How to turn travel into a money-making opportunity as a digital nomad
A digital nomad is a person who works less and travels more. This isn’t the new, cool term many of us may think it is.
The term digital nomad was coined in 1997 in a book called The Digital Nomad, written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. Their book prophesized the invention of a singular, all-powerful communication device that would allow employees the ability to work from anywhere, among other hypotheses.Investopedia
A digital nomad typically consists of someone who spends between one and six months working online in a foreign country. Essentially, you’re a digital nomad if you work remotely and are constantly on the move; congratulations!
Why Live This Kind of Life?
People live this lifestyle for many reasons:
To pursue their passion (writing, painting, designing, etc.).
There’s nothing like living in a different city every couple of months to stimulate creativity in your soul. Also, it’s pretty hard to resist the opportunity to learn other techniques and skills from artisans worldwide.
To live or work abroad.
With such a big, wide world out there, many of us (myself included) have that persistent call to adventure (or food) that drives us to visit other countries. Who knows, you may find a work culture that suits your personality more than where you are now. And yes, Belgium is high on that list with that four-day workweek. Also, job opportunities may only be available to people within that country for various reasons, like visa requirements, reporting on local interests, or timezone and deadline restrictions. Being mobile gives you access to jobs that others may never even see.
To learn another language or experience another culture firsthand, without the commitment of residency.
Because, honestly, how do you know if you’ll like a place if you don’t spend some time there first? All the textbooks, teachers, and YouTube videos in the world can’t give you the authentic experience of walking the streets with your own two feet. Plus, there’s no faster way to learn a language than to throw yourself into the deep end and immerse yourself in it.
The digital nomad lifestyle allows you to travel around countries with low living costs while keeping your job as long as you have an internet connection and enough cash to keep yourself afloat.
But What About Making Money While You Travel?
Many digital nomads supplement their income by teaching English, but there are countless ways to make money from home or the road that you can take advantage of.
Teach English online.
Yes, I know it looks like the same thing, but I promise you it’s not. There is a VAST difference between teaching English in a classroom setting and doing it online. I’m a massive fan of iTalki, a platform that allows you to learn just about any language from a native speaker. As an English tutor, I can set my prices and hours and work with students worldwide from the comfort of basically anywhere I want. Being able to have class in my nice, comfy hoodie with a glass of whiskey on the balcony really crushes classroom life.
Translate documents or websites to English.
One day Google will speak all of the languages all the time, and learning will be a thing of the past. Until that day, students will need letters of intent, employees will need resumes, and business owners will need websites that speak to as broad of an audience as possible. As long as English remains the “universal language,” they’ll need you.
Proofread/edit digital or print media.
Whether in your hand or your screen, we all need news. It could be as trivial as why two YouTubers don’t like each other or something major like local and national elections. No matter what, it has to be well-written. I don’t know about you, but nothing will make me close an article faster than a multitude of typos. The best way to help these media outlets, and yourself, is to offer your services to ensure they stay on point with their audience.
Writing digital articles or eBooks for companies based in another country.
Long-form writing is an art. Writing is usually a different ballgame, even for those with native-level speaking skills. This presents another opportunity for you, my dear digital nomad, to offer your abilities to companies that may want to capture a particular market but lack the necessary expertise to create content or products.
Creating content that educates others about places you’ve traveled.
This is probably the most difficult to do but the most fun to consume. I spend a somewhat embarrassing amount of time watching YouTubers that live in or travel to Japan because I find their videos fascinating. The places they’ve traveled to, the food they’ve eaten, and the sights they’ve seen are all shared through well thought out, recorded, and often scripted content. Living your life becomes a job to some extent. Finding and maintaining a work-life balance is like balancing a blade edge on your fingernail. Still, if you can pull it off, your audience (and hopefully sponsors) will basically pay for you to go anywhere you want. Well, as long as you take them (virtually) with you.
Okay, So What’s the Catch?
You are quite the perceptive one. As incredible as globe-hopping sounds as a lifestyle or job, it’s not always amazing local cuisine and viral videos.
Many issues can hamper the digital nomad lifestyle, including, but not limited to:
A freaking global pandemic
So yeah, this was obviously the big one. When your livelihood depends on you being able to travel from one place to the other, randomly closing borders is the last thing you want to hear about. Though the switch to more remote work has been helpful for many workers, getting cut off from a job due to travel restrictions is a nightmare no digital nomad is truly safe from.
The burden of information
What even is that, right? Look at it like this; as an American citizen, if you don’t plan on visiting another country, you don’t need to know much about them, right? However, if your job relied on you dining at and listing the ten best restaurants in Ukraine, it would probably behoove you to know about their current situation with Russia. You may be free to go wherever you like as a digital nomad, but you also have the responsibility to know what’s going on, if for no other reason than your safety. That includes cultural gestures; who wants to get into a fight at the bar because you didn’t know rubbing your nose a certain way was an insult? Plus, exchange rates (literally finding out “your money’s no good here”) and laws. FYI, Asia is SUPER anti-drugs. Like all the drugs. Including weed.
A saturated market
Now, you might be okay trying to put a small town, city, or even country on the map. However, if you are in any city featured on TV or in a movie, there are likely hundreds, if not thousands fighting for the same spots and opportunities you are. Specifically, in the content creator field, it can be pretty rough when your Japan video of visiting Shibuya Crossing has to compete with Abroad In Japan (channel of YouTuber Chris Broad) and their trip to a literal volcano.
I promise you I’m not trying to dissuade you; I want you to have a complete picture because I care. We often see people doing things that look cool but don’t always think about what it takes to make that vision a reality. But if you believe in you, I believe in you too! Break out that map, find the country or continent of your dreams, and go nuts, you beautiful future digital nomad you!
I look forward to the greatness you may find out in the world.
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Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.
Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.