Being a Digital Nomad: Is Freelancing for You?

by Bert Maxwell /
Bert Maxwell's picture
Feb 27, 2014 / 0 comments

Have you always wanted to work from home - wherever home may be at the moment? Many people are turning their dreams of working and traveling into reality, either by teaching English, working on sabbatical abroad, or being a digital nomad. What's a digital nomad? A person that freelances or has a steady job that allows working from "home" - virtually. While it might seem odd to many to work at home in their pajamas, or work from a beachside villa somewhere warm, this is a trend that more and more people are embracing. But sometimes, especially for jobs in education, being a freelancer can be difficult. How to decide what works for you?

Being a Digital Nomad: Is Freelancing for You?

Here are the advantages and disadvantages to being a freelancer/digital nomad.

Advantages to being a freelancer:


  • Work at home or where you want.

    Many freelancers work from their homes. In fact, most of them do so. But you can work from a public library or at a local cafe, or while you are traveling. Actually, you are able to work from the place where you have Internet connection. All your favorite places can become your own office. If you have to schedule a meeting with a client face-to-face, you can meet at the local cafe or at his or her office.


  • You are your own boss.

    Being a freelancer, you'll likely work in the company of only one person; this person is you. Hope you are comfortable hanging out with yourself!


  • You can choose the projects that you want to do.

    You can choose not only projects, but companies and people, as well. If you undergo problems working with a certain person or the company you work for asks you to do things you feel are unethical or impossible, you don't have to do this job. Of course, you can refuse jobs because they might be boring for you.


Freelancers also face many problems:


  • You should be self-motivated and disciplined.

    While you are your boss, you also have to understand that there is no person to control your performance except you. You may decide to have a rest for the next month or just today, and your work will be left undone. This could lead to many problems, including losing clients and greatly decreased cash flow. It's hard to work while you feel you're on vacation. You must change your mindset to the fact that travel and work are your life - coexisting peacefully. It's hard when the surf calls!


  • Working alone can be lonely.

    Especially if you are single, you may spend a large part of your day being alone. If you're a person that goes stir crazy while being alone in one place for too long each day, you'll need to find coping strategies, such as working in cafes, playing cafe background noise if you're working at home, or taking breaks for meals and talking with others.


  • Your friends and relatives may feel free to visit and call anytime.

    This is particularly troublesome for new freelancers. When you're working, your friends that have free time cannot believe that you are working at this time. You might have family outings planned, while at the same time, deadlines looking. It's hard to cope with this, running your own schedule while adjusting to travel or the intrusion of friends. We've all been there - you're working hard on a project, and a loved one pops in to chat, or a friend starts a google hangout to chat with you because NOW is convenient for THEM. You must be strict with your time, and explain (if necessary) several times that you are working now and you will call them back when you've finished. Take a clue from writers and turn off the phone, skype, g+, email, and facebook. Trust me, with these distractions closed, you'll work faster than ever.


  • You may have to discover new ways of working or finding employment

    Freelancing takes some creativity and skill. You have to become adept at finding work, or working in different time zones (a meeting at 3pm EST might throw off your sleep schedule if you're currently in Thailand). You might have to develop new skill sets, including entrepreneurship and the art of pitching yourself to new clients. You may discover that you don't want to travel all the time (gasp!), or that you don't like working from home. You'll need to go with the flow, finding out what works for you and still be able to earn a living.


The bottom line? We all need to work and earn money to live well. There are many forms of how we work – full time, part time, or as a freelancer/digital nomad. If you're interested in exploring ways to find freelance work and possibly becoming a digital nomad, check job websites and see what's a good fit for YOU! See where you'd like to be based - in an office in your home, or at a cafe somewhere in the world. Will this work for you? Only you can discover that!