Becoming a digital nomad and travelling the world sounds like the perfect life, after all, from what we’ve been told, one can sit on a beach while working from their laptop, all while sipping an icy cold bottle of Chang and admiring the stunning scenery stretched out before them — and making money at the same time. Who wouldn’t want that kind of life?
“Living the life of a digital nomad is not going to be beaches and luxury hotel rooms 24/7.”
In recent months there have been several articles making the rounds on social media about how life as a travel blogger or digital nomad is hard, and that the author had no idea it would be so difficult. They want to share their hardships so others don’t misunderstand, to which many people roll their eyes and say “Suck it up” — life is hard, it’s normal.
Living the life of a digital nomad (or even that of a travel blogger) is not going to be beaches and luxury hotel rooms 24/7. Most digital nomads are, in essence, entrepreneurs. And if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need to work hard in order to play hard.
If you’re love your current job, don’t quit before talking to your boss about working remotely. Obviously if you work at McDonalds this won’t work, but if you work in tech or a creative field, you should be able to work from anywhere. It won’t be easy, and you may need to adjust your sleep and travel schedules, but it can be done.
Tip: Before taking the big plunge, talk to your boss about doing a trial run to make sure both of you are happy with the results.
Teaching has always been a great way to make money on the road, and there are a couple ways to do it: become a TEFL teacher in another country, or teach courses /individuals online. Through services like Skype, you can teach more than English classes: music, languages like French or Spanish, accounting, yoga, massage, and more. You can sign-up as a teacher with an established online school, or you can set-up your own business and promote through YouTube and social media.
Are you a diving fanatic? Many travellers have made money on the road working as a scuba instructor in places like Mexico, Belize, Australia, and Thailand. As long as you have proper certification you can usually find work as a scuba instructor. A fabulous way to earn money while also having fun!
Many travellers are making money by offering walking tours in some of their favourite cities, particularly walking food tours or photography tours. Government rules change per country in regards to tour guides and fines for those who are not properly registered, which is something to consider.
That being said many travellers simply ignore the rules and cross their fingers that they won’t be caught and fined. Some notable tour guides are Jodi Ettenberg from Legal Nomads who offers a food tour whenever she is in Saigon, and Ken Kaminesky who offers photography tours to places like Iceland and Jordan.
Making money as a freelance writer is possible, but it is also tough. If you choose to go this route it’s important to know that not all clients will pay you on time, and some clients may refuse to pay you. In freelance you should never count on the money you’re suppose to earn, until it is sitting in your bank account. That being said, you can find work online through sites like Elance and make $25 and up per article written.
The internet has made it easier to make money as a photographer, all it takes are stunning photographs, and a series of online portfolios. Similar to freelance writing, you should never count on the money until it’s in your bank account. That being said you can join sites like ImageBrief and 500px and sell your photos via license or downloads. Most of these sites hold onto funds for 45 days before you’re able to request a payout to your PayPal account, or a check in the mail.
Finding under-table work as a bar tender is usually easy, as long as you know what you’re doing! The best way to land a temp job as a bartender is to find a place you enjoy, hang-out, make friends with the workers and owners, and then ask if they have work for an extra bartender. Or you could just straight-up ask if they could use some extra help.
Many digital nomads are making money by selling items on Amazon. The trick is to have a quality item that people will love. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to work on things like social media and getting your customers to review the product (s) you’re selling — the more reviews, the higher you appear in the search results.
Making your own items to sell on etsy is a challenge, especially if you’re travelling, but as an alternative you can sell vintage items or supplies. Set-up a shop before you leave, then look for items to sell as you travel: vintage knick knacks, unique fabrics, one-of-a-kind craft supplies.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to ship items yourself, so make sure the postal system is decent in your base city — Mexico would be a difficult base as the postal system is very bad and everything would need to be sent by courier.
Can you code? Many bloggers and digital nomads are making money on the road by creating websites. If you have coding skills, consider offering your services and if you’re good, you’ll be able to extend your travels. If you’re starting out, your prices should be on the lower side of the spectrum, and then slowly increase as you gain more work and positive testimonials from clients.
Planning a big family adventure? Wondering where to start?
If you’re addicted to social media, and you feel comfortable with all of the popular platforms, consider offering social media services while you’re travelling. This will require good internet, and you’ll need to keep odd hours and be available at a moment’s notice, but if you want to stay abroad and have money coming in, this is a great way to earn some income.
Making money while travelling is possible, for everyone, you just need to sit down and think outside of the box. Do you have a talent that you can monetize? Are you willing to be paid under-the-table to do grunge work? Think about how you want to travel; moving from place to place can make it difficult to earn money while travelling, the best way is to travel slow and spend a couple months in each destination.
Read: Practical Advice for Location Independent Professionals.