If you search the topic “digital nomad” on Google Trends, you’ll notice that interest has consistently increased since 2004. In other words, as technology has become cheaper, more advanced, and readily available, there are a growing number of people who are starting to ask themselves “how can I use technology to earn money while traveling the world?” (ie. escape from the daily 9-5 grind).
Because, in a nutshell, that’s what the digital nomad movement is all about…
How to Earn Money While Traveling the World
This is a guest post written by Peter Koch from SellerAtHeart.com.
Digital nomads are proponents of distancing themselves from living the ‘rat race’ life while remaining completely location independent. By using technology to work abroad, digital nomads are able to earn money while traveling the world.
If you’ve ever day-dreamt about traveling the world while making a living by working online, this is the post for you!
Earn Money While Traveling the World- A Quick Note on Mindset
There are plenty of guides and videos out there that cover how you can make money while travelling or living abroad. However, there are also plenty of guides that over simplify the process or exaggerate how easy it is to become a digital nomad/earn a full income while travelling.
At the end of the day, there are 2 things to keep in mind when considering if you should attempt to earn a living while remaining location independent.
1) There is a decent likelihood your income will decrease.
If you are currently making a stable salary and have benefits, there is a strong likelihood you will make less money when leaving your job to travel abroad (at least at the start).
However, this reduction in income isn’t the end of the world. You might be working fewer hours than a 9-5 lifestyle while living in a country that has a lower cost of living than what your previous salary was covering.
2) You need to provide value to the market to succeed.
Freelance work or running your own business while traveling is just like operating a business or working in normal life. You need to provide the marketplace with value to be compensated.
It doesn’t matter if you are talented at what you do or a savvy business owner. Working abroad presents a different set of challenges than office work, and you need to be able to adequately communicate with your clients and provide a valuable service while working remotely.
If you can’t manage clients, your deadlines, and projects from across the world, you might struggle with making an income while living abroad
In any case, let’s get to some proven methods people have used to earn money while traveling the world!
Method #1 – Starting an Amazon FBA Business
When it comes to selling merchandise online and starting your own business, Amazon FBA is a business model many entrepreneurs and digital nomads have found success with.
Amazon FBA is also an excellent business model to operate while living abroad.
Well, Amazon FBA stands for ‘fulfillment by Amazon.’
Amazon FBA businesses are structured so that all logistical operations are covered by Amazon. This means you, the seller, can focus entirely on marketing and brand promotion while shipping, order tracking, and fulfillment are covered by Amazon.
With Amazon FBA, you would purchase inventory for a product you wish to sell on Amazon, package it accordingly, and then send it to a designated Amazon warehouse where future orders would be handled.
However, just because fulfillment is taken care of, this does not automatically mean starting a successful Amazon FBA business is easy.
Amazon is an immensely popular marketplace, but it is also saturated. Product research, sourcing products, negotiating with manufacturers, and promoting your business on Amazon require knowledge, skill, and testing.
In this guide, Peter outlines some critical components of setting up your own Amazon FBA store, including:
- Niche selection.
- Product sourcing.
- Labeling and shipping.
- Keyword research.
- Amazon marketing.
- And many other concepts
However, just remember that the best way to start an Amazon FBA business is to actually start. Read guides, watch videos, but don’t get carried away with your research and suffer from the classic paralysis by analysis conundrum.
As you experience the Amazon FBA learning curve, optimize your store, and begin selling, you may find yourself inching closer and closer to method that lets you earn money while traveling the world!
Dropshipping is another common business model many digital nomads or entrepreneurs use to earn money while traveling the world.
Operating a dropshipping business is similar to operating an Amazon FBA business in that you aren’t directly responsible for logistics or inventory. However, unlike with Amazon FBA businesses where you initially order and ship inventory to Amazon, you never touch inventory with dropshipping.
Rather, with dropshipping, you only order products from manufacturers on an ‘as needed’ basis.
I’ll give you an example of how the system works:
Let’s say you run a dropshipping business that sells purses.
- You would start by sourcing products from reputable manufacturers that can produce purses at a low cost and have the ability to ship globally (and quickly). Many of these manufacturers can be found on websites like AliBaba or AliExpress.
- You would then source enough of these products to make an online storefront (let’s say your store sells a variety of purses). Dropshipping merchants typically use Shopify for their storefront and the Oberlo App to automatically integrate products from AliExpress or AliBaba onto their website.
- Finally, you would sell the purses you have selected at a marked up price to consumers. Dropshipping is essentially a game of arbitrage: you need to buy low, and sell high.
Typically, dropshipping merchants will purchase Chinese made products and sell them to North American or European consumers to profit from differences in average costs of goods. Once a customer orders a purse from your store, you simply purchase the product from the manufacturer (at their price) and have it shipped directly to your consumer.
You never touch inventory, and you aren’t burdened with upfront inventory costs or storage problems.
As with operating an Amazon FBA business, you’ll probably need to make a few mistakes and try several products or niches before you really get it right with dropshipping. However, the lack of inventory management requirements and ability to ship merchandise globally (just by using the power of your laptop) makes dropshipping a suitable business model for those that want to earn money while traveling the world.
You can check out this dropshipping guide from This Online World to read more about the world of dropshipping.
Alright, so maybe you want to earn money while traveling the world without having to be a business owner. Then what?
Well, for many digital nomads, the path to achieving location independence and traveling the world hasn’t included starting their own business. For many digital nomads, freelancing to achieve location independence is the name of the game.
Freelancing essentially involves working as your own boss in an industry you’re skilled in/love.
- You find your clients,
- set your own pricing,
- decide how many hours per week you want to work, and
- pretty much take things from there.
Freelancing is a popular choice for many people looking to earn money while traveling the world because you can usually be paid in U.S./European level wages while living in countries with a cheaper cost of living.
This discrepancy means you probably can get away with working fewer than 40 hours per week…maybe your workday is only from 7:00am-1:00pm and the rest is spent on the beach!
Now, like any successful business or venture, you need to have some skill and know how.
You could be the absolute greatest programmer or writer in the world…if you can’t manage your time, clients, and the nomadic lifestyle, you still won’t succeed.
See, full-time freelancers often struggle with building a sufficient network of clients that enables them to have stable, year-round work. Additionally, working in dramatically different time zones than your clients may not always be feasible (or desired).
However, there are millions of freelancers across the world, or even working professionals who freelance on the side to supplement their income. It is possible. You just need to know the right industries, and the right places to look.
Typically, these are some of the most common industries/jobs freelancers use to support themselves:
- Freelance writing/content writing.
- Web design.
- SEO/digital marketing work.
- Working as a virtual assistant.
- Working as a bookkeeper or accountant.
- Tutoring online.
- Social media management.
- Graphic design.
There are other available jobs, of course, and if you are incredibly skilled and have a base of clients who value your work and expertise, you might not have trouble working abroad.
Alright, but where do you actually find work?
What if you haven’t already established a client base? Well, thankfully, there are plenty of freelance job marketplaces to begin your search!
Some of the most popular platforms include:
- Reddit – r/ForHire has a lot of great opportunities!
- And other job marketplaces/community boards (Kijiji, etc.)
If you’re serious about freelancing and finding ways to earn money while traveling the world, take some time to look over each platform and take notes on what other successful freelancers in your field are doing to get gigs (how do they style their profile? What are their credentials? Do they have a portfolio?)
Take notes, research, apply yourself, and don’t be afraid to fail a few times before finding success! Additionally, don’t be afraid to explore alternative ways to make a living online or while travelling the globe.
Earn Money While Traveling the World – Is It For You?
At the end of the day, the concept of making a living while travelling abroad can certainly seem glorified or heavily promoted by digital nomads, content creators, vloggers, and the internet in general. However, it is possible to earn money while travelling the world, or at the very least, to use the power of technology to gradually reduce your location dependence and work week hours.
As long as you do your due diligence, prepare, and put in consistent effort, you can certainly succeed at making an income while exploring the world.
Related: What’s Your One Page Financial Plan?
Are you looking to earn money while traveling the world? How will you achieve this dream?