For example, do you know anyone that works from home? If the answer is YES, think about it for a second - what would really be the difference if they worked from their home office in Chicago or moved every month to a new location and worked from exotic places like Medellin, Barcelona or Mexico? Minus a few time zone differences, as long as your internet is reliable, there really is no difference.
Being a digital nomad was not an option for most of our parent's generation. But thanks to the internet and a push towards working from home, it's a real possibility to work from anywhere in the world while STILL having a secure, steady job.
A recent poll from Statista= showed that 75% of Millenials (those born between 1980 - 2000) believe working remotely actually benefits their productivity.
If that's the case, more and more people will likely be working from home or have a location independent lifestyle leading them to likely become digital nomads.
Where Do I Start If I Want To Become A Digital Nomad?
First, if you have a traditional corporate job right now - think about asking your boss or HR department if you could work from home a few days a week. You can gradually work up to a month at a time or working from home full-time. If that is not an option, perhaps investigate if there are other jobs within your company that allow you to work remotely.
If staying at your job is not an option, think about freelancing or teaching English online. These tend to be very popular jobs, but note they require a bit more hustle and variability.
Teach English Online
I personally teach English online with VIPKid and it supplements my income while I build a marketing business. I make my own hours, get paid in US Dollars and all you need is a Bachelors degree. Email me if you're interested in finding out more or you can apply here.
Online Freelancing Platforms
Look for freelance work on sites like UpWork, Fiverr or Freelancer.com. Because you are competing with the labor market around the world, people in continents like Asia or South America have a lower cost of living and therefore accept lower salaries than those in North America or Europe. Therefore, if you want to succeed on these platforms you must really prove your value or carve a niche for yourself. On Upwork for example, there is an option for people to choose employees from the US only which may be a good place to start if you're coming from the United States.
If you have success with a client on the platform, you can often offer to take the job offline so the companies don't take their cut of your pay (for example, UpWork charges 20% commission). Popular jobs on these sites include digital marketing, coding, programming, social media marketing and copywriting.
UpWork is the platform I'm familiar with and I have used this guide to make sure my UpWork profile is the bomb-diggity in order to secure freelance clients.
Create Your Own Company
There are a million resources I could provide you on this one. But hey, the best way to make stuff happen is to really create it for yourself ultimately, right?
Truth Bomb: The Privilege Of A Digital Nomad
Let's be real - being a digital nomad is a privilege. The fact that Tim Ferris - the author of the 4 hour work week (a book worth reading if you're thinking about maximizing your time in a new digital nomad or entrepreneurial venture) made it very popular to tell those in the Western world that if they can make dollars or Euros, they should also live in a country with a much less cost of living to maximize their income. Sounds like a good idea, but no doubt it's an absolute privilege if you're able to do this.
Sometimes digital nomads get a bad wrap because they are known to live in certain countries with a lower cost of living, but they don't necessarily respect the culture, learn the language or interact with locals.
I urge you: don't be one of those digital nomads. There's no doubt that it's difficult to move to a new country. Because of that, it's human nature to crave comfortability. This leads to seeking out others from our home country or who speak our native language. But I urge you - if you are privileged enough to have a job that allows you to live, work and travel - do your best to be aware and respectful of local cultures. And hey... get to know some locals too. It's quite possible that you may be the only person that they meet from your home country, and therefore their one and only impression of your country.
Be respectful. Be kind. Be open-minded and willing to learn.
Questions about being a digital nomad? Shoot me a message. Happy to help.
If you're thinking about becoming a Digital Nomad yourself, I believe Medellin, Colombia is one of the best cities in the world to start. Read about the 5 reasons I choose to Medellin, Colombia as my first digital nomad city.