This post is part of the Successful Nomads series
Have you even wondered how people can travel and support themselves at the same time? It’s not as difficult as it seems! To show you that there are already plenty of people doing it, and that you can do it too, we’ve interview different kinds of nomads. They were all given 30 questions, with a minimum of 10 to answer.
1) Where are you from?
From Medellin Colombia, But Lived in the US for the past 15 years (half my life 😉 )
2) What is your background?
My parents were always pretty supportive of everything I did, but expected me to complete a formal education. I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing which up until today I still wonder how they manage to give me a diploma on marketing and not have one class about Online Marketing. Thankfully my brothers and family have always been into technology, so when I was 15 years old, my older brother bought me a domain and I started learning Web Design for fun. My first website was done in NotePad.
3) What is your job?
I do Online Marketing for a living. I offer SEO, Social Media Marketing, Web Design, PPC and other marketing services to small and medium size business. I’ve been able to build a client base over the years that lets me be very flexible with my location and schedule. The only caveat is that a couple of them do want to see me every now and then which is why our trips normally don’t last more than 6 months. At the same time, I have found it difficult to pick up new clients while being away from the US.
4) How much money do you make per month?
Between $3 – $6k.
5) How long have you known you wanted to be a digital nomad?
I discovered very early in life that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, pretty much every full-time job I had made me want to make it out on my own. Once my wife and I started traveling, we knew that traveling was our biggest passion so we started working towards a life where we could work on what we love and travel at the same time. The more we get out on the road, the more we want to continue jumping from country to country while still working on our business.
6) How did you start your online career?
I stumbled upon my business by doing web design while still on high school for relatives and friends. Once I completed college and took a couple of jobs I did not enjoy 100%, I started finding clients that needed my services. I’ve been very grateful to still have clients for years that support my travels and lifestyle.
7) When did you start your online career?
Since college, I was trying to get clients, even if it was on the side. After I graduated, I took a full-time job and then transition that company for whom I worked for to be a client which I still work with today. From there on, I just kept finding more and more clients. On this rollercoaster life of being an entrepreneur, there are always some months where you think you might have to go back and find a full-time job, but thankfully this has not been the case!
8) What is the biggest mistake you made when you started?
Not investing enough money back into the business. I actually invested some money on other things and other businesses (not mine) and was a total mistake. If I could go back, I’d invest in my own business as much as I can.
9) Looking back, what do you wish you knew when you started?
That all the information you need is out there and most of it is free. I still enjoyed my university years, but they did not contribute much to my knowledge of things I do and work on today.
To master sales skills is one of the most important skills for anything you do in life.
10) What did your friends/family thought of you being a digital nomad?
Most of my family is super supportive and they love seeing me and my wife travel all around. Still many friends and relatives probably don’t understand what we do or how we do it.
11) Where are you right now?
Miami,FL – HomeBase, we just got back from 6 months in SE Asia.
12) How often are you on the road?
We are semi-slow travelers and get out on the road once a year for 3 to 6 months. We love to really get to know a culture while still trying to visit as many places as possible. Right now we are actually working towards doing shorter trips but more often. 1-2 months out, 1-3 months home. Our first trip was to South America and got us hooked. We just got back from Asia where we were able to visit 10 different countries and can now see why digital nomads love SE Asia.
13) What is a lesson you’ve learned from being on the road?
Traveling opens your eyes in a way that nothing else can. When you are living in a world where everyone is focused on work and making more money, you forget how most of the people outside the US/Europe live. Once you see this, you start to appreciate everything that you have a lot more. Learning things from different cultures, religions and costumes teaches you that the world is very diverse and that whatever you believe in does not make your belief system right or wrong, it is just different from someone else’s. Traveling makes you humble and teaches you to be open with every person you meet.
14) What is your favorite place in the world?
Tricky one…. Probably Singapore.
15) What is the most important thing when it’s time to choose where to go next?
The first thing is to set a country we have not visited yet. This will probably change in the future. Then we look for cost of living, at least average Internet speeds and interesting culture. We are not very picky on this as we want to see as much as possible.
16) Are you a carry-on person or a checked luggage person?
Carry-on is the only way to go for us. On our last trip, I calculated that we probably saved 24 to 30 hours by not having to check in and wait for luggage. That is a full day that I much rather had spent laying on a beach in the middle of the Philippines than waiting for our bags at the airport.
17) What do you always have on you that you couldn’t live without?
Well my laptop and cell phone are the two items I must have with me at all times.
18) What kind of lifestyle are you living with the money you make?
We try to save as much as we can so we can have our indulgences every once in a while. Thankfully most of the countries we have visited are very affordable, so we could spend $20-$30 per night at a decent hotel or Airbnb rental. We don’t mind staying at hostels every now and then. But at amazing destinations, we might indulge in a private villa or nicer hotel for a night or two. I’ve learned that we can save a lot of money by traveling cheaply, but at the same time you should not pass up amazing experiences in order to save more money.
19) How much time do you spend on your business versus how much time you spend exploring the place where you are?
It depends mostly on the place we are visiting and how long we are staying. If we rent an apartment and stay in the same city for a week or longer we try to work 6 – 8 hours a day. But if we are in a place for a couple of days and moving between cities we might work only a couple of hours in order to explore more!
20) How do you make a new place home?
I’m happy to be able to travel with my wife. But music for once is something that makes us feel good. We bring a little speaker and play music we love everywhere we go.
21) What are the essential skills to have as a digital nomad?
It really depends on how you are trying to make money. One of the most important things I learned is to focus on one project. As Digital Nomads, we are inclined to start working on new projects and leave them half done once we read on a new trend. Learn how to focus and give all of your attention to one project.
22) What is the best quality a digital nomad can have?
The drive to succeed and help other people. Any business you are in is in the business of helping people. As long as you know how to do that you will always make money.
23) What is the best advice you could give to someone wanting to become a digital nomad?
Don’t be too afraid and don’t wait until everything is perfect to be a digital nomad. You will keep waiting for the perfect moment forever. Take the plunge, go to SE Asia or Latin America where it is super affordable to live, work hard in the beginning to build what you want.
24) What is the most important thing to keep track of?
Time!!! Time is the most important resource in life. Try to not waste too much time in non-productive things. Social Media, for example, can be a huge time waster, unless you are marketing your business and need to be on the social media sites. Don’t be afraid to let go of a project if it’s not working out.
25) Follow your passion or follow the market?
There has to be a middle ground in this. Definitely don’t try to follow the market, by the time you learn about it is probably too late. Every year there is a new thing, niche site, affiliate, kindle books, etc. If you try to follow the market, you will go crazy trying to catch up and moving from one thing to the next. Whatever you do, make sure it interests you. I would never make a site on foot fungus even if it could have a great affiliate potential, because I will hate myself for having to work on it.
26) Money isn’t always consistent. What is the best way to deal with that?
Make sure you are always saving as much as possible. Start making an emergency fund as fast as you can and try to not use money from it for necessary things. One of the best things about being a digital nomad is how we find out that we can be completely happy with a laptop and a couple of clean underwear. When you get back home, you don’t get that urge to buy more stuff.
27) What is the mistake everybody makes that you wish you could stop them from doing?
Waiting for the perfect moment to do what they want. I will take that long vacation when this happens, I will quit my job when I have X amount in the bank, etc. If you keep waiting forever to have all the right things to go out and live your dream, that day might never come. If you have some money saved, some income from your digital nomad endeavors, don’t be afraid to go out and do what you want.
28) What do you have to say to people too scared to leave their day job?
Just Do It! All jokes aside, don’t be afraid, think of the absolute worst case scenario. For us the total worst case scenario will be to lose all of my clients and come back home to take a 9-5 job. Once I see how people around the world survive, this option does not sound as bad. I will have no problem whatsoever if I failed on my business and came back home to take a job, but it will be worse to not do it and not knowing what would have happened.
29) What are the awesome benefits of being a digital nomad?
You set your own schedule, being able to meet awesome people, being able to be wherever you want – whenever you want.
30) What is the downside that nobody sees?
You might not have that paycheck every two weeks. If you are on the road for long periods of time you get used to that lifestyle, and it might be hard to settle in one place for long.