WHAT PEOPLE DON’T TELL YOU ABOUT BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD

It is hard. There I said it, being a digital nomad is very hard work…
… A lot harder than a lot of people make it out to be. It has rewards and benefits, but most people don’t talk about the the shear blood sweat and tears that you have to put in to make it work. When I tell people that we’ve been travelling around the world, and that we pay for this by working remotely (as a digital nomad) people seem to have this ideal image in their head of what it must be like. That picture looks pretty perfect — like I’ve won the lottery and don’t have a care in the world. They invariably think that I’m typing away on my laptop for maybe 5 minutes a day — and that’s from the beach or pool. Throw in a couple of servants feeding me grapes and the myth is complete. The truth is that being a digital nomad is full of compromises, sacrifices and uncertainty. Hard work…

Hard work — An uphill struggle

Whenever the look of awe comes over peoples faces when I explain that I work while travelling with the family I do my best to quell the myth. I explain that, no it’s not all roses and sunshine and that this lifestyle requires lot of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately most people don’t really seem to get it. They’re sold on the dream, not the reality.

The image I have in my head when thinking about the lifestyle of a digital nomad is much more bleak. In that picture I’m hunched over my laptop with bags under my eyes at 2am trying to finish off a client report. It is an image of making phone calls while trying to keep my children quiet. These images can be repeated night after night, day after day.

THERE ARE SACRIFICES

My family travels with me, or more accurately I travel with my family. My wife usually figures out the destination, where we’re going to stay and what activities we’re going to do. I on the other hand usually have to figure out how we’re going to pay for it, and how best to work at each spot — while keeping some semblance of family life. Remember that the whole reason that we usually embark on this lifestyle is to see things, and/or spend time with family. If you can’t do that then what is the point. But sometimes it doesn’t always work out that ideally — some times I have to forgo spending time with my family in order to survive. As the saying goes “make hay while the sun shines”. There is uncertainty in this lifestyle when it comes to income and that is something you have to plan for — and take action to avoid.

There are illusions that you will be on some sort of permanent vacation, but the truth will be far from that. Chances are that you’ll actually miss out on the usual vacation stuff simply because you’ll be too busy.

Working at night , or all the time— the way of the digital nomad

WORK WONT JUST COME TO YOU — YOU HAVE TO WORK FOR IT

No-one is ever just going to contact you and offer you work out of the blue. You have to ask and earn it. “Earning it” can take many forms, but you need to sell yourself like you’ve never sold before. How you earn it is up to you, but you’ll have to put some work into it. You can ask your past or current clients or employers. You can start networking, SEO and social media or even give advertising a go. If you don’t do anything you will not get work.
Knowing which route to go down is the million dollar question, and there is no right answer. The only certainty that you can have is that if you do nothing you wont get any work. So you’re better to try something, and see what happens. If it doesn’t work there’s plenty more options to try.

YOU HAVE TO DELIVER

Clients working with remote employees or consultants are skeptical — you need to put them at ease. You have to deliver, and not just deliver adequately — you need to wow them and exceed expectations. By exceeding their expectations you’ll eliminate any doubt about your clients hiring you — and you may even be able to turn them around on their thoughts towards remote working. If you produce excellent, on-time work and can really wow your clients then you will establish a reputation as someone who gets things done. You’ll become an invaluable resource to that client, and they might even refer you to some other potential clients — especially if you ask them to.

YOU HAVE TO STAND OUT

Some niches have fierce competition, but that competition isn’t necessarily better than you. In fact your competition might actually be terrible, but if your clients know who they (and don’t know who you are) then they’re a million times more likely to get the work. The first step in securing a sales or new client is always exposure — if they don’t now you and you don’t tell them you’ll never acquire them as a client.

Stand out from the crowd. In a noisy world you have to get noticed.
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