Let’s tell you who those people with their laptops in a hammock are. They go by the name of digital nomads. A name that became more and more known over the past couple of years. They are the people that introduce themselves by telling they work remotely. Yes, “digital nomads”. That is what I write about in this blog. We ourselves are digital nomads too. This is an introduction to the wonderful world of being a digital nomad.
What is a digital nomad?
The D of Digital
They tend to be busy with 0’s and 1’s and telecommunications technology
Digital means they just need an electrical device to create income. Most of the time that is a laptop for sure, combined with a vlogging camera, a photo camera, and even more electronics. Oh, and wifi of course.
Digital nomads recall our human history – the N of Nomad
It has been only around 12.000 years that humans started settling down. Modern human lived for around 150.000 – 200.000 as hunting and gathering nomads, before they decided to stay and live on one spot. The invention of the ‘digital nomad’ is like going back in time. Only this time they don’t hunt and search nuts to stay alive. But they process digital things to earn an income in a particular currency that they can exchange for food and a roof above their head.
Digital nomads drink lassies in a hammock the whole day
That is the cliché that is totally not true, I can tell you from my own experience. Being a digital nomad and earning a sustainable income online is hard work. It may look easy from the outside – dollars automatically flying to you while you lay on the beach – but you need a lot of discipline at the inside. And we don’t even earn a sustainable income (yet), so can you imagine!
This is the place – Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia – where our transformation into digital nomads started. This is our ‘office’ next to our guesthouse bedroom and in between work we would go for a roti susu made by the nicest girls in town!
The dream is to earn a 6 figure income with a travel blog
Earning a good income by means of traveling around and recording what you see and do, that was my dream at first. Then I realized I had to be present on Instagram and social media, all the time. My hobby of traveling becomes real work. Is it still that fun then? In interviews well known social influencers reveal something of the pressure they feel every day to create another stunning picture or entertaining blog. It is not about enjoying that beautiful sunset anymore, but about hard core production and keep on improving. Because the followers are easily bored and their loyalty means nothing. Being not able to work for a few days or weeks, implying not being visible online, means losing a lot of your followers and hereby market share.
They wish their work week consists of four hours of working
The bible of the digital nomad is the 4-hour work week by Timothy Ferris. The author introduces the reader to the dream of the 4-hour work week and the techniques to create such an attractive situation for yourself. He calls the people that chase this dream “the new rich”. People that value time and experiences over money. It is a new kind of wealth. New rich can work location independent and are highly effective and disciplined in their work. It starts with a smart idea, and ends with committed execution in which the entrepreneur automates and outsources as much as possible. So there is plenty of time left to learn Japanese. And to become a chef cook in case you like cooking. Or to exercise. Travel, read, whatever. That is the dream.
His book highly inspired us as well
Reading his book coincided with starting up our first affiliate marketing project. We loved the lifestyle of traveling, going where we wanted to go. And not being in the same office every day, working for clients of our boss. We wanted to have our own business, our own clients. And to work 4 hours a week. Earning an online income appeared not to be as easy as some people online tell you it is. And it makes sense with the knowledge about an online income we now have in our pockets. By telling you how easy it is they persuade you to start doing it as well. And they earn some income from you by selling their advice. Simple.
Read here the story how we became The Perfect Strugglers and started an online career
The travel blogger, the ‘how-to-work-remotely’ consultant and the software developer
And the online marketeer, online coach and the affiliate marketeer … These are all different jobs with different business models that are called digital nomads.
We cannot apply one single measure to all digital nomads. It is a broad group. Some of them already had online jobs back home and it was easy to start nomading around when they were in for something new. Some of them left their offline careers back home and are building a new career online. Because it meets their wishes for independence, freedom and flexibility. Some just automatically grew into it because their Instagram account started to become more and more popular. And brands presented themselves to advertise on your channel. Or your hobby website suddenly receives a lot of visitors every day and you can monetize it with the help of affiliate marketing. Reason enough to quit your job and to start focusing on your online business.
I won’t go into all the different types of digital nomads and the different ways to earn an online income. But if you are interested I recommend you to this blog about 8 different digital nomad careers.
Or if you want to start and build your digital you as fast as possible? Read start a blog and share your thoughts with the world in 7 easy steps.
I love my office view of the ocean and palm trees
As a digital nomad I always have a different and therefore inspiring view when I look up from my laptop. But sometimes I am so soaked into my work I even don’t notice where I am. At the moment I write this blog I am sitting outside at an estate in the Algarve, the South of Portugal. I smell the eucalyptus tree, hear the bees buzzing and far away I can see the bright blue of the ocean. In between writing blogs, brainstorming and other tasks, Jandaan & myself like to get our small tennis rackets and play for a while to clear our minds.
When we don’t like it somewhere, we just move. We combine work and traveling. So when we close our laptops after a day of working, we go for a beach walk, a swim, or for a stroll through a vibrant unknown city. It is like being on a city trip or holiday non stop. Our free time is always interesting and new. Commuting at rush hour with other stressed out persons belongs to the past now.
The impressive building in the header picture is my favourite in Mexico City. What an inspiring place to open up my laptop and start blogging.
I hate bad wifi. Digital nomads hate bad wifi.
One of the most beautiful places we visited the past 2 years of fulltime traveling is Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Our guesthouse was right at the shore of the lake surrounded with active volcanoes. We visit the local market with her indigenous sales ladies dressed in the most beautiful coloured outfits every day. It is great to be here. But the wifi is unstable and very weak. So we decide to leave after 10 days which was earlier than planned and hoped.
Wifi is essential. It is the water of digital nomads. How great all the rest is doesn’t matter, the wifi should be reliable. This week we decided not to get the amazing opportunity to take care of an authentic house in an oasis in Morocco, just because we expected the wifi to be poor. We would love to live in Morocco for a while. Is that stupid? Or is it sticking to our plans and vision? You tell me.
And there are more things that digital nomads hate, or at least find frustrating. In the top 3 is the fact that people back home still think your are having fun the whole time and don’t work hard. Just because you are at some stunning spot somewhere on the globe. So you have to explain constantly that you have a working rhythm too, that you don’t stay in your bed until 10 am every morning, that you are not always available, that you can be tired too and that you can be fed up with your laptop as well. Just as normal office people. But then at an exotic place.
We are not only digital nomads, but a digital nomad COUPLE
Being digital nomadic business partners, and being a romantic couple at the same time brings in some extra challenges. We tell you all about in this blog.
Quick guide on how to become a digital nomad
In case my description of a digital nomad doesn’t deter you, or even attracts you.
Here are the steps you have to take to become a digital nomad too.
- Check our short guide on how to prepare a trip in 22 steps
- Store your belongings and put the essentials in a bag maximum 10 kg’s
- Buy a laptop
- Check your savings account
- Reflect on what you can offer the world. Teach, consult, sell, inspire … Or just experiment with something a little bit more opportunistic
- Choose your niche and product or service
- Go to a place you like
- Sit down and open up your laptop
- Start building, struggling and learning. Make sure you hold on.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the digital nomads!