Working and travelling as a digital nomad has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially with the rising popularity of the book The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Work from anywhere and explore a new city every week? Yes and yes!
COVID-19 looks to accelerate this trend, especially as work-from-home becomes increasingly normalised and borders reopen. However, despite the prevalence of work-from-home arrangements, most employers still require you to be based in their country, be it for tax purposes, employee culture, or to manage you by presence. So if you really want to become a digital nomad, you’d definitely need to freelance and join the gig economy.
There’s a whole thread on digital nomad jobs on Reddit (r/digitalnomad) where people ask about digital nomad jobs for beginners and digital nomad jobs with no experience required. Some out there are also asking what are the best digital nomad jobs right now, and even the highest/top paying digital nomad jobs.
Here are some thought-starters on the kinds of digital nomad jobs that you can start right now that require little to no experience.
Freelance writing can be done from any part of the world, as long as you are well-versed in the language that you’re writing in and can coherently string sentences together. You could do copywriting, sub-editing, or even coming up with short snippets for product descriptions on a website.
If you’re a specialist writer with a specific focus, you can charge higher per assignment or word; but generalist writers can also negotiate a decent fee — especially if you’re on the ball with your work and have built a good relationship with your clients.
Perhaps you have a knack for visuals, rather than a way with words. You don’t need to be an artist, though that might help for certain creative roles. It could be functional design, such as brochure production, editorial design for an e-book, design for social media formats, logo design for newly-minted companies, and so on.
You can even look at designing from another angle: Designing the structure of a programme, the user interface of a website or mobile app, experiences for your fellow country people who are visiting your current nomad location, and so on.
These days, you don’t need to be a Photoshop or Illustrator whizz to get into design. You can use Canva, Figma or any one of the many free web-based design softwares out there. You’ll get paid more when you’re really good and have built up a portfolio.
We’re not saying that anyone can be a photographer, but what defines a photographer is not their equipment or years of experience, but their eye and creativity. Plus, with mobile phones cameras getting more advanced and professional cameras getting more compact, it’s pretty easy to tote around your kit as you explore the world.
You can even try selling your images to stock image databases and earn some commission when people purchase your photo(s). Yes, this includes your travel images, especially of lesser documented places, people or food.
Photography is a skill that pretty much transcends borders and languages, so if you’re good at your craft, you can also find work wherever you go. Get a temp role at a portrait studio? Be a travelling wedding photographer in a picturesque destination (the couple pays for you, of course)? Or even organise photography walks wherever you may be.
Fluent in more than 1 language? Translation might just be the thing for you. We’re living in a globalised world where people from every culture and country gather to do business and exchange ideas — it’s just a matter of communication.
For example, you could be translating articles, ingredients for food labels, TV shows and movies (so that Netflix viewers can read the subtitles), books for worldwide readers, and so on.
You might have considered applying for a job as an English teacher so you can work overseas in countries such as Japan, which has an official Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme (but the selection process is pretty tough).
But as times change, we see our university lecturers teach remotely from their home country, and occasionally fly in for in-person lectures with students — especially for global universities with local branches or programme collaborations. Think Curtin, INSEAD, ESSEC, James Cook, and so on. Covid-19 has also shown that remote learning is entirely possible.
Even if you’re not a professional educator but have deep knowledge on a topic, you can also create courses and post them online to earn cash, such as on Skillshare or even YouTube MasterClass. You can even give remote tuition, or become a digital coach in the things you excel in, which might run the gamut of finance or even baking.
6. App developer or programmer
Don’t have a background in coding? Well, even a Japanese grandma managed to teach herself how to code and built a popular iPhone app for her peers. You can also find plenty of courses online that teach you how to code and build your app.
There are also online app-builder tools that remove the need for coding and programming. It’s kinda like Wix or Shopify when you’re trying to build a website or set up an online store — however, it does help if you have some basic knowledge, just in case.
Anyway, a cursory search online returns many remote jobs for app developers and even full-stack programming roles. You’ll be facing the computer most of the time anyway, it doesn’t really matter when and where you do it. Data travels at warp speeds with Internet connections getting faster and faster.
7. Digital marketer
The definition of digital marketer is pretty broad, and may encompass social media management, SEO/SEM optimisation, and even digital strategy, to achieve the digital marketing goals of a campaign or company. Digital nomads would be familiar with online platforms anyways, since we’re all so busy scrolling TikTok or posting #Ootd shots on Instagram.
Those making their first foray into this realm could start out in freelance roles where they manage certain aspects of digital marketing such as social media management or even digital data analytics to assess the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts, while the overall execution is led by a full-time employee. Those with more experience can become digital marketing consultants for SMEs, managing the process from end-to-end to increase the company’s brand awareness and generate digital leads/sales.
8. Virtual assistant
No, your name doesn’t need to be Jamie, neither do you need to be a chatbot. As a virtual assistant, you’re helping out with admin duties remotely, whether it’s from a cafe in France or the Wi-Fi on a plane. Thanks to cloud services such as Google’s, it’s easy to access shared email accounts, work on shared files, spreadsheets and even share documents easily. Maybe you’re helping a busy entrepreneur friend with the “boring stuff” while they spend all day negotiating deals and procuring funding; or you list your services online as a virtual assistant for hire for small businesses that don’t have a physical office.
Depending on the duties you agree upon with your employer, you probably have to do a bunch of stuff like an octopus… some parts chapalang, other parts bao ka liao. But usually it’s helping to take and make phone calls, schedule appointments/meetings, managing email accounts and even making travel arrangements.
Win-win la. Flexi for the employer and flexi for you too.
9. Service agent
I’m sure you are privy to the fact that some companies outsource their call centre operations or customer service functions to a team in another country (for whatever reason). You can be that person too!
You probably will be given a list of responses and some form of remote access if needed. However, if dealing with irate customers isn’t your thang, you can also be a telemarketer, phone surveyor and the like. Do remember Singapore’s DNC (do-not-call) rules though.
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With a SIM Only Plan, explore the digital nomad life with M1’s Data Passport.
For a flat price, you can explore an entire region. For instance, when you get the $30 ASEAN Data Passport, you can use your local data in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, without having to queue up and buy a local SIM Card at each location!
Thinking of going to more places in Asia? There’s also the $60 Asia Data Passport, which allows you to extend your data to 25 destinations in Asia, including China and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the $60 Europe Data Passport that has coverage across 43 European destinations.
Furthermore, you can keep track of your data passport usage and even set a network lock so that you will not receive a bill shock when you return from your trip. These features provide peace of mind when you’re travelling and working.
Get more details on M1’s Data Passport here.