Digital nomad jobs are ways to make an income while traveling full-time. Starting off might be confusing, but I guarantee that it’s easier than it seems to escape the rat-race.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always slaved away at a job that I hated in aims to save as much money as possible. Upon reaching the savings goals, I’d finally be able to live the backpacker lifestyle, of course, until the funds dried up.
Sound familiar? Most people that I meet on the road take a similar approach. However, there is an increasing amount of people that have beaten the system and are now traveling full-time.
Starting Out as a Digital Nomad
Most backpackers and full-time travelers than make their living online prefer not to use the term ‘digital nomad’ or ‘digital nomad jobs’.
For some reason, many consider it a cringey word that belongs to a community of hipsters. In saying that, and for the lack of a better term, I use it to describe the lifestyle and try to avoid using it as an expression of identity.
In this blog post, I’ll explain the process of starting out with digital nomad jobs, online work and what you might expect.
Getting your first online job
Getting a reliable online job isn’t as hard as you might expect. When I first started, I considered it a distant dream and was shocked at how easy it was.
Although it might seem more attractive for many to start off by creating a brand or eCommerce business, it’s actually much harder. I’ve been there. I failed in started an online dropshipping business and anti-piracy service.
I spent a lot of time and money on both and found that it to get things running the way I wanted them, it just needed too much money. Money that I wanted to spend traveling.
The problem with starting your own business is that it takes time and money to set up. Although the rewards are greater in the long term, it definitely won’t get you on the road any time soon. For that reason, I recommend looking for a purely remote online job and then chasing any entrepreneurial dreams after that.
What are the Best REAL Digital Nomad Jobs for Beginners?
I guess beginner isn’t the right word. We’ve all had a job before, the only difference with digital nomad jobs is that you are able to work from your computer while traveling.
There are actually thousands of online opportunities out there. You just have to know where to look. Below I’ll tell you how I started out. This is a path that many are taking because it’s reliable, consistent and will get you on the plane quicker.
Teaching English Online
My first online role and probably one of the best digital nomad jobs for beginners is an online ESL Teacher. You’ve probably met plenty of people backpacking that do this to support their travels. This is because there is such a large demand for native English speaking online teachers.
By far, the best company to work for is DaDa. They are a Chinese company that employs thousands of English speaking teachers and has over ten thousand students. They let you create your own timetable and will pay you up to $24 USD per hour.
Click here to go straight to the DADA application page.
You are able to work up to 25 hours a week with Dada. Personally, however, I’ve found that a couple working 9 hours each a week gets us through on a backpacker’s budget.
How to get the job
To apply, visit the Dada job applications website and begin the online registration. Assuming you meet the basic criteria, you should receive a scheduled Skype or Zoom interview within a week or so.
You will require:
- Working towards or completed TESOL / TEFL Course*
- Some sort of teaching experience (tutoring is enough)
- At least a high school level education
- Be a native English Speaker
Recently, China has introduced some laws requiring all teachers to at least have a Bachelor Degree in any field. In saying that, I know many online teachers that don’t have this qualification. If you don’t, try your luck anyway.
*For online English teaching, I recommend this online course from Groupon, it only costs $19 and is more than sufficient for online work. Note that you don’t have to finish it before applying.
What it’s like teaching online while traveling full time
Teaching English online is one of the easiest digital nomad jobs. It’s also really easy to learn and quite fun once you get going.
Because you develop your own fixed timetable, you will receive a fixed income each week. This is essentially the same as a regular job – you just don’t need to commute to an office and can work from a hostel, hotel or restaurant.
Teaching online requires nothing more than a laptop and a headset. Typically, students range from 4-14 years old. The in-house teaching application is similar to Skype, with both you and the student’s webcam visible. There is no need for extensive lesson planning or creation as all of the teaching material is supplied and tailored to your student.
You are given a slideshow, which you can allow your student to read, correcting errors and helping with activities. They also encourage free-talk and other games and activities that you can run on the fly.
Freelance Writing Jobs for Digital Nomads
My second job as a digital nomad was to write articles for an SEO company. This is essentially just articles designed to rank highly on search engines.
There are several companies out there that require content writers. The company I work for is quite small and are currently not hiring. But you can find many opportunities on the website; remoteok.io. This is just a job site like SEEK for those looking for digital nomad jobs. Otherwise, if you’re in the states, you can use Jooble to search for remote entry-level jobs with an opportunity to work from the road.
Getting a writing or typewriting job
With the increasing cost of your clicks, well-optimized content is getting more and more valuable. As a result, there are loads of companies looking for people to write content for them.
The only thing you need to get one of these digital nomad jobs is a knack for writing and some basic understanding of SEO. If you’ve written articles for university or school, these are great for a starting portfolio.
Other Digital Nomad Jobs
While there are thousands of other jobs out there, I personally haven’t had the experience. Therefore, it’s hard to give you an honest representation of what it’s like.
However, I’ve met people that work as customer service and online assistant reps, coders, website designers and online data entry clerks. If any of these jobs represent your skillset, have a search online for remote opportunities. Again, remoteok is a great source for this (link above).
What It’s Like Living on the Road Full-Time
For me, it’s coming up to a year of full-time travel. So far it definitely feels like the kind of lifestyle that I want to pursue for a long time.
Evidently, when first starting out with digital nomad jobs, you don’t earn a lot of money. However, it definitely is doable in areas where your dollar goes further like in South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent or Central/South America.
Travel, photography, and writing are my passions. Digital nomad jobs and the overall backpacker lifestyle allows me to pursue this without the stress of diminishing travel funds.
In my opinion, working digital nomad jobs is a more rewarding and balanced life. I spend most of my days exploring jungles, temples, beaches, and waterfalls. I consider work as a necessary side-component of life, rather than the be all and end all that is the 9-5.
In the meantime, I now have time to focus on my own project such as WeSeekTravel and get as much travel and landscape photography opportunity as possible. Ultimately, I’d love to fully support myself on a digital nomad lifestyle without the need for an occupation (more on this later). However, for now, sticking to digital nomad jobs and remote work is essential in keeping me on the road.
In total, I’d say that I currently spend about 15% of my time awake working, 15% on my blog and the rest on enjoying travel and taking photos. In contrast, when I was working a full-time job, the split was more like 65% working, 10% commuting and 25% for actual life.
Tips for Saving Money While Traveling
With online digital nomad jobs, It’s entirely possible to not only fund your travel but save money at the same time. Although I limit my work hours to fund my needs, sometimes it’s necessary to save a little bit more for flights, cameras or a broken laptop.
There are thousands of opportunities to volunteer your time while traveling. Not only will you be giving back to the countries that have given you so much, but you will also often be rewarded with free food and accommodation for your time.
Since these are the biggest, and sometimes only costs when it comes to travel, you will essentially be able to save all of your online income while volunteering.
The goal is to volunteer in the morning or day and work digital nomad jobs in the afternoon or night. The beauty of this is that it benefits everybody. The communities you are helping get much-needed support while you can have a rewarding experience and save money at the same time.
A great volunteering organization with projects around the world is All Hands and Hearts. Check them out.
Increase your working hours
Whether you’re teaching online, writing, or coding, it’s usually pretty easy to pick up some extra workloads. The companies and jobs I’ve listed above are usually pretty happy to have you working more hours.
The great thing about this is that it acts as a pause from travel. Take a couple of weeks on a tropical beach or among the rice paddies to stop moving around and just work. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save when you’re not spending money.
This goes without saying. Full time travel can be extremely cheap. It can also drain your funds fast. Typically, I spend under $10 a day on food and always try to sleep for under $15 a night.
Sometimes, adventures, transport, and other things will cost more. However, these are essential for the travel experience and can’t be avoided.
What can be avoided, or put better, limited, are nights out. This is probably one of the biggest money drainers there is for backpackers. Although I’m not a stranger to a beer or two, I do this as a lifestyle rather than an escape from real life. Therefore I try to limit big nights out and definitely don’t party every day.
In saying this, if you find yourself in Myanmar (Burma), you can find bars that sell pints for 850 kyats ($0.56 USD).
How to Deal with Money, Pay and Taxes as a Digital Nomad
When first starting off with an online or remote job, it might be confusing as to how you deal with money. Rest assured, this is not much more complicated than a regular income in your home country.
However, one of the most important things is avoiding transaction costs. These are fees and conversation rates that quickly diminish your already stretched income.
Working online allowed me to fulfill my dream of living and fighting Muay Thai in Thailand: READ MORE.
How to get paid
The best way to get paid from an online company is using TransferWise. This is a company and mobile app that physically sets up a bank account in your name anywhere in the world. You can then get paid in any currency, including US Dollars, Chinese Yuan and British Pounds.
The best part is, you can exchange between currencies at the best rates and for a fee of around $1 per transaction. This is by far the best and most effective way to handle pay and money as a digital nomad. It’s also completely legal and secure.
Digital nomad jobs and taxes
The tax situation will vary from country to country. Even though I don’t live there, Australia still expects me to pay income tax on any remote or foreign income. Most digital nomad jobs consider you to be a freelancer, even those with fixed schedules and working hours.
Due to this fact, you will most likely need to keep track of your income and declare it in your home country. I don’t make a huge amount of money online, so most of this is fairly redundant to me anyway.
Escaping Occupation and Starting Entrepreneurship
For many, the digital nomad dream means escaping a job completely and running things on your own time. While remote freelancing gives you way more freedom than a conventional job, it’s still working for someone else.
That’s why many decide to take the dropshipping or eCommerce route to begin with. Like I said earlier, this is fantastic if you have the time and money to set things up. Usually, however, it takes months before you see your first dollar come through.
While running your own business is definitely the most rewarding way to live, it definitely isn’t easy to get there. That’s why in this guide I’ve detailed ways to quickly and easily get you living on the road.
My goal was always to fund continuous travel. When I achieved it in about a month of searching, I was shocked at how easy it was to achieve. Moving forward, I’d love to be able to be fully independent of external sources of income and completely focus on this blog.
I consider digital nomad jobs an essential step, and entrepreneurship and ventures to be next.
Like I mentioned earlier, travel, photography, and writing are my passions. It seems natural then to understand why I started a travel blog. While I definitely didn’t start WeSeekTravel to make money, it’s a project that I’m personally passionate about and if it can allow me to fulfill my dreams of full-time independent travel then I’m going to give it my all.