7 Digital Nomad Truths No One Talks About
1. The term “digital nomad” has been soiled.
I prefer location independent. The term “digital nomad” has been ruined by people who are selling their lifestyle more than any services. Being a digital nomad isn’t a job- it’s just a lifestyle that means you can work from anywhere. You still need to make money by working! I will use the term digital nomad because it is a keyword that makes people’s ears perk up, but most of my clients also prefer “location independent”. It sounds much more polished.
2. You don’t just become a digital nomad.
Becoming fully location independent doesn’t happen overnight, just like running a profitable business doesn’t happen right away. I had saved a lot of money that allowed me to be entrepreneurial and work thousands of unpaid hours on my business. I diligently prepared for my travels.
I feel a new kind of freedom, but my business is my priority, because without my business I can’t travel! I still have a hefty responsibility- I’m not on a sabbatical or extended vacation. If I’m in vacation mode then I don’t do any work.
There was a time while working on my business that I thought I couldn’t do it- I actually went out looking for a job! I doubted myself a lot and couldn’t get a job which I saw as the Universe telling me to stay on my path. I’m so glad I did. Anyone claiming they ditched their life to travel the world and are suddenly soo successful is lying.
3. People don’t actually care that you’re living a fabulous location independent life.
No one cares that you just saw the seventh wonder of the world or that you swam with dolphins. The people who like your Instagram photos aren’t paying your bills.
All your clients care about is:
- Can you do what you say you will?
- Can you do it well?
The people who harp on the lifestyle likely aren’t selling anything of value. The business comes before the dream, always.
4. "Fully nomadic" is a fad.
The bubble will burst down the road when everyone realizes it’s not healthy to be traveling to a new country every month. You aren’t a failure if you only have a few passport stamps. Our view will shift from “nomadic” to “location independent” with an emphasis on the flexibility of working from anywhere instead of excessive and obsessive travel. Country hopping every month is very different from visiting friends, family and new places at our leisure.
5. The culture is toxic.
The “digital nomad” culture is not something I promote, because it has become a new version of “Keeping Up With Joneses”.
It’s like “Look at how many countries I went to! Look at how few belongings I own! Pay me to teach you how to travel the world!”
Ironically, I haven’t met any other digital nomads in person yet. I don’t visit digital nomad hotspots like Thailand (they have plumbing issues and that’s just gross to me) or co-working spaces. These just seem to perpetuate the hyped up lies.
I like my personal space and work best in a solitary environment.
I created the Digital Nomad Business Directory because I wasn’t seeing online service businesses in the digital nomad space. There are too many “digital nomad gurus” or coaches selling more hype than value so I became obsessed with finding other location independent professionals who are selling something useful.
Good service is hard to come by, whether it’s your hair stylist, housekeeper or accountant. I wanted a place to celebrate the best so they can act as an example to aspiring digital nomads. You don’t have to sell out to live this life!
6. Not everyone can handle a lifestyle filled with freedom.
Some people thrive in a structured environment like a job where they are held accountable by a boss and told what to do.
Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
If you have a job you love and succeed in, why ruin it?
There’s this mystery aura surrounding location independence.
It’s like a whisper you’re not sure you heard, because working online from anywhere seems more like an illusion than reality. Like, that can’t actually be possible?!
Ask yourself: do you want this lifestyle because you genuinely love exploring new places? Or because you want to show off to your friends and frenemies on social media? If no one knew you were traveling, would you still do it, for yourself?
7. Being a digital nomad is not a job.
A person who can work from anywhere while traveling the world is a digital nomad.
The key word is work.
If you admire Instagram Influencers who only ever seem to lounge in a pool and get paid by sponsors then you should probably get a job in the travel industry because not only are these people unrealistic but in my opinion it’s a limited trend. There is no tangible skill involved plus it’s a very saturated market.
They are walking human billboards for brands and a dime a dozen. They lack discerning taste because they endorse companies that pay them. Their endorsement doesn't mean anything.
You are much better off selling a service online with a branded business that you can become known for and you own. Building your business on someone else’s platform is asking for trouble because if Instagram goes bust, you lose your entire income.
Escaping the 9-5 is possible, but you still need to work. Work is work, whether you’re in an office, at home in your pajamas or on the beach.
If you have a job, then I recommend freelancing on the side to:
a) Get a sense of what it’s like to work for yourself.
b) Understand first-hand the challenges of being a freelancer and why it’s not sustainable.
If you already freelance, I recommend slowly stepping away from whatever website you find gigs on (Upwork, fiverr..) and crafting a five star business with a niche and packaged services.
Do one thing and do it well.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer and you can technically design logos, flyers, packaging and more, pick a single thing.
Just do infographics.
Just do packaging.
Just do brand identities.
And sell it to a specific audience, like independent high-end beauty brands. Or personal trainers who specialize in a certain workout or diet.
These are just examples, but you want to be one thing to one group of people. And if everyone else doesn’t get it or need it, that’s okay.
There is no difference between working to fund your travel and working for the weekend. It’s the exact same thing, with the exact same mindset. If you don’t love the work you’re doing, who cares where you’re doing it? It still stinks.