Digital Nomad Case Study: Business Management and Bookkeeping

Being a digital nomad is not a fad. It’s not a “coming of age” lifestyle for 20somethings that eventually gives way to a more traditional life.  Digital nomads are here to stay and we’re growing in number.
As Forbes reported, MBO Partners’ State of Independence Research Brief 4.8 million Americans describe themselves as digital nomads with 27% of traditional workers, saying they “might” become a digital nomad in the next 2-3 years and 11% confirming they planned to.
And let’s not forget the stereotypes we hold about digital nomads. In the same article, Forbes dismantled any misnomers you once held about digital nomads, sharing
Although digital nomads skew young and male, 31% are female, and 54% are older than 38. The community includes both full-timers (54 percent) and part-timers (46 percent) with many only living the nomad lifestyle for part of a year. As a result, their income from work done during their nomadic wanderings is all over the map. Among them, 38 percent report earning less than $10,000 per year from this work, but 16 percent, or about 790,000, say they earn $75,000 or more.

Still not a believer?

Come meet some real-life digital nomads.  Women from around the globe who’ve defied the odds to live their lives on their own terms and to do the things THEY want to do.  Each of them will share their travel and income journeys with us in Nomad Mom Life’s new series: Digital Nomad Case Studies.

Digital Nomad Case Studies

Meet Karen.

Karen runs a digital nomad business management and bookkeeping service company from her home in Long Beach, CA.
While Karen has a home-base in CA because of her business, she’s able to travel extensively and has taken many trips to parts of Mexico and Western Europe.
In the three years since she’s been in business, the flexibility of her career has allowed her to strike a balance between her work and her life, allowing her to plan and fund her own travel.
In her own words, Karen responded to a few questions about her experience and her choice to start her digital nomad lifestyle.

Q: What was the hardest part of starting your nomad lifestyle?

A: Just deciding to do it. Ignoring all the naysayers.

Q: What products, tools, services make your nomad lifestyle easier?

A: Google and Dropbox are invaluable, as are FaceTime and Skype. Having cloud-based backup and programs so that I’m not dependent on any specific computer. A good travel purse with safety features built in, and heavy-duty laptop lock for peace of mind. Multiple copies and backups of everything related to my business in various locations.

Q: What’s the hardest part to sustaining your nomadic lifestyle?

A: Nothing related to business. I got tired of not being in my own space, with my own sheets and pillows and other personal comforts. So, travel was my way of getting out of my own space. Having a home-based business was easy for me. Becoming a digital nomad and starting a life of travel made working from home, worthwhile.

Q: What’s the most money you’ve ever made in any one month as a digital nomad?

A: More than $5000 US monthly.

Q: Is it sustainable and something you can do every month?

A: Yes, I was able to sustain that rough amount every month. I have multiple ongoing clients that I have never met in person.

Q: What advice do you have for people who want to become digital nomads?

A: Get your business going first. Pair down your expenses and possessions as you build up your business, so that by the time you have enough reliable income, you have nothing else holding you back. I planned ahead for a few years while I was employed full time in a regular office job. I moved to a smaller apartment and started building my business as a side hustle. First, I took a few one-month to six-week trips, renting small apartments in cities outside of the US, as a sort of test, to see how it would work and what I would need.

Q: Do you want to share ANYTHING else with me or with my audience? Let loose.

A: I found it was hard to balance work and travel. Working on a computer, especially work that requires focus, meant that I needed to be in a quiet indoor spot for hours at a time. Often, I felt like being in a foreign or new town was a waste, since I spent so much time holed up in my rental in front of a screen, instead of out exploring a new place. It took awhile for me to find a balance. Among my generation and age group, the ex pats or other travelers I met were either on short trips or retired. I seemed to be the only one working while traveling. I met plenty of people but my situation, spending several hours most days working, precluded being included in some activities or events.

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