Where to start when you want to become a digital nomad? – my lessons learned after working remotely for over a year

For over the past year Alex has been working and travelling as a digital nomad. She has worked and lived in five different countries but before she left she had no idea how to start living the digital nomad life. She looks back on her lessons learned and shares the steps that will help you to create this lifestyle for your own..

Yesterday I arrived in Bali which is a popular destination for just starting digital nomads. It’s the perfect spot to get work done, meet up with like-minded people, creating new ideas and chill in between. That is exactly the reason why I am here: I am working for the next two months to set up new projects in 2017. But before doing that it is good to review the past year and take those lessons into the next. I am happy to share the most important lessons for the perfect travel-work balance (is this already a thing? This should definitely be a thing! #travelworkbalance)

1. Create a base

Last year I’ve been living most of the time in our car. In between road trips, we lived in over 30 different Airbnb’s, house sits and shared homes divided over 5 countries. For the first year as a working traveller, this was great. It gave us a wide network, a lot of inspiration and a lot of insights. However, I couldn’t do it for the second year. This year we will create a base back in our home country, the Netherlands. We will create our home here, but we will make sure that it give us the freedom to be flexible with our living situation. It will be cheap and easy to rent out. That makes it easy to pack our stuff to leave whenever we want, but it also takes away the pressure of always needing to find something new to live. Having a base (or multiple bases, that give you the opportunity to switch houses whenever you want, while you can make a profit from the other) that is easy to leave, will give you the peace and focus you need to do your job. And it gives you the freedom of finding inspiration, clients and projects all over the world.

2. Find your Master Skill 

Although I can’t complain about the income from last year, I can honestly say that money is not my biggest interest. I was in a job that paid me more than any job I’ve ever had and I became more miserable by the day. And I did projects for way less that gave me more than money can buy. It is all about finding a balance between the two. Before we talk about money in my next point, I want to tell you how important it is to find something that you really love doing and what you are really good in. I call it my master skill. For me, that is telling interesting stories to people that have a need for what you’re telling. I can do this in both my businesses; as a digital strategist I am looking into how I can translate a brand proposition into an engaging story for their audience and I make sure that they get the story presented in a way that they get engaged. As the owner of an online travel magazine, it is quite clear that I am busy with collecting and sharing stories so others can be inspired by what travellers and locals are telling about interesting travel destinations. Everybody has a master skill. It is something that gives you energy, that you are confident about and that makes other people wonder: “How does he/she do that?!” But for you, it’s just “something you do.” It’s natural! Find out what your master skill is and own it!

3. Increase your Personal Value Level

When I discovered where I can help people and what I really enjoy (my so-called Master Skill) I needed to figure out how this will help me pay the bills (and in my case: plane tickets). I researched and came on the theories and studies of Mike Dillard, who is a famous digital marketer from the US. He talks about your Personal Value Level (PVL) and gives insight in how to increase it. The amount of money that you are able to charge is dictated by your PVL and there are three things that effect your Personal Value Level.

  • The amount of people doing the same thing that you’re doing – competition
  • The skills, expertise and training you need (and have) to do what you’re doing – knowledge
  • The number of people that you can reach as prospects – leverage

To increase your PVL you need to find a business model that fits you and that helps you to stand out, show that you’re an expert and reaches the right prospects. You can find more information about the theory and how to get started on Mike Dillard. He has different podcasts, blogs and working sheets. He also does paid courses but if you use this as something to get you started, get creative and just work hard on building a business model around your Master Skill you will not need to paid course.

4. Make it remote

This last tip only counts if you want to create a lifestyle where you can work and travel at the same time, which I know is not the ambition of everyone. If you found the thing you love to do most and if you know how to increase your PVL, the next step is getting creative by thinking about how you can make this happen all over the world. Even if you are a hairdresser or a teacher you can do it from wherever you want. Next to the fact that there are people in the whole world that have hair or that you could teach your subject in international schools or whatever there are much more ways to work remotely. Let’s take the hairdresser as an example. Besides cutting hair you could write a book, have a blog with affiliate programmes, you can start a web shop selling different hair products or you can create a programme teaching other hairdressers different trends and techniques. For (almost) every job you can come up with ways to make it remote.


For the past year, I’ve been working on different things. I’ve worked for Dutch clients while I was in Australia, I’ve worked for an agency in Melbourne and I did projects with local partners for a worldwide initiative. All different ways of combining work with exploring the world. But none of them gave me the freedom to work from any place that I want while working. The four steps explained above made it possible for me to set up a new freelance business. Thanks to that business I will have the time and money to invest into my other start-up.

If your are curious to both businesses and would like to follow my journey, follow me on Instagram @mybigworldworktrip and view my Instastory (only up for 24-hours before it gets deleted automatically by Instagram – but no worries, I will post more behind the scene video’s) about what I am working on and how I do it. If you have questions, see opportunities or just want to say hi, don’t be shy and drop me a message!


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