12 Digital Nomad Business Models You Can Start For Less Than $1,000
What does “living the dream” mean to you?
If you’re like so many other digital nomads, or people wanting to become nomads while running their own business, it means being able to operate and service your clients and customers from anywhere in the world.
Having the freedom to move around as you see fit, and still continue growing your business is critical if you’re going to live a truly nomadic lifestyle.
The problems most people face is figuring out which type of business they want to run, while staying within a budget they’ve set for themselves, and making sure they overcome the problems associated with each type of business to keep their learning curve as small as possible.
When it comes to starting a business online, your imagination really is the limit, which is where a lot of people tend to get stuck.
To help you work through the process, here are 12 different business models that are perfectly suited to becoming a digital nomad, traveling the world, living life on your terms, and chasing your dreams.
Maybe one suits your personality and business style, or maybe they’ll help get the creative juices flowing so you can start cutting your own path through building an online based business.
#1 – Information Product Creation
One of the easiest businesses to start for digital nomads is an information product business. If you have expertise and can share that information with other people, many of those people are likely to be willing to pay you for your expertise.
The two most common types of information product businesses revolve around creating an eBook that people can buy and download, or creating a series of training videos that people can purchase, log in, and then view them at their own leisure.
For the most part, this is one of the easiest businesses to start up because there are relatively minimal costs, compared to some other business models on this list.
The only costs involved are the time you’ll spend researching problems that your prospective customers are having, and then creating the eBook or video series that solves those problems.
That means it’s easy to test different markets to determine which problems you can solve, and which problems people are willing to pay for a solution to.
Creating your own products is fairly straightforward and you don’t even have to have your own website to get started.
You can host the eBook on a platform like JVZoo or ClickBank, and start driving traffic to it. Then, when you hit a winner, you can recruit affiliates to continue promoting the products for you.
Many millionaires have been made through creating information products, and many more are going to be made using this business model in the years to come.
#2 – Affiliate Marketing / Blogging
Affiliate marketing means you’re going to build a business around promoting other people’s products and services, usually information products created by people using the first business model I laid out for you.
There are two different ways you can build an affiliate marketing business.
The first, and most expensive, is to build an email list using paid advertising, like Google’s Adwords program, Facebook Ads, ads on YouTube, or other platforms.
The second, and least expensive way to get started marketing other people’s products is to start blogging.
A blog is the perfect channel for bringing in targeted visitors that are going to be interested in solving problems that information product creators have developed eBooks, software, and video courses for.
Blogging is also one of the most cost effective ways to get started building an affiliate marketing business. There are minimal startup costs, keeping it well below the $1,000 budget.
Building a successful blog is one of the most time intensive businesses you can start though, with most blogs taking between 3 and 6 months to start seeing real traffic and income. You’ll need to keep this in mind if you’re choosing to use blogging as the avenue to your nomadic lifestyle.
The ultimate goal of your blog is going to be based around building up your email list to a healthy number of subscribers, and then promoting other people’s products while collecting a commission for each sale that you recommend.
Many people have started a blogging business and generated more than $10,000 per month within their first 12 to 24 months, making this perfect for beginners testing the online business waters, while keeping their costs low at the same time.
If you feel like the technical aspects of building a blog are beyond your reach, there are affordable done-for-you website services that can handle the job, so all you have to do is create fresh content on a regular basis.
#3 – Copywriting
Do you have writing chops? Have you ever been in sales, or do you have innate persuasive abilities that can help you sell other people’s products?
If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, you may be able to build a successful copywriting business.
There are three types of copywriters, so even if you don’t necessarily have the persuasive arts built into your psyche, you can still make a very healthy living writing copy for other entrepreneurs and digital business owners.
The first type of copy is sales and advertising based, where you’re writing the persuasive text that gets people to purchase products and click on advertisements — mainly ads, sales pages, email marketing messages, etc.
The second type of copy is related to blog content that gets people’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. If you have specific areas of expertise, you can reach out to bloggers in the industries you’re knowledgeable of, and pitch them your writing abilities.
The third, and final type of copy is more technical. Businesses around the world pay for your technical experience, if you’re able to help them with the whitepapers, instruction manuals, and other technical information that they do not want to (or can’t) write for themselves.
When you’re just getting started, you may have to work for lower rates to get your name into the world, but once you get some experience under your belt, you can easily begin increasing your rates.
Copywriting businesses are primarily grown by word of mouth referrals, so you always want to put your best foot forward and deliver the best writing you possibly can.
You’ll also need to make sure you have a thick skin and can take constructive criticism so you can continue growing your writing skills, which will allow you to charge even more down the road.
#4 – Accounting
Do you have a knack for managing numbers, understand the different tax codes around the world, and have a passion for helping entrepreneurs understand their finances?
If so, you can offer your accounting skills to other entrepreneurs, and most will gladly pay you to manage their finances so they can focus on doing what they do best — growing their own business.
Most times, you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with popular accounting software, like Quickbooks, Mint, or Freshbooks, so that you can help maintain the books for the companies that you’re working for without needing to be trained.
You’ll likely be paid to balance the books at the end of each month, with your client sending you their revenue and expense reports, and you giving them back a report that shows their progress, or lack of progress for the month.
When you’re thinking about starting an online based accounting business, you’ll typically want to work with one type of business owner, or industry, so that you can become familiar with their operating procedures and the common expenses that they incur.
You’ll also want to focus on one specific country, so you can become proficient in their tax laws and make sure that you’re doing your part to save the client money on taxes while also keeping them safe from government audits that could cost them even more money.
Starting an account business means you’ll be taking on a lot of responsibility, but with higher responsibility comes higher paychecks, and that’s something all digital nomads love.
The clients that you bring on as an accountant also tend to become your clients for life, as long as you do a good job. This is one of the few businesses that allow you to retain your clients and continue growing each month, without worrying about where your next client is coming from.
#5 – Graphic Design
Another business model that suits itself perfectly to moving yourself around the world while still bringing on new clients and fulfilling the work with just a laptop and a mouse is graphic design.
Every website online, digital entrepreneur, and business owner that runs advertising needs a graphic designer, and most of them understand that good graphic designers charge premium pricing.
Most business owners that have hired a graphic designer before usually start on the lower end of the spectrum, hoping to get a deal.
While some of them can find the deal they’re looking for, a majority of them are going to be less than impressed, and start realizing that you really do get what you pay for when it comes to hiring a graphic designer.
For your business, that means you can charge higher rates if you’re able to listen specifically to what the client is looking to achieve, offer up multiple designs for them to choose from, and stick to the deadlines that you and the business owner have agreed upon.
That is really all you have to do, besides having decent graphic design skills, to build a successful business creating graphics for other business owners.
Getting started may require you to build a profile one some of the freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, but it’s recommended that you get your portfolio built at lower rates, and then start seeking out work by emailing business owners and staying active in groups that cater to online entrepreneurs.
Graphic design businesses, like copywriting and accounting businesses, usually generate repeat work from the same clients, and those clients will give your name out to their colleagues, so once you have the first few in your portfolio, you won’t have to work nearly as hard to continue growing your business.
#6 – Website Design
If you have an eye for design, and an understanding of how websites come together, you can easily build a web design business that lets you work with clients all over the world, while fulfilling their orders from wherever in the world you’re located.
In 2017, starting a web design business is a pretty simple affair, as long as you understand WordPress as a content management system, can install and manage plugins, and can take constructive (sometimes destructive) criticism from your clients.
Since web design is a time-intensive process, business owners are willing to pay premium prices for a high quality design and your commitment to quality customer service.
Sadly, one of the biggest areas that most web design business owners fail to address is the customer service department. They typically underprice their design jobs, so they leave little to no room for them to put in the hours actually maintaining a relationship with the client.
Web design jobs don’t usually come together on the first draft, so you’re going to need to expect to revisit the design multiple times before the client is happy.
That means you’ll need to charge what the job is worth, and sell the clients on why your prices are so much more expensive than a $500 design job they can get off of a listing site like Craigslist, Fiverr, or Upwork.
If you can get the business owner to see their website as an investment into their business, and sell them on the customer service experience that they get with you (along with your portfolio of previously built websites), you can charge substantially more than the competition and have clients coming to you on a regular basis.
#7 – Coaching & Consulting
Similar to building a business around information products that you’ve created, another excellent business model for digital nomads is the coaching and consulting industry.
If you’re able to connect with people online in an industry that you’re knowledgeable about, and provide them with expertise and experience that they wouldn’t normally get on their own, you can charge premium prices for your time and stay in contact with them no matter where you’re at in the world.
This business model also flows perfectly into creating your own information products, because you’ll be working with clients that lay all of their problems on the table for you to solve.
When you begin noticing consistent problems that people are having, you can develop an informational product that solves the problem for them, or helps them learn how to solve it themselves, and then charge a lower price than what it would cost them for an hour of your time.
You have to have experience and expertise that isn’t readily available, though, in order to build a successful coaching or consulting business.
Most times, people are relying on you to come through for them, and solve a major problem that they’re having, so in order to make the sale you’re going to have to build trust and assure them that you know what you’re talking about and can deliver on your promises.
If you do deliver on what you’ve promised, your clients are likely to refer you to their colleagues, so your business can continue growing organically.
#8 – Local Marketing
If there’s one thing that local small businesses need, it’s more customers. And if you have the skills needed to help them find those customers, you can make a very healthy living while living anywhere in the world that you want to.
Like running an accounting business online, specializing in local marketing means that you’re going to want to focus on a specific industry that you can deliver qualified customers to, so that you understand exactly what the businesses do, and how to generate fresh new customers on a regular basis.
As you begin growing your business, you can start branching out into other industries, using your past successes to help you quickly grow, but when you’re just getting started you will want to niche down and specialize.
Marketing for local small businesses is fairly lucrative because most of the work is performed up front, and the workload tends to dwindle down as the client stays on board and continues paying you for results each month.
When you bring on a new client, you can expect to spend a decent amount of time working with them, figuring out who their customers are, how to find them online, and how to bring them into the business.
Once your relationship grows and the campaign is built, you’ll spend much less time managing it, making sure it’s still performing, while collecting the same paycheck.
This is one of the few businesses on this list that will grow exponentially as you spend more time developing your client base, and providing those clients with the results that they’re looking for.
#9 – Social Media Management
Similar to local marketing businesses, becoming a social media manager is a great way to exponentially grow your client base (and your income) as you spend more time building your business.
Social media managers are exactly as the name implies — you manage your client’s social media properties, grow them, interact with clients, and develop strategies that help those businesses turn their followers into paying customers.
If you find yourself spending ample amounts of time on social media platforms, have a knack for getting people to like and share the content you produce, and have a passion for helping business owners grow their own business, you can build a profitable social media management company.
Building a successful social media management business will require you to stay up to date with the latest best practices and algorithm changes that most major social media platforms implement on a regular basis, so your learning curve will be continuous.
However, once you have a few clients signed up to pay you for the service you’re providing, and have provided successful results, they will refer you to other colleagues so you won’t have to work nearly as hard to bring on new clients.
Clients that you’ve provided successful results to will continue using your services, making your relationship with them rock solid so you also don’t have to worry about replacing them, like you do with some one-off service businesses like web design.
Most social media management contracts require minimal work, and work that can be automated, so this is also a business that scales really, really well.
You can bring on multiple clients, and once the campaigns are up and running, you will spend less time managing them and more time monitoring them to ensure they’re performing like you’ve intended them to.
#10 – Virtual Assisting
If you’re not a writer, graphic or web designer, accountant, or marketer, you can still help other business owners and build yourself a healthy income at the same time.
Most business owners are too busy for their own good, and have problems scheduling everything into their day, staying on schedule, and handling menial tasks that don’t directly produce an income for them.
That’s where you come in, as a virtual assistant. Much like an assistant at a local brick and mortar office, your job as a virtual assistant is to help the entrepreneurs handle smaller tasks on a day to day basis, so that they can focus on the big picture stuff — like growing their business.
Some days you may be managing spreadsheets, other days you’ll be handling customer support requests, and then some days you could be making sure that projects are staying on track, bringing on new help, and helping the entrepreneurs stay focused.
As a virtual assistant, you’re going to be primarily working with online-based entrepreneurs, which means you can do the work from anywhere in the world, and work with some amazing people at the same time.
However, becoming a virtual assistant usually means you’re going to have to work a set schedule of hours. That’s something you’ll need to think about, because it typically means that you’ll only be able to work with one or two clients at a time without being forced to work 60 to 80 hours per week.
#11 – Fitness Coaching
Do you take pride in your healthy lifestyle? Are you constantly giving your friends dieting advice, or trying to get them to join you in the gym? If you are, a fitness coaching business could be very lucrative for you.
This is a combination of a few different business models on this list, but I’ve included it because there are countless fitness professionals that have taken to the internet to grow their coaching business, with amazing results.
The approach you take is determined by how involved you want to be in the business.
You can start by blogging so that you’re able to grow your list of subscribers, followers, and regular blog readers that will later become your customers.
Then, when you’ve dialed in the specific problems that they’re having, and figured out exactly who you want to help achieve their fitness goals, you can begin creating informational products and offering one-on-one coaching and motivation.
As your list of customers begins to grow, you can offer video courses and group coaching sessions so that you’re able to bring on more customers without having to spend more of your time providing great service to them.
Once you have your information products and video coaching packages built, you can begin recruiting affiliate marketers to help you promote them, so that your income grows without you being required to do all of the heavy lifting.
If you’re a fitness professional, building a business around your passion is a great way to travel the world, and teach your students, clients, and customers how to stay focused on their fitness goals while giving them amazing backdrops at the same time.
#12 – Dropshipping / eCommerce
Another amazing business model that nomads are figuring out how to make work for them is the dropshipping and eCommerce models.
Traditionally, you would be required to have warehouse or storage space to store the physical products that you were purchasing, but with today’s eCommerce platforms that are available, you can run an eCommerce store from anywhere in the world.
Dropshipping makes this model easy because you don’t actually have to house the products you’re selling. Instead, you’ll work with other eCommerce companies to sell their products at your own prices, and under your own brand name sometimes.
eCommerce, on the other hand, does require you to purchase your own products, which makes the process slightly more difficult.
Building an eCommerce business is one of the few models on this list that will push your $1,000 budget, but can also help you earn the most money and develop a business that is easy to be sold down the line.
With programs like Fulfillment by Amazon, you can purchase the products from your manufacturer, and then have an inspection company go over them to ensure quality control standards are being met, before having the product shipped to Amazon’s warehouses.
Then, once Amazon receives the product, you can begin selling to their customers, on your own website, and other eCommerce platforms.
That means that the Fulfillment by Amazon program allows you to build an eCommerce business even while you’re traveling around the world, without actually having to touch the physical products yourself.
There is slightly more work involved in building an eCommerce based business, but the financial reward is the greatest out of all of the 12 business models I’ve laid out for you today.
There are also services available that can help you build your website and build profitable FBA eCommerce businesses that help take care of a majority of the workload, so you don’t have to deal with it.
Are the ideas flowing yet?
There are countless different business models you can choose to follow if you’re wanting to live the nomadic lifestyle, while still securing your financial future.
Hopefully the 12 models we’ve just given you will either give you a starting point to build one of those businesses, or get the creative juices flowing so that you can wrap your head around a business model that’s perfect for you.
Author Bio: Andrew James is a successful online entrepreneur who has launched multiple websites and now helps other entrepreneurs develop a full-time online income via BrandBuilders.io.
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