Digital Nomad Jobs
This article will discuss one of the best channels available to digital nomads for finding a job: making a living by using online freelancing platforms as a tool for getting customers and getting paid.
There are many sites with vast offering of jobs for digital nomad, starting with the massive Upwork Platform (a merger between the popular sites Odesk and Elance). I would also advise to check out Hubstaff Talent, a relatively new freelance meeting place offered by my favorite time tracking service.
Advantages of working with freelancing sites to get digital nomad jobs:
Without a freelancing platform, you need to create an infrastructure that is reachable by clients (usually by constructing your own website), and do a lot of marketing. Making money would when you are not using them requires a good amount of time and spending upfront (in addition to a lot of patience, since businesses usually start slowly and it is hard to get noticed).
Freelancing sites allow us to get closer to clients with minimum investment. The platform is already there, clients already use it and look for contractors (for you) that can contact them directly, and it’s only about persuading them that you are the right match for the job. In addition to that, using those sites actually allows a lot of freedom because you are working by the project. When you finish a project, you can disconnect and travel, unlike a business operated by you that requires our full attention for year in order to succeed. Perfect for us digital nomads, no?
Disadvantages of working with freelancing sites:
A freelancer on those sites runs a cash flow operation. When you work, you get paid. When you stop working, there is no passive income. You are the one providing the service, and every project requires effort from your side.
One more thing to consider is that your clients expect you to be connected, receive instructions and update them; therefore, a stable internet connection and being readily available to communicate with the client during a project is a must.
Most importantly, starting working on those sites will require a mind-set change from your side. In other words, you will have to start with your prices very low, then build them up as you build your online profile.
In addition to that, the sites usually charge a fee, either by taking a small cut of the job (less than 10%) or by pushing contractors to purchase a monthly subscription in order to bid freely. Those costs are generally unsubstantial considering the marketing and infrastructure costs those sites save you.
In a nutshell, starting basically means registering with the website, investing time in arming yourself with an impressive profile, and then bidding for as many jobs as possible. With time (and some luck), you will get hired by the first client and build your reputation from there. Note of course, that you can really only build that profile once you have figured out the core skill you offer that will be in demand by clients on the site.
Most contractors from developed countries actually give up before even completing 2 jobs because the low wages despair them. You are competing against hundreds of people who have profiles like yours and who are willing to work for low hourlies, since they are from developing countries and their cost of living is significantly lower. But don’t despair! Quality does pay off! It just requires the patience to prove yourself and signal your excellence before you increase your rate.
When you bid for your first jobs, I would recommend starting with very low bid. In addition, for us nomads, I would suggest starting experimenting with those platforms while you are still in your day job at home (as absurd the pay is) because that allows you to build a reputation that will allow to to get jobs later on at a more reasonable rate so that you can make a good living while traveling. Think of the initial stages as investment, you are trying to build a reputation (When jobs are complete, the clients give you elaborate ratings. This is the real boost that can highlight you as a premium freelancer).
Specific site recommendations
The site I recommend most is Upwork. From my experience, that’s where freelancers earn most on the long term as clients there are more clients willing to spend for quality. After the merger between Odesk and Elance, the site became somewhat more saturated with competition, because they don’t charge you membership fees. This means there is less pressure on you to get your first client but that you also face a lot of competition. Basically, you have to put in more time up front, but it’s also the site where freelancers have the highest potential earnings. Be good at what you do, and work hard for it.
Once registered, invest a lot of time in building your profile and make it impressive. Then, just start bidding for jobs. When you have enough reviews, then you can receive a premium for your services as people see that you have a proven track record.
This article is also a great guide and resource for starting a profile with Upwork. Highly recommended.
For us nomads, living with constant change, freelancing sites offer a perfect opportunity to make cash on the move, without the attachment of starting a business and committing to the constant care of long-term clients.
I also recommend these sites to my non-nomad friends, even just as a game, just to see what can they do to make money. Sites like these can really allow you to understand your core skills, which is a wonderful discovery all by itself.
Enjoy your work!
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