There are a few standard questions when people find out I’m a digital nomad, especially given the speed with which I move from country to country.
“Doesn’t it get tiring?”
“Aren’t you lonely?”
“Do you stay in hotels or Airbnb?”
The answer to those questions and other puzzles will come in time, but today I want to address another highly-demand inquiry.
“How do you afford this? What do you do for work?”
For me, I make most of my money through writing and speaking. As a journalist, I don’t get paid to write stories — that’s important and essential to maintaining a balanced, unbiased perspective — but I do partake in copywriting, especially articles designed to help organizations improve their thought leadership.
Building my profile as a journalist does lead to speaking engagements, however.
That includes my keynote speeches on mental health in the tech industry, AI, AR, and blockchain. It might also incorporate interviewing critical people in the industry, “celebrities,” and running panel sessions. I also emcee entire events, introducing each days content, every speaker, and show-running in the background to keep everything on time.
By building up my portfolio, and speaking or emceeing at events such as Web Summit, World Crypto Con, Slush, TechChill, Digital Freedom Festival, Transform, and many more, I’m able to command a decent speaking fee. If I’m keynoting on mental health, the profits from those fees go to a fund that will be donated to charities and organizations that help those in need, and to help build a wellness app that helps people cope with the daily pressures of entrepreneurship.
I also generate additional funds through paid mentorships, advisory positions, and consultancy. Having run several successful software companies, it’s another way I can offer my time and experience in return for compensation.
But let’s not make this all about me. There are dozens of ways to embrace remote work, so let’s detail a whole raft of ideas.
Become a virtual assistant
Many services provide virtual assistants, and while the pay is pretty dire per task (yes Mechanical Turk, I’m looking at you) some offer a decent amount of money to do reasonably mundane things for busy people.
My favorite? Fancy Hands. I’ve been using this service for many years now, and it looks after all sorts of tasks for me, from research projects through to booking dinners and finding venues for events.
Applying as an assistant for Fancy Hands is relatively painless, although you do need to be in the United States, and it pays between $3–7 per task. Sure, you’re not going to get rich on that, but if you have free time on your hands, you can make a decent amount of extra revenue. It’s certainly a lot better than the cents per task paid by other services.
Get paid to promote products
Anyone can be a so-called influencer these days, so why not leverage that? There are dozens of platforms that allow you to sign up to promote brands, and you don’t need to have a massive following on social media to make it work. It turns out that consumers don’t actually trust massive celebrities that much, so there’s a significant shift in the influencer marketing industry to focus more on micro-influencers.
One of my favorites is Buttrfly, which combines influencer marketing and blockchain technology. Another is Intellifluence, which has one of the slickest and most effortless onboarding experiences in the industry.
Earnings are wildly variable, but you can make a few hundred dollars a month if you commit to the process.
Rent your stuff
Thanks to the surge in “sharing economy” startups, you can gain additional funds by renting out the things you own. I don’t have a house or base of any kind, but if you do, you can always list it on Airbnb, for example. And there are rental management companies that will handle key swapping and cleaning for you, so you don’t even have to be around to look after your guests.
For everything else, from strollers to inflatables, vans to drones, you can list items at Loanables. A paddleboard in Austin, TX, for example, is currently being made available for $25 a day. The only issue with Loanables is that it is focused on Texas right now, but there are a few dozen similar platforms available around the world if you’re adept at googling (and, let’s face it, who isn’t these days?).
Create a product
Got some t-shirt slogans in your head, or want to sell a mug with a cool logo on it? You can do that too. And one company makes it super-easy to get started.
Hundreds of product types and designs are waiting for you at Printful, from apparel to gifts (including jewelry, wall art, and bean bags), and while you can easily upload your own designs, the site provides a designer you can use to put your imagination into action.
You can then connect your Printful store to Shopify, attach that to a Facebook page, and voila — instant store. If you pick the right slogans or design something that really catches on, it can be highly lucrative.
There are still hundreds of ways to make money not mentioned here, including registering for sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Problogger’s job board, Contenta, and more. The key is to take something you’re knowledgable or passionate about and see if there’s a site that will list you as available for hire, or even just start pitching what you can do to brands and the people you meet on your travels.
And if you need to hire me to speak at your event, emcee your conference, write content, advise startups, or promote your products, you can reach out to me here. I’m always happy to discuss partnerships that bring value to both parties — just drop a comment on this article, letting me know how to reach you.