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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Mellor

[Big List of] Digital Nomad Jobs

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Best ways to make money as a digital nomad.

 

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If you've heard of being a digital nomad and you already have a firm idea of what it entails, then you know that most of the jobs need a computer. In fact, most of the jobs below are occupations we associate with the Internet, such as programming or vlogging, but that's just a small slice of the available work.


Despite having "digital" in the name, there are ways to make money as a nomad that aren't digital, or at the very least, don't rely solely on the Internet.


As a word of warning, before you get started as a digital nomad, I highly recommend that you consider shifting your perspective on “what kind of money I need to make to live.” Otherwise known as a “livable wage.” Just so we’re clear, I’m coming at this from the perspective of “$20 an hour is barely livable in the States.”


As a digital nomad, especially a freelancing one, and even more so as someone who is brand new to the world of freelancing, it’s expected to want to make a livable wage.


But a livable wage in Thailand, or Southern Italy, is different than in the States, or the UK. Between my partner and I, our monthly expenses (rent, utilities, phone and internet, food, etc.) is about 7-800 dollars a month. And with two of us working, we only need to make $350-400 each a month to live comfortably. This means, a job that pays $20 a day (or $20 per job, like designing a logo, or beta reading a short story as is my main source of income) would equate to much more purchasing power here in Southern Italy than it would in the States. In fact, I often accept beta reading and editing jobs that I wouldn't dream of accepting back home, simply because that little bit of money is far more powerful here.


This ties into passive income as well, which I discuss more in depth in this article. However, for the jobs below, I try to make sure these are close to “jobs” and not “passive income” though there will be come crossover.


Words, Words, Words


Do you have a panache for writing? Are you comfortable enough in your native tongue to help people writer articles, edit their books, or simply read what they've written and offer feedback? If so, one of the jobs below might be perfect for you.

  • Copy Editor - While often used interchangeably with proofreader, a copy editor goes through the book before the proofreader to check for any kind of mistake, from grammatical to uneven flow and awkward syntax. (Think you can copy edit, but not sure if you can learn the symbols? Don't worry! Most copy editors simply use "Track Changes" and change the copy (or book) for the author.)

  • Proofreader - The step after copy editing, the proofreader not only checks for grammatical mistakes, but also ensures the book looks good in the current "print" format.

  • Copy Writer - How are your advertising skills? Every ad you see (more or less) was written by a copy writer. And sometimes this isn't necessarily advertising, just marketing. Either way, if you can write and you know how to sell, consider setting yourself up on Fiverr as a copy writer.

  • Beta Reading - This is one of the main ways I currently make money. Beta reading is, in essence, reading someone's book before it's due to be published. Whether it's an early stage (just after the writing has been completed) or later on (as it's being sent to the publishers). This is a great way to make money for anyone who enjoys reading.

  • Freelance Writer - This is definitely all-encompassing, and it ties in with the one below. People need writers. "Top 10 Beaches in Croatia" was written by someone who was [hopefully] paid.

  • Blogging - I define this as blogging for oneself and hoping it will eventually make you money. Like this website! If you haven't traveled before, it's only natural that you will want to write a travel blog. However, unless you have something unique to offer, it can be hard to make any traction past your family and friends. However, there is room for specific travel blogs, such as comparison travel blogs, where you could write posts like "which beach is better" or "which is the best waterproof phone bag"


Virtual X

With everything moving to the virtual space, it's only natural (I suppose) for certain jobs to move with it. After all, is it strictly necessary to be next to a person while you're hiring them, or booking them a flight? Maybe. But if you don't think so, consider taking one of these jobs of the road with you. I should urge anyone reading this, most of these jobs only work if it's already your profession. Because of that, I won't be adding any detail to these lest it look like I'm telling people who already work these jobs how to work these jobs.

  • Nutritionist

  • Personal Trainer

  • Personal Assistant

  • Recruiter

  • Travel Agent

  • Tutor

  • Therapist


Going Digital

It's only fair to include some fully digital jobs in this post about "Digital Nomad Jobs." And the truth is, so many of these used to be office jobs. And then, in the past few years, when everyone was sent home, we all collectively realized going to the office (and spending hours in traffic) wasn't necessary for something that was already entirely digital. Before you go any farther, know that my knowledge of the subjects below is almost entirely secondhand with a splash of Googling.


Code on a screen next to a keybaord in a dark room.
Programming is the same everywhere, but at least in Bali you won't be in a dark room, but some coffee hut on a beach.
  • Website Builder/Designer - Gone are the days where you'd have to furiously type away in HTML and CSS. Nowadays, people are paying others to design their website in Wix or Squarespace, all so they don't have to. Just drag, drop, and collect a paycheck. (I mean, if you do know how to code, consider creating Wordpress templates. They seem to be quite a steady source of income.)

  • UX/UI Designer - The one UX/UI (user experience/user interface) designer I know doesn't have any coding experience. He simply designs icons, scroll bars, widgets, etc. In Photoshop and sells the to the client who uses them as resources for their app. So, if you like designing eye-pleasing layouts and creating colorways, consider setting yourself up as a UX/UI designer.

  • Email Marketing Specialist - As someone who also runs an online literary and art magazine, I know how important it is to have a strong email system. This means a way to capture emails (lightboxes vs. static "sign up" pages), a way to craft emails that get across the right kind of information, and know which words make people want to open up the email, and which words make the person want to delete the email unread.

  • Social Media Manager - Posting on social media for myself is already a slog. posting on it for Only A Bag is even more so. I can't just say "here's a pretty picture" without doing some kind of research on the most viewed and hottest hashtags. If you're someone who enjoys the brief rush of endorphins that getting likes and views on social media will give you, consider finding work as a social media manager.

  • Video Editor - This will require that you have a pretty decent laptop (unless you plan on bringing around a desktop?) and a working knowledge of some kind of editing software. however, this is one of those jobs that having a little bit of information is often all you need to get started. All of those AI-voice-generated "news" YouTube videos you see? Most of them have a human video editor. All those "faceless" YouTube channels? Edited by someone looking for experience (and a little money).

  • Programming - What more needs to be said? This is, perhaps, the most "digital nomad"ry job there is. If you haven't started, Codeacademy is your friend. I have a number of friends who started with Codeacademy and landed jobs as programmers working from home (or from the back of their van as they explore America).

  • SEO Specialist - Almost everyone I know who has a website hates the SEO side of websites. Trying to find the right mix of keywords that makes your site rank slightly higher than someone else's. The amount of times I've had people message me on Fiverr looking to have someone edit their website to be more "SEO friendly?" Lemme tell you, if I knew what I was doing, I would be far wealthier than I am today.

  • App Developer - Okay, so, I realize it's not as simple as "just, like design an app that makes money." I put this here for anyone who wanted to design an app for toher people, on websites like Upwork and Fiverr.

  • Data Entry - Somewhere out there, someone is compiling information and it needs to go into an Excel spreadsheet. Could it be automated? Maybe. Should it be? I don't know, it seems like a easy way to make a paycheck. But if you can't tell, I'm probably really underestimating the work involved.

  • Ads Specialist - I won't lie to you, this seems a little soulless. Trying to figure out what makes people tick. These people are the reason you say "cat food" near your phone and two minutes later Facebook is showing you cat food ads. They're also the people who came up with the idea for all of those Superbowl ads last year (the ones you can't even remember because they were so bland). If you think you can do a better job—trust me, you can—consider becoming an ads specialist. And it's not all about working for giant conglomerates. Small businesses that are starting to learnt hat they need to expand use ads specialist. People that can tell them which campaigns will work and which will fail.

  • Shopify/E-commerce Developer - Help people with their online stores. Super simple, if you know what you're doing. Not something to get started in if you haven't tried it before.

  • Podcast Editor - That's right, people who have podcasts (like us) typically use an editor (unlike us) to sort the grain from the chaff, so to speak. If you have a computer with even the most basic editing software, and you don't mind listening to the same clip over and over again, this could be the perfect job for you.


Classics... With a Twist

When most people hear of someone who lives abroad and works online, it used to be natural to think, "Oh, so, like an accountant or something?" And truth be told, that's still valid. Most of these jobs below are "old school" digital nomad jobs, but they're not quit "I worked while I was abroad" jobs, which is in the House Sitting section.

  • Accountant - If you're already set up as a CPA, it doesn't hurt to take a look and see if you can operate in your area while abroad. Especially if you're one of those "I only work one time during the year when everyone forget it's tax season" accountants.

  • Translator/Interpreter - This will never not be in demand. Especially if you're moving abroad and you speak the language of your new home. While Translating [documents] can be a tad difficult as legalese isn't necessarily the same everywhere, you can hire yourself out as an interpreter for anything from tour groups to business meetings.

  • Language Teacher - The idea that someone, somewhere will want to learn English isn't all that wrong. Nearly everywhere we've gone, we've been asked to teach someone English, often for a hefty hourly amount. Don't like working face to face? You can also become an online tutor, offering to teach people back home your newfound language skills. If this interests you, I urge you to get a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate. It usually has a small cost to get (a few hundred dollars) and it can take a year or more to be accredited, but it's 100% worth it if you're even thinking about teaching English.

  • Tech Support Representative - No, this isn't a joke. You want to be the person someone calls when they're computer starts seizing up, and it's 2am East Coast time? Well, they need someone who is awake, doesn't matter if that person is sipping a cocktail on a Thai beach, that person can be you.

  • Customer Support - Just like the idea above, if you're comfortable on the phone, you're good at following a script, consider applying to be a customer support representative.

  • Tour Guide - That's right. For the low, low cost of a tour guide license, you, too, could be giving tours in your native language around whichever city you're living it. I should warn you, some countries are mighty particular with people coming into their country and illegally taking jobs... So, if being a tour guide does strike your fancy, make sure you're able to under your visa restrictions. This job can also be worked if you're a house sitter.


Sell[ing] Who You Are

These jobs require you to sell who you are. Not necessarily photos of yourself, although that's a valid and high-paying profession, but more along the lines of "I really like this person, and I want to support them by enjoying the content they create." I will warn you, though, most of these require hours of "prep" time, or time that's used strictly to get each of the ventures off the ground. However, as you might have noticed, there's a fair amount of cross-pollination involved in each of the ventures. Made some educational videos for Udemy? Why not cross post them to YouTube? While you're at it, why not offer a live instructional stream once a week on Twitch/YouTube Live?

  • Podcaster - If you've listed to our podcast (if you haven't, you should), then you will know that we're very new to the podcasting game. however, we've already seen the benefits of offering a second outlet for all of our travel-related information. If you have something interesting to talk about, consider starting your own. Of everything on this list, it requires the least amount of startup and time.

  • YouTuber - "Just make YouTube videos" has been the go-to for my entire life whens someone says "I want to make money online." Truth is, it's ridiculously hard. But if your aim isn't to make money through YouTube directly, but instead to use YouTube as a social media, it gets far easier. Offering courses as private YouTube videos (just pay for the link), or using it to market a new product, or posting YouTube Shorts of your podcast outtakes are all ways that people use YouTube without having to monetize their channel.

  • Vlogger - Ideally, the obnoxious kind that doesn't pull "pranks" wherever they go or shove their phone into someone's face for a YouTube thumbnail.

  • Streamer - Please, don't leave home with the intent to become a streamer, of anything, once you're settled into your new hoe. I don't know anything about streaming except that it requires you to have an interesting personality, a great internet connect, a decent computer (my 2015 MacBook Pro screams at me anytime I try to stream), and a consistent schedule. Even with all that, it's not guaranteed. But if its something you always wanted to try, it's probably the best opportunity you'll have if you live in a place with a low cost of living and great internet (like many Eastern European countries).

  • Online Course Creator - As I mentioned in a previous post, I've done this through Udemy. And truth me told, it's not a bad way to make money with it. Some of the course creators I follow absolutely treat it as a job. It's not just about creating one large course, but many, specific small ones. This can also be done through YouTube, as I mentioned. There are also websites like Coursera, but then you're in competition with universities and colleges.


The Questionables

I grouped these together for two reasons. They are questionably successful at making you money, and there are often questions methods used to make money while trying one of these out. But, I would be remiss if I didn't mention them. After all, they can definitely be a great way to sustain your travels.

  • Cryptocurrency day-trader - As much as I like the idea of cryptocurrency, this is just riddled with ways it can go bad. But, yeah, a feasible way to make money as a digital nomad.

  • Traditional day-trader - While sitting in front of a computer and YOLOing thousands of dollars per trade sounds like an ideal situation for a digital nomad, you're not all going to be making money like the apes on WallStreetBets (kidding, of course, they only know how to lose money). Being a day-trader can easily cost you all of your money. However, if you understand the risks, have a little experience in the field, and have a ton of disposable cash burning a hole in your pocket, why not?

  • Affiliate Marketing - It's a lot like multi-level marketing. I mean, not really, but a little bit. You tell your friend to buy some product, and the company gives you a little kickback for your trouble. It's also one of the main ways that websites, like this one, makes money. And a number of websites that I'm willing to bet you visit weekly are affiliate marketing websites such as CNET, Nerdwallet, Skyscanner, Wirecutter, Gear Patrol, and literally anything else that makes a list called "The 5 Best XYZ" becasue those are all affiliate links. Legitimately, though, if someone is already going to purchase something (like a subscription to a house sitting website), why not ask them to help you out by going through your link?

  • Drop-Shipping - Find a beautiful, if arguably poorly-crafted, product, like a watch, slap a vaguely German or English name on it (Bauser and Koch), post it to a website (basuerandkochfinewatches.com), and watch the world start wearing your watch! Jokes aside, drop shipping is when a company both makes the product and [usually] fulfills the order for you. All you do is market it and slap your own name on it. This was, and still is, incredibly common in the manufacturing business. You can go to a factory that makes jeans, for example, and they show you all of their styles. You choose three styles, the materials, and give them your labels. They will stitch the labels on to the already-made jeans with the material you chose and voilá, you have your own "Made in Italy" clothing (yes, this example is based on my experiences in Italy). Someone thought to take the whole thing online. So you can order products from a variety of factories, often based in China, and they will put your label on it, wrap it in your packaging, and send it to your buyer. All you have to do is run the website and make the money. If you can't tell, I'm against this simply because of the lack of creativity and thought required, mixed with the fact all this does is push this idea that we have to be ever-consuming to be happy.

  • Amazon FBA - FBA stands for "Fulfillment by Amazon" which makes Amazon FBA slightly confusing. But it's essentially paying Amazon to be the fulfillment center for your products. Do you sell things like t-shirts? Books? Mugs? Ask Amazon to fulfill the order for you! This ties in with drop shipping since Amazon has, for a while now, had their own t-shirt printing and fulfillment section.

  • Remote Landlord - In a time where large companies (looking at you, Zillow) own a massive portion of the real estate market, I only hope you use your property for good. And if you let a company manage your property while you're gone, it can be a great way to make steady, consistent payments.


Beer Money Alternatives

These won't make you much money. In fact, it might only make you a few bucks a week. Not bad for passive income, but these methods are anything but passive. However, once you have some experience under your belt, you might be able to transition these into a full-time profession.

  • Survey Participant - Do you like taking tests? Which product do you prefer kind of tests? Or, how often do you watch Netflix-type services? There are companies that pay real-life money for you to take their surveys. It doesn't make much money, but if you already have a decent nest egg and are just looking for "beer money", this is a good option.

  • QA Tester - I'll go ahead and mention that this one, while completely viable, isn't something I've had much luck with. While there are websites out there that are looking for Quality Assurance testers (usually for a website, but sometimes a product), there are more wannabe testers than there are open slots. Since this is first come, first serve, it can be hard to get into But it's simple, once you find a job. Simply use the software they require to screen capture and talk about their website, how intuitive the interface is, the ease of use, and if you find it attractive. Then, get paid.

  • Transcribing/Subtitles - This has a fairly low barrier to entry, but it can be tedious. People need conversion, meetings, movies, podcasts, etc. transcribed into text. While transcribing is fairly easy (although there is a lot of going back and listening again to make sure you're understanding), adding subtitles to things can be difficult.


Artistic Endeavors

In many ways, most of the aforementioned jobs are artistic endeavors. And there are far more than the ones listed below. In fact, when Darcy and I started traveling we both took the artistic route. She as an oil painter (please pardon the shameless plug), and myself as a writer/editor (you've already seen my shameless advertisement). Today, we have managed to transition those into actual paying gigs while still being able to pursue our own artistic endeavors.

  • Voice Actor - As I've mentioned already for a number of these jobs, this is definitely not something to pursue once you've already left. Ideally, you already have a small catalog of clients willing to put up with you being [theoretically] in a different timezone. Getting into voice acting is, as far as I'm aware, incredibly difficult, and it requires both a decent microphone set up, software, and clear elocution.

  • Graphic Designer - Perhaps one of the most popular ways for people to find work as digital nomads. Graphic designers seem to always be in demand (after all, Canva is only so good at creating logos). Mixed with the fact they can make money both creatively (designing graphics for things like t-shirts) and professionally (desigig logos and marketing materials), once you are set up as a designer, you will often have returning customers.

  • Photographer - I'm willing to bet there's the same amount of money in writing as there is in photography; which is to say, none. Due to the influence of smartphones, everyone is able to take high-quality (if not totally uninteresting) photos at any moment. This means selling your photos will be incredibly difficult. However, fear not! There are some niche ways to make money. If you're American (if you're not, this advice will probably still work, but my example is for Americans) you can find other Americans having their "wedding" abroad. Usually, they've already been married and they're just having a ceremony, but having a photographer who natively speaks their language is a major plus. You can also try going the route of trading high-quality photographs for a place to stay/food to eat (as in, taking photographs of a hotel's bedroom and restaurant) but this seems less and less popular than it did ten years ago.

  • Self-Published/Kindle Author - To me, this is up there with "App Developer" or "Day Trader". Everyone has told me, "Oh, since you're a writer, just publish stuff on Kindle. I'm sure you can make a ton of money." And, honestly, if I had fewer morals, or maybe just more patience, I'd have no problem asking ChatGPT to whip me up a couple of eBooks based on classic novels that have now entered public domain. Or try my hand at erotica. However, there are something like 10,000 new eBooks published on Amazon every day. If you haven't taken over a niche, and you don't already have audience, it can be hard to make money.

  • Book Cover Design - If you have a knack for graphic design/design in general, and you haven't already taken a crack at book cover design, it could be a great way to make money on the road. Many book cover designers creates templates and resources that the author can pick and chose from. "I want this font,t his background, this tree, and that face. Past that, many book cover designers offer cheap (~$5) covers that are "pre-made" and only need different text. And this can be a classic horror cover, romance cover, or sci-fi cover. While it sounds like it might not be much money, that perception might change when you live in a different country.


The Wide World of AI

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, made a big splash in the world with the release of ChatGPT at the end of 2022. But AI has been around for a while. Text-to-voice AI, AI that will write copy (for news outlets), and AI that will generate a blog post for you. Even Wix, which is the website builder I am using for this version of Only A Bag, has two options when adding text: "Edit Text" or "AI Text." Now, if you're seeing dollar signs as a digital nomad, you're not the only one. There is a lot of potential money in AI-generated products.


For instance:

Books

A massive amount of books published on Amazon have been written using AI. It started with asking people from lower-paying coutnries to go through a classic book, like "Tom Sawyer" and change all the names. Once Amazon caught on to this, they started asking these ghostwriters to start changing minor details like the names of cities, or rivers. But you still had to pay this underpaid ghostwriter. Now?

Simply ask the AI to write a book based on "Tom Sawyer" with "Twilight" undertones and a Gen Z way of talking, and watch the money roll in. In theory. Some AI programs will not write entire books for you. But they will certainly write a strong outline, or even an entire chapter.

In the same vein, it's become more and more common to see people submit AI-generated short stories into short story competition. It's so common, half of the "5 Easy Ways To Make Money With AI" Medium posts will have it listed. Many competitions, like the one we run through Pigeon Review, our art and literary journal, will not allow anything that's AI-generated.

And if you're wondering, "well, how can you tell?" It's not that hard. In my experience, AI is not at the point where it's writing well-crafted anything—even blog posts. A good short story takes time to write, re-write, whittle down, and execute properly. And while I have no doubt AI will one day get there, it isn't today. So, please, save us the trouble of having to read your AI-generated "what will the world look like without humans" story.


Video

Another common place to find AI is on YouTube, People are making what's called "faceless YouTube channels." These are exactly what they sound like: YouTube channels without someone talking to you. Usually it's a series of graphics, or animations, with a voice over. One of the largest channels like this is CGPGrey.

A faceless channel provides a few benefits, anonymity being a major one. but it also allows you to sell the channel to someone else without much of a noticeable change becasue people are interested in the information, not the personality. As you can guess, with channels like CGPGrey, this can be a little harder because of the specific voice he has, but it's become common to use AI to generate voice from text.

When you use AI to generate text, you can typically choose and accent. A British voice for a news channel, or a Trans-Atlantic accent for a finance channel.

And who writes the script? Well, AI, of course.

There are even some [rudimentary] AI that will edit together different clips which can make it even easier to have a "news" or "Finance" channel that are simply faceless AI channels selling you crypto scams, affiliate marketing, or just running ads with clickbait titles.


So, can AI be used to make money? Of course. Should it be? Honestly, that's up to you, but because I think it's being used to water down already-banal content, I don't think you should. If you want a YouTube channel, put in the work, build an audience, and put out amazing content. it doesn't have to be polished, or refined It just has to be useful or entertaining If you want to win a short story competition, learn how to write. Writing a short story is much harder than writing a novel because it needs to have the same emotional impact in a much smaller space. but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to write anything.

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