Freelancing can be a very lucrative field, despite how dynamic and unstable it can be compared to the traditional 9-5 jobs out there. According to reports on Business 2 Community, over 3 million full-time freelancers worldwide are making more than $100,000 per year. A lot of factors have contributed to this, from having no cap to their income, to enjoying lower freelance taxes. And because their schedules allow more flexibility, many freelancers have taken to the digital nomad lifestyle—often balancing work and travel.
However, the road to becoming a digital nomad is far from easy. And it can be an even bigger challenge when you’re used to working a standard desk job. But that’s what we’re here for. So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about transitioning to the digital nomad lifestyle.
It takes time
Those people who are earning more than six-digits a year didn’t get successful overnight. As with any business, it will be a slow climb for most. You’ll need time to establish your credibility in the industry and get a stable list of clients. Your chances of succeeding faster will be higher if you enter a profitable field. Tech and marketing are some examples, as demand in these industries is high. Alternatively, you could provide a specialized service that can only be offered by select experts, like music production, interior design, research, and more.
It’s all about your network
With social media, everything can seem like a numbers game. But when you’re a freelancer, thousands of followers doesn’t automatically equate to establishing a strong online presence. In fact, a study on Medium found that the vast majority of successful freelancers have less than 1,000 followers on social media. Much like networking in an office, it’s quality over quantity. The same people you connect with online could be your next client or collaborator. Make sure you’re advertising your services on the right platforms. For instance, Instagram is a good place for artists and photographers. On the other hand, platforms like Medium are great for writers. Eventually you want to get to a point where clients find you instead of you chasing after them.
There’s a lot of admin work
In addition to doing actual work, you will spend a lot of time doing administrative tasks like replying to emails, updating your website, and sending invoices, among others. The quote “Time is money” rings true when freelancing, as spending more time on your admin duties means spending less time earning. Therefore, it’s recommended to have tools that can help you go through office tasks more efficiently. Lifestyle writer Gregory Ciotti recommends apps like Helium for sorting your inbox, and Bonsai for creating invoices.
Find your ideal workspace
Even if you aren’t tied to the same cubicle every day, it doesn’t mean you won’t be working in front of a laptop for a certain amount of time each day. At the end of the day, work is still work—and you need to sit down and take it seriously. For this reason, coworking spaces have been rising in popularity all over the world. The coworking spaces by Industrious have popped up all over the United States, and are testament to how these particular spaces are now specifically built for freelancers and digital nomads in general. Memberships plans vary, and are usually very flexible depending on how long you plan on staying in a destination for. This way, you don’t have to rely on cafes (and wonky internet connections) all the time. When choosing a coworking space, it helps to compare their daily and monthly rates. If you’re going to be using it for at least two weeks, it might be cheaper to get their monthly packages.
Having a safety net is important
One of the biggest risks of freelancing is that your income is never fixed. There will be days when you’ll be getting a lot of projects, but there could also be times when clients don’t have any work for you. As we discussed in ‘Is Travelling The World Full-Time a Realistic Goal or a Fantasy?’, you need to start saving money so you have a safety net at all times. After all, unexpected expenses can creep up anytime. Frugal for Less advises freelancers to save at least 50% of their monthly income. The 20% should always go to savings, while the remaining 30% can be put away for personal expenses.
The digital nomad lifestyle might seem like a pipe dream to many, but it’s certainly not impossible. So long as you’re proactive and prepare accordingly, success will follow with hard work.
For more information on being a digital nomad and improving your financial wellbeing, be sure to check out Studenomics on a regular basis.