Best Jobs for a Digital Nomad
Updated 26 February 2021
What Is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works from their laptop in a place of their choosing.
A digital nomad may also be referred to as a remote worker or a working nomad.
Typical nomad locations include beautiful destinations like Bali or Mexico, but working from your apartment is also a digital nomad location.
With the continuous development of technology and the internet, people can now connect and communicate anywhere and anytime. Advanced security systems now allow off-site access to intranets and specific programs.
Being a digital nomad is a popular choice for many as it gives you the freedom to:
- Live and work wherever you like
- Travel and take vacations when you want
- Set your fees and working hours
- Live by your own schedule
- Work with the people you want
The increase in co-working spaces in cities across the world has made digital nomad-ing even easier. Now, almost every coffee shop has a co-working table and plug-sockets at every seat.
Remote vs. Digital Nomad
There are different types of digital nomads. Some work on a freelance basis and some just work remotely.
Those that work remotely are often employed full-time by an organization. Due to the nature of the work, they don't need to be in the office. The organization may also see no value in having an office, so there is no choice but to be remote.
If you are the latter, you will have a stable income and the flexibility to travel around. Being a digital nomad is less of a stress.
If you are self-employed, then income and work are not guaranteed, nor is it always regular.
This is a vast generalization, of course, as many people are successful freelancers. But in the early stages, building a reputation for yourself and securing continuing work can be challenging. And it can take time.
Being a digital nomad means that you have to manage your own taxes and pension. If you do plan on traveling overseas, then you should communicate with the IRS before you leave.
Establishing Yourself as a Digital Nomad
So, you're 100% sure that you want the freedom to work where and when you like, but what comes next?
If you want to work remotely, have an honest and open conversation with your boss. Explain to them the advantages of having you work remotely and, in the beginning, compromise.
You could start by working remotely for two or three days a week so you can prove you will still be productive.
The 2020 pandemic has made many people realize that their work can be done off-site, so this conversation shouldn't be as tricky as it once was.
If you are going freelance and have no client base or examples of your work, then several great websites can help you:
Except for LinkedIn and Facebook, all the sites mentioned are designed to help you find work. They are full of freelance and remote positions.
However, there are several things you need to consider:
- Each site takes a fee for every payment you receive. Guru offers a membership service ranging from $11.95 to $49.95, while Upwork charges a sliding fee when you work regularly with the same client.
- There are a lot of scams. Hundreds of adverts are posted daily, so it is impossible to vet them all. Plus, a lot of employers are people disassociated with an organization.
- There is a lot of competition. Freelance work is incredibly popular. Not only are you and your fellow digital nomads looking for opportunities, but there are those with side-hustles, part-time workers, students, stay at home parents, etc.
- It can take time to build your profile. Fiverr shows profiles to clients in order of reviews. Those who have been on the site the longest, with good work, will always feature on top.
- They are good places to start. Remember, these sites are not the be-all and end-all for finding work as a digital nomad. Hone your resilience and determination when looking for work.
Facebook is one of your biggest resources. There are thousands of groups that you can join. There are ones specific to your industry, ones for digital nomads in general and female-specific groups.
If you are active in these groups, you will find leads, and eventually, your clients will start to recommend you.
LinkedIn is becoming more popular. It has a job board, and more companies are using it to promote roles than ever before.
It is also an excellent networking site. Make sure to connect with anyone that you have worked with and get recommendations from them.
If there are any specific brands or people you would like to work with, show an interest in their posts and engage with them, if appropriate to do so.
Where's Your Evidence
All of the sites mentioned and your potential clients want to see evidence of your work. If you are new to an industry, then take some time to create your own content.
Using the brands you want to work with, re-design their logo or write a blog post that you think they might post. Do what you can to demonstrate that you have the right skills.
Create an Instagram account with videos explaining English words and expressions or historical events.
The more you position yourself as an expert, the more likely someone is to hire you. Just don't make up any clients, figures or statistics.
The Top 10 Digital Nomad Jobs
If you want to break away from the standard nine to five working day, then here are the top 10 digital nomad jobs in 2021 to give you some inspiration.
1. Blogger or Influencer
Blogging has been around for over 10 years, and even though some speculate that the market is saturated, there is still an income to be earned.
Successful bloggers – no matter how many followers – write about the topic they are experts in.
It is not good enough to simply write about travel or fashion. You need to narrow that down and write about traveling on a budget, thrift store fashion or whatever topic interests you.
Once you have your niche and your blogging platform, there are several ways that you can make money.
- Affiliate marketing – This is where you earn a percentage of the sales made when someone buys through a specific link or discount code. AWIN and Share A Sale are great places to start as a beginner.
- Brand collaborations – This typically comes when you reach a certain following. But if you have amazing content, high engagement across all your social media profiles and a loyal following, then a brand may reach out to you. Ensure that the brands you work with reflect your values. There have been so many occasions where an influencer claims to be eco-conscious and promotes a brand that causes mass amounts of pollution.
- Advertising – A brand will pay for a space on your website or in your newsletters. Depending on your following, you may be the one to set a price or the brand may choose a scheme such as pay-per-click. Adsense is free to use and pays a small amount every time someone clicks on an advert.
Blogging can be very lucrative, and the payments don't always involve cash. Those that blog or vlog about travel receive compensated travel, style influencers receive clothes, beauty bloggers get sent makeup.
However, blogging is a lot of hard work.
Initially, setting up your blog can take some time, especially if you are not good with technology. Content creation and editing take time to get right, and promoting your blog and building your following can be a full-time job.
Bloggers dedicated to their craft have reported making $10,000 or more per month after three months.
If you have a love for grammar and consider yourself a talented writer, copywriting could be a promising career.
As copywriting covers everything you read, it is a job that will always be in demand.
Copywriters get to set their own fees and can take on as many clients as they like. The most successful copywriters write for a particular niche; for example, coaches or female-led start-ups.
When first starting as a copywriter, you may have to come down on your fees or accept the client's price. As you gain more experience and have more evidence of your work, you can begin to negotiate.
As an industry average, experienced copywriters charge:
- $250 to $1,000 for an SEO optimized article
- $800 to $1,500 for a newsletter
- $2,000 to $7,000 for an e-book
- $10,000 to ghost-write a book
- 5 cents per word to proofread a document
- $5,000 for fully SEO optimized website copy, including keywords
- $100 to $1,000 for email funnels
- $500 to $1,000 for social media content
The list above is a guideline for most copywriting services in 2021. There are many other copywriting services that you can provide. A more definitive guide can be found on the American Writers and Artists Institute website.
3. Data Entry
This job requires no specific skill set or education, and your role is to enter data into databases, spreadsheets or websites. The main requirement is that you are a quick and accurate typer.
The work is manual, as there is no automated system to input the data, but it can be done anywhere with just a laptop.
The average pay for a data entry clerk is not very high, and if you are looking for a large income, data entry may not be for you.
Fees range from 25 cents per data entry to $2, depending on the project.
4. Graphic Designer
Like copywriting, if you are a talented and reliable graphic designer, you can earn a lot of money.
Once established, you can charge anything from $500 for a simple graphic to $5,000 for a full branding package.
from logos, social media graphics and artwork, to prints and illustrations, graphic design is everywhere, so there is a massive opportunity for work.
It also has the potential for passive income.
Premade social media graphics, fonts, mockups, and printable posters and invitations that people can customize are all very popular products. Having an online store on one of these sites will give your income a boost.
5. Social Media Manager
As PR agencies can be costly, and not everyone has the time or patience for social media, social media management (SMM) has become a popular career option.
Rates for this type of work varies – you can charge a monthly package, per profile, a monthly package for all profiles, by the hour or by the week.
The more success you have, the more you can charge.
Average hourly fees sit at around $25, with monthly packages ranging from $300 to $1,000.
If you have proven techniques and results, then as a passive income, you can sell guides that show people the fundamentals of growing a profile or how to gain X amount of followers.
If you are a quick typer and an excellent listener, then this could be an ideal job.
As a transcriber, you will be tasked with writing down anything your client has asked. This could be anything from an interview to a video script or medical records.
According to Glassdoor, transcribers can make around $5 to $25 per hour or up to $70,000 per year, depending on the employment.
As typing and listening all day can get boring, you should focus on the areas that interest you, such as sport or politics.
TranscribeMe is a great place to start looking for transcribing jobs.
This role is not for everyone, but if you do speak more than one language, you should definitely take advantage.
Upwork regularly posts translator positions.
These could be translating books, presentations, online product listings, marketing materials and presentations.
Rates start at around 25 cents per word.
8. Virtual Assistant
This has been the most popular job of 2021 and combines most of the roles mentioned in this article.
A quick look on any freelancer Facebook group, and you'll see that the job description for a VA is endless:
- Social media management
- Keeping invoices updated
- Writing blog posts
- Creating social media graphics
- Editing videos
- Maintaining a website
- Answering emails
- Managing client calendar and bookings
- Making travel arrangements
- And many more
Unfortunately, the VA market is becoming saturated, which is forcing prices down.
For an American, the average fee for a VA doing all of those things would be $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the client's expectations and the hours worked. However, those whose living costs are not that high (compared to America) are charging a fraction of that price.
To ensure you get paid the fee you need, you will want to show your value and prove that you can do all those things effectively and to a very high standard.
9. Virtual Teacher
The pandemic has meant many school children are learning from home and may have missed out on a lot of curriculum. If you have a special interest that you love to teach or are a math wiz, virtual teaching could be for you.
You may have to keep odd hours, especially if you live in Bali and teach someone in Texas, but you can make a lot of money whilst enjoying this rewarding job.
There are many online TELF courses you can take, and lots of agencies you can register with.
It isn't exactly virtual teaching, but if you are a digital nomad that travels the world, you can teach English to the local village children. Or, if you know enough about the city you are in, you can give walking tours.
Free Tours has a wonderful catalog of walking tours; they are free to take, but you are usually tipped at the end.
Rates for the apps start at $14 per hour, while private tutoring can run at anything from $15 per hour to $60,000 per year.
10. Web Designer
This is another freelance position that has the potential for a passive income.
Web designers can make money by creating custom websites or selling premade templates.
Depending on the host, premade template prices vary. WordPress templates sell for anything from $50 to $200, while Squarespace templates start in the $200 range.
For a custom site, average prices begin at $1,500.
If this is the life you want, being a digital nomad has so many benefits.
There is the freedom to move and to choose when you work and with whom. You enjoy the jobs that you take, and you can do it all in your pajamas.
But there are some things to consider.
As mentioned earlier, the sites that post remote jobs come with fees and, sometimes, scams, and it can take a while to build any traction. There is also less money to be made, especially while you establish yourself.
If you have high outgoings, you should take baby-steps when setting out to become a nomad; start with a side-hustle, go part-time and eventually become a full digital nomad.
There may be occasions when you don't have any income or leads. So you have to be comfortable with no steady income.
It is also advised that you play to your strengths. Sure, you love the idea of being a graphic designer, but are you better suited to a virtual teacher or transcriber?
Lastly, to succeed as a digital nomad, you need to be organized. You need to send out your invoices, make sure they are received and paid, keep track of any tax commitments, stick to deadlines, and deliver high-quality work.