What jobs are best to become a digital nomad is a question I get asked daily. Truth is there is no ‘best’ job. Through the development of the Secret Nomad interview series, and from reading and studying digital nomads for the last 5 years, there are literally hundreds of different careers being pursued by digital nomads worldwide.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular jobs held by Digital Nomads, and also a few of the more unconventional income earners.
Know multiple languages? Be a Translator
If you know multiple languages, providing a translation service over the internet is a simple way to become a digital nomad.
The requirements to be an online translator are perhaps the most simple of all jobs listed here. You need:
- A laptop
- A WiFi connection
- A Word processor
Once you have these sorted, all you need is clients (admittedly, this is the hard part!).
You can see on Elance above that there is currently 318 translation jobs accepting applications. Most of these have just a handful of applicants (the screenshot shows the first one with 2 proposals, and the second one has 0 proposals!)
There are many great articles on writing Elance proposals to lift your chances of landing the job.
Offer Web Design Services
Web Design is a stock-standard response when asking Digital Nomads what they do for a living. I’ve found nomadic web designers typically fall into two distinct groups.
WordPress Bandits – These are the people who actually know very little (if any) coding and sell basic websites to small and medium businesses.
All WordPress Bandits do is find a client, bill them $1000+ and then buy a $50 theme from Themeforest and upload it to a server and spend 8 hours customising it’s layout, and filling it with content.
Although the word Bandit may have negative connotations, I didn’t mean it to be a negative term! It’s a simple phrase I use to describe people who know little coding skills, but sell web design services.
I have actually written a tutorial on getting started as a WordPress Bandit – check it out and see if it’s for you. Once you have done it once, you can literally repeat the process as often as you want – you just have to find the clients!
The first step is organising hosting. Bluehost is simple, cheap, and offers a ONE CLICK WordPress install feature.
There are three plans at Bluehost. The started pack is what I recommend. It offers plenty of website space and is only $3.95 per month at the time of writing.
If you plan to have multiple websites, perhaps the $6.95 plan is best for you.
Bluehost will do a much better job at walking you through their admin panel than I will so I will leave that to them. Essentially what you want to do is install WordPress, then put a theme on your WordPress website.
I get all my themes from Themeforest.net – they are professional and generally cost about USD$48. Currently there are 19,374 website template available for download so you will definitely find a good one!
Themeforest also offers a theme installation service if you don’t want to go through the hassles of installing the theme yourself.
After you have chosen your theme, check the Downloads section and either download the zip file to install it your self (99% of themes come with comprehensive install instructions), or pay $50 to have a Code Monkey install it for you.
Code Monkeys – These guys live and breathe web design. If you can imagine it, they can make it.
They can code Facebook from scratch given the time and desire, and they can make a unique website that has never been seen before.
These guys can demand high salaries in Western countries ($100k+) and live comfortably in many of the favourite digital nomad countries.
All Code Monkeys have to do is find the clients, which is often their #1 hurdle. Luckily, when they do find a client, they can charge many thousands more than a WordPress Bandit, as their job is likely more complex and requires a little more specialist coding skills.
Become an Online Tutor
Udemy.com is a platform which allows anyone to create a course and sell it via the Udemy website. You can create audio, video, or text courses that are as long or as short as you please. You can also choose the pricing, and all you have to do is promote it to get students enrolled.
Although Udemy attracts thousands of possible customers daily who browse their course, you can fast-track you student numbers by promoting your course on industry forums and blogs.
Become a Blogger
Blogging took off in the early 2000’s and was a bit of a buzzword for a few years. Many thought it was a phase that would pass, but it has stuck around and blogging is now attracting the eyes of even large companies as a way to generate traffic to their website sites.
More and more individuals are also looking at blogging as a way to a) make money online and b) build their personal brand. Starting a blog generates page-views, which in turn can generate you an income in multiple ways:
Advertising income. 1000 page-views is worth between $1 to $20 if you put advertising on your website. Most websites have multiple banners and some pay you every time they are clicked, and some pay you per 1000 views.
Affiliate income. This is simply selling other peoples products on your blog. If you advertising on your website. It varies depending on the topic of your blog, and the quality of the advertisements on your blog. You can take a guess as to how many page-views you will need per day to make a living in your country. write about digital nomad gear you can put retailers links, such as Amazon.com, and earn commission every time someone decides to purchase a product they read about on your blog.
Sell Stock Photography
If your handy with a camera you could be in a great position to make a living selling stock photography. The demand for unique images is huge, and there are literally dozens of websites that will sell your photos to publishers on your behalf.
If you are travelling the word and living as a Digital Nomad, you literally have a buffet of possible images at your fingertips! Ideally, you would spend the days travelling and experiencing the local cultures, icons, and scenery – and the evening editing and uploading your photos to favourite stock photography website.
I love this one because it is literally the gift that keeps giving. I took a photo of London in 2002, fresh out of high school, and uploaded it to the popular stock photography website TurboSquid with a price tag of $5. I did it never expecting to get a sale.
About 7 years later, I got a payment for the sale of that photo in late 2007. Who knows where my photo is now being used? I’d love to know!
Now imagine if I put effort into uploading 500 photos from that 1 visit to London, and put a bit of time into promoting them. They’d sell over and over, and if I did the trip again, the next year there would now be 1000 photos in my database. I’m conjuring images of a stock photography snowball building here!
iStockphoto is one of the leading stock photography websites in 2015, you have likely heard of it. Read their rules for selling photos and if you get accepted, start taking & selling some stunning images!
Virtual Assistants are becoming ever more popular. There are literally thousands of them all competing for work online, so this is a tough one to crack into!
You will need to set yourself apart with a top notch work quality and great references. There are seemingly unlimited number of Virtual Assistants offering cheap work out of India at a rate which is simply impossible to compete against – so if you offer even a small skill which goes above and beyond the flock of others you could be in the money. Learning Excel, or a web CMS such as WordPress will give you that extra edge you may need to land a few longer term clients.