Being a digital nomad creates a new lifestyle that offers more than just a routine 9-5 job in an office cubicle. There are lots of options when you are a digital nomad from choosing the country to move to and deciding how long you will stay.
But before one can become a digital nomad, a choice between being a freelancer, remote worker or a digital nomad entrepreneur must be made because to be a digital nomad in the proper sense of the definition, you must work digitally (with a laptop connecting to the internet). In this article, we will discuss the reasons why being a freelancer is the best option for digital nomads wanting to start this lifestyle and to continue it.
ADVANTAGES OF FREELANCE JOBS
Freedom and Flexibility
As a freelance digital nomad, you can choose how long you want to work every day. There is no fixed schedule just as long as you can deliver on time. Another reason why being a freelancer is so flexible is because you can turn down projects and also choose the kind of job you want to accept.
Now, as for my favorite type of freedom, you can choose to work wearing any kind of clothes. It is highly recommended for beginners who are developing a routine to shower and dress for work. But as soon as you’ve developed a system that works for you, clothing is an optional choice. You can do your job wearing casual attire or even in your pajamas, depending on your mood.
Freelancing also is an excellent way to have multiple projects at one time. I find that having one major project, plus a few small, short term ones helps in keeping the mind more engaged and productive. Just make sure that you are not overwhelmed.
Digital nomads are often freelancers because they can line up one project after another, depending on the time duration of each project. I, myself, have done this and find it more freeing and more engaging when I have more than one project on my plate.
As a digital nomad, having a list of projects that must be accomplished, pushes me to do more. But the most important thing about having the ability to work on multiple projects means that a digital nomad can tailor fit the number of their projects according to their needs. If they need more income, then they can opt to accept more projects or if cash is of no concern, then one project at a time is an option.
Hiring third-party contractors to help meet deadlines and accomplish more is no new idea. Many entrepreneurs do this, and digital nomads have tapped into this idea too. Even if you have multiple projects on your plate, you can divide the task and conquer with the help of third-party contractors. I know someone who sources out his web content projects while he continues to design and improve the website he is working on.
Travel The World
Feeling cooped up in an office is one of the reasons why nine to five jobs are slowly becoming a prison cell for some. Digital nomads break free from this constraining routine, and this lifestyle gives you the option to pack your bags and travel the world, visiting exotic places, and take in the different cultures and history each location has. As we have noted many times on this website, the freedom that digital nomads get to experience comes with a big responsibility – they need to become an entrepreneur and have a profitable business to continue this lifestyle.
Many digital nomads do have base locations, but when the itch to move around and explore hits them, there is no regular job stopping them from scratching that itch. Having that kind of freedom keeps a digital nomad happy and a lot more productive than others. There is no fear of not having a job to come back to when they travel because they can take their jobs with them wherever they go.
What most people fail to emphasize is that not all digital nomad freelancers travel the world just because they want to travel. There are those that have families and friends living in foreign lands, and they go because they want to visit them. The time flexibility and freedom to move around is what freelance digital nomads love most.
New Skills To Learn
Freelancing does not confine you to just a set of skills. You have the chance to learn new skills and monetize from it too. Having multiple jobs with each job involving a different set of skills will help in keeping those neurons firing and working in full capacity. Besides, learning new skills will help widen the possible jobs you can accept, which will then translate into more projects and more income.
To me, this is a very critical part of being a digital nomad. You are not stuck on just doing what you are good at; you have the option to learn other skills, experiment, and figure out which ones best suit your interest. Having a job that you love, a project that you consider near and dear to you will produce far better output than just doing a job or project because you are good at it.
If you’ve been dreaming of rock climbing or hiking, then switching to freelance jobs will be a good option for you. Since freelance jobs offer more flexibility and freedom, you can enroll in gym classes to prepare your body for that mountain biking adventure you have been planning or go hiking and camping with your friends for a few days.
You can work your schedule around to fit your needs. If you go on three-day camping trips, you can bring your job with you if you are pressed on time or you can leave it and work on your projects when you get back. The point is, freelancing allows you to have more control over your schedule.
From the countless forums I have visited, many digital nomads prefer freelancing over being a remote worker because they have the chance to experience the outside world more. They go on adventurous trips now and then, and some even encourage others to go on one because the after-effects these adventure trips have is a refreshed mind and renewed spirit that boosts productivity.
Improve Self Confidence
Being a freelancer is an excellent way to learn the trade intimately. I firmly believe that it is not just enough to perform your job well but that you also have to master it. From there you can level up your skills and learn more challenging tasks and pretty soon you’ll be climbing up the ladder and getting to a point where you’ve learned all the ins and outs of the trade. You will then have built enough self-confidence to start your own company and become your own boss.
It would be a difficult road to travel but doing freelance jobs while also developing your own company will give you a source of income as you begin your journey as a digital nomad entrepreneur. I think that freelancing is the best way to learn useful knowledge that you can later on employ in your own company and to meet like-minded people that would teach you a thing or two about the trade.
POSSIBLE FREELANCE JOBS
The freelance jobs available for digital nomads are various. Depending on your skillset, you can become any of the items mentioned below.
Many successful digital nomads out there are programmers. If you are very knowledgeable in terms of programming, then this would be the best job for you to start your digital nomad career. You’ll be surprised at how many remote programming platforms are being developed as you read this article.
Smartphones are quickly becoming a necessity in everybody’s life, and with this development, smartphone apps are being developed left and right. It is a very lucrative job for you to jump-start your digital nomad career. Computer apps are another aspect of app development you can tap into. However, this involves a different set of skills, even if it is similar to web development. Software development takes a bit of education, but the upside is that these types of jobs are in high demand. I wrote an extensive article on becoming a digital nomad software developer. You can find out all about it here – How to Be a Digital Nomad Software Developer (Types, Skills, and Jobs)
I find that the majority of freelance digital nomads have dabbled in this type of job. It is a great niche to tap into because it is a skill that many are looking for. The traditional way of creating a website is not lost, but with the development of user-friendly website development platforms (WordPress), many website developers have evolved into digital artists as well.
In my article 7 Reasons Why You Should Become a Digital Nomad Web Developer, I cover some key reasons and options of how to become a web developer. Check it out if you want to know more.
This platform is a very user-friendly tool and is very intuitive. A developer would only require basic coding knowledge to develop a website on this platform. Even with the use of this platform, a website developer will still be responsible for maintaining and building a website from the ground up.
Social Media Marketer
This type of freelance job involves maintaining social media platforms, creating social media posts, organizing social media events, and also managing the overall performance of social media accounts. If you have always been drawn to social media sites and have been managing your account daily, then this is a perfect job for you.
Copywriter Or Writer
Copywriting and writing is a very lucrative niche, also. Websites will always need new content to populate their site. A copywriter is tasked to write web content such as articles and blog posts. A certain amount of research is involved in this job too. You can also be a creative writer and write short stories or full novels for a publishing company, or you can be a ghostwriter for other writers if you feel that you are not ready to be published yet.
Proofreader Or Editor
Before an article or blog post can be published online, editors and proofreaders will have to take a look at it first. The proofreader is tasked to determine if the content meets the standards, and the editor is tasked to determine if the material needs further work or is ready for publishing.
Transcriber Or Translator
Transcribing and translating jobs are very easy. It can be one of those minor freelance jobs that you can accept on top of your major project. Transcribing involves listening to audio clips and typing up the clip to a word document file which you will then submit to your client.
Translation jobs are for multilingual people. If you know how to speak and write more than one language, then this can be a starting project for you. It is a bit more complicated than the transcribing job in the sense that you will have to know how to read, speak, and write a foreign language before you can translate it.
Think of a virtual assistant as someone who is there to keep all your digital files in order and handle all your digital dealings. If you have impeccable time management skills, an eye for detail, and impressive organizational skills, then you are a perfect candidate for this job. To know more about how to become a virtual assistant, check out my article Can Digital Nomads Find Work as Virtual Assistants? to find out more information about this type of job.
It is like being a secretary without the physical aspect of a commute and dressing up like one. You interact with your boss daily through online channels only.
Data Entry Jobs
Data entry jobs are another area that is very easy and can be done on top of your significant projects. I recommend this type of job for beginners because this will help you get a sense of the daily routine you have to set in place for you to become a successful digital nomad.
People who have an eye for detail and a meticulous personality will fit in this job. And like I said, this is a perfect job to accept if you need a break from your major project.
Customer Service Representative
If you are a very friendly person or an outgoing person that loves to interact with others, then being a customer service representative is a good start for you. You will be responsible for dealing with incoming calls requesting assistance. It can also branch out into technical support if you are knowledgeable enough to help out the customer that needs assistance.
Most customer support representative is tasked to keep communication lines open for customers that have issues, forward the customers call to proper channels and also gather relevant information regarding the customer and the problem they are having. Competent customer support will help in keeping the clients happy and content with the company’s service or product.
WHERE TO FIND FREELANCE JOBS
There are online job sites that cater to freelance digital nomads. The top three for me are listed below. I’ve personally tried them all and have had success in landing jobs in all three. You can start looking for jobs here or if you find other websites that offer freelance jobs, let me know.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this site because as of now, this is the most popular of the three. It is free to sign up. However, you will have to build your portfolio and wait for your account to be approved before you can look for jobs. Also, you are provided with 60 connects for free once you are approved. You will then use these links to apply for jobs, and once you’ve used it up, you will then have to buy more connects to ask for more jobs.
Competition is fierce here, so make sure to use your connects wisely. Another thing you need to know is that 20% of your earnings will be deducted as a service charge by the company (that is something to think about).
Freelancer is also a job website that has very fierce competition and works similar to Upwork. Once you sign up, you are given one-month free access where you are provided with eight connects that you have to use within the month before you are asked to switch to a monthly paid subscription. The only drawback here is that all jobs are paid through PayPal, which is sometimes a turn off for many digital nomads.
Fiverr works differently from the two previous job sites. Here, once you sign up you, create services – they call it “gigs” – that you are willing to do for a specific price. I remember that the freelancers that create accounts here were only allowed to charge $5 per gig (this is where they got their name from) before it evolved into this modern one. Here, clients will be the one that will approach you and not the other way around. Jobs here are much more difficult to land because you will be competing with thousands of other freelancers from all over the globe. They also take out 20% off from your income like Upwork, as a service fee.
Switching to a digital nomad lifestyle may not be a walk in the park, but the benefits of not being location dependent trump the challenges that come with it. Freelance jobs are the best way to ease your way into the digital nomad lifestyle, and it is the best type of work for many digital nomads. It is this type that offers the most flexibility and freedom in time, job type, and the number of projects a person can accept.
Add to that the chance to learn and earn at the same time, and you can easily see why this is a great way to live this lifestyle. Out of town vacations, overseas travel and adventure trips can be worked around freelance projects too.
Freelancing also is a great way to learn new skills and experiment to know which skills are the best fit for you and let us not forget to mention that freelance jobs are the best training ground to learn how you can become your own boss.
We recommend starting with easy freelance jobs from the list of platforms we provided and from there work your way up, until you have built enough confidence to start your own company.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.