what is a digital nomad

What is a Digital Nomad and How Do I Become One?

Digital Nomad. It’s funny as soon as I heard this term for the first time, I realised I was becoming one myself. These days, I start to see that anyone who wants to live on the road, gypsy around and just travel on the long term, becomes a digital nomad one way or another. It’s just plain old survival these days.

So what is a digital nomad?

Basically, my Macbook is my life. It’s my money making machine. Digital nomads are nomads with computers. We love to travel and can’t imagine a life where we don’t have the freedom to go wherever we want, whenever we want, not answering to anyone. We travel, living here and there, all while freelancing from our computers and gear. Digital nomads include but are not limited to: web designers, coders, programmers, graphic designers, writers, filmmakers, editors, photographers, and entrepreneurs. I call myself a “multimedia storyteller” because my work is multi-disciplined; I do graphic design, print design, menu design, you name it design, video editing, video production, wordpress modification, branding…

What is the typical day of a digital nomad?

Here is a typical day in my shoes as a very casual digital nomad. As I am new in this field, I generally work just enough to cover the cost of my travel unless I commit myself to a big contract.

I am travelling through Thailand.

I stay in a little bungalow for about 10 dollars a day but my boyfriend and I are able to split the cost (so 5 each).

I wake up in the morning, climb out of the hut, take a good look at the mountains, stretch and go grab my free cup of coffee. After my morning rituals, I take my macbook out and sit on my yoga mat.

I apply to around 3-5 different jobs online on a freelancing platform. I spend around 5 minutes writing a decent proposal to each job – applying to design a menu, fix up a document, redesign a flyer, design a poster. I hope that when I check my computer later I will be awarded one of the jobs.

I go about my day, eating at the local cafe, perhaps cruising around the area on a motorbike, exploring the region, etc. Around 4pm, someone from Australia has awarded me the job of menu design! Awesome. This job will take me around 4 hours, and will cover the costs of my food and accommodation for the next 5 days.

That’s my typical work flow. Since I stay professional with my clients, I do have to change my travels a bit. If I take on a job, I must meet deadlines. Therefore, I can’t just go with the flow like I used to when I wasn’t working. I can’t just hop on a sailboat and go MIA for 3 weeks if I take on a job. Right now, for instance, I signed onto a 6 week contract with a client. That means when I travel, I must report to my client if I want to go digitally free for even a couple days. When I travel, I must stay connected, paying around $15 a month for unlimited 3G network (not bad) and taking the time each day to work.

Okay cool, so how can I become a digital nomad too?

It takes time and effort. Even if you have these skills, getting work in the online world can be challenging! It does help if you do this sort of work in the first place. That doesn’t mean you can’t start from scratch. I fell into it myself. I studied film in university, not really graphic design, however I always had an interest for it. So I started off by offering my services for FREE. I was asked to help a friend out, designing a flyer. My friend realllyyy liked the flyer and asked me for help on the next project and the next project…Then she started paying me. Soon, I had a portfolio. Soon, I had skills and experience. Next thing you know, I can start to support myself travelling using my skills.

There are many online freelancing websites to start working on like Elance, Freelancer, Guru, Fiverr even, and websites like Craigslist and Gumtree ask for online workers as well.

Nothing beats getting yourself some good old fashioned business cards and passing them on to everyone you know and new people you meet along the way. Small businesses and entrepreneurs especially need help with the multimedia disciplines.

It is NOT for everyone.

It’s not all totally awesome. It takes a lot of self discipline. You have to learn how much your time is worth and make sure you abide by that. At the same time, you must also know when to offer yourself for free to certain clients (to earn their trust and secure a working relationship with them). The hours I put in are ridiculous because the world of multimedia design is quick and competitive. I should start tracking those hours by the way.

what is a digital nomad
What is a digital nomad? Half free traveller, half slave to the Macbook.

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