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Digital Nomads

There’s a global digital nomad movement, driven by the convergence of outsourcing, the globalization of talent, growth of tech and automation of our generation.

These factors are behind a movement enabling our generation to throw off the shackles of corporate life and thrive with only laptop in hand.

The Usual Suspects
The digital nomad movement is mostly represented across a few streams:

  • Travel blogs
  • Travel agents
  • Digital Nomad Trainers and Service Providers
  • Freelancers or Remote Workers

The first 3 are so flawed in terms of commercial viability.

Travel booking: It’s an industry that shrunk by half its work force since 1990 and which pays far less than national average wages. With US global tourism increase of 4% expected (and 2% in Europe) , there’s a limited scope for growth as a travel agent.

Freelancers or Remote Workers: The largest segment of digital nomads i.e. contract workers aka remote staff aka freelancers. Before the fancy names, there were simply skilled people who were selling value-add services without the internet. The internet has made it easier to market oneself and gain more new clients than ever, especially with the opening of online contracting platforms availing billions of dollars in short-term contracts. It has also made it harder by introducing competition from countries like Poland, Jordan and Pakistan. What happens as more and more US and EU freelancers (whose average ODesk wages exceed $15 per hour) must compete against their Kenyan and Fillipino counterparts (whose hourly wages hover around $4USD per hour)?

Surely, quality, networks and rating, as well as culture and proximity will play a role but are we all truly ready for our skill to be marketed with global pricing? Freelancers have the greatest opportunity of all the usual suspects, if their wages aren’t’ sucked into a race to the bottom with emerging market prices.

And in this case, the same universal rules cut across time, space, culture and the Internet:

  • Find a profitable and growing niche
  • Build networks, brand recognition and most of all, relationships with clients, suppliers, intermediaries
  • Invest in packaging and marketing in line with client expectations
  • Continually learn, refine and give all you got

This digital nomad era may turn out to be the best of time and worst of times, depending on how’s it’s played. So play to win.

About the author

I’m Christie, the founder of Christie Lee and Associates. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. Get in touch.

Graphic Designer

I’m Christie, the founder of Christie Lee and Associates. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world.

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