There is a global movement within the corporate world that has opened to flexible workers to complete tasks and fill skills that are not available in-house. According to an analysis done in 2017, almost half of the companies have changed their mindset when it comes to hiring, favoring a different type of contracts.
The working reality has changed dramatically in the last decades. There’s a new generation that has approached the workplace. These new workers have a different mindset and expectations in regards to their job. On top of that, businesses are struggling to adapt to rapid changes in the professional environment. The traditional hiring model is not a good fit anymore to provide enough flexibility for businesses to fill the skill-demand needed.
The challenges that companies have faced in the last decade are:
- Hiring is getting more complicated. It is becoming more difficult to find the skilled workers needed in the back of your house, especially when it comes to tech jobs. Hiring managers have admitted that hiring the best fit has been more complicated than the previous years.
- Freelancers everywhere. 36% of Americans are freelancers today (about 55 million) and the trend is upward globally.
- Companies favor flexibility. 63% of the companies worldwide have moved on to hiring freelancers or remote workers over full-time employees to meet their demand.
- Flexible contracts will rule the working environment. As companies realize the advantage of hiring freelancers to meet their working needs, more companies will move on to hiring on a more flexible basis.
The priorities for companies are changing due to the evolving workplace environment. The location has less importance over
What Can You Do To Become A Digital Nomad?
When it comes to being location independent there are a few options available:
- Create a passive income stream
- Move onto a remote role within your company
- Work from anywhere as a freelancer
You can take either one of these routes or work through all of them to reach the real freedom of freelancing. Like anything else, when it comes to becoming a digital nomad it is important to understand whether this is something that fits your lifestyle or not. We are not all the same and we have different priorities in life.
It is certainly fascinating to say “I work from anywhere and don’t have to be in an office for 8 hours“, but is this what you really want? Freelancing has also some negative aspects, such as loneliness and income insecurity (you can’t just show up in the office, you need to be hunting for work)
For this reason, the best thing to do is to take several steps before jumping into it.
Create A Passive Income
There are literally thousand of websites that can tell you what are the options to create a secondary (passive) income while working. It is a good thing to work on something else than your main job, to start understanding what goes into freelancing. The amount of time and effort is something we might underestimate.
After all, “money never sleeps”, so if you can manage to create something that gives you access to income all the time, while you do something else, you are one step ahead of everyone else.
However, depending on the activity, the passive income might be limited. It all comes down to the time you decide to invest. You won’t start making money from one day to the other.
For example, I own right now 2 websites, MyStartupLand & Improbabili All’Estero (a website making fun of Italians abroad). I manage a Facebook community of 10,000+ people, linked to the 2nd website I run. I have worked in the past years on 2 additional websites (one focused on sales and another one on affiliate fashion) but had to kill them due to poor results. Currently, the monetization on both websites is low. More precisely, a few hundred dollars per month, depending on the collaborations. I have also taken a business coaching certification which opens new opportunities for freelancing. All this, while I have a full-time job.
When it comes to passive income there are several options available. Check what makes sense for you and test it out.
Work Remotely Full Time
Being able to have a full-time job and work remotely doesn’t literally make you a digital nomad but it gets you very close to it. There are tons of options for remote working, depending on what’s your background and qualifications.
Some people get it easily (such as developers, designers, community managers, among others), some others need to be a little bit more creative.
The first step in getting a role that allows you to work remotely is to talk with your current employer. Chances are there might be options in-house that allow you to have some flexibility. Perhaps you won’t be able to start full-time from day one but it can give you a glimpse into what a digital nomad’s life means.
In case your current employer doesn’t allow this type of working engagement, you can also look for opportunities online. There
Go Full In & Freelance Remotely
This is the traditional approach that most digital nomad take. You either do it or you don’t. Although I disagree with the fact that you need to jump into it without giving it a try, if you are used to freelancing, combining it with digital nomadism becomes a natural extension.
In general terms, there are a few things that you need to do if you want to go down this avenue:
- Become an expert (and position yourself as such) – For many, this is one of the most complicated things to understand. Most of us, at least the humble ones, don’t think to be an expert in something. For this reason, we shy away from positioning ourselves as experts. However, unless you are a recent graduate, you have some knowledge and you can definitely share it with others. Becoming a “teacher” will force you to be more focused and improve yourself day after day.
- Referral, referral, referral – Most of those active as freelancers know how important referrals are for winning new customers. Make sure your clients never feel disappointed about your work. If they are happy, ask them for a testimonial or to simply share their positive experience within their network.
Practical Steps To Be A Digital Nomad & Live Like One
The information above can help you get your head around whether or not the digital nomad lifestyle is for you and what are the options. Once you have understood what makes sense, you need to start looking at practical steps to take before becoming location independent.
Planning your future steps will help you avoid making mistakes. So, let’s get started.
What To Do Before Leaving?
Here below, you can find a TO-DO list to move on with your life. The list is a summary of all the important steps you should take or consider before getting started.
- Change Address – This might not seem an important step to worry about but what happens if you still get mail sent over to the old address? Ask someone close if she or he can get your mail or subscribe for a virtual address.
- Health Insurance – It’s crucial that you get a health insurance that covers you while outside of your home country. Depending on where you are from, there are different options, just be sure to check the insurance flexibility.
- Change (Talk With Your) Bank – Once abroad there are 2 things that you should worry about: a) that you don’t pay extra fees everytime you use your card; b) that your bank doesn’t block the card while abroad.
- Get Rid Of Your Stuff – Depending on what you decide to do with your apartment, you might need to let something go. Remember that when traveling, you won’t be able to bring everything with you.
- Vaccinations – Depending on where you are going you might need to get vaccinations. Go to a hospital and talk with a specialist. There are vaccines that might not seem important but remember that you will be kilometers away from home.
- Power Of Attorney – If you own a business or an apartment, there might be situations when you need to sign something. It’s better to give power of attorney to someone you know, rather than having to fly back home for something suddenly urgent.
- Mobile Phone Contract – If you own a sim/phone on a contract, make sure to switch to a pre-paid. What’s the point of paying the whole time for something you won’t be using?
- Virtual Phone Number – When traveling you might want to have always the same phone number for business reasons. You can get one on Skype (easiest option) or find a service online.
- Device Tracking Software – It would really be sad (to say the least) if while traveling your laptop or phone gets stolen. Find a service that helps you track your devices.
- Tax Registration – Making sure you file your tax correctly is very important. For digital nomads there are several options, however, it’s important to check with a tax advisor who is familiar with the digital nomad lifestyle. Recently, Estonia has opened e-citizenship opportunities for foreigners. This makes life very easy for location independent professionals.
- Invoicing System – Invoicing while traveling can become tricky, for this reason, it’s better to rely on a software that can simplify your life quite a lot.
- Billable Time – As part of your freelancing life, it’s crucial that you start tracking the time you work on projects. There are several options available online, just pick one.
- Business/Personal Website – Once you become a digital nomad and start selling your services you will need to present yourself as a business. Building a brand is extremely important. You can either promote yourself or create a company website. Whichever way you choose, don’t ignore this step.
- Money Transfer – When you start working with clients worldwide you might be faced with the situation that you get paid in different currencies. For this reason, it’s wise to get an account with a provider that accept several options and keeps fees low.
- Do Some Research – Although here you can find useful information, it is good practice to connect with other digital nomads, chances are whatever you are experiencing, someone else already has. Join Facebook groups, follow specific SubReddits or get started with Meetups. It can also be a good idea to read a few books before getting started.
- Organize Your Luggage – Before getting started, it might seem impossible to choose what could make sense to bring. However, depending on the route you intend to follow, the stuff you need to bring can be limited. For example, if you are a “sunshine seeker”, you might want to reduce the number of warm clothes you take. It’s also important to think whether you need a backpack or a proper suitcase (although backpacks are usually better for this lifestyle).
- Prepare Your Gears – Depending on the types of interests you have, you might want to take with you some specific gears, for example, a camera. However, think also about means of communication for work, for example, do you need a headphone or you are OK with earphone? Don’t think about gears only as pleasure tools, these might be used for work as well.
- Plan Where To Work From – When working & traveling, getting access to free WiFi becomes crucial. Join
WorkFromto get a list of cafes and coworking spaces where you can get free WiFi worldwide (there’s also an app!). Another platform, NomadList, gives also how “good” the Internet conditions are in different cities.
Becoming location independent might be fascinating for many of us, however, it is not as easy as it looks like, especially if you want to make this your lifestyle. Planning becomes crucial. Understanding whether this is the type of life you want to have is also very important. Being a digital nomad can have various meaning depending on who you talk with. Find what fits your personality the best and start with that. Do not force others’ ideas on your way of living. Be prepared, be creative, and enjoy your new lifestyle.