How to Become a Digital Nomad in 2021

A digital nomad is someone who works completely online and is independent of any one location. For example, digital nomad A could be working for X company in the United States from a coffee shop in Bali or a shared working space in Thailand, that's the typical scenario.
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As the world is scrambling to get back on her feet post pandemic, more people have realised they can work online. They are ready to say bye bye to the traditional 9-5 and this comes as no surprise.

However, a select group of people called “digital nomads” already realised this pre-COVID, so the question is who are they and why did they choose this life?

A digital nomad is someone who works completely online and is independent of any one location.

For example; digital nomad A could be working for company X in the United States from a coffee shop in Bali or a shared working space in Thailand, that’s the typical scenario.

Basically, digital nomads work and make money online. Digital nomad is not a profession but more of a lifestyle where you live as one and not work as one. As a result, this lifestyle allows people to earn money online either by working for a company, becoming a freelancer or working solely on their own projects. 

Table of Contents

Why do people become digital nomads?

A lot of people choose to become digital nomads for a number of reasons;

Freedom and Flexibility

Anyone who has spent time working the typical 9-5 job understands what it feels like to be restricted, not being able to do what you love or spend time with your family when you want. Being a digital nomad offers freedom to do what you want, when you want it, from wherever you choose. 

The lifestyle affords you the luxury of not being confined to the 4 walls of an office, any work attire, time schedule or work related politics. It basically allows you to spread your wings, employing your creative talents to earn money online, travel
the world and fly.


Becoming a digital nomad presents endless opportunities one could only dream of while working a normal job. For example by using your new found freedom to travel the world while you work, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people from all works of life and immerse yourself in a new culture every few months. 

You will gain perspective, access to places and people you never thought possible. Being a digital nomad will also help you find yourself, realise who you are and your purpose in life.

Financial Independence

As a digital nomad, you no longer have to slave for a company to earn a less than average salary. Whatever job you choose to do, you earn the full profit and you do so on your own terms, time and from anywhere. Working independent of one location gives you the flexibility to work multiple online jobs as well.

Why the digital nomad lifestyle is so attractive

The digital nomad lifestyle is so attractive because it offers an unconventional path in life. Being a digital nomad is usually centred around things like; taking advantage of places with a lower cost of living, finding a location that encourages digital nomads to reside there and relocating to multiple countries within a year which is made possible with the numerous online tools at their disposal.

All of these allow digital nomads to move to places where their money can go a long way. For example, People who work in places like America, Australia, Canada will normally have a high cost of living, but if they relocate to a country like Cambodia or Thailand, the money they earn can be stretched, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

What it takes to become a digital nomad

Becoming a digital nomad is pretty straightforward as it requires you to have the right skills, tools and drive to work remotely. Generally, the more complex the skill you have, the more likely it is that you’ll earn more money for it.

Tools to work online

  • A computer/laptop
  • Wifi or internet access
  • Phone calling service like Skype or Zoom


The basic skills you’ll need to become a digital nomad are

  • Microsoft office knowledge; MS word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.
  • Basic digital marketing knowledge
  • Emailing skills
  • Effective communication skills
  • Ability to work with little or no supervision
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Work discipline and ethics
  • Great time management 

What jobs are available for digital nomads to work and make money online?

Here are 17 Jobs available for digital nomads to work and earn an income online:

1. Copywriting

Copyrighting is a skill that involves writing text and rearranging words for the purpose of advertising, to make things sell better.

The purpose of copywriting could be; to generate sales leads for a company, promote products & services, or get potential customers to signup to an email list. A good copywriter knows how to engage people to get desired results.

As a beginner copywriter, you can easily earn at least $15 an hour . It may not be mind blowing but it could be a great start to earning online.

Working as a copywriter will help you improve your writing in a wider range of topics and industries, thereby allowing you to the opportunity to earn extra income working as a content writer for other companies.

You can also take copywriting one step further by learning Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Copywriting to add more value to your work.

A lot of online work platforms depend on client reviews to promote your services, so if you’re new to the game, you might need to sell yourself a little undervalue to attract clients faster.

When you do get clients, you’ll have to deliver great service to these clients in order to get high quality reviews.

2. Internet Research

If you have advanced research skills and can find any information online and in record time, you could make good money working online as a researcher. Every company in all industries needs researchers be it for product research or customer research.

Online researchers who are just starting out typically make about $10 an hour or less and the rates could go up as your experience level increases and as you gain reviews and positive feedback.

3. Social Media Marketing

If you already spend a lot of time on Instagram or Twitter, why not use it to make money instead. You can make money online by managing the social media accounts for brands and companies. The job involves updating fresh content on the companies social media platforms to sustain or increase engagement, creating social media campaigns and Facebook ads either to promote products and services, or generate leads and boost sales.

A downside to working as a social media marketer online is that as you travel around, you’ll be in different time zones, so it’s important to inform your clients that you’ll be working while traveling to avoid any misunderstanding. I currently work on social media marketing for my website and timezone differences could pose a problem especially when your target market/audience has a different timezone.

How much you earn as a social media marketer, depends on your level of experience;

Low level Social Media Marketers (SMMs) with 0-3 years experience can earn between $15 – $50/hr

Intermediate level SMMs with 3-5 years of experience could earn up to $50 – $100/hr and

Advanced level SMMs with 5+ marketing experience could earn around $120/hr.

4. Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant means you work remotely as an assistant for a company and all your work is done online. The role of a virtual assistant includes but is not limited to; scheduling meetings, email correspondence, administrative duties, data entry, answering and making Skype calls amongst other duties. I currently work from Cape Verde as a virtual assistant for a real estate company in the United States. This job has allowed me to work only 5 days in a month and I make more money per hour than I was earning at my 9-5 job in Nigeria. These days I spend the rest of my time, traveling, working on my website and and learning skills that I’m interested in. Virtual assistants earn at least $10 an hour.

5. Translation Service

If you speak two or more languages, you can work and make money online as a translator. As a translator, you could earn up to $6 per page of translation service so imagine how much you’ll make if you have to translate a 50 page document. Of course you’ll have to decide the type of translation service you want to offer, which could be translation of legal documents, technical translation, scientific translation, or financial translation. 

6. Teach Online

With jobs like English as a Second Language teaching jobs, any native english speaker or non- native english speaker can teach English online and earn a good income. For example with a platform like teachaway, not only can you teach online, as a digital nomad this will also give you the opportunity to travel to teach English in non- english speaking countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Cape Verde, Colombia amongst other countries. ESL teaching contracts usually range from 6 months to a year therefore you can teach in 1 or 2 countries every year, pretty awesome.

You can also teach online topics you’re familiar with like math, coding, chemistry, how to make stained glasses amongst other topics. Platforms like Udemy, Verbling have made earning passive income as a teacher easier than ever. Generally the more qualified you’re to teach, the more money you’ll earn from it.

Depending on the company you teach with you could earn an hourly rate between $14 – $23/hr or more.

7. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO involves using SEO analytics tools and keyword analyses in order to have a website or page rank high in search results and in turn generate more traffic and engagement. SEO is results based and to be effective, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of web design and copy writing. Analytical tools that are relevant include SMErush, Google planner, Google console, Ahrefs, Keyword surfer, Google analytics among others.

As an online SEO marketer, you should expect to make at least $18/hr.

8. Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

More and more companies are looking for skilled individuals who have mastered the art of search engine advertising especially in the ever changing Google’s search network. SEA requires expertise as campaigns are usually expensive and you have to figure out what works for the type of company you’re working for, keeping the companies marketing goals in mind.

9. Programming

Computer programmers write and test codes that allow websites, applications and programs to function. Programmers works alongside web designers and software developers to translate their designs into workable code.

A programmer could be a specialist in one are of computer programming or be a generalist, writing code for many kinds of software. To become a programmer is not an easy endeavour as it takes a lot of work and effort to become good at it. However, highly skilled programmers earn very good income and if you do choose to become a programmer, ensure that it’s something you’re passionate about so you don’t get discouraged when things get tough. If you do succeed at becoming a professional programmer, the opportunities for you to make money online will be endless and it will be well worth it.

Freelance programmers earn between $30 to $150/hr on a single project depending on their level or expertise and reputation. Online platforms where freelance programmers can connect with clients include Guru, Stackexchange and Toptal.

10. Web Designing

These days, every business these days has some sort of online presence, be it a one page website or a 10 page website and this has made web designing a highly sort after skill. The amazing thing about web designing is that if you don’t know anything about web designing, with the help of online learning platforms like Udemy, you can learn the skill in a matter of weeks and start creating websites as soon as possible. With website creating platforms like WordPress or Wix, web design has never been easier.

A reasonably-skilled freelance web designer makes a “not so shabby” $75/hr

11. Graphic Designing

Generally graphic designers are all about visual storytelling and they do this by creating all sorts of visual concepts to to pass a desired information across through photos and arts.

Graphic designers create logos, brochures, infographics, magazines, posters, billboards, annual reports, presentations, business cards, banners, advertisement amongst others. A Graphic designer could work for a marketing company, magazine company, or an advertising company.

If you have a sense for attention grabbing visuals and you know how to turn a clients vision into art, then this could be the right online job for you. However keep in mind that this job space is very saturated and to set yourself apart, you’ll have to offer sharp design skills and regularly improve and upgrade your technique to give the best results possible to your clients.

Graphic designers can find work on Upwork, Elance, People per Hour, and YunoJuno.

12. Consulting

Consulting involves giving expert advice in a field of expertise to professionals or organisations. The fields of expertise could be anything from business management to finance, healthcare, travel, human resource, education, real estate, law among other specialised fields.

To be a consultant, you need to have prior experience in the field and commercial credibility is important. So if you are an expert in any given field, you could offer consultancy online and make money online from it. Online consultants usually make between $11 to $103.50/hr depending on your level of expertise.

Freelance consultancy jobs can be found here Indeed, Glass door and People per hour

13. Blogging

Blogging involves writing about ones experiences, topics of interest, observation, opinions on a website and updating it with new content regularly. This blogging website is usually called a blog.

If you have basic writing and online marketing skills, you can start a blog and there are numerous ways to make money blogging. If your blog has a lot of traffic, you can make money online through ads, selling products and services, recommending other products and services and earning a commission through affiliate marketing and writing featured posts for top blogs or websites. 

14. Stock Trading

Trading stocks is one way to make good money online and requires little to no physical effort. However trading stocks requires research skills and if you have experience trading stocks and you’re familiar with the low value, high yielding stocks, you could trade stocks and make money online.

If you’re a stock trading expert, you could also offer stock trading consultancy, but of course you’ll have to discuss the legal implications with your lawyer before you do so.

For a comprehensive list of online brokers for 2020 check out Investopedia

15. Data Entry

These jobs are relatively easy to do and generally require you to do a lot of typing, collation of data and entering data into a database system or into spreadsheets. Data entry jobs involve entering data and updating information. Depending on your client, it could also include making phone calls, editing, scanning, filing of documents and other office support tasks.

A freelance data entry clerk could earn at least $13.42/hr.

16. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing and is simply earning a commission by promoting other peoples products or services. This commission is usually earned through direct sales of the product where you earn a certain percentage of the profit.

If you already run a website that attracts hundreds or thousands of daily visitors, you can promote a product you feel will add value to your readers and earn an income from every sale made through your affiliate link as a marketer.

Usually to get an affiliate link, you have to contact the company whose products you want to promote, apply to be an affiliate marketer and set up a way to get paid which is usually Paypal. If you affiliate application is approved, you’ll be given login details to the affiliate platform and a unique affiliate link which you can use to promote the product on your website, social media, or via emails. This affiliate link is unique to you and will be used to track all sales that come through your marketing channel and your commission will be collated from there.

Affiliate marketing commissions usually range from 35% of the initial sale to 75% depending on the company and their commission agreement.


17. E- Commerce

E-commerce involves selling products or services online for a profit. With online stores like Amazon and Etsy, selling online has never been easier. You can sell anything from ebooks to 3D printed products, to arts and crafts all online without having a physical shop. You can also create your own online store with Woocommerce and Shopify.

If you’re worried about storing inventory, worry no more drop shipping to the rescue. With drop shipping, you can sell physical products and have the supplier ship them directly to the buyer and you won’t have to store any inventory. 

Platforms digital nomads offer their services

The online work platform a digital nomad chooses depends on the service they offer. Some of the common platforms are:

How do digital nomads get paid?

For online work, the most common way digital nomads get paid is via Paypal.

Other payment methods include:


To find out if you can receive Paypal payments in your country, click here.



How can I become a digital nomad?

Becoming a digital nomad requires commitment and discipline because you become 100% responsible for every penny you earn. 

There are no health insurance benefits or a pension fund like with a regular 9-5 and you need to be sure if this is the route you want to take.

To become a digital nomad you have to figure out what skills you have to offer services online or work remotely. 

The skillset you choose to work with should be something you enjoy doing or have a talent in. This is because when you’re passionate about something, it’s easier to do it all the time and not get frustrated with it.

After you discover the service you want to offer, you choose the right online work platform and start working online part-time.  I use Fiverr which is the platform I recommend and as a level 2 seller on Fiverr, I’ve written a Fiverr Guide to help you get started.

It is advisable to not quit your 9-5 until you’ve established yourself online and earned enough money. Once you start making enough money working online, you can quit your current job and work online full-time.

The digital nomad lifestyle is not for everyone as it takes learning, commitment, self discipline and patience to find a system that works for you. 

Before you decide to become a digital nomad or to work online, first check out The Pros and Cons of being a Digital Nomad.

To find out more about working online get in touch with me here.


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