Picture this: It’s early afternoon and you’re sitting on a sunny beach sipping ice tea. You’re done working for the day, and all that’s left is to decide whether it’s swimming or rock climbing later. Sounds pretty amazing, huh? The good news is that with some initial hard work, it’s possible for just about anyone to achieve. Today we’re taking a look the life of a digital nomad – wanderers of the world who have escaped the rat race.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
Put simply, digital nomads are people who make money through electronic means. This makes them location independent – so long as they have a laptop and internet connection, they can run their affairs. Some digital nomads even enjoy a ‘passive’ income, meaning they can kick back completely and keep counting the money.
Being a digital nomad allows a lot of flexibility in terms of lifestyle – typically a nomad is their own boss and can keep their own hours. Needless to say, we’re huge fans of this idea – why spend your working life sitting in a cubicle from 9-5? We’d much rather get our s*** done quickly, then go and enjoy some actual life.
Sounds Good. How Does It Work?
There’s definitely never been a better time to be entrepreneurial. There are a variety of ways that a person can make money online, and as the list expands it just keeps on getting easier. Let’s look at some of the ways people achieve digital nomad-ism, along with some pros and cons for each:
Blogging is one of the most common ways to create an online income. If you’re passionate about something – or simply know an appropriate ‘niche’ – you can write about it and start making bank. Setting up a blog is easy, and can be done in less than a day. Making it successful is a different story though. It’s not unheard of for people to toil on blogs for years before making any kind of serious moolah. But if you make it work, your earnings can be totally passive. Once you’ve published a post, it will stay up for as long as you pay your hosting provider. So you could make money off of the same blog post for years! Blog income typically comes from one of 3 sources: ad revenue, affiliate sales and direct sales.
Ad revenue is one of the easiest ways to monetise a blog. Just sign up with an advertising network (Adsense is the most popular), add some code to your site, and you will make money whenever someone clicks an ad.
Affiliate sales (also called affiliate marketing) is a practice whereby you market products or services on behalf of the company that sells them. When someone buys that product or service, you get a small cut from the vendor. Let’s take an example. Say I recommend a toaster oven to you on this blog post, and include my Amazon affiliate link for it. If you click through and buy it I might get, say, 3% of the sale price. This is a ‘thank you’ from the vendor for using my influence as a blogger to find them a customer. There are tonnes of affiliate programs out there, but Amazon tends to be the most popular.
The third way you can make money through a blog is by selling your own products. These could be physical goods – maybe you have your own line of hilarious golf T-shirts – or digital, such as an MP3 or eBook.
Pros of blogging: Easy set up, Potential for passive income.
Cons of blogging: Potentially a lot of time and effort to make it work
Drop The Ship
Another neat way of generating an online income is to get into online retail. While you could sell goods in the traditional way – find a product, source a vendor, set up a website, manage sales and inventory – this doesn’t typically offer a way out of workaholic jail. To achieve that digital nomad lifestyle, a more hands off approach is required. This is called ‘drop-shipping’.
In a drop-shipping retail model, the vendor sends goods directly to the customer. You would act as the middleman to take care of marketing the products and persuading people to actually buy them. Let’s look at an example:
You own a website which is optimised for selling T-shirts. You’re the best damn T-shirt selling vehicle out there. Customers come to your website, see something they like and hit buy. Once the customer has completed the check out process, you send their order to the vendor and they take care of the rest, even handling any returns for you. Drop-shipping can be very lucrative, but usually requires a good management system behind it that will automate certain workflows like sending the orders to the vendor.
Pros of drop-shipping: Potential for passive income, Can be more lucrative than blogging
Cons of drop-shipping: Requires careful setup, Lower margins than traditional ecommerce
Become An Influencer
If you’ve developed a bit of a following on Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest, why not leverage it to make some money? That’s exactly what many influencers do in order to live the digital nomad dream. Earnings are typically generated by sponsored posts – promoting a company’s products on your feed in exchange for a fee.
The money you can make will be proportional to your number of followers. The greater your influence, the greater the fees you can command. But if you’re a natural at social media, there’s no reason you can’t make a killing. Check out specialist influencer agencies such as Viral Nation or HireInfluence for more information.
Pros of being an influencer: Potentially huge earnings
Cons of being an influencer: Only social media dons need apply
Sell Your Skills
One of our favourite ways to make money online is to take your existing skills, and apply them as an online freelancer. Specialist freelancer sites like Fiverr and Upwork have made it easier than ever to connect directly with clients.
You start by setting up a profile outlining your skills and expertise. This could be Excel, WordPress, Copywriting, Proofreading – chances are high that you can do something someone else needs. Once your profile is set up, you can browse projects being offered by clients. If you find something suitable, you pitch to them as to why you should get the job. Then comes the money – you agree a fee with the client, and it’s held in Escrow until the work is complete.
Pros of being a freelancer: Easy to get started right away, Secure earnings thanks to Escrow
Cons of being a freelancer: High competition for jobs, Less freedom and autonomy, Having a ‘boss’
Write The Next Great American Novel
Okay, this one’s more for fun and definitely not for everybody. But seriously – do you know how many times J.K. Rowling had her idea of a children’s book about wizards knocked back? Twelve. Twelve times, publishers passed on an absolute goldmine. If only J.K. had started writing today, in the golden age of self-publishing, she could have caught her break much earlier.
Thanks largely to Amazon’s Kindle marketplace, it’s easier than ever to self-publish an eBook. If you have a great story to tell, you can get it to the marketplace in minutes, and then watch the money roll in.
Pros of being a self-published author: Passive income, once you’re published.
Cons of being a self-published author: We’ll leave that to you to figure out 🙂
Well, We’re Off To The Beach…
Hope you enjoyed this introduction to the exciting world of the digital nomad. Do you have a success story about escaping workaholic jail? We’d love to hear about it in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog to see what else we’ve been up to. Until next time folks.