According to research from MBO partners, 4.8 million independent workers consider themselves digital nomads. About 17 million more hope to be one someday. If you want to be free from the chains of geography and travel to — and work — where you please, hang with me to learn more about the three best digital nomad jobs you can pursue.
The 3 Best Digital Nomad Jobs
1. Freelance Writing
I think brand owners are (finally) catching onto the importance of content and content marketing. So, if you have a way with words — or if you’d like to learn to — freelance writing could be the perfect digital nomad work for you.
I know what you might be thinking. “I don’t have any professional experience.” Rest assured you can still make money as a freelance blogger with no experience. And! There are tons of free and cheap resources out there to help you learn how to become a stellar wordsmith — like my free writing course.
What’s cool is you can pick a freelance writing niche (don’t skip this part!) and over time, learn more and more about it. And as you do, you can continue raising your rates. Check this out to learn more:
It’s also worth pointing out that because writing is the foundation of so many other skills, if you want to, you can expand into other services. These include email marketing and social media. (More on that in a second.)
I can’t tell you how much work has basically fallen into my lap because clients were so happy with my writing that they asked if I’d do their email marketing and/or social media, too.
To be very clear, this took extra time on my part to better understand these two fields. As a writer, you are not by default also an email and social expert.
What I’m saying is that the bridge connecting these professions is a shorter one. You can absolutely cross if it piques your interest.
PayScale says that freelance writers make, on average, $22.46 an hour — $57.44 on the higher end. (Don’t let these numbers sway you too much until you read through to the end. We’re going to talk money more.)
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media is something every brand needs, and the demand is only going to continue growing. Plus, if you’re working as a freelancer, you offer a special something that bigger agencies can’t: Your personal, undivided attention.
While agencies certainly have their own pull, I can tell you from firsthand experience that many brand owners steer clear of agencies and go for freelancers for this exact reason.
Aside from the demand, social media is a great avenue to take also because it’s feasible to pick it up and become highly proficient in it in a relatively short amount of time.
Note: I’m not saying social media is easy. It’s not. Anyone can barf up a Facebook post in less than a minute. Getting results, on the other hand, is way more tricky.
The fact that this industry is constantly evolving kind of works in your favor, in this case. Because social media changes sometimes daily, it’s harder to get “left behind.” Anyone who offers social media services is constantly having to learn new things about it.
This also means that if you want to go in this direction, you need to be prepared to keep your finger on the pulse. Today’s strategies could very well be obsolete in a couple of months, and even sooner.
Pro tip: Want to make yourself more valuable as a freelance social media manager? Learn how to successfully execute paid ads on Facebook and/or other platforms. This stuff is tough, but it works — which is why brands are willing to pour so much money into it.
In fact, some social media people specialize in paid ads specifically. And because it’s more challenging to deliver — and because brands demand an ROI — if you can do it, you can charge major cash for your services.
According to Social Media Strategies Summit, newbie social media freelancers can make anywhere from $15/hour to $50/hour. Experts can charge $120/hour and up. Cha-ching!
3. Graphic Design
If you really want to flex your creative muscles and make beautiful works of art, why not give graphic design a shot? This made it on my list of killer digital nomad jobs partly because like the previous two, you can be completely self-taught by using free and affordable resources that you can find online.
(There are also people who spend a lot of money going to school for this, plus years and years improving their craft. I see you!)
PayScale says that the average hourly rate for freelance graphic designers is $29.15 — but it can surpass $60/hour as you gain experience.
While some businesses do have in-house graphic designers, this is a service that is so commonly outsourced. The demand is high. The need is high. Brands are on the lookout for awesome graphic designers.
Graphic designers are becoming so pivotal to brands because these days, it’s about much more than simply making attractive images. Graphic designers now commonly work alongside content, email, and social teams — all of which need graphics in their day-to-day work.
How Much Money Can You Make With Digital Nomad Jobs, Really?
Under each of the digital nomad jobs, I gave you approximate hourly wages. There are a couple of things I would like to highlight because they’re really important.
The Stereotype of Freelancers Being Broke is…
So horrendous and factually wrong.
Are some of them broke? Of course. But that’s not because this career path is a dead end. It’s because they don’t know what they’re doing. There. I said it.
As a freelancer/digital nomad, you can make as much money as you want. Really and truly, there are no limits. For instance, as a freelancer, I wanted to make more money but couldn’t handle the workload anymore.
So, I created an LLC and hired a small team to help me. My income turned into revenue, and my revenue soared. It’s still climbing, and I have no plans to stop.
You don’t have to do what I did, but I do want you to know that you decide how much you make.
At the same time, though…
Don’t Assume You’re Automatically Going to Make a Certain Amount…
… just because that’s the average hourly rate. And certainly don’t let money be your only source of motivation.
You’re going to have to work hard. Really hard. In many ways, this will be more challenging than any 9-5. Why? Simple. When you’re a freelancer, you become a business owner.
And as a business owner, you’re not just responsible for being awesome at what you do (meaning writing, social media, or graphic design). You’re also going to have to be good at sales, marketing, and the many other skills required to be a successful business owner.
This is something that I’m always seeing catching freelancers off-guard. Understand that if you go in this direction, you’re going to have to get more comfortable with wearing different hats.
Don’t worry. Hats can be fun.
The traditional 9-5 is no longer a requirement. You have options. You have freedom of choice. What will you choose?