What Is a Digital Nomad? A Guide to Remote Work

The label Digital Nomad has become more popular in recent years as people opt for this new lifestyle. But what is a Digital Nomad, while a person may be a Digital Nomad, it is not a job, it’s actually a lifestyle. The label Digital Nomad can be broken down as ‘Digital’ being online/ through technology, and ‘Nomad’ as people travel from place to place.

Basically, a Digital Nomad is a fancy way of saying “I can work remotely” but adds more of the idea of travelling. Meaning a person can work remotely while being location independent, being able to work online from anywhere in the world.

Digital Nomads get to pick where they work from, typically working from home, a van, co-working, public libraries, coffee shops or cafes. You might think the beach or pool sound like a great place to work, but any Digital Nomad who has tried this knows it doesn’t work that well! The Digital Nomad lifestyle is different for each person and it will depend on which kind of type they are. We will get more into the different Digital Nomad types in this post, so keep reading!

My Digital Nomad Journey

I have been a Digital Nomad since the summer of 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Which stopped me from being able to travel for a while so I was just Digital really. I’ve tried many types of online work and businesses previous to that. It did take me about 2 years to achieve this goal, which I built alongside a full-time job. But I made it, a lot of the time I didn’t know what I was doing I was just trying everything out. It really is about finding what you enjoy doing, so it’s okay to try things out.

I had been working towards being a Digital Nomad for years, originally starting by creating my own travel blog, which I didn’t commit to at first. Then I ended up in a dodgy travel MLM for a year and a bit, where I did learn a lot of online skills but mostly I was being brainwashed (save that story for another time). Then I found Online English Teaching which started to make me a great income and it was enough to leave my 9-5 job. I dabbled in a dropshipping business but decided I didn’t enjoy doing that.

More recently I’ve started working as a Virtual Assistant doing copywriting and content creation. Alongside running this lifestyle blog, I’m very happy where my Digital Nomad journey took me. Now you have my help and guidance you can become a Digital Nomad a lot quicker than I did it in. But you will need to commit to it, not give up and trust the process.

What Is a Digital Nomad? – The Types

To break it down there is not just one type of Digital Nomad there are actually three different types. This will affect the kind of hours a Digital Nomad works, the money they are making and whether they need to work around a certain time zone.

1. Remote Contract Employee

The first type of Digital Nomad job is a contracted employee who is able to work remotely. They will be on a contract with their employer, with set weekly hours and it will be very similar to a standard 9-5 job contract. Typically they would be on the payroll, and be paid the same amount every month.

The job may have already been remote or the employee may have arranged a way to switch it to be remote work. There are many different types of remote contract employee jobs and more available after the pandemic switched up the way we work. Remote Contract Employee jobs are great for people who want to feel a bit more secure. Knowing exactly what you have to do every month and how much you will make is great for budgeting.

There are pros and cons to this type of Digital Nomad Job, that is, that you know your pay, but it means you are limited in terms of income also. As it is your employer who decides this, but Remote Employee jobs are a great way to start as a Digital Nomad to get experience. And it’s not far off from a 9-5 so this is a nice way to transition, by starting to look and apply for Remote Employee jobs in a similar field to your 9-5 job.

what is a digital nomad

2. Freelancer

The second type of Digital Nomad job is a Freelancer, this is someone who works for themselves and offers services to clients, working as an independent contractor. This means they fall under being self-employed, they are in charge of their income and how many hours they decide to work. Again there are many kinds of freelance jobs which a Digital Nomad can do. The great thing about freelance work means you aren’t limited to a set monthly income. If you want to work more hours or charge higher rates per hour, it’s in your control.

Some examples of popular freelance jobs would be Virtual Assistant, Online English Teacher, Admin Assistant and Graphic Designer. The con to this is that you don’t know exactly how much you will make every month, and typically it will change from month to month. But this also means room for income growth and the chance to cut down working hours. One month you might only make $1500 and the next could be $5000 or more.

3. Entrepreneur

The final type of Digital Nomad is an entrepreneur and business owner, they will have a business that they run remotely. This business can be about absolutely anything, from Mindset Coaching, Dropshipping, Rental Properties to Remote Personal Trainers.

While some of the tasks they do may fall into the freelance section too. The difference between the freelancer and entrepreneur is that the entrepreneur will have automatic systems in place or offering products which don’t require their personal time. Running a business typically means you don’t have an hourly rate so you would pay yourself out of the company profits from that month.

The best thing about being a business owner means you have uncapped earning potential as you aren’t basing your work on hourly pay. But with any business, you will have some good and bad months so income will fluctuate. And typically at the start, you may just be breaking even, so it takes time to grow businesses into the profit section, but it is very worth it. Some online business models people run are Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing and E-commerce.

What is a Digital Nomad

Traders

There is one last type of Digital Nomad but it should fall under the Entrepreneur type, and that is a Trader. There are people who make a full-time income trading Forex, Cyrpotcurreny or Stocks on a regular basis. It’s a great way to make easy money if you know what you are doing. It also means there are no set hours you have to work, you can simply pick it up when you want to make some money.

Although it can have high risk, if you take the time to educate yourself about the risk, it’s something that can be done alongside other work. You will need to have some money put aside to start with to be able to trade. If you want to learn more about trading Forex, Stocks or Cryptocurrency make sure you check out The Lifestyle Lab. Where you can learn about trading, alongside other remote incomes such as Dropshipping, E-commerce and remote work jobs.

What is a Digital Nomad

So they are the three different types of Digital Nomad, it’s all personal preference which kind you want to be and some people love to be a mix of them. Having multiple incomes as a Digital Nomad is a great way to earn more, not have to worry about money and build wealth.

“Wealth comes from multiple incomes.

Always think of growth and new businesses to create new income streams” – Ehab Atalla 

Common Digital Nomad Jobs

For the types of remote workers who have a Digital Nomad job, there are many to pick from and it all depends on the skills you have. The best thing is if you don’t have the skills you can take an online course to gain the skills you need. Here are some of the most common Digital Nomad jobs, remember these are different from running a business. These are great places to start if you are looking for a way to work online and travel.

  1. Virtual Assistant
  2. Copywriter
  3. Online Language Teacher
  4. Data Entry
  5. Social Media Manager
  6. Transcriber
  7. Customer Service
  8. Blogger/ Influencer 
  9. Graphic Designer 
  10. Website Designer 

what is a digital nomad

Digital Nomad Advantages and Disadvantages

As with anything in life, it is all about balance, that’s the same for the Digital Nomad lifestyle. The advantages and disadvantages of being a Digital Nomad will differ for each person as it is very personal. But here are some of them…

Advantages:

  1. Travel & Work where you want
  2. Experience different cultures on a deeper level 
  3. Developing as a person
  4. Cheaper living costs/ better quality 
  5. Minimal lifestyle 
  6. Financial freedom – Learning to manage money
  7. Meeting new people 
  8. No long or stressful commute
  9. Work as much or as little as you like
  10. Become part of a community – feeling like you belong

Disadvantages:

  1. Temporary relationships 
  2. Loneliness and isolation working
  3. Trouble dating 
  4. Missing out at home with friends and family
  5. Getting into routines – Changing places
  6. Road fatigue 
  7. Self-motivation and discipline
  8. Finding a place to live
  9. Income & expenses vary 
  10. Judgement from people who don’t understand Nomadic Life

If you want to weigh up the pros and cons of being a Digital Nomad check out my other posts here which you may like.

10 Best Things About Being a Digital Nomad

10 Worst Things About Being a Digital Nomad

what is a digital nomad

Best Countries for Digital Nomads

Travelling as a Digital Nomad is exciting as you can pick where you live, but typically they look for somewhere with fast reliable wifi, a remote work community, good weather and cheap living costs…

Here are some of the top destinations to work remotely from as a Digital Nomad.

  1. Thailand
  2. Indonesia
  3. South Africa 
  4. Portugal
  5. Mexico 
  6. Vietnam
  7. Sri Lanka 
  8. Colombia 
  9. Bulgaria 
  10. Spain 

(Under each section - add common employee job, freelance and businesses) new blog post for each one 

How to Become a Digital Nomad

Being able to travel and work online is not as unattainable as you may think. If you dream about a different life, one that has more freedom, exploring cities and beaches while learning about new cultures. You can still do this while earning a good online income.

The best way to start is to think about what kind of Digital Nomad you want to be. Whether you enjoy the security of being a remote contract employee, earning the same amount every month. Potentially you enjoy earning by the hour and like the fact you can set your own schedule and fees. But you’re okay with the fact money can fluctuate each month, then you would enjoy being a freelancer. Or whether you’ve had a great business idea and are happy to put in the hours building an online business and having an uncapped income.

Figure that out first, look at which skills you already have and can be used for online work. If you don’t have any, think about what kind of work you would be interested in and then start to invest in some education to gain the skills.

The Lifestyle Lab is a great place to start if you are new to online incomes, they teach all about how to build a lifestyle you will love. Teaching different incomes such as Remote Working jobs & Freelance, Dropshipping, E-commerce, Forex, Cryptocurrency, Stocks. Alongside the important skills like mindset and money management, it also has a great community that will be supporting you on the journey to your dream lifestyle.

You can use codes TLL25 for 25% off yearly packages, TLL50 for 50% off the first month or TLL10 for £10 off the recurring subscription. If you have any questions, let me know!

what is a digital nomad

Workaround another job

You can begin doing all of this around another existing job, you may need to sacrifice some time or weekends to work on your new Digital Nomad lifestyle dream. But it will add up and you will be closer to achieving the goal. Once you have the skills under your belt, you can begin applying for jobs, networking with clients if you are going freelance or begin setting up your online business. Ultimately you can do a mixture of the different types too, multiple incomes are the best way to gain wealth.

Some people have goals of running an online business full time but may do some freelance or a contract employee job in the meantime while their business and profits are growing.

Just remember you have totally got this! 

Learn More About Being a Digital Nomad

I hope this post was helpful and it has helped you understand more about what is a Digital Nomad, the different types of Digital Nomad. As well as the advantages and disadvantages of being a Digital Nomad and How to Become a Digital Nomad yourself. If you want to give this lifestyle a try, remember it’s not as difficult as you think, start small alongside an existing job. Slowly pick up experience and hours until you can start to replace your existing job income and take your work on the road.

If you want to learn more about How to Become a Digital Nomad, check out this post.

If you need some more support with becoming a Digital Nomad just reach out to me on Instagram @headforhorizons or email me and I will be happy to help!

About Hayley Crone

Hayley is a Digital Nomad who has spent the past few years turning her love for travel into a full time income & lifestyle. Head for Horizons is designed to give you the BEST tips to help you travel better and work online. CLICK HERE to read more about me and how I could help you!