What does a digital nomad do?

You’ve heard of digital nomads, but what do they do exactly and where do they work? We unpack the life of a modern digital nomad.


You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘digital nomad’, a new trend that has quickly gained traction over the last decade… but what is a digital nomad? How do they work and where do they work?

What is a nomad?

The term nomad is used to describe a person who doesn’t have a stable and permanent home, and instead moves around from place to place.

What is a digital nomad?

Digital nomads use technology to perform their jobs. They use their laptops and cell phones to do location independent work. This gives them the freedom to work from anywhere, often travelling the world as they work.

Imagine bringing your work with you wherever you go and using this freedom to travel and explore.

Most digital nomads jobs normally fall into one of these three categories:

Corporate workers with a remote worker agreement

Some forward thinking organisations allow employees to work remotely. While some remote workers choose to sit at home and work from there, others choose to travel, working in different locations. These workers earn a steady income from their business with the flexibility of being able to work from different locations at different times.


Freelancers work for clients online. They may be web designers, copywriters, journalists, social media managers, programmers, or strategists. Freelancers can work from anywhere in the world, often using technology like Skype and Slack to connect with their clients and co-workers.


Many digital nomads have small companies which can be run virtually. Some entrepreneurs sell goods online using drop shipping to have goods delivered to customers without ever taking delivery of the item themselves. Some sell virtual products or software and don’t need a physical office at all. Some run blogs or YouTube channels, making money from advertising revenue and sponsorship.

What does a digital nomad do?

Here are three examples of digital nomads and the work they do.

John works for a large listed company as a system’s architect. He helps to devise and configure the main networking and computer systems of his company. He can largely do this job remotely, although he is expected to attend certain meetings at his office. He spends half his time in Johannesburg and the rest of the time at a second home in Jeffery’s Bay where he enjoys surfing and swimming.

Maria is a freelance designer. She has two main clients, both of whom require her to design adverts for social media, brochures and other advertising collateral. Even though her advertising clients are in Johannesburg, she is currently backpacking in Australia with friends. She spends her days doing adventurous things like rock climbing and kayaking, and then logs on in the evenings to do a few solid hours of work.

Michael owns a company that sells Bluetooth speakers, smart watches and other electronic devises. He spent a great deal of time finding the right suppliers in China who can produce a high-quality product and ship it reliably to his customers in South Africa. Michael runs his online store from wherever her is in the world. When an order is placed on his site, it is sent from China directly to the customer. He’s currently in Europe, meeting with suppliers to explore new business opportunities.

How much does a digital nomad make?

The salary for a digital nomad will vary widely depending on the kind of work they do, and how they are being paid. Digital nomads who are paid in US Dollars often find that they can live very well in certain countries like Bali, Vietnam and even South Africa, where their US dollar income goes a lot further.

The digital nomad trend

The digital nomad trend is growing in popularity. Many people who work remotely are now choosing to take some time to live a more nomadic lifestyle. This isn’t limited to young people, just out of university, who choose to take some time to travel. More and more people are finding ways to move out of a conventional working environment and work remotely, even if it is just for a limited time.

The remote working trend is growing steadily. People estimate that by 2035 there will be 1 billion digital nomads on the planet.

How to digital nomads work?

Remote workers generally need only their computer and a good internet connection to work. But coworking spaces are very popular with digital nomads who want to do more than just work from their hotel room or the local coffee shop. In a coworking space they can meet like-minded individuals and share their ideas and stories.