So you want to travel the world and make money while you’re at it? Great! You’ll join an awesome tribe of bad ass inspiring ladies trotting the globe with their laptop in hand, who choose a beach view over a cubicle any day. But as any entrepreneur will know: while the most rewarding and satisfying, it’s not the easiest path. Hence I brought in X ladies who are kicking ass on their digital nomad path to share with you their advice for aspiring nomads. What do they wish they would’ve known when starting out?
What is your best advice for someone aspiring Digital Nomads?
“My best advice would be to start now, if your goal is to start a business or side hustle that will sustain you on the road. You know what they say: there is no better time than now. But it’s true. Your business is like a plant: you can water the plant as much as you want, but either way it still needs time to grow. It takes time to build a portfolio, land clients and make money. So if you want your business to finance your travels, you have to start NOW. Start freelancing in the evening hours after your day job. Build that portfolio website. Start that Youtube-channel. Email potential clients. This is the time to make mistakes: you’ve got nothing to lose. Learn how to run your shop, so that your business is ready to be taken on the road when you step on the plane with a one-way ticket.”
“Find people who you can partner with. It’s so much easier to share the load. That doesn’t mean that you should give up your creative control but rather find other people who are in the industry and can mentor you or work on a project with you. It’s so much easier when you have friends in the biz. ”
“I remember attending travel fairs and feeling jealous, as most everyone introduced themselves, as digital nomads. It sounded scary to me – to just give up a secure job and an apartment. Now two years later I have almost fallen into the life of a digital nomad (I still have a base in Helsinki, and hopefully later this year in Chiang Mai), writing this to you from an airport, which works as my office for the day.
What I want to say is, that you can spend your life planning for becoming a digital nomad, saving a lot of money and building your expertise. But don’t forget, time goes by. Of course, it’s always safest to have some money in the bank, but I never did. I put my whole heart into it, had the right contacts and believed that my expertise on social media and tourism would be needed.
So don’t be afraid. Being a digital nomad will be the norm in the next years to come. People have a need to wander. Don’t give up on that.”
“Some of the best advice I can offer aspiring digital nomads is this: From the very beginning, reconcile with the fact that travel will no longer be footloose and fancy-free once you become a digital nomad. The way you travel changes dramatically when you begin working from the road, and if you’re not prepared for the occasionally long work hours, missing out on fun activities with new travel buddies from time to time, and choosing your destinations based on the likelihood that you’ll have a WiFi connection, you will be in for a rude awakening. My point is, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into from the start and make sure it’s really what you want! If it is, all those things will seem like minor headaches, and they will all be worth it in the end.”
“WiFi is your life! The first two months in Australia I struggled with work as there just wasn’t much free wifi. I ended up buying a wireless wifi machine. I can’t believe I didn’t do that earlier, wifi is the most important thing for Digital Nomads. And while you’re at it: buy a juice pack for your phone!”
“First, you have to want it bad enough to work for it. I know that sounds cheesy, because my goodness, who doesn’t want to travel and work, but seriously, you have to have a deep-seated desire to do this, or else you’ll do anything else. It takes a LOT of effort. You have to become your own marketer, and you may have to develop new skills. Before you quit your day job and start out working as a digital nomad, I suggest working on your skill set so that you don’t have as big of a learning curve when you go on your own. You’ll need to be incredibly familiar with e-commerce, WordPress, online marketing, social media, or whatever field you are seeking to work in. While you are planning your transition is the perfect time to be reading, listening to a million business-related podcast, and crafting your own plan for your future work. If you can make it through this learning process and you still “want it” bad enough to quit your job, when you do, you will be prepared to put in the hard work to make it happen. People say the first leap is the hardest, but if you are prepared and have your parachute of skills at the ready, your jump to the world of being a digital nomad will be a fun adventure instead of a frightening free fall.”
“My best advice for aspiring Digital Nomads is to start working on your time management skills! Managing my time and all the work that needs to get done is one of the most challenging parts of being a nomad. You will be travelling in exotic locations, tempted my new smells, new food to taste, new beer to drink but you must stay motivated. I find creating mini goals for each day and then setting weekly deadlines ensures I get all my work done on time. It’s also important to have time away from the computer and not to wake up, roll over and switch on your computer. If you want to stay happy, healthy and productive as a digital nomad, having a digital detox every now and then is essential!”
Lou Liebau | Blogger at TravelGiveLove & Marketing and social media consultant
Research your destinations
“Besides take the leap and listen to your heart, more practically: plan ahead to places you know have reliable wifi. I’ve been traveling to many different places in Asia the last 5 months, some with amazing wifi (Vietnam) some with horrid wifi (Philippines). Specific cities are different, so take a look at some website resources or talk to people in travel groups who have been there to make sure the area is workable. If you need to hit a deadline and you have no wifi, you’re screwed and it’s no fun. Well, it is a little fun, because most of the time that means you are most likely on a beautiful deserted island where you can sit on a hammock and sip on a coconut until you can rent a motorbike to go to the next city. But keep it in mind when you make that leap, you’ll always be on the hunt for a good signal!”
“Rid your mind of any romanticized, candle-lit, rainbow of a journey that you think this might be. Because the reality of the hustle, grind, and persistence it takes to succeed as a digital nomad looks NOTHING like the beachside photos with our battery-depleted laptops in hand, mojito in the other, and just a few hundred urgent emails calling your name in the background.
I think the most beautiful part about the digital nomad life is knowing how much you’ve busted your ass to make it work.
Not many make it past their first few months, let alone weeks, so be prepared to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly, especially when the ugly becomes your best friend.
And as soon as you let go of that perceived wealth and fame you think is on the other side of that yellow, brick road, then you’re on your way to success. Good luck!”
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