So, you want to become a digital nomad. Awesome.
In my book, 10 Things RV Dealerships Don’t Tell You About Nomadic Living, one of the things I share is 50 Ways to Make Money on the Road.
If you’re not sure what avenue you want to pursue to as a digital nomad, this is a great place to start. You’ll find a chapter devoted to how to make money from the road with 50 ideas that are sure to get your wheels turning. And – you can get the entire first 3 chapters for FREE here! (The full book is $4.95.)
Before diving in to 3 Tips for How To Become a Digital Nomad Entrepreneur, let’s first clarify:
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely. Another name for it (more of a corporate term) is telecommuting. A digital nomad is someone who has the freedom to either work from home or travel to different locations and still do their work, thanks in large part to having internet and telephone connection. A digital nomad doesn’t need to be in any one place to provide their service or do their work.
I have been a digital nomad entrepreneur since 2004, long before I had a name for it.
From the very start, by intentional design, I created my business to be something I could do from wherever I happen to be. I designed it that way because I knew my nomad soul wanted the option to work from anywhere. So, from day one, when I first started my coaching company (more than 14 years ago!), the work I did with my clients was over the phone and though the internet – even if my clients lived nearby!
And, when I began, they ALL lived nearby.
Over the years, I’ve been able to expand my reach and serve clients spanning 4 continents. I’ve served clients from as far as Spain, Germany, Israel, New Zealand…
How did I do this? How am I able to reach people across the globe?
Well, the Internet certainly helps. But the truth is this: The PRIMARY source of client attraction through my business has come from referrals.
And that’s tip #1…
TIP #1: Referrals are the best testimonial.
When first starting out, I had clients before I had a website. Worth repeating: I had clients before I had a website. Really take that in, because it’s super important to not lose site of the fact that long before there were websites, there were businesses.
A website does not make a business. A website is a modern-day billboard. And, yes, a billboard can be helpful.
But, I stand by this: Clients raving about you will be even more helpful.
The best thing you can do when you’re first starting out, is focus on delivering high-service, helping people consistently benefit from your offerings. People talk. They tell their friends.
I’m honestly not even sure if social media existed when I first started out. (MySpace maybe?) Either way, I wasn’t on it. I didn’t lead webinars or teleclasses. And I didn’t have a “following.”
I’ll tell you exactly what I did:
I sent emails to people I knew (my first newsletter was just to friends and family). I spoke publicly wherever and whenever I could find the opportunity. And, I regularly asked for referrals.
TIP #2: The fastest path to reach real people, is the BEST path.
When you are first starting out as a digital nomad, the fastest path to reach real people is the best path. And rarely is the fastest path to reach real people creating a website or building a social media following. Again – all good stuff, all can be helpful, but only if it’s happening *along side* connecting and serving real people, not before.
And this takes me to tip #3 for how to become a digital nomad entrepreneur.
TIP #3: Resist the inclination to hide behind a computer.
This one might seem especially counterintuitive, especially as an aspiring digital nomad.
BUT – while your instinct might be to spend hours upon hours behind a computer, resist this and start serving people NOW. Rather than prioritizing website development, or studying SEO and social media strategies, study your target clientele through personal real-time interaction. Determine what your customer needs and how to best serve them: real live people, not imaginary people.
Starting a product-based business? Let’s say, for example, you are starting a mail-order cookie-shop. Walk your butt down the street, bring cookies to all your neighbors and tell them you are starting a mail order cookie shop.
Starting a service-based business? Let’s say, for example, that you are starting a coaching company. Call, email, and tell everyone you know. Tell them you are starting a coaching company AND – this is what I did – that you have 3 pro bono spaces open for new clients.
I started my company with 3 pro bono clients. I rolled up my sleeves with them. I served them personally, to the best of my ability. One of these three pro bono clients became, not only, my first paying client after the pro bono period came to an end, but she also referred me all her friends. That’s how I started my business. Nothing fancy or high-tech about it. Simply people connecting with people.
This is how I launched my location-independent company, more than 14 years ago.
What I see happening in the aspiring digital nomad landscape is, all too often, aspiring digital nomad entrepreneurs are so focused on websites and Instagram followers that they lose sight of The Foundations of Service: the offerings, the personal connections, the fundamentals of what makes a business sustainable.
And what makes a business sustainable is clients who rave about your work, because word of mouth is the most trusted source.
I learned by doing. I didn’t start out confident about my abilities. But I started anyway.
Only after I had actual experience serving people did I start building out a website and creating an online platform.
That’s been my experience. And 14 years later, I’m still in business.
I often remind my business coaching clients that marketing is nothing more than a way to connect with people, ideally people who can benefit from what you provide.
⇒ The real work in starting a business is in connecting and serving people.
⇒ It’s figuring out WHO you serve, WHAT they need, and HOW you can best provide that service or product to them.