Ready to move out of a big, loud, expensive city and finally stop working for somebody else? Chances are you’ve got more options than you think. Two years ago, I took the plunge into entrepreneurship by starting my own marketing agency and an e-commerce store. I’ve been able to run both ventures from anywhere in the world.
I’m not alone; there’s a growing workforce of digital nomads who are making money while traveling the globe. I wrote about some of the most popular such options back in 2016, and as 2018 gets underway, a few of the top roles for digital nomads are substantially similar while new ones are cropping up, too. Here are seven jobs to put on your radar if you’re looking to hit the road and work for yourself in the year ahead.
In case you haven’t heard, the news industry isn’t exactly doing great lately, and while that isn’t necessarily good news for freelancer writers, either, it might free them up to live and work someplace far-flung (and cheaper than New York). And it isn’t just journalists who might be better off freelancing from anywhere. Copywriters, editors, and content strategists can find similar opportunities. When I first started my business, I wrote articles on a freelance basis to give my company some additional runway and to fund my travels as a nomad. Brands are looking for help with many types of content, from e-books to blog posts to website copy. So a writer can make a living just with a laptop, some inspiration, and a Wi-Fi connection.
2. Product Developer
You can run an e-commerce store anywhere you can find an internet connection. In my experience, it takes just days to set up a digital storefront using out-of-the-box platforms like Shopify, which can help you manage your inventory and process payments. From drop-shipping kitchenware products to building your own T-shirt brand, there are countless niches you can get into.
Last year, I started an e-commerce store making fun gifts through versatile designs I could place on a wide range of products using print-on-demand services like Gooten and Printful. Others are doing much the same. “The way I set up my store makes it easy for me to run the store anywhere in the world,” says Jason Wong, founder of Dank Tank, which sells meme-inspired swag. “All of our products are sourced directly from suppliers in Asia or North America, and ship directly to our fulfillment center in Long Island.”
This lets Wong travel. “I do all the product development for the store remotely and manage my team of media buyers for Instagram and Twitter, in which we communicate over messenger or video-chat platforms.” As a result, he says, “I’m able to be out of my office for most of the year.”
Great design is crucial to any successful business, and many companies are looking for help creating amazing websites, collateral, and graphics. If design is your craft, consider going freelance or building a design agency and running it from anyplace you like.
If you’re not yet a designer but are aspiring to become one, there are dozens of online courses that can walk you through everything from color choice to design software, so you can start learning today. (This portable Ideo.org design starter kit can help you practice the fundamentals of good design on the go.) You can start small as a side gig and build up your skill set steadily. By this time next year, you could be packing your bags to hit the road as a digital-nomad designer.
4. Marketing Strategist
Many marketing campaigns can be run from your laptop, as I’ve learned myself. Over the past two years, my agency offered marketing services like PR campaigns, content strategy, and ad optimization from all over the world. Using basic tools like Slack and Google Hangouts, we’ve been able to keep in touch with clients all over the place while building out their digital programs.
“I started working as a digital marketing executive for Kurve after finding an opening in a remote jobs site,” says Michael Lorenzos, a pay-per-click marketing specialist. “With the help of project management systems like Asana and Trello and, of course, Slack, working remotely has been possible and highly efficient. When you’re on a client’s Slack and can resolve issues as soon as they happen, it feels like you’re sitting at the opposite office.”
5. Filmmaker Or Producer
Today’s digital marketing landscape is oversaturated with cookie-cutter advertising, and that’s pushing brands to think harder about generating eye-catching video content. That equals demand for great content creators who can not only shoot ads but produce product and demo videos that live online. And, as Naotomo Umewaka, a freelance director and producer has found, “you can travel anytime and anywhere that might have a project waiting for you. While you travel as you work, you will be able to learn about new cultures, see so many beautiful landscapes, and try new foods.”
Yes, the art of translation is fast evolving into a science for artificial intelligence to master. But those technological advances aren’t widely available to most businesses, which are stepping further into global markets by the day. So if you speak and write multiple languages, consider translation work. Many companies hire freelance translators to help them modify their content for new audiences.
However, platforms like Upwork can often be competitive for picking up this type of work, so it’s a good idea to reach out to companies and pitch your services to them directly. For example, if you see a Romanian product that you think could have a footprint in the U.S., consider approaching the company with an offer to translate their website into English.
“Translating, for me, feels like knitting two cultures together,” says editor Fernanda Prats. “I learn something new in every job, and I enjoy seeking the right threads to pull up till the translated messages sound genuine.” Many translators work exclusively online; Prats suggests setting up a profile on marketplaces like Upwork, SDL Trados, and Workana to start offering your services to clients looking for entry-level translation help.
7. Software Engineer
The San Francisco Bay Area is becoming so overpriced that a few tech companies, like Basecamp and Zapier, are incentivizing employees to live and work literally anyplace else. If you love coding, building digital products for clients can be a lucrative nomadic lifestyle choice. Many companies are looking for engineers they can hire remotely–both in full-time and contract positions. To get a sense of the programming skills in highest demand, check out a site like Remote Jobs that rank some of the most sought-after positions.
From creating videos in Croatia to building marketing programs in Morocco, there are all kinds of ways you can pursue a globetrotting career. With a little planning, legwork, and creative thinking, you can turn your skills into a ticket to someplace amazing.