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. Pingback: Bizzie Mommy » Blog Archive » Posts about freelance writing as of February 18, 2009

    1. smily

      What’s the lobbying for? Why wait. Work from home now, while the rest are waiting around for others to make it happen.

  2. Jake

    While the idea of being a digital nomad sounds appealing and fun, there is a lot that goes along with it that isn’t so fun. Like most things, its not all its cracked up to be 😉


  3. jen

    One day I hope this will be me – I clearly have a lot of learning to do first! (It’ll come a lot sooner if I win the lottery!). jen x

  4. Erica

    In my opinion, being able to work from anywhere is one of the best jobs you can have. Since I can’t continue to freelance for local papers here in Sweden once I finally travel to London I will search out writing jobs that allow me to work from anywhere. A 9-5 job would not make me happy in the long run, no matter how much money I earned. Freedom is so much more appealing than routine.

  5. Robby G

    Great post. I remember finding your blog through ProBlogger and I’ve been following for some time since then. Your posts are always great and the design of your blog if fantastic. Keep it up mate. Cheers and best of luck!

  6. Iowa Freelance Writer Blog

    Great post! I just stumbled onto your blog, and I’m glad that I did. The life of a digital nomad isn’t for everyone, but as a freelance writer and a beginning consultant, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Great post and thanks for sharing!

  7. milly@ preston

    I adore the term ‘digital nomad’ may put it on my business card. Im half nomad, the wonders of the macbook pro, I can work here in the office, or at home, even on the beach if my battery lasted more than 40 seconds 🙂

  8. soultravelers3

    How about digital nomad family? This is definitely the wave of the future for those that want to live a free life!

    We have been on an open ended world tour as a 3 laptop family of digital nomads since 2006 and live really large on just 25K a year ( much of it in “expensive” Europe.

    It is a great way to live & we have no plans of stopping. 😉

  9. Antony

    Hello! I’m working on project about Nomads. I can’t find any forums where I may ask about interesting me question. The question is what nomad can call HOME and HOUSE? But try to answer in a way like HOME is the place where your “soul”, place where you feeling yourself in security, the place where you are happy and HOUSE is a building, shelter or smthing. Please, help me))

  10. Pingback: Every Heard of a Digital Nomad | brentonrussell.com

  11. Pingback: Life After the Cubicle: How To Escape Your Job And Work From Anywhere

  12. Web Design Preston

    The digital nomad lifestyle sounds intriguing…! I’m completely the opposite. (…a “digital office squatter”??) I’m office bound and have to be near my clients in case they need to “see me” urgently! Still, I can dream…

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  14. Cody @ Digital Nomad Academy

    Great article man! After building my business this way for the last 4 years and meeting hundreds of like-minded folks through my travels and online, it’s really exciting to be part of this societal shift by working to build an online community and encourage more folks to embrace location independent business! My biggest wish is that in the coming years, more and more people will be able to have this sort of flexibility and control over their work lives! 🙂 Really would love for you to get involved with us at Digital Nomad Academy later this year as we expand it, Justin!

  15. Hostels

    Hi Justin,
    Great post, just wondering how you do the consulting part. How do you get paid and how do you find your clients? What kind of services can you offer them? I’m a digital nomand as well since a couple of years now, but actually I’m still struggeling to make a decent income. It’s so damn hard and a huge competition out there. But I’ll keep trying…


  16. Pingback: Innovation and Inventions | The Hired Guns Blog

  17. Edit Me F.A.S.T.

    Hi Justin,

    I love your blog. Very happy for you. I own an online editing and proofreading business and I’m pursuing the dream it seems you’ve already achieved. Any tips for surmounting the challenges of costly advertising and SEO? Much appreciated.



  18. hira

    i just wanna say that when i was going through yr website today (during my office hrs :D), i couldnt help wonder whichever place you would be at the moment, enjoing yr freedom. i myself is not really put on by the digital nomad idea, chief;y because i dread computers and web like anything ;), but yeah, that working from whereever you want really got me hooked. i am myself writing a novel of my own, if it gets published, i will write its sequel yr way, that is while visiting all the places i wish to in this life!


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