Every day successful employees quit their comfy 9-to-5 jobs to become Digital Nomads and start an online business.
By 2035, there may be well over 1 billion Digital Nomads. This means that every 1 in 3 employees will be either a digital nomad or work remotely.
I can tell you from my personal experience that the reality is far from it…
First, let’s face it, even if you can get over the distractions and the pull of the ocean and focus on your work, you won’t be able to see your screen from all the sun’s glare.
Plus the sand will get into your keyboard – try typing after that! ????
So, next time you think of a typical digital nomad lifestyle, also cue a person working long hours in a tiny hot hotel room, sweating away to make ends meet, and trying their hardest to resist the temptation to just go play in the sun.
This lifestyle can work for a few years if you just want to travel for a few years after college. It does not work for established entrepreneurs, especially those with a family.
I am not trying to say that all Digital Nomads are doomed to long hours and low incomes. There are several success stories.
About 18% of Digital Nomads today make $100k a year and more. Many of them have thriving 7-figure businesses.
These Digital Nomads have different businesses and approaches to generating revenue. But there is one thing in common that helps them enjoy the lifestyle of their dreams.
All of them created a successful online business foundation.
Before you think about embarking on this exhilarating, yet rocky journey towards becoming a location-independent entrepreneur, let’s look into different business models that may work for you.
6-Figure Online Business Models
Many business models allow Digital Nomads around to generate a 6-figure income.
Many aspiring Digital Nomads become freelancers, open coaching or consulting practices, and create Digital Marketing agencies.
Before you jump into any of the business models, think about how you are going to generate revenue.
At the end of the day, making $1M a year boils down to simple math. You can either sell low-cost products to thousands of customers or offer high-end items to a handful of clients.
Each model has its merits – the important part is that you understand what it takes for each of them to work.
Some of the most successful business models for Digital Nomads are:
eCommerce Business Models
eCommerce has a wide variety of options that range in complexity of setup and management. These are:
- Amazon or Fulfillment by Amazon program (FBA)
- Dropshipping items handled by a 3-rd party
- Working with a Print-on-demand or POD to create and sell custom designs
- Selling your own products vis Shopify or WordPress plugins for eCommerce
- Selling your products eBay
- Creating and managing an Etsy store
Content Marketing Approach
Often, there is a bad rap for Content Marketing, mostly because of many people making 2 core mistakes: lacking content strategy and failing to promote content.
A good content strategy does not necessarily mean writing a blog each day.
You can be producing content via your YouTube channel, sharing stories on Facebook, managing Twitter Chats, or growing your Instagram account. Content comes in many different forms.
You do not even have to create unique content.
Content Creation comes in many forms: blog, video, Insta story, curated post …
You can position yourself as a content curator. In a world where there is no shortage of information, a person that curates high-quality relevant, and timely information for their niche audience can be in high demand.
If you love creating or curating great content, you can look into any of these models:
- Affiliate Marketing (via sharing links to a select group of partners or a broad approach via Amazon Affiliates and Click-bank
- Social Media and Influencer-marketing. Once you build a successful social media channel, you can earn revenue by endorsing partner deals via your YouTube or Instagram posts.
- Monetizing your Facebook or YouTube Videos.
I am willing to bet that each of us has unique passions and skillsets that can help others live a better and more fulfilling life. If you are one of these people who want to help others, consider launching a coaching or consulting business.
Launching a coaching business is relatively easy – you create your website and start offering your time in exchange for $$.
But to succeed as a coach, you will need to remember that your time is your biggest limitation. Most coaches and consultants struggle to scale. Unless they have a team, they can support 10 one-on-one clients at a time. Therefore, creating 1-to-many packages and pricing your services correctly is the key to your success.
By offering the right combination of quality for the price you can build a scalable business.
Scalable Coaching Business means pricing your services correctly and offering 1-to-many programs.
Your options are:
- Group coaching: you may choose to grow and foster a community of people via Facebook groups, newsletter subscriptions, group calls.
- High-ticket coaching: you can offer custom-tailored high-priced programs to just a few customers.
- Infoproducts (courses, books, etc): you can package your knowledge and offer it as information products, including books and training programs.
When you are just starting, you may try one of these options. The secret to success is in re-using and re-packaging parts of your programs to create different options.
For example, you can package some of the tools and templates you use with high-end clients and offer them as information products.
The biggest challenge of all coaches and consultants is lead generation and converting those leads into paying customers.
To succeed as a coach or consultant, you must learn how to attract and convert leads
When things get busy, you focus on serving your customers and neglect looking for new leads, which creates a mad rush of lead-generating activities during slow times. Think about ways to diversify your income via other channels (for example, affiliate marketing)
Freelancing or Digital Agency
This model is somewhat similar to coaching and consulting. The key difference is that you offer “Done for Your” options to your customers.
You may choose to start a solo business and provide services as a freelancer. It is a great model if you do not want to deal with an overhead of training other people, managing teams, dealing with payroll, and other operational challenges.
But your income opportunity may be somewhat limited as you are selling your time.
Your time is the biggest revenue-limiting factor.
Many freelancers who want to grow their income and get a better life balance, expand their business via creating an agency or launching additional revenue streams (e.g. group coaching, info products, affiliate marketing)
The most popular Digital Nomad Freelancer and Agency models are:
- Virtual Assistant
- Marketing and other freelancers
- Web/App/Game development
- Graphic design
- Advertising Agency
In this article, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of different eCommerce business models.
Expanding on eCommerce Options for Digital Nomads
eCommerce is very attractive for Digital Nomads. It does not require any specialized skills and takes very little upfront investment to get started. Some options do not even involve dealing with product inventory.
The initial setup is fairly low-cost and many different tools can help you get started.
There are many different versions of eCommerce solutions:
1 – Selling your own products.
This is a great option for people who create their products such as jewelry or clothing designers.
One of the key advantages of selling your products is the ease of setup: you can create a Shopify store in less than a day. Alternatively, you can join an online marketplace for other designers such as Etsy.
The biggest Shopify or Etsy store advantage is the ease of setup
The challenge is that in addition to creating and promoting your products, you will also have to deal with keeping an inventory, shipping logistics, and returns.
This can be a bit of a hassle if you are trying to be a Digital Nomad who frequently moves from place to place.
2 – Amazon FBA
Amazon FBA is a program that transfers shipping and handling responsibilities to the Amazon fulfillment centers. It may be a great starter eCommerce choice for a Digital Nomad selling her products.
Amazon FBA program is fairly easy to set up and it helps you overcome most of the biggest logistical challenges related to storing, packing, shipping, and tracking your products.
Amazon FBA program gives you immediate access to the world-class services for storing, packing, shipping, and tracking your products.
The other two huge advantages of using Amazon FBA are the premium customer shopping experience and exposure to their 300 million active shoppers.
The disadvantages are high fees as you pay both for storage and fulfillment and higher return rates that come with the easy return process.
3 – Selling on eBay
The key advantages to selling on eBay are access to a broad customer base, the ability to sell unique one-of-a-kind and gently used items in addition to the new ones.
The overall setup to sell on eBay takes minutes and it is quite straightforward. But learning how to be successful on eBay can be quite challenging.
eBay store is easy to set up, but be prepared for extra fees and learn the rules of the online auction game.
You will need to learn more about how to correctly price your items, how to stay within selling limits, how to establish yourself as a seller, and deal with the fee structure.
You handle your packing and shipping. So consider that while considering your travel plans.
4 – Dropshipping
Unlike selling your products, dropshipping is an eCommerce method of selling products where production, storage, and shipping are handled by someone else.
It is an eCommerce business model that only requires a laptop to get started making it a perfect choice for Digital Nomads.
Your laptop is frequently the only thing you need to get started with Dropshipping.
All you need is an online store-front that is either manually connected to the supplier’s inventory or automatically updated via streamlined dropshipping solutions.
You do not need to handle shipping, but you lose control over the quality of your customer service experience, shipping process, and more.
To succeed as a Dropshipper, you also must do comprehensive research to find the right products, trusted suppliers, test the buying process and create a strong relationship with the 3rd party that will be handling your sales process.
You have to be extremely careful in choosing the partner and understand any other potential challenges of working with them – for example, your supplier may take several weeks off for holidays and therefore impact your shipping timelines and overall customer experience.
5 – Print-on-Demand
Print-on-Demand is a version of dropshipping where you work with a design shop to create custom design products. You can do much more than a traditional T-shirt with a POD model.
The list of possible products ranges from bean babies to car seat covers to phone covers, scarves, travel bags, and much more.
Print-on-Demand is more versatile than just a T-shirt.
The setup is very similar to the dropshipping model. The key difference is your ability to customize designs.
Digital Nomad lifestyle is quite achievable and does not necessarily have to include long hours and lost sleep.
If you focus on the right business model from the start and then learn to diversify your revenue streams over time, you will be on your way to a successful location-independent dwelling.
Now, over to you – I look forward to hearing your Digital Nomad stories – both successes and challenges. Comment below or connect with us on Facebook