So you want to become a digital nomad or start making money online? You’re in the right place. Learn the most effective, time-efficient strategies for generating an income online and see what skills are most valuable to learn.
The whole “digital nomad” scene has exploded in the last few years.
Instagram is saturated with people working remotely from beaches in exotic countries rather than slaving away in offices back home on a 9-5. And you’ve decided you’d like a slice of that lifestyle, too.
I can’t blame you. Becoming a digital nomad changed my life and has given me a huge amount of flexibility and freedom that my parent’s generation still can’t come to terms with.
Yes, the world is changing rapidly, and it’s never been easier to earn money online and travel the world. And while this lifestyle has its many drawbacks (as I wrote here), diversifying your income streams and working remotely is also a fantastic way of improving your overall life quality for a multitude of reasons.
I’ve found that a lot of other posts on this topic are incredibly generic and don’t contain practical steps. I’m going to rectify that with this guide and give you a system to follow so you can be successful.
A Disclaimer: Making Money Online Takes Time
I’m going to keep things real with you from the beginning.
If you expect to replace your salary from your job within a month, forget it.
The most important attributes anybody could have when it comes to making money online are patience and discipline.
I know, it sounds incredibly boring, but I promise you it’s true. If you’re serious about working from home or in exotic locations, you need to understand that it won’t happen overnight. It’s a process, like anything.
Step 1: Choose Your Skill
The first thing you want to do is not end up like me. And by that, I mean, a jack of all trades without a defined speciality (more on that later).
You have to define an area you’d like to work in and a skill set you’re passionate about.
Digital Marketer has an excellent article which you can read here which defines 6 trending marketing professions that continue to soar and don’t look like becoming obsolete anytime soon. All of these can be done online, either full-time or part-time.
In my sincere opinion, for most people, choosing a career in marketing is your best chance of success online.
Marketing makes or breaks a business. There will ALWAYS be a demand for skilled marketers who can generate revenue for businesses. A lot of other skills are transient, but marketing will always be the cornerstone of success or failure for a business.
The bulk of my income has always been derived from marketing in some capacity. There are just so many areas of marketing (as you’ll see below), and it’s by far the most sought-after skill in the digital world.
And although I’d consider myself a good writer, there are many people more talented than me out there. Yet I’m still earning a considerable income online and living very comfortably.
So, I absolutely recommend starting a service based business where you offer your skills to prospective clients in return for cash. It doesn’t take any start-up capital and you only have to invest in building your knowledge to begin.
I’m going to break down some of the most common ways of making money online along with my personal recommendations and experiences. I’ll also tell you how fast the turnaround can be before you start generating positive results and money from them.
Note that a lot of these skills are multifaceted, but I don’t want to make this into a 10,000-word article so I’ll keep it brief to not overwhelm you. For example: a copywriter may also be responsible for a companies funnel-building / e-mail marketing, so they’ll still need to be familiar with certain software. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just say “copywriter”.
1) Social Media Marketing
The obvious and easiest one. Familiar with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Of course you are. Start charging businesses to manage their online social media presence.
This is a skill everybody is already familiar with which makes it an easy turn around until you see results.
2) Freelance Writing (or Copywriter)
Can you write engaging, persuasive copy? Maybe or maybe not. But you could definitely learn to do so.
There is a massive demand for people who can write SKU sales pitches on Amazon and e-commerce stores. If you can convince people you can increase their conversion rates, they’ll hire you all day long. There are also many people on websites like Upwork looking for ghostwriters / freelance writers who will hire you to write for them. Oh, don’t forget blog posts – practically every company who has an online presence needs to form of content production.
This is another one where you can rapidly start making money with little to no previous experience. It’s also a growing industry as the world becomes more globalised, and Chinese companies increasingly need to recruit English speakers / writers to assist them in branching out to the world.
3) Web Designer
Passionate about designing websites or want to learn how to? Then start a course on Udemy and start designing websites for companies and people.
It’s not as difficult as you think to become a web designer, and there are countless individuals who don’t have big money to spend but you can work for to cut your teeth with in learning the trade. It’s not as rapid a turnaround as the first two to make money, but there’s an abundance of job opportunities and it’s growing exponentially by the day.
It’s not as rapid a turnaround as the first two to make money, but there’s an abundance of job opportunities and it’s growing exponentially by the day.
4) Graphic Designer
A more complex skill, but one with which there continues to be a massive demand for. If you are creative and have an artistic side to you then it’s well worth becoming a graphic designer.
One benefit of becoming a graphic designer is that like content marketing, there’s always a demand for it (see the trend here?). And if you can forge good relationships with a company then you’ll always have consistent work and be in the green.
Graphic design work is certainly becoming very competitive due to globalisation – that is one drawback of this trade. A lot of my friends who are remote designers have struggled at times to compete with talented Indians and Eastern Europeans who have a lower cost of living. My response is simple: go for higher quality clients as opposed to those on a budget when this is the case.
5) Affiliate Marketing
Now we’re getting a little more complex.
Affiliate marketing refers to simply selling others’ products and taking a commission on the sale.
Affiliate marketing is definitely a very desirable way of working online, but it’s one that requires a lot of diligence and effort. You have to learn how to create content, a website (pay someone), SEO, and then how to market your website. For that reason alone, it’s a multiskilled venture. Maybe you find that part of it attractive.
The best part of affiliate marketing is that it’s typically referred to as ‘passive income’. Once it’s set up and working it just takes small maintenance to keep the money flowing in.
This is an excellent article on Affiliate Marketing. It’ll give you an insight into some of the most common partnerships around as well such as Amazon Associates, Commision Junction, etc.
Be prepared for a long slog with this one. I’m talking a year to start seeing good results.
Blogging is a solid way of generating income for yourself, but you really do have to have a solid niche that people are interested in. You need to understand core elements of social marketing as well to make it successful.
At the time of writing this article, my site is brand new. I’ve made not a single dollar on it, but I’ve invested well over 200 hours into it. That gives you an indication of the amount of work you should expect to do before even earning anything.
7) SEO Specialist
All those websites need people who can help them to rank well on Google. That’s where SEO comes in (Search Engine Optimisation).
People will pay very good money for this if you can deliver results. It’s a crucial skill. It’s also another way of doubling up your content marketing services if you decide to go down that route.
Learn it by doing a course on Udemy.
8) Influencer Marketing
This one is pretty straightforward. If you have an Instagram account with thousands of followers, you can register for a site like Shoutcart and start getting paid to host images on your account. It can actually be pretty lucrative if you have an authentic following.
Once again, choosing your niche carefully and having some basic marketing comes in handy here.
9) Start Your Own Store
If you have sufficient start-up capital (I’m talking £10,000 minimum), consider starting your own brand of physical – or digital – products after sufficient research into a niche.
Amazon’s FBA scheme is the standout choice here. Again, courses can be done on Udemy to easily learn the trade. Then it’s just about finding a supplier in China for your products and ensuring the branding is well done.
You can, of course, start a store from scratch. It’s much more difficult to market this. Amazon tends to be an easier route.
There is also Dropshipping, where you don’t actually handle any of the physical products but you transfer it via a third-party manufacturer / retailer / wholeseller. This is another nice business model that generates a good income if you find a decent enough niche. But again, it requires marketing knowledge.
Still feeling a little confused and overwhelmed? My best advice would be this: find a Facebook Page to manage.
Why do I say this?
Because everything ultimately comes back to social media, particularly Facebook. Advertisers use it, consumers use it, and all of your family use it. Whatever skill you learn along the way, chances are Facebook and social media will be intertwined at some stage. Therefore, it’s logical just to take control of a friends business page they don’t have time to manage and expanding your knowledge / learning your craft from there.
Step 2: Subscribe to Experts in Your Niche & Learn Your Trade
Once you’ve identified an area you think you can prosper in, it’s time to start learning your trade.
The first thing you should do is sign up to Udemy and study an online course. There’s a ton of awesome material for free in there, and I’ve done a few courses for as little as £10 and learnt a ton from them.
No excuses. Invest in yourself if you’re serious about making this work for you. It’s the only way to succeed. This step is mandatory.
After that, a simple Google search will yield plenty of blogs and influential individuals you can learn from. You should subscribe to their newsletters and stay up to date with the following websites and devour everything they send you in my opinion:
- Hubspot Marketing
- Social Media Today
- Digital Marketer
- Jon Loomer (Facebook Ads expert)
- Ezra Firestone (e-commerce expert)
- Neil Patel (Blogging)
There are much more websites and influencers, but these are a few of the standouts for me I go to for advice and support. I find them at the forefront of many innovative marketing strategies.
Step 3: Create a LinkedIn Profile
The next step is to start presenting yourself in a professional manner. You do this by joining LinkedIn and completing your profile as much as possible.
Make it rich in information and experience, but try to keep your bio direct and to the point. Not many people have time to read through masses of clunky text, so be sharp and communicate your skills quickly with bullet points if appropriate. You can see my profile here as an example.
Step 4: Put Yourself About & Approach
Now it’s time to start approaching clients and making money which is the exciting part. No matter your chosen trade, you can pitch and find prospective clients on the following platforms:
There are a variety of ways you can pitch potential customers. Some people even like to use a CRM to automate their proposals and mass e-mail companies. I’m not against this, but I don’t think it’s a great way for a beginner to generate leads.
My personal approach is to identify a weak area in the prospective clients business on their website or online presence, and then seek out the individual responsible for the decision making in that company. LinkedIn’s premium feature is fantastic for this, in my opinion. And they give you a free 30-day trial, too, which is a great way to cut your teeth!
You can also approach local businesses in your area, restaurants you frequent at or stores you visit. These tend to have a much higher success rate than dealing with people online. There’s a reason companies spend thousands flying employee’s around the globe in business class to close deals after all. It’s because nothing can surpass face-to-face communication.
However, the aforementioned platforms are a great start. Some may be low paying clients in the beginning, but do a good enough job for them and you’ll find the relationships become much more lucrative further down the line.
Step 5: Focus on Retention
When you get your first couple of clients, do yourself a favour and really focus damn hard on making their businesses a success.
I recommend going above and beyond the port of call in the beginning in order to upskill yourself, impress the client and gain experience. After you’ve proven results, you can become more demanding on the fees they pay you and what you’re willing to do.
Don’t constantly seek out new clients to keep the wheel turning. It’s stressful and your income can fluctuate dramatically as a result of it. Instead, cultivate strong relationships with your existing clients and you’ll find it’s much more lucrative in the long-term than constantly having to replenish lost business. I’m speaking from experience here – trust me.
It’s not as complicated as it seems now, is it? In fact, one could argue that it’s actually quite easy to make money online.
The only thing it’s going to cost you, in the beginning, is time and diligence. I understand it’s hard when you’re working or studying full-time, but everything can be done from your laptop when you have downtime so it’s not like somebody is asking you to go and bust your balls at the gym every day. You’re just reading / listening / wathing educational material for free.
Follow these 5 steps sequentially and I promise you’ll be well on your way to earning money online and becoming location independant. It’s not a pipe dream; it can be a reality if you’re willing to work for it.
If you enjoyed this article, then please share it and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll respond to all of them as soon as I have time if you need advice.