Welcome to Day 2 of How to Be a Digital Nomad and Travel: 5 Steps to Freedom in 2020. Now that we’ve optimized, allocated and streamlined your finances for success (go back and read day one if you haven’t yet), it’s time to dive in and start looking at what skills you have that can be used online to enable you to work from anywhere and live your best life as a digital nomad. We’re going to figure out how to discover your profitable freelance niche for success and get paid for it online.
You probably fall into one of two categories:
- “I don’t have any online skills and have no idea what to do!”
- “I have so many interests and possible avenues to take I don’t know how to choose!”
Either way, I got you. If you think you don’t have any skills that can turn into paid online gigs, think again. I bet you have plenty of talents that you didn’t even know you could get paid for. The possibilities are endless, ranging from creative and writing gigs, language translation gigs, audio gigs, finance and bookkeeping, or becoming a virtual assistant and helping others with their online businesses by doing admin tasks. We’ll dive into some more possibilities in a bit and talk about how to find your niche.
Overwhelmed with options? I was too! I found most of the overwhelm was not only about the learning curve (which is actually the easy part), but the mindset of “I am picking a lifelong career path, is this what I want to do forever?” which actually isn’t true and leads us to stagnation.
Try not to get wrapped up in details and titles of the gigs, but the goal here is to temporarily commit to one thing. Give it 3 solid months, learn as you go, and then make changes as needed.
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t know exactly what we’ll be happiest doing because we haven’t discovered it yet. And unfortunately, we don’t discover it from endless amounts of research, we discover it by trying new things, assessing our feelings, and pivoting from there. But, I guarantee you each niche will contribute to your knowledge base and enable you to build your skillset and gain momentum.
Today we will unlock your potential and develop and learn skills to support your digital nomad lifestyle of travel and freedom. You will discover your profitable freelance niche for success. Lets dive in.
Mindset is everything: get into the success mentality
Before we dive into how to discover your profitable freelance niche, I want you to get into the right mindset that you can do this. It’s not a matter of if, only how. Being a freelancer means being your own advocate, as we often don’t have anyone pushing us or holding us accountable for our actions (however, we’ll talk about accountability tomorrow and the importance of finding your tribe.)
Get clear about your why. What motivates you?
It’s easy to get discouraged, distracted, and slack off if you don’t have the tools to motivate yourself and swim through the muddy waters.
My prime motivation is freedom. Having the freedom to choose where I want to work, how I want to work, and the freedom to be flexible in my day to day routine.
Get clear about your why, write it down, and let it be your anchor.
Step 1: Get organized and create a “home” for your business ideas
First, I recommend getting a notebook just for your new freelance career, where you can write down all your ideas and use as a reference when you’re feeling stuck. I had like 4 journals and a plethora of digital notes scattered between Evernote, Notes app and Stickies on my desktop, when I realized the importance of having ONE central location where you can consolidate all your brilliant ideas and thoughts.
I still use Evernote, but have recently started bullet journaling and keeping all my business ideas there, alongside my goals, affirmations and to-do-lists. I love this method.
Learning the bullet journal method has been a serious gamechanger.
Basically, it’s a one-stop journal that you use to log and keep track of everything. Your ideas, your goals, your grocery list, random bits of inspiration, your habits, whatever you want! And it’s all organized by a handy index page you create at the beginning of it.
You can read all about bullet journaling and how to do it here. It’s helpful in staying organised and focused, while tracking progress on your goals!
Here’s a couple of my favorite journals:
If you don’t have a journal yet, an old notebook or a piece of paper will suffice for now. Just be consistent with your strategy.
Step 2: Creating an affirmation statement that fuels your success mindset
After we’ve gotten clear about your why, let’s set an affirmation together that you’ll see every day, perhaps a sticky note on your desktop, a heading in your journal, or a note on your bedside table. You need to get into the right frame of mind, I promise it’s essential for success.
If you don’t believe that this digital nomad freelance lifestyle is possible for you, you’ll never be able to push through and make it happen. We operate from our beliefs, and it’s important to create a new belief that will support your success that you can continually look at for a boost of confidence.
My affirmation looks something like this: “I am confident in my ability to learn new skills to make my dream of travel a reality”.
Yours could be: “I am capable and open-minded, willing to develop my skills and explore new pathways to design a lifestyle on my own terms.”
Create a statement that resonates with you, that is believable, empowering, and that you can refer back to in the midst of self-doubt (we all have it sometimes!) Take a few deep breaths, smile, and get ready to make it happen.
Now that we’ve set our affirmation, let’s dive in!
Step 3: Identify your strengths and choose a skill to monetize
I am going to give you a framework and the tools to build your dream lifestyle, but first I want to give attribution to the course and person that really helped me figure this freelancing thing out, Danielle of the Freelance Travel Network (@danielletom).
I highly recommend taking her course after reading through this guide, as it will take you much deeper into the nitty-gritty of literally everything from start to finish in building your freelancing career!
She will walk you through picking a niche, developing skills, designing your portfolio (it’s easy!), setting rates, and getting consistent clients. She’s made it super fun with engaging videos and worksheets to guide you through the process. You can view the course here. It’s an investment, but I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was entirely worth it. She’s one of the OG freelancers with over 8 years of experience who has trained hundreds of students to mirror her success, like me.
Moving on, let’s start thinking about what we already know that we can capitalize on and transfer into an online skill set.
Finding your genius zone and adding value to people’s lives (journal time!)
I want you to begin by writing down things that others tell you you’re good at, look to you for advice for, or ask you questions about. What are the little things that your friends appreciate in you or look to you for guidance? For me it looked like photography advice, building an Instagram following, graphic design, traveling on a budget, and mindfulness practices.
I want to emphasize the importance of adding value to someone’s life. Think of yourself as a problem solver. How can you help others solve a problem and therefore add value to their life? I like to picture myself as a bridge connecting two sides of a landscape, the vehicle helping someone to get from point A (the beginning) to point B (the solution).
Write all of these ideas down that you think could possibly be of value to others, and begin mind mapping it all out. You can make little bubbles with headings and expand off them into sub-skills. It might only be something you know 50% about, but could expand on it and get to 80% proficiency in a few weeks.
My skills and strengths I could monetize:
- teaching photo editing with lightroom
- how to take beautiful travel photos
- how to make images look cohesive and build a theme on IG
- styling food photography
- using natural light to create dreamy photographs
Instagram Marketing Advice
- building a loyal following that cares about you
- making your feed look beautiful
- how to find your brand tone of voice
- creating content that attracts new followers
For you it might look like:
You are an expert in calligraphy which can be used for signage or logos for others. Or, you can draw really great animations and can potentially offer them to businesses that need help with their marketing.
You’re great at looking at an app or website and noticing design flaws. Maybe you could offer design consulting and/or implementation.
You’re great at numbers. You can help others keep track of their finances, create budgets and make spreadsheets.
Maybe you’re a whiz at tarot card reading? Creating killer keynote presentations? Building websites? Facebook ads?
The essence of this practice is to break down your “genius zone” into smaller subcategories that can help others, and that you can eventually get paid for.
For more inspiration, I want you to go on upwork.com and browse job listings to get a feel for gigs that people are hiring freelancers for. Even if it’s something you know a little bit about, write it down. We can learn these things easily and quickly with the wealth of information available to us on the internet, we no longer necessarily need years of formal education to be experts in our field.
Step 4: Narrowing it down and finding your Ikigai
Once you’ve got a bunch of ideas out on paper, it’s time to move forward and narrow it down to the top 3 things that resonate most with you. What do you enjoy doing? What seems like something that would be fun to try?
Let’s explore the concept of Ikigai.
“Your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing”Hector Garcia, the co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.
He writes, “Just as humans have lusted after objects and money since the dawn of time, other humans have felt dissatisfaction at the relentless pursuit of money and fame and have instead focused on something bigger than their own material wealth. This has over the years been described using many different words and practices, but always hearkening back to the central core of meaningfulness in life.”
Ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:
- What you love (your passion)
- What the world needs (your mission)
- What you are good at (your vocation)
- What you can get paid for (your profession)
Make a list, or a chart in your notebook now. Ask yourself these 4 questions:
1. What do I love?
2. What am I good at?
3. What can I be paid for now — or something that could transform into my future hustle?
4. What does the world need?
Look for similarities and themes. You should be able to draw a common denominator between one or more of the elements you’ve listed.
You should have a clear picture by now of one thing you know at least a little bit about, and something of interest to you that you can see yourself temporarily committing to for at least 3 months. Remember, we’re not getting married to a career path, we’re just testing the waters and maybe proposing eventually.
If you are still stuck, find inspiration from others in digital nomad Facebook groups. Here are a few of my favorite:
- Freelancing Females
- Digital Nomad Remote Jobs
- Women Helping Women Entrepreneurs
There are plenty of threads talking about career and freelancing, poke around and get the creative juices flowing! I’ve seen some pretty interesting “professions” that definitely weren’t offered as options in high school by my guidance counselor.
Step 5: Building your skillset and knowledge base
So, you have a skill in mind that you’d like to develop, but where do you begin? The internet is your oyster, seriously. With the rise of online courses and skill development, there are endless options for you to explore, often for free or at a reasonable cost.
Blogs, courses, and facebook groups are your best friends in this case. Depending on your niche, you can find a plethora of information on the web. I do recommend investing in a course that teaches you about your skill. Don’t spook! Oftentimes they’re under $20, and i’ve bought some really valuable courses for $10 on Udemy such as “How To Turn Blogging Into A Career.” This is essential to discover your profitable freelance niche for success.
Also, there’s a 30-day guarantee on these courses so if you find it’s not for you, you can always return it.
Check out these online learning platforms and browse their courses:
It might take you a month or so to develop your skills to get to a place where you feel comfortable moving forward and offering them to clients.
The #1 way to develop a skill to carve out time in your weekly schedule for it, and clear all distractions.
Put it in your calendar and commit to a few hours a week of learning time just for you. Consistency is key.
After you take a course you’ll hopefully gain some more clarity of how you can offer this service and perhaps put a unique spin on it. Is there an industry you know that needs this service? Can you offer copywriting to e-commerce stores that need compelling ad copy for baby products? Design business cards for real estate agents? Edit photos for family photoshoots?
This guide is a framework to set you up for success. Finding clients and building your portfolio are necessary steps of course, and there are plenty of recourses to teach you about it. Again, I highly recommend The Freelance Travel Network Course as Danielle goes in deep into developing your portfolio, client acquisition, pitching, and getting sales!
The options are endless, but your job right now is to temporarily commit to one of them, develop the skill until you feel 80% proficient, and move forward to begin pitching to clients and offering your service.
Confidence is key, and will come by doing, refining, and repeating. With a little time, you’ll be making money online in no time.
Now, we’re ready to move on to the next chapter.
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Christine is a twenty-something coffee-obsessed traveler from a small town in the US. She sold everything 3 years ago to follow her curiosity around the world.
As a passionate freelance graphic designer, digital nomad, and photographer, she has explored it all! Her mission is to help others live their dream lifestyles around what lights them up.