How to Become a Digital Nomad in 10 Steps
White sandy beaches of Asia. Old Town Squares of Europe. Or perhaps,
ghettos where you get shot expat hubs in South America. Digital nomadism is becoming ever-popular as we go through the years, and with good reason. People are waking up. Corporate America is nothing but hell to navigate. So if you want to learn how to become a digital nomad, you’ve come to the right place.
First, an introduction: I’ve now been living this life for one year. I put in my two weeks notice at my corporate almost exactly one year ago. I’d become disillusioned with the entire process, wanting to simply be free. It wasn’t that I had a “bad” job, per se. In fact, I didn’t really do anything except try to look busy, and made a ton of money by doing it.
I’d always wanted to learn how to become a digital nomad, but I also realized that the only way to do it is to just try and figure it out. Most of the time, people don’t give away the farm. You should rightfully be skeptical of everything you read on the internet.
I’ve tried to be transparent by publishing income reports. It is not easy to make decent money online, mostly because of all the bad information out there.
I only have one response to that: it comes down to the work you put in. Put in the hours, and good things will happen. It just takes time.
I write this with the knowledge that “digital nomad” dreams do not mean being some freelancer at the mercy of clients. It’s hardly better than the corporate life, after a while. This post assumes you have a desire to create something (ideally that’s interesting to you), and make some money off of it that will grow over time.
HOW TO BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD
STEP 1 IS TO HATE YOUR LIFE.
I really see no way around this one. The only way to get out of the corporate life is to become so incredibly disillusioned with the whole process that you see no other alternative.
From my own experience, as well as others, it almost takes a tipping point. The reason for this is because we as humans are naturally emotional.
Even the most logical of men can be slave to this. It’s why people blow up at their boss and torch the bridge. I’m not saying do that, but I am saying that it might take you wanting to do this to really get you out the door.
People make checklists of their personal relationships when they’re contemplating dumping someone. There’s a column with pluses, and one with minuses. But how often do these people follow it?
Instead, it’s an emotional moment that pushes them over the edge and the breakup then occurs.
Consider your path to digital nomadism like a breakup—it’s going to take you something to push you over the edge.
The question is…
STEP 2 IS TO PREPARE.
Assuming you know that moment will inevitably come, you can start to take the steps so that when it does come, you’re in a decent place.
Having $1,000 in the bank and blowing up at your boss is an awful idea. So is walking out the door cordially.
You want to have at least a year of expenses in the bank. How long it takes you to get there is irrelevant. Most of you considering this path probably have way too much STUFF.
Your life should be fitting in a suitcase and a backpack. If you don’t think it’s possible, give up on how to become a digital nomad now. You aren’t cut out for it. It takes a certain desire of wanting to feel free to do it.
True freedom is being able to pack your life up in thirty minutes.
STEP 3 IS TO PURGE.
Storage units are cheap, but do you really want to have to worry about it?
To become nomadic, you’ve just gotta start selling stuff. The luxuries are no longer a thing. Minimalism is. If you’re unwilling to part with your three big TVs so you can see the world in all it’s beauty…
I mean, look at that photo. You’re telling me you’d rather have an 80-inch plasma TV than that view?
That picture was taken three minutes from my front door. I walk by this beach every morning on my way to the coffee shop. At least for this month…because then I get to go somewhere NEW, AGAIN.
The nice thing is that by taking action in this step, you’ll help take care some of the things about #2. You’ll get a nice little nest egg by purging all the non-essential items you don’t need. If you have accumulated a lot of crap over the course of years, you’ll be shocked how much this amounts to over time.
STEP 4 IS TO FIND THE WORK.
Here’s the tricky part—making the money online. It’s the biggest hurdle in regards to how to become a digital nomad.
Before we get started, I think it’s worth mentioning my post about the three online businesses to avoid. And yes—blogging is one of them, even though you’re reading a blog right now. Read the whole post to see why I feel this way.
If you think you want to become a digital nomad so you can work less, you should stop reading now and go back to doing your corporate job. I mean it. You won’t make it.
However…if you want the flexibility to work when, where, and on what you want to do—keep going.
That’s the beautiful thing. There are weeks I work 100 hours, and then weeks I work 10. It all adds up to far more than 40 hours. And it’s real work. Not just trying to look busy like you do every day at your desk.
I bet this blog post is open in a small corner of your screen, and you’re prepared to Alt-Tab out at a moment’s notice—right?
STEP 5 IS TO FIND YOUR STRENGTHS
Throughout my entire life, I’ve been told that you should try to pursue your passions. And throughout my life, I’ve also found that’s a load of shit.
Growing up, I loved racing. NASCAR, Indycar, Formula 1, you name it. I watched it. I raced go-karts for a while, too. I got started too late to make it as a pro, but how would I apply that passion to my life now?
I could write a racing blog.
I might entertain people, but I’d never make a cent off of it. It would just be entertainment. And there is so much free entertainment out there, people will never pay for it. I’ve wanted to write a racing site for a long time now, and simply see no way to make money at it.
So then, what am I good at?
Web design. Writing. Connecting with people. Technical explanations.
It took me along time to get there, but it’s the reason why I’m going to be staying as a digital nomad instead of having to run back to Corporate America.
STEP 6 IS TO FIND YOUR STRENGTHS AND TRY TO TIE IT TO *SOME* INTEREST—NOT PASSION.
Look back at my racing passion—it’s not a way to monetize and make money online. If I was trying to learn how to become a digital nomad, and took the advice of someone who told me to follow my passions…
I’d be screwed.
Instead of writing this from Kotor, Montenegro, I’d be at a desk with this site shut down.
If you’ve got an interest that you see a way to make money from, great. It doesn’t mean that you can write some generic website and you’ll get readers. How will people find you?
Ahh, the great divide.
Understanding traffic and how the internet works. If you are a nobody, you are a nobody. It’s like some artist living in Mongolia with no internet, hoping that by painting in his basement that people will buy his art.
You have to be found, and if you give people no way to find you, you’re done for.
STEP 7 IS TO WRITE FOR PEOPLE…AND COMPUTERS.
SEO is not difficult, but people throw so many tech terms in their definitions that it will intimidate the majority of people.
Here is what you need to know. Go to Google.com, and type in “televisions”. Look at the first ten results. You’ll see Amazon, Sony, Walmart, and other big retailer sites.
Ask yourself—how could you ever get traction for that word if you wanted to write about it?
You could write the most beautiful, in-depth, SEO-optimized post about “televisions” and you would get laughed off of page 100 of Google.
NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS WILL YOU RANK FOR THAT WORD.
I just gave you $1,000 worth of SEO advice.
In short, you have to write for people. You are nothing without readers. But you have to give computers (i.e. Google) the ability to show you to people.
STEP 8 IS SOLVE A PROBLEM.
The steps on how to become a digital nomad are actually not as glamorous as you’d think.
Once you’ve picked out some ideas, it’s just a matter of doing the work. The important thing is to see progress. If you aren’t getting any traffic, it’s easy to get discouraged.
It comes down to this: solve people’s problems.
The things that make me the most money are offering solutions to people’s problems—whether it be dating, focus, or just feeling lost in the world.
So now you do the work. You understand you need to prepare. You get that it may take an emotional moment to summon the courage to walk out the door and become a nomad.
You understand you cannot just follow your passions and make money. You must take your strengths, perhaps tie them to an interest, give computers a reason to share your content with people, and now you know to solve a problem.
Think about how the world works.
Why do televisions exist? Because they solve the problem of boredom.
Why does this site exist? Because it solves the questions on how to become a digital nomad. It teaches you to break free, because Corporate America is a problem.
Even if you have to start out freelancing and built up your own streams of income over time, you’re still solving problems. Someone doesn’t have a web presence, so you build them a site. You’ve solved their problem, congratulations.
Solve a problem, give people a solution, and they’ll be happy to pay.
What problem can you solve for the world?
STEP 9 IS TO PUT AWAY THE DISTRACTIONS, AND THE SHIT ADVICE.
This means you quit playing around on social media in the name of “building your brand”. This means that you stop talking and start doing. It means that rather than taking advice, following blindly, then bitching that success is hard, you just DO THE WORK.
Always ask yourself—is this person profiting off of me, potentially? And if so, is it biased information?
Take this post for example. Yes, I’ve got links in here that if you click and buy, I get a cut. But look—I’m solving your problem of wanting to get out of your corporate job.
I solve the problem, you get a solution, I make money—everybody wins. Or that’s the hope.
You know what’s crappy advice?
When someone promises an article with actionable advice, and then fills it with motivational crap, tells you to do something, and doesn’t give you a single step on how to actually do it.
“Make money with ABC!!! Buy through my link!!! Here’s why you should do ABC but in no part of this article will I actually TELL you how to do it. Buy through my link!!!”
It’s nonsense. Put it away. Stop rationalizing that reading is motivating you. Quit attending silly seminars to “network” with people. Most of them are following someone (the seminar organizer) blindly, and can’t think for themselves.
STEP 10 IS TO CLOSE THIS BROWSER TAB AND START WORKING
Just sit down and do a bit of work. An hour a day will take you pretty far.
As much as I love having you here on Trouble, clicking around, sharing my content, and more—it won’t get you where you want.
If you truly want to become a digital nomad, you just need to get to work.
PS: And yes (shameless plug), I can help if you need it.