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So, how was my first year as a digital nomad?

The euphoria of the beginning changed to, well, frustration in the middle of the year. BUT I am back to euphoria. My first year as a digital nomad has been like a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions, but who would assume everything is easy in the beginning, right?

I started as a freelancer

My goal for my digital nomad life was building a successful online business that allowed me to travel everywhere. To help me quickly earn money in the beginning, I started with “penny” jobs on Upwork. I was extremely confident that everything will work out when I found my first two long-term clients. I was never so wrong in my life.

When I boarded the airplane to Hawaii exactly one year ago, I had a lot of translation work to do and it brought in a good amount of money in exchange for many hours of work.

Berlin from the airplane as the start of my first year as a digital nomad
Leaving Berlin – The start of my first year as a digital nomad

However, the euphoria didn’t stay for long. When I realized that I am living from paycheck to paycheck, I celebrated Christmas with my dear friends on Bali. Sounds wonderful at first but that’s when my financial issues already started hitting me hard.

While we were traveling with my friends in Indonesia, we couldn’t really focus on work, but spent a lot of money that I couldn’t cover as there was the “Christmas season depression”. I knew things had to change.

Working on new projects

So, we took the cheapest flight out from Bali: To Malaysia. It turned out as the perfect place where we could focus on work and new projects.

We haven’t really been able to see much in those 4 months in Malaysia, but I was able to manage my workload and spent some time for my blog – I did a USA Road Trip Special.

My partner and I tried our first business together based on Facebook advertisements. So we built up an online store and were thrilled when we got our first sells after a few weeks. However, we couldn’t really figure out the system. After new Facebook updates were released, we ended up with weeks of no sells. So we shut it down and I don’t regret this decision. It was a time-consuming business and I wanted to get away from that. I wanted to work less than 10 hours a day with more money on my bank account.

Sunset at the beach in Langkawi, Malaysia during my first year as a digital nomad
Enjoying the sunset in Langkawi when my sister was visiting

Self-finding process in Germany

After a few months packed with long work days, we went back to Germany for some family events. I loved being back in my home country to see everyone again. Being far away from friends and family is the greatest burden in a digital nomad life. I enjoyed the time, but I also spent a lot of time not working, which ended up in less money.

By that time, a feeling cumulated inside of me: I was disappointed in myself that I was still stuck into a translation job instead of being a successful business owner.

So I eventually came to the conclusion to open up a proper dropshipping store with my partner. He always wanted to start another one and this time I motivated him with my questions and ideas. I was sure it will bring me more passive income in the future. So I tried to make as much time as possible to build up the new project with my partner.

Bye-bye low-paid freelance job

One day in Romania, I finally quit my main translation job out of a rash decision. It was way overdue for my happiness and inner peace although it made up 80-90% of my income. I was scared of cutting off this job, but I felt that I have to do it in order to become successful. And what can I say, I never felt more relieved in my life.

Coastal view in Budva, Montenegro during my first year as a digital nomad
New perspectives in aspiring Montenegro

A new strategy for the next year as a digital nomad

Now I am focusing on long-term passive income projects and better-paid gigs. My enthusiasm is back in the game and I am enjoying every day again.

My first year as a digital nomad was hard, but I don’t regret that I took the step. Sitting here in Montenegro and being able to explore this gorgeous country makes me appreciate my lifestyle again. I love traveling and I love to work wherever I want.

Grow with Unbridled World now!

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Curious who writes here?

Curious who writes here?

Adventurer, digital nomad, and freedom seeker - that's me, Nate the Nomad!
In October 2016, I packed my bags in Berlin and been roaming the world with my husband ever since.
We are slow travelers, who enjoy the freedom of the location-independent life. We love to go on little adventures and learn about new cultures everywhere we go.

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