“Digital Nomad story” is a weekly story series sharing experiences and tips from nomadic entrepreneurs all over the world on how the being of a digital nomad actually looks like & how they’re rolling in their nomadic lifestyle. Join the journey!
Hi, my name is Lottie and I am a digital nomad.
There. I said it out loud (well in type). I still find myself telling people I am a trained and experienced primary teacher as an introduction to my story even though in reality, I haven’t been in a classroom for years!
Being a digital nomad isn’t something I just decided I wanted to do and hey presto, here I am. It’s a lifestyle I ended up living, falling in love with, and one I now work hard to maintain. Following a few unsettling years and a stint managing education projects in rural South Africa, my boyfriend and I decided to pack our belongings into a caravan and explore South Africa. From this, I started a travel blog and got into the travel blogging community (which is awesome!) and from there, I started helping friends and contacts with their websites and social media. Before I knew it, I was earning (a little) money doing so.
I decided then that I wanted to focus on being able to earn more money from my laptop and therefore be location independent; to be a Digital Nomad. The next year involved a lot of networking learning new skills, upskilling what I already knew, more networking, rejections, more learning, reaching out to prospective clients, more rejections, ‘working’ for free to show what I can do. Eventually, the rejections turned into contracts and slowly but surely I got to a point where feel able to call myself a Digital Nomad.
What’s your normal daily routine as a digital nomad?
Almost every day begins with coffee in bed while I go through various social media channels on my phone as well as check my emails. After that, my days vary and that is one of my favourite things about being a digital nomad! Some days I get up early, sit at my laptop all day and don’t even think about where I am. Other days, I don’t even open my laptop and spend the day at the beach, exploring somewhere, or just reading a book.
What’s your favorite part of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
My favourite thing about being a DN is the fact I work almost completely on my terms – obviously, there are meetings to have (usually in my pyjamas) and deadlines to meet, but I don’t have anyone telling me I need to be in an office (or classroom) at 8am.
My least favourite aspect is that it can be lonely. I don’t have a team of colleagues around me to chat with, bounce ideas off – that’s all done online which isn’t the same as a quick chat with the person next to you for advice or about what you did the night before.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while building a digital nomad career? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
The hardest thing to keep up with while working as a DN is pitching for work. I have to, for now at least, consistently put myself out there and look for, then pitch for work. I have to be on top of opportunities that are posted online, research each company, write an individual cover letter for the position and remain enthusiastic and interested all the time! Sometimes you don’t know where your next pay cheque will come from. Often, you spend more time putting together proposals for jobs than actually working for clients.
I am not very good at sales and I find this part of the work is all about selling yourself and persuading people to work with you. The Digital Nomad world work is very competitive so you have to show up and play nicely with others day in day out to get your name out there and build a presence.
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your digital nomad career?
Facebook. Seriously, I would never have expected to become so obsessed with it! Facebook, more specifically the groups I am part of, are my go to for resources, asking questions and finding work. They are also a great way to connect with other people who understand what being a digital nomad is all about and therefore understand the wins and frustrations when you share them.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads? Is there any way we can try to change that?
I think people see being a DN as easy and the result of being lucky. They don’t understand, or appreciate, the hard work that goes into getting to a point where you can work as a digital nomad and earn enough money, consistently, to make a living. In fact, building a digital nomad career is the same as having your own business. It takes hard work to create an online business, more hard work to maintain it and find clients then perseverance and skill to find ongoing work.
Many people are afraid of never being able to settle down after being nomads. What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced these feelings?
I have all these feelings. I am lucky because my partner has just as much of a nomadic soul as I have come to realise I have. However, the thought of settling down fills me with fear. I think the best way to deal with this, is to not force yourself to do something that you’re not ready or comfortable to do. If you don’t want to settle down, keep persevering so that you don’t have to. Find a way to keep on moving. There’s a whole world out there so if you want to explore it, don’t let societal expectations force you into settling in one place. It’s a cliche but when you’re ready, you will know.
Digital nomad community is growing rapidly and seems like almost everywhere it’s possible to find coworking spaces, nomad events, gatherings and so on. Where have you experienced the strongest nomad community?
Online. Does that count? I have been very pleasantly surprised by the sense of community online between DNs. Beforehand I would have expected it to be cut throat and competitive but in reality, digital nomads help each other out with tips and tricks as much as possible. People share their experiences, make suggestions, give advice and share contacts despite the competition to get clients.
What’s your favorite way of meeting new people as a nomad? What would you suggest for introvert digital nomads to get out there more?
Use co-working spaces or work in hostels. I have found that often, especially in hostels, people will be interested in what you’re doing and make conversation. If you’re in one place for a longer period of time, Meetup.com is a great resource for networking and socialising and there are meet-ups for everyone!
What’s your vision of the future? How long are you planning to keep up with your digital nomad lifestyle? Do you have any long-term plans on your mind?
I am actually moving back to the UK this year but. because the thought of being in one place for too long brings me out in a slight rash, my boyfriend and I are going to be nomads there too. This is something I think that is often overlooked – being nomadic in your own country. We will be swapping our caravan for a narrowboat and traveling the UK waterways on that for a few years. After that, who knows!
Gathering all your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
Try not to plan, just believe in yourself and go with it.
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