So it’s been three months since I started My Next Nerdy Nomadic Adventure. I left Edinburgh Scotland where I spent 16 months living in a hostel and working a 9-5 job on a working holiday. Bought myself a one-way ticket to Chiang Mai Thailand and had less than two months worth of money to my name, no real income, no credit card or backup funds. My goal was to dive head first into the world of Digital Nomadism and start generating income online that would support me.
First of all I want to apologize for the massive delay in between posts; The last three months have been one hell of a crazy ride. Between frantically searching for freelance work, searching for my purpose in life, adapting to the digital nomad lifestyle, new career focus, and, of course, many long, long days working on my laptop. I haven’t had much time to concentrate on writing here.
So when I last left you, I had just arrived in Chiang Mai and moved into my amazing studio apartment. After 2.5 years mostly living in hostels, this was a welcome change. I really have enjoyed the lifestyle here in Chiang Mai. For less than $300 USD, I have a scooter motorbike and my apartment including utilities. #Ballin
The Quest For Online Income
So upon arriving in Chiang Mai, the biggest stress and problem I’ve had is that my money was very limited. I knew I had to find a way to make online within six weeks, or I was going to run completely out of money. I talked to many digital nomads and researched into the many ways to make money online. From creating e-commerce stores (Dropshipping), FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), building up my blog and making money through affiliate posts. While all of these did have a potential to make me money, most of these required an initial investment and also were more long-term money makers.
I could write 100 affiliate posts in 2 months, but that still wasn’t going to make me any money before I went broke. So I focused most of my efforts in my first month on securing online freelance work. I searched online job sites, created a Upwork and Elance profile and began applying for pretty much any job that I thought I could do. This ranged from Social media management, Writing, software testing to VA jobs.
After a month of frantically applying for countless jobs, asking other digital nomads in Chiang Mai and on my social networks. I wasn’t having much luck. Besides a bit of software testing that paid really badly and a bit of affiliate income, I really wasn’t making more than $50 a month. With only one month left the clock was ticking down, I really needed to get some income sorted stat.
However luckily for me about that time I was contacted by another digital nomad I had met in a cafe in my first week of arriving. Turns out they were running a new startup focused on coworking spaces, and were looking for someone to work full-time for two months, helping out with content and social media. So just like that I had a full-time online freelance job. Woohoo!
The Reality Of a Digital Nomad’s Day To Day
When many people think of digital nomad’s, they think of people lounging by a pool or on a beach with a laptop, sipping a cocktail while they get in a few hours of work in a day before going off to party. Or a lifestyle where you get to be on holiday most of the time. While this may be true when your very well established and earning a lot of passive income. However For most people this is far from reality, This is not a holiday it’s a lifestyle.
Most digital nomad’s especially those with little money and just starting out, end up spending most of their days sitting in coworking space’s, coffee shops or their apartment on their laptop. Searching for the next freelance contract, or working on their online business.
For me, between working full-time hours on my freelance job and working on other side projects. I would say that I’ve spent on average 50-70 hrs per week on my laptop in the last three months.
Although this has been a lot of hard work, I feel like I’ve learned an incredible amount about freelancing online and self-motivation when it comes to working and am working towards a future in which I work less and earn more.
One of the things I have enjoyed most about my first three months as a digital nomad has to be the community. Sure over the last few years traveling and going to travel blogger conferences I have met a lot of digital nomads. But it’s not till you truly live as one and are part of the community that you realize what an inspiring and vibrant community it is.
I’ve met so many inspiring and motivated people over the last three months , each with their own unique story to tell and the way they make money online. From the many networking events, seminars, personal development workshops and nights out with other nomads. I’ve grown and learned more about being a freelancer and digital nomad in the last three months than I have in the previous three years combined.
However, unfortunately it’s not all flowers and sunshine. As nomad’s love to travel the community is very transient. With friends constantly coming and going. In my first five weeks in Chiang Mai, I was attending a going away party every week. While it has been great meeting such a large amount of people. I do find it very hard to form deeper level connections or friendships with people within the nomadic community. Which is something that I know a lot of nomad’s struggle with long term.
Luckily however with social media and lots of digital nomad and travel blogging conferences around the world, it’s easy to organize to meet up with friends again during your travels.
Finding Myself And Purpose
When I first created this blog back in 2012 and put my backpack on for the first time and embarked on my first long backpacking trip of Latin America, I have always been on a journey not only to visit and experience new places, but also to learn more about myself, grow and discover what happiness is to me.
My journey into Digital Nomadism hasn’t just been one of finding a way to make enough money to support myself online. But more one of finding what makes me happy in life and trying to find a balance. I’ve tried on many hats over the last few years. From being a full-time travel blogger, jumping from one travel conference to the next, chasing down writing work during my time in Europe. Looked at getting into full-time vlogging and video production, Content writing, software testing and digital marketing to name a few.
However, although I have enjoyed my time working on these, that deep passion I crave was never really there. At the end of the day though I feel I’ve learned more and more that I’m in love with the digital nomad lifestyle more than any particular field of work. Having the freedom of location to move about, being able to experience different countries and culture and meeting amazing people from all around the world is what makes me happy.
So what does this mean moving forward?
Well after three months in Chiang Mai I’ve realized that writing professionally is not for me, I will still continue writing this blog for fun, and hopefully get more regular content out. But in terms of career focus, I’ve decided to stick to things that I’m good at and passionate about. For me, that means Social Media Management, as well as getting back to my roots.
Coming from a video game background with an animation degree. I have decided to pursue more actively a career freelancing in Motion Graphics Design. This will mostly focus on creating animated text (Kinetic typography), Infographics and other cool stuff that I can combine with my social media work.
Travel wise I am leaving Chiang Mai in a weeks time, bound for Bangkok to attend TBEX travel blogging conference. Where I am looking forward to catching up with many travel blogger friends. From there I have a 1-2 month period where I’m not sure whether I will spend some time being a nomad in South East Asia or whether I will go back to Australia, to save some money and recharge before getting ready to hit the open road again indefinitely in early 2016.
As Always I will go with the flow and see where this crazy journey takes me.
Thanks to all of you for following along and putting up with my tardiness when it comes to writing and producing content 😀