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If you’ve spent a decent amount of time browsing the internet or at your local beach, you’ve probably met a member of their tribe.
They’re the people walking around on the beach in flip-flops carrying laptop bags asking directions to the nearest decent internet connection.
They’re the group buried in their MacBook’s huddled in the coffee shop corner where the Wi-Fi connection is strongest.
They’re the group who looks too young to be expats but have camped out in the hostel near your local surf spot.
If you the crowd I am describing seems familiar, then you might have just had an encounter with members of the digital nomad tribe.
The digital nomads or “the tribe” as I like to call them are a group of individuals who have decided to take their skills and talent online and work through the internet.
They are composed of freelancers and sometimes full-time workers and even employers who earn money or make a living online.
Digital nomads have uprooted themselves from the common office workers table and cubicle space and have decided that they want to enjoy a bottle of beer while finishing their monthly sales and marketing analysis report, or want to feel the wind in their hair while thinking about how to end that article they’re trying to finish.
But wait, before we start daydreaming about joining the tribe, let’s come back to reality first.
No matter how fabulous and fun being a digital nomad is, let’s not forget they are actually doing work or doing a job.
It’s not always the beach, backpacking, and cocktails, just like the real world there are good, bad and ugly things about working and earning money online.
Obviously, the good is the independence and freedom from being tied to a 9 to 5 schedule, being caged in the same cubicle and having to wear those often cumbersome formal office clothes.
The pay is actually decent and competitive, with some freelancers and digital nomads earning ridiculous amounts of money with very minimal work. (Depending on their skill level and employers budget.)
And there is a certain liberating feeling that comes with being able to do what you want when you want or work when you want, to do something that you like or love.
Don’t buy into the whole, “we’re always at the beach having fun bit.” While most digital nomads would post pictures of themselves, lounging in beach chairs and sand in their toes, half of that is just probably for show.
The invisible leash of a decent Wi-Fi signal and stable internet connection will always be at the digital nomad’s neck.
Having your stuff stolen or broken while in the middle of a flight or a tour will always be a recurring nightmare for any digital nomad worth his bones.
And after a while, the travels and living in exotic places while working becomes repetitive and boring, the lifestyle becomes just part of daily life and digital nomads do sometimes feel the need to be in a permanent comfort zone.
While most digital nomads would regale you with stories about swimming with turtles in the morning and going back at noon to check on your emails, finish on your deliverables while sipping a Corona, they’ll probably leave off the part where they had to fight tooth and nail to have that job or earn their digital skills in the first place.
It’s not going to be rainbows and unicorns all the time and you won’t make it rain money in the first few months.
The transformation and journey towards being a productive and effective digital nomad are going to be hard, long and arduous.
You will have canceled contracts, non-paying employees, bad reviews and Murphy’s Law working against you.
When you are starting you’ll find that contracts, projects, and jobs are few and far between. And those that are available to newbies are low paying jobs that would require you to take multiple projects at the same time if you want to make ends meet.
These are the ugly stuff about working online that are conveniently left out of those sand in the toes, computer on my lap, earning money with the sun on my face stories and they are real.
If after reading this, then you’re still interested in being a member of the tribe? Read up some more on some of our articles, maybe this is the life for you.