10 Digital Nomad Businesses You Can Start for Under $1000

Do you dream of running your business from your laptop as you sit by the pool and sip an ice cold mojito?

Tim Grassin
Sep 15, 2017 · 7 min read

The key to the digital nomad dream of working anywhere is to start a lucrative business that you can work on from your laptop as you travel the world. Fortunately, in our modern world where the internet has changed the way we do pretty much everything, there are a lot of possibilities.

It doesn’t take as much money as you might think to start a successful business. There are many ways that you can start from small and build your way up as you go.

So, let’s take a look at 10 businesses that you can start from anywhere (or at least, anywhere in the world with an internet connection, which is basically everywhere.) The start up costs for every business here will be less than $1000 — and the earning potentials are only limited by your talent, hard work and creativity.

1. Freelance Writing

If you have the skills to put together a coherent, well written article or blog post according to a brief, you can start a freelance writing business. This idea won’t cost you much, only the expense of setting up a decent looking freelance writing portfolio website.

There are many different types of writing out there, including sales and advertising copy, blog content, whitepapers, instruction manuals, brochures and much more. It’s up to you to determine which style of writing suits your skills the best.

Other than that, you’ll require nothing more than your talent, a laptop and an internet connection. Websites such as Upwork and PeoplePerHour are a great place to start when looking for your first clients.

When you are just starting out you’ll likely need to work for lower rates to get your name out there, but you can increase your rates once you get experience. After a while, you’ll be able to establish yourself in your niche, develop ongoing relationships with clients and work independently.

2. Digital Marketing and PR

If your talent lies in marketing, consider using these skills to build a business online. You can work with clients to promote their website, manage their social media platforms and spread the word about their business.

If you do a good job, you’ll get ongoing clients with whom you can grow along with while you work from anywhere. You’ll have to stay up to date with the latest algorithm changes and best practices. You can always be learning and growing along with the changing tides of the web so that you can provide the best possible marketing service for your clients.

3. Blogging

Is it possible to make money just by running a blog? It may not be easy, but according to the experts at Problogger it can be done. The key is to find the right niche, create high quality blog content and find out the most effective ways of getting it seen by your readers.

For many bloggers, income comes from a combination of ad revenue, affiliate links, sponsored posts and the sale of materials such as ebooks, courses, etc. Blogging can also be a supplemental income alongside one of these other businesses.

For example, if you are a freelance writer you may also have a blog, which can offer a number of benefits including establishing you as an expert in your niche and serving as a portfolio of your writing talents to show future clients.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a pretty simple idea — you sell a product by using a particular link and if the customer clicks the link and buys the product you make a percentage of the sale. Many people do this by starting up their own website and promoting products on there, but you don’t have to do it that way.

You can make money with affiliate marketing without a website by posting links in online forums, promoting your links through Google adwords, using email marketing, promoting your links through social media and much more. To be successful you need to understand why your customers would be buying the product and how to promote the link so that they are more likely to click on it.

5. SEO Consulting

If you understand the magic of SEO and know how to improve a website so that it gets better search rankings — many companies will be willing to pay you for this service. You’ll be analyzing your client’s website and letting them know what could be done to get their sites to rank higher on the search results.

SEO, like anything, is a skill that you can learn. There are many training courses that you can take to acquire this knowledge for under $1000. After that, you’ll just need a detailed website that advertises your services and a computer with a high speed internet connection.

6. Virtual Assistant

There are a lot of busy professionals around the world who need someone to answer their emails, organise their to-do lists, update their calendars and do other administrative tasks for them.

Some of the services that virtual assistants offer include social media setup and maintenance, video creation, editing and uploading, basic bookkeeping services, minute taking and typing up notes, writing and editing reports, collecting outstanding invoices, setting up and managing webinars and much more. It really depends on what you arrange with your client — you’re there to help them run their business so that they have more time to focus on their priorities.

Starting a virtual assistant business isn’t too difficult and anyone can do it — although to be successful in this industry you will need motivation, planning, strong organisational skills and great self-marketing skills.

7. Creating Information Products

If you have expertise on a particular topic, consider starting up an information product creation business. The most common ways of doing this are writing an eBook that your customers can buy and download, or creating a series of training videos that people can login and view.

Very little costs are involved in starting up this business. You’ll need a website to host and promote your course or ebook and perhaps a bit of marketing costs. The main investment will be the time it takes you to create the materials. A successful product will touch on a pain point that many people have and offer useful, practical information that will help teach them how to solve the issue and improve their lives.

8. Graphic Design

Another business that you can start for a minimal investment while traveling around the world is graphic design. If you have a talent for creating visually appealing images and graphics, your skills will be in high demand.

You’ll be able to work your way up to premium rates quickly if you are able to listen carefully to what your client is trying to achieve, offering up multiple design options for them to choose from and deliver high quality work on deadline.

9. Dropshipping/eCommerce

Another fascinating business model that can can start up for a small amount of money and bring with you anywhere in the world is dropshipping or ecommerce. In the past, you would have needed a warehouse or at least a storage space to contain physical products in order to sell them. However, these days that is not necessary.

Using programs such as fulfillment by Amazon, you can purchase the products from your manufacturer, have them shipped to Amazon’s warehouses, then sell them to your customers on your own website or an eCommerce platform. It is possible to build an eCommerce business while you travel the world, without even having to touch the physical products yourself.

10. Flipping Websites

In the world of real estate the term “flipping” refers to buying a “fixer-upper” home at a bargain price, renovating it and then selling it again at a profit. Flipping websites follows the same concept, except you are selling online real estate rather than brick and mortar real estate.

The key is to purchase a URL that is under optimized and undervalued. Then, optimise the site so that you can increase its profit, then sell the site for more than what you purchased it for.

Flippa is the largest website out there for buying and selling websites, but there are many others. It is like the eBay of websites — you bid on the site you want in an auction format. As well as the cost of purchasing the URL, you’ll need to know how to build a decent website on that site (or hire someone to do it).

Which digital nomad business is right for you?

It will depend on your skills, strengths and personality. How can you market your particular talents online and what can you do that no one else can? I would recommend reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau — a great guide with a lot of valuable information and case studies.

An important thing to note is that many of these businesses are performance oriented services. You have to be dedicated and work hard and offer a high quality product or service to your customer.

However, there’s nothing wrong with working hard to make your dreams come true. Unlike working for a company, when you work hard for yourself you reap all of the benefits — you really do get what you put in.

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I hope you enjoyed this article. I’ll make sure to write another one with some of my tips and tricks to lead the optimal digital nomad lifestyle and the perfect way to get started.

Thanks for hitting the “Clap” button if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more!

Keep Nomading,

I’m a co-founder at Candy Banners, a digital advertising studio and Stinson Design, the leading presentation consultants in North America. Previously founder of social game Predico and on the board of ad tech company Viewor.
Follow my adventures on Instagram @timgrassin

Tim Grassin

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I build businesses. Co-founder TendoPay, Candy Digital, Stinson Design (sold)