How To Make The Leap And Become A Digital Nomad

A no BS guide to making the switch.

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For the lucky among us, 9-to-5 is a treadmill best leapt off early (or avoided altogether), and the lure of life as a digital nomad couldn’t be more appealing. All well and good, of course – but how exactly does one go about it? Today, we take a short and sharp look at how to become a digital nomad and make your dreams of work-life balance a reality.

Plan The Transition

While the ‘dump it all and leap into the void’ route can be a thrilling one, most people with their heads screwed on usually prefer to tackle big life moves with a dose of pre-planning.

The nomadic life can be a jarring difference from the 9-to-5 world, so it’s a good idea to set up a transition period to make the change of gears as smooth as possible.

Firstly, set your course: where’s your desired point ‘B’? Sipping pina coladas on the coast of Ibiza as your passive income rolls in with the tide? Nice call – set that vision, and start working towards it. Book a ticket for a year’s time, and prepare each day for the new adventure.

Have Skill, Will Do It

Becoming a digital nomad is a lot less complicated than you probably think.

If you ask Iglu, all you gotta do is (a) have a skill, and (b) do it from anywhere. The bit about the ‘skill’ is pretty important – without it, you’ll struggle to earn an income, and therefore live.

The good things is, being the savvy, adaptable and skilful individual that you are, you’ll no doubt have something up your sleeve that you can market into a viable freelance profession.

Define that skill set – what can you do, and what do you like doing (bonus points if it’s the same answer for both). Whether you’re a brilliant wordsmith who knows how to engage audiences and drive customer conversions, or a killer photographer with an eye for the right vibe, hone exactly what it is that you do, who you do it for, and for how much.

The less location-dependent your skills are, the more freedom you have to work from anywhere.

Build Up

Not having a guaranteed stream of funds can be a little unnerving in the early stages of your new nomadic life, and it’s something that puts many off from straying from the treadmill in the first place.

Prepare for living on a little less than you were accustomed to in your full-time gig – it’s only a matter of time that you gain more clients, and more cash flow as a result.

Of course, this is assuming you’re going full freelance – it might also be possible to work your current gig remotely, so have a chat to your boss. Failing that, consider shifting from a full-time gig to part-time, and start building your freelance gigs incrementally. Straddling full-time and freelance work can be a less harrowing transition.

Keep A Kitty

If you’re planning on a more decisive ‘big transition’ with an international jaunt to mark the moment, put aside money each week as part of your action plan and lock it away in a savings account.

By the time you’re properly flying solo, you’ll have a sweet dollar cushion underneath you as you cruise deeper into nomadic terrain.

The Client Hunt

Finding regular, well-paying clients can be a challenge to the uninitiated, and those who’ve only just started in their prospective field. But today’s marketplace, as you’ve probably noticed, is a little different.

While working in an agency for a couple of decades before going solo can help build a solid professional network (and thus help generate freelance clients post-treadmill) it’s not out of the question to start building your freelance client base much sooner.

Think local, and branch out: Who do you know that might need your skill? Look to your immediate networks: friends, family, professional, and beyond. Hit up those editors, engage with those business owners, let the word of your skills spread like wildfire, and make sure your online presence (website, social media channels, etc.) are ever-ready to impress.

Get Out Of Your Head

The inner critic is a nasty piece of work, and we’ve all got one in our heads telling us we can’t achieve the ‘ambitious’ things we want to do. Stop listening to that guy. There are so many excuses and perceived reasons for not going solo – largely based on the fear drummed up by this inner voice.

Remember the goal at hand – this transition is not only achievable, it’s inevitable. There’s only one major thing that can stop a new life from happening, and that’s you. Get out of your head, and get out of your own way (it’ll make things a lot easier).

(Lead image: Girls/HBO)

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