Look To Become a Digital Nomad? Go Freelance! Read These 25 Tips

Jan 25, 2024

Are you tempted by freedom? Lookin to work wherever and whenever you want? Ten years ago, this was my main driver to go freelance as well.

I carefully chose a profession that allowed the digital nomad lifestyle. Became excellent at this profession, went into full-time freelancing, and within a few months, I was working in Gran Canaria.

From being an employee to a digital nomad in just a few months.

And I've got fantastic news for you.

It's only become easier nowadays.

This is due to the following reasons:

  • Post-Corona, remote working has become normalized.
  • The hiring of freelancers has exploded in ten years.
  • There are 100x more resources about freelancing and remote working.

In this article, I'll give you some advice so that you too can run your freelance business from abroad.

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What is a digital nomad?

Nomads are people who do not have a fixed place of residence. Before people settled in one place, there were many communities of nomads. This changed when we started adopting farms, villages, and cities.

Nowadays, living as a nomad is becoming popular again. This has everything to do with how we structure our work. Many people are knowledge workers who only need a laptop and internet access.

You can sit in an office, among annoying colleagues and a boss who monitors you, or you can plug in your laptop anywhere in the world and do your thing.

A digital nomad is someone who does not operate from a fixed location and carries out their work digitally and remotely. This can be both as an employee and as a freelancer.

Why do people want to become digital nomads?

For the same reason people start businesses. The primary driver to become a digital nomad or entrepreneur is that we want a sense of freedom in our lives. As a digital nomad, you experience that freedom.

Work where you want

Want to work in the sun for a week in December? It's possible. Southern Spain is always nice. As a digital nomad, you can travel there, open your laptop, and no client notices and no boss stops you.

Work when you want

Not every digital nomad can work according to their own schedule, but if you choose your profession and also train your clients (or employer), you have freedom over your agenda. If you can work without being dependent on specific times when you need to be present, we call that 'asynchronous'. In other words: you can work from 20:00 – 23:00, for example, and someone else can do something with your work the next morning.

Working when you want also contributes to the sense of freedom people aspire to.

Explore the world

Wanderlust. If you have it, you know the term. Many people are explorers. We want to experience new things. Discover special places. Have adventures. All human traits.

That doesn't really work if you're sitting in the office 24/7/365, with a walk around the industrial estate in the rain during the break.

As a digital nomad, you can do your work in the mountains of Nepal. In the forests of Sweden. Or on the Spanish coast.

Freelancing vs. being an employee

You can work as a digital nomad as an employee or as a freelancer. Both have their pros and cons. I mainly focus on helping freelancers, but even as an employee, you can work perfectly as a digital nomad.

Just like there are websites for freelancers that link clients to freelancers, there are also websites for people looking for remote work. Examples include:

  • We Work Remotely
  • Working Nomads
  • Remote OK

Do you already have a job and want to work remotely? Then discuss with your boss what the possibilities are. Maybe full-time remote work is not an option yet, but you may be allowed to work abroad for three months, for example.

Want more freedom? Then freelancing might be for you. How do you do that? Here are my tips.

Kickstart your business

Maybe you have a modest freelance business. Maybe you're just starting. Use these tips and give your client base and income a boost. Always handy if you want to travel with associated costs.

1. Choose a profession you can do remotely

It goes without saying, but it certainly helps if you choose a profession that you can perform remotely. When I started as a freelancer, I also wanted to be able to work wherever I wanted. However, for the five years before that, I was active as a marketing consultant, where I visited companies a lot for meetings and training. I didn't want to do that anymore and decided to specialize in Google Ads. I knew I could work on Google Ads campaigns on my own time and choose a workplace of my own choice.

Ask yourself what skills you have, what interests you have, and what the market will pay you for. But make a list of professions that you can practice. Then choose a specialty that best suits you and the market.

2. See yourself as a business

I often see freelancers starting, but not persevering. Adopt the mindset that you are now a company. That means you need to look for leads, work on your marketing, and take the right training to get better.

The more effectively you structure the business side of who you are, the more private benefit you have.

Let your network know about your plans Have you chosen a specialty? Now it's time to deploy your network. First, I recommend calling your entire direct network with a few questions:

Do you have a job for me? Do you know someone who should hire me? Do you want to earn 10% commission for leads? I'll tell you more about this last point in a moment.

Have you done this? Then you inform your wider network. Blast some posts on Linkedin or Instagram about your plans and tell them how they can contact you if they want to hire you.

3. Offer commission for leads

How I have been getting the most valuable leads for years is by offering my network commission for these leads. Apply this too. Offer your network a 10% commission for interesting leads. This way, you get your network working for your business.

This has three advantages.

Firstly, you automatically get leads in your mailbox without having to work for it yourself. Secondly, your network is often a good filter for what does and does not suit you. Also, getting leads from a third party, means you are verified by a common connection. If someone recommends you, you are ahead versus your competition.

4. Get a website

Yes, you can freelance and only have Linkedin. But this isn't optimal. What you want is a place that you own. Where you attract traffic. Where you can, as I do now, perhaps post blogs and collect email addresses. Maybe you also want to make products later and sell them on your site.

Make sure you have a central place on the web, where you can send people you reach on social media.

5. Set up your social media profiles for your business

Now that you have a business, let the world know. Put your website in all your social media profiles. Encourage people to take action, by including sentences like "want to know more about my services? Fill in the contact form on {website}".

6. Share your knowledge online

A good way to collect leads and expand your target audience is by sharing your knowledge online. In 2021 I started publishing a post on Linkedin every day for over a year, for example. This lead to 2.000+ book sales, online course sales and requests for coaching. You can share your knowledge on Twitter, Instagram, or even on Youtube. It doesn't really have to be daily. As long as you regularly and consistently share value and knowledge, you will reach people who want to hire you or work with you.

7. Connect with other freelance digital nomads

Look for like-minded people. Other digital nomads, for example. Find them on Linkedin and Insta and invite them to connect. Comment on each other's content and start collaborations. Are there nomads with complementary services? Then send leads to each other, possibly with a commission in between. This way, you help each other and learn from each other.

Going abroad

8. Choose a country that suits you

It's tempting to book a ticket to Bali and rent a house there for three months. Because everyone does that and that's what Instagram tells you to do. Yet I discourage this process.

First of all, you want to ask yourself which country really suits you and your upcoming trip. Yes, Bali has its advantages, but there are also disadvantages. The climate can be too warm. Or you could be in the rainy season. But you are also traveling for 24 hours and dealing with jet lag (when traveling from Europe). Especially for shorter trips, I find the travel time and jet lag a waste of my time.

Then there's the emission. Is it really necessary to emit a shitload of CO2 for that Instagram trip?

Better to look for what suits you. What climate do you thrive in? Which culture suits you? What kind of food do you like? Do you want to travel far or not? Do you value a sustainable trip?

Depending on these questions, a country will emerge where you want to go.

9. Find the perfect stay

So, it's time to book a place to stay. This could be an Airbnb or a hotel. I personally like Airbnbs. You get more space, a kitchen, a washing machine, and for the same price as a hotel.

Also, pay attention to the work facilities. Is there a desk? An office chair? A quiet workspace, especially if you're booking with several people? Can you hold meetings somewhere if necessary?

Consider the facilities around the house as well. For example, if you want to eat out a lot, it's handy if there are restaurants within walking distance. If you want to exercise a lot, check if there's a gym nearby.

At least pay attention to the reviews. I never book cottages with less than 20 reviews and then only book cottages that have perfect reviews. I'd rather pay a bit more for more certainty of a perfect work/living place.

10. Discover the best co-working spots

If you're going to stay abroad for a long time, you'll want to have some like-minded people around you. It's handy to find some co-working spots then. Cities often have co-working cafes specifically set up for this purpose. Or there are coffee shops where nomads hang out. If you go to well-known spots for nomads, there are often parties or organized trips for digital nomads.

Especially look for online communities for digital nomads in the area you're going to.

11. Connect with Local Digital Nomads

Search on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter for people living in your area as a digital nomad. Send them a message and ask if they fancy a coffee date. Through these people, you can come into contact with other local nomads and build a group of people with whom you can hang out.

Meeting up with a bunch of digital nomads in Malaga in 2022

12. Get a good office chair

If you work a lot from your cottage, make sure you have good equipment. Especially a good office chair. Yes, you can always hang out on the couch, but I can assure you that this doesn't benefit your productivity, nor your back.

13. Have the right equipment

Additionaly, you need the right arsenal of weaponry to perform your tasks. Arrange a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. At a minimum. This is necessary equipment if you take your business seriously.

14. Buy a good noise-cancelling headphone

Don't want to be distracted by conversations from your housemates? Or people in the coffee shop around you? Invest in good headphones with noise-cancelling.

15. Ensure a suitable work rhythm

If you're abroad, you may need to adjust your rhythm. In Southern Europe, dinner often starts around 8:30 PM. Lunch often around 2:00 PM. Adapt to your environment and build a work rhythm around your daily schedule.

16. Don't just work

You're not abroad just to work. You can do that in your home country too. You also want to enjoy the culture, the weather, and the food, I assume. Make sure you also take time off to enjoy what the country has to offer.

Manage your finances

Great that you can now do business abroad. But I also know that it's tempting to spend your money on the luxuries your new living environment has to offer. However, you are now a business, and that comes with certain financial responsibilities. Here are some tips to keep your finances in order as a digital nomad.

17. Set financial targets

No, you don't want to work exclusively. But yes, you do want to set targets. By setting targets, you arrange your time as efficiently as possible. If you set a target to earn €5,000 per month in the coming months, then you start looking for clients with whom you can do this and tailor your marketing and activities accordingly.

18. Budget Wisely

Budget your life abroad. Have a budget for your stay, food, sports, and fun activities. Trust me, it's easy to ignore your spending, but costs rack up quickly when traveling. Also, never forget to budget for a buffer.

19. Build a Buffer

As a freelancer or digital nomad, you can experience unexpected costs. A problem with your car, medical costs, or expensive plane tickets. Therefore, build a buffer that you can live on for at least 6-12 months. Of course, as a freelancer, you also have periods when you may have fewer assignments. Keep this in mind with your financial planning.

20. Staying abroad for a long time? Pay attention to tax rules

If you spend more than 8 months abroad in a year, you may deregister in the Netherlands. Look up what the rules in your country are. Also pay close attention to the rules of the country where you are staying. For example, the Spanish government wants to collect 14.5 million from singer Shakira because, according to the government, she spent a lot of time in Spain.

Make sure you are aware of the rights and duties in the country where you are staying.


21. Invest money you save

Have you built up some money and got your buffer in order? Great. Now I recommend investing some money. You can do this privately in stocks, pension funds, or a mutual fund. You can also look into business investments, like in startups or acquiring an existing business.

This might not be for everyone, but it's also a waste to just have your money sitting in the account doing nothing. If inflation is high, like now at 10%, then your money loses 10% of its value. That's a waste for sure.

Expand your business for more freedom

Are you enjoying working abroad and is your business doing well? Then you might feel ready for the next step. Even if you don't want to hire staff, as that would mean giving up your free lifestyle, you can still expand your business.

22. Build an online audience

Whatever you plan to do with your business, it's always useful to build a target audience. In fact, even if you have nothing to sell yet, it's valuable. You can ask your audience what they need, or what they would pay for. Then you can offer that product or service.

23. Turn your knowledge into products

As a freelancer, you do assignments in exchange for money. The knowledge you use in these assignments can also be turned into products. For instance, you could write a book, record a course, or create a paid newsletter.

24. Invest in Existing Businesses

In 2021, I and two other freelancers bought a website about tiny houses. It's an affiliate business that generates stable income. This is a way to invest business capital and put my knowledge into this business. It doesn't necessarily take much extra time, as almost everything is automated or outsourced.

25. Hire a VA

Do you want more time for clients, your own projects, or just more free time? Then you can hire a VA for tasks you want to offload. A VA can take over your email and phone, but also make quotes, plan trips, and manage your schedule.

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