How are netrepreneurs remote working to finance their exotic lifestyles? Is e-commerce, passive income or residual income best?
If you already have a hit single that will earn you royalties for the rest of your days and conveniently even more after death, then no need to read any further. For the rest of us who dream of being digital nomads, the most obvious concern is: How to finance this new exotic lifestyle? After all, opting to be nomadic likely means leaving that cozy desk job. And if you don’t yet have a thriving online business, then the leap from desk to Davao is intimidating indeed.
The good news is that, according to eMarketer, worldwide e-commerce growth is expected to more than double from $1,915 trillion in 2016 to $4.058 trillion in 2020. That is a lot of money, with plenty of opportunities to find your niche. You may choose to be a netrepreneur selling one of the following:
Products; Something non-perishable and not too heavy and bulky works best. From gadgets to garments, internet consumers love the convenience of shopping in their pajamas.
Services; Make your web design skills available on Elance, fiverr or Upwork. Other skills that are in demand include logo design, infographics, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and setting up WordPress websites.
Information; Got a unique outlook on the world that others are keen to hear about? Then have the masses come and read your content and use Google AdWords and affiliate income to get some funds into that PayPal account.
Those freelancing gigs will keep you quite busy; although the advertisements on your website will earn you money whilst you sleep. There is much to be said for passive income, like Google AdWords, that gives you more time to enjoy life on the road. It is well worth then looking at some old-school sources of passive income too.
Since you won’t be using your apartment while travelling the world, homeowners can consider making income from rent. Sadly, screening tenants is not an exact science. So, best to have a buffer fund for late payments or emergency repairs. Not the most fun, this landlord gig. But having some bricks and mortar will be worth the hassle in the end; especially if property prices in your city are on the up.
Better than online gigs and being a landlord by far, is residual income. Where you create an asset like a book, a patent or a song and collect royalties for many happy years thereafter. That will leave lots of time for play. Try as I might, I still haven’t discovered my inner Beyoncé. Besides all the good lyrics are already taken; Wuh uh oh uh uh oh. All taken, oh no.
Publishing your own ebook is probably the easier of the options. Writing skills, unlike rhythm, can be taught. Plus, a life of travel should spark many a creative idea. Try self-publishing your ebook on Amazon with help from an editor or two. Then, once your ebook has garnered some decent interest, a publisher could be persuaded to put it in print.
The mind boggles with all these income options on the road. “But how much money is enough?” Numbeo.com is a great place to get some answers on budgeting. Numbeo relies on user submitted data to calculate the cost of living for hundreds of cities across the globe. Try checking the cost of accommodation, transport and food in your city. Like me, I’m sure you’ll find their data is quite accurate.
For all the data nerds, the cost of living index is worth a look. Cheapest of all the global cities is Bangalore in India. Amazingly, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant can be had for S1.79 and a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs a silly $126.32 per month. Who would have thought that there is a vibrant city in the world where a single person can live on $308.13 per month?
Sure, Bangalore is an extreme example of cheap travel. But other affordable cities can be found too with a bit of research. Your largest travel expenditure is likely to be transport, accommodation, markets and restaurants. Slow-travel will give you the best shot at keeping your monthly costs down. Take fewer flights by staying in a country as long as your visa allows. Look out for 28-days discounts on AirBnB, thereby allowing you to stay in one city long enough to get a monthly transit pass. Depending on the city (I hear dining in Chiang Mai is dirt cheap) having accommodation with some cooking facilities can help the budget too. How much luxury can you live without?
Now, how does one resist the urge to be a digital nomad, when confronted with facts like that? Earning enough money on the road is achievable. The smartest digital nomads have multiple income streams and dabble in residual income to have more time for play. But I have a hunch that income might not be the largest deterrent to choosing this lifestyle after all.
Habit may be a larger foe still: Many are used to that air-conditioned cubicle and predictability. It’s comforting to be surrounded by an apartment full of familiar objects. Your routine. The way first-world drivers can drive a hundred yards without hooting. It’s easier to dismiss being a digital nomad as financially unachievable, even though not true.