How I Became A Digital Nomad (A Step By Step Guide)

I nervously picked up the third bucket, full to the brim with ice and beer, said a short prayer that the 18 beers in my hands didn’t pour all over me and made a dash for the table.

 

How long could I do this for?

 

Before I created this digital nomad lifestyle for myself, I had worked in the restaurant industry for nine years.

 

In my opinion, that was eight and a half years too long.

 

Towards the end of my waitressing career I started to despise the work that I did, merely because I had learned everything that I could have from this experience. I surpassed my 10,000 hours and was definitely an expert when it came to slinging beers and pretending that it wasn’t me that had messed up their dinner order (woops).

 

This hatred was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. 

 

As the saying goes, it lit a fire under my ass.

 

It pushed me to figure out what the hell I was going to do to get myself out of this industry and into a career that made me happy.

 

There were a few things that I knew for certain at this time:

 

  1. I didn’t want an office job
  2. I wanted to be my own boss
  3. I needed flexibility with time and money
  4. I had to be challenged creatively and mentally

 

I had done the office job thing for six months. Within two weeks I knew that this was never going to be an option for me. At the time I had this dream of being able to work on an airplane. To me that was proof that I could work from anywhere AND that I was traveling. There was nothing I wanted more.

 

I needed a job that allowed me to work I wanted to and allowed me to take time off when necessary. It was also PERTINENT that this job didn’t have a salary cap. 

 

Why? 

 

Remember those nine years I spent as a waitress? I loved knowing that if I busted my butt and worked hard I had the potential to make a boat load of money and I wasn’t ready to let go of that mindset.

 

Most importantly, I knew my next job had to help me grow in some form. I wanted to have to read and listen in order to become a master of my craft. I needed to be able to perform those mental push ups creatively and logistically in order to feel like I was living up to my full potential.

 

At this time I stumbled upon Gary Vaynerchuck. Most of you will probably know him and if you don’t then chances are you’re a newbie to the digital work space and this article just catapulted you to exactly where you need to be.

 

I watched an interview with Gary and this entrepreneur who had created this freelancing platform called Fiverr. All you had to do was create an account and start doing online work for people all over the globe.

 

Ten seconds later I was on the Fiverr webpage and found myself really disappointed. Most of the jobs paid $5 and would take me about an hour. Unsurprisingly, this just wasn’t realistic. 

 

So, I took the single most important step in my career to date.

 

I Googled “top freelancing websites”.

 

The first thing that popped up was Upwork. I created an account and started to apply for random jobs like product descriptions and virtual assistant tasks.

 

The first job I landed was finding the best hotels and activities in Lagos, Portugal. It took me about an hour and a half and I made $16.00. Upwork then took their 20% commission and I was left with $12.80. My second job was to write 25 product descriptions for a clothing company. I had to look at shirt and write a witty description for it. This took me about four and a half hours and I got paid $30.00.

 

To this day, I remember just how painful that assignment was as I realized what a massive waste of time it had been.

 

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had just solidified my resume. Between those two jobs I now had two positive reviews and people started to become more interested in hiring me.

 

My biggest tip to digital nomads beginning their career is to pick up ANY JOB no matter how little it pays. 

 

At the very beginning, you have to do exactly the opposite of what you think, you have to choose jobs that will not make you any money. I want you to make sure that you pick up a PROJECT. Don’t pick up a full time job with a three month commitment that is clearly not going to make you enough money to pay your bills. Find a few quick projects that you can use to amp up your resume, bite the bullet and do an epic job so that you can get that review or those stats that will help you get those future projects.

 

Slowly I was able to increase my hourly rate and be able to become pickier about the jobs that I was willing to pick up.

 

About two months in, I landed my first paid writing job and I have now been a weekly columnist for Metropixie for over one year! I picked up another writing job with Science of Zen and suddenly I realized how vital it was that I had an online presence.

 

 

If you want to be a digital nomad, you must have a website and social handles.

 

 

What happened when I applied for jobs and didn’t have an online portfolio and zero proof that I was a “legit” person? It was hard to get work.

 

With an official blog and Instagram handle, I can show clients that I am professional and “legit” (I have even landed clients because they liked my website so much!).

 

 

Through trial and error I realized that if I followed/unfollowed people who engaged with like minded accounts to my Instagram account, I could grow by over 100 people a day.

 

As a true entrepreneur, I took this realization and decided to make money off of it.

 

At this time I was about two days away from my last day as a waitress. I knew that it was time to take the leap and go all in on my digital nomad career (even though I didn’t have any set jobs). One of my regular customers came in and I talked to about how it was one of my last days. He asked me what I was going to do and I said, “I want to help brands and companies grow their Instagram pages.”

 

He looked at me and said, “That’s funny because I am looking for somebody to grow my business’ Instagram page.”

 

Now remember, at this time all I had done was grow my account and I was at about 800 followers. I had three meetings with him and I completely sold myself as able to get the job done. I knew what I was capable of and that I was going to be an asset to his team. Now let me repeat:

 

My biggest tip to digital nomads beginning their career is to pick up ANY JOB no matter how little it pays.

 

This job paid me $300 a week and paid me about $15/hour. Without a single hesitation I took it even though I was very aware that this would NOT cover my bills. Now remember what I said about picking up small projects when you know that the compensation isn’t going to be enough for you to get by?

 

I knew when I picked up that job that in three months I was going to be selling everything I owned and backpacking the globe. I told my new boss right off the bat that my time was limited and we decided to discuss whether I stayed on the team or not when the time came around.

 

I worked my butt off curating content and growing his account as much as possible. His success was my success and I wanted to make sure that I was proving to him just as much as myself that I knew what I was doing.

 

This job allowed me to add something new to my resume and opened up an entirely new workspace for me. Now that I had double proof of what I could do (between his account and my personal account) I landed another Instagram client. 

 

After those three months were up it made the most sense for us to part ways. I packed my backpack and set off on my adventure.

 

I’m now able to work from anywhere and to pick up projects at my leisure through Upwork and from people reaching out to me via my website and Instagram. Without question, the most important step of this entire process was to take that first action to Google freelancing websites.

 

Looking to land your first digital nomad job? Here’s where to look.

 

Use the internet to your advantage. Facebook lives, podcasts, Youtube videos and free ebooks can teach you everything you need to know to have a successful digital nomad career. I have paid $0.00 for my education and instead have gained all of my knowledge by listening to others who have done what I want to do and most importantly through experience.

 

Be confident in yourself and your ability to learn and you will be successful. You have the exact same resources at your fingertips that I used to get myself to this point. I am no smarter than you and no better than you-I am just a few steps ahead. Follow my lead and I promise that you can get here too!

 

We all started from Point A. Find resources that can accelerate your career and inspire you to keep moving and always remember:

 

“The best advice I ever received was: Nobody else knows what they are doing either.”

 

You got this!