There is a certain lure to be a freelancer. As your wanderlust grows stronger and your urge for adventure increases, it might become more and more tempting to leave your 9 to 5 job and become a digital nomad. All you require is a laptop and an internet connection, then you can easily work from the sunny beaches of Bali or anywhere else that your heart desires.
Being a digital nomad does however have some disadvantages and isn’t the right fit for everyone. So how will you know whether being a digital nomad is right for you, or not?
Here are 5 things to consider before deciding to become a freelancing digital nomad.
1. You need self-motivation
Not having to go to an office, or report to someone makes it easy to sleep a little longer, explore the area before starting on that really important project. Who wants to work when you have a new country to explore and new people to meet?
The reality of this is that if you don’t work, you won’t get paid. Not handing projects in on time will cause your clients to lose faith in you and eventually seek another, more committed freelancer. As a digital nomad, you will have to motivate yourself daily to finish your work before anything else. Deadlines simply come first.
Set goals for yourself at the beginning of every week of what you would like to accomplish and stick to them. You will need to build the necessary self-motivation and self-discipline, as a freelancer, to ensure that you deliver great quality work before or on schedule.
2. It is hard work
Speaking of self-motivation, being a digital nomad is hard work! It is much more work than a normal 9-5 job and you will frequently find yourself working on weekends, public holidays and even late into the evenings. According to a study done by freelancermap, freelancers work approximately 47 hours per week.
Before making the leap of becoming a digital nomad, you will have to ensure that you are dedicated enough to put in the necessary hours. The beginning is usually tough while building a reputation and a client list. It will become easier and more manageable over time, allow you to have more time off.
Freelancers work efficiently and make an effort to spend their time doing the right things. Where possible, try and outsource work if you don’t have the necessary skillset. For example, if you need to build a website but don’t have any experience in it, rather hire someone to do the work so that you can focus on other things that need to be done.
3. No set income
As a freelancer, your monthly income will fluctuate from one month to the next. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed salary at the end of the month. Clients might pay late, projects might come to an end or clients might abruptly cancel a contract.
Before traveling the world as a digital nomad, it is wise to first build a reserve fund to support you during the slower months. Calculate your monthly budget and save money to last you for two or three months. Once you are satisfied that you saved enough, build in a buffer for unexpected expenses. You never know what might happen while you are abroad.
These savings will also help you when you decide to take a holiday. As a freelancer, paid holidays are a thing of the past. However, whenever you take money from the reserve fund, make a point of it to replace it as soon as possible.
Travelling is fun, but there is a lot of admin that goes along with it. It isn’t allowed to work in most countries unless an individual has the correct visa. Taxes still need to be paid and are you sure that your health insurance will still cover you while abroad?
It might be tempting to apply for a tourist visa and go travel but it is better to do things the right way from the beginning – as a result, this will help you avoid trouble in the future and provide you with extra peace of mind.
First, ensure that all your paperwork is in order in your home country. Then do proper research before traveling to a country to find out about their specific laws and regulations. You are not the first person to work as a remote freelancer or digital nomad. Get online and start connecting to other digital nomads. They will be able to share information with you and even provide you with tips on how to get things done.
You will meet numerous new people as you travel but not staying long in one place, means that you will seldomly build friendships. Simultaneously, you miss out on the lives of friends and family members back home.
It is important to have a strong support structure, even as a digital nomad and by continuously travelling, this might not be someone that you can just drive to.
Furthermore, call home frequently to stay connected with friends and family. Make an effort to find out when special life events are happening and plan to be there. No man is an island and the connections that you build with people are irreplaceable.
There are certain things that you need to consider before becoming a digital nomad. This should however not deter. Just ensure that the groundwork is done before boarding the plane and that you have a safety net to fall on if anything might go wrong.
In the word of Jack Kerouac: “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that mountain.” Certainly, it will be one of the best adventures of your life.