When I was a kid, I hated not being able to control my own life – I couldn’t travel alone, I couldn’t drive a car, I couldn’t (legally) work, heck, I couldn’t even stay at my friend’s place if my parents didn’t agree!
That’s why I’ve always dreamed of starting my own business so that I could make my own money and be able to do whatever I wanted to do with my life.
Making My Own Money at 15
Long story short I established my first business at the age of 15, which I sold 10 months later for €7,800 to my business partner who was 38 years-old at that time (if you want to know the full story, subscribe to this newsletter).
For the next three years I continued running various online businesses ranging from a recipes website to a vintage fashion products’s marketplace to everything in between. In those years I couldn’t think about anything else other than my business – it was my work, my passion and, essentially, my life.
However, when I graduated from high school at the age of 19, I had a completely random opportunity to spend 2 weeks exploring Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. That experience made me realize how big and interesting the world was and I suddenly became interested in traveling.
Even though at that point I had been financially independent for quite a few years, I wasn’t really location independent as I would have to attend some conferences, meet my team members and customers face-to-face.
At that point I didn’t even know what a “Digital Nomad” was, but I realized that I could create and run an online business remotely, which would allow me to travel absolutely anywhere and stay for as long as I wished (as long as I had a Wi-Fi connection, of course).
Becoming Location Independent
After thinking about all the different businesses I could start, I decided to establish a social media marketing agency that would provide Facebook marketing services to small businesses.
The idea was this: every small business had a Facebook fan page, but they were so busy with all the operational tasks that they didn’t have time to manage it. Even if someone did have a little bit of time, it would usually be a person who’s doing 7 different jobs at the same time and obviously wouldn’t know much about social media marketing.
That’s where we would come in.
We would create a marketing strategy for them and once they would approve it, we would start managing their Facebook fan page. We would post 3-6 times a week (write all the captions, put their logos on the photos, reply to people’s comments, etc.), depending on which payment plan they chose.
Now the best part of the whole business was that I didn’t hire anyone.
Every client worked with one project manager and one content manager, whom I would pay a monthly fee per client. Let’s say I was getting paid $250 a month for one client. I would then pay $75 a month to the project manager and $75 a month to the content manager, in which case I would be making $100 profit.
Not only that, the company would be profitable even if we only had a single client, which would, of course, be impossible had I been paying my employees full-time or part-time salaries.
The only thing I had to focus on was acquiring customers and making sure they were happy with the services we were providing.
I remember in those days I was only working 6-8 hours a week and making from $1,600 to $2,400 a month. That is not a lot of money, but it’s definitely enough to travel to most places around the world and that’s exactly what you need to be a digital nomad.
You don’t need a million dollars, you just need enough money and time to do anything you want to do.
How to Start a Remote Agency Business
If you would like to establish a similar online business, here are a few ideas you are welcome to steal:
- Translations – this works really well if your agency translates to/from niche languages that are in demand by a lot of businesses, such as Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and others (learn more);
- Copywriting – tons of businesses these days want to outsource their sales copy, blog posts, e-mail newsletters and especially SEO (search engine optimization) articles and you can certainly help them (learn more);
- Social media marketing – simply copy the model described above. I would suggest focusing on a single social media platform and positioning your agency as experts in that specific social network (learn more);
- Design services – most design services do not require meeting face-to-face, which allows your agency to be completely remote. Examples: logo design; banner ad design; website design; and others (learn more);
- Video editing services – people would send you the footage from their birthdays, vacations, weddings, or whatever else and your editors would then edit the videos, paid on a per-video basis (learn more).
There are literally hundreds of other services you could provide online in the same way, I’m sure you can think of at least a few.
If you hire freelancers to provide that service, your main task will be to acquire customers and make sure they are happy with the services you provide. Here are some tips on how to acquire customers for your online service business:
- E-mail outreach. When you’ve chosen the sort of service you will be providing, you should have a clear idea of who your target audience is. I would suggest making a list of at least 200 potential customers and sending them e-mails describing your service. Offer them something for free. For example, if you’re providing social media marketing services, tell them you can analyze their current marketing strategies and give them free tips and recommendations on how to improve them. It will build trust with your potential customers and highly increase the chances of them buying your service;
- Write a blog. Writing articles with tips and advice for your potential customers is always a good idea, because it brings a lot of value to your potential customers free of charge. If those articles are really useful to your target audience, people will quickly realize that once they start paying you, they will receive a lot more value, which will help their business grow. In order to write good quality articles, research what your competitors have written and make it better. And always remember – the more value you provide for free, the more make you will make;
- Offer referral commissions. Once you’ve already acquired some clients, ask them to refer you to their friends and colleagues and offer them a commission on every client they bring your way. In this case your current clients will be even happier working with you and you will get a steady stream of new clients coming your way. It’s a win-win!
I hope my story helped you realize that becoming a digital nomad is not as difficult as you might have imagined. You just need to find a service people want to buy, outsource that service to people who want to provide it and find ways to provide value to your potential customers for free.
If all those things are in place, you can book a one-way flight ticket to wherever it is you wish to go. Happy travels!