Insider tips on how to become a digital nomad/freelance in 2021

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Freelance Digital Nomad Gurvi Movement

Insider tips on how to become a digital nomad/freelance in 2021

Reading Time: 17 minutes

 

Looking to be inspired to live the digital nomad life?

My guess is that this change has been on your mind for a while.

You may have looked into many other business options, and thought of becoming a digital nomad, but you haven’t made it happen.

I’ve been there. I can relate.

The reality, however, is that you have to make career opportunities happen, and there’s never a perfect time to embark on something new. So my advice is to stop waiting and act now!

With that, here are all the best tips to shift your mindset to the digital nomad lifestyle.

 

Let’s dive into:

  1. What is a digital nomad and how do you become one in 2021?
  2. Why did I decide to be Digital Nomad & Freelance?
  3. On my freelance journey I learned early on:
  4. Have a financial plan
  5. What are some nice digital nomad hacks?
  6. How to find freelance work?
  7. My favorite cities/countries as a digital nomad
  8. What skills do I need to be a digital nomad?
  9. What is the most challenging aspect of becoming a digital nomad?
  10. What if I don’t have the skill set needed to look for any of the above nomad jobs?
  11. Discover the journeys of these female digital nomads
  12. Bottom line — How to become a digital nomad/freelance in 2021

What is a digital nomad and how do you become one in 2021?

“Digital Nomad” is a term given to remote workers who are location independent.

No office, no fixed office hours, just the requirement to have a laptop and internet connexion, a.k.a. the “laptop lifestyle”.

Digital Nomads work in cafes, co-working spaces, hotels, or wherever they want.

Coffee shops mexico digital nomad Gurvi Movement

How to become a digital nomad? Freelancing in a Coffee Shop, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico | @ Gurvi Movement

Why did I decide to be Digital Nomad & Freelance?

I caught the travel bug quite early on when I left my home country, France, 8 years ago and started working and traveling around the world. I have lived as an “expat” in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Mexico; while exploring many other countries along the way.

 

By working independently I have come to realise that I:

  • forget about the daily commute, traffic, office politics, and work outfit
  • have the freedom to choose my clients and my projects
  • can work at my own pace and organize my time to suit my lifestyle
  • have the ability to discover the world while earning money, and
  • no longer have to ask the boss if I can take a vacation



On my freelance journey I learnt early on :

#1 You got to have self-discipline and motivation. While it is a dream lifestyle (it really is!), to have the freedom to travel around the world and work on your own terms, your career and success will be determined by your own daily decisions. which can be sometimes exhausting or overwhelming. Becoming the only decision maker sometimes can bring a lot of stress and fatigue.

 

#2 DO NOT accept all the money making projects that are offered to you. If something feels “off” (client personality or project), that’s probably because it is “off”. Nomads learn very quickly to trust their own gut feeling.

 

#3 Your working environment is one of the most important factors in being productive. Make sure to choose cafes, hotels, or co-working spaces in which you can work in good conditions. Make sure you have a table or desk, space, natural light, internet connection, and very important – a good playlist!

Freelance Digital Nomad Uruguay Gurvi Movement

Being a Freelance Digital Nomad & catching the sunset, in Casapueblo Uruguay | @ Gurvi Movement

To become a digital nomad, have a financial plan

I recommend having some sort of safety net in case of emergencies or if you need to go back to your home country suddenly. Here are your options:

Establish a consistent form of income and business opportunity such as;

    A passive income;

  • Invest in cryptocurrencies, affiliate marketing or write a travel blog.

    An active income;

  • Create an online business or a side hustle, and develop a client list that generates enough income to allow you quit your day job;
  • Tryout a nomadic lifestyle by asking your employer if you can work remotely.

 

    If you don’t have a lot of savings, or a solid recurring income stream, you can;

  • Start doing business in a country where you have a currency exchange advantage, or in a country where living costs are very low; and,
  • Have a 3-6 months cash cushion or a secondary credit card with a high credit limit for emergencies, and a primary visa card for daily purchases and needs.

Remember to talk to a local tax specialist, in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Also get to know the tax regulations, and how they apply to a digital nomad, in each country where you are resident.



What are some nice digital nomad hacks

→    Purchase a SIM card from a good network service provider  
This is more reliable for digital nomads in case you travel to remote places, and if your hotel WiFi is poor. 💩
Having a SIM card will also free you from relying on hotel or café WiFi.

 

→    Find a cool hostel AND co-working 
Selina Hostels offer unique accommodation in many destinations around the world. Each hostel provides a nicely designed co-working area and high-speed WiFi. Perfect for networking, and working remotely.

 

→    Looking for great recommendations & inspirational content? 
Culture Trip always makes my travel planning easy, having up-to-date posts relating to food, coffee shops, which are vital for all digital nomads, and with good WiFi (yaaas!). They also make suggestions for art, music, books, film, and design experiences.

 

→    Find networking events for digital nomads and remote workers 

You can usually find a lot of good networking events on Facebook or find expats or Digital Nomads communities on platforms like Meetup or InterNations

 

→    Remote Year runs work and travel programs for people who want to live and work in different cities around the world, without having to compromise their professional pursuits.

 

→    Tulum has become a digital nomad hotspot since 2020.
There is now a huge community of remote workers that have based themselves out there. Community takes out the loneliness of being a digital nomad, and CoWorking Tulum is a great integration point for those that want to work from this beachside paradise!

 

→    Create an account in WISE (Formerly TransferWise) or download the app Revolut for your business and personal accounts.
 Both options will save you money by taking only a small percentage of each transaction, rather than having you pay a card transaction fee or a bank transfer fee. Also, you will be able to exchange money around the world with no hidden fees.

 

→    Have an additional charger, battery, plugins, cables, etc
As a digital nomad, you are reliant on your tools working 24 hours a day seven days a week, and depending on where you are in the world, you may not find replacements easily.

 

→    Pack less, travel light, and declutter
Sell and donate your unneeded possessions, or store them in your home country. Invest in high-quality multi-purpose clothing, so you feel comfortable while travelling, with less to carry.

Digital Nomad Tonga Gurvi Movement

How to become a digital nomad? In Tonga | @ Gurvi Movement

How to find freelance work?

Now it is time to talk about how to make money and do business, when freelancing.
As a freelancer, you can work for different clients and on several projects.

So that businesses can find freelance digital workers, there are specialized platforms, or business hubs, that act as links between freelancers and potential clients. These freelance platforms include:

→  Fiverr

→  Upwork

→  Malt

→  Toptal

→  Simply Hired

→  PeoplePerHour

→  9. 99Designs (exclusively for designers)

→  Writer Access (exclusively for writers)

→  Skyword

→  Designhill

→  Freelancer

→  Guru

 

Do not forget to activate your social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, …), and check out our pro tips to find a job. Word to mouth recommendation is still very effective in finding new clients and projects.

Freelance Digital Nomad New Zealand Gurvi Movement

Exploring New Zealand as a Digital Nomad (Tongariro National Park) | @ Gurvi Movement

My favorite cities / countries as a digital nomad

#1 Buenos Aires, Argentina
With a rich culture and incredible weather, Buenos Aires is a perfect destination for freelancers & nomads.
The cost of living is low and there are incredible cafés with fast internet connection everywhere. No doubt that you will also find a lot of fun and excitement in this amazing city.

 

#2 Ciudad de México, México (DF)

Mexico is a beautiful country with lovely people, a rich culture, delicious food 🌮, and again an overall low cost of living which exactly suits a nomad lifestyle.
If you are a coffee lover, check out Mexico City (CDMX), where you will find the hipster neighborhood of La Roma, and some of the best coffee houses in the world for nomads to hang out.
Another area, Condesa, also hosts some amazing coffeehouses, as well a plethora of art deco masterpieces.

→  Discover my fav coffee shops in Mexico City

 

#3 Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is a town that is spectacular from many angles having ancient volcanoes that loom in the background, to cobblestone paving and brightly coloured colonial buildings that line the streets. Coffee bars are aplenty having good WiFi, which makes them very nomad-friendly.

Digital Nomad Mexico Gurvi Movement

Digital Nomad Experience. Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico | @ Gurvi Movement

What skills do I need to be a digital nomad?

Know what values and experience you can offer and what kind of contribution you can make online.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the best digital nomad jobs:

  • Web and Mobile application developer
  • Graphic – Visual designer
  • User Experience – User Interface Designer
  • Expert in online marketing
  • Advertising expert (Facebook or Google)
  • SEO expert
  • Community Manager
  • Web writer (SEO or freelancer)
  • Translator, transcriptionist
  • Virtual assistant
  • Online trainer or teacher
  • Youtuber / Vlogger 
  • Travel blogger
  • Photographer
  • Trader
  • Accountant
  • Online Psychology
  • Marketing and Affiliate Marketing



What is the most challenging aspect of becoming a digital nomad?

I wouldn’t change my decision to become a digital nomad, being location independent for anything, but there are, as already stated, some challenges that come with this lifestyle.

The thing that I miss the most (apart from my family, my home country, and friends) is not having a team around me, and the human connection I can find working in an office.
But of course, I quickly meet people, make friends, and develop a social circle when I arrive in any new location.

Here are the other challenges of choosing digital nomadism:

 

→  Dependence on equipment and WiFi

→  Uncertainty about month-to-month income

→  Overcoming feelings of loneliness

→  Engaging with others in developing new perspectives, knowledge, methods and tools

→  Visa concerns and bureaucracy in some countries

→  Digital Nomad Health Insurance

→  Creating a new sense of home

Freelance Digital Nomad Jordan Gurvi Movement

Exploring Petra, Jordan | @ Gurvi Movement

What if I don’t have the skills needed to look for any of the above jobs?

You have skills. Everyone has skills.

Assess your competencies by setting down what you could sell as a service. Make some lists of your interests, and start to acquire referrals from the people, and businesses you have worked for.

Take online courses, view YouTube tutorials,  create a LinkedIn Learning Account, Listen to podcasts, read articles, learn a new language, above all – be open to what is around you.

If you learn quickly, you will develop a marketable skill and very soon you will be earning an extra income. 💸

Discover the journeys of these female digital nomads

Kayla Remote Work Blogger

Kayla is a remote worker and travel blogger, who encourages women to leave their office job and find a fun life as digital nomads.

Read Kayla's story

Why did you choose the digital nomad lifestyle?

I grew tired of the nine to five routine being employed in a job in which I had no interest. I felt like life was passing me by.

I decided that if I was going to have a boring job, I might as well be somewhere exciting,
so I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. That was in 2017, and I haven’t lived in the US for more than a few months in the last four years.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

I made every mistake possible and learnt that it’s best to specialize, and do something that you really enjoy.

I started by doing some freelance writing and graphic design, but I realised I did not like it and I wasn’t that good at it.

Now, I just do Pinterest management for other business owners which I really enjoy. I’ve found doing this work stimulating and fulfilling, which makes me more productive, and happier in myself.

How to find freelance work?

I find most of my freelance work through Facebook groups, and I also use my own website to market my services.

What are your favorite destinations?

I’ve been a digital nomad in the US, Central America, South America, and Europe, and I’m still looking for my favorite place!

Each location has unique advantages and disadvantages. I guess at the moment my favorite place for being a digital nomad is simply being in transit.

I love writing for my blog on an overnight bus, or a moving train. It’s pure bliss to be a leaf in the wind, and just enjoy the journey.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

Aspiring digital nomads should work on their organization and time management.

Missing deadlines, losing files, or your charging cord when you’re on a deadline will make you lose clients, money and cause a lot of stress.

Become insanely organized, or pay the consequences later on!

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Maintaining a work-life balance is extremely difficult.

t takes a lot of emotional intelligence to handle the extreme highs and extreme lows, and to not let your emotions get the better of your work, and travel experience.

What travel tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Don’t sleep on this, lots of women have made this nomadic lifestyle their reality.

Why not you? Don’t fall into the trap of being just a dreamer, be a doer. Make a plan and decide in six months from now that you will make it happen.

Where can we support you?

Writing From Nowhere

Wild Junket digital nomad exploring Colombia

Nellie Huang is a high-profile travel writer and blogger with a special interest in extreme adventure and unusual destinations. She has traveled to over 140 countries across seven continents, including the Arctic and Antarctica.

Her work has appeared on BBC Travel, CNN, and LonelyPlanet.com.

She is also the author of DK Books’ Explorers and The Adventure Traveler’s Handbook.

Read Nellie's story

Why did you choose the digital nomad lifestyle?

My goal was to have the freedom to travel and work at the same time.

What did you learn on your freelance journey?

That it’s important to maintain a balance. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

How do you find freelance work?

There are many platforms where people can offer their services, such as Upwork and Fiverr.

What are your favorite destinations?

Bali and Amsterdam are my favorite destinations right now.

What skills should you gain in order to become Digital Nomad?

You need to decide on what skills you are most interested in and passionate about, and that will help guide you to what you might do to earn money.

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Personally, I have no problems being disciplined and motivated, but my biggest challenge is balancing work and travel and finding enough time to work.

What tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Do all the research you can and start finding freelance work before you hit the road!

Where can we support you?

You can visit my website and Instagram account.

Voyage en roue libre converting a school bus into a creative studio

Clem et Mumu, are two French Canadian girls. They are currently converting a school bus into a creative studio.

When they are not busy with the bus, they travel around the world as digital nomads.

They run a communications and web marketing agency, and help people to become freelance digital nomads by connecting them with clients.

Read Clem et Mumu's story

Why did you choose the digital nomad lifestyle?

After a year of traveling in 2015, we realized we could definitely work anywhere in the world, and stay longer in the countries we visited.

We wanted to be independent geographically, but also be our own bosses so we got to choose how we spend our time.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

It is important to develop a personal project that you are passionate about, and that attracts clients that are like you. Also we learnt to turn down certain projects!

How did you find freelance work?

By developing a personal project and a network. We do not go looking for work.

What are your favorite cities/countries?

South-East Asia is our favorite destination right now.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

Being a digital nomad is a lifestyle choice, so you need to develop the skills that people want and are willing to pay for.

Many creative professions qualify for work online: motion designers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, illustrators or writers.

You can also look into web marketing, web development, or education for work opportunities.

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Time zone differences can be an issue for calls with clients. We have now grown used to this more fluid time-based approach to working with clients.

What tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

These would be the same tips for travelers: avoid arriving late at a destination without a plan, avoid going out alone in certain places.

Reserve accommodation or an Airbnb for a few days before booking for a longer period. Find out about the customs and habits of the country with respect to women and above all – travel light!

Where can we support you?

You can visit our website and Instagram account.

Isabel L Digital Nomad Around The World

Isabel is a full-time travel blogger and SEO coach who roams around the world at a whim. An explorer at heart, she draws her energy from being outdoors; the world is her playground.

Isabel helps aspiring bloggers and brands achieve traffic goals and financial freedom with online content. She also enjoys exposing millennial travelers to experiences beyond their imaginations.

Read Isabel's Story

Why did you decide to become a digital nomad?

The main attraction was the lifestyle and sense of freedom.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

That you can be anything you want to be, if you just put your heart and mind to it.

How do you find freelance work?

I rely mostly on Facebook groups and word of mouth.

What are your favorite cities/countries?

I would say my favorite places are Cape Town, Costa Rica and Mexico.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

You have to be tech-savvy. Once you are sure of yourself technically, then you can learn anything and everything online – well almost!

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Income streams are not fixed and steady, so you have to constantly hustle.

What tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Just do it! Being a female doesn’t put you at any more of a disadvantage than males.

Where can we support you?

You can visit my website and my Instagram account.

Claire's Itchy Feet Solo Female Adventure Traveler in Mexico

Claire Summers is a travel-obsessed digital nomad, with an inability to pack light and a weakness for tacos.

At 34, she sold all her worldly possessions that wouldn’t fit into three boxes and hit the road. Since then she has navigated a successful career in digital marketing, published two books about solo travel, and firmly established herself as a travel influencer.

Read Claire's Story

Why did you decide to become location-independent?

Because I wanted to live a fuller and more interesting life.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

Not to trade time for money!

How do you find freelance work?

These days work generally finds me. I stopped applying for jobs some time ago, and prefer to work only with those people who have been referred to me.

What are your favorite cities/countries as a digital nomad?

I enjoy being in Medellin, Playa del Carmen, and Mexico City.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

You need to practice a lot of self-discipline and be good at making people believe you are always available when the reality is you only work a few hours a day!

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Motivation! Sometimes all I want to do is eat tacos by the pool, and it’s easy to just forget about work. It is very important to keep yourself motivated and to have clear goals.

What travel tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Just do it! If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to your nine-to-five routine!

Where can we support you?

You can visit my website and my Instagram account.

Leona - Digital Nomad is sharing her journey

Leona Marlene is a digital nomad and online community fostering connection through story-telling and authentic conversation.

Leona Marlene is a digital nomad and online community host, forming connections through story-telling and authentic conversations. Leona and her partner recently sold everything they owned, and are now living a nomadic life, sharing their journey as they go, and calling different locations home for a short time.

Read Leona's Story

Why did you decide to become location-independent?

I have always craved location independence and the chance to discover new places and new cultures. I’m not convinced that people are meant to settle down in one place when there is so much of the world to explore.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

I have really adopted a minimal lifestyle, and have learned the importance of time management, and truly building a life I’m proud of.

How do you find freelance work?

I work remotely for a startup and my blog is my side hustle. There are numerous online platforms that allow you to find online work.

I think it’s important to recognize your skill set as well if you’re interested in working for yourself.

Everyone has a skill that can be monetized, if that’s your desire, and that skill can become a freelance occupation.

What are your favorite cities/countries as a digital nomad?

I have only been on this journey for about eight months, but some of my favorite places are Cape Town, Portugal and San Sebastian.

I’m hoping to explore Tulum, Greece, Turkey, and a few other gems this year and next.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

Self-discipline, time management and clear boundaries between work and your personal life, as that line can become a little blurry.

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

You have to learn to deal with irregular income levels, as not every month is consistent and you need to plan carefully where you’re going next. This means taking into account factors that are out of your control, like the weather, a global pandemic, spring/summer break, price increases, and many other variables.

What travel tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

I’m convinced that if you want something and put your mind to it, you will figure it out. Trust yourself and go for it!

We all have such unique skills that we can develop and monetize. Whether you want to be a digital nomad so you can travel, or wish to have more freedom, it’s all 100% possible.

Where can we support you?

On Instagram.

Amanda Digital Nomad and illustrator

Amanda is an illustrator born and raised in the tropics.

Read Amanda's Story

Why did you decide to become location-independent?

I am less productive when working under supervision and with time constraints. I like the independence of working when and where I want.

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

Hustle, hustle, hustle. Unlike an office job, where you can work the bare minimum and still get that paycheck at the end of the month, being a freelancer means that the less effort I put in, the less income I earn.

How to find freelance work?

I make use of social platforms mostly.

What are your favorite cities/countries?

Currently I am based in Bali, Indonesia, with the beach five minutes from my house. I absolutely love it here.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

I think the three most important skills for this laptop lifestyle are marketing, networking, and perseverance.

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Even though I’m just starting out, I find the most difficult aspect of being a freelancer is finding clients.

What tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Persistence is the key. The lifestyle is not as glamorous as social media makes out. There will be many hard days but just remember to keep going!

Where can we support you?

On Instagram.

Nikki Bartol is a digital nomad, entrepreneur, coach, and consultant

Nikki Bartol is a certified CPA Corporate Accountant, turned digital nomad, entrepreneur, and coach/consultant.

Nikki combines money mindset coaching, with practical money management strategies to help ‘solopreneurs’ learn how to consciously spend, attract, and manage their money!

Read Nikki's Story

Why did you decide to be a Digital Nomad / Freelancer?

I was ready to leave the corporate world so I went to India to do my Yoga Teacher Training, and moved to the DR. I then went on a Nomad Cruise and discovered an incredible nomad community. It’s all history from there!

What have you learnt on your freelance journey?

OMG everything! Life is meant to be lived and your community is everything! You can literally do anything you want!

How to find freelance work?

There are so many ways to find remote freelance work that it is difficult to answer this question.

What are your favorite cities/countries?

My special place now is Bali, I also enjoy Lisbon and Medellin.

What skills should you gain in order to become a Digital Nomad?

Mindset! It’s a very tough journey and you need to learn how to stay motivated through the highs and lows.

What is the most challenging part about being a freelance digital nomad?

Unless you’re a part of a community it can get lonely. Community is especially important when you are a digital nomad. As already mentioned, the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur are very challenging, as well as the rollercoaster experience of traveling into the unknown.

What tips do you have for women who want to become digital nomads?

Find as many people as you can in your life, or other communities who will support you! Having a cheering crowd who will support you through it all!

Where can we support you?

nikkibartol.com and @nikkibartol on Instagram, TikTok & Clubhouse.

Bottom Line —  How to become a digital nomad/freelance in 2021

Today with the Covid-19 pandemic still active in many parts of the world, you need to research your destination and make sure you take care of everything before you travel:

  • Get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) before your departure;
  • Search for the rules for transiting (each country has different regulations, and it changes fast);
  • Get vaccinated and obtain a vaccine passport, if possible.

But the bottom line is to just do it, don’t wait for “the best moment to jump in”, get out of your comfort zone; the moment to become a digital nomad is NOW – TODAY!!

Have you enjoyed this post? I’d love to hear about it, please leave a comment below! You can also follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. See you there! 🙌 

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