Forging your own path is romantic. That is, it’s romantic until you tell “normal people” that you’ve done it.
Jealousy begins to work on them the minute they realize you don’t follow a traditional “9-5” work schedule. They think you “don’t work.”
But I’ve hit upon a term that makes personal entrepreneurship like blogging and digital marketing even more romantic. “Digital Nomad.”
Because we’re not tied to a desk somewhere (I’m writing this from a cafe in my hometown), we aren’t obliged to “sit still”. We can take our work anywhere (working vacations, anyone?).
But how do you get there? And how do you succeed as a digital nomad?
Today I’m going to give you a glimpse into the life you’ve always wanted (or already have). Today I’m going to teach you how to be a digital nomad.
1. Forget Romantic. Practical Hard Work Will Bring Success
I have to admit. I fell for this one.
I imagined a life chillaxing in my backyard, the sun on my face, my dogs romping around me, and the dollars rolling in as I lazily typed away at some masterwork. And I imagined this happening instantly, almost magically.
But that’s not the case. While some days are magical dog-filled fantasies, most of the time it’s a brutal march on life. If a passionate one.
And the first few months of your life as a digital nomad will probably be more work than you’ve ever done…ever. But it’s so incredibly worth it.
When you work for yourself, you have to find your own work. Whether that’s clients or leads or another niche for your affiliate dreams, you can’t rest on your laurels after one small success.
And if you have what it takes to be an unbound entrepreneur, then this aspect of the job will become a driving factor. There’s a reason why remote work produces more than hourly paid or salaried positions in office.
And if your next meal depends on you actually working, then by goodness you’ll work. But you won’t be working because someone told you to. You’ll be working because you want it. And that makes all the difference in the world.
2. Learn How to Leverage New Skills
You should always be willing to learn more. Even if it takes out of your productive time, breaking into a new aspect of your field will eventually yield results.
For me, that meant learning a bit about SEO and how to research keywords effectively. I now understand better what affects SERPs and how to create a strong topic for almost any SEO content.
My opportunities as a freelance content writer expand the more I learn.
But many people just quit their jobs hoping the nomad life will come to them. But if they have zero skills to pay the bills, then they’ll quickly find themselves on the street or right back in the office.
Once you’ve built your skill set, begin marketing that set. Find people who need your skills and are willing to pay for them.
And remember, if you really do have those skills, don’t settle for exposure as pay. Be willing to charge what you’re worth.
3. Don’t Be a Follower
Action is necessary. You can call yourself an entrepreneur, a writer, a whatever all you like. I did that for years…while working as a social worker. But without works, titles are dead.
As a “fiction writer” (broke-overworked-social-worker) I followed a lot of other writers on Twitter. I wrote fiction on my blog (writing journal). I even started transcribing my novel from long-hand…very slowly.
But I was just being a lazy follower. I never took any action. If I had spent less time scrolling through Twitter and dreaming of a writer’s life, I might not have remained a social worker for so long.
To stand on my own two feet, it took my willingness to stop following and start emulating. And that’s the kind of action you need if you are to become a digital nomad.
Start that niche research now. Start querying local writing gigs for work. Build your marketing skills.
4. Don’t Let Fear of Failure Paralyze You
What’s the worst that could happen? You fail?
So what? Walt Disney got fired from The Kansas City Star because his editor thought he lacked imagination. And Jay Z had to sell records out of the trunk of his car because he couldn’t land a deal at first.
The biggest successes come out of initial failures.
It’s ok to admit a fear of failure. If we weren’t afraid of failure, we’d rush headlong into every stupid venture and end up dead or in jail.
Acknowledge your fear and analyze your fear. If the venture won’t kill you or won’t land you in jail, drive past the fear.
You’ll see it in the rearview mirror as it tries to catch up. And it will catch up, believe me. But you’ll be too busy working toward your goal to give it much credence.
5. Feel the Rhythm Feel The Rhyme
There is no inherent structure to a nomadic work life. Even if you just move from the home office to the cafe and back, nobody is making you get up to work in the morning.
That’s one thing I was absolutely afraid of: the lack of structure. Would I be too ADD to succeed? I’d been in the 9-5 routine my whole working life. Who was going to give me dirty glares as I came into work late?
Fortunately, I figured it out. While I’m slow to start out my day, I follow a schedule.
I create a goal to produce so much by noon. I take a break for lunch and I set a goal to produce so much before dinner.
This works great for me as my wife works exactly the same schedule and my most productive time is mid-morning.
But your schedule might differ. If you’re a night person, you might enjoy the late morning/early afternoon then start work at three or four. But be sure to start work at that time.
Finding your rhythm as a digital nomad is important. It keeps others from stealing your work time (they will try, trust me. You ARE “at work” when you’re working.) It also keeps you working while in your most productive state.
Keep track of your time and your productivity. Know thyself. And create a structured schedule that keeps you in “the zone.
You’ll Never Look Back
I wouldn’t go back to a 9-5 job even if you paid me more than I make right now. It’s a work environment unlike any other.
But it requires work, dedication, and emotional intelligence.
If you are considering a digital nomad lifestyle, check out Shoemoney’s “Skills to Pay the Bills” for some excellent ideas.