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Recent years have seen the rise of the Digital Nomad; those lucky few self-employed thrill-seekers who travel the world with a laptop in their backpack, and think that working 9-5 is for suckers.

I’m sure you’ve heard all about them and you’re probably wishing you could do likewise. Being able to go where you please, when you please, and call nobody boss is a fantastic lifestyle in theory, but how does it work in practice?

If you’re wondering how to be a nomad, we’ve looked at the three most popular ways to earn money while you travel for those wanting to pursue this lifestyle.

Blogging

If you want to live as a digital nomad you’ll need to prepare. Don’t pack your bags until you’ve laid the foundation first. And, since it’s certain to be the most time-consuming part of that process, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up your own blog.

Laptop and phone

“Do I need a blog?”, I hear you ask. The answer is yes. No proper Digital Nomad is without a blog.

Having a blog is pretty much a given. It allows you to share your travels and experiences while also connecting/networking and, of course, promoting your own business/services. Plus, if you manage to create a really successful blog with a strong following of regular readers, you can also earn huge amounts of money through advertising or affiliate marketing.

But, like I always say to people, if you want to blog, prepare to slog. Do your research, find your own unique niche that will help you stand out from the crowd, do careful keyword research so you’ll get found on search engines, do outreach via social media to find followers and readers and, of course, work your ass off to deliver distinctive, high-quality content on a regular basis to keep your readers coming back for more.

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Freelancing

Many people make the mistake of believing they need only set up a blog and can then start earning money straight away. As mentioned, it actually takes time to get to that stage. So if you’re looking for a way to start earning money online straight away then check out the top online freelancing websites.

entrepreneur computer laptop

Here you can peruse thousands of jobs which are posted every single day. If you’re good at coding, designing or writing you can earn a good living on the road – especially once you’ve gotten a few jobs under your belt and received good reviews. But even if you don’t have any of the typical freelancer skills you can still find some nice, high-paying odd jobs if you look hard enough.

The most successful freelancers are those who provide regular work, at a reasonable price and can be relied upon to meet deadlines and answer messages in a timely fashion. This is easy if you work from home, but far more difficult if you’re on the move and/or off the beaten track.

It’s therefore important that you investigate backup solutions for those times when coverage is poor or the internet connection goes down altogether, because trust me, it will!

My advice is to always have a contingency plan, avoid narrow deadlines and never over-extend your workload. This way, even if you do suffer from a communications disruption or a powercut, you can still get in touch with your clients and deliver your work on time.

Set Up A Business

Blogging and freelancing can bring in the cash, but then who wants to live in paradise if all you do is work indoors on a laptop all day? Blogging can be very time consuming and freelancing can be very stressful. Not only do you need to stay connected to ensure your work is completed on time, you also have to spend a lot of time managing your clients, not to mention making sure you get paid in a timely fashion.

For this reason I recommend you strike a balance between online and offline work. Offline work gets you out in the fresh air, it helps you to meet people and also makes you realise why you chose this type of life in the first place. So get out there and see what opportunities are available.

Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID via DFAT Australian Aid.

If there aren’t any jobs, create your own. Become a freelance tour guide and go on hikes or alternative city tours. Become a teacher; maybe you know how to kite surf, or golf or maybe just teach locals English. Open your eyes, your ears and, most importantly, your mind, to the opportunities all around you and don’t be afraid to just stick your neck out.

Once you do this you’ll find that opportunities will present themselves more frequently. A five-hour part time job at the local beach bar also gets you a nightly job as DJ, which results in a chance encounter with somebody looking for somebody looking for presenters for the local expat radio station which then leads to.

Get the idea? We all have our own unique skills, experiences and knowledge to share, and these are worth money. The trick is to get into a mindset whereby you can profit from them. Do this and the road will open out before you without any obstacles to stand in your way.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    28 Comments

  1. Nice – agree on all points – I take care of animals in combination with my writing stuff :)

    • Fantastic to hear Malin! There’s always a way to combine our passions if we’re willing to think outside the box :)

    • Absolutely – freelancing and blogging are fantastic trades. There is so much opportunity out there, and hundreds of jobs, though it’s definitely never a stable profession by any means. Having something reliable to fall back on if other income streams dry up is always a good approach :)

    • Thanks Lauren – so many freelance opportunities out there, I think the biggest challenge often just comes down to knowing where to look :)

  2. Great list of ideas, Megan! I will bookmark some of the links for future use. I am starting to think that as hard as establishing a location independent lifestyle or business might be, it is the perfect thing for all of us who want to travel a lot.

    • Thanks Sia! Absolutely – there’s definitely a period of time when you’re starting out and establishing yourself where fields like blogging, or starting an online business requires time and effort without any immediate reward, though I like to think of it as “we do the things that other people won’t to live the lives other people can’t”.

  3. Some great tips – I’m kind of in the middle of doing all three of these and for now it’s enough for me to live here in Mexico. Of course, I’m hoping it will grow over the next few months to a year so that I can take it anywhere! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Thanks Laura – wishing you all the best with your business, blogging and freelancing over the next year (and many to come)! XX

  4. Thank you for these insights, they’ve put a lot of my dreams in perspective… and there’s no better way to put it than “if you want to blog, be prepared to slog” – nothing truer ever said!

    • You’re welcome Sheena – glad we could help you out!

  5. Fantastic idea’s for those looking for the remote lifestyle and just to work from home being your own boss. Blogging seems to take up all my time when combined with full-time employment, maybe one day for us to try some of your great suggestions

    • Thanks Mark – yes, blogging can definitely become quite a time consuming hobby / job, especially when you’re working full time. That balance is always a difficult one to achieve.

  6. I’ve been freelancing for 3 years now, but it’s still hard. Hope one day I’ll be able to sustain myself and my travels only from blogging and freelancing :)

    • Keep your eye on the prize and you’ll get there! It’s definitely not easy, but the effort is always worthwhile in the end when you achieve that dream goal :) All the best! X

  7. Thanks for sharing and I would say every job is a big comittment; Some of my managers travel weekly across the region, some like it, some don’t like it.
    It’s important to adjust a certain living style to cope with the change. (like I am writting and reading blogs in the subway or at the airport) :p

    • You’re welcome Kenny, and that’s very true. Some professions are going to be a better fit for some than others, it’s about finding what works well for you :) Happy travels!

  8. I’ve started my blog. Already have a freelance career, and I’m almost packed and ready to go!

    It never crossed my mind to get a job part-time where I’ll be living. Now, it has! I was worried that I would spend my entire day stuck behind a keyboard. I wouldn’t be able to get outside and do much on my travels, which would defeat the whole purpose of traveling!

    • Hi Janie, thanks for sharing! So exciting that you’re all ready to go!

      It’s definitely one of those things we all try to balance – they say that when you’re not blogging you’re traveling and when you’re not traveling your blogging!!! Part time work is a great way to not only earn extra cash, but also meet locals, make new friends, and really experience the destination you’re in. And it’s also an excuse to get us out from behind the keyboard every now and then :D

      Happy travels! Wishing you all the best X

  9. Thanks for your post, you didn’t mention passive income, I always knew I wanted to travel, but the idea of continuously trying to earn income to keep travelling really didn’t appeal to me.
    I initially worked hard, with a plan that I would earn a reliable income, so that I can I travel and enjoy my experiences without worrying about finances.
    It can be done,if you put in the initial hard work.

    • Hi Tom, passive income is a great point, thanks for adding it in here! Affiliate marketing, product sales, rent, interest, they’re all really great ways of setting up a passive income (let me know if you can think of any other types?).

      I’m slowly working towards the passive income model, because right now everything I earn is based on the time I can dedicate. Obviously passive income though is the dream. Congrats on your hard work and achieving the lifestyle!

  10. Thank you for sharing all of this amazing and helpful advice. This is a really neat way to make a living!

    • Glad we could help McKenzie! Digital nomad revolution is taking hold! Wishing you all the best in pursuing this route :)

  11. Really like your advice to keep an open mind Meg. Without that I believe you’ll continue to miss opportunities that the person next to you grabs with open arms. Also agree with the comments to make a commitment to develop passive income. Easier said than done but important if you want the lifestyle to be sustainable. In light of your earlier comment reply, how are your own passive income initiatives developing?

    • Absolutely Colin, it’s one of those fields which is constantly evolving, so being successful really does mean you need to be open to embracing new ideas, technologies, and really thinking outside the box.

      A passive income is something we’re still working towards, the income we earn online (freelance etc) is very much based around the amount of time I can physically put in, so passive income streams are the ultimate goal. Definitely easier said than done, but I’ve starting implementing affiliates throughout the site, and developing strategies for affiliate marketing, and have recently signed onto an ad network (which hosts the beautiful ads you see throughout the site now!)

      Nice sites is the next project after I learn more about affiliates and get them properly set up here on this site :)

  12. Very well written. Thank you for the good tips and advice. Has actually tickled my brains that a simple living can also be made through blogging and freelancing! Although this could be a bit unsteady from a regular income perspective, nevertheless something is better than nothing.

    Happy travels!

    • Thanks Ramesh, I’m glad the post was helpful for you :) It can definitely be a hustle at times, though if you work hard enough at establishing a really strong base of clients, blogging / freelancing can definitely become sustainable … we’ve been making a regular full time income now for 3 years :)

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