Ever Heard of a Digital Nomad?

Digital Nomad

by Brenton Russell on

Either had I until I read the article Digital Nomad Explained on Justin Wright’s blog “Exploring Life After the Cubicle.”   In essence, Justin describes a Digital Nomad as:

“someone who can work from anywhere, who is no longer confined to a 9 to 5 schedule and who can go out and do the things that they enjoy.”

Search for articles on Digital Nomads on the internet and almost all view the concept as an enabler for travel.  I guess that’s the Nomad part!  But for me the beauty of the concept isn’t so much in the nomadic aspects (although this is attractive!) but more that your life’s agenda is entirely in your own hands, regardless of whether you wish to remain static or mobile.  As Justin puts it:

“Life as a digital nomad is the ultimate lifestyle because it gives you the two things that many people do not have enough of: time and freedom.”

So Where Does the Money Come From?

The first key point that I have learnt through reading about different Digital Nomads is that the majority do not necessarily make a lot of money (or at least not initially!).  The benefits are, however, significantly more time and freedom to your live your life by your own design.  So the first hard question to ask yourself before embarking on this journey is, “Am I prepared to accept a reduced and less consistent income for the reward of increased time and freedom?”

But the question still remains,”Where does the money come from?”  As suggested by the name, the key to becoming a Digital Nomad is to build online income streams.  Building up any type of business involves hard work and discipline, so becoming a Digital Nomad is not an ‘easy option.’  The blog How to be a Digital Nomad states that there are four distinct areas relating to online marketing that are necessary to create an online income:

  1. You have to learn how to build websites
  2. You have to research and decide what you will market online
  3. You have to dedicate yourself to building traffic to your website
  4. You have to have and practice a daily and weekly routine to meet your objectives

This all seems like pretty good advice to me (although probably not the only path to success) so I guess the next question to ask yourself is,”Am I prepared to commit myself to these areas of building an online income?” As an aside, the first step of building a website is significantly easier now than in the past.  I use WordPress and three weeks ago I didn’t know the first thing about building a website!

So it all sounds pretty good so far, right?  Lets look at the other side.

The Other Side

The article You’ll Never Be a Full-Time Blogger, and That’s Okay is well worth a read to provide a balanced view on the challenges of making your money entirely from blogging.  Although most Digital Nomads don’t suggest that blogging alone is sustainable (in fact it appears that most Digital Nomads work across multiple lines of income), this article is useful at dispelling the notion that being a Digital Nomad is easy and doesn’t involve hard work.

My Thoughts

I love the notion of being a Digital Nomad and I think that it is a great aspiration.  After adding a dose of healthy reality, my thoughts are:

  • The key is to take progressive steps towards the Digital Nomad aspiration.
  • Keep your end goal in mind but enjoy the journey, challenges and learning experiences along the way.
  • See where the journey takes you but acknowledge that you will most likely need to make compromises along the way to keep earning enough to support your chosen lifestyle.

My plan is to start this journey as a hobby in parallel to my current job and see if it is really for me.  This website is my first big step towards my aspiration of becoming a Digital Nomad and so far I’m really getting into it!  It certainly won’t be for everyone but taking progressive steps in conjunction to your current job gives a great opportunity to experience what’s involved with the safety net of maintaining a steady income stream.

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