A Digital Nomad is someone who “works online from anywhere in the world, living in different countries for varying amounts of time.” Sound familiar? That’s the independence offered by working in the gig economy! Successful freelancers in the gig economy must be able to combine work and play – breaking away from the traditional workforce requires organization. As Mike Thatcher from JobRack explains in this week’s guest post, Digital Nomads have to strike a balance between hands-on work, and work that can be automated to free time for living life. Mike gathered several Digital Nomads to ask how they keep their online businesses successful while traveling. JobRack is the first specialised remote work job board for freelancers from Eastern Europe.
7 Digital Nomads Reveal Secrets To Their Online Business Success
We are sure you’ve heard a lot about digital nomadism, and there is a good reason for it. From Pieter Levels and Mark Manson to digital nomads that have taken off more recently, people all around the world recognize benefits of working + traveling.
As much as 38% of all remote workers say they feel more productive outside the office space. This is, to some extent, reasonable. You are not bothered with strict working hours, lunch breaks when you can’t eat, long hours, etc. But, struggles that kick in in a digital nomad business life are of a completely different nature.
Not being able to sleep due to 773 unread emails knocking on your door, unstable Internet connection, not knowing where your coworkers are if they just decide to not show up online, travel, lost and late flights, and the inevitable feeling of losing the race against time, to mention some.
So, the question is: how do you achieve more and spend less time working? How do you concentrate on the business if your business day floats between emails, messages, responding people and keeping it all in one place?
In order to work smarter and get more things done, automating certain tasks to the point where human input is unnecessary can be highly beneficial. However, not all of the business processes can be automated, and not all of them should. Some processes are best handled by humans.
How do you decide which process to automate (if any)?
We decided to move this question closer to home and talk to digital nomad entrepreneurs who provided these brilliant tips. Here’s how they handle their business on the go:
I make sure, first and foremost, to ensure I’m automating the right things. It’s possible to go overboard systematizing everything, resulting in superfluous clutter and noise rather than a clear message you want to send to the world. Taking a step back and considering what’s best left hands-on, and what can be safely and ideally automated, makes it far more likely that the tools you use create value, rather than simply seeming to.
The first thing I do is plan. Sounds decidedly ‘low tech’ but if I don’t know exactly what my editorial calendar, newsletter, and social media needs to be, then I’m sunk before I begin. From there, it’s all about using the right tools. WordPress to pre-schedule my posts, MailChimp to get those newsletter automations fired up, and then a combo of stuff for social media. I have a bunch of IFTTT recipes and Zapier zaps that help get my social media filled with great content from my own site and others.
Liz Froment (LocationRebel)
My number one automation tool is my email assistant. Email takes so much time of an entrepreneur’s day that it really is a job of its own. I hired someone who now has full access to my email. Gmail’s AI is good and all in determining which emails are worth responding to. But an actual person with a brain can’t be beat. My assistant handles emails that I’ve responded to in the past. He has my entire email history to search for the right response. When I log in, all that is left are personal ones and VIP business emails.
Maneesh Sethi (Pavlok)
Automating social media when I am traveling is very important for my sanity! I plan my posts in advance and use tools such as Tailwind, Hootsuite and MassPlanner to automate everything as much as possible. Then all I need to do is reply to responses.
Sharon Gourlay (DigitalNomadWannaBe)
With online based businesses, I try to automate my process as much as possible. That being said, no business is ever a “set and forget” situation. It’s always improving upon what you’ve done. I also think a team goes beyond just helping automate the process, it’s pulling from everyone’s strengths and finding complimentary skill sets to get what needs to get done at the best possible level. As a digital nomad, business doesn’t end on the road, it always continues no matter where you are in the world. With so many great online tools it’s easy to stay connected and keep momentum going.
Kate Smith (wiflynomads)
I think first of all you need to be very organized, and properly plan out your daily tasks and of course that of your team. Being on the road and a ‘digital nomad’ gives you a lot of freedom but that doesn’t mean you can get away with a complete lack of routine if you want to run a business.
In Jobrack we use Asana and I’m very strict of how people use it so it doesn’t turn into a mess. We have setup different boards for different departments. We mostly use a Kanban approach to handle tasks with preset flows. In my other company FlechaMobile.com we use TeamWork with a more scrum based approach.
Furthermore, I think it’s super important to empower your team. I believe trust and giving people responsibility are the most important factors. Using a good Intranet software where everybody can find all SOP’s, find information about co-workers (like working hours, specialties for help etc.) get answers to operational question and more. In fact I think a good intranet is so important that we’ve been building one for ourselves for the last 6 months. When it’s all done we’ll probably share it with our JobRack clients as well.
Steven Van Der Peijl (CTO JobRack.eu and Long time Digital Nomad)
As a content marketer by trade, I’ve learned over time that my best strengths lie in building relationships & distributing content for both my own site and my clients. I love writing my own content, but the reality is that it’s too time consuming for me to write everything and do the best possible job of distributing it & getting real results for my clients.
To help unlock more of my time for doing what I do best, distributing content, I’ve built a team of contractors who take my post outlines and write first drafts for me (the most time-consuming part). From there, I’m able to decrease my time investment on what used to slow me down the most, so that I can focus more of my energy on the highest impact results for my business. My advice is to double down on your highest return efforts (what you do best) and create systems to automate or outsource the rest.
Ryan Robinson (RyRob)
Handling an online business on the go can be extremely demanding. Do not be tricked into the luxurious life of a digital nomad. It will demand from you: organization, dedication, careful planning and focus.
Put emphasis on what you are good at when it comes to your business (although it may seem that you can and should handle it all) and outsource the rest to people you trust. This may not be as easy as people think.
“My business is built on relationships, not tactics or systems—those things will always change, but people will be around forever.” Chris Guillebeau.
We all have our way of doing things, but Mike reminds us that some things are universal: automate processes that won’t suffer from a lack of human input, and seek out great people to work with. JobRack’s pool of talented people is designed to be a resource for finding help with tasks and advancing your business.
We’d like to thank Mike for sharing his insights and secrets of the Digital Nomads among us!