Digital Nomad Lifestyle: How To Make $100,000 in One Year

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A young man in a cafe on his laptop living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Do you want to make $100,000 in one year as a digital nomad? Well, you most definitely can! I oftentimes get baffled when I see digital nomads working relentlessly day and night on their computers for very little money. Don’t get me wrong, I really respect hard work; I come from a background where it meant everything. But when I ask many folk trying to live the digital nomad lifestyle why they work so hard to make money, I’m often met with a frown.

Truth is, there are many easy ways to make money online and live a fulfilling digital nomad lifestyle.

I’m also going to show you a few examples from my own portfolio, with actual numbers. Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out these shortcuts–and I’m sure there are plenty more I haven’t figured out. But if you want to live the digital nomad lifestyle and make $100,000 or more per year, you definitely can, and it won’t eat up all the hours in your day.

You do need a lot of discipline.

Just like a baby, all new businesses and ventures will require to be constantly watched at first. But the methods I show you will have a very short gestation period.

One thing that’s exciting about the digital workplace is that it is getting easier and easier to understand.

Nowadays, all one has to do is watch a course, like Anton’s Dropshipping method. What’s better, most courses are online and easy to understand. There is one rule I follow, though, and I recommend you do too.

Never pursue a niche that requires too much of time, unless it’s a labor of love.

A couple of digital nomads sitting a cafe in South America. The outdoor cafe looks tropical and has a "wifi" signboard nailed to a post.

I know people with websites that require only an hour of work a week, and those very same sites earn them thousands of dollars every month. There are definitely easy ways to make money as a digital nomad, but you have to be actively seeking out new ideas, and I’ll show you where to find some of them.

The following list of money-making jobs for digital nomads will help you quickly make a stable income, all the while saving money too. They work, so there’s no reason to be working yourself to the ground.

7 best ways to save money while living a digital nomad lifestyle :

1. Dropshipping

A drop-shipper is basically a person with a website that sells a specific niche of items. The dropshipper usually has no physical inventory. When an order is placed, the dropshipper fulfills the order by calling one of his suppliers and arranging for the item to be shipped directly from the supplier to the customer.

Dropshipping works. Dropshipping makes you money. Dropshipping helps you save money.

Here’s my story:

I bought a couple of dropshipping stores that seemed to be floundering. In a matter of 1 month, I managed to triple their profit. Without going into the details of it, it was a classic example of someone not putting enough energy into a project. Maybe they were just too busy with other projects? I don’t know. But if you start an online business, you have to treat it as that, a business. You have to pick up the phone when customers call on a $3,000 order (or any order).

The beauty of this business model is that you can build as many of these stores as you want, and for cheap! You can definitely make tons of money dropshipping, but again, it’s a real business. Meaning, you will have customer inquiries. You will have complaints. And for those with stores selling expensive goods, you will have to answer customer calls.

Shopify dropship store credits on a bank statement.

A bank statement summary proof of shopify store profits.
There have been two new orders since, bringing the tally up. Effort required? Pick up the phone when it rings and answer several simple questions. All the income on this account is derived from e-stores, affiliate links, and random websites.

If you happen to be living in Thailand, those calls may be coming from a US or foreign timezone. So you’ll have stay awake a little longer than usual, but there’s no better feeling knowing you’ve made $500 in 10 minutes.

2. Flipping Websites

I always mention Flippa.com and Empire Flippers to digital nomads, only to be met by dazed looks. It surprises me how few people know about these website brokers. If you’re contemplating the digital nomad lifestyle, these brokerage sites will go a long way in helping you. What they do is pretty much list websites for sales. Some of these sites are established, some of them are new. All of them need to be sold. Some of them are scams, some of them are awesome. You’ll have to do your due diligence when researching what’s for sale.

You certainly don’t want to blow all the money you’ve saved to live the digital nomad lifestyle on a bad investment.

The beauty of these brokerage sites is that you can buy websites that are already making money. You will have an immediate source of income, which you can then improve on.  Better yet, once you do improve it significantly, you can turn around and sell the site yourself! Easy way to make a chunk of change, once you know what you’re doing.

3. Duplicating Websites

Do you ever wonder how some unshaven guy in a tank top and flips flops makes $10,000 a month or more as a digital nomad? Well, that guy got real smart. I’ve met quite a few of them. These guys go to brokerage websites, like the ones I described above, and harvest great ideas. What you’ll see on these sites will blow your mind.

Monthly commission statement from an online affiliate business on Clickbank.
After purchasing a website that works on auto-pilot, I went ahead and duplicated it several times. Obviously we’re only a third way in December, so these are MTD numbers for that site. The income you see here is with roughly 1 hour of work in a month. I pay roughly $100 to outsource the work.

Even if the longevity of some of these sites are short-lived, if they can churn out a thousand dollars each a month, and they build ten of them, well guess what? They’ll be making a lot money every month! Go to website brokerages and get ideas to replicate.

Don’t feel bad about making an exact duplicate of a website; this is business.

It happens every day.

Coke–Pepsi. Apple–Samsung. It’s everywhere. Chances are, most competitors would replicate your website if they could. I’ve often found websites, bought them, and duplicated them over and over again. The secret to making money by buying websites is to make sure you buy sites that can be duplicated and that require very little maintenance.

4. Copywriting

As opposed to regular content and article writing, copywriters are in a distinct class of their own. As a result of their high earnings, they rarely share how much they make.

Call it trying to keep the competition at bay.

That said, digital nomads can make a killing by working as copywriters.

What’s required? For starters, a professional author or writer website. Mine is an author site geared toward literary agents, so a copywriter’s would be one geared toward clients. This really sets the typical writer apart from the mass. A great website with client testimonials will go a long way in helping you land awesome clients. Whereas article writers will only pull in $5-$20 per article, copywriters can make twice that, or more. But how does one get started as a copywriter? This leads us to…

5. Upwork

Upwork is a great platform for anyone looking to kickstart their freelancing career. Before I begin, make sure you always accept work through Upwork and get paid through Upwork. MANY beginners get a client or two, who then re-hire them on the side. NO. Be sure your client always initiates your new jobs ON UPWORK, and leaves reviews ON UPWORK.

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Do not, do not, do not take any side work. The point of Upwork is to build your credentials, all the while helping you find new clients. What’s the point of taking jobs on the side and never seeing the 5-star feedback on Upwork? How do you expect new clients to know how great you are?

When you get started, you’ll more than likely have to accept menial jobs. Take them. At first, you need to get some ratings. Once you get a lot of five star ratings, your outlook will change considerably. I used to hire a copywriter from Upwork to write content or do copywriting for our bank. Can you guess what her income was from Upwork? Nearly half a million dollars a year. True, she didn’t do all the work herself, and I’m sure she outsourced some of it. So, okay. I’ll be conservative.

She personally made $100,000 last year as a freelance writer.

She has tons of 5 star reviews and if you’re looking for her profile, head on over to elance.com (now part of Upwork) and search for Words You Want.

elance profile of a successful freelance copywriter. It shows she made nearly half a million dollars in one year.
Talking about living the digital nomad lifestyle, this freelancer has been topnotch to work with since day 1. A year later, her company’s made almost half a million dollars.

Let her profile serve as inspiration to all those who think writing can’t be lucrative. I used to hire her for dirt cheap; unfortunately not anymore. As long as you treat yourself as a serious business, create a professional website, and market yourself properly, the success will come. Oh, and your first month or two will be low-paying work done to get these five star reviews.

6. Social Media Strategist

This is a very lucrative area, but the problem many face that are currently working as social media managers and strategists is they just don’t build credentials. I’ve asked numerous folk if I could look at their websites, and they just handed me a business card with a Facebook page.

Would you give $5,000 to someone pitching you social media services and who doesn’t bother spending a few hours setting up a web presence?

Come on!

You can make a killing in this domain, but the more professional your presence is–just like a copywriter–the more apt you are at succeeding. Don’t forget to include those all-important testimonials on your website, as well as the results which you have delivered. In the hazy domain of social media marketing, where it’s easy to over-promise and under-deliver, nothing speaks better about you than great testimonials and actual result screenshots.

7. Comparison Websites

You want to make money fast while living the digital nomad lifestyle? Forget travel blogging for money. Forget lifestyle blogging. Actually, forget any other kind of blogging. I’m sure you can make some decent money from these, but comparison websites rock. I bought one and it churns out nice earnings without me having to do anything. Product comparison sites are simple to create and highly time-effective. I would stick to topics you care about; don’t create another web-hosting comparison website, unless you really know your stuff.

An example of what a product comparison website looks like; in this case a web-hosting comparison site.
Comparison websites are a great example of a business that can be set on auto-pilot. The work required can easily be outsourced.






Product comparison sites allow you to place affiliate links, which is how you monetize them. Work required to run a website like this? Virtually none–just hire a writer to post a couple of high quality articles/guides every month. This is what living the digital nomad dream is all about. Someone else does the work, and you get paid! 😀 There is nothing like a solid review or comparison website to earn you good money, and there are TONS of products out there to review.

And #7.5: Udemy Courses

I’m not going to speak much about this one and instead I’ll point you to an awesome course by Allun Hill that will talk in-depth about how much you can make as a Udemy instructor. Better yet, you only need a mobile device to record your course. I know someone who recorded a simple course on English slang words using his iPhone. Guess what? He’s making a couple hundred dollars a month for an hour long course. He doesn’t promote it, he doesn’t market it. And that’s just one course. Imagine if he actually recorded many more… or took some time to promote it.

Check out Alun Hill’s course. It will motivate you. Everyone has something to teach, so don’t underestimate your skills or experience. You could teach people anything from language instruction to “How to Choose the Right Hostel”. Udemy courses are a great way to complement your revenue streams.

And what I find most important is to diversify your revenue streams as a digital nomad.

I remember always checking my traffic rankings when I solely travel blogged. Now? I barely have to time to check them. I’m too busy diversifying streams of income between Google, Amazon, websites, blogs, and e-stores. That’s most definitely what I recommend you do too. Diversify early on, and diversify quickly.

Living the digital nomad lifestyle can go one of two ways; easy, or hard. 

You can make it easy on yourself, or hard. True, you’ll need to put in the hours at first before you can live that 4-hour work week. You’ll need to put in the 60-hour weeks at first, and then you’ll have all the 4-hour work weeks you want. The ways to make money above are tried and tested, I either know people who’ve done them, or I’ve done them myself.

Lastly, there are always considerations to take into account when living the digital nomad lifestyle.

You obviously want to enjoy what you do.

You don’t want to work your way into the ground.

So whenever you look at ideas, here are some questions I recommend you ask yourself:

  • How much time will this specific project or website require?
  • What is the cost and the return?
  • Can the concept be replicated?
  • Can the concept be improved and re-sold?
  • What is the margin per sale?

For one, I try not to get involved with projects that require too much time. I also hesitate getting into something that can’t be replicated. Remember the comparison sites? That’s pretty easy to replicate. But a blog? A lot harder. The latter has to constantly be updated with content, promoted on social media, etc. And if I’m dropshipping and want to make a lot of money quickly, I prefer selling items that go for $1,000 or more.

Why?

Because answering a quick call and netting $200-400 in one shot is a lot easier than going back and forth with someone and only earning a $30 commission.

A final word about dropshipping and competition.

An important thing to consider is that the marketplace for easy stuff to sell is getting super-saturated. On the other hand, not many digital nomads go for more expensive products (ie. $1,000-$5,000). Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is. Call it being shy, not being a salesman, or whatever. Expensive products have a high barrier to entry simply because you are required to talk to a very different caliber of customer.

So if you’re considering drop-shipping, I highly recommend targeting expensive items and getting a great cell phone plan. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online opportunities. I do suggest you move to a city with a digital nomad presence, where you’ll find an abundance of peers from which you can seek help and support.

And remember, you’ll have your ups, you’ll have your downs. We all do.

That’s when your discipline will kick in and keep pushing you on.

And soon, you’ll find out, things do get much easier.

A few resources you may be interested in:

What have been your greatest challenges while living the digital nomad lifestyle? What appeals to you most about working remotely?

 
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10 comments on “Digital Nomad Lifestyle: How To Make $100,000 in One Year

  1. Great tips
    I travel a lot and I tried all kinds of ways to make money online
    What works best for me is Koocam.
    Can do it from anywhere
    I teach my hobbies, and sells, my knowledge in any field that I’m good at
    It’s great

  2. I took the plunge and setup a review website with review articles and supporting blog posts. I did the Drop Ship Lifestyle course this week and I’ll start another site soon for drop shipping.

    The only thing with these types of sites is the SEO, I’m getting Google search hits and had 1 sale in the first 3 weeks. I’m starting a web 2.0 project now for back links and hopefully flip the site after 2 months of launching.
    Graham Franklin recently posted…Travel pillow reviews, the best travel pillows for airplanes.My Profile

    1. Hey Graham, that’s awesome! Sometimes web 2.0 sites scare me, I just don’t know how Google will rank them in the near future. I just use Adwords and SEO all images of the products, especially. Many people search for images and many retailers don’t SEO images at all–they just upload them and that’s that.

  3. very impressed with this article. I, myself, prefer the idea of a “portfolio” career and doing lots of different jobs and having more income streams, not so much for the security but more for the fun of it; stuff like Udemy and being a film and TV extra, as well as copywriting. In comparison to all the other digital nomad articles out there I’m impressed with this one because 1) it doesn’t mention starting a blog (yawn and not much ROI for most people) and 2) you’re not selling a course and the ideas are great. I’m not yet a freeleancer but looking for an “analogue” (opposite of digital lol?) job to pay the bills and do freelancing on the side and then turn it into a full-time thing before my summer job in Italy 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment! You’re right, to each their own, everyone has a little something that works best for them. As for the blogging side of things, I just feel it’s a very long term thing. Unless your blog takes off into the stratosphere from the start, the climb to the top takes a long time, and you’ll likely make very little money from it. On the other hand, blogs are great for exposure–it’s just that there are SO many right now, the entire marketplace is highly saturated and you’ll really need a unique slant to stand out. Good luck in Italy!

  4. Hi Rashad
    Thanks for your reply. I’ve got an Amazon affiliate account and a Clickbank account. I like the ideas of duplicating a website and the review/comparison website. I’m currently doing freelance writing, but I’m not a quick writer and I think my skills are more suited to creating websites, plus social media to drive traffic and spark interest.

    A basic website with 4 pages and rank for keywords which the site is about? How long do you think it will take to pull in $2000 per month from one of these sites? I want to have a website that makes some money and carry on writing too.

    1. Graham, these are so easy to start I’d recommend you just do it yourself, and keep it very simple. You can Google “best -product type- 2015” and see what the reviews look like, and how many there are. If you don’t already have an Amazon affiliate account, you can create one in 5 minutes. Make sure all product names are links. Then head on over to Amazon and use their rankings to create the top 10 list. No need to do any other research, Amazon’s done your job for you. Your comparison site should have a nice landing page with all the rankings listed there. Menu tabs would be “Home, “Reviews”, “Guides”, and an “About”. Don’t forget to include Amazon’s affiliate disclaimer (that you are basically an Amazon affiliate).

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