In 2019, you may have heard of people aspiring to be digital nomads to pursue a life of travel and adventure. That is still very much the case. However, in the days of global pandemics and worldwide lockdowns, the draw to work online has grown more and more appealing to those even content to stay in their own hometowns. Whether you’re in search of a truly nomadic lifestyle or just looking to work remotely, here are some of the best jobs for digital nomads in 2021.
Want to take the plunge into a life of exploration and discovery? Here are some of the best destinations for digital nomads around the globe.
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Photo & Contribution: Marco, Nomadic Fire
Passive income jobs are the dream of many digital nomads, but the myth about many passive jobs is that they are risk-free and generate tons of money. The truth is most don’t make any money and fail. There is one passive income stream that is “tried-and-true:” ETF Investing.
Notice I said investing, not trading. Many digital nomad “gurus” will peddle a course on “how to make millions trading stocks”. While some people do make money, trading is risky and unsustainable. Need proof? Over a 15-year period, ~90% of stock market professionals fail to beat the market. Professional money managers with the best resources and working full-time fail. A part-time nomad sitting on a Thai beach is not smarter than these guys.
What can an aspiring nomad do? Invest in Exchange Trade Funds(ETFs). ETFs get similar stock market returns without trying to pick which specific stock will go up. Nomads should look for an ETF that tracks the whole market (not specific industries). Funds like VTI (Vanguard Total Market) and IVV (iShares S&P 500) are popular examples.
Does this mean that ETFs are risk-free? No. Every investment, even cash, has risk. However, the S&P 500, the market benchmark, has an average annual return of ~10% (1926-2020).
What does that mean in real life? In my five years as a nomad, my passive income, combined with geoarbitrage, grew my net worth ~$400,000. Reach out via website for more information.
Contribution: Mitch, Project Untethered
Freelancing services is a common job for digital nomads. But, if you want to take freelancing to the next level, start an agency (also known as drop servicing). An agency owner lands high-paying freelance contracts and then outsources the work. They basically act as the middleman between clients and freelancers.
Some drop servicing ideas include article writing, email writing, proofreading, graphic design, etc. Basically, anything that a client normally hires a freelancer for.
Freelancers’ income is limited by the number of hours they have in the day. However, an agency owner’s income is only limited by their ability to repackage, mark-up, and sell the services they outsource. This business model may seem foolproof, but it requires some expertise.
First, an agency owner should be trained in the skill they are drop servicing. This helps with quality control and allows them to pick up the slack if their team flakes out. Second, they need to be an expert salesperson who can convince companies to pay premium prices. Lastly, they need to be able to find talented freelancers willing to charge low prices. This, however, is often easier than it sounds. Many freelancers will happily charge less if it means steady work.
Contribution: Daria, The Discovery Nut
Blog writing requires understanding the main principles of SEO (search engine optimization) such as keyword research, optimization of titles, tags and headlines, and the proper ratio of keywords throughout the article. A blogger also needs to know a few main content marketing platforms such as WordPress that is used by the majority of websites. And finally, a blogger needs to be knowledgeable about the topic that he or she is going to cover.
Those who are looking to enter the blogging game also need to know that writing highly-informative, rich content that solves your audience’s problems is a must for anybody who wants to succeed.
Blogging is one of the best jobs for digital nomads. Unlike some other remote jobs, blogging allows a lot of room for creativity and improvisation. However, while blogging is all about showing rather than telling, it also involves some technicalities.
The average pay for a blog writer varies greatly depending on location, years of experience, and specialty. It’s not uncommon to see entry-level blog writing jobs pay anywhere from $25,000 to low $30,000 while top blog writers with years of experience can make six figures.
Online ESL Teacher
Teaching English online is one of the fastest, most lucrative ways to make money as a digital nomad in 2021. Depending on your time zone and qualifications, it’s also fairly easy. Most of the companies are based in China, and some have fairly strict requirements due to the Chinese Ministry of Education’s own regulations.
In general, to work for a higher-paying company, you must be a native speaker of English. Some companies go so far as to require a North American accent, only accepting candidates from the US and Canada. You’ll need to get a TEFL Certificate, which is easily done online for an affordable price. Be sure to check Groupon for deals!
Some companies will require a college degree and experience in teaching something. That could be yoga, sports, tutoring, crochet, you name it – just teaching experience is enough to get your foot in the door.
For a detailed look at one of the more popular companies, VIPKID, check out how I became location independent.
Post a gig on Fiverr
Photo & Contribution: Dan, Layer Culture
When looking for an online gig and you have some technical skills, look into a platform like Fiverr. Today there are so many opportunities on these online marketplaces that you can start with little know-how and build your portfolio over time. For example, if you want to learn how to make money on Fiverr you can start by setting up a profile and selling assets like Instagram Story templates, YouTube thumbnails, and Tik-Tok graphics for small businesses and solopreneurs looking to boost their social media profiles. If you know how to make your own social media profiles look attractive you can extend that offering to others.
Fiverr is a great way for you to be able to do that with zero professional qualifications needed. You can charge anything from $5 to $1000 per gig, and even more if you can design a valuable package for your audience. Fiverr can be very competitive, but if you can offer something that stands out and displays what you are offering in a unique way, it’s not difficult to get your first few sales and create the perfect side hustle.
If you’ve got an ear for detail and are an efficient typist, try your hand at transcribing, one of the best jobs for digital nomads in 2021. Transcribing is essentially typing out what you hear from recordings, interviews, medical proceedings, etc. Depending on your specialty or field of interest, it’s also something that’s completely doable from the comfort of your home. Think podcasts, marketing products, commercials, etc.
Transcription work requires discipline, as does any remote working position. You’ve got to be organized and be able to stick to your set schedule and deadlines. One of the biggest perks is the flexibility and freedom it offers.
Contribution: Milene and Paul, Surf & Unwind
A great way to have a flexible schedule and fund your digital nomad lifestyle is to become a Virtual Assistant. Also known as a VA, a virtual assistant is normally an independent contractor. VAs provide administrative, technical, or even creative assistance to their clients from a remote location anywhere in the world. For this reason, it’s a career that’s been on the rise, especially among those wanting to start working from home. And, while this market is becoming more and more competitive, the opportunities are equally rising so your skillset might be just what someone’s been looking for.
Apart from having experience in the areas required by those in need of virtual assistance services like entrepreneurs, startups and so on, it’s extremely important for a VA to be organized, reliable, good at timekeeping and comfortable with working independently. You can find your first gig as a VA browsing job search websites, joining a specialized agency or creating your own website or social media profile. The salary can vary from $12-20 per hour depending on the tasks you’re required to perform and where your clients are based.
Start an Etsy Shop
Depending on your personal skills or geographical location, setting up an Etsy shop can be one of the best jobs for digital nomads in 2021. While not all Etsy businesses are conducive to a nomadic lifestyle, such as producing something that requires a lot of equipment, there are a few options that perfectly complement a life of travel.
Think things like Adobe Lightroom Preset downloads, stickers or bumper stickers, downloadable planners, coloring book pages, crochet or knitting patterns, etc. Essentially, anything you can download.
If you are primarily based in one area of the world that has something distinct to offer and aren’t traveling nonstop, consider selling something locally made. For example, you could be based in Romania and team up with someone who paints Romanian pottery to share their craft around the world. Or, somewhere in the world where only a particular type of spice is available (paprika, saffron, etc.).
Social Media Manager
Unless you’re completely off-grid (and in which case, probably not seeking digital employment), you’re probably somewhat familiar with the numerous social media channels that infiltrate our lives on a daily basis. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, etc.
A very popular remote job among the younger generations is that of social media manager. It may seem redundant or completely unnecessary, but there’s more to being a social media manager than just posting for your clients.
Social media managers are responsible for the client’s image on various social channels. SMMs monitor, moderate, and respond to followers, manage partnerships, and create beautiful posts that convey the brand’s image.
SMMs also plan and implement various digital marketing campaigns, and then collect and interpret the data gathered from those campaigns in order to determine what works best, and implement the best strategies in future campaigns in order to grow the client’s audience. They usually work directly with a design team, or otherwise have design responsibilities as well. If you have a good understanding of various social media outlets and have some of the top skills required to be a social media manager, it is definitely one of the best jobs for digital nomads in 2021.
Contribution: Bailey, Destinationless Travel
One of the best ways to supplement your income as a digital nomad is to do freelance writing. You can do this from all over the world and it makes affording long-term travel easy! It’s a great way to earn extra money as it doesn’t require extensive experience, in fact, you don’t even need to speak fluent English as there are freelancing jobs out there for any language.
The downside to freelance writing is that it can be tough to start out. Finding jobs at first can be a task in itself. You can use platforms such as Upwork and Fivver to create a profile and apply for different writing jobs. Otherwise, consider doing one or two free articles for bloggers to use to showcase your experience, then reach out to independent publishing companies directly. Creating a relationship with a large company directly within a field that you have lots of expertise could result in steady, ongoing work.
How much you can make freelance writing highly depends on your experience and the type of jobs you find. Typically, freelance writers are paid in the range of $0.02-$0.10 per word. While that may not sound like a lot, it adds up fast!