I was a night owl as a kid, as a teen and as an adult. Now as a parent I’m still a night owl. That’s my nature. Society doesn’t care about your natural clock. You have to use whatever is available and shape the life that fits you the way you want it. Becoming a self-employed digital nomad made that possible for me. No matter how long the world lets that last; it’s the most fulfilling way of living that utilizes technology and whatever your skills and passions are. If someone had put me on this path earlier, I’d gone that way earlier. In this post I want to share the key elements in starting your pursuit of becoming a digital nomad, or more nicely put a “non-location worker” or something.
(Header photo is cropped from an 1980’s Yugoslavian computer magazine called Računari u vašoj kući)
To become a self-employed digital nomad, you have to take what you’re good at, learn all you can how online-stuff work and take some risks.
1. What is your skill and passion?
Everything is possible if you give the effort and time. Things won’t turn out exactly as you thought it would, or as you began, but it will result in a way similar to your initial vision. What is it that you’re most passionate about and can imagine to give your life to be doing, until the end? It can be anything from being a dietist, nurse, academic etc. The online world is odd and on the right market, especially the English speaking that’s USA oriented is so vast that niched directions also have audiences.
Wherever there is an audience there is a profit. Number one thing to do is to be really honest with yourself – is there something you really bleed for and can wake up striving for, the next three years? Maybe more, or maybe less. Too many people just want the ideal life, but they have no vision, passion and effort to really thrust into realizing it all. A successful business can never be done halfhearted and too many people stay at that confusing stage of “what do I want…”. But not you, so let’s move on to the next step.
2. Learn everything you can about online stuff
Everyone knows the basics about the online world and how computers work. That basic won’t be enough though, as your new basic must improve beyond that to be the expert/level compared to the “basic-know-how” you had before. This is also a step where you must be honest, are you really into it? Or just a lazy dreamer? Personally, I spent three years learning web design, online editorial work, online business models (how money circulates online) and all similar things like that. I spent weeks just reading, listening, searching and asking naive questions on Google.
As you’re striving to be self-employed, there will be no one there to nanny you. You must be aware and familiar with as much as you can. Then there’s the specialization you will use with whatever you succeed with – be that selling courses, web design, media producing or investing. The second step is thus all about letting your passion form step one to rocket fuel your learning desire about the medium you’ll use.
3. Start a business
I’m one of those people who didn’t know anything about running a business some years ago. There is no simple way to learn all you need to run a legal business; meaning getting all the tax papers right. I learned it all because I didn’t want to pay someone else to do that for me, besides the lack of insight that would mean. The positive side to this is that it’s much easier for running a sole proprietorship model compared to any bigger scale business. In my case, whenever I just couldn’t understand how a certain thing was to be done, I emailed the tax office and they answered the next day (or the day after that). Remember that when you’re a digital nomad, you send emails to the support. The other important aspect of this is that an email is a legal document of the answer you got. Phone calls are a waste of time really.
A king dwells in his own shit and never in someone else’s. Your own mistakes are manure for wisdom
4. Don’t give up
You will be frustrated, you will make wrong decisions, you will leave some projects or approaches that you initially thought was the way to go. Or maybe you get it all good with the first attempt. Remember that every action and experience leads to an improvement and you’ll be faster on track with the next construction of ideas. You must have Fortuna on your side, if not initially, she’ll come around. If you have lost hope and act as a beaten down loser, she’ll walk by. For me, it took four years to get some decent money and quit the daytime job I had. That is four years from the step one above to the next step.
Now you have made it go around, you can go anywhere in the world. Enjoy and live to the maximum and always keep improving and working on the next idea. Anything can happen in our crazy world. Economies can crash and you must be grateful for the time you can live this lifestyle. Even if it lasts a couple of years, you still have succeeded in something people dream about, but never “pull their finger out” as Sweden say.
This whole lifestyle varies very much, from people earning just enough to get to cheaper countries and live there. To people just wanting to be free from any 9-5 slavery. But most of all, it’s a way to enable you more time for other passions, like family time, hobbys and whatever rocks your boat. Fulfilment springs out of simplicity, keep it all simple and enjoy.
In 2013 I said that one day I’ll have my office in my smartphone, which I didn’t even have at that time =) In 2015 that was realized. I could basically take my phone and run my business online. Enough, just do it!