One of the most popular questions aspiring digital nomads ask is: “What skills do I need to become a digital nomad, and how can I get started?”. To those who just joined class, a digital nomad is a person who travels and works from wherever in the world they choose. These people are usually freelancers, finding computer-based jobs and working on-the-go. As one would expect, this lifestyle requires career skills which are 100% location-independent.
Going from a “normal”, tethered job to being a free, fully-fledged digital nomad is a huge mental and physical leap. You have won half the battle if you have ready-to-go, location-independent skills which you can use to find work wherever you are. What you don’t want to do is plan inadequately and end up like the nomad couple who quit jobs in advertising and travel, and ended up having to scrub toilets to fund their travels.
If you are making a completely fresh start, and haven’t got any location-independent skills, don’t worry, hope is not lost. There are steps you can take to test the waters and develop the right set of skills before taking the plunge:
- Sign up on freelance websites and look for small, specific tasks you can do, or learn quite easily.
- Pick one task with over 20 job requests. A lot of requests for this task means that there is demand for the said skill.
- Search for as many resources as you can and learn to do this task.
- Start adding more resources to your knowledge pool, and learn to do similar related tasks.
- Grow and kick ass at it.
To help you get an idea of what sort of skills you can learn very easily and start testing the market with, have a look at the list below. I have concentrated on four areas: Design, Web Development, Writing & Translation, Social Media and Video/Photo editing. Enjoy 🙂
1. Logo Design
A logo is a very important to a brands identity. As a result, most people starting business/venture/side project/website etc will at some point need a logo created. The task of designing a logo involves taking an idea or concept, and transforming it into a symbol or piece of typography. If you are imaginative and enjoy sketching, clever combination of colours and fonts, you can consider a career in freelance logo design. All you need to start up is your natural skill of drawing ideas which will help you put everything that represents a company into a symbol. You can then learn to use computer software such as CorelDraw or Photoshop to get your work done.
Top logo designers earn between $250 and $2,500 per project, depending on the complexity of the design.
2. Website / Google Banner Ad Design
Banner Ads are simple advertisements that fit a specific size slot in a web page or app. They usually consist of images or animations. Businesses that need to have an online presence and want to reach a wider
audience often require the services of a banner ad designer. Here’s what a web banner looks like:-
If you have animation or motion graphics skills and can create good images or animations that can easily grab attention, utilizing them in banner ads design will be great; you can consider a freelance banner ads design career. All you need is the ability to create an attention-grabbing design without annoying users. Top banner ads designers earn as much as $100 per project.
Infographics help readers assimilate information better by representing data quickly and clearly through images. To create a good infographic, you should be able to tell a story using graphical elements to communicate your message.
If you have a good eye for design and good story telling abilities with the ability to maintain information hierarchy, you can create an infographic. Here, you will be given a lot of data and required to create an interactive visual story of it.
4. Designing Powerpoint Presentations
Powerpoint is a Microsoft computer program used to create dynamic slide shows through the use of text, graphics, and animation. Once put together, the slides are displayed on projection screens to support business, training, or educational presentations. If you are proficient in summarizing the main ideas of texts into bullet points, you can design powerpoint presentations. All you need to do to download Microsoft Powerpoint and play with it. You can expect to earn as much as $500 and more depending on the contents of the slide – the amount of text the client wants, and whether graphs and charts will be involved.
5. Graphic Illustrations
If you enjoy drawing, you could consider a part-time gig as a freelance illustrator. All you need is your natural skill and a sketch pad. You could sketch on your pad, take a photo of your sketch, and send to your clients. You could also learn to use various pieces of software such as Adobe Illustrator to help perfect your art. There are also graphic pads that exist for people who sketch for digital purposes. Top illustrators can expect to earn up to $1000 per project.
6. Business Cards / Letter Head Designs
Business stationery can be regarded as marketing tools, which provide an opportunity for brand engagement. As a result, businesses often seek out the services of designers to produce memorable, catchy business cards, letter heads etc.
If you are creative and have a keen eye for detail, you can design business stationery as a side gig and earn as much as $200 per project.
7. Brochure / Magazine / Menu Design
You can learn to design for print, and offer gigs designing brochures, magazines, menus etc. These are usually multi-page printed material, so you will need to learn how to set up page sizes, and create designs with multi-page PDFs for print. Learning how to work with Adobe InDesign or Photoshop will be an added advantage. Top designers in this career earn up to $200 for single page projects.
These resources could help you get started:
8. Leaflet / Flyer / Poster Design
Leaflets, flyers and posters are 1-page printed materials used to promote businesses or events. Since these materials hold the audience’s attention for a short period of time, they have to be designed in an eye catching manner to be effective.
You can take advantage of this market if you are creative and good with design. Designs in this category can earn you around $100 per project.
These tutorials can get you started.
Animators are professionals who make multiple images that would create an illusion of movement such as those that are seen in animated films. These images are run in quick succession in order to make them come to life. As an animator, your work could be used in animated films, television cartoons, animated graphics for websites, etc. If you love animations, have strong drawing skills and can give life to your creative ideas with your understanding of how to draw a figure and how the body moves, you could make money from a freelance animation gig. Top animations freelancers earn as much as $500 per project. However, the price varies depending on the scale of the project.
For amateurs, Powtoon helps you create great animations without too much effort, and is a great place to start.
10. UI Mock Up Designs (App / Website)
In order to provide a rough idea of what an app or website will look like, designers make mock up designs (or pretend versions) of layouts to guide developers through the coding process. This makes sure that the design of the app or website can be evaluated accurately before committing to the build.
To offer this as a service, you need to have an eye for web design, as well as the ability to use mock up design tools such as Photoshop, Sketch, InVision, Balsamiq, etc. You need to be able to creatively anticipate what users might need to do with the app and represent it using any of these tools. You will also ensure that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions.
11. PSD to Responsive Webpage
Photoshop is one of the most used tools for creating a website mock up that will eventually be coded in HTML and CSS. In order to get a rough idea of how the website will look like, web designers make a mock up design in PSD (Photoshop design file) format. If you have a good knowledge of HTML, CSS, and responsive web design, you could offer a gig hand-coding PSD mock up designs into responsive webpage(s).
12. Responsive Web Design (HTML)
There are plenty of opportunities available if you’re able to create simple responsive websites using HTML and CSS. Available jobs range from fixing existing code to creating one-page websites.
13. WordPress Website Design
WordPress is a popular tool for creating most kind of websites, from a simple blogs to a full-featured websites. With WordPress you don’t necessarily need in-depth coding or design skills to create a professional looking site. There are thousands of free site designs to choose from (these designs are known as “themes”). You need to have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and PHP to enable you properly customize a WordPress theme to suit you or your client. Unlike when building sites from scratch, knowing just a little bit of each of these languages will let you do much of what you will want to in terms of customizing a theme.
If you have been using WordPress in your spare time for a while and want to make a living from it, or you have been making a living in a similar field (such as design or front end development) and want to cross over to working with WordPress, you can consider being a freelancer in this niche. If you learn the basic skills that take you from being able to use WordPress to being able to make WordPress sites from start to finish, you will find yourself in a successful marketplace. As WordPress powers 30% of the internet, this is a skill in high demand and there is an abundance of resources where you can learn how to use the platform.
14. E-Commerce Websites
E-commerce websites are basically online stores. There are tools with e-commerce support such as WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, Joomla, Wix etc. They all have themes and plugins that can be customized to give you your desired results. Tools like Shopify are very simple to use and, you can very easily set up a freelance operation building e-commerce websites for others.
15. Fix Issues – HTML, CSS, jQuery, PHP, MySQL
If you have a good knowledge of the above mentioned web technologies, you can earn some money by helping people sort out any issue/bug they may be having on their websites. For particularly difficult problems, websites like StackOverflow help with crowd sourced fixes to problems.
16. Install, Configure and Convert HTML to WordPress Theme
It is possible to convert a website that started with HTML (and CSS) into WordPress, or an HTML design into a WordPress theme. This is another freelance option to consider if you have WordPress skills.
17. Search Engine Optimisation for WordPress
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital in ensuring the success of many clients’ WordPress websites. It ensures that clients rank as highly as possible in Google (or other search engines) for the key terms that they have decided are most important to their success. Though WordPress is search engine friendly, you will still need to do some manual SEO work for best results, and this is a great gig if you are not too technical. You can learn the exact skills you need to help bump websites and blogs up the ranks, and earn a decent living from this.
If you are skilled in SEO, you can consider freelance WordPress websites optimization. The software needs a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to SEO and as such, your expertise will always be sought after as there are many websites running on WordPress.
WRITING & TRANSLATION
18. Research and Write Articles / Blog Post
Though it may seem that everyone is a natural writer, not everyone enjoys writing, or has time and energy for it. If you have a flair for writing, you have an opportunity to make money by helping others do what they can’t or don’t feel like doing. You can consider starting up a freelance career as a writer. Top content writers earn as much as $1,500 per project but this varies depending on the complexity of the subject and research involved.
19. Proofread Articles
Online proofreaders help website owners to identify mistakes in their web contents before they are published. The ever-increasing number of websites provides opportunities for freelance proofreaders to get paid to correct spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. It requires a good vocabulary, an excellent command of language, perfect spelling skills and attention to detail.
Proofreading pays considerably less per page than freelance writing jobs, but you make up for this by proofing many more pages per hour. Depending on your speed and the volume of work, you can make up to $20 an hour or more as a professional proofreader.
20. Transcribe Audio Recordings
Transcribing is the art of converting audio into text. This is done by listening and typing out a speech or a narrative into a printed format. Persons who tend to talk better than they can write are likely to require the services of transcribers to make their words concrete.
If you are comfortable using your computer for things like downloading files, doing research, etc., and are good with typing with a good ear for words, then freelance transcription may be a good choice for you.
Most audio transcriptions come in two classes. Verbatim transcription requires that every word spoken is written down. There is also the more expensive summary report transcription, where you also work as an editor, refining the main points of the audio you are transcribing.
21. Social Media Manager
Social media managers help businesses market themselves on social media platforms and are considered the voices of the company. They monitor, moderate and respond to audience comments and inquiries. They also create and/or post shareable videos and images. If you are social media savvy and literate, with an understanding of how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc work, you can become a freelance social media manager. You need great communication and writing skills, as well as a good sense of humour and a thick skin.
VIDEO, AUDIO, PHOTO
22. Create Animation Videos to Promote a Product or Service
Explainer videos are becoming a very popular form of marketing. They are short, animated videos commonly used by businesses to quickly tell their brands’ stories in a remarkable way. Some of the reasons businesses use explainer videos are to increase conversion rates, clarify a product or service, and to boost sales.
You can dive into this wide market by offering video animation services as a freelancer to businesses in need of videos to promote their products and services. You have to be creative, and love illustrating your ideas and/or bringing them to life as animations. Knowledge of relevant design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, etc. will be an added advantage. Top animation video creators earn as much as $100 for a minute video animation.
23. Logo Animation
Many companies love to have their logos animated in addition to their static logos. This is to achieve increased brand awareness and make for better story telling. As a result, there is always demand for logo animators. This is another freelance option for consideration if you have design and animation skills. You will however learn how to use the required software in order to work more marketable.
24. Edit Videos / Photos Professionally
If you have interest in photography and can touch up photos and videos beautifully, you can sell this service to earn extra cash. The market will never go out of demand for premium quality photos and videos so this is a great niche to explore as a freelancer.