For many of you, becoming a digital nomad is the dream. Digital nomads are people who are location independent, and can perform their job from anywhere in the world, so long as there is WiFi and access to basic technology such as their laptop.
Anyone who has acquired a sought-after skill that allows them to work remotely could be a digital nomad. If you’ve been able to build a client base around that skill, as an independent contractor or freelancer, you can travel the globe and still earn a healthy living.
To be a digital nomad, you typically have to be self-employed, working in the gig economy as your own boss. Learning certain skills can result in you having the opportunity to become a digital nomad. Digital nomads are often freelance writers, freelance copywriters, graphic designers, bloggers, consultants or independent contractors with jobs that require technology in lieu of physical presence.
Digital nomads travel the world, their laptop in tow, completing client projects from a cafe in Florence, a bistro in Paris, or a poolside cabana in Beverly Hills. “Working vacation” sums up their lifestyle, as they get to travel abroad without having to take any unpaid vacation days.
Most digital nomads advocate against boring daily routines, and instead want the freedom to see the world while they earn a living online. Does this sound like you? Maybe you get restless when you’re in one place for too long, or bored, and you simply crave new sights and exotic surroundings. Do you hate the idea of working at a traditional job, only getting two weeks of vacation per year? If you can’t stand the thought of being limited to only two weeks of freedom per year to travel, then you’d probably rather live a nomadic lifestyle as a digital nomad.
What is a Nomadic Lifestyle?
As the gig economy is thriving, the nomadic lifestyle is rising. The nomadic lifestyle is adopted by those who want to wander the globe instead of putting down roots. It’s often referred to as the “laptop lifestyle” since today’s nomads are typically digital nomads. You’ll also hear people call it a “luxury lifestyle” since it is quite a luxury to be able to travel most of the year and see so many exotic places.As the gig economy is thriving, the nomadic lifestyle is rising. Click To Tweet
A “nomad” is someone who travels from place to place, instead of having a permanent home. You’re a modern-day nomad if you live out of a suitcase and travel the globe while someone else subleases or Airbnbs your apartment back home. When you live a nomadic lifestyle, you’ll make lots of new friends, but it’ll be hard to keep the old ones. There are sacrifices when you choose this lifestyle, but plenty of advantages, too.
If you lead a nomadic lifestyle, you’ll collect experiences instead of stuff, and you’ll change locations whenever you need to get inspired or re-energized.
Once you adopt a nomadic lifestyle, you’ll reject any career that ties you to one location. You might have a home base – typically in the city where your friends and family are – but the majority of the time, you’re traveling. More and more millennials are joining the gig economy, because they love seeking out new experiences. With a traditional job, you’re stuck in one place, and with more options than ever before to join the freelancer economy, why stay stuck?
Don’t be fooled into thinking the nomadic lifestyle is easy and breezy, though. It’s a lifestyle that requires preparation, independence, resourcefulness, a thick skin, and certain skills. Digital nomads need to have the knowledge, preparation and skill set to successfully lead this kind of lifestyle.
What Skills do Digital Nomads Need to Have?
Can you imagine how difficult it is to be productive and get work done, while you’re traveling? It’s incredibly tempting to neglect your work responsibilities when you’d rather be exploring the new city you’re in or doing some sort of tourist activity. That’s why you need a ton of self-discipline to be a successful digital nomad. Nobody is going to make you work, except for you. It’s not just self-discipline that digital nomads need, though. They need quite a few skills in their arsenal.
Traveling costs a lot of money. Digital nomads without the right skills to support themselves and earn good money remotely will go broke. And, keeping yourself emotionally together while traveling the world alone is a skill in itself as well. So what are the main skills that digital nomads need to have?
The way I see it, self-confidence is a skill because it’s difficult to achieve. Digital nomads are often traveling solo, which means they need a lot of self-confidence to keep themselves going. Aligning with that, is a positive attitude. Even when things get hard, you have to believe in yourself. Believing in yourself will keep you going when you’re away from your friends and family. However, to believe in yourself, you need a positive outlook and a lot of self-confidence.
2. Work Ethic
Any digital nomad who wants to support themselves needs work ethic. Even though they’re free to travel the world, they shouldn’t feel free to neglect their clients or avoid their inbox for days. Digital nomads need to be reliable, professional, and commit to the deadlines they promise to their clients.
Your clients are trusting you to produce high-quality work, on time, from half-way around the world. Don’t take their trust for granted, though. They could easily drop you if you aren’t reliable and don’t show work ethic.
3. Closing Skills
The skill of closing high-ticket clients is one of the most important skills that digital nomads should have. A closer is someone who is able to successfully sell their remote services to a prospect, and close the deal. Boom. New client. Deal closed.
If you become a master at closing high-ticket offers, you could get high-paying clients paying you $500 for half an hour of work. That means you could have a half-hour work day, which is perfect for digital nomads who want to spend their days exploring exotic destinations, not working behind their laptop.
4. Digital Marketing Skills
Digital marketing is one of the most lucrative skills a digital nomad can possess. If you’re a remote copywriter or a freelance writer, for example, the digital marketing skill of SEO will help you get more clients. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and writers who know how to write SEO-friendly content can charge more money for their services, because SEO skills are so valuable. Other digital marketing skills that will help digital nomads support themselves include content marketing, email marketing, and social media management.
When you’re a digital nomad, nobody is going to be calling you, to see why you didn’t show up for work today. You need to show up for yourself. It’s crucial that you’re a self-starter, able to pump yourself up for a productive work day, because nobody will do that for you.
You should also be motivated to continually upgrade your skills, learn new skills, and keep up-to-date with current trends.
The key is figuring out what motivates you. Does increasing your perceived value by building your brand motivate you? Or, does making a lot of money motivate you? What about taking care of your family? When fatigue sets in, your willpower is depleted, or your momentum starts to run out, you need to be able to motivate yourself to keep going.
One of the perks of being self-motivated is that you’re much less likely to procrastinate.
Discipline is especially necessary when it comes to doing the parts of your job that you don’t enjoy doing, but have to do. Perhaps you hate putting monthly reports together for your clients, but it’s something you must do.
Self-discipline is what stops you from impulsively going on that catamaran cruise your new friend just invited you on, when you actually have a deadline for a client. Self-discipline helps you avoid temptation when work is the priority. Digital nomads need this skill, because temptation is everywhere when you’re traveling.
Self-discipline also helps you refrain from mouthing off a client who you’re a bit annoyed with. This way, you’ll stay professional and retain your client base.
7. Copywriting Skills
Copywriting skills come in handy in various ways, from writing website copy to writing a compelling sales pitch. Many digital nomads have a website where they get discovered and hired for jobs. Knowing how to write your website copy in a way that is compelling and persuasive will help you get more jobs. More clients. More money.
8. Goal Setting Skills
Setting goals is an absolute must when you’re a self-employed, remote worker. And I don’t just mean weekly or monthly goals. It’s actually daily goals that will help you succeed as a digital nomad. By writing out what needs to be done today, you’re ensuring that you don’t go on that waterfall hike or that river cruise until today’s goal has been accomplished.
9. Time Management Skills
Time management is the ability to organize, plan, and divide your time each day to maximize productivity. While it sounds simple in theory, time management skills require a lot of self-discipline and organization to implement effectively. Digital nomads who have nailed time management tend to get more work done in less time, and they know exactly which tasks should be done and when. This skill also allows digital nomads to understand their own timeline, understand how long it takes them to do certain tasks, and therefore provide their clients with more accurate deadlines and ETAs.
If you want to improve your time management skills, start timing how long each task takes you to complete. From there, figure out ways to be more efficient. For example, if you time yourself writing a blog post and you find that it took you over 5 hours to write, pay attention to what took the most time. Was it the research? How can you cut down on research time? Perhaps all you need to do is subscribe to a relevant newsletter that has done the research for you on a certain topic. The course of action will be different for everyone, but everyone can improve their time management skills.
Digital nomads are typically not in one place for too long, which means they have to be able to adapt to change. Adjusting to new conditions is difficult sometimes, especially if you got accustomed to certain sounds, smells, or weather conditions. If the incredibly fresh air in one location woke you up in the morning, you’ll have to adapt and find a new way of refreshing yourself if the air is smoggy in the next location. That’s just one example, but in reality there are hundreds of ways the conditions could change when you’re a digital nomad.
11. Networking Skills
What do you think happens to digital nomads who travel the globe solo and spend all their time alone, without ever meeting new friends or like-minded people? They start to lose their energy. Sometimes they become depressed. That’s why networking and connecting with other digital nomads is crucial. You can meet up and work together, on your own separate projects, and keep each other accountable. Or, you might even find that you could really use some help on your remote project, and another digital nomad you met possesses the skills to help.
It’s not as difficult to network as you think. WiFi Tribe, for example, is a community of like-minded digital nomads who work and travel together. They describe themselves by saying, “Every month, we choose a different city to call home. We are inviting a mix of passionate, wild and free, like-minded people from all corners of the world to join our journey of remote work travel. Entrepreneurs, photographers, developers, writers, designers, full-time employees, marketers, adventure addicts, all are welcome on our nomad life adventure.”
12. Preliminary Research Skills
Digital nomads are dependent on technology to make a living while traveling. That means they should research which cities are known for being digital nomad hubs, instead of just booking a flight to a random destination without doing any research.
Rather than searching for a suitable workspace with a good internet connection upon arrival at a new destination, you need to do all of that research in advance. You need to know ahead of time that where you’re heading suits your needs.
Destinations known for being digital nomad hubs include Tokyo, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, Bali, Malta, San Francisco, Portland – and there are many more.
It’s not just about knowing which destinations are tech hubs, though. It’s also about researching which coffee shops are open 24 hours and have both WiFi and outlets to charge your laptop. Do that type of research in advance, especially if you love working late at coffee shops, which many digital nomads do. This type of preliminary research avoids your productivity being hindered when you get kicked out of a coffee shop that’s closing, or spend hours searching for a good spot to do your work.
13. Able to Formulate a Routine from Anywhere
Okay, okay. I get it. Routines are boring. But you also need at least some form of a routine in order to be productive. Wherever you end up, you need to set up a routine that works for you, so that you can get work done. This routine will be different everywhere you go. In Rome, for example, it’s a very walkable city so your routine will probably involve a morning walk that ends up with you at your favorite italian cafe. You’ll work for a few hours, then eat your lunch outside of a fountain that’s a short walk away from the cafe. Rome is the type of city where, if you make friends with the cafe or restaurant owner, you’re family and you can stay as long as you like. So you’ll likely go to the same places quite often, where the staff welcomes you and allows you to stay for as long as you like, even if you haven’t ordered something for hours. This type of routine and familiar faces helps you stay productive.
14. A Growth Mindset
As the famous entrepreneur Matt Barrie would say, a “growth mindset” is key if you’re to become a self-made success. A growth mindset is key for digital nomads to support themselves and stay motivated. This means that you are not only goal-oriented, but you also always keep your goals in mind, each day working towards them, focused on achieving growth.
15. Build a Digital Toolbox
The skill of building a digital toolbox that maximizes productivity requires some due diligence. What do you need to stay on top of your online job? Tools like Trello, Slack, Wrike, Skype, Grammarly, and more will help you do your job remotely.
16. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Digital nomads need to be able to leave their comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable. This means they need to be comfortable being alone or being isolated. They need to be okay with unpredictable weather or culture shock. Not everything will go perfectly especially while traveling solo, so resilience is key when you’re a digital nomad.
The Most Important Skill You Need as a Freelancer
Since most of your clients will be in other parts of the world, the most important skill you need is the ability to close deals over the phone. You’ll need the skill of high ticket closing to make sufficient income in a competitive gig economy as a digital nomad. Watch my free training to learn more about how to be a master at closing.