All nomadic journeys start with the decision to do so. Mine was initially to work remotely – albeit from home at the beginning. I realized that many things had to be done before I can even hit the ground running with my career as a digital nomad. One of them was to choose which work from anywhere jobs would be the best fit for me, my needs, and my lifestyle.
Once I took that first step, I had to do other seemingly small things such as change my business address and contact numbers, because all my credit card and insurance company mail had to be sent to my home address instead of to my former office. Then I made sure to update my professional network by adding remote employers and colleagues who can teach me the ropes about this new chosen lifestyle.
Fast-forward today, and I am still learning new things. But for this post, I want to share with you some of the most practical lessons I picked up in my pursuit to work from home anywhere in the world.
Be familiar with the risks involved
This isn’t the preamble to a self-help book type of advice, mind. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence about leaping into a digital nomad career right after I quit my corporate job. But a successful freelance colleague also advised me against being stagnant because I’m afraid to take risks. So instead of hemming and hawing at taking on a new remote job opportunity – or worse, taking on it without weighing the pros and cons first – I came up with a method to help me decide.
One of the items I needed to prioritize was to determine if the job will allow working anywhere. This means I could work from the comfort of my own home, or at the beach, or in a coworking space or café, or just about any location where I feel like meeting deadlines. While this situation sounds idyllic, there are particular security, financial, and other risks involved. Traveling costs serious money, and paying for overhead fees can put a dent in my overall income. To address all the risks and weigh them one by one, I made a spreadsheet indicating all the variables at play. Revisiting it helps me make logical and informed decisions about new clients, unknown locations (do I stay home for this project or fly over to where it is?), and the other details that have to do with being a digital nomad.
Play to your strengths
I learned that most of the jobs that allow you to work from anywhere require enough experience and independence to make your client trust you to see a project through to the end. A lot of the people I end up working for (or with) are the results of referrals – either by colleagues and employers I’ve encountered in the past, or from satisfied freelance clients who liked what I did for them and would recommend me to their friends.
My portfolio and resumé should, therefore, reflect the kind of experience that will make me indispensable. Every time I finish a successful project, I make sure to add it right away to my career portfolio and to highlight my tasks or position that helped it to become a success. This way, if a former client did refer me to a new one, they would immediately see my role in a past project and view it as an indirect endorsement from someone they know and trust.
Develop useful new skills
Remember my fear of stagnation a few paragraphs up? That was one of the things that I wanted to avoid because it’s akin to career suicide, especially for a digital nomad. While I was confident enough to coast on my previous successes, I realized that more and more freelancers are now more skilled and have had more extensive training compared to me. Expertise and experience can get your foot in the door, but employers will always look for people who are willing to learn new skills and tools to make the job easier.
That was when I decided to invest in developing useful new skills as a digital nomad. I would apply for online classes on writing, basic programming, and software, or have someone teach me a new app that would come in handy for work. Some clients also give me the option to attend seminars and workshops that are in line with a current project. It means that I have to spend some of my hard-earned cash on these lessons, but the experience and new knowledge are worth it in the end.
Invest in the proper tools of the trade
To be able to work from home anywhere, I had to be equipped with the tools that allows me to communicate freely with my clients without interruption. In one of my first blog posts here, I wrote about the importance of having a stable Internet connection, for one. Some of the methods to ensure that I will never be disconnected include investing in a WiFi hotspot, knowing which coworking spaces and hotels have a steady Internet connection all the time, and learning how to tether on my mobile phone as a backup system.
I also needed to upgrade my mobile phone and other work-related devices to ensure optimum performance. I am currently working with a five-year-old laptop and, so far, it hasn’t conked out on me yet. That doesn’t mean I should be lulled into a false sense of security that I can rely on it for years to come, though. That is why I am already shopping around for an affordable replacement with proper specs so I won’t be caught by surprise in case this gadget finally decides to quit on me.
Try some supplemental income-generators
I have to admit to experiencing some freelance “dry spells” in-between clients and projects. In a perfect digital nomad world, I would be starting on a new project as soon as a previous one wraps up, but alas, this isn’t always the case. So to stave off hunger and bankruptcy, I take on supplemental streams of income. Some of my favorite ones are online rewards sites like GrabPoints where I can do surveys, complete offers, perform easy tasks, and get rewarded for them. They are so easy to do that I am practically on auto-pilot when I perform them. I got this tip from another freelance colleague who gushed about earning a lot on the site – her actual words included “guaranteed highest payouts” since she also tried other GPT and paid survey sites in the past. Apparently, GrabPoints pays fast – at around 48 business hours – so it doesn’t take too long to cash out your earnings in case you need money ASAP. I tried it, liked it, and I think I will stick with this method to earn some extra pocket money!
So yes, there are jobs you can do from anywhere in the world. All you need is to assess where you are currently as far as finances, physical and emotional state, and other pertinent factors are concerned. But once you decide to start being a digital nomad, you have to really put in the work to be successful at it!