An ad popped up on my Facebook feed this week. There was some shirtless, tanned dude standing in front of a trendy camper-van on the beach (the girl above’s boyfriend, if you will), looking as carefree as you can get. The ad was an invitation to join a society looking for freedom. An escape from the 9-5. It offered an alternative form of living that allows us to shape the lifestyle we want. To become a digital nomad in all it’s glory. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
A lot of others thought so too. The post had been shared, commented on and liked in the hundreds. One person asked what the catch was. Well, it was this:
Subscribe to our society and we’ll provide you with a magazine with the tips and tricks you need to know to become a digital nomad.
Oh, and pay us $200 for your subscription, too.
This is just one of many programmes set up to cash in on the ‘digital nomad’ trend. I’ve seen countless courses, programmes, retreats and subscriptions flogged by ‘entrepreneurs’ promising to turn people’s dreams of leaving the 9-to-5 behind into a reality. They look sexy, with promises of fun and sunshine – the antithesis to the growing, grey apathy so many young people feel towards traditional office-based jobs.
The thing that bothers me? So many of these types of plans are vague, make extreme promises that they can’t keep, are not researched, and are taking advantage of people’s dreams.
Take it from a digital nomad: you do not need to pay a cent to become a digital nomad.
Your Money is More Valuable
From a subscription for a $200 alternative lifestyle mag, to a $1000 retreat in Bali that will leave you ‘with the tools you need to begin your digital nomad life’, your money could be so much better spent than on one of these plans.
One way you could spend that spare $1,000? Buy a plane ticket and start travelling! Sure, put a bit of work in to set up some remote work options first, but stop fucking around. A week-long retreat will leave you a little more prepared for a life of travel and work, but it will leave you a lot poorer.
Jump into the unknown. Or, read the hundreds of valuable, informative articles online FOR FREE to educate yourself on the world of remote work (I’ll even provide a few links at the bottom), book a flight, and start living your dream. The truth is, you’re dawdling by spending time on these plans; the only way to become a digital nomad is to just become a digital nomad.
Invest in a Skill
Being a digital nomad is awesome. Day to day, it can be stressful and downright exhausting – but overall? Worth it. So worth it. The only thing that is going to let you become location independent is having a skill or a service you can do from anywhere in the world.
If I were to recommend one way to use your money before moving into the digital nomad, it would be to buy a course that will teach you to become something: a web designer, a SEO specialist, a Digital Marketing expert, an illustrator etc. Maybe I’ll even create my own ‘become a freelance copywriter’ one day. These types of course add value – they’ll teach you what you need to know, give you experience in the field you want to go into, and often leave you genuinely more capable to launch a career that can be done remotely.
I don’t understand what digital nomad courses are teaching. They are so vague and devoid of acknowledging the fact that you need to be sufficient in a skill that is possible to do remotely. If you are going to invest in anything, invest in the field you want to work in. A retreat that shows you the best places to work and how to fit an hour of yoga in before starting your work is not an investment – it’s a waste dressed up as a good time.
Talk to Other Digital Nomads
If you’re dreaming of an alternative lifestyle, talk to the people already living it. I have only put my money into creating a better freelance copywriting business for myself – none of my money has gone into finding out how to be a better travelling worker. That’s half the fun of the journey anyway.
I know many other people who created their own paths to location independence. Some people start doing something as a hobby or side hustle, and it becomes so popular they can start doing it full-time. Others work quietly after hours until they can launch an alternative career, free of the office culture or traditional work hours. Many people book a flight, rely on their savings, and work random jobs around the world as they shamble along with the help of blogs, Facebook communities and social networks until they find their way.
To become a digital nomad, there are many paths you can take. Staying in your current job with a new contract is even an option. Sometimes, the shiny plan that promises the world in a week looks like the best option, but you know the saying about things sounding too good too be true.
Useful (and free!) Digital Nomad resources:
Have you ever considered purchasing a ‘Become a Digital Nomad’ package? Or have you already taken one? Get involved in the discussion today. Remember, there are many options when it comes to starting your own business that don’t include spending all your money!