When Henry Ford started rolling out cars off his assembly line in 19-whatever-it-was, he gave us more than just a new machine to play with.
We got the freedom to roam; freedom to go places we would never have even dreamed of before. When the first commercial airliners were put into service, the world became even smaller and once again a modern invention gave us more freedom.
If we had to list all the freedom the internet has served up over the past 20 years, we’d need a thick pad of paper and a pencil sharpener. We can talk, we can shop we can even find the love-of-our life without ever leaving the house. But, instead of giving us ways to travel further faster, the internet gave us ways of fulfilling our desires without going anywhere.
While other inventions provided the tools that allow us to wander the planet, the internet seems to encourage a culture of homebodies.
Now it’s 2018; enter the “Digital Nomad”.
Wikipedia defines “digital nomad” as: people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.
Sounds romantic doesn’t it?
Roaming from city to city, popping into a Starbucks for a latte and a couple hours of work thanks to their free Wi-Fi, and then on to the next adventure.
Twenty years ago, the “portable income” and nomadic lifestyle was pretty much a futuristic fantasy. The reality of internet and telecommunications limitations meant you could roam, but not very far. And, the number of businesses that leant themselves to being run from a distance over fiber optic lines was fairly limited.
Ten years ago we started to see some folks setting themselves free from the office. Teleconferencing and rapid advances in I-phone technology meant face-to-face meetings could take place anywhere anytime. We started to see digital nomads popping up all around us, conspicuous by their hipness.
Chilled out at a coffee shop with their neck-beards, sock-hats and I-pads; most of them had real jobs or other income. Still, it was a lifestyle to envy.
Now digital nomads have come of age. No longer is this lifestyle a fantasy. No longer is it the bastion of hipsters and techno-geeks. Real people conducting real business and making real money are doing it from hotel rooms, beach chairs and mountain tops. Internet commerce has enjoyed rampant expansion and the cyber world has melded with the telecommunications realm almost seamlessly.
Every morning when we wake up, it is easier to connect to the rest of the planet.
And, while it is still considered to a relatively “hipster” way to conduct your life, you don’t have to own a yoga mat or be a vegan to do it. Digital Nomads (DNs) now come in all flavors.
What kind of jobs?
To be sure, techno-geeks still rule when it comes to location-less employment.
Website and application development are the epitome of DN jobs.
The same goes for on-line marketing specialists.
People who know how to work Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and find a marketing niche can conduct campaigns on-line and through social media. Making money because you know how to work the internet is a natural DN job.
But there are some internet based businesses you may not have considered. E-commerce is a great way to make money while traveling the globe. E-commerce means you sell physical products online acting as a store front. All the warehousing, packaging and fulfillment of the products is done by drop ship specialists like Amazon. Products could be anything from interior décor items to fitness videos to e-books. Actually having a store with a physical address is so 1990’s. Many brick-n-mortar businesses are converting to e-commerce.
Becoming an “info-preneur” is another hot DN career field. Basically you create content and display it on a website or blog.
As you build content and gain traffic there are literally dozens of ways to monetize your efforts. Of course, you’ll need to have some interesting and relevant content, but thousands of templates and other free resources exists on the internet to help you bring your brain power to market.
Copywriting is a DN endeavor that I take part in. I’m listed with a lot of freelance websites that send me jobs to apply for. Some are short one-off assignments.
Others are on-going blog series. Last year I was commissioned to write a 15,000 word piece on Chiang Mai. I got to hang out in Chiang Mai for 3 weeks, take pictures and interview people. And I was well paid. You don’t have to be a world-class journalist or advertising guru; just a bit of a wordsmith.
Several copywriting courses exists on-line that are quite good and can get you started.
If you have a specific skill or talent, think about how you might retool your process to fit the DN lifestyle. I met a tattoo artist who sold his shop, built a website and now travels to places he always want to go and tattoos people. He posts his schedule and sets up appointments months in advance.
The key to his success was having a kick-ass website that displayed his talent.
Teaching English on-line is also a great way to make some real money for a talent you may naturally have.
I met a 70 year old in Pattaya who took a TEFL course and went to work for an on-line company that teaches English to Chinese children and adults.
He sets his own hours, works from wherever he is and gets paid quite well; in fact much better than if he were teaching English at a physical school in Thailand. He is currently teaching from Medellin, Colombia.
Being a Digital Nomad is no longer just a pipe dream. Get yourself a good idea, a laptop and a nice set of luggage.
The opportunities are endless.
by Bart Walters