Despite what many people think, being a digital nomad is 0% poolside cocktails and tropical islands, and 100% hard work and discipline. If you’ve been thinking about becoming a digital nomad, wondering how to become a digital nomad, or have even thought about doing a short stint of working and travelling, this is a must-read (or listen!).
How to become a digital nomad
Hey, welcome back to the Socialette podcast, this is episode 22.
This episode is going to be a little bit different. It’s not really marketing-related, but it’s something a lot of you have been asking about, so I’m finally recording an episode about it. And that is, how I became a digital nomad.
I’ve only really been location-independent since November 2017, so I’m still working out the kinks and learning the pitfalls, but in this episode I’m going to talk about how I made the leap. I’m going to talk about how to become a digital nomad – from the tools and systems I couldn’t run a remote business without to some of the pitfalls that you don’t hear about – like 4am client calls, because timezones are a real thing.
But first – why? Why would I leave my stable, fairly cushy life in Brisbane, where it’s sunny and warm like 300 days of the year?
I always wanted to do a lot of travel. When I was in my corporate job, I always assumed I would do an overseas stint at some point – and then I started my business and it soon became very clear that there was no way I’d be able to go on holiday for any longer than 4 days without the wheels falling off. So, travelling and working at the same time seemed like the best solution. Around the same time, my boyfriend decided that he was pretty keen to move to London. So, in November, we packed our bags, put everything in storage and spent 10 weeks travelling around Europe.
How did I become a digital nomad? How did I make my business location independent?
Up until October last year, Wildbloom was just me, myself and I. I was working pretty big hours and realised that, if I actually wanted to enjoy travelling, I’d need to bring someone else on board.
I initially only put the feelers out to hire one person, but I ended up hiring two because they were both so good. They’ve saved my butt on more than one occasion so I am very grateful!
When it was just me in the business, I could rely on pen and paper and a million and one to-do lists to keep me on track. But, with 2 team members on board, I suddenly had to scramble to get organized. We moved everything into Asana and that’s now where I manage everything we’re working on. If you haven’t tried it, it’s amazing. It’s like a to-do list combined with project management.
I also started putting processes into place so that other people could do the jobs that took me a lot of time. The key word there being “started”, because I’m only just starting to realise how important processes are and how they’re never done. They’re just constantly a work in progress.
I also realised that a lot of my time was being wasted going back and forth with tyre-kickers who just wanted to know how much it cost to work with us. So, I made our services guide complete with pricing downloadable from the Wildbloom website. That way, if someone reaches out to work with us, I know that they’re aware of the cost and that they’re actually serious about working together.
I also realised that onboarding new clients was taking a while, so I set up an app called Dubsado. This is a client CRM crossed with workflow tools, so I can keep track of client contracts, send questionnaires for projects, keep track of leads – everything in one place.
Recently, I also set up an app called Calendly. This allows people to book in phone calls with me without having to go back and forth and calculate time differences. All I have to do is set my availability and it syncs with my Google Calendar, so people can only book at times when I’m actually available.
The pitfalls of being a digital nomad
Working and travelling at the same time isn’t all that poolside cocktails and tropical islands. In fact, none of it so far has been poolside cocktails or tropical islands. There are a couple of things that nobody tells you about being a digital. Things that really suck – like bad internet connection (or worse, no internet connection, as we discovered at one AirBnb in Milan that actually promised us Wi-Fi).
Time zones also suck – like, last week, I had client calls 4 out of 5 mornings. Some at 4am, some at 5 am. Apologies to anyone who is on the receiving end of a 5 am phone call, because I know I’m not a nice person until I’ve had my coffee.
Being on the other side of the world means that, when I’m waking up in the morning, my inbox is already full of emails from the day just been in Australia, where most of our clients are. This makes mornings super stressful, but it is a lot better in the afternoon when everyone in Australia is asleep and I can get some work done without new emails popping in every few minutes.
Motivation can be another struggle. When you’re in a brand new city and all you want to do is explore, but you have 10,000 things on your to-do list pulling you in different directions, it can be really hard to find the discipline to knuckle down and get your work done.
Also, managing a remote team is really, bloody tough. Hats off to my team for somehow deciphering my terrible instructions and my poor communication, because it’s not always easy to formulate what’s going on in my head into words.
But, all of this said, I wouldn’t change it for the world. At least for now. I probably will need to settle back into Australia soon if I really want to grow the business, because I don’t think I could manage a massive remote team very effectively.
If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad
If you’re thinking about making the leap and embracing the ability to work anywhere, I highly encourage it. Being a digital nomad forced me to really work out my priorities and to stop making myself busy with unnecessary tasks.
I streamlined everything so that I had the time to actually get outside and enjoy wherever I was. It also forced me to start streamlining and systemizing the business properly.
June 13, 2018