February 18, 2009

What Is A Digital Nomad?

Imagine what life would be like if you could work from anywhere. You would no longer be confined to your 9 to 5 work schedule and you could go out and do the things you enjoy. The good news is that this scenario is completely possible. How?

By becoming a digital nomad.

One of the first things people ask me when they visit my blog is “what’s a digital nomad?” Many people have heard the term but have no clue what it means. Is it someone who spends time on the web? Is it someone who works remotely?

I think it varies depending on who you talk to. Anyways, I thought I would explain what a digital nomad is and what it means to me.

The Freedom To Work From Anywhere

The most important aspect of a digital nomad is the ability to work from anywhere. This is the main reason I wanted to become one. I enjoy traveling and doing new things and it can be difficult to get time off from a typical job. Especially if you want to do frequent or long-term trips.

So instead of trying to get time off, a digital nomad will bring their work with them wherever they go. If they want to go hang out in Hawaii for a month, they do it. If they feel the need to sit on the beach and sip a Mai Tai while writing up a new blog post, they are free to do just that.

Living 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.

Making Money Remotely

So how do digital nomads make a living? The truth is, most of them make a living from a variety of different sources.

Here are a few of the things I personally do to make money:

  • Consulting – Although many people prefer face to face consulting, it is still possible to do it via phone, video chat or email.
  • Freelancing – Tons of companies hire people to take on their projects, whether it be writing, photography, or search engine optimization.
  • Information products – Besides providing services for a living, you can also spend time creating steady income streams that earn you passive income. A good example of this is by creating and selling information products, such as my WordPress Crash Course. While this did take a lot of time to create, I no longer have to spend much time working on it since it supports itself.

Just remember to use your imagination and you will quickly realize there are tons of ways to make money without having to give up your time for a 9-5 job. Don’t forget to check out my book Life After the Cubicle for some great tips on how to make money using the web.

A Job That Never Stops Changing

Besides being able to work from anywhere, being a digital nomad also brings a lot of excitement. Most jobs that are done remotely are always changing. That way you never get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

I have worked on a ton of projects and none of them have been exactly the same. One week I might work on an eBook, the next week I might help launch a new blog. It really keeps things exciting because I never know what will come around the corner.

No More Coworkers

When it comes to being a digital nomad, you may or may not say goodbye to coworkers. I grew up having jobs where I worked along side a bunch of other people. That is no longer the case since I spend the majority of my time working by myself and responding to people via email.

I do spend some time doing face to face meetings with clients but I consider them friends more than anything. It seems like I always learn something from the clients I meet.

An Endless Learning Experience

The major drawback to being a digital nomad is that you spend a lot of time looking for new clients. You also have to work really hard to build new income streams so you never have to worry about your money running dry. Both of these tasks require tons of learning and research in order to stay up to date with what is happening on the web. However, if you find learning fun than I promise you that this is not a major setback at all.  

The Benefits Far Exceed The Negatives

I can honestly say that the positives of being a digital nomad blow the negatives away. I get to work for myself and work whatever hours I choose. I’m a night owl so I can finally sleep in until 11 and not have anyone upset. Try doing that at a 9-5 Job!

I think the freedom of being anywhere in the world is priceless. Most people believe that more money will solve their problems but that is not true. If you make $200,000 a year but work 80 hours a week, are you really going to be happy? I don’t think so…

I’d rather make half that much and have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, wherever I want.

What are your thoughts about being a digital nomad?

35 thoughts on “What Is A Digital Nomad?

  1. Madeleine

    After paring down my stuff and learning how to build great WordPress websites, I finally am living the Digital Nomad lifestyle! Would love to connect with other Digital Nomads or those who hope to live the nomadic journey.

    1. Maggie

      I only found out recently about digital nomads and started reading about it. And my life is example of what each article is about.
      Only got permanent job 9-5.30 in September and I am already bored. It is not great money, I hate getting up to start at 9 etc.
      Although still have to finish my studies which is literally one more project and I am done. I live in Wales. Then I know..I don’t want to mess up my cv quitting my job too soon as it is a big good company so just in case something won’t work I want my future secured.I think in kind of 5 6 months I should be debt free, with a degree, and British passport although I’m polish. But in a meantime
      I would like to find out…what can I do to start changing my life.
      I know I have too much stuff which I don’t want to through away,
      I have a cat which I don’t want to live behind, so I don’t know where to start and how to find write business for myself, how to do website, what is the wordpress all about etc. I would like to speak to someone who is fresh and only started and maybe give me some tips, as I don’t know what to read anymore and is it worth to buy any of the recommended books?
      Any suggestions?

      I will appreciate any advice.

    2. Ben Hanna

      Nice article, I have set up a community for digital nomads with an aim of connecting us all together in one place and to teach people more about how to become nomadic. I Would be delighted to see the author of this over there.

  2. Khalid


    Many, many thanks for your blog !. Completely my mindset at this moment. I want to be a digital nomad and no longer an employee.
    I want to be the owner of my job, of my time and work an-y-where.

    In France (i’m a french reader of your blog), many people want to quit their job and create a new one according to their lifestyle.

    They no longer want to be confined to their 9 to 5 work schedule and they want to do the things they enjoy as you write in your post.



  3. Pingback: independence / nomadism / travel | Pearltrees

  4. kristalsoldier


    Thanks for the post. But I do have a question about this “digital nomad” life (and work), which is as follows: One of the options – as you mention – is to write and publish e-books. Now, depending, of course, on the kind of book, one may need references etc. How does one overcome such a problem? Reference e-books are an option, but as of now it is not a viable one because the project of digitializing books is yet in its infancy – this is especially true in the case of academic books. I know because I have a digital library that is over 100GB in size. But then again, I also have over 3000 printed books in my personal library. I would be interested in knowing your views on this. Thanks1

  5. Martin

    Although I enjoy my day job it is never what I planned to do. I’m 25 and have found myself going back to what I was told would never bring in the income. Graphic design is too competitive they said. Your blog inspires me to continue to do what I love to do. Regardless of the 9 til 5 easy life.


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