There is so much potential in digital nomad careers. After all, digital nomads are an interesting bunch:
- They have declined societal expectations in favor of thinking differently
- They are responsible enough to travel around the world successfully
- In their journeys, they have probably learned a lot about the world
- They have to fund their adventures, giving them a good business sense
- Most are quite adept with technology, marketing, and communication (perhaps the world’s most important skills)
- They have a huge network
But unfortunately, I’m going to lob a criticism at the community now. I think the average digital nomad tarnishes their potential. They undoubtedly realize their potential in terms of lifestyle. But at Reverse Tide, we talk about the importance of balancing lifestyle equally with learning and careers. It all goes together. If you neglect your skills or career development, it can impact the sustainability of the lifestyle.
So why are digital nomads leaving potential on the table?
It starts with the common jobs they pursue. Too often, they restrict themselves to the common digital nomad careers like basic freelancing, blogging, dropshipping, marketing, and hospitality gigs. Now don’t mistake that I’m bashing any of these jobs. Many people do quite well in them. But I see potential left on the table for even the most successful of the bunch. And no, realizing this potential doesn’t need to come at the expense of the lifestyle.
So let me give a few examples for each…
Digital Nomad Careers: Freelancing
The most common of digital nomad careers is freelancing. This can be a catch-all for any services provided. Here’s the issue I see with too many freelancers. They might be quite good at what they do. They might earn great rates and make a decent amount of money. But the business is fully reliant on their work. So if their skills wane, their talents get automated, or if they’re unable to work, their earnings suffer. They aren’t building a business but exchanging their valuable time for money. And ironically enough, that goes against the core of what digital nomads have already rejected about full-time jobs.
So freelancers are acting as a laborer. The only advantage is they can choose their clients and work location independently. But there is more potential than that. They can earn more, work less, and make their living more resilient to external conditions. By turning the freelancing into a business and thinking more like an owner or at least like a manager, they are maximizing their potential.
Digital nomads have the skills to do this successfully. They just have to choose it. Freelancing is a great start. It builds a client base, reputation, cash flow and business experience. But don’t stop there! Build it into a sustainable business.
We have guides talking about how to do this in two ways: Improving Your Sales and Turning Gigs Into a Lucrative Business. Between those guides, we talk about growing your team, important business resources, automation, finance, branding, marketing, and more. Check them out. We think it can help the average freelancer/digital nomad achieve much greater things!
Digital Nomad Careers: Blogging
Another ways many digital nomads get started is through blogging. Blogs are a great way to produce great content and then turn your audience into sales. We do it ourselves. So this is no knock on blogging. You have accomplished some outstanding things with a blog…
- Audience trust
- A huge collection of leads (businesses pay a lot for this)
- You are an influencer and authority on a certain subject
- Some level of tech skill by creating and managing a website
- You are an outstanding communicator
Despite an amazing repertoire of talent, we routinely see bloggers squander this immense potential. One issue is that they don’t sell anything. A lot of bloggers restrict their income to affiliate marketing and other advertising. While those are nice revenue sources, we think you can do better:
– If you really believe in a product and you’re spending a great deal of time harnessing leads, building product awareness, and converting customers, you deserve more than a 20% commission on it. You have done all the work! You can negotiate better and it’s always win-win for the company you’re selling for.
– If you’re spending all your time selling someone else’s product, you’re deviating from the way you built your audience in the first place. The audience can see through that, even if you really believe in the product and they end up buying it. They didn’t follow you for being a shill to other companies. They will tolerate good recommendations but aren’t following for more advertising.
So you’re caught in the middle. You want to stay true to your blog’s purpose and maintain trust but also need to make money to support your efforts. So while advertising can be fine as a revenue stream, you’re always caught balancing your purpose as a blogger versus the sales effort required to be ultra-successful. It becomes very hard to make it solely on ad/marketing revenue in the long-run.
Digital Nomad Careers: Product Sales
Given that blogging is a good way to gain an audience and leads, many digital nomads will simultaneously sell something. And that’s fantastic! Maybe it’s your ADVANCED freelance service business that we described above. Or maybe it’s a more tangible product. But we rarely see this. We routinely see successful bloggers limit their sales to a $10 e-book, routine freelance services, and advertising.
But you can sell something much more substantial! Some ideas…
1 – Sell your own products for a lot more money. $100+ to make it worthwhile. Remember that your audience trusts you. They are willing to pay for a product backed by quality and trust.
2 – Sell those advanced freelance services on whatever topic you know best. Sell them to large businesses that pay well. And then have a team sitting behind you to fulfill the deal rather than doing the work yourself.
3 – Do a true joint venture with 1-2 companies and dedicate yourself to building up that business (with a big profit split or even equity). As a business owner myself, I’d give someone up to 50% on my product/services or even equity if they dedicated themselves to my company and its endeavors (you can see some of what we seek at Partner With Us). And successful bloggers have all the potential to make big things happen!
By doing things like this, you’re realizing your potential. You’re staying true to your original blogging mission, partnering with businesses rather than providing cheap affiliate sales, bringing value to your audience, and making exponentially more money doing it.
Digital Nomad Careers: Dropshipping
Dropshipping or other similar activities are another one of the more common digital nomad careers. Dropshipping was once an innovative business strategy but quickly became over-crowded. For those less familiar, you essentially sell someone else’s goods but rather than maintaining inventory like a traditional retailer, you have it shipped direct from the business or wholesaler’s warehouse.
Being a decent dropshipper takes some talent. Among the talents you might have…
- Building a website
- Sales/marketing. You are selling as a career
- Business to business relationship building and deals
- Product management
- Customer service
These are the same attributes you might list for any aspiring entrepreneur. So rather than putting in SO MUCH effort toward selling someone else’s product and taking low margins from it, why don’t you just partner more directly with a business and help sell their product? Stop worrying about physical products and shipping. Stop defining yourself by someone else’s overcrowded business model.
Imagine applying your skills very similarly to a higher potential business. On a site like cofounderslab.com, you have plenty of people that seek partners with the skills you already have. These are entrepreneurs that want to partner with product savvy people. They want people that can approach other businesses and make deals. They want people that can sell!
Like I said before, I seek such partners. I want a go-getter that can partner with me in business advisory services, virtual reality, education/learning products, and real estate. You can learn more at Partner With Us but at least take that as an illustration of what you can achieve with any business type. Get better revenue-share deals with higher growth products and maybe even consider aspiring toward equity!
Digital Nomad Careers: Marketing
A lot of digital nomads decide to offer marketing services to others. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Every business in the world needs marketing help from talented people. The problem is, most people offer it like a freelance service. This creates two issues:
1 – You are limited to an hourly wage or fee. If you’re doing great work, it isn’t reflected in your earnings
2 – Your services are hard to sell. Everyone thinks they can do marketing these days but few add good ROI to businesses. It’s overcrowded. So even if you’re one of the marketers with good ROI history, you’re going to have a hard time standing out against hundreds of other competitors.
We have a better idea and articulate it in our new video series – Thinking Bigger…
You can do better… the skill is too valuable to waste on a small hourly fee and too valuable to manage a social feed. And as we’ve repeatedly said, digital nomads already have the potential to be successful in this field (since they are good communicators, knowledgeable, connected, etc). Either you already have a great resume in marketing or you just need a bit more experience to get there.
So if it’s just a matter of writing a great proposal to broker the deals we articulate in the video, take a look at our Business Proposals Guide.
And if you want to learn marketing (or brush up on certain skills), we have tons of learning paths filled with how/where to learn, how to get experience, and how to get great marketing jobs:
- General Marketing
- Search Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Print Marketing
- Content Marketing
Digital Nomad Careers: Other Gigs
Digital nomads do a lot of other jobs. Many go teach English or other languages. Some work in hospitality. Others with a bit of tech experience might build websites or apps while on the road. These are fine. We fully appreciate that some prioritize the lifestyle and are happy to use such gigs to pay for it.
But we at least want to get you thinking. You have already come so far with your thinking. Digital nomads acknowledge that location independence provides freedom. And they see the benefits of travel on mind and spirit. The final step is freeing yourself with a more lucrative career that can perpetually fund your lifestyle. You can build sustainability into your career.
Let’s take a few of those examples…
– With teaching, you can get involved with us in virtual reality and other digital learning. This is the future of education and training. We are building something outstanding and looking for partners (businesses and highly skilled individuals).
– With translation, you can shift focus to international business. Take a look at our Thinking Bigger videos for people with language skills…
– With hospitality, you can get involved in real estate and provide services for other travelers. Maybe you build a co-live space. Maybe you purchase homes to rent on Airbnb. You are an expert in this and can create great experiences for other travelers (rather than working hourly for someone already doing that).
– With tech, the opportunities are endless. Freelance developers already tend to do quite well. But the income is always dependent on their work. And the tech field changes so rapidly. Creating a more sustainable business model is worthwhile. See our freelancing products above for more detail on ways to do that.
To conclude, we think digital nomads are great. They are creating amazing lifestyles for themselves every day by regularly overcoming societal expectations and their own comfort zone. They have extremely useful skills, experience, and perspectives. So rather than doing simple gigs, we wish the common digital nomad careers would unlock better potential and use that innovation, fearlessness, and professional value to achieve something greater. We want them to unlock their full potential because we know they have it!
In order to do this, we have some other resources that can help. Learning valuable skills, improving your sales and job applications, and even partnering with us…