Becoming a digital nomad: how to balance working while traveling

culinary travel writer and consultant

Pondering the idea of becoming a digital nomad and have no clue how we crazy people balance working while traveling? Or perhaps, you already are a travel blogger and are looking at branching into offering services and products so you can continue your travels…but aren’t really sure how to balance all the marketing, client work, writing, and product creation, all while traveling.

Either way, I think this post may be helpful for you!

For starters, let’s clarify two things about me. One, I’m not constantly traveling at the moment. My family and I have a home-base and I travel  when the need arises ( aka when I’m going to write about places like Koh Mak ). But at one point, my family and I were traveling every two weeks, and over the past few years we typically go to Malaysia every few months. And of course, we’re chronic expats and have lived all around Europe and Asia, from Italy to South Korea.

Second, I do not consider myself a ‘pro blogger’ and I make my living primarily through freelance writing services and digital strategy consulting. My blogs act as a way for me to connect with both like-minded culinary travel enthusiasts ( or family travel enthusiasts on my other site) and people in the travel industry, like hotels and tourism boards.

The reason I like to clarify this is because there is this notion that all travel bloggers and digital nomads are making their living from ads or sponsors, and that’s honestly not usually the case. The majority of us use our blogs as tools to connect with our audience and again offer products or services. Some people have blogs just to document say their travels as an ESL teacher or freelance designer.

 

If you are here to learn how to become a digital nomad and make money from sponsored posts on your travel blog, I’m sorry to say that is not my area of expertise, and I can’t point you in the direction of someone I know that is making their living only through sponsored posts as I don’t know anyone who really does. I do get sponsored posts time to time, as I have a large and engaged Facebook group of over 25K members and very active Pinterest travel boards for bloggers and such, but I am very selective when I do work with a client in this respect. Plus, my income is more reliable from my freelance writing services and digital strategy, so I don’t mess with my biz model.

Digital nomad and travel blogger Ryan Biddulph ( a friend of mine) also suggests you consider not banking on sponsored posts as your only income from your blog. His posts are fantastic!

Will travel for good food!

 

So….how do you become a digital nomad then and balance working while traveling?

For starters, you need to offer services or products of some kind. You also need to figure out who to offer them to. In my case, I’ve mentioned I do freelance writing ( mainly for travel publications but also for other niches) and I specialize in culinary travel here at Epic Wanderings. That is part of my brand here on this site. On my other travel blog, I write about family travel. On that particular site I do in fact work with sponsors time to time, but I also use that blog as another place to market my writing and consulting services.

Your blog ( if you so choose to have one) acts as an extension of your brand, or the storefront, if you will. It must be geared to your Ideal Blog Reader and let them know within seconds if your content, products, and/or services are right for them.

Epic Wanderings has two Ideal Readers, one is you fellow traveling foodies and the other travel industry professionals. To appeal to the latter, I have a media page and services page. At some point, I could and should offer maybe eBooks or affordable infoproducts geared to culinary travel enthusiasts but due to limited time, I haven’t yet done that.

You need to spend some time assessing what services or products you can offer, and to whom. You need to then make your travel blog or website be a marketing tool by having high-quality photos that are on brand and doing content marketing ( creating blog posts and other free content) for your Ideal Readers.

While I’ve just summed up how to start an online business, you can probably guess things aren’t that straightforward. It took me at least 5 years or so to make a steady income, mainly because I wasn’t clear on anything. My blog was nebulous. I had no clue how to market myself. I had no clue what my Ideal Client wanted to buy. Everything was unclear and my income therefore reflected that.

Whenever I’ve met up with travel bloggers who want to transition to making a fulltime income from their blogs, I’ve run into this same confusion. I’m not a business coach but I gave them my top tips on what I think they could offer based on what they were good at and enjoyed doing.

Never did I say they should pray they get enough traffic and then make money from ads.

No. Instead, I told one to market her photography services and do destination weddings, as she already made a full-time living at one point as a wedding photographer so the transition would be easy. You could create eBooks around their area of expertise as a traveler/designer/scuba diver/etc.

Of course, another huge hurdle we face as digital nomads and solopreneurs is how to market our blog and business.

How to thrive as a digital nomad

For me, I am thankfully at the point where I get referrals and on my digital strategy site, I have a decent size list. I also have my Facebook group and I’ve gotten clients off of Pinterest.

However, you don’t need a big list size to be able to reach out to someone and ask if they’d be interested in hiring you. No really! You don’t. Because no matter the size of your social media following it won’t mean you’ll make any sales. Seriously. Huge, huge misconception.

Sales are based off of trust and you know your Ideal Blog Reader/Customer well enough to know what they want to purchase.

Again, I’m not a business coach nor do I aspire to be one. But this really is all that a business is: offering something someone wants to purchase and then letting them know you have it for sale.

Making a steady income as a freelancer can come from referrals and pitching regularly. Making eBooks sales may come from having a sales page on your site and taking Facebook ads to it, or selling it on Amazon.com

Now, how do you balance working while traveling?

You travel around your work schedule. If you are doing say Life Coaching and your clients are in Australia, you need to make sure to be available for coaching sessions in their time zone and travel sans wifi on your off days.

If you have no clients whatsoever, you need to prioritize creating your brand and marketing, and will need a good wifi connection at least part of the time ( if not all the time).

You could consider hiring a virtual assistant or working with an intern to help you deal with admin tasks while you’re away, or without wifi. Believe it or not, this can be affordable to do.

If you are in the beginning stages of your travel blog-biz, I suggest you spend time in an affordable place. Your savings or current income will go much further in say India than in Vancouver. This doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever, it means you will explore that part of the world for a period of time until you are making enough dinero to go explore a more costly place.

You do not need to constantly be traveling. This is a huge misconception about digital nomads and travel bloggers. I adore traveling, but I don’t want to be gone 24/7. I love having a home base with friends and a community. And more importantly, so does my family.

But you may very well want to be only staying in a place for a few days, and this is totally OK too! Find what travel schedule works best for your budget and travel goals and follow that.

If you are looking for more tips on becoming a digital nomad or working from home, I highly suggest reading my good friend Regina’s blog and enrolling in her free training ( her paid training is also epic). Her posts are super in depth ( 4K words in depth!) and she has two very good free courses about how to become a solopreneur and how to set up a blog.

I hope this post has been useful! If you are an aspiring digital nomad or travel blogger, leave a comment below and tell me about your plans, or what you’re currently doing to make the travel-life work for you!

 

 

 

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