29 August 2016

Earn A Living While Sitting On A Beach!

How To Become A Digital Nomad

Ditching the 9 to 5 to travel the world yet never wanting for money - it's a common dream for lottery players, but you don't necessarily have to win the lottery to do so. If you regularly read travel blogs or money/finance-related blogs you may have already heard about "digital nomads", often accompanied by a long article about someone who has ditched their dayjob and set off to explore the world explaining how they made their travel dreams come true. Normally, to hammer home the point, there's also a picture of the author relaxing on a beach. The question is, how exactly do they make their money? Is it hoax? Is there more to the digital nomad lifestyle that meets the eye? Or is it a realistic way of earning a living?

How To Become A Digital Nomad

What Are Digital Nomads?

Firstly, what exactly is a digital nomad? Although the term is often loosely defined, a digital nomad is any individual who earns money, generally online, while moving from one location to location, essentially living the dream for anyone who loves travel.

By setting up streams of income that can be generated online from remote locations, the digital nomad is therefore free to go wherever they want.

The principle is simple, becoming one is a little bit trickier…

How Do They Make Money?

Easier said than done; but luckily there are a number of genuine ways to generate income that neatly compliment the nomadic lifestyle.

Blogging, particularly travel blogging, has given thousands of aspiring digital nomads the opportunity to live that dream. They've been lucky enough, and persistent enough, to receive a healthy income by documenting their adventures, and earning money through ad revenue generated by their websites.

More entrepreneurial webmasters often seek to purchase other related sites, which they build up and then use for further ad revenue. Making money this way is described as a passive income, because it doesn't involve you actively doing anything to generate an income. Think of it like money earned from a rented property, or an investment. Or, as many bloggers like to put it, money you can earn while you sleep. 

There have been numerous stories of successful bloggers building up a highly lucrative network of websites, and generating enough income to live comfortably without lifting a finger! Although, spoiler alert, that's pretty rare and they're a lucky few.

Many travel bloggers also write product reviews in return for money, and supplement their income with freelance writing gigs, and other roles such as tour guides, English teaching and those gap-year staples of bar work and fruit picking.

The eternal gap year might appeal if you're in your early twenties, but for the more mature aspirational nomad it will likely as not sound fairly horrifying.

For those with a strong skill set, earning good money freelancing can be the golden ticket. There are dozens of websites that allow freelancers to advertise their skills and get matched up with the right clients. Web developers, copywriters and video makers can make a tidy salary in this way, and won't have to pull pints in the evening to keep their dreams alive.

For entrepreneurial-minded travellers, setting up a web-based company is a great way of freeing yourself from the 9-5, although if your company revolves around selling physical stock things might get tricky. Lugging around crates full of your handmade jewellery and clothing can hamper the nomadic dream.

Where To Live

Choosing where to travel to, and where to live, is a huge question for all digital nomads. Many opt to spend the majority of time in Latin America, Eastern Europe or Asia, because the cost of living is so much cheaper.

In some of these places you can live for under €500 a month, and live well. In Western Europe or North America that kind of money would probably cover your grocery bills and the cost of a tent.

What Are The Challenges?

I have some bad news; there are millions of travel blogs out there and the market is very saturated. So you'll need to spend a lot of thankless hours chipping away to forge a niche in this market, and even then it's unlikely that you'll ever make big money out of it.

That doesn't mean it's time to flush your travel blogging dreams down the drain, just don't expect to launch myfirsttravelblog.com and book a one-way ticket to paradise.

Instead it's better to focus your writing skills on more lucrative stuff, like SEO, internet marketing and social media. If you're bilingual then translating copy is always a valuable skill.

Aside from the financial challenge, there are a lot of unglamorous issues that globe trotters are faced with. If you're on the move a lot you're going to need to ensure you've insured both yourself and your handful of possessions.

Nothing will put the brakes on your nomadic lifestyle like a hefty hospital bill in a strange land, or finding someone has rudely relieved you of your laptop, tablet and smartphone while you're sleeping off that jetlag.

Replacing your work tools is vital as they're your sole source of income, but the bill can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.

Another difficulty can be tracking down that all important internet connection. Even in 2016 many of us have spent forlorn hours next to our wireless router, desperately starting and restarting it in the hope that it'll be generous and gift you a few megabytes of Wi-Fi.

That's the sort of problem we face in our comfy homes and offices, now imagine being in a dilapidated cyber café off the beaten track…

Any experience freelancer will know that clients can be…. Demanding shall we say? If you've got a tight deadline to keep, your Wi-Fi is down and you're in a whole different time zone the whole thing is going to feel like more trouble than it is worth. 

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Lying on the beach, the sound of the waves lapping the shore - it sort of takes the edge off if you're trying to squint at an Excel sheet in 35 degree sunshine. For digital nomads it's a way of life, but one can also argue it's a half measure. You get the travel and the sun, but you can't ever switch off. Wouldn't it be better if you had a completely hands-free source of income that allows you to enjoy the good life without any tasks, deadlines and obligations? 

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