In times past, many freelance web professionals were either forced to work from home or destined to sit in the same coffee shop every day. However, times have changed and many independent workers are becoming digital nomads.
This more evolved stage of remote working still enables you to work unchained from an office, but with the same level of organization and focus as you would have working from home. You’ll often be on the move, which means that it’s important to manage your time wisely.
As a digital nomad, you’ll often be on the move. With a little effort, you can manage your time wisely while staying focused and organized.
In this post, we’ll offer an introduction to what being a digital nomad means (and crucially, what it doesn’t mean). Then, we’ll talk about how to get started with three simple steps. Let’s take a look!
What it means to be a digital nomad
If you’re unclear on what being a digital nomad means, it’s essentially what it sounds like. It applies to someone who works from a digital medium (for example, a laptop), who has no permanent office space. Note that working from home doesn’t necessarily make you a nomad, as you have likely have permanent access to your home office space.
In fact, to clear up any confusion, let’s touch on some of the misconceptions about being a digital nomad:
- You don’t have to be “couchsurfing,” or otherwise without a fixed abode.
- It’s not a paid travel opportunity.
- It’s not restricted to certain niches or industries, although nomads will often be freelancers.
Of course, the day-to-day cycle is going to differ depending on your specific job. Still, there are some consistent perks, such as the ability to visit new places and immerse yourself in their culture. However, you’ll still need to put in the necessary hours to make sure you can afford to reach your next destination.
Is working as a digital nomad right for you?
At this point, you may be wondering whether the digital nomad lifestyle makes sense for you. As we mentioned above, the ability to visit new places is going to be a key factor in your decision, as is the constantly changing nature of how you’ll work, where you’ll work, and (potentially) what you’ll work on.
Of course, the places you visit may not necessarily be far-flung destinations with a poolside bar and sunshine. Your work may take you to remote backwoods across state, or countries with poor-weather climates.
What’s more, you could be at the mercy of the local facilities and resources. This is great in a Western capital city, for instance, but becomes more dicey as you travel to developing nations in Southeast Asia or Africa.
In short, if you’re resourceful, unflappable, and enjoy traveling, being a digital nomad could be ideal. For others, there can be more comfort in a regular remote position. It’s important to consider your own personality and tolerance for change carefully when making this decision.
How to get started as a digital nomad (in 3 steps)
If you’ve decided that being a digital nomad is right for you, it’s time to become one! The process may take a while, but these three steps should help you get started.
Step 1: Find remote work that matches your skills
First up, you’ll need to find work that you’re suited to, which will also enable you to work remotely. Tech niches (especially developer positions) commonly permit you to work from a distance. However, this may mean you’ll have to change industries.
We’ve covered working remotely in depth before. Essentially, you’ll need to seek out dedicated remote work agencies and websites, take on gig work, or find an employer that’s directly hiring remote staff. If you have grander ideas, you could also start a business, although that’s a whole other topic.
Step 2: Find suitable working spaces
Once you have gainful employment (or at least a few jobs lined up), you’ll need to figure out where you’re going to get the work done.
This step will differ based on your exact working requirements and situation. For example, if you’re constantly traveling, you’ll need to scope out several different places, and have a ‘Plan B’ for each. In our opinion, coworking spaces are going to be your ‘savepoints’ (i.e. your best go-to option). To start finding them, websites such as Desks Near Me and ShareDesk should be your first port of call.
However, you may also want to consider other internet-ready spaces, such as libraries and community buildings. While coffee shops and cafes can also sound like ideal locations, they’re not usually conducive to productivity (nor your finances). Therefore, we’d suggest not relying on them as a regular solution.
Step 3: Consider your requirements and digital safety
Once you have a working environment or two in place, you should make sure your needs are met, your equipment is secure, and (more importantly) that you’re safe. Fortunately, many coworking spaces are well-equipped for digital users, and understand their needs.
A while back, we conducted an interview with the people behind Beaver Builder, which showed us just what goes into making the switch from a dedicated office to a team of digital nomads. Their story is an eye-opener, and could provide you with some inspiration for your own requirements.
Finally, you should also consider your digital safety, especially as you’ll likely be working via a public internet connection. With all of that in place (along with a laptop and reliable charger), you’ll be ready to get on the road!
The modern working environment has evolved from office cubicles, and now doesn’t technically require a physical, permanent office. Being a digital nomad is the next step in working remotely, as it enables you to work from practically anywhere you can connect to the internet.
In this article, we’ve offered an introduction to being a digital nomad. We’ve also looked at three steps you can take right now to get started. Let’s quickly recap them:
- Find remote work that matches your skills.
- Hunt out a suitable working space or two.
- Consider your own requirements, and concern yourself with digital safety.
Good luck as you consider whether or not the lifestyle of a digital nomad is right for you!
Also published on Medium.