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Becoming a digital nomad: A guide for beginners

Perhaps you recently graduated from college and you want to start exploring the world of digital nomads or you have been working a full time office job for many years and now you want to take that huge step and go after the digital nomad lifestyle in search of greater autonomy and personal freedom.

There are many reasons why people chose to take up digital and remote jobs and become traveling experts. Some people do it in order to have a higher degree of autonomy and flexibility, others do it in order to work remotely and achieve mobility. Whatever your reasons are, it is certain that the life of a working nomad comes along with various benefits as well as some challenges.

What is a digital nomad?

We can hear you saying: but what is a digital nomad? More importantly, how to become a digital nomad? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, digital nomads are independent professionals who, rather than remaining at a fixed location, perform their professional activities while they are on the move.

Certain studies indicate that from 2019 to 2020, the number of professionals who adopted the nomad life increased by 50%! While the future of nomad living and remote work seems bright and prosperous, it might be a good idea to take a brief look at the steps of becoming a part of the global digital nomad community.

Is the nomadic lifestyle suitable for you?

You may wonder whether you are fit for the nomadic lifestyle or not. While it is a question with no straightforward answer, there are some pros and cons you can assess before deciding how suitable a nomadic lifestyle is for you.

On one hand, a nomadic lifestyle comes with a certain degree of freedom that you may not experience in less mobile ways of life, it is a great way to experience new cultures and see parts of the world you haven’t seen, lastly it is clear that it is not a boring way to live!

The challenges that you can face while pursuing a nomadic lifestyle can be uncertainty, financial anxiety, missing out on important dates and events of friends and family members. Before starting to build yourself a nomadic way of life, ask yourself if these pros and cons apply to you and what other advantages and challenges a nomadic way of life can present.

How to become a digital nomad

Surely, for many of us, the life of a freelancer is a tempting one. But just like every long term and sustainable career path, solo work and freelancing require careful planning. You need to take some preliminary steps that will become the bedrock of your life as a digital nomad in the future. Before you put yourself out there and start living as an independent solo talent, here are the first steps to take:

  • Refresh and expand your set of skills
  • Establish a diverse network
  • Find and maintain a solid base of clients
  • Plan your budget and your finances
  • Get a good health insurance
  • Think about your travel destination and reach there ahead
  • Look for travel discounts
  • Have a Plan B

Polish up and expand your skill set

There are many career paths and multiple ways you can follow to become a digital nomad. However, there are some skills and professions that are slightly more popular than others these days. Some of the skills and professions that are highly in-demand in the freelance market these days are:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Graphic design
  • Website designing
  • Programming and software development
  • Other IT related skills
  • Copywriting
  • Translation
  • Marketing

Mastering hard skills and technical abilities is only one dimension of the issue. The other one is to be in possession of good soft skills such as communication skills, problem solving skills, stress management abilities, teamwork skills and adaptability to dynamic situations.

Establish a diverse network

Solo workers who are new in the trade need to grasp how important networks are. Establishing a diverse network that is rich both in quality and quantity is essential. People on our network can consist of other freelancers, team leaders of other organizations and both former and current clients.

Seek out online community building events, networking events and other professional activities geared towards the professional needs of freelancers and digital nomads. You can also join face to face activities held where you are based that aim to bring fellow digital nomads together.

Find and nurture a solid client base

A successful and prosperous solo business rests on two main pillars: a network of colleagues and a base of clients. Solid and continuous clients help us maintain a reasonable cash flow and a good amount of consistent projects and gigs.

You can start forming your client base by attending online activities and job fares. Another option is to ask your previous clients to refer you to other clients. Needless to say, you can always let other freelancers and digital nomads know that you are up for more clients and more work.

Plan your budget and finances well

As a new digital nomad, you may want to change your location and start conducting your professional operations from another place. Here, the important thing to keep in mind is that some countries and destinations are particularly attractive for digital nomads because of the lifestyle they offer or the affordability of goods and services.

If you decide to move overseas and start handling your projects from abroad, don’t forget to utilize universal finance and compliance features of Ruul.

Get an extensive health insurance

If you plan on moving to a destination where you are not protected by the official healthcare system of your destination of choice, opting for a digital nomad health insurance is one of the wisest things you can do.

Luckily, there are health and travel insurance providers with services specifically tailored for the insurance needs of digital nomads and freelancers, such as our partner Insured Nomads. Make sure to check out their coverage guide to explore your options for a variety of circumstances and needs. The best part is, Ruulers get an exclusive 10% discount! Register and keep your eyes open for our newsletters to receive the details.

Research your travel destination ahead

No matter how globalized today’s world is, choosing a travel destination still depends on a couple of factors. One of the most important factors is the feasibility of living in a foreign location over an extended period of time without having to go through piles of paperwork. Going through the most available and expat-friendly countries that offer nomad visas would be a good idea during planning your travel route.

Be on the lookout for travel discounts

Are plane tickets expensive and the overall transportation costs high? If that is the case you may want to search for more affordable options and discounts. The easiest and most comfortable way of traveling may not be the most affordable one.

Keep your options wide and don’t hesitate to search for the best offers. In the end, cutting down the transportation costs will make you save more than you imagine.

Have a safety net and backup plans

Keep in mind that the stability of your freelance business and the challenges your projects may face not only rely on your personal effort but also on the overall situation of the market and global incidents.

In case things go wrong or the freelance market becomes unpredictable due to external circumstances, remember to have a safety net or a backup plan. Your backup plan may include your savings, other sources of income or the support of your loved ones.

Interested in becoming a digital nomad?

The life of a digital nomad is a rewarding one as well as a challenging one. Becoming a digital nomad means you will have greater freedom coupled with greater personal responsibilities.

As a solo talent you can have a sustainable freelance career by acquiring some in-demand skills and advancing your soft skills, having a strong and diverse network, forming and sustaining a solid client base, mastering your planning skills and having a health insurance tailored for digital nomads. You may also want to consider the most suitable and nomad-friendly destinations and always have a plan B for times of hardship and uncertainty.

No matter where your digital nomadism journey takes you, Ruul is there to help you securely and seamlessly carry out your solo work. Keep an eye on our blog for all kinds of tips, tricks and tools a digital nomad may need along the way!

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Arno Yeramyan
Arno Yeramyan is a polyglot who’s a fan of constantly learning new languages.

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