Digital nomad jobs has slightly changed in 2020. Some people had to come back home, but this crazy year also brought some unique opportunities.
If you think that most of the full-time travelers are business owners and bloggers, I have to disappoint you. While traveling, I met a lot of people who declared that they are, but later it showed that they were doing the “fake it until you make it” thing. Most of them had blogs and startups but weren’t making enough money to cover their expenses. In reality, digital nomads are mainly specialists on freelance and remote workers.
DIGITAL NOMAD JOBS IN 2020
Who works and travels in 2020?
English language teachers for Chinese kids. This digital nomad job is perfect for native English speakers, most of them worked through the VIPKid platform.
Programmers, software developers. I don’t know if they were front-end or back-end developers, and on what projects they worked; I don’t really understand those things at all. But what I know is that a lot of people I met in Bali worked as programmers.
Graphic designers. It may seem a very lucrative idea for digital nomad jobs. But these guys were probably making the most modest money. I know from my personal experience. My career as an illustrator and game designer started from graphic design more than 15 years ago. Those days it was easier to get a job, but every year the competition in this field becomes higher and higher. It is still in demand, but nowadays it is much harder to get a well-paid job as a graphic designer.
SMM managers and administrators. This was probably the most diversified group of specialists in terms of income. I met a girl doing $10,000 a month as a Pinterest marketing manager. She was working for several clients, not on her own projects. And then there were people doing around $300-$500 a month as Instagram administrators, which was their side income while they were working remotely for their companies.
SEO specialists. I met several SEO specialists, and those guys were doing pretty well. Seems that the market of SEO specialists is not as crowded as with the graphic designers. Some of them worked with individual clients, while others had one big client – marketing agency, a hub for startups and so on.
DIGITAL NOMAD JOBS I had not idea about
REMOTE EMPLOYERS ARE VERY COMMON AMONG DIGITAL NOMADS
I had no idea that digital nomad jobs aren’t only about freelance, but it is quite a popular thing, guys! In Bali, I met Carola from Peru working as a graphic designer for a US company. Because of the time difference, she had to work at night. In our Crossfit training, I met Anastasia from Siberia, Russia. Every winter she went to Bali and worked remotely for her company, which sells building materials.
And my Serbian friends Ivana and Milos work for an Australian real estate company. This is the most epic example, guys. They live in Serbia and work as backend support assistants for Australian real estate brokers. As a bonus, their company sends employers for 6 months to Bali and the Philippines. This is not a vacation; they continue working, but they can enjoy never-ending summer, sun, and surfing.
DON’T SEARCH FOR DIGITAL NOMAD JOBS, CREATE YOUR OWN ISTEAD!
In 2020 a lot of people had to start working from home instead of going to the office. If that’s your case, it gives you a unique opportunity. Many companies won’t return to their old ways, which is great for you if you want to work and travel!
Increase your productivity now. Show your boss that you work better when you’re not in the office. If your company returns people to the office when it is safe, it will be easier for you to persuade your boss that you can continue working remotely. This will give you a chance to keep your job, but do it while drinking a young coconut in Bali.
Business owners and influencers
I’m not saying that it is impossible to earn money with a business or blogging. I know people who do, but it is much harder than most of us think. In my journeys, I met a lot of people who were pretending to be successful in business or earn a lot of money with their blogs. But it was a “fake it until you make it” thing. They had to return home in 2-3 months. But I know two guys who did it.
My good friend Frank from Canada is very successful in online sales. But it didn’t happen in one night. He had to work hard without paying himself a salary for about a year. It was a similar situation with my friend Martin from Italy, who runs a portal about AI technologies.
Both guys worked hard in offices, saved money and started their projects while they were full-time employees. They dedicated all their free time in the evenings and weekends to their startups. And after they quit their jobs, they worked for months without making a penny, with nothing guaranteed that they would succeed and start making money before they ran out of savings.
My friends did it, and now Frank is successful in business; his online sales company is growing and generating profit. But I remember how a year ago in Bali he was happy to pay himself his first salary after more than a year investing all his time and money into his project.
And Martin’s AI portal today has constantly growing traffic and generates income through sponsorships. But to make it happen, Martin had to downshift his life, sell his apartment in Stockholm and move to Vietnam and later to Bali. He gave up the comfort he had when he was employed.
It is not easy at all, and the risks of failure are huge. If you want to realise your idea, minimise those risks, and start your project as a side job.
My personal experience
That’s what I did, too. I was working as a graphic designer in a marketing agency and at the same time, I was taking side jobs as a freelancer. I continued taking side jobs even when I got a position in an Austrian company as a game designer with a very high salary for Slovakia.
In June 2017 an important guy from Austria came and fired all our department without any explanation. That was a shock for me, but thankfully, I had my side job clients, a wide portfolio and a reputation as a reliable and creative specialist. Two months after I got fired from the Austrian company I was working remotely as a game designer for the competitor’s company from Czech Republic.
That’s why when I moved to Bali in 2019, I didn’t have to look for suitable digital nomad jobs and had enough confidence that I would not run out of money in the first few months. I was working full-time as a freelance game designer and illustrator for more than two years, and had a long-term relationship with my clients and the long-term projects. But it wouldn’t have happened without taking side jobs while I was employed.
Digital nomad jobs which are not available in 2020
Why had to stop traveling in 2020?
Last year was not just about online occupations. A lot of work and travel people were occupied in different fields. In Bali, Thailand and Cambodia, I met tattoo masters, DJs, photographers, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, fitness trainers, cosmetologists, professional boxers and one poker player. I’m not so sure about the last guy; I’m afraid that he was from the “fake it until you make it” category of people.
Don’t “Fake it until you make it,” guys
This is the thing I don’t recommend. Don’t pretend that you have enough money for a lifestyle you can’t maintain. It didn’t work in 2019, and it won’t work after the pandemic. If you want to start traveling full time when it is safe, my main advice is: minimise your risks and start working online as a freelancer. Start your blog or business as a side job while you’re employed.
Don’t quit your full-time job until you make enough money on your side projects or have a budget which will cover your living expenses for the next 12 months or more, in case your project needs more time to grow.
You don’t want to spend two or three months in Bali or another popular destination faking your success and then return home broke. Start preparing yourself now and you’ll be among the first people who will enjoy all the benefits traveling gives you after the border bans are lifted.