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Digital Nomad? Not yet? 3 basic tips on how to get started.

Paul Arnesen
|
May 7, 2020

Living as a digital nomad changed my life. Here are 3 tips to get you going.

‍Being a digital nomad is an awesome experience! I did it for many years, and you can be one too, but you shouldn`t believe it is as easy as just booking a ticket to anywhere.

I am often asked - where and how did you start?  

Here are three of my tips for any aspiring nomad.

1 - Be mentally prepared

Constantly traveling alone means you will be on your own a lot.

You will have to leave family and friends behind and go on a selfish journey.

Because of this you need to consider other people's feelings when you decide on a life on the road as you could get a lot of feedback and resistance from them.

That was my experience. The usual doubt is, "how will you make it financially?" "What about safety?" "When are you coming back, and what about your family back home missing you?"

Keeping in touch on the road is easy, but the physical part is gone. And you might not know when you will return home. For some "home" is where they rest their head, as a digital nomad that might differ every week.

At first, you will feel homesick. It is not easy for everyone, trust me, but you need to work through it if you really want to become truly location independent.

Personally, at least in the beginning, it made a small positive impact on my mental health every time I found a small thing that reminded me of home, like a food item or people that spoke my language.

My advice, if you have the opportunity, go somewhere for 1 to 3 months, alone, and get a feel for it. If you feel that you could continue, do so, if not go home and reevaluate your situation. It is not a defeat to say that it wasn`t for you.

These 2 books were what helped me to start:

Get your mind on to the mission, set some goals. It is no use to spend all that time wanting to start a nomad lifestyle, preparing for it, to then realize that you were not ready for the sacrifices you need to make.

2 - Digital nomad jobs and remote work

 

How can you make a living on the road? 

When you feel that you are ready to prepare to set sails, start looking for jobs to earn money on the road. 

Today there are several companies that offer remote jobs, but you might not have the skill set needed yet.

Got skills?

Asses your current skills and sort out what you are good at. For example, if you are a software developer, a graphical designer, or have any other special skill where you currently work behind a computer, you could start by offering your services on sites like:

These sites are known as gig sites, where you basically “sell” your skills. It is a great way to start building your skills and network, and hopefully make you some money to finance your digital nomad journey.

Lacking skills?

If you don’t have anything specific, but love to play around on the computer, you should think about doing something you are passionate about and then try to find a way to gain skills in that field. 

If you are creative with some technical interest, maybe try to get into coding to build websites or apps,. Maybe you love to draw or paint, then look at becoming a graphic designer to create logos, posters, etc. Happy to help others sell their products? Get into digital marketing and SEO. There are many options, it is just your imagination.

And the good thing, is that there are many offering free and paid online courses to get you going. 

Such as:

If you don`t have money to spend on online courses you can always use Youtube. I started with youtube to learn how to make simple websites. From there on to learn how to market them with google ads and social media - all free on youtube.

Having some previous experience with what you are going to learn makes it easier, but it is not needed. I just happened to have previous experience with marketing, so I found the learning experience interesting and fun.

Be aware though, that learning a new skill takes time. And if you are working fulltime at the same time, opportunities to train a new skill will be hard to come by. 

In conclusion, if you really want this life, prioritize your time and start as soon as possible.

3  - Landing your first gig

Unless you are very skilled and your knowledge is in high demand you will in the beginning have to rely on networking and luck to get your first remote job.

My story is about some luck, lucky networking. I managed to find a good network early on, through a friend. In the first meeting, I attended I met someone that had a remote company and we made a good connection. I asked him if he wanted to mentor me, and as it happened to be, he needed help with digital marketing on his online platform. So after some time he was willing to give me a paid “internship”. I was a novice, but he believed in me and offered me my first remote job.

With the help of that job and the experience I gained I managed to sign more clients in the following months, and from there on I could realize my dream of working remotely and a had enough income to live a location independent lifestyle.

Therefore, you need to network! 

At any opportunity you have today, join groups and networks online that can help you. 

I recommend checking out Meetup. They usually have many interesting opportunities for you to network in your city.

If networking is hard at the moment you should start by looking within your current network. If you have some newly gained skills in PPC management (e.g. Google Ads etc), you can start by asking friends and family. There might be someone who runs a small business and they have a website. Offer to try to run a campaign for them for free, and if it works out, they might want to pay you for future assistance. When you have the basics down you could also reach out to local ad agencies and propose to intern with them for a while. While you must not expect to be paid much, it is a great way to get valuable experience. Even without any payments at first, it is a valuable experience.

There are thousands of ways of becoming a remote worker and to start a digital nomad lifestyle. In conclusion, if you have the skills (or gain them), the mindset for it, and have found a way to make an income from it. Then you are (almost) ready to start planning the next stage - and maybe the most exciting one - where to travel to first.

Best of luck!


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