Are you interested in living the digital nomad lifestyle? This special group of globetrotting freelancers has been growing for years now. According to MBO Partners, 4.8 million independent workers in the US describe themselves as digital nomads. After 2020 grounded everyone for such a long time, it’s safe to say even more people will want to find digital nomad jobs in the future.
If you’re wondering what kind of digital nomad jobs you can get and want some advice from an experienced freelancer with wanderlust, here’s the ultimate guide for you:
Advice From an Experienced Digital Nomad
If you’re interested in digital nomad jobs, it’s best to take advice from an expert. I’ve been working online for 7 years and spent several years traveling around, taking my work with me wherever I went.
I actually got the idea of being a digital nomad from my parents. The second all their kids were grown up, they sold their house and became digital nomads themselves. The whole time I was in college and grad school they were frolicking around the world. (Check out their story here.)
Where I’ve lived as a digital nomad
Most of the time I’ve spent as a digital nomad has been in Ethiopia. That’s where I am right now! I have a home here, but thanks to the flexibility of being an online freelancer, I can travel a lot and for great lengths of time. I’ve spent months-at-a-time in other countries like Thailand, England, Ireland, and Spain.
Here’s a picture of my husband and me on a month-long trip to Thailand:
I’m an American, so I also take long trips back to the US to visit friends and family. I’ve also been to lots of other places, including other African countries and places in Central and South America.
Why I love being a digital nomad
When I first started working online, all I cared about was being able to travel the world, see new places, and do new things. Over time I realized that what I really loved was the ability to live in a new culture long-term, learning their language and customs.
Now I love being a digital nomad because of the flexibility it gives me. Since moving to Ethiopia, my husband and I have adopted 3 children. Working online gives me the flexibility to spend extra time with them every day.
Being a digital nomad also means I can go visit my family and travel with them whenever I want. Probably the best trip I ever took was meeting up with my sister to explore London. She had to go back to work after a week, but I stayed in England for a month, because I could!
I can also easily take time off if family/friends come visit us. Here’s a picture of our family off to the hot springs on a Tuesday when my brother and his wife came to visit:
Things You Need as a Digital Nomad
The great thing about being a digital nomad is that you don’t need much to succeed. Here are a few must-haves you should think about:
1. A good functioning laptop
A trustworthy laptop is all the working space you need as a digital nomad. Don’t take an old clunker that might go kaput on you in the middle of your travels.
2. A reliable internet connection
If you plan to travel to Central or South America, Africa, or southeast Asia, make sure you go somewhere with good internet access. With most digital nomad jobs, you won’t be able to get much done without WIFI. If you do travel somewhere where WIFI is unreliable, be sure to have a backup option like a phone with mobile data access or a mobile data dongle for your laptop.
3. A Skype phone number
One thing that’s always been valuable for me is having a US-based phone number connected to my Skype account. Lots of clients want to talk on the phone, and that’s not possible when you don’t have a consistent phone number while traveling. You can purchase one from Skype for a small annual fee.
4. Your own website
Having your own website makes you look professional as an online freelancer. It also serves as a place for you to point potential clients to learn about you and your services. You can easily create your own website in a day using WordPress. Check out my freelancer website to get an idea of what a digital nomad website looks like.
Places to Find Work for Digital Nomads
Knowing what you want to do online is the easy part — figuring out how to get jobs as a digital nomad can be more challenging. Here are some platforms and strategies that can help you land a digital nomad job:
There are lots of online freelancing platforms where you can find work as a digital nomad. Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Guru are general platforms for all sorts of digital nomad jobs. There’s also 99Designs for artists and Kolabtree for people with an academic background.
LinkedIn has changed a lot in recent years and is now a very valuable resource for digital nomads. The social platform has its own job boards where you can search for remote-work positions. You can also join groups and network to find clients.
FlexJobs is a job website designed for remote work positions. Unlike other job sites, you should be able to find lots of positions here that allow you to travel while you work.
This is the best thing you can do to get high paying clients as a digital nomad. I highly recommend you set up your own website and a strategy to market yourself online. This is something I teach new freelancers exactly how to do in my online course ENDLESS FREELANCE INCOME.
The Best Digital Nomad Jobs for 2021
There are lots of digital nomad jobs that make it possible for you to earn money online while traveling the world. Here are some of the best options for 2021:
Copywriting as a freelance gig that you can do full time or part-time. Businesses always need writers to create blog posts, articles, white papers, reports, product instructions, guides, books, and more.
I think copywriting is the best digital nomad job but I’m biased because that’s what I do as a freelance writer. You can earn a lot of money as a writer if you find profitable niches and follow the right tactics to get clients. Some popular copywriting niches include travel, health, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, self-help, and more.
Remote work is easy if you’re a programmer. All you need is experience in a web language (Java, Python, Ruby, etc.). It’s easy enough to take online courses to gain skills in programming. This is one of the top paying digital nomad jobs because programmers are in very high demand.
You can get an idea of how much programmers earn by checking out programmer profiles on Upwork:
3. Online tutor
There are lots of digital nomad jobs out there for online tutors. You can tutor younger students in basic subjects like math, English, history, and science. For high school and college students, you can specialize in something more specific, like trigonometry! All you need to be an online tutor is some evidence that you’re good at one of these subjects. Usually, an interview and your transcripts are all you need to get the job.
If you’re passionate about reading, then you could be quite happy as a freelance editor. A remote worker can easily earn a living as an editor in either fiction or nonfiction. There’s no need to have an English degree or special credentials to get hired as an editor. However, it can help you earn more money if you specialize in a certain type of editing, such as academic editing, fantasy fiction, technical content, APA or MLA-style content, etc.
One thing I really liked about editing as a digital nomad is that I could work offline. Lots of digital nomad jobs on this list require you to have a stable internet connection at all times. With editing, you can download your content, work offline, then upload it the next time you get on the internet.
If you’re interested in digital nomad jobs for beginners, proofreading is a great choice. Proofreading jobs don’t pay as well as editing gigs, but they’re also much easier to tackle. Proofreaders work with the final draft of content, making minor changes to spelling, grammar, and formatting for clients. It’s the kind of digital nomad job you can do sitting at a beach restaurant while chatting with your friends. Not too much concentration, and not too much heavy editing.
Lots of digital nomads who work remotely become professional photographers. As you travel, you’ll have the opportunity to visit all sorts of beautiful places and see interesting people you can photograph. You can sell your photos to stock photo websites, or create pieces for travel magazines to showcase your work.
7. Social media manager
If you’re familiar with all the major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and the know-how to build and engage an audience on each, you can become a social media marketer. Lots of businesses hire freelancers to manage their social profiles. Usually, your main role would be posting content, replying to direct messages, comments, and @mentions, and following people.
If you have the skills and tools, you can also develop social content strategies for your clients to help them build their following, engage their audience, and capture leads. There are lots of social media tools that can help you learn what interests a specific social audience, such as SproutSocial:
Being a social media manager is great for digital nomads because it’s flexible and always in demand.
8. Virtual assistant
If you’re just getting started in the freelance world, becoming a virtual assistant is a great idea. Many businesses and individuals will hire remote virtual assistants to help with a variety of tasks. Some aspects of the job may include reading and answering emails, data management in Excel, running their website, answering customer service inquiries, managing social media profiles, etc.
Virtual assistant pay can start on the low end, but the more skills and experience you have, the more you can earn. Become someone’s executive assistant and you can earn a top salary while enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle.
9. Graphic designer
Graphic design is one of the most popular remote jobs out there. If you’re skilled in digital design and art, that’s all the credentials you need to become a graphic designer. Businesses can hire you to create logos, other website graphics, brochure graphics, business signs, infographics, book cover designs, and more.
There are lots of places to find freelance gig work as a graphic designer, including platforms like Freelancer, Upwork, and 99Designs. However, you’ll often be competing with many low-priced, low-quality designers on these platforms. That’s why it’s better to set up your own website and seek out clients who can pay you well.
10. Social media influencer
It’s common for digital nomads to build up an active social following as they document their travels. If you have a targeted list of engaged followers on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you could earn money as a social media influencer.
Here’s an example of an Instagram influencer travel-related post:
Influencers partner with brands to promote products to their social following. Brands will pay you either a flat fee or commission on sales from your social posts.
Blogging is one of the most popular digital nomad jobs. Lots of people adopt the digital nomad lifestyle and blog about their experiences traveling around the world. Blogging by itself doesn’t earn you any money, however. You can earn money from your blog by showing advertisements or promoting products to your audience.
The key to success as a blogger is choosing a niche that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Popular blogging niches include travel, lifestyle, health and fitness, parenting, DIY, etc. Then you need to create a lot of valuable and relevant content to build up traffic to your blog.
12. Affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is another digital nomad job that goes well with blogging. Affiliate marketers promote other people’s products using a special tracking link. They promote them on their website, social media accounts, or to their email list. Then when someone in their audience clicks the link and makes a purchase, you get a commission on the product value. Commissions can range from 2-5% for physical products, or go as high as 50% for digital products.
13. Customer support representative
Lots of businesses need customer support representatives. They help out by answering customer questions, dealing with technical issues, and the like. This can be done through phone calls, email, and live chat. It’s common for businesses to hire remote workers in low-income countries for this position. They often don’t pay well as a result. However, some companies seek out English-native speakers to be customer support representatives and will pay you a consistent wage.
If you’re bilingual, you should consider translating as a digital nomad job. There are lots of gigs out there for translating, especially content made for the web. Thanks to globalization, lots of businesses want to translate their web content into different languages. Here are the top 10 languages of the internet as of 2020:
15. Online language teacher
If you want to become location independent, being an online language teacher is a great way to earn money while you travel. You can do this by working through an agency or finding clients directly. Lots of parents will pay good money to have their child taught English from a native speaker. You can do this remotely through a video chat with your students.
16. Web designer
Website designers build websites for people, either by request or creating WordPress templates people can buy. You need some coding skills to do this, as well as a knack for creating appealing visual layouts. It’s easy to find web design gigs on a freelancing site like Upwork. You could also get hired by an agency to create websites for their clients.
17. Book Author
If you’ve always wanted to be an author and a digital nomad, that’s great because they go quite well together! Thanks to self-publishing tools like Amazon it’s possible to get your own books out there for people to see and purchase. Many of the best new fiction authors of the past decade got recognition from publishing on Amazon Kindle. As a digital nomad, you can also promote your books on your website, social media, and elsewhere.
Ghostwriting is something I do a lot as a freelance writer. Ghostwriting is when you create content for someone else, usually with a nondisclosure agreement, and they publish the content under their own name. You can get hired as a ghostwriter to write books, articles, and other web content.
19. SEO specialist
An SEO specialist is someone who helps businesses get their content to rank well in Google search engine results. You don’t need any special credentials to do this digital nomad job. Almost every SEO specialist is self-taught (myself included).
In general, an SEO specialist will identify keywords a website should target to rank for, based on search volume, competition, and domain strength. They can also help with optimizing websites for technical aspects of SEO (improving site speed, mobile optimization, etc.) as well as help businesses develop a strategy to get backlinks for their website.
20. Digital marketing specialist
Digital marketing specialist is a general term for someone who helps with all sorts of online marketing initiatives, including SEO. A digital marketing specialist can offer a wide range of services, such as email marketing, social media marketing, PPC advertising, display advertising, website management, lead generation, and more.
Clients can either pick and choose the services that are most important to them or let you manage everything for them. Most digital marketing specialists are quite skilled in using different marketing platforms. At a minimum, you should have experience marketing your own business or someone else’s successfully before considering this digital nomad job.
YouTubers are video bloggers. Like normal bloggers, they create content for a niche audience but do it through video instead of writing. Their videos rank in YouTube search results as well as Google search results, and that’s how they build their following.
Being a YouTuber is one of the best digital nomad jobs because it fits well with the lifestyle. You can create videos about your travels and experiences. One example of a great digital nomad YouTuber is Lost LeBlanc. He has 1.6 million subscribers:
22. Online consultant or coach
Being a consultant is different from other digital nomad jobs because you get to be your own boss. If you have expertise in certain areas that other people want to learn about, then you can become a coach or consultant.
Here’s an overview of some of the most profitable consulting niches on the web today:
- Resume building
- Employee performance
- College counseling
- Website development
- Online sales
- Retirement planning
Dropshipping is the perfect digital nomad job because it lets you get into eCommerce without having to keep any inventory. Droppshippers own an online store that sells niche products. They purchase products directly from the manufacturers. So whenever someone buys something from their website, they just have to dispatch the order remotely. As a dropshipper, you basically run the storefront and take care of customer service for your eCommerce orders.
24. Create your own digital nomad job
I put this on the list because there really are a lot of unique things you can do to earn money online as a digital nomad. You can run your own business; selling products, knowledge, online courses, services, etc. You could offer a really unique service that no one’s really thought of yet. For example, I recently met a traveler who works as a freelance research fieldworker. I’d never heard of someone who travels the world and does people’s fieldwork for them, but that’s what he does! If you’re creative, there are tons of options out there. Start with what you love and go from there.
There has never been a better time to become a digital nomad than now. The pandemic showed many businesses the value of hiring more remote workers. And thanks to 5G and the expansion of internet services all over the world, it’s possible for freelancers to work from many new places around the world. Just pick a niche that appeals to you, plan your first trip, and pack your bags. The rest will be history.