This is an adapted excerpt from my new book with Jacqueline Seidel, Free At Last: Live, Love & Work Abroad. Find Jobs and Build Your Career Anywhere.


I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams


What Exactly is a Digital Nomad and Would You Actually Want to Be One?

When I picture a nomad in my mind’s eye, I think of a camel caravan traipsing across the Sahara Desert in search of the next campsite before sundown. So when I think of a digital nomad, I see a lone figure holding a laptop while riding that camel. She/he is probably looking for a Wi-Fi hotspot and a power source.

Searching for a hotspot in a hot spot.

Wikipedia states: “Digital nomads are individuals who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.” (*The big, traditional dictionaries like Oxford’s and Merriam-Webster’s only have “digital” and “nomad” listed as separate words. Maybe this will be the year they add the term to show they are with the times?)

So, while I hate to put labels on myself, it seems that I may in fact be a digital nomad or at least a part-time digital nomad wannabe, given that I do freelance art and design for clients, consulting work for online and traditional educational institutions, write eBooks, and sell online courses to people all over the world regardless of where I am living. (At the moment I live in Yangon, Myanmar, going on one year now.) The only thing getting in the way of course is Myanmar’s impossibly slow Internet connection!


How to Make a Living When You Don’t Live Anywhere? The Many Options

So let’s now explore the many part time, slap-dash, and full time possibilities for being a digital nomad.

This is a non-exhaustive list of possibilities for what you might do as a digital nomad. Choose the option(s) that most gel with your own area of expertise, skill set, education level, and overall enthusiasm and see where it takes you.


The list could go on and on. If you see an option that piques your interest, I encourage you to learn more about getting started through books, courses, and joining online communities of people already successfully doing it. We also post opportunities in our Facebook Group: Free At Last: Live, Love, & Work Abroad. Feel free to join us!

Design Thinking For Digital Nomads


You might also get inspiration by having a look at some Design Thinking free PDF worksheets available online from IDEO and Stanford Design School.

design thinkingDesign Thinking is a system for becoming more innovative, flexible, and creative. To go over it in a nutshell:

  • First you check in with a problem you might be having. (Ex. I need a location independent job!)
  • Next you begin brainstorming and jotting down possibility after possibility. Here it’s all about the quantity of ideas. Just come up with as many ideas as possible. Don’t fuss over any of them yet and don’t censor yourself.
  • Then, you look at your list and start to choose something that resonates with you. Begin to hone in on one or two possibilities you might try. This is going to be your prototype. (Ex. Set up a website and start offering copy-editing services there and on Fiverr to start.)
  • It’s time for action! This is your testing phase. Design Thinkers learn by doing instead of theorizing and sitting around asking “what if?” Many of us have been trained at an early age to fear failure. With Design Thinking failure is a good thing! Here we take one of our ideas and we just DO IT! Will we make mistakes? Absolutely. It’s all good.
    Try out your idea. See what works and what doesn’t. See what you like and what you dislike. Then fine-tune your prototype based on both the positive and negative feedback you got.
  • Rinse and repeat. Keep at it. Did you know that it took Thomas A. Edison 10,000 tries to invent the light bulb? He never saw himself as failing. He famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
    That’s the spirit of a Design Thinker!

    “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” —Tom Kelley, Ideo partner

Keep at it and use every experience as a lesson for moving forward.


A Few More Key Points to Remember


  • Make a list of all the things you can potentially do as a digital nomad. Then look at your list and choose one or two things you love and want to do and will actually try. Find others who are already successfully doing those things, join their conversations and glean their insights in the social media groups where they hang out, and get started taking those first baby steps towards following in their footsteps.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Income streams come and go more quickly in the online realm so make sure to have a Plan B (and C, D, and E) to act as your safety net.
  • Failure is not a bad thing. Failure is just feedback. Use what you learn to help you take that all-important next step.
  • You may be “loosey-goosey” with wherever it is you call home, but do remember to ensure that all your paperwork, taxes, visas, SIM cards, and everything else you need to keep your business running are in order. It’s OK to change your location with wherever the wind blows you, but do still stay as organized as you would if you had a location based office. You don’t want to miss important payments or tax deadlines in your host or home countries. Stay in the loop and keep your new enterprise afloat wherever you may go.


For much more on working abroad (or from anywhere), please check out my new book with Jacqueline Seidel, Free At Last: Live, Love & Work Abroad. Find Jobs and Build Your Career Anywhere.