Don’t Become Nomadic. Begin Nomadic.
3 years ago, I left home and flew to Asia to begin my career. I had just been fired from an internship in the USA and I dropped out of college.
The most important decision of my career was the decision to start as a digital nomad, without attempting to begin my career with a college degree, job or other form of conventional stability from which to become nomadic.
I flew to Thailand with no career, no income, very few skills, and not even enough money to buy a ticket home. I wasn’t accepting help from my parents so I had to find a way to make my location independent career work.
If You Want To Be A Digital Nomad, Don’t Invest In A Location Dependent Career
When I was jumping from Thailand to Laos to Vietnam, conventional location dependent jobs weren’t a viable option. This was challenging financially but it was a blessing because I couldn’t make any career decisions that required my physically ‘being’ anywhere. I could only make money in ways that preserved my location independence.
I didn’t have a Work Visa to work in a restaurant but I could become a location independent freelance writer.
I didn’t have a Thai business permit to open a store in Chiang Mai, so I tried shipping products from China to sell on Amazon.com without ever touching them.
Once my business started generating monthly recurring revenue, I couldn’t open an office, hire W-2 employees or rent a warehouse. So, I opened some Skype chats, hired some freelancers, and shipped my products to Amazon FBA for automated fulfillment.
When You Start Location Independent, You Don’t Need To Transition Later
If your goal is to eventually be a location independent digital nomad, don’t take a job where you’re expected to show up from 9-5 every day and attend meetings. Instead, find a job that allows you to work from the computer or become a freelancer with strictly online clients or live with your parents while you launch an e-commerce store.
Don’t sign an apartment lease agreement or get a mortgage on a house. Instead, sign a flexible month-to-month rental agreement, live in AirBnBs for a few weeks, or find an incredibly cheap home somewhere outside the USA.
Don’t buy furniture or other big, bulky possessions. Sell the possessions you have, get a backpack, and purchase the one ‘asset’ you need for a successful location independent career: a fast computer.
Finally, and this will sound harsh but I’ve heard it so many times,“But all my friends are in Wichita. I can’t leave!” If you feel emotionally dependent on the humans you went to school with to the point of forgoing your once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity round-the-world adventure dream, then prepare for your location independence by severing the umbilical cord as soon as possible.
Job. Home. Possessions. Relationships. Routines. The more you invest in a location dependent life, the more difficult it is to make the transition to location independence.
You have more agreements and contracts to re-negotiate.
More bosses to explain yourself too.
A promising career paths to abandon.
More possessions to sell, put in storage or give away.
More friends who will try to convince you to stay.
More routines you’ve learned to enjoy that will now end.
Perhaps an apartment you need to sub-lease.
Perhaps a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse who doesn’t want to travel.
Maybe even a child!
Don’t make investments in a location dependent career, investments you’ll need to reverse, divest from, or emotionally detach from, if what you really want is location independence.
While it’s difficult to go from location dependence to independence, the inverse isn’t true. Location independence gives you the option but not the obligation to travel. With location independent income you can always return home, settle down, enter a long-term relationship, buy a house, live in one place, enjoy one cohesive community and raise a family. You just get to take more vacations.
How You Can Get Started NOW
With so many location independent jobs, freelance gigs and business opportunities, I guarantee that you can become a digital nomad if you want to free up where and how you work. Here’s a 4 Step Action Plan that you can begin today…
Refuse to do any location dependent work to make money. This includes being a waiter/waitress, a painter or a coffee intern. Instead, look for work that can be done completely online. Graphic design. Writing. SEO. Applying to jobs on sites like Upwork.com is the fastest way to start earning money on your computer.
I started as a freelance writer with no experience and no references. I wrote my first article for $3 to get a 5* review. My second job paid me $300 and I earned over $600 by the end of the week. (Ask me to send you my ‘Upwork Jumpstart Document’ showing how I did it. I’ll email it to you.) Just offer a guarantee “Love my work or don’t pay me,” and you will get jobs. I was only once not paid $50.
Get out of town. Go somewhere cheap like Thailand if you need to cut expenses to a bare minimum. I paid $150/month rent for a studio apartment with air conditioning and ate delicious $1 bowls of Thai soup. Even as a newbie freelancer you can live very well and save money.
Grow.,. Fast! This may mean increasing your hourly freelance rate by $5/hour per week, until you’re earning $50/hour in just 2-3 months. This may mean earning enough money to pay for rent and then pouring all your excess income and time into a scalable Internet business. Consider getting a loan from friends and family who have disposable income but no time to start a business. It’s incredible what you can do once you have total time freedom and baseline expenses of less than $500/month.
Stop. Breath. With low living costs and either freelance clients or an online business generating revenue, you have reached location independent stability. Every career has it’s challenges but whenever you lose a client or you need to fix a crisis in your business you realize that these little frustrations are a small price to pay for freedom.
You work on your own time from wherever you want. You’re living comfortably and eating well. With disposable income and the majority of your time still your own, you realize that there is no cap on your income or career opportunities. From this vantage point, you ask yourself “What do I want to do now?”
For Many Of You, The Ideal Career Is Location Independent
Location independence isn’t a career you might try at some undefined future date. It is so possible for you. The potential upside is huge. The implausible downside is small. This is the year to try location independence for yourself, even if you’ve never had a normal job and even if you haven’t graduated from college.
I’ve laid out four simple steps to become location independent with just a few days or weeks of planning. They’re short and simple. This is all you need to do to begin.