As more and more jobs and tasks can be done remotely online, many people are asking themselves if they love their job and location. For those who are questioning their work, the appeal of digital nomadism is strong. As a digital nomad, you get to work for yourself and you get to make the world your office.
And, you’d be in good company. From 2018 to 2020, the number of digital nomads in the U.S. more than doubled, going from 4.8 million to 10.9 million. Here are eight ways you can make money as a digital nomad and work anywhere in the world you want to.
One of the easiest ways you can work as a digital nomad is to freelance or be an independent contractor who works online.
According to Rax Suen, writer at NomadsUnveiled and host of the Chat with Nomads podcast, “popular freelancing jobs among the digital nomad community are graphic design, programming, digital marketing and virtual assistants. These services are often easy and widely accepted to be provided remotely and online.”
All you need to get started as a digital nomad freelancer is a computer and a little startup cash to fund you as you find your first clients. As your business becomes more established, you might also want to start an LLC to protect your business and simplify your taxes.
The average hourly rate differs depending on a freelancer's area of expertise and what they do, but freelancers can earn anywhere from $30 to $60 per hour.
Another great way to get started as a digital nomad is to offer your services as a teacher. If you’re an expert at something or within your field, you can get hired to teach others your skills online. Many digital nomad teachers start on existing platforms, while others offer independent classes through their own website.
Suen suggests “platforms like Preply, Teachaway and Cambly, which match teachers with students.” A lot of first-time teachers will also teach English to second-language speakers to get their start as digital nomads.
Glassdoor estimates that online teachers make approximately $45,000 per year, but this number can range depending on if you're working full time and which platforms you're working on.
Set Up a Profile on Fiverr
While you can go it on your own as a digital nomad, finding those first few clients can be a real struggle. That’s where Fiverr, and other similar platforms, come in. Fiverr offers digital nomads a marketplace to find clients.
“Fiverr freelancers set their own prices and work according to their own schedule — they choose what to charge based on the value they place on their experience and their time,” says a Fiverr spokesperson. “Since all work is done through the platform, sellers have the flexibility to travel the world or live wherever they choose.”
According to the spokesperson, the most common categories for digital nomads on the platform are:
One of the most fun — but also difficult — ways to be a digital nomad is to become an influencer or content creator. You could create content on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or your own personal blog.
With enough followers and interaction, you can get platforms to pay you a percentage for views or be sponsored by brands to create content. Because of the various payment calculation methods for content creators, it's difficult to find an average income range for influencers. The average income will vary from Instagram to YouTube to TikTok, and whether the calculations are based on sponsorships, views or interactions, but if you build a big enough following and find the right sponsors, you can make a livable income.
Becoming a content creator is no easy feat, but it’s also one of the greatest jobs. If you’re a travel influencer, you essentially get paid to do what you love: travel the world.
For some people, their skills easily translate to online. For others, this is more difficult. But, there’s a potential opening for those who don’t already have online skills. If you’re good at administrative tasks and organizing data, you can become a virtual assistant.
There are a variety of different types of virtual assistants out there, so you can really customize the work you do to what you enjoy. Some manage client’s social media, while others manage someone's calendar, email and meeting schedule.
The critical skill here is being good at organizing information. If you can do that, you can be a virtual assistant.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average income for a virtual assistant is $67,000, or $32 per hour.
An ecommerce seller simply has an online shop where they sell goods. A dropshipper is an ecommerce seller, but they’re reselling items and all of the shipping and logistics are handled by a third party.
There are tons of online resources to help you learn the intricacies of dropshipping and ecommerce selling. Beware: don’t get sucked in by blogs or teachers who try to sell you an overnight success story. This type of digital nomad job is just as difficult as other jobs.
According to Niche Pursuits, dropshipping businesses can bring in anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 per month, depending on the scale of their business and the relationships they build with suppliers.
Create E-Learning Tools
A combination of teaching and ecommerce is to create your online tools and content to teach something you’re an expert at and sell it on your own platform. This is a great way to be a digital nomad because digital products only have to be created once but can be sold multiple times.
If you’re creating e-learning tools, you might also periodically offer live online classes or workshops to students. Like other digital nomad jobs, this one does require that you start to build a following online, which can take time and investment to get started.
Like many of the other digital nomad jobs on this list, the average salary for e-learning creators can have a wide range. For business mentors and life coaches, e-learning tools are a small part of a larger business. For others, e-learning tools are their entire business, but the passive income it brings in is enough to pay their bills.
Bonus: Take Flight Vouchers
While it's not a way to earn a living, digital nomads can bring in a little extra spending money by accepting flight vouchers. Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO of TravelFreak, clued us into this clever way for digital nomads to get more travel dollars. When you book your flight, choose the most popular time to fly, and then when you arrive at the airport, tell the gate agent that if the flight is full, you’d be happy to take the next flight.
“Granted, it doesn't happen all the time, but I would say I'd change flights about 20 percent of the time,” says Foster. “With the money offered ranging from $250 to $2,000, it’s well worth an extra few hours in the airport just to arrive at my destination a little later than planned.”
If you’re ready to make the world your office and to become a digital nomad, there are a number of different ways you can get started. You’ll find tons of resources online that can help you along your journey and make the process of starting your business and finding your first paying customers just a little bit easier.
Page is a freelance content marketing writer with experience writing about small business, the future of the workplace and health. She also operates a weekly email newsletter where she shares advice on living an authentic, intentional life. When not writing, you can find Page traveling, fostering older cats and working as a sexual assault advocate.