The term “digital nomad” has become increasingly popular in the past few months. But what does it mean? Who are these mysterious cyber travellers? Is this the future of the working world as we know it? Year upon year, people are bidding the traditional 9-5 desk job ‘adieu’. Burnt out, overwhelmed, and sick of the pressures of corporate, many are booking flights and working from paradise. We’re projecting 2020 to be the year of the digital nomad, so here’s all you need to know about them.
In summary, digital nomads are people who work remotely by way of the internet and other telecommunications technologies. This work can be done from coffee shops, recreational vehicles, co-working spaces, or even from across the world.
Hence the ‘nomad’ bit – these professionals move around and are not tied to a specific office environment or set of working hours. Many have chosen to ring in the new year with flexible, adaptable, and importantly, in-demand digital work.
How popular is the digital nomad movement?
Well, questions like these are always difficult. Some people may be living a digital nomad lifestyle without even knowing it. Professionals who hop from coffee shop to coffee shop, or make a living travelling basically fit the definition.
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MEET @laura.holmes 🙋🏻♀️ COMMUNITY FRIYAYS 👯♀️👯 a new weekly feature I’m running introducing YOU to people / places / companies from the world of REMOTE WORK 👩🏽💻🌏⠀ ⠀ @laura.holmes ⠀ ~ORIGINALLY FROM: UK⠀ ~CURRENTLY IN: Canggu, Bali, Indonesia⠀ ~CURRENT JOB: Teacher of English as a Second Language (online)⠀ ~PREVIOUS JOB: Behaviour therapist for children with autism at a Special Educational Needs school in the UK⠀ ~TIME REMOTE: 6 months⠀ ⠀ ~WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING REMOTELY?⠀ The flexibility and the lifestyle it brings. I am in control of what I do every day and it truly makes me so much happier to have autonomy over my days (personal favourite is that I never know what day it is, so I’m not ‘living for the weekend’ as I did in the UK)⠀ ⠀ ~WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH REMOTE WORK?⠀ Building up enough clients to make it work financially. It was scary, to begin with, and I had to ensure I had some savings behind me.⠀ ⠀ ~FAVE SPOT TO WORK⠀ As I’m teaching online I have to work from home as the environment has to have certain criteria. However, as I work an average of 4 hours a day this means that once I’m done with my work I can do whatever I want. So I’d have to say living in Canggu and especially by the beach, it means I can sunbathe and read my book and feel relaxed that I’ve finished work completely for the day.⠀ ⠀ ~FAVE PLACE YOU’VE TRAVELLED TO⠀ I really enjoyed travelling around south-east Asia… as long as there’s a strong internet connection you’re free to go wherever you wish!⠀ ⠀ 💫💫💫
How do digital nomads make money?
So we know it’s all digital, but that’s still pretty vague, right? Entrepreneur.com has made a list of eight ways you can make money as a remote worker, and here they are:
Publish an eBook
This is a great way to make passive income. Put your thoughts, ideas, stories, to paper (or rather, to screen) and consider uploading and selling them on sites like Amazon.
Start a blog
If you’ve got some marketing know-how, this is a good way to generate income. Pick a niche subject and get typing. You could sell advertising space or be compensated to feature certain products or destinations as your blog grows.
Join the gig economy
Travelling can get super expensive, so doing easy odd jobs may keep you in motion. You could deliver parcels, tutor students, or drive for an international ride-sharing company like Uber.
Provide professional services
If you have a skill, monetise it! Consider working digitally if you’re a graphic designer, editor, writer, programmer, accountant… There are loads of sites for this kind of freelance work, like Upwork and NoSweat.
Create online courses
Use your skills to teach others. Everyone is always wanting to know how to do something. From handiwork to calligraphy, there’s a market for your skill. See platforms like Udemy for this income method.
There’s a market for your language. So if you’re in a bind, you can work at local schools after some TEFL or TESOL training. This work is usually on contract basis, and you can generally set the terms for how long you’d like to stay.
Social media marketing
Help others with their online marketing for a fee. Nowadays almost every company needs help with their social media so finding clients shouldn’t be too tricky.
Virtual teaching or consultancy
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“I WORKED & STUDIED HARD TO GET WHERE I AM NOW, TO LEAVE WOULD BE A WASTE” sound familiar?⠀ ⠀ I KEEP seeing this or something along these lines cropping up with clients and when I’m chatting with you lot in DMs.⠀ ⠀ It’s what I call a shitty (slightly egotistical – sorry not sorryyyy! 🤪) belief that isn’t serving you. I know because I was guilty of believing this too and it left me stuck in a job for TOO LONG.⠀ ⠀ Yes you studied hard. Yes you worked hard. That’s great it shows you have the ability to work hard at something you set your mind to.⠀ ⠀ BUT your education level DOES NOT define you. Your corporate job DOES NOT define you.⠀ ⠀ It’s scary to remove the label. I know firsthand, it sounds sooo silly but going from Senior Account Exec making 6 figures to no title, no salary, no corporate machine I am part of was fucking terrifying.⠀ ⠀ Until I managed to disassociate myself with this identity that was really just an illusion, something I made up. ⠀ ⠀ I realised I am SUZIE. ⠀ I am not ‘Suzie the Senior Account Exec’. ⠀ I am Suzie. I am not defined by my corporate title. I am so much more than that.⠀ ⠀ If you dream of running your own business one day, you can.⠀ ⠀ You just have to be okay with starting with nothing. It will only be temporary. You will build a new brand for yourself, one you feel proud of and one that makes you happy.⠀ ⠀ Isn’t that better than hiding behind a corporate title that doesn’t really do anything but impress people a teensy bit and leaves you feeling shitty?⠀ ⠀ Try to start seeing your identity as YOU, the things you love, the things you stand for, the impact you want to make on the world. Not your title or your company. This belief doesn’t need to hold you back! Tag someone you know who needs to see this 💥
This list, although helpful, isn’t exhaustive. Furthermore, consider the fact that most jobs only require internet connectivity, a laptop, and a phone. These elements of the workplace can be made relatively nomadic if needs be, allowing people to see the world as they earn an income.
— JustCall App (@justcall_io) January 30, 2020
How do digital nomads affect my work?
So if digital nomad-ery sounds totally unappealing to you, don’t stress. Companies are far from implementing remote, travel-based work far and wide. Therefore, you’re safe.
But if it sounds great but you can’t quite commit to this lifestyle just yet, there are solutions. Many industries are slowly moving towards digitisation and remote work. Some of the industries making the move include insurance, data management and collection, and even banking.
Why should companies take notice?
Working remotely ultimately saves companies money on electricity, printing, and that ever-boiling office kettle. 2020 could very well be the year that commuting is replaced, in part, by telecommuting.
In short, the landscape of the working world is changing. That is to say that digitisation may change the way we do business across the board. But for some, this change happened ages ago and they’ve gotten a head start on seeing the world.
If you’re interested in reading further, here’s how a Daily Maverick sub-editor ended up working from an island paradise.
By Features Writer, Ashton Kirsten