You hear this phrase being thrown around a lot in the travel community. In fact, the number of people that are quitting their corporate jobs and moving towards a travel-based lifestyle is growing in extraordinary proportions. So, why can’t you do this too? Well there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t! And part of transitioning from a matrix-like lifestyle to something more meaningful, be it nomadic or just relocating elsewhere, is knowing the realities you’re going to have to grapple with.
So here are 10 points you need to think over if you want to indeed, quit your job and travel the world. I’ll be releasing a full course on becoming a digital nomad as well – until then, articles like this will be uploaded regularly on my website so make sure you subscribe here for updates here and also follow my Instagram page @wanderingkamya where I also share information and real-life experience.
1. Do you have a marketable skill-set?
The number 1 thing you have to ask yourself if you want to work remotely, or even just in another country, is – what are your marketable skills. By this we mean anything that is of VALUE for another person and can be offered at a PRICE.
Generally, everyone has some sort of marketable skill. Be it something basic like being able to write someone’s emails for them, or more specialized like developing complex financial models for an investment activity. And the more specialized your skill-set the easier it is going to be to find clients and charge higher prices.
So once you assess what your skills are, you need to decide what skills you want to develop if you want to use them to sustain yourself online. After all, not everyone is comfortable doing adult sex chat for an online living (I’m not, though personal connections tell me it’s highly lucrative). All it takes is a bit of exploring to find out what you can do.
Write a list of all the skills you have that can be charged at a price to another person. For example, you may be good at designing websites or you may be good with numbes. Then make a list of marketable skills that you think you’d be good at and want to explore, for example you might be technically-minded and learning coding might suit you. This is just the beginning. After you develop your marketable skills, you need to actually market them and get clients. So after you’ve made a list of the skills you want to develop or use, make another list on the channels through which you can find clients. This should get you to think about what is feasible or not – of course I’ll be releasing a whole course on this but it’s a good start anyway.
2. Do you have a niche?
Having a marketable skill is not enough to sustain yourself online because you need to have a NICHE. By this we mean dominating some particular aspect of the thing that you’re doing – for example, maybe you’ve learnt photography and are good at it, but you’ve decided to niche yourself into food photography for health-food restaurants. Having a niche is everything because it allows you to build a portfolio that specifically relates to the needs of THOSE similar clients who will immediately hire you over someone with a more general skill-set. If you choose your niche from the start and build yourself in that area, you’re going to save a lot of time faffing around in the long-term. Take my Instagram as an example – my niche is mostly solo female travel. And even then I’m quite general! I have Instagrammer friends who ONLY post luxury resort pictures and they’re killing it – and they get more resort collaborations than me, because they’ve clearly identified and built themselves as a person who delivers in that niche.
If you already have a marketable skill or something that you know you can develop quickly and be good at, it’s time to research what particular area you want to focus on. For example, if you’ve decided you want to do online tutoring, decide exactly what subject, what geography, what education level you want to cater yourself to. And then accordingly find people who are dominating the same niche and see how you can grow yourself to that level. Find agencies or platforms that focus on THAT niche you’re interested in and ask them what their requirements are. Good things take time to develop and if you have a very specific idea of where you want to be in terms of your skill-set, it’s easier to carve your path out as a freelancer and make a substantial online income.
3. Are you able to present yourself?
So there’s thousands of people out there trying to approach people for work. And even if you happen to talk to someone who could use your services, it all still comes down to one thing. How do you present yourself? This is both in writing and in voice. See, the more open that you are with people and the better you can talk about what you do, the more confidence people will have in YOU and in turn opportunities will smack you in the face. Of course you can’t rely on chance encounters and conversations for your full-time income. But let’s say that it’s all a piece of the same puzzle, and it helps to construct your bigger picture.
For example, if you are a web developer and you’re listed on a freelancing website (really common example) what will differentiate you, and I can say this from hiring experience, is not having just an affordable price but really how well you can communicate in English and understand what the other person wants. I’ve fried my brains trying to get people to understand my idea or even fucking think for themselves. If there was anyone who demonstrated some decent conversation skills and independent thought, I jumped on them immediately because it’s so hard to find a lot of the time.
Imagine that you are sending an email to a prospective client you have never spoken to before to tell them about what you can offer them. Whether you’re a social media influencer sending your media kit to a resort, or a logo designer emailing an agency for their openings, it doesn’t matter. Given your niche, write out a few emails to potential agencies that could hire you. Run them over with someone who works in your industry for their opinion. Understand what the client or agency wants to hear and how this relates to your experience. Again, this is a very small part of the overall area of career development and in my course I will be sharing many materials on written communication, CV writing, emails, and selling yourself in words.
4. Can you create opportunities?
Nothing is going to be handed to you on a plate – even if you were born with a 2-million-dollar trust fund, you still have to CREATE yourself. You were dropped here on earth and technically your life is a totally empty canvas. And what differentiates those who give up and those who survive is your ability to manifest things for yourself. And no I don’t mean sitting in your room and imagining you’re rich for 5 hours. Visualization has it’s place but when the visualization is effective it changes your actions as well. Let’s say you’ve developed a certain skill-set, like video editing, and you’re now trying to build your profile and turn it into a full-time occupation. You’re going to have to take the initiative to Google things. You’re going to have to search for everything that can connect you to the people that can use your services. It’s not about sitting around and thinking, reading books and learning. Learning a skill doesn’t necessarily take that long, but it’s going to be of no use if you don’t take the INITIATVE and do shit on your own.
Think of five ways in which you could sell what you know. Write out these details as specifically as possible, including what search terms you need to use and what categories of people you need to approach. Explore different avenues like social media, word-of-mouth and approaching local businesses. Once you have a plan, it’s a lot easier to visualize yourself manifesting what you want.
5. Can you be diverse and think creatively?
If you talk to any freelancer or digital nomad there’s very few that rely on only ONE source of income to sustain themselves. And that’s certainly the case with me. Sure I have my main income which is online tutoring, but along with that I’m always doing things here and there to make a bit of extra cash for things like flight tickets or just extra spending. Being a digital nomad really means being your own boss, and also being an entrepreneur. So, when you think about your marketable skills – are you planning to still work for someone? How can you branch out? Can you start something else to make money as well? Ask yourself questions like this, and talk to people who do interesting things to expand your perception of what is possible. There are so many ways to make an online income.
Think about 3 extra activities you can do to make money, however big or small. And then estimate how much income you could earn from them. Sign up to those platforms or send those people an email. Research how you will source those products or sell them online. It doesn’t have to be complicated but writing things down can help you jog your thought process.
6. Can you make sacrifices?
Digital nomad life is really a lot of sacrifice. You give up the regular paycheck at the end of the month to a large extent. You give up the comradery of an office environment, and certainly the false security that everything is sorted for you as long as you do well in your job. No it’s really not. Because you’re on your own. You’re going to have to give up a lot of things if you want to put the adequate time and energy into creating your life for yourself. This might mean giving up Netflix. It means giving up going out every weekend because as a digital nomad there is no weekend. It’s always another day – and that’s empowering because you can shape it how you want. But it removes this false idea that we have that we can chill on weekends. It’s more about listening to yourself and being flexible. So that might mean friends and spending those 6 hours working on something. Life isn’t easy if you want to be a digital nomad and it looks so great to live like that but we give a lot of shit up to. You have to be keyed in all the fucking time – like now, amongst the multiple other things that I’m currently involved in I’m here writing this article in the middle of rural Cambodia in the front seat of a car with psytrance playing in my headphones. Boom.
List out five activities in the past week that you could have given up in order to spend time on yourself. Maybe it was an event you went to or a random meeting you had. Then write a few sentences on how you could have used that exact time period to do something to build your life as a remote worker. Next week, be more aware of where you are spending your time and fit these things into your schedule. Your present creates your future.
7. Do you have self-work to do?
There comes a point in life where you HAVE to face the things you have inside because they are holding you back in some way. Because what you think you know is really not enough. And the physical shift from being a corporate slave to living a lifestyle where you can connect with your true nature and be free to design it is only reflective of an inner, more spiritual process. It’s your soul telling you to get the fuck out of prison. Because from a young age, we’re programmed to think we HAVE to do certain things. That education is the be all and end all of intellectual development – wrong. I went to what was ranked the best economics Masters program at the time at Warwick and worked with professors from MIT and Harvard for two months in India. And guess what most of my internal development happened AFTER that. The deeper I went into intellectuality, the more I realized how fucking dumb I was and how little I even knew. Because science has this huge ego that thinks it can explain everything – but you can’t. You need to experience. You need to take a look at what’s inside your psyche. Real learning comes from confronting your demons. And then the universe starts to unfold inside you. Being a scientifically minded person I still love reading research articles and share things like that with the world as well – but pigeon-holing yourself into that sort of artificial man-made structure be it unnecessary education or unnecessary corporate work is utterly pointless. So along with the whole practical process of developing an online workflow, you need to figure out what issues you need work on for YOURSELF that are holding you back. Because there’s really no reason you can’t do what you want.
List out four qualities about yourself that you need to change. Maybe it is a specific fear of something that doesn’t allow you to take action, or it’s an inability to have a proper schedule and organize your activities. Maybe you are stuck in the wrong friendship group and need to isolate yourself for a while. If you’ve decided you’re not going to settle for a lifestyle that doesn’t invigorate you, it’s time to do the work. In my own journey, deep meditation and yoga practice, solo travelling, psychedelic experiences, and a host of other things have all helped me to free myself in this continuous process of internal evolution.
8. How good are your research skills?
The research process. If there’s one thing that formal education has gifted me it’s an extremely skilled process of research that I can apply to literally anything. It’s a structure and a way to think about things that makes everything 10x easier. And I find that people lack even basic research skills, because they’ve been taught to dumb themselves down in many systems and not think for themselves. I would say a HUGE part of being a digital nomad comes down to thorough research. You need to research ways to grow your personal brand. You need to research things that are worth or not worth investing in. You need to research how to use social media for your own benefit and research where you will travel. The better your research skills, the easier it is going to be for you to distinguish yourself and find things out.
It’s actually worth taking an online course or a module on research methods and scientific investigation if this is something you struggle with. There are many courses available for free on websites like Udemy and Coursera. Research skills are something that can be developed if you put in the time and effort, and it certainly does pay off.
9. Can you organize yourself?
One of the biggest skills you have to learn if you are working for yourself or even attempting to start out, is be on point with your organization. I guess I’m not the perfect example of great organization on the road – I still have data from 2017 that I haven’t managed to put into videos, and I’m pretty far behind with uploading articles here too. However, what I DO have – is a learned ability to get the important things done so I can live my life, make money, and grow all at the same time.
When you’re in an office, there’s often a clear structure. You head there in the morning and come back at night; but as a digital nomad, your pattern is completely up to you. It takes a bit of exploring and experimentation to figure out what works best for you. For example, I find that waking up early does the most for me. And if I’m travelling I make use of the day and work during the nights instead of going out.
The organization extends not just to your laptop but your entire life. Think about how many things you need to sort if you have a moving household. You need to take care of yourself as well! So organizing your meals, getting adequate nutrition. Organizing practical things like transportation and travel plans that are conducive to your working method. Personally I find that all these happen as an outpouring of having a good state of mind – of being mentally clear and in high spirits, and then it really doesn’t seem too difficult at all.
How would you structure your day as a digital nomad? Make a daily schedule for where you would allocate your time on the work you need to do in order to reach the stage you want. For example, how many hours would you spend on searching for jobs or deepening your knowledge of something? Remember to include daily routine things like exercise, recreation, and food.
10. Can you take risks?
Last but not least, if you want to jump into the unknown, you’re really going to have to jump. This might mean failing – it might mean investing in something that doesn’t pay off or putting yourself out there and not having it work out. But unless you get out of your comfort zone, really nothing is going to manifest for you. And taking risks doesn’t always need to be something drastic - like impulsively quitting your job or investing a bunch of money in crypto. Taking risks doesn’t mean doing things without any degree of thought or intelligence – and yes, feeling your intuition is also a high form of intelligence. It can also mean basic things that are inherently scary. Like cutting off people you’ve known for years but you know that want to keep you trapped in fear. Like taking LSD for the first time because you want to expand your perception and understanding of all the things in like you don’t normally see. Like pushing away your procrastination and setting up an exercise routine every day. Seeing are you ARE the creator of your own reality, it’s really true that the universe rewards courage.
Name 3 things that you are scared to let go of. Maybe it is a person, a physical item, or a work situation that is keeping you stuck. Write a paragraph on how this particular thing makes you feel, confront all the negative emotions that come up – like anxiety, like sadness or anger. Then write another paragraph on what your life would be like without this influence. Simulate the freedom that you would feel after letting go of this bullshit you don’t need in your life. And more importantly, go and act on it because life is short and you don’t want to waste it on thing that bring you down.