It’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago the term “digital nomad” didn’t really exist in the public consciousness. Now it seems to be everywhere.
But with that explosion in awareness and popularity has also come a large measure of confusion as to what exactly a digital nomad is. That confusion can make it difficult to decide if the nomadic lifestyle is right for you.
To help point you in the right direction, the experts at Bond Collective have created this complete entrepreneur’s guide to working from anywhere.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
Though the words “digital nomad” haven’t officially popped up in most English language dictionaries (and no, the Urban Dictionary doesn’t count), those in the know agree on the following definition:
A digital nomad is a person who harnesses telecommunications technologies (e.g., internet access, smartphones, cloud computing, and voice over internet protocol) to work remotely, earn a living, and conduct their life in a nomadic manner.
Does that type of lifestyle sound appealing to you? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of workers and entrepreneurs around the world are taking steps to become digital nomads themselves.
But how do you go about transitioning from the traditional nine-to-five work paradigm to the new nomadic work lifestyle?
How To Become A Digital Nomad
1) Establish A Base Of Operation
Imagine this: one day you’re working in the corner coffee shop and the next day you’re in dire need of a place to host a meeting for the biggest client you’ve ever had. Don’t let that happen to you.
Instead, take advantage of the growing presence of coworking spaces, like Bond Collective, to establish a base of operation. Bond Collective gives you access to multiple luxurious coworking spaces, private offices, conference rooms, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, daily on-site cleaning, and even guest reception and greeting.
All of these benefits (and more) for a fraction of what it would cost to set up those amenities on your own.
Even if you work primarily overseas, there’s nothing like knowing that you always have a full-service office environment waiting for you should you need it.
2) Do A Little Self-Examination
Roaming around the world and working for yourself may sound great (it is), but the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Before you commit to being a digital nomad, examine your personality and the way you work.
If you’re someone who thrives on order, consistency, and routine, traveling while working may not be your cup of tea. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on the dream completely. It just may mean that you work remotely in the city where you live rather than jetting off to a new country every few months.
3) Build Your Clientele First
Before you hop on that plane to Timbuktu, it’s essential to build your clientele first. You should have enough existing clients to cover food, lodging, supplies, and travel BEFORE you leave.
That way, you won’t find yourself calling your friends and family, trying to raise enough money to buy food in Outer Mongolia.
4) Cut Your Expenses
You’re not going to need that gym membership nor the subscriptions to your favorite trade magazines when you’re living the digital nomad lifestyle. Cut those expenses now, and get your spending down to just the necessities (food, lodging, and work supplies). Use the money you would have spent to satisfy steps five and six.
5) Pay Off Debt
Get rid of the burden of debt before you become a digital nomad. Significant debt can be like a weight around your neck and can detract from the fun of the digital nomad lifestyle.
Paying off debt cuts down on the exorbitant interest rates that drain your funds and eliminates the hassle of trying to pay a bill from a mountain in Kyrgyzstan.
6) Build An Emergency Fund
It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-fledged digital nomad or just a remote worker, emergencies will happen. You might need a doctor. Your mobile device(s) might break down. You may need to travel unexpectedly.
Whatever the emergency, you don’t want to find yourself stranded (both literally and figuratively). Set up an emergency fund, and don’t touch it unless you absolutely need it.
7) Secure The Right Equipment
As a digital nomad, technology is essential to your livelihood and well-being. That’s why it’s vital to secure the right equipment before you go.
Do your research and purchase the best tech you can afford. You don’t want your computer or tablet giving out on you in the middle of an important project.
8) Set Up Logistical & Administrative Processes Before You Go
How are you going to track projects while you’re gone? How are you going to send invoices and receive payments? How are you going to access your money on a regular basis? How are you going to communicate with your clients?
These logistical and administrative processes are extremely important for your success (and for your survival). That’s why it’s crucial to set up everything before you leave your home base.
9) Plan Your Travel & Research Your Destination
Digital nomads can’t go without electricity and internet — at least not for long. To avoid forced downtime, plan your major travel and research your destination before you go.
What type of power adapter will you need? Will there be internet where you’re staying? How reliable is the Wi-Fi? Don’t leave these issues — and your work — up to chance. Plan ahead for success.
10) Always Have A Backup Plan
Travel of any kind is rarely what you expect. Chances are, what can go wrong will go wrong. That’s why it’s vital to always have a backup plan (let’s call it plan B).
In fact, most digital nomads should probably have a plan C, D, and E just in case. If all else fails, tap that emergency fund and return to your base of operation.
How To Become A Digital Nomad Where You Live
Instead of simply jumping right into the digital nomad lifestyle, consider becoming a digital nomad where you live first. All it takes is a laptop or other mobile device and a reliable internet or Wi-Fi signal.
One of the best ways you can test the waters, so to speak, is by joining a coworking space like Bond Collective. This allows you to collaborate and network with other remote workers and maintain a meeting space for entertaining clients without the high overhead and upkeep associated with owning an office.
You can also try working from home, your corner coffee shop, the library, or anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi signal. If your job doesn’t require constant internet access, why not try working in the park when the weather cooperates?
Wherever you work, pay attention to how you feel and what you accomplish. Ask yourself:
- Am I comfortable working in a different location every day?
- Am I productive?
- Do I feel distracted?
- Am I able to stay in touch with clients?
- What tools do I need to make the experience better?
Give your new work style at least two weeks (a month is even better), and then evaluate the results — both how you feel and the quality and quantity of the work you completed.
After this first test, if you still feel confident that the digital nomad lifestyle is for you, try upping the ante a bit. Find a coworking space in another city and travel there to work for a few days.
Alternately, drive to another state, book a hotel, and work from a coffee shop in this new location. That would give you the feel of the digital nomad lifestyle without the risk of being in a foreign country.
As you continue to learn about this new way of working, change the variables every now and then to test out new aspects of the lifestyle.
Drive or fly to the opposite coast and try working from a completely different climate. Rent a camper for a few weeks and travel the country while working remotely. Visit Canada or Mexico to see what it’s like working from a foreign country and how your computer reacts.
If you’re still excited about the lifestyle after all that, then bon voyage and happy remote working. You were born to be a digital nomad!
To learn more about the advantages of coworking spaces for digital nomads, remote workers, and businesses of all kinds, visit BondCollective.com today.