Who needs the 9-5 grind and struggling to pay rent in an expensive place like San Francisco or New York? These days, you can easily quit your day job, travel the world and work anywhere, since your office can be wherever you open your laptop. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the remote workforce has grown by 159% since 2005, and remote workers will make up as much as 50% of the entire workforce by 2020. The statistics also show another exciting trend for digital nomads: Remote work gives women, especially female entrepreneurs, an edge and is helping close the wage gap. And here’s the best part: By earning U.S. dollars as a digital nomad and staying in countries that are much cheaper than at home, you can live very well.
We poured through a number of resources to sleuth out some creative ways that digital nomads have found to make money while traveling the world, from the website International Living—which just issued a new report detailing creative methods expats are making money abroad—to FlexJobs, which recently published a story on the best fields to earn money remotely. The lesson? It’s time to rip up the old rules and try something new. Read on for some exciting ways to work online from wherever you choose and live the dream travel life.
1. Set Up an Online Course
Do you have a skill that you want to share? International Living suggests setting up an online course with written tutorials, PDF downloads and videos. For instance, Rebecca Groskruetz used her talent for furniture painting to create a site where members can go at their own pace. When she soft-launched the business in 2016, she sold 33 programs at $127 each. After doing a bigger launch later that year, she sold 216 programs at $149 each. Her total sales the first year: $36,375. Some online resources for teaching courses include TakeLessons, Udemy and Skillshare.
Another way to take advantage of your skills: Become an online tutor. The website Cambly helps you get paid to chat with people from around the world. While you’re doing the tutoring, the site automatically tracks the time you spend, paying $10.20 an hour. While that might not sound like a lot, consider the fact that you can set your own hours, work as little or as much as you want—and if you’re living abroad, $10.20 an hour can go a long way.
3. Become a Travel Agent
Do you love to share advice on travel? Put your expertise to work and become a travel advisor. You can sign up for courses through a place like The Travel Institute. Or you can pay fee to a company like Cruise Planners, which recruits and trains advisors to work remotely not only in planning cruises but in all kinds of travel—on land and at sea. The company was started in 1994 by a woman named Michelle Fee, who didn’t take a paycheck for the first three years so that she could invest back into the business. Now in its 25th year, Cruise Planners is the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise with more than 2,500 franchisees.
4. Be a Juror
Here’s a case where you won’t dread jury duty. The site eJury has revolutionized the way that lawyers prepare for trial by creating online mock juries and focus groups that help attorneys determine case value, develop case themes, find the facts to emphasize and learn “public” attitudes.
5. Play Poker
Seriously. Matador Network published a story called “How to Fund Your Travels Playing Online Poker.” Need we say more?
6. Get Paid for Online Searches and Surveys
This one’s easy: Just add the site Qmee to your browser. If you click on a search result, you’ll earn money. You can also earn cash rewards for taking online Qmee surveys via your laptop or mobile and sharing your opinions on brands.
7. Become a Virtual Assistant
Are you supremely organized? As a virtual assistant, you make money by helping people and businesses with tasks ranging from data entry to research to customer service—the sky’s the limit. The website VANetworking was founded by a virtual assistant and is loaded with tips and job leads.
8. Sell Your Photos and Videos
If you’re traveling, it’s likely that you’re surrounded by gorgeous photo ops, and now that digital cameras are widely available, photography and videography can be a good way to earn an income. Stock websites are always looking for great material and make it easy for photographers and videographers to upload material, then will do the work on your behalf and create passive income for you while you’re off to the next beautiful location. Stock agencies looking for submissions include Shutterstock, Photoshelter, Fotolia and iStock.
9. Become a Travel Writer
Again, if you’re traveling the world, it’s the perfect opportunity to write about your experiences and get paid for it. That said, making money as a travel writer isn’t easy since you must be able to sell your articles or create a revenue-producing travel blog. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Lonely Planet even published an entire book on the topic, “How to Be a Travel Writer,” available in print and as an e-book.
10. Write an E-Book
Speaking of e-books, it’s a great way to turn your expertise into a platform that people will buy, creating a form of passive income. Kindle even has a step-by-step guide for how to create, publish and market an e-book.
11. Publish an E-Book
According to International Living, an even faster and easier way to make money with e-books is to find a book that has already been published in print and license it to publish online. “The person doing the online publishing gets the lion’s share of the money—paying the author the standard 8% to 15% royalties based on net sales,” says International Living. You can sometimes do a one-time payment for the rights to publish online, like Vic Johnson. “I once bought the rights to a book for $200, simply because I liked the content,” says Johnson. “Over the years, I’ve made over $50,000 selling it as an e-book.” Consider this statistic: There are over 44 million print books on Amazon but only 2.6 million Kindle books—that’s a lot of material that could be converted to e-books.
12. Teach English
Most people think you need to be living in a place to teach English to foreign students. But as GoOverseas.com points out, “With video chatting and conferencing growing easier and more reliable every year, teaching English lessons online is another great way to fund your life abroad or at home.” For a slew of companies that will set you up with online students, check out this article on Teach Away. Rates for teaching English online can go up to $22 an hour.
13. Create Software Reviews
If you have strong opinions about software, whether positive or negative, you can get paid for creating reviews. SoftwareJudge.com pays up to $50 dollars for, as they describe it, “tell-it-like-it-is, no marketing BS, straight-talking software reviews.”
14. Let Someone Pick Your Brain
Do people always want to pick your brain? Now you can get paid for it via the website Clarity, which has curated a community of passionate experts and thought leaders who are being sought out by fellow entrepreneurs in a vast range of fields.
15. Create a Blog
So you’re an expert on a topic? Create a blog about it. “Always think about the value you’re providing,” says International Living. “Why should anyone read what you’re writing? What’s in it for them?” The best blogs showcase your experiences by providing info that’s helpful to others. So how to earn money? A big method is by affiliate income: earning a commission if people end up buying someone thanks to your blog. “Right now, my biggest source of affiliate income is from Amazon, which is anywhere from $300 to $600 per month,” says Ali Garland who has been blogging since 2009. “And the great thing about this type of income is that the money keeps rolling in even if I decide to take a couple of days, or even a week, off.” The blogger Nomadic Matt has multiple e-courses on the topic.
16. Become an Account Manager
“If you have exceptional listening skills, as well as the ability to anticipate the needs of others, becoming an account manager could be a good career choice for you,” says FlexJobs. Some of these positions include pharmacist account executive, link building specialist and account strategist.
17. Make a Podcast That Pays
Podcasts are red-hot. Want to create one? All you really need is a laptop and a good microphone. And here’s the other good news: Podcasts don’t need to run daily, and because they’re not live, you can record multiple episodes at once. According to International Living, there are many ways to make money from a podcast: commercial sponsorships or advertising products or services. “I can record and broadcast a podcast wherever I am in the world,” podcaster Luis Congdon tells International Living. “It’s remarkably simple, and it can also be profitable. Using a lightweight and low-cost microphone and a laptop I’ve recorded from a hut in the Philippines, a co-working space in Bali and even while staying on a farm in Colombia.”
18. Get Crafty
Are you a crafty entrepreneur? Everyone knows the site Etsy, which is a marketplace for handmade items. But now you can sell your jewelry and other handmade wares on sites like Amazon Handmade, ArtFire, Cargoh and more. You’ll find many more resources in this helpful article.
You don’t just need to write about travel when you’re traveling. If you’re a good writer, you can probably write about anything. According to International Living, Leslie Patrick Moore is a writer who lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and earns two-thirds of her income by crafting marketing copy for companies. “My creativity has been able to flourish here without having to constantly worry about money,” says Moore. “And it doesn’t hurt that my office is often my hammock, set amidst the colorful bougainvillea that grow against the brick walls in our backyard.” One company that hires online writers is iWriter, which pays up to $80 per 500 words once you’re promoted up the ranks.
20. Create “How-To” Videos
Jump on the YouTube vlogging wagon by creating how-to video courses. How do you earn money? “Instructors can monetize their videos by charging a subscription fee or password protecting content for paying customers only,” says International Living. “Once you have a loyal and engaged following, you can start partnering with brands that will pay a fee to have their product mentioned or reviewed.”
21. Narrate Audiobooks
Thanks to smartphones, there’s a boom happening right now in the audiobooks industry, according to International Living, which is in turn creating a demand for freelance narrators. “My typical ‘work day’ consists of two to four hours of recording during late morning and early afternoon,” says Meghan Crawford, a freelance audiobook narrator. “I started being my own boss last September. In that time, I have more than doubled what I made at my previous work.” International Living says that even new narrators can earn an average of $100 an hour based on completed work.
Do you speak another language? Consider doing translating. “Translation positions are plentiful in an ever-melding world with more global travel among those who speak different languages,”says FlexJobs, which offers a sampling of available positions. The website Smartling also makes it easy to become a translator.
23. Do Internet Research
According to International Living, you can make good money (up to $50 an hour) by surfing the internet. “An interesting new income category has emerged, thanks in part to the world of ‘fake news,’” says Winton Churchill, the founder of an international training and consulting company. “Companies and individuals are more concerned than ever with fact-checking the information they use on their websites and in their promotional materials. And they’re willing to pay someone to make sure it’s correct.”
24. Become a Day Trader
Are you a whiz with the stock market? It’s possible to earn a living by day trading, which can be done anywhere in the world. Marcello from WanderingTrader.com tells how to turn it into a profitable career that will allow you to travel.
25. Be a Freelance Designer
Are you a talented designer with skills in areas like graphics or web design? You can do what you love and get paid for it on the website 99Designs.com, which will allow you to become a part of a global community of designers and bid on jobs.
According to FlexJobs, digital nomads can make money by helping with fundraising “Fundraising positions are designed to garner the funding needed for projects and to maintain a business entity’s operations,” says FlexJobs. “Donations can be solicited in the form of monetary tithing or gifts for a nonprofit organization.” Here’s a sampling of positions to look for: senior digital strategist, eCRM contractors, senior campaigner.
Need more ideas? There are tons of general freelance websites loaded with opportunities from companies and small businesses. Some of these include Upwork.com, a website for freelancers in fields ranging from sales and marketing to accounting to customer service. Or you can market your own services—whatever they are—on sites like Fiverr.