So you wanna be a digital nomad. I get it.
The whole thing is so hot right now.
But here’s the thing. Running a business is hard. Add travel to the mix and things can get ridiculously complicated.
So while having your own stream(s) of income and globe trotting at the same time sounds great, don’t be fooled by the freakishly amazing photos of Instagram.
There are definitely certain traits you need to be a successful nomadic entrepreneur.
Here are the top 4.
Now I’m no kindergarten art teacher, but when it comes to my life as a digital nomad, I know I’ve got to be creative.
And chances are if you’re already traveling around, you know this.
Flights get delayed.
Rigs break down on the side of the road.
Weather reroutes you, leaving you all alone while your friends enjoy the festival without you.
But you’re creative. Ain’t no trip gonna be ruined because of a few hiccups, right?
You get the airline to give you bonus points for the delay.
You Google answers to your rig’s problem while waiting for the tow truck.
You explore the local life around you and send selfies to your friends all night.
But what the heck do you do when your laptop breaks and you promised to get those head shots to a client by the end of the day?
Why, get creative, my fellow traveler.
Call a trusted friend. Ask them to log in and send for you.
Bribe someone at the airport into using their laptop for 5 minutes.
Be brave and explain to your client what is going on.
Creativity is also what helps you stand out in your business.
In my own business, my motto is “When everyone zigs, I zag.”
Here are some ways I’ve done that–
Tales From the Black Tank: A Collection of Hilariously Crappy RV Stories.
How it’s different: I took the typical RV Guide and turned it on its head. Instead of a how-to guide, I compiled a how-not-to guide. (Get it free here.)
RV Renovation Week
How it’s different: While most RV bloggers post their amazing renovations on Instagram and YouTube, I told my audience how crappy mine was going. I got together over 10 RVers that did renovations well and created a whole week of live events. It was everyone’s favorite RVs in one place, and I was the host. I did Facebook LIVE tours and published a new blog post on my site every day for 4 days. This was how I used creativity to gain traffic as a little blog.
Simply being a digital nomad may make you stand out naturally, but it’s your creativity that is going to make your business last.
Start brainstorming ways you can get creative to attract the right people to your business.
When I first started my website, I knew I wanted it to be a business, but I had no idea how to do that…and even worse, I didn’t know what my business even looked like.
I had no vision.
And so the first few months, I wrote about everything and nothing all at once. I had posts about parenting, running, and RVing. I posted on social media sporadically and was simply “chasing likes.” Believe it or not, I even advertised a course on how to start RV life.
But when people inquired about it, I had no idea how to even answer them. Again, there was no vision on how to get my students to succeed.
It wasn’t until I started asking people why they would follow just an “aimless wanderer” that I started to see the future of this website. People started telling me they loved my stories and my sense of humor. I thought to myself “Hey! I love those things, too!”
That’s when I knew I could create something more than a blog. I could create a community of RVers to share stories and learn from each other. I began to envision humorous books, speaking engagements, and deals with sponsors that wanted to connect with their audience in a genuine way but didn’t know how.
In less than a year’s time, I had those things.
I owe it all to my vision.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to fine tune your business:
What do people love about you?
What is something you enjoy that comes easily to you?
Who are your people?
Once you find these answers, start putting them together. What do all of these things have in common? How can you put them together to form a business?
For me, I knew people loved my storytelling. It has always come naturally to me. (Seriously. In 6th grade, I wrote a story about an abused girl and had CPS called on my mom. #woops) I love telling jokes and showing people the humor in difficult situations. My people are fellow nomads, those that seek adventure and live with a smile on their face.
Putting those together helped me out so much with this website!
It helped me discover I wanted a community that was about them, that was about helping them through the roller coaster that is RVing. And I wanted to do that through sharing stories and laughter with them. That’s how The Virtual Campground was born.
Now running TVC is so much easier because I have a vision of what it looks like. I can take steps knowing they are in the right direction because they align with my vision of creating this community.
And when they don’t align, it’s easy to say no and simply not do them.
Having a vision of what you want in your business is especially important as a digital nomad.
You’ve got to be firm on vision because your life is ever changing. It’s so easy to get distracted. We nomads also tend to get bored easily and want to move onto the next thing.
Changing your business as often as you change time zones is not going to help you become a successful entrepreneur.
There I said it.
Think deeply about what you want to do. Ask yourself the questions I’ve outlined above. Give yourself time to think about what you really want your life and business to look like. When a strong vision comes through…I’m talking black coffee at 4am strong… you know you’re in the right place.
People in an office need to be able to work in teams. Being a digital nomad means you’re a solopreneur, right?
And can we please agree never to say solopreneur again? (Gosh, that word is just gross. And unhealthy.)
Doing everything alone is going to cause you major burnout really quickly. Make some friends in your line of work, for Pete’s sake.
People doing the same thing as you shouldn’t be seen as competition. In this new world of freelancers and the digital nomad, there is room for everyone. When you team up, exponential growth occurs. I’ve seen if firsthand in my business… with my first product. And my second.
The greatest example I can give you is a digital summit I put on with 3 of my closest nomadic entrepreneurs.
It was called Full-Time Freedom Week.
Now, Full-Time Freedom Week was this incredibly large idea I had that I could not do alone. I was fresh off the success of my book and RV Renovation Week, and I knew I needed to do something huge in my space to get noticed before hitting the road to travel full-time. The holidays were also coming in, so I knew it would be perfect timing to get extravagant with my business and brand.
I asked my friends to come together to create an online summit for RV dreamers and newbies. We would do live events a few times a day, pushing out hella-content via Facebook and email. We’d do live interviews with the top bloggers in our space, as well as RV services. I also envisioned giveaway after giveaway. And to top it all off, we’d sell a low-cost bundle to up the ante.
Now, all my friends had been in the blogging game less than a year. How could we pull something like this off?
Together, we were able to wrangle some of the biggest names in the online RV world to not only help us, but promote us as experts. As a team, we were able to market the event as something of great value and get sponsors to give away their top ticket items to our guests.
Camille Attell, Lindsay McKenzie, Julie Chickery, and Liz Wilcox were digital nomad goddesses that Thanksgiving weekend.
In 8 days, we were able to reach thousands of people and make over $4,000 in revenue.
I never could have done this alone.
So again, I say to those trying to navigate the waters of entrepreneurship and become a digital nomad….
You’ve got to be a team player.
(You can read the whole crazy story of Full-Time Freedom Week here.)
Holy crap. If there is one thing on this list you just cannot live without as a nomadic entrepreneur, it’s tenacity.
You can have all the other things on this list, but if you’re not tenacious…forget about it.
People will doubt you. You’ll be fired, let go, passed up for someone else who’s not a weird “digital nomad.” Your time will be stretched thinner than you could have dreamed. And omg, there will always be at least 10 people doing a much, much better job at the same thing as you.
In my business, there have been so many times I could have thrown in the towel. And so many reasons not to keep going.
- My husband had a job with benefits. I’m talking all the benefits. #armywife
- Stay-at-home mom sttatus, y’all.
- I didn’t even have internet on my phone or in the RV the first 11 months of growing my business.
- Running is my things and it’s hard to train when I’m doing Facebook LIVE interviews.
- People unsubscribe from my list every time I email.
- Instagram is like Krypton to me.
- I don’t have a business degree.
- Literally zero experience in video editing.
- Okay, so I’m a noob.
But damn it, I’m one tenacious lady and I ain’t never gonna quit! (Even when my mom tells me the term digital nomad really means digital hippie.)
When you have the tenacity of a bulldog in a fight over a 5 gallon bucket of pork trimmin’s, there is no way you can give up or fail.
Here are a few reasons why:
You will be able to accept constructive criticism and apply it, while leaving trolls under the bridge where they belong.
People will be attracted to your sheer determination and support you.
You’ve just got too much heart, kid.
Tenacity is essential as a digital nomad because if you don’t care, no one else will!
And then your traveling days are over my friend.
I cannot stress this enough. Even those closest to me– the second I start to doubt or my confidence isn’t strong, they pounce. “Well you gave it a good try.”
Wait, what? I’m not giving up! I’m just tired, ya jerk!
Things like this have made me realize I’ve got to care 1000x more than any one else. Most people will never build a business…from trying to be funny…online…in an RV. I mean, when I told people I was gonna sell a book about “crappy RV stories” I got some laughs.
Not the good ones.
And I know if I give up, no one is going to hate me. They’re all going to tell me I did a good job. That’s why I’ve got to care about the success of The Virtual Campground.
That’s why I’ve got to be tenacious.
What else does a digital nomad need?
Honestly, I feel like I could go on and on with this topic. But I think you get the gist. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Being an entrepreneur who is trying to sell funny books online to people who boondock because they don’t want to spend money on something as silly as rent is way hard.
But these 4 traits have kept me strong.
Staying creative has allowed me to see what my readers really want, and being able to give it to them at the lowest cost.
Having a vision for The Virtual Campground has kept me grounded and focused. I’m not chasing down a thousand things; I’m sticking with my plan of building a community of RVers that want to get the most out of life and laugh along the way.
Being a team player has allowed me to go further with my website faster. There’s no way half of you reading this would know me if it wasn’t for my ability to not only cooperate with other inside the RV world, but seek out and collaborate.
And finally, my tenacity has kept me dedicated and driven to succeed. I don’t think every digital nomad out there could sell a book about crappy stories, after all. And this drive is causing me to brainstorm a volume two…and more!
What would you add to the list?
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Sallie D. says
“We nomads also tend to get bored easily and want to move onto the next thing.” Nailed it! Thanks for saying what I couldn’t wrap my brain around because that is exactly what has held me back. I get excited about a potential business direction, and then the excitement fizzles when the next great idea sets up camp in my brain’s entrepreneurial space. I’m going to wrestle with the business questions you shared and see if I can firm up a direction to stick with. Thanks, Liz! Great article, and I hope my comment made you squeal in glee! 😉
Liz from https://thevirtualcampground.com says
Sallie! YOU nailed it! I did squeal with glee.
It makes me so happy you got something out of this post and are going to take some action.
It can be so hard to nail down a particular business idea and run with it. I have found great success in sticking with The Virtual Campground though, and can be flexible within that business. For example, I’ve compiled a book of stories, created a bundle of products with friends, done an online summit, and now created a mastermind group. But all of it has been TVC related and relevant. All of it has the same “big picture why” nailed to it.
I hope that helps bring you more clarity! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! It means the world to me.
Stacey Thomas says
Awesome post, Liz! As a noob myself, you’re inspiring me to tenaciously keep moving forward with my vision. Looking forward to the mastermind group!
Aww yay Stacey! Looking forward to getting to know you a lot better in there! WOOHOO! You’ll be hearing from me soon. 🙂
Loved this. If I was going to add anything to the list, I might add (sorry I don’t have one word for it) “Surround yourself with successful people” because what stands out to me about your story is you started attending networking and training events with people who were doing some aspect of what you wanted to do.
In my case I think I surrounded myself with those people more in a virtual sense through seeking out what they were publishing online and learning as much as I could, but I think in both cases that mentorship was such an important factor in helping to create and refine the Vision.
Love what you’re doing and how TVC is emerging to fill the digital nomad’s need for community!
Ashley, I just love you and am so glad we have virtually met!!! You are an inspiration and have done INCREDIBLE things in such a short period of time. I can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2018. Proud to be your RV friend!!
Well, I was going to add to your list but aribadler already put the one other thought I had. Passion for what you are doing is of course needed. Otherwise, you will quit sooner rather than much later. I love your posts that I have read. It has made me want to read the rest.
I’m sure I could never write a blog. I would have to much difficulty thinking of what to write.
Thanks for reading Theresa! I try to make each post relevant to RVers and not just about me, so hopefully you will find that here! Blogs can be very difficult, but also very fun. Passion is a DEFINITE must, as you’ve highlighted. I just may add that!!
Great list Liz! I’m definitely of the mindset that building things together, with other like minded people is critical for me. I always say that I would have quit by now if not for my blogging friends who hold me accountable and encourage me. Pure grit and determination are my other key components—they get me through the times when I feel less passionate about what I’m working on (as Ari mentioned). Anyway, great article—keep em’ coming—looking forward to what 2018 brings for you!
I love it. Pure grit and determination. Yep. I think that describes the both of us very well. haha! Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for you as well!
You’ve really been outdoing yourself lately Liz. I have always enjoyed your content but I personally think it is getting stronger and stronger every time you put fingers to keyboard. I think this is the kind of writing that inspires people to overcome mediocrity and change themselves for the better.
EeLaina, my dear friend! You are so sweet to write these words. I’m so happy I’ve gotten to know you better in the last year, but especially in the last month or two. I can’t wait to see what you come up to! And to meet one day on the road. You are the first person to ever tell me online that I inspired them, so you will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks so much for always encouraging me. I hope I can do the same in return!
Thanks for writing this post LIz, and for reminding everyone that what we often see people posting on Instagram and YouTube isn’t as much about what real life looks like but what people want to talk about in their lives. I’m not suggesting a channel based entirely on Tales from the Black Tank, but it would probably get a lot of subscribers who want to know they aren’t alone in their imperfect world!
You asked what else should be added to your list and it seems to me that you need to add “Passion.” If you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, whether it’s blogging, YouTubing (?), having a career, being in a relationship — you will eventually become distracted, which means your thoughts, your actions and your focus will wander. So people need to remember that whatever they are going to jump into it should be because they are going to love it, at least overall. Not every day is going to be special and amazing, even when doing something you are passionate about. But that passion can make the long days seem shorter and make it that much easier to get up and get going with a fresh outlook the next morning.
So true Ari! You’ve got to be passionate. I could never build a community around mechanics because I don’t really know anything about it or care to. My husband on the other hand is very passionate about this and that’s just where his brain goes, even when it doesn’t want to! haha Same for me and this little Virtual Campground I’m trying to build up. I just love all my readers and those that haven’t found me yet. I feel so strongly…even on days that suck I’m willing to put in the work!
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I may have to add passion to the list!!