The reality of becoming a Digital Nomad

Iced Coffee — Hanoi Style

When I told friends and family that I was leaving London to move to Asia, I was greeted with “that’s amazing!” and “why Asia?” Travelling and meeting new people were all part of my decision to become a Digital Nomad.

Although leaving London to travel and become a full-time Digital Nomad has been one of the best decisions of my life, it hasn’t been easy. No matter what you see on Instagram, an insane amount of hard work goes into living and working for yourself in a foreign country. Finding accommodation that suits your needs (without getting ripped off), food that doesn’t turn your stomach into mush and a job to cover your expenses, is mentally draining.

I thought this was going to be easy…

Although I had saved prior to leaving England, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that hit me. I questioned what I was doing in a foreign country and also whether I had the skills to successfully find my own clients. With the majority of my previous freelance opportunities coming from agencies and referrals, I was seriously doubting my ability to do the thing I set out to do — build my business!

Back to basics

After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I went about adding structure to my life to try and get my head in the right place. The thing about living abroad with no commitments is you can do what you want and make up the rules as you go. This was fun at first, but took a toll very quickly.

Knowing that eating and drinking myself into oblivion wouldn’t solve my woes, I did the simple thing of setting an alarm to go off at 8am every day (9am on the weekends). Waking up at a reasonable time, encouraged me to do normal things like have breakfast, explore my new surroundings and join the local gym. Reintroducing structure helped me refocus and overcome the worries and doubts that were taking over my life.

Clearing my head helped me realise:

  1. The Digital Nomad concept became more important than the reality of being a Digital Nomad — it was time to WORK
  2. I’d underestimated what I would have to do run a successful business
  3. I didn’t have a clear business plan

My moment of self-reflection helped me understand that I was so busy working that I’d neglected to create any sort of strategy for myself or my business alexMEDIA. With no clear content or social media strategy in place, I had no way of attracting new clients. Instead of worrying about how I would find new clients, I decided to START… Start creating content, start networking with a purpose and start giving my business the best opportunity to succeed.

The Digital Nomad checklist

To date, my experience as a Digital Nomad has been very humbling and the emotional rollercoaster has been testing. If you are considering moving abroad to become a Digital Nomad, I highly recommend you:

  1. Establish a business plan before taking the leap of faith — No matter how good you are at doing what you do, you will struggle to fulfil your potential if you do not have a clear strategy in mind. Write down your goals and remember to celebrate the small successes along the way.
  2. Identify your target audience and start creating content that will resonate with them — No one will know who you are if you do not create content that people find interesting.
  3. Deliver your content consistently and test what platforms and content types work best for your business — Just because vlogging works for others doing similar thing to you, it doesn’t mean YouTube will work for your business.
  4. When you have all of the above covered and you move abroad, establish a daily routine as soon as possible. It’s amazing how quickly the days fly by when you don’t plan ahead. Take advantage of the opportunity to make a better version of yourself. If you find yourself in a state of worry, take a step back and analyse your situation. Have you done all you can to give yourself the best chance to succeed?

Is the Digital Nomad lifestyle for me?

Becoming a Digital Nomad isn’t easy, but if you get it right, it can also be very rewarding. If you enjoy challenges, meeting new people and travelling, consider packing your bags and heading to the airport.

With the internet offering a ridiculous number of opportunities to work remotely, now is the time to earn while you travel.

Why work a 9–5 when you can travel and work on your own terms from any location in the world?

Originally published at alexmedia.info on September 19, 2018.

With over 6 years of agency and client-side experience, I work with brands to develop social media strategies that build awareness and increase sales.