As some of you out there might know, I’ve been toying with the idea of traveling more and working remotely. Also sometimes referred to as being a digital nomad, yes… I hate that term too but it’s just an easy one to use.
I’m finally in a position to leave London behind after 10 whole years and experience a different lifestyle. What’s interesting to me is the flexibility. Sometimes when you hear of people working remotely or being a digital nomad you conjure up ideas or people traveling and constantly being away from home. However, as I’ve found there are lots of people remotely working and traveling in different ways, at different paces, one style does not fit all it seems. The numbers are also increasing and some even say “There will be 1 billion digital nomads by 2035”, and who’s to argue with them?
Asking the questions
I decided to ask the remote workers amongst the Traverse community to give their best tips.
First, to answer the simple question “Q1. As a digital nomad/remote worker, what is the one thing or tip you wish you had known about before you took the leap?”
The second, “Q2. As a digital nomad/remote worker, what is your biggest tip for making it work in the longer term?”
What I found interesting even from this small section of people I asked was that there were a few key tips that seemed to stick out amongst the answers.
The first one being that it can sometimes get lonely out there and that find a community both online and offline can help greatly. Not just for curing your loneliness but also to inspire your work, your creativity and get you in the “work zone” basically.
The second point that I picked up on was the need to set yourself a schedule, a routine in order to be disciplined and productive.
Overall, the vibe I got from all the replies was that we are living in a time where a lifestyle of more freedom and flexibility is possible, whereas in the past it wasn’t. It’s not without its issues but overall it’s well worth while.
A1. “I wish I’d built up my client base more before trying to go full time Digital Nomad, the first year has been tough but things are now picking up.“
A2. “Try to still keep a work / life balance, it’s all too easy to sit in front of your laptop for 16 hours a day, either pitching for clients or working. Set yourself realistic goals (daily / weekly / monthly – whatever) and once they’re done make time for yourself to relax, explore or whatever else you enjoy doing in your free time.”
A1. “How important community is. It gets lonely quickly if you don’t seek to make friends in the places you visit!”
A2. “Listen to yourself and your needs. Travel slower. Invest in a good co-working space, build friendships as mentioned before and travel home as often as you need. There’s no rule saying you need to be abroad 365 days out of the year to be a digital nomad!“
A1. “One of the things I wish I’d known before is that sometimes it’d be quite hard to stay focused. When you move to a new place there are so many distractions around you. See, being a digital nomad is not only visiting cool places and working flexible hours. You have to do the planning, manage projects, make calls and most of the time you just need a quiet cozy spot. If this spot is a gorgeous white-sanded beach, congrats, you are doing pretty well. “
A2. “You need to create a routine and stick to it. It helps you to stay focused and be productive even if you change the environment often.”
A1. “How hard it was going to be to do money by yourself! Earning a salary in a 9-5 job requires effort, but being your own boss even more!”
A2. “Try to hang out with like-minded people like you, working alone from your flat can be depressing sometimes… try to choose different destinations to stay in for mid-term periods. Sometimes beaches, sometimes small towns, sometimes big cities… and just enjoy it! You are living an incredible life with lot of freedom and flexibility!”
A1. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Diversify your income streams so the loss of one client doesn’t leave you without an income.”
A2. “Use a time-tracking app! It’s amazing how much time can be wasted with a simple ‘check’ of Facebook or Instagram. I like holding myself accountable by tracking the way I spend my time.”
A1. “It gets way easier if you have enough savings to live a few months or even years. I worked my *ss off since I was a teenager so when I took the leap in my late twenties, I had that covered. It makes all the difference and lets you put enough time to get some momentum.”
A2. “As fun as it looks like waking up whenever you want, having some structured schedule is the only way. And turning off all distractions, starting with social media!”
A1. “Make sure you have a community to plug into online as working alone can be lonely.”
A2. “Find the right balance between work and travelling that helps you with your productivity.”
A1. “I wish I knew sooner the importance of a co-working space. Sure, you save a lot of money by working from home or from a coffee shop, but it can get very lonely, very quickly. I feel that by going to a co-working space, even twice a month, helps me to be more focused on what I have to do, and also, by chatting with other digital nomads there, I can share ideas and boost my creativity.“
A2. “I think that if you want to be a long-term digital nomad you should be very professional and always respect the deadlines of your projects, so that you can get repeat business from your clients.”
A1. “The life of a digital nomad looks better on social media than it is in reality! People forget that running a company is serious business, but on top of that you will also have to plan your life ahead. Working abroad is not the same as traveling and traveling is definitely not a holiday!”
A2. “Building a brand is a vital step in being successful in the long run. Authenticity is gained in time, be prepared to invest time and energy and reap the harvest in the long run.”
A1. “I wish I had known that there are so many others out there doing the same. In the beginning I thought I was some sort of outcast and hesitated a lot until I dug deeper and found out that the digital nomad movement is real, many others, too, choose personal freedom and location independence over materialistic things and ‘security’. You are not alone, it’s all doable.”
A2. “Try to never stop learning new things. If you want to succeed online, you need to pick up your pace to keep up with new technologies and business models. The competition is high and to stand out you’ll want to make sure to be always on top of things, not below. Also, work hard on building a business network, like in the offline work, vitamin b goes a long way.”