I’m one inch away from answering “computer stuff” to every “what do you do for a living?”
Medium readers may be familiar with the concept of digital writers, location-independent entrepreneurship, laptop life, lifestyle businesses, and exchanging content for money on the internet. However, most people in the great outdoors (everyday cities, I mean) have no idea what digital workers actually do.
People know about freelance work. The concept is not foreign but doesn’t get much recognition at the dinner table either. Freelancers are usually unhirable people who can’t find a real job.
1. Digital workers live in South East Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, where they can get a bang for their buck
Tim Ferriss, you’re probably responsible for this one. The author of 4-Hour Workweek talks about the new rich, people who use the money to live the life they want instead of the life they’ve been told to live.
What is money anyway? You’re working for stuff money can buy, not the money itself. Wouldn’t you want the best bang for your buck then?
A salary of $3,000 makes for a livable life in Brooklyn, often described as survival. Bali is a different story. You can rent a villa, drive a sports car, and scuba dive for breakfast for the same money.
So, If you’re not bound to one place, why not live like the new rich?
The idea is lovely, and you can totally do that.
However, most digital workers choose to settle in Austin, London, Tokyo, and other popular hubs. I live in London and pay astronomically-high rent because the proximity still matters, even during the pandemic.
I get to meet the cream-de-la-cream writers, vigorous startup founders, and venture investors.
My income won’t hit rock bottom if I leave London tonight, though. I can take a month-long vacation to Indonesia at any time If I choose so, and that’s the prime benefit for me. But I probably won’t move to another country anytime soon.
2. Location-independent workers are either social media influencers, graphic designers, or software developers
You don’t have to have a huge following, code in Java, or master the golden ratio to live that laptop life.
Huge following, programming skills, and photoshop skills are indeed a bonus in any digital profession, but you can earn your cash in other ways.
Digital assistants, marketing consulting, bookkeeping services, ghostwriting, copywriting, UX design, and many other jobs also pay well and let you work from Villa Gesell, a sandy beach in Buenos Aires. (Although, working from a public beach is not what most digital workers do.)
You don’t even have to work for someone else either. You can set up your shop and offer products and services as an agency, company, or publication.
Good Annotations is a Saas for digital collaboration, and the founder can pretty much work from anyplace with an internet connection. I can run MadX Digital from anywhere in the world, too, as long as I deliver the same service.
However, I’m not sure if I could guarantee the same quality from anywhere in the world.
3. Digital workers are enjoying one big holiday all the time
Tim Ferriss, man, this is all you again.
Digital workers have the opportunity to enjoy more freedom if they manage to stay productive, effective, and useful. You don’t have regular office hours. But you can’t just slap your keyboard a few times and generate a five-figure paycheck. If your skills don’t produce value for others, you probably can’t travel Europe and eat Champagne brunches.
Your computer is a distraction that can obliterate your workflow and leave you frustrated, unaccomplished, and desperately searching for a “normal job.”
Nobody tells you how to look or behave. You don’t have a boss. And you can oversleep Monday mornings, which is a brutal demotivator.
Digital workers learn how to manage money while dealing with constant uncertainty.
If you’re not ready to eat peanuts and hard-boiled eggs until you figure out how to make your business work, you may return to a regular job as soon as your savings account hits zero.
Digital work is not all glitter and champagne, but I can’t imagine going back to office work.
I’m hooked on the freedom to create my destiny.
Do I miss my office job? Sure, sometimes. I miss that feeling of security, even though it’s totally fake. I miss not having to worry about the next paycheck. I also miss the office giggles and watercooler chats.
Watercoolers are boring when you’re a location-independent entrepreneur.
My life is not glamorous, but It’s the life I want. The life I want may not be what most people want. And what most people want is not a digital life. Laptop-lifestyle is a cool story but can be extremely dull in real life. Hey, I read books for fun. (You probably read for fun too, but you get the gist.)
Digital nomads, vagabonds, workers, influencers, or whatever you’d like to call them, are a bunch of location-independent people who very much still have a home, location, and regular life.
Written by yours truly, Toni Koraza
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