The internet is undoubtedly the most powerful tool at our disposal. We’re given an immense amount of power by virtue of the knowledge, connectivity and influence the internet provides, and its immense and unlimited capacity means there’s always room for more.
This is why the digital realm provides the perfect springboard for any entrepreneur looking to make some noise. Yes, there’s the risk of being swallowed up; but the internet is everybody’s game and is seriously democratising business. Anyone can set up a website in minutes and start selling an idea, a product or a service with minimal overheads; and with the right marketing your bright idea could quickly turn into an empire.
So how do you make sure you’re met with success rather than disappointment when starting life as a digital nomad? As an entrepreneur with two successful web-based enterprises – Travideo and TheMostPerfectView.com – Paulo Palha gives her top tips for making a living online.
A key thing for anyone looking to make money online is flexibility. The hours you’ll need to work to get things up and running might be unconventional – particularly if targeting an international audience. A key thing here is to know your time zones, so that you’re contacting clients or customers overseas at an hour that suits them, and aren’t sending urgent emails in the middle of the night.
“If you are at home, ensure family or housemates understand that you’re working and need to focus”
Flexibility is also needed when it comes to the business idea itself. You might start working on your project and then realise it isn’t quite right and that something needs changing or refining – be it the branding or the concept itself. It’s important to be pragmatic about your online business, and to avoid getting too emotionally attached to your initial idea. In order to make a living online you’ll have to flex the way you work to fit the rapidly changing demands of clients and consumers; as well as new tech, algorithms and trends which will impact how you operate on the internet.
While maintaining a degree of flexibility, it’s still important to establish routines that suit your habits and keep you in check in order to be productive.
You’re the master of your time, so may end up falling into the trap of doing things whenever you feel like it. I’d suggest identifying the times when your creativity and productivity is at its peak, and adjust your schedule accordingly so that you avoid accidental laziness.
You should also seek out working environments which allow you to focus, particularly when you’re at home and need to distance yourself from distractions. Changing up locations is something I encourage, as it will boost creativity and help ideas flow.
If you are at home, ensure family or housemates understand that you’re working and need to focus, even if you’re on the sofa with a hot chocolate and your laptop on your knees. It’s easy for others to assume that you’re available because you’re around, so manage that situation carefully to avoid constant distractions.
Patience is a virtue, particularly when launching a business. Things like creating a brand, a voice, a logo, an aesthetic, social media accounts and a proper plan take time; especially when your website is your business’ central pillar. The flexibility of an online business is unmatched in any other area, but it means your digital footprint needs to be perfect.
It’s also important to time your launch carefully so that you arrive when people need you most. Consider what’s going on in your industry, what’s going on economically and politically, and the potential seasonality of your offering. Work out when the optimum time of year for launch would be, and wait patiently.
Crucially though, don’t confuse patience with being idle! If you’re waiting for certain things to be completed, there’s always something else you can do that may prove useful down the line.
Innovation is key online because, as I mentioned before, there’s always the risk of being swallowed up by the countless other platforms being set up daily. Even when we were making the Beta version of Travideo, I knew what extra features I wanted the site to have three or four iterations down the line. It’s all about planning ahead and putting frameworks in place so that your business can develop quickly.
Even in the early stages, start thinking about the ways you might be able to expand and diversify what you’re doing online in the next six months, 12 months and five years. Where do you want your digital business to end up? Brainstorm and be as innovative as possible – because the internet moves fast and you want to stay ahead of the curve.
The best thing about a digital enterprise is that it’s easy to track and monetise. You can see why and how people are finding you, how much time they’re spending on your page, and where they’re clicking, as well as countless other invaluable insights. Analytics are immensely powerful, so use them to make money from your site.
“It can be a great idea to make use of a co-working space, or collaborate with people with relevant skills”
Ads, affiliate links, sponsored content – there are lots of ways in which to monetise your business aside from just selling a product or service. This is, of course, essential if you’re going to make a living as a digital nomad, so research your options and work hard to optimise your site for monetisation and conversions.
Being a digital nomad allows you to work flexibly from wherever you want in the world – a serious privilege that lots of people can only dream of.
It can get lonely though – particularly if you’re a team of one, working from home with only your phone and laptop for company. This is why it can be a great idea to make use of a co-working space, or collaborate with people with relevant skills; be it a graphic designer, marketer, coder or just a friend.
Collaborating and communicating with other digital nomads will benefit your business, because they get the game and will keep you stimulated. It’s also great to have people who are slightly removed from your enterprise who can offer honest feedback. The internet is a big place and it can get lonely, so don’t be afraid to ask for help as you start your digital career.