So you’re going nomadic or remote, or whatever the name is these days. Taking the plunge into the unknown. Finally breaking free from the shackles of the 9-5 and fully relying on yourself to make and bake that bread. Good for you! Now that you’ve made the decision, are in a positive headspace and moving in the right direction, what’s the reality of the digital nomad lifestyle? Well your accommodation certainly becomes a little trickier, especially if you’re like me and get cabin fever rather quickly.
The freedom comes at the cost of stability. And, I hate to break it to you, between sourcing the work and actually doing it you’ll likely be working longer hours than at your day job but you’ll be happier and more fulfilled, as if by magic, because you’ll be in the privileged position of traveling the world while being in control of your own destiny.
A few prerequisites for remote work
Of course, to get the ball rolling in any meaningful way you’ll need a few things, namely; a marketable skill, an affable personality, the ability to create a plan or schedule and stick to it without outside motivation aka self-reliance and a heaping dump truck of fearlessness.
- Marketable skill: you’d be surprised with just how much you can do workwise while being a digital nomad but the best advice here is to have at least one highly refined skill to offer. For me that’s ecommerce website development.
- Affable personality: what does this mean? You need to be open to everyone and everything and be able to build and nurture relationships quickly. Relationships are what get you work and what bring joy into your life. Create many of them.
- Self-reliance: it’s on you. Make your schedule. Stick to it. Deliver when you say you will and hold yourself accountable. Failure is a stepping stone to success and the only one who can increase your pay and get you better work is you.
- Fearlessness: you’re walking a high wire without a safety net. Believe in yourself and your skillset.
Working with Clients remotely
Now that you’re out there working, plopped in front of your laptop, looking out over the Mediterranean or Caribbean or whatever sea (or mountain, why not? It’s your life, go where you please) you want to plant yourself in front of, how do you deal with clients? Fortunately, you pretty much only have two types of clients; those who adamantly want to see you and those who adamantly want to see results, i.e., work being delivered.
The latter is of course far easier to manage; you come to terms on the scope of work, do the project while keeping communication at a high level and deliver. Bada bing, bada boom, onto the next one. And the former, those who reeeeaaally want to see you?
Well luckily, because we live in the 21st century, they largely can be managed. To their point though, there’s a lot of value in non-verbal communication that can be gleaned solely by seeing who you’re talking to and being present, so it’s understandable that some companies and clients crave that. On a recent post-production project that was the exact type of client I had. The solution? Scheduling a Google Hangout to be able interface with their team and walk through the project. It was a simple and effective way to satisfy their needs and build a deeper layer of trust that sometimes a phone call can’t accomplish.
The Flexibility of work in the modern age
As you can see from just that brief example, living in the digital age makes this whole lifestyle possible for more and more people. But at the end of the day, just like working in an office, communication is paramount to being successful and nurturing the relationships you’ve built. So how do we balance hopping from country to country with maintaining connectivity and reliability? Well, for starters, video conferencing software and apps, from Hangouts to Zoom to Skype to even things like WhatsApp, are readily available, easy to setup and use and most of them are free.
Communicating while nomadic? Get Data
All you need now is data. As for having a regular phone plan, I’m from the States and our phone plans are notoriously expensive so my personal default is using Google Fi. It’s relatively cheap and works everywhere I’ve been with very few exceptions (it didn’t work in Nepal when I was there a couple years ago but it does now!) and if I’m going to be in any country for at least a month, I’ll get a local SIM card 100% of time. Additionally, co-working spaces abound the world over at this point and they offer their own connectivity solutions for keeping connected.
Is remote work worth the trouble?
After all that you may be wondering, is it really worth the trouble? In a word; absolutely. For example, my life looked like this recently; video shoot in Uruguay, post-production for that in Zagreb, Croatia, picked up a new gig and did that while enjoying Kiev, Ukraine. Ultimately you come to find that the world is truly your oyster if you’re willing to let go, and take the leap of faith and grab it. But, careful you might fall, most do. Learn to balance on the thin edge of a blade. You’ll immerse yourself in different cultures and countries meeting more and more interesting people by the day.
Your network will grow, perhaps you’ll even start to have some repeat and trusted clients to alleviate the stress of finding work and slowly but surely your new normal will just be your regular normal. Locations varying, naturally. It’s an arduous, somewhat terror filled journey and it’s definitely not for everyone, but the ability to live a life of your own strange design is addictive and priceless. It’s certainly worth the experience.