Specialist or Generalist? Defining Your Career as a Digital Nomad

Being a digital nomad is a dream for many people. Working as you travel the world is easier than it ever has been, since you essentially have the ability to many jobs remotely from anywhere in the world.

When you ask many digital nomads what they do, often you get a strange answer. “Whatever pays the bills at the time.”

While this may make for a cool and carefree lifestyle, there are some stresses that come along with it, and some uncertainty when it comes to how much money you make, where you will be living, and exactly how much work you will be doing. As the old adage goes, failing to plan is often planning to fail, and while you might have some good things going on right now, without a clue as to what is next, a digital nomad can find themselves in a bad position.

Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter if you are a specialist or generalist, you can still get by as a digital nomad. But if you want to thrive instead of struggle, there are some things you can do to define your career as a digital nomad.

Pick a Profession or Two

There are so many different things you can do as a digital nomad, why limit yourself, right? True in some ways, but you will be much more successful if you are known for something. Are you a freelance writer or a photographer? Are you a teacher or a travel blogger? Do you do a combination of one or more profession?

Giving yourself a title makes it much easier for someone to hire you, because they understand what you say when they ask the simple question “What do you do?”

The answer, “I’m a digital nomad,” tells them little about you. That simply means you travel and work from almost anywhere, right? Most of the work you do is on the internet? That really doesn’t narrow it down. While the question itself is a dull and uninteresting one, you will get asked it over and over. Here are some tips for answering it.

  • Know your audience: Is this person asking out of curiosity, or is the question coming from someone who might hire you? What would they hire you for? Tailor your answer to the person making the inquiry.
  • Answer generally at first: Are you a travel blogger? Answer “I am a blogger,” and let the questioner dig deeper on their own unless you know they are looking specifically with someone with your specialty. This can open up new opportunities for you.
  • Be confident: When you don’t have a typical profession like doctor, lawyer, or even cashier, it can be intimidating to get asked this question over and over. Be confident in your answer. Your job is as much a job as anyone else’s. Be proud of what you do.

Having a ready answer for the question “What do you do” can give you more opportunities and give companies and others an incentive to hire you. If you do more than one thing, focus on what the person asking is most likely to be interested in.

To Specialize or Not to Specialize

Specialist is various fields are always in demand. If you have a knack for languages and can also teach English well, a good English as a second language teacher is always in demand and often in exotic places around the world. While this usually means spending months at a time in one place, you can immerse yourself in the culture and society there before you move on.

Freelance writers and travel writers are also in high demand, but if you have a specialty or two, it makes you even more valuable. Ask yourself what kind of travel you like the most, and specialize in that area. Love cruises? Become a cruise writer, and review cruise lines and write in that niche, an area with a huge following.

Are you an adventure seeker and love adventure travel and new, extreme experiences? Specialize in that area, and tap into the huge audience for that type of writing. The advantage? You can write regularly for your own blog, magazines, and other publications, but also you can often get sponsored by various companies that want you to showcase their products on your adventures.

The same is true for photography and many other professions. You can be a generalist, but sometimes picking a specialty and narrowing your niche can be a good thing.

Market Yourself

Want to be successful as a specialist or generalist as a digital nomad? One of the best ways to succeed at it is to market yourself. Think of it this way. No matter what you do as a digital nomad, your business involves three steps: production, distribution, and marketing. Production is the service you provide or the product (like articles) you produce. Distribution is how you get these products or services to your customers, and the final piece, marketing, is how they discover you.

Want to be at the point where people are contacting you rather than you having to look for jobs? You can be in demand if people know who you are how to find you.

  • Have a Website and Blog: Having your own domain name and blog lets people who are looking for people like you find you. It also helps them to know what you do. Just like any other business, you want to rank for keywords in your niche and have relevant content on your site. Whoever discovers it should know right away what you do and how to get in contact with you.
  • Beef up your LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn is no longer just for business professionals looking for high end jobs. It is a great place to showcase your work and what you do. Many businesses are looking for freelancers and contractors who do what you do, and it is a great place to get discovered.
  • Increase Your Digital Footprint: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Snapchat are great places to showcase who you are and what you do, but they also make you discoverable. You might get your next job via a Facebook message or Twitter DM. The more places you are, the more likely it is that potential employers or clients will find you

Marketing yourself is a great way to be in demand. You could have jobs lined up, options for what to do next, and all without spending your valuable time searching. Let employers search for and find you instead.

Often, being a digital nomad is thought of as being an ill-defined career, but it does not have to be. Defining your career can bring you more opportunities rather than less. Picking a profession, choosing whether or not to specialize, and marketing yourself accordingly can be the difference between a thriving and struggling digital nomad.