Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

Woman on a Bench in Paris Texting

To help you understand how to use your cell when traveling overseas (and what it means if you do), I’ve addressed some of my most frequently asked questions so you know exactly what to expect if you decide to keep in touch with family and friends via your mobile phone while on your next far-away adventure.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

How to Text Internationally for Free

Questions answered in this post

Can I Text Someone in Another Country for Free over WiFi?

Usually, to send an SMS or text messages, you need to be connected to a cell tower. That’s not always the case though. Times are changing and cell phone carriers are making it easier than ever to stay connected.

For example, T-Mobile has introduced texting and calling over Wi-Fi. This allows you to communicate using Wi-Fi or an internet connection as though it were a cellular connection. You still need to be careful though. Just because you’re on Wi-Fi doesn’t mean your carrier won’t charge you for data usage, international calls, and international texting.

Your best option for free international texting, video calls, and international calls over Wi-Fi while overseas is to use a third-party messaging app. Using a free app will make international texting free and allow you to communicate with your friends and family for free even when you’re in other countries – as long as you’re on Wi-Fi.

Will My Phone Use Data When I Am Connected To Wi-Fi?

It depends. Your phone cannot use both mobile data and Wi-Fi at the same time. Your phone may have settings, however, that allow you to use mobile data to connect to the Internet instead of Wi-Fi when you have a poor connection.

For example, iPhones have a feature called “Wi-Fi Assist.” When toggled, you’ll keep your internet connection (via cellular data) if your Wi-Fi slows down.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

The good news is, according to Apple, your iPhone won’t make the switch when you’re data roaming.

How Do I Turn Off My Cell Phone Data So I Don’t Get Charged Roaming Fees While Overseas?

To understand roaming fees, it’s important to first understand what cellular roaming is.

International roaming is when your phone uses cellular data to access the Internet using a different cellular network than your carrier. Depending on your network carrier plan this setting may or may not be included with your international data plan. If it’s not, and you’re traveling overseas, you could incur some very large fees for international communication like SMS messaging and video calls.

Even if you aren’t actually using your phone to make calls or texting internationally, many apps use data in the background without you realizing it.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

To avoid charges from roaming, you have a few settings on your phone depending on your needs:

  • Airplane Mode
  • Turn off cellular data
  • Turn off roaming

Although turning off cellular data and data roaming will prevent your phone from using data, these won’t necessarily stop phone calls and SMS messaging. To completely avoid these costs when traveling abroad, be sure to set your phone to AIRPLANE MODE.

Airplane Mode

The simplest way to ensure you won’t be charged for roaming is to put your phone in Airplane Mode. Airplane mode will prevent you from using cellular data abroad as well as receiving unwanted international messages and phone calls. Additionally, with Airplane Mode on, you can still enable Wi-Fi which allows you to access the Internet without worrying about data plan roaming charges.

Here’s how to enable Airplane Mode based on which smartphone you have:

iPhone

Go to Settings and the very top option is Airplane Mode. Set this to ON and wait for the airplane icon to appear. Then go to the option below it for Wi-Fi. You can set this to ON so it picks up any network that is available; otherwise, just leave it off for now.  Airplane Mode Iphone From Settings

  • Additionally, you can simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the top left airplane icon. If you wish to enable Wi-Fi, simply tap the button below the airplane button and wait for it to turn blue. Airplane Mode Toggle Iphone

Android

Click Menu and go to Settings. Under Wireless & Networks, select MORE. You will see that the top option is Airplane Mode. Check the box and wait for the ON button to turn blue.

Turn Off Cellular Data

The next best way to avoid data charges is to completely shut off cellular data. This restricts all cellular data to Wi-Fi instead, keeping you from using data unintentionally for things like emails, browsing apps, and app notifications.

With cellular data shut off you can still receive text messages and phone calls, which means if your plan charges you for these, you should just turn your phone to Airplane Mode.

To turn off cellular data on an iPhone go to Settings -> Cellular and toggle the Cellular Data switch to off. Additionally, you can also swipe up from the bottom and toggle the button next to the airplane from green to grey. Turn Off Cellular Data Iphone

On an Android, you have more options. There are also tools that allow you to warn you when you’re approaching your monthly limit. You can also choose to use apps only over Wi-Fi.

Turn Off Roaming

Turning off roaming means that you won’t access other cellular networks when you’re out of your cell phone carrier area. Depending on your plan, you may be able to roam and enjoy unlimited texting without being charged.

Better safe than sorry though, it’s good to also put your phone in Airplane Mode when abroad.

To turn off roaming on an iPhone, go to Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Options. Toggle the roaming switch from on to off.

To see how to turn off roaming on Android, you can visit here.

(Note: If you do not have a smartphone (i.e., iPhone, Android phone, or Windows phone) or a phone that allows you to turn off your data and still access Wi-Fi, then you should turn your phone completely OFF while traveling.)

If My Data Is Turned Off, Will I Still Get Charged?

As long as your phone’s data is turned off, then you cannot be charged for any data roaming charges, even with Wi-Fi enabled. You may still be able to send and receive phone calls and text message. This means depending on your cell phone plan, you might still get charged. To be completely sure you won’t be charged, you should enable Airplane Mode.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

In other words, the safest way to use your phone abroad is while you are in Airplane Mode. No carrier fees will apply, and you can still enable Wi-Fi.

What Is The Difference Between Cellular Data and Wi-Fi?

The difference between carrier’s network cellular data and Wi-Fi is that cellular data is transmitted over your cell phone network (think of your cellular network like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint), whereas Wi-Fi data is over a wireless Internet network, such as what you would have when using Starbucks Wi-Fi.

Should I Get A Local SIM Card or International SIM Card?

If you’re planning on using your cell phone overseas to make cheap calls, or for text messaging, it is probably a good idea to change your SIM card. You may also need to unlock your phone. If your carrier doesn’t have an option for extended stays, then you’re going to need a new SIM card.

When getting a SIM card for international travel, you have two options:

  • International SIM Card
  • Local SIM Card

While they both have their own benefits and drawbacks, international SIM cards are ideal if you plan on moving around while overseas, while a local SIM card is great if you just plan on spending all of your time in one country.

Here’s some more information on both:

International SIM Card

When you’re planning to travel abroad, international SIM cards are usually the best way to go. They’re best used by someone who is traveling to multiple countries, as it’s difficult to keep track of phone numbers, unlimited data plans can get expensive, and some data carrier options can be limiting.

With an International SIM card, you get a designated phone number, and you can manage your entire account in one place. Additionally, an international SIM card is great because you can get everything set up and ready to go before you even leave – without any language barriers.

Although they can be slightly more expensive than a local SIM card, typically the small increase in cost is worth avoiding the hassle of getting a local SIM when you arrive at your destination.

One SIM Card and World SIM are some of the possible choices you have when selecting an international SIM card.  OnceSimCard

Local SIM Card

Another option if you want to get Internet while traveling abroad and not roaming, is to get a local SIM card with a data plan. Most SIM cards can be purchased at a local gas station, drug store, or, of course, one of your cell phone carrier’s stores or kiosks.

What Is the Difference Between a Local SIM Card and a Regular SIM Card?

The difference between a local SIM card and your regular SIM on your phone is that, with a local carrier, you will have a local number. This means that friends and family trying to reach you will have to text you on your local number.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

For example, let’s say you go to Berlin, Germany and you get a local Vodafone SIM card. Your phone number will begin with “49,” which is the country code. It’s a great option for texting within the city, but not such a great option for contacting mom.

You do have a few options when getting a local plan, though.

  • Buy a phone with a SIM card that you can recharge. These usually start at around USD $20 and you can add credit as you go.
  • Buy an unlocked cell phone and purchase a SIM card. I currently have an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus with a T-Mobile SIM card on the US-based Magenta plan. This means that I don’t have to change out to a new SIM card when I arrive in a new country and I get unlimited data and texting, Wi-Fi calling, and in-flight texting. Plus, if my plan goes over, data doesn’t shut off, it just slows down. This can come in very handy when you would have otherwise been stuck with zero Internet. Also, with the T-Mobile plan in the US, you can call many other countries for only $15 per month, and international texting is free.
  • Buy a phone with dual SIM, like the Sony Xperia .

Here are some examples of local SIM card providers:

  • Mexico – TelCel (wider coverage) and Movistar (cheaper)
  • Germany – Vodafone, E-Plus, and Telekom
  • USA – T-Mobile, AT&T, and Boost

Can I Use My Phone As A Mobile Hotspot While Overseas?

Most major carriers allow you to use your compatible smartphone to act as a mobile hotspot. You just have to turn your phone on as a hotspot and connect to it via your wireless device.

However, as of this writing, I carry my mobile phone as a hotspot, as well as carry 2 additional mobile hotspots depending on whether I’m traveling in Europe or in the Americas.

If you decide to use your phone as a mobile hotspot when traveling overseas, be sure your plan includes data roaming, otherwise you’ll be racking up a huge bill.

What is Mi-Fi?

Mi-Fi is a brand name for a wireless device that functions as a mobile Wi-Fi router. Your device may or may not technically be a Mi-Fi device, but the term has become shorthand for any mobile hotspot.

A mobile hotspot will typically work in a wide range of countries. Many of these devices use “virtual” SIM cards that allow you to change regions with just a few buttons.

Does my Mi-Fi work in other countries?

It isn’t enough to simply have a mobile hotspot, you need to be certain that your device is actually going to work in the places you travel. Many countries actually have different service frequencies, which means a lot of devices (even “unlocked” ones) may not work all over the globe.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

When you purchase a Mi-Fi device, be sure to check how many frequencies it supports. The more it supports, the better it will do on your globetrotting adventures. For an in-depth guide, check out Best Mobile Hotspot Devices [2022].

Subscription vs. non-subscription Mi-Fi devices

Traditional Mi-Fi devices are non-subscription. You insert your SIM card and the device creates a mobile Wi-Fi network with a password that you can connect your devices to. However, in the last few years, a new breed of Mi-Fi device has become prominent: the subscription model.

Think of subscription Mi-Fi like a hotspot crossed with a global data plan. With these devices, you have the option to swap out the SIM card associated with your global plan and replace it with a local SIM, giving you 100 percent control over when you use your plan data and when you don’t.

How to Text Overseas: What Services or Apps Can I Use?

Most travelers and remote workers want to know how to receive text messages overseas without roaming. They want to know ways to send free text messages and voice messages, get free data, or other free services while traveling abroad.

Typically, you aren’t technically sending SMS messages or “international texting” when you have Wi-Fi on and data off, but you can still enjoy SMS messaging or send text-like messages to your family and friends using services like these.

Even now with Wi-Fi-enabled ways to send text messages and calls, your provider still may charge you the same as for a normal text message.

(Note: If you have AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or a regular T-Mobile cellular plan and you set your phone to Airplane Mode, you will not be able to send text (SMS) messages.)

To text with a family member, a friend, or go on group chats while abroad, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned ON and that you both have one of the following services on your phones:

How to Send Texts Over WiFi

iMessage

This option causes the most confusion and the reason is that if you and five of your friends all have iPhones, each iPhone user can engage in “text messaging” as if nothing ever changed. However, you aren’t actually sending international texts; you’re just using Apple’s messaging service to send correspondence (or send “text messages”) back and forth over a Wi-Fi connection. Therefore, you can only converse with others who are also iPhone users or use an Apple device.

Does iMessage Work Internationally?

With iMessage, you can still send text messages and receive messages abroad while data is turned off. You can iMessage free internationally. And if you’re in Airplane Mode but have Wi-Fi set to “on,” then you can receive iMessages which appear like text messages but they will be in blue versus green, like this:

iMessage Blue vs. Green Messages

Ultimately, you will not receive the green message when you are abroad and your cell phone data is turned off. So, if you have data turned on and you see green messages – look out! You may be getting charged insane rates. Remember, Airplane Mode – on; Wi-Fi– on.

Google Voice

 This one has been around for a while and is still quite functional, but not the most popular messaging app. To use it, simply download the Google Voice app, sign up for a Google Voice phone number (free in the U.S.), and you can send international texts back and forth from that number. They will appear on your phone via the app, allowing you to send messages overseas as much as you’d like!

Google Hangouts may start to soon replace Google Voice, but for now, it’s still a great option and I use it all the time for international messages and even voice messages. At the very least, it’s like having a second number on the same phone so you have two options. Give friends and clients your Google Voice number so you’ll always have a local US number for international texts.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp became very popular when it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. To utilize it, just download Whats App, find your friends, and send messages back and forth. It’s not the first of its kind, but it is fairly popular and growing in popularity. If your friends are tech or travel savvy, or if they/you are European, you’ll most likely find them here. It’s a must-have app for travelers or for communicating and texting your friends overseas.

To use WhatsApp (and all the other apps), you must be connected to Wi-Fi.

A kind of fun feature of WhatsApp is that you can send MMS, or picture messages, for free as well – all over Wi-Fi.The images will also automatically be added to your photo album on your phone (at least on iPhone). No more asking your friend to share an album with you and no more having to ‘save image’; it just shows up.

Viber

 Not dissimilar to Google Voice and WhatsApp, Viber takes the best of the two and combines them. Once you download the app, you find your friends who are also using Viber, and you can connect immediately. The nice thing about this particular messaging app is that, not only can you send free messages back and forth inside of the app, but you can also make free calls. Viber even uses your cell phone number as your identifier.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

There are a growing number of options for sending messages to family and friends, and these are just a few. For instance, GroupMe is another popular group messaging app that allows you to communicate with a number of people at once (and you can still use emoji!).

For more international texting options while traveling overseas, I suggest you read: Top 7 Communication Apps to Use While Travelling.

How Can I receive SMS Messages Overseas?

When traveling overseas, you have a few different options for receiving SMS messages:

Option 1 – International plans via US carriers

For most providers, you have an option to use an international plan, which covers international texting. Here are some common providers, and some of the options available for international plans:

T-Mobile

The T-Mobile Magenta plan is great for short trips, where you don’t plan on staying abroad for an extended period plan. With the T-Mobile Magenta plan, international texting and data are unlimited in 210 countries and nations. This plan also includes calling landlines in 70+ countries, or calling and texting to cell phones in 30+ countries. You can check to see what kind of coverage you will have here.

Verizon

Verizon offers multiple plans for either short or long term international trips international plans depending on how connected you need to be.

If you’re having a difficult time deciding which plan you need, Verizon also has a great guide to help you pick out what plan or upgrade you will need for your travels.

Sprint

With Sprint, you have free unlimited SMS and basic data abroad with any smartphone enabled plan in 200+ countries. You only have to pay $.25/call while abroad.

AT&T

AT&T offers a passport plan for either short term trip or for extended international stays.

Option 2 – Google Voice Phone Number

If you’re looking to ditch your cell phone contract, Google voice is a great option. This allows you to be able to send and receive text messages and phone calls via Wi-Fi, making this a much cheaper option. All you have to do is set it up and tell your friends and family about your new phone number.

Additionally, if you’re not on Wi-Fi, Google voice will transcribe the audio so you can read it later. You can use the google voice app to text or you can text via Wi-Fi anytime you’re on Wi-Fi.

Can You Text on Airplane Mode?

This varies depending on each provider, but as a general rule, anytime you need to have your cellular data shut off for more than 2 days (48) hours, you may not receive the messages sent to you.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

Each provider will have a unique “retry” period, in which it will attempt to send the message. If the message is not delivered within this period, the provider will stop trying to send the message, and it will be discarded.

Summary Of International Texting

Just to hammer the main points home –

DO NOT send SMS messages or text messages while traveling overseas unless you want to pay out the nose for them. (Also remember that it’s usually not possible to send SMS over Wi-Fi.)

You CAN receive SMS messages/texts, but you might pay for them. So turn off your cell phone data by putting your phone in Airplane Mode and turning on Wi-Fi.

You CAN receive messages (non-SMS) over Wi-Fi, for free.

You CANNOT send or receive SMS messages (“texts”) via your cell phone carrier when you are in Airplane Mode.

Can I text via SMS? A Guide to Sending & Receiving Texts Internationally [2022]

Eventually, we may not even need cell phone carriers to keep in touch but, until then and until you get rid of your cell phone plan, be careful of extra charges when traveling overseas. They’re simply not worth it when you have so many free options available.

Again, just remember that SMS is always associated with your carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) and a message can be either a text message synonymous with SMS or a non-SMS text message image, or other form of communication.

What Have YOU Learned about Sending SMS or Text Messages Overseas? What Would You Like to Learn?

Do you have other questions or see anything I’m missing? Please feel free to drop your questions or comments below.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

baby boomer on laptop

If you come from the baby boom generation, then you face some unique issues when it comes to work. Baby boomers who have had a job for 20 or 30 years (or more) are usually thinking about retirement, but aren’t necessarily ready to not work either because you don’t want a lot of free time on your hands or you can’t afford to financially.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

With the ever-changing times and the demands of the world these days, labor statistics show that more and more people from the baby boom generation are worried about their social security.

Some of you may have even lost your job due to the economic downturn and now find yourself trying to compete with people half your age, with some still in high school, for a position or company you’re not even interested in and really don’t want. What are you to do with your life now? Instead of pushing carts at Walmart, have you considered working remotely?

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

Baby Boomers and Working Remotely

Luckily, the Internet spans most areas of the world, allowing you to work from anywhere. You can set your own schedule and create your own routine (enabling you to work around family and other obligations) right from the comfort of your own home.

These days, you don’t need to be living in urban areas just to keep a good job. You can easily be employed in a great company despite not living in a city. After all, virtually all the jobs you can think of are available at your fingertips.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

Additionally, baby boomers have built up certain high level skill sets in various industries thanks to a combination of decades of service, perhaps higher education, growth with employers, and insights gained from dealing with customers and various clients.

More importantly, I would argue that these skills are 100% transferable to the LiveWorkAnywhere model for many boomers. Needless to say, this greatly increases your online work options as a baby boomer looking for a full or part-time career.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

By 2020, freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the full time workforce.

The number of freelance workers is projected to outpace full-time workers by 2020. The economy is rapidly shifting to a more contingent workforce, with recent estimates by the Freelancers Union of 42 million American independent workers, up from 10.3 million workers in 2005.”  – Forbes

There are several jobs and projects in which you do not have to actually be there in person to perform.  If you’re a baby boomer who had a career as a trademark attorney, for example, perhaps you could transfer your skills to consulting and meet your clients via web and phone.

It’s no longer expected that you meet with customers or clients face-to-face in your company office all the time. Technology offers so many boomers a myriad of benefits these days, and the convenience of not driving to a congested city for a single meeting but still being able to deliver on your job is one of them.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

If you were a sales executive or a customer service representative, your efforts for growth in your career can be trimmed thanks to the benefits of remote work. Get rid of the car, use a US-based number, and make calls from wherever you live. You can even hire a team to do the majority of the work for you or offer you assistance while you focus on client acquisition and customer satisfaction.

Perhaps there is another service you can offer to your existing client base and customers? Something you can do without even leaving your house. Baby boomers have many online work options, creating new growth pathways for their careers without the need to go to the city, lowering their living expenses, and allowing them to live and work remotely.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

Telecommuting is not a buzzword, it’s a reality. Many boomers should accept that this is the future for several industries. It’s time to start embracing the benefits and putting in the efforts to turn into the boomer computer generation.

You start with your dream and your skills and work backward to find flexible employment that can offer you great income and that you will enjoy at your age. That’s all fine, you say, but what if you’re one of the baby boomers who don’t have time to start with their dream? What if you’re a baby boomer who needs something NOW?

Transferrable Skills for Baby Boomers Looking to Work Online

If you are in need of augmenting or supplementing your income, there are several online positions you can do right now from home with just a computer. Here is a list of skill sets that are great for remote, online work:

Less specialized baby boomer skills

  • Admin support
  • Bookkeeping
  • Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading
  • Paralegal
  • Translation
  • Virtual assistant
  • Telemarketing
  • Telesales
  • Blogging support
  • Market research
  • Advertising support
  • Customer service representative
  • Medical research

More specialized baby boomer skills

  • IT & Programming
  • Graphic Design
  • Animation
  • Online Sales
  • Accounting
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Technical writing
  • Consulting
  • Patent / Trademark / Legal
  • Medical equipment consulting

What Are The First Steps for Baby Boomers Who Want to Work Remotely?

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

This is where the work begins, so here is a step-by-step guide to help baby boomers transition to online work as smoothly as possible.

1. Build Your Online Profile

Are you on LinkedIn?  If you are, is your profile current?  How many connections or friends do you have? Unlike previous generations where word of mouth is enough, the baby boom generation needs to network to succeed in the remote world.

You should have at least 500+ so, if you don’t, then you need to get busy. Join groups in your field and network with others. Search for friends in schools where you earned your high school diploma and where you completed higher education.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

Look at your company list or places of employment and find previous employers and employees, customers, business partners, team members, and other people you collaborated with on projects in the past. Connect with other baby boomers and people of the same age or from previous generations who work remotely in your field so you can learn from them.

2.  Build Your Professional Profile

What are your skills?  To answer this, simply take your resume and transform it into a business portfolio.  If you were an attorney, for instance, make a list of all of the professional services that you would offer and include some key milestones from your career.  Package yourself to market yourself.

How Baby Boomers Can Work Remotely from the Internet

3. Transfer Your Profile

Create a website (there are several ways to make a free website – weebly.com, wix.com, wordpress.org, squarespace.com, and Google sites, just to name a few) where you can showcase all of your talents.  If you don’t want to spend time creating and marketing a site yet, then you can at least sign up on a site like Elance.com where you can build your own profile and have them market it for you within their freelancer marketplace.

4. Build Your Routine

Know how many hours you are available, the income you want to make (be sure to look around so you are price competitive with the market – too low is okay to start, but doesn’t show high quality; too much and you’ll drive potential customers away), the employment benefits you want to receive from future employers, and what your monthly revenue goals are in each position you plan to pursue. The more you know what you want, the easier it is to create the routine to get it.

Boomer with computer

5. Get Started

Nothing new is ever easy.  You will be challenged.  But you spent your entire professional career meeting challenges head-on and look how far you’ve come.  You can transfer your skills and create supplemental income or even prepare to hit the road with your new business and be successful no matter what stage of the game you are in – even as a baby boomer.

Tell me – what other questions do you have?  Where should we dig in deeper?

Please leave a comment below.

 

Best Mobile Hotspot Devices [2022]

liveworkanywhere

WiFi is the lifeblood of any digital nomad, but it’s often the most challenging to access. After all, how will you stay connected with your clients and deadlines if you don’t have a reliable internet connection? That said, though, finding good signal can be challenging even in more developed areas like cafes or hotels. Meanwhile, that becomes downright virtually impossible when you travel to remote villages. This is where mobile hotspot devices come in.

Best Portable Wifi Hotspot Devices for Traveling and Working Remote [2022]

For digital nomads and remote workers, stable internet access is a must. Whether you’re working on a laptop at a cozy coffee shop or trying to get some tasks done on your mobile phone during your commute, being able to connect to the world wide web is a gamechanger when it comes to productivity.

Mobile hotspot devices provide a great option to ensure a reliable internet connection. These devices create a small wireless network that you can connect to with your devices.

As a digital nomad, you may benefit from mifi device features such as a battery-saving mode and the ability to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. You can gain a more in-depth understanding of global wifi and mobile hotspots in our Ultimate Internet Guide for Digital Nomads.

liveworkanywhere

Mobile hotspot devices can connect more than your laptops to the internet. These can also work just fine with your tablet, camera, and pretty much any gadget that’s wi-fi enabled. These can support multiple connections better compared to your phone’s mobile wifi hotspot mode as well as ensure that you don’t drain your phone battery.

In certain countries where cellular coverage might pose a problem and you might be worried about getting a secure connection, you can hook up these portable wifi hotspot devices to antennas to achieve better internet connection.

When looking for a mobile hotspot for digital nomads, keep the following factors in mind:

Battery life

A vital consideration when it comes to choosing a mobile hotspot device for international travel is battery life, which can range from lasting a full day on a single charge to a measly few hours. Some devices provide extra portable batteries, while others allow you to even use the mobile hotspot as a powerbank.

Determine your expectations about your wifi connection. If you plan to use the internet all day long and need to be constantly connected to search for restaurants or museums, you might need a mobile hotspot device with a longer battery life. Meanwhile, if you don’t really need wifi connection for the entire day or only need WiFi for a handful of hours, then splurging for an extra battery might not be worth it.

Budget and data allowance

The price of the device isn’t the only consideration when it comes to portable WiFi for travel. Depending on your provider and chosen mobile hotspot plan — whether you’re opting for international roaming plans or buying a local sim card when you visit other countries — you will probably have a limited use rate monthly or even daily. On top of your general mobile plan, this will also determine how much data you can use. This would also most likely affect your data speed.

If you’re under a tight budget, you should figure out how to compromise with regard your plan’s speed or data cap. Generally, though, the longer you avail of the hotspot plan, the lower the costs.

Size and weight

Mobile hotspot devices need to be exactly that: mobile. Your device needs to be portable and easy to pack. While opting for the more compact devices is the norm these days, the decision is dependent on your needs and how you envision your days.

If you’re mostly on the move, particularly on foot or use public transport, then choosing a smaller mobile hotspot device for international travel would be better for your needs. On the other hand, if you’re one of the remote professionals who plan to use the wifi device for business or corporate trips and have remote jobs requiring you to spend most hours in a single location, then a bigger hotspot device that offers longer battery life or a portable battery would benefit you more.

Check out our list and find the best mobile hotspot that suits your needs.

Best overall mobile hotspot: Skyroam Solis X

Skyroam Solis X is a new addition to the Skyroam family of mobile hotspot devices. This Skyroam device is different from its predecessors. This sleek little gadget, which basically looks like an orange puck, offers lightning-fast wifi speeds, allowing you to stay connected anytime, anywhere. Plus, the Skyroam Solis X comes equipped with a built-in power bank to keep your devices charged while you’re on the go. Simply plug your gadget in the allotted USB port, and you’re good to go.

The Skyroam Solis X wifi Smartspot sold out within the first day of its release. In fact, there were overwhelming positive Skyroam Solis X wifi Smartspot reviews from those who were able to get their hands on one. Now that the Skyroam Solis X wifi Smartspot is back in stock, I decided to take a closer look at this Skyroam device and see if it lives up to the hype.

liveworkanywhere

The power button can be found at the top part of the device. A white stripe serves as the indicator for your remaining battery life, while three blinking indicator lights will tell you whether you have a good data connection.

One side of the Solis X is equipped with an 8MP camera, while the other side holds the USB-C port that you use to charge the mobile hotspot and connect your gadgets when you need a powerbank. While this is a great feature, one concern is that the powerbank can be very slow in charging your gadgets.

At the bottom, you can find a QR code. Scanning this will lead you to the Solis app, which you can connect to your smartphone. If that’s not enough, the Skyroam Solis X’s LED display can also be used as a flashlight or an emergency beacon.

Skyroam offers multiple plans depending on your needs, ranging from a single day pass to month-long contracts with unlimited data. Check out the pricing plans here.

The expected battery life for the Skyroam Solis X is 18 hours, but it only lasted roughly 10 hours when I used it. Considering that I tested it by connecting my two smartphones and laptop while also using it as a powerbank, this is pretty impressive.

With that in mind, one thing I found challenging with the Skyroam Solis X is the design of its charging port. The USB-C charging port for this device has a tiny ridge that makes it incompatible with many types of USB-C cables. Skyroam solves this issue, though, by including a USB-A adapter in the package.

After testing the Skyroam Solis X wifi Smartspot, I can say that it is an impressive device that offers excellent value for its price. Although it doesn’t come with a rental option, this device works in more than 130 countries covered. So, the Skyroam Solis X can be considered a worthy investment for digital nomads.

Best no-frills mobile hotspot: Skyroam Solis Lite

For those who don’t need the bells and whistles offered by Skyroam Solis X, there’s Solis Lite. Like the Solis X, this portable wifi device can also support up to 10 devices. It’s also small enough to easily fit in your pocket and weighs roughly the same as a regular smartphone. Considering that this gadget offers a rental option starting at $9 per day, this is a great alternative for those who want a no-frills Skyroam device.

It has the same look as the Skyroam Solis X, including the convenient QR code at the bottom for the mobile app and the problematic USB-C charging port that makes it challenging to use third-party cables. It also works as a powerbank, but likes the Solis X, it charges devices quite slowly at 5V/1A.

liveworkanywhere

What differentiates the Solis X from the Solis Lite is the absence of the remote-enabled camera, speaker, and microphone, which are used for the built-in smart assistant. That means the Solis Lite is simply your basic international hotspot device with no special features and focuses solely on providing internet access. Truth be told, I didn’t really miss the smart features of the Solis X and actually prefer this option for my digital nomad needs.

Best 5G mobile hotspot: NETGEAR Nighthawk M5

NETGEAR’s Nighthawk M5 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro is one of the latest mobile hotspot devices to hit the market. NETGEAR is known for its high-quality router products, so I was curious to see how its portable wifi device would perform. The Nighthawk M5 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro did not disappoint. The device is easy to set up and use, and it offers fast reliable connectivity. I was also impressed by the Nighthawk’s battery life; I was able to use it for several hours before needing to recharge.

Theoretically, 5G can go as fast as 10 to 50 Gbps, but that’s a long way off. 5G mobile broadband should be 11 times faster than 4G if the signal is strong enough. However, there’s a catch: the Nighthawk M5 will only run at 5G speeds if you have a strong 5G signal. If you are in an outlying area, you may only get 3G or 4G speeds.

In real-world testing, I was able to consistently get speeds in excess of 100Mbps on both bands. The Nighthawk M5 also supports up to 32 concurrent connections, so you shouldn’t have any trouble connecting all your devices. It’s ideal for teams or small groups.

liveworkanywhere
Source: Netgear

One of the best features of the Nighthawk M5 is its battery life. NETGEAR claims that the Nighthawk M5 can last up to 13 hours on a single charge. In practice, I discovered that this varies greatly; Wifi-6 and 5G / LTE are simply power hogs. Nonetheless, a realistic time frame of 6 to 9 hours is still good value.

However, what makes the Nighthawk M5 stand out is the fact that it’s the first C-Band hotspot in the US. Let me offer a bit of context to explain why this is a great feature. While the services of the 5G networks aren’t exactly noticeably faster than 4G networks these days, this situation will change in the coming years. When this happens, you will need a C-Band gadget to be able to take advantage of the additional capacity.

Actually, the iPhone 12 and up phones, the Samsung Galaxy series starting from the S21, and Google Pixel 5 and above are already using C-Band. Before the Nighthawk M5, no mobile hotspot has ever supported this technology.

All these features come at a steep price of $699.99. This is generally more expensive than most mobile hotspot devices and plans.

Before you get one, make sure to check the model you’re buying. The US version doesn’t seem to support 5G outside North America, which means it’ll only work as a 4G hotspot abroad. According to Netgear, this hotspot device is most compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. If you get the international version, you’ll be able to take advantage of a different group of 5G bands in most countries.

Best plug-and-play mobile hotspot: GlocalMe Mini Turbo Wi-Fi Hotspot

You can say goodbye to expensive international roaming charges and spotty public Wi-Fi with the GlocalMe Mini Turbo Wi-Fi Hotspot. This handy little device offers fast connection and dependable LTE coverage in over 140 countries, making it an indispensable travel companion for the modern digital nomad.

I had never used a touchscreen portable wifi before the GlocalMe G4 Pro Smart 4G Mobile Global Wi-Fi Hotspot. The previous mobile hotspots I used made the apps linked to the devices indispensable, which means I needed them whenever I had to check my remaining data or battery life. This made this particular mobile hotspot different. All those information are readily displayed on the 5-inch touchscreen of the GlocalMe G4 PRO as well as in its user friendly app.

liveworkanywhere
Source: GlocalMe

The touchscreen makes it easy and convenient to add data. Plus, it already has Google Maps, voice recognition translator, and TripAdvisor installed. Its straightforward interface and limited but essential options almost feel like a user-friendly apps on my smartphone, so there is an innate comfort in using it to set things up.

The GlocalMe Mini Turbo is also extremely simple to use; just insert a SIM card and connect up to 10 devices to the hotspot. With a battery life of up to 10 hours, you can be confident that you’ll always have a reliable connection, even on long trips.

Best unlocked mobile hotspot: Huawei E5576-320 Portable 4G

The Huawei E5576-320 Portable 4G is one of the low-cost options for mobile hotspot devices on the market. I was curious to see how this device would perform and how it would compare to the more expensive options, so I decided to put it to the test. I have to say, I was impressed with the Huawei E5576-320 Portable 4G.

With 150Mbps download speeds and 50Mbps uploads, this is a great mobile hotspot option that’s tiny, lightweight, and easy to transport. You can also connect up to 10 devices to this 4G mobile router, which has a standby time of 350 hours and a working time of 6 hours, thanks to its 1500mAh battery.

liveworkanywhere

The Huawei E5576 was easy to set up and use, and it provided a reliable connection even in areas with poor cell coverage. Unfortunately, this device only works in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. For countries outside this list like the US, Canada, and Mexico, you’ll need to get a separate Huawei hotspot device.

Overall, the Huawei E5576-320 Portable 4G is relatively affordable, making it a great option for budget-conscious digital nomads. Like the Skyroam Solis Lite, the Huawei E5576-320 Portable 4G is simply a no-frills low-cost mobile router. Basically, this mobile hotspot device focuses solely on connecting your gadgets to the internet, no matter where you are.

Best mobile hotspot for remote areas: Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L Wi-Fi Hotspot

Verizon’s Jetpack MiFi 8800L is one of the best mobile hotspot devices on the market. Like the previous models, this one also comes in matte black and gray and is a plastic oval that’s about the size of a deck of cards with a touchscreen front. It has two external antenna ports plus a USB-C port.

It can connect up to 15 devices at once and has a built-in battery that lasts up to 15 hours. On top of these, the Jetpack MiFi 8800L also works great for digital nomads who want to explore extremely rural areas. This is because unlike other units that can only see 3G in these remote places, Verizon’s wifi hotspot can actually still offer 4G LTE.

liveworkanywhere
Source: Verizon

If you’re worried about data overage charges, don’t be – Verizon offers unlimited data plans for Jetpack MiFi 8800L devices. So whether you’re working on the go or just want to stay connected while traveling, Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L is the perfect solution.

Best low-cost prepaid mobile hotspot: ZTE ZMax Connect MF928

As long as you have a compatible AT&T or T-Mobile prepaid service plan, you can use the ZTE ZMax Connect MF928 hotspot. Like most low-cost mobile hotspots, this device also comes in the form of a tiny black box that’s roughly the size of a playing card. Unlike the more expensive options like the Skyroam Solis X, it has no dedicated indicator for battery life or signal strength.

However, the ZTE ZMax Connect MF928 offers a special feature. It has a pair of TS9 antenna ports, which could be used to attach an external antenna to boost the signal. Its LTE covers AT&T and T-Mobile but doesn’t include Verizon and other foreign providers. Moreover, the hotspot’s internet speed tends to flounder when it reaches LTE performance. It becomes more problematic when additional you try to add more than two devices at a time, with the issue being more obvious when you’re having Zoom calls.

liveworkanywhere

I appreciate the wifi management options, though. I like the accompanying mobile app, which sends me updates on data usage and allows me to tweak the hotspot’s settings.

The ZMax Connect MF928 supports up to 10 devices at a time and can last up to 10 hours, making it ideal for international travelers and digital nomads who need to work remotely while on the road. Overall, the ZTE ZMax Connect MF928 is a great option for those who need a reliable and affordable mobile hotspot device.

How to maximize your mobile hotspot plan

Mobile hotspot plans evolve all the time. If you add a hotspot data plan to an existing “unlimited” phone plan, Verizon gives you up to 50GB of high-speed data, 40GB from AT&T, and 40GB from T-Mobile. Once you consume that, the carriers tend to “deprioritize” your data or start to throttle it randomly.

So if you’re an AT&T or Verizon subscriber, the best way to make the most of your mobile hotspot data plan is to add your hotspot line as a separate line to your pre-existing phone plan. That offers you the most data for your budget.

Reality check

Admittedly, some of the devices listed here are pretty old. That’s because mobile hotspots have not exactly progressed as quickly as other technologies. While I’m not thrilled over this lack of innovation, I’m still grateful that these mobile internet devices are available to make our lives easier. However, I’m hoping to see more wifi hotspots with the most advanced 5G technologies out in the market soon and making our digital nomad life easier and more convenient!

Conclusion

Talking about portable hotspot devices brings back memories, particularly one that started out cold and daunting. I was driving around the Ring Road in Iceland when the roads got narrower and icier. Everything was foggy, and I had no idea where I was since I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t tell where I was going. Eventually, I realized that I had been driving in circles for hours on end, and it felt like there was no way out.

Thank goodness I had my mobile hotspot device with me, which turned out to be a lifesaver. I used it to help me navigate the Ring Road. The fact that I had something with me that allowed me to still be able to communicate with my family and friends as well as help me navigate the unknown place offered me an invaluable sense of comfort and relief.

liveworkanywhere

Truth be told, I would have felt a lot less safe traversing that road in Iceland without my mobile hotspot device. It just felt better because I knew I could rely on something in case of emergencies–or in this case, led me to a spectacular town with hot springs that soothe my frayed nerves and sore muscles.

These days, it’s hard to imagine life without the internet. Whether I’m working from a cafe in Barcelona or a hotel in Bali, I need to be able to stay connected. Plus, mobile hotspot devices have been a lifesaver. On more than one occasion, I’ve been out and about without any wifi, only to find that my mobile hotspot device has come to the rescue.

I’ve also used mobile hotspot devices to stay connected when travelling through remote areas where there is no cell service. So if you’re looking for a way to stay connected while on the go–whether you’re trying to check directions, find a nearby restaurant, or just stay connected with friends and family–I highly recommend investing in a mobile hotspot device. You’ll never know when you’ll need it!

How to Become a Digital Nomad & Live/Work from Anywhere [2022]

how to become digital nomad

Being on a beach and making money from a laptop is the dream of thousands of aspiring digital nomads. With just a laptop and an internet connection, digital nomads can work from anywhere in the world – whether they’re exploring Europe, soaking up the sun in Southeast Asia, or enjoying a coffee in a local cafe.

Of course, becoming a digital nomad is not as simple as packing your bags and saying goodbye to your cubicle. There are a few things you need to do before you can start living a digital nomad life.

What is a digital nomad?

The best way to become a digital nomad is to first understand what it is and what it isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, being a digital nomad doesn’t mean working from a laptop on a beach somewhere and sipping cocktails (though that is certainly part of it). It’s actually a lot more than that.

A digital nomad is someone who uses technology to make a living, whether that’s through freelance work, online businesses, or some other form of income. The key defining factor is that they’re location independent, which means they can work from anywhere in the world.

Basically, a digital nomad is a term used for people who travel the world with a laptop and a backpack. It used to primarily mean young professionals and entrepreneurs who could up and leave, travel somewhere warm and inexpensive, and play geographical arbitrage with where to live/work.

But the truth is that anyone can become a digital nomad, even with no prior experience or skills. I started LiveWorkAnywhere in 2007 with the goal of figuring out how to become a digital nomad. I bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica in 2009 and never looked back.

I learned the hard way, on low-bandwidth, shared Internet, and before smartphones existed. I want to help you navigate the hurdles I experienced and get you living the digital nomad lifestyle now.

We’ve come a very long way to 2022. Really, with high-speed Internet being abundant and everyone having a laptop and smartphone, there’s no excuse not to become a digital nomad. The only obstacles typically are planning and preparation, and taking the leap.

I still have the same mission – for every single person to be able to become a digital nomad and be location independent if they choose.

So if you’re curious about digital nomadism or want to become a digital nomad, here’s everything you need to know.

First things first – let’s start with the basics.

Who is a digital nomad?

The term “digital nomad” conjures images of 20-somethings working on their laptops from exotic beaches, but the reality is that anyone can become a digital nomad. As of 2022, almost half of digital nomads across the globe are in their 30s, with roughly 35% being in the 40-59 age group.

A digital nomad is simply someone who works remotely, without being tied to a specific location. This can be done by working for a remote company, or by running a location-independent business.

A digital nomad is someone who uses technology to work remotely, often from different locations around the world. This can mean anything from working on your laptop at a coffee shop in Paris to running a business from your RV as you travel across America. There are many benefits to being a digital nomad, including the ability to work from anywhere in the world and the freedom to create your own schedule.

How to become a digital nomad

The key defining factor of a digital nomad is that they have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection.

Simply, it’s a person with a laptop who works online and has the freedom to be anywhere, anytime.

Digital nomadism is a rapidly growing lifestyle with more and more people looking to escape the traditional workforce and live a laptop lifestyle.

Before learning how to become a digital nomad, it’s important to understand the two types of digital nomads:

Type One: The digital nomad who wants to live the laptop lifestyle but also maintains a home base. They often have an apartment or condo in a city they frequently return to.

Type Two: The digital nomad who wants to travel the world and work from anywhere. They often have no permanent home base, living out of a suitcase most of the time.

The digital nomad lifestyle is not for everyone – it takes a lot of planning, self-discipline, and motivation. But if you’re looking for freedom, flexibility, and adventure, digital nomadism might be for you.

Here are some of the most common questions I get asked about digital nomads:

What are the pros and cons of being a digital nomad?

I’d love to tell you that being a digital nomad is all rainbows and butterflies. But, as with everything, you have to balance the good and the bad. Before you decide if you truly want to become a digital nomad, it’s crucial to know the pros and cons of the nomad life.

Pros of becoming a digital nomad

The digital nomad lifestyle is often romanticized as a life of constant travel and adventure. While it’s true that digital nomads do enjoy a great deal of freedom, there are also some very practical benefits to this lifestyle.

One of the biggest advantages is that it allows you to be with your family when they need you and without having to sacrifice your career. With traditional jobs, it can be difficult to take time off for family emergencies or even just for quality time together.

But with a digital nomad lifestyle, as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection, you can work from anywhere. That means that if your family needs you, you can be there for them without having to worry about work because of your location independence.

As for those with young children, you can even homeschool them while you travel the world and work remotely. So if you’re looking for a way to balance your career and your family life, the digital nomad lifestyle is an excellent option.

Another major advantage of being a digital nomad is the ability to make money from anywhere across the globe online – and, never have to stop exploring the planet. The digital nomad life is the perfect way to see the world and have amazing adventures while getting paid to do it.

Being a digital nomad means having a remote job, which allows you to live a nomadic lifestyle. That means you can move around and travel as you please.

Plus, you have the freedom and flexibility to work on your own schedule. You’re your own boss, so you can set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want.

How to become a digital nomad

One more benefit for digital nomads is that there’s no such thing as office politics. No more water cooler gossip, no more backstabbing colleagues, and no more worrying about what your boss thinks of you. No more having to tiptoe around the delicate egos of your co-workers or kiss up to the boss in hopes of getting a raise.

Of course, that’s not to say that there isn’t any politics in the digital world – after all, there are still plenty of people vying for attention and clients. But digital nomads are quick to point out that politics are very different when you’re not dealing with people face-to-face.

When you work online, though, it’s easier to focus on improving productivity, becoming more efficient remote workers, and honing their digital nomad skills to land highly coveted remote jobs.

Finally, the digital nomad life is often one of increased motivation and effectiveness their remote jobs. Whether it’s the stunning beaches of Bali or the rolling hills of Tuscany, there’s no doubt that working surrounded by natural beauty can be a huge boost to creativity and productivity.

Being able to work remotely means that nomads are not tied to one location and can choose to work from wherever they desire. This flexibility often leads to nomads seeking locations that offer stunning natural beauty, as the peaceful surroundings can help boost their innovative spirit and ingenuity.

After all, there’s nothing quite like working from a sun-drenched beach or a snowy mountain cabin to get the creative juices flowing.

Cons of becoming a digital nomad

The nomadic life isn’t for everyone. It isn’t all Instagrammable avocado toast and #wanderlust. In fact, most digital nomads eventually crumble under pressure and give up on their nomadic dream. For those who manage to stick it out, there are a few disadvantages to contend with.

First, there’s the matter of constantly being on the move. Remote work may be freeing in some respects, but it can also be exhausting. You never really get to put down roots anywhere, and you’re always saying goodbye to friends and colleagues.

Second, there’s the issue of isolation. Most digital nomads work remotely, which means they don’t have the opportunity to socialize with co-workers or meet new people on a regular basis. When you’re living out of a suitcase, it can be difficult to connect with people on a deeper level.

Third, it can be really tough to stay focused when you’re constantly on the move. There’s no such thing as a “normal” day when you’re a nomad, which can make it hard to stick to a routine or get into a productive flow state to quickly fulfill your remote job responsibilities.

Fourth, let’s not forget about all the logistical challenges that come with living a nomadic life – think finding a place to live and work that has good stable internet connection. Whether you’re working from a co-working space in Bali or your van parked in a campsite in Joshua Tree, reliable internet access is not always guaranteed.

How to become a digital nomad

This can make it difficult to stay in touch with family and friends back home, as well as stay on top of work deadlines. Living a nomad life often means having to deal with unreliable internet connections and a lack of reliable infrastructure.

Fifth, the nomadic lifestyle has a few hidden costs that can add up quickly, such as health insurance and travel expenses. You’ll need to find a way to pay for your own health insurance. This can be a challenge, as most traditional health insurance plans don’t cover nomads who are constantly on the move.

There are a few options available, such as nomadic insurance plans or international health insurance, but they can be expensive. Make sure to do your research before choosing a plan.

Finally, there’s the question of financial stability. For most digital nomads, being financial unstable is just a part of the package. Remote work gives us the freedom to pick up and move to wherever we want, but it also means saying goodbye to the stability of a regular paycheck.

Because when your income is derived from remote work, there’s always the possibility that you could lose your job or clients at any time. And even if you do have a steady stream of work, the nomadic lifestyle can be expensive, since you’re always on the move and often have to pay for things like accommodation and transport in advance.

So, if you’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad, just know that it’s not all glamping and yoga retreats. There’s a lot of hard work and uncertainty involved. For those who live nomadically, financial insecurity is just a fact of life. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sure, it can be scary not knowing how much money you’ll have coming in each month. But it also teaches us to be resourceful and budget carefully.

How to become a digital nomad: Where to start

There are a variety of ways to make money as a digital nomad. There are many online businesses that can be started with minimal investment. However, the first step is to figure out the path you want to take towards digital nomadism.

There are a few ways to become a digital nomad:

Path One: Quit your job and travel the world. This is the path I took and it’s not for everyone. It requires a high-risk tolerance. I tend to leap and then figure out the steps.

Path Two: Transition into digital nomadism gradually. If you’re not ready to quit your job, you can start by working remotely a few days a week. Once you’re comfortable with that, transition into working remotely full-time. You can kick off with a side hustle then move into that or ask your boss for a few days per week to prove you can be productive.

Requesting that arrangement from your boss shouldn’t be a problem. After all, the remote working trend is not new, and it appears to be taking off due to the changes caused by COVID-19.

How to become a digital nomad

In 2021, many companies are beginning to offer their employees a chance at permanently being able to do their jobs from home. In 2021, 42% of US employers report that their staff have to work from home. While we have yet to see permanent changes, 66% of the respondents are optimistic that remote work will become a fixture in time.

Path Three: Start a digital nomad business. This is the path most digital nomads prefer as it gives them the most flexibility and freedom. Actually, over 53% of remote workers point out that flexibility is the most highly appreciated perk they enjoy in being a digital nomad. You can work from anywhere, anytime, and don’t have to quit your job.

If you’re ready to take the leap and become a digital nomad, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started and give you an idea on how to become a digital nomad.

Step One: Plan Your Escape

The first step is to plan your escape. For the remote worker, the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle is obvious: freedom. But with that freedom comes a great responsibility: choosing the right destination.

After all, not all remote-friendly destinations are created equal. Some offer access to fast internet and a vibrant community of other remote workers, while others are nothing more than a remote wasteland where you’ll be lucky to find a decent cup of coffee, let alone a strong Wi-Fi signal.

So how do you choose the right destination for your digital nomad adventure?

Some popular digital nomad destinations include:

For starters, there’s Bali. This Indonesian island is a mecca for remote workers, thanks to its laid-back vibes and idyllic setting. Bali has everything a digital nomad could want, from beautiful beaches to jungle trekking and amazing food. Plus, it’s relatively budget-friendly and easy to get around.

If you’re looking for a more urban experience, Taipei is quickly becoming one of the most popular digital nomad destinations in the world. There are plenty of coworking spaces and cafes where remote workers can set up shop, and the city is incredibly easy to navigate. And, thanks to its convenient location and relatively affordable cost of living, Taipei is an ideal base for exploring Asia.

How to become a digital nomad

Another popular digital nomad destination is Thailand, and it’s not hard to see why. The country has a great climate, friendly people, and plenty of remote work opportunities. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive to live here, which is important for location-independent workers who need to watch their bottom line.

Meanwhile, remote workers who are looking for a change of scenery will find Puerto Rico appealing with its mix of sun, surf, and culture. Best of all, it’s relatively easy to become a digital nomad in Puerto Rico. There are no special visas or permits required, and the cost of living is relatively low.

Mexico is also a convenient destination for digital nomads who want to be close to the United States. With its close proximity, it’s easy to hop on a plane and head back to the States for a quick work trip or visit with family and friends. And, of course, Mexico is also a popular tourist destination, so you can enjoy all the benefits of living in a beautiful country with plenty of things to do and see.

Barcelona is another great destination for digital nomads. The city has a lively atmosphere and is packed with bars, restaurants, and cafes. There are also a number of coworking spaces that offer reliable internet connection, which makes it easy to find a place to work. In addition, Barcelona is well-connected, with excellent public transportation and an airport that offers direct flights to many European cities.

If you have no specific country in mind, you can start your search with the kind of accommodation you envision living in.

For example, what better way to achieve location independence than by living on a boat? While it may sound like a lifestyle reserved for the rich and famous, there are a number of affordable options for would-be digital nomads.

Houseboats, for instance, can often be rented for a fraction of the cost of an apartment, and many marinas offer special rates for long-term tenants.

How to become a digital noamd

If you’re a remote worker who wants to take the show on the road, there’s no better option than a yurt. These circular dwellings have been used by nomadic peoples for centuries, and they offer all the comforts of home while still providing a sense of adventure. Plus, they’re surprisingly easy to set up and take down, making them the perfect option for the digital nomad who likes to move around frequently.

Most importantly, yurts can be easily adapted to any climate, whether you’re looking to escape the winter cold or enjoy a summer in the mountains. So if you’ve ever dreamed of living a life of location Independence, a yurt just might be the perfect option for you.

Step Two: Quit Your Job (or transition into digital nomadism gradually)

If you’re ready to quit your job and become a digital nomad, here are the steps to take:

  • Talk to your boss about working remotely. This is becoming more and more common as technology allows us to work from anywhere.
  • Give notice and start transitioning into working remote a few days a week.
  • Transition into working remotely full-time.

If you’re not ready to quit your job, you can transition gradually into digital nomadism by:

  • Working remotely a few days a week.
  • Taking vacation time to travel and work from different locations.
  • Starting a digital nomad business.

Step Three: Earn income online

The next step is to generate revenue. There are a few ways digital nomads earn income:

  • freelancing
  • consulting
  • online courses
  • blogging
  • affiliate marketing

Assess your skillset. What kind of work can you do online? Are you a web developer? A graphic designer? A writer? Once you know what kind of work you can do, start reaching out to clients and employers in your field. Many companies are now open to hiring remote workers, so don’t be afraid to ask around.

Find something you’re good at and start offering your services online. Once you have a few clients, you can transition into working full-time as a digital nomad.

Step Four: Get Organized

The next step is to get organized and start planning your travels. Where do you want to go? How long do you want to stay there? What are your accommodation and transport options? Once you have all the logistics sorted, it’s time to hit the road and begin your digital nomad life.

If you choose to become a digital nomad gradually instead of jumping right into it, make sure to set up a workstation in your house with a good internet connection, power outlets, and a comfortable chair.

Step Five: Hit the Road

Now it’s time to hit the road! Start by booking your flight and accommodation. Once you’re in your destination, start looking for co-working spaces, cafes with good WiFi, and places to stay.

How do I make money as a digital nomad?

The digital nomad lifestyle offers a lot of freedom, but it also requires you to be more organized and self-disciplined than the average person. If you can master those two things, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful digital nomad!

There are many ways digital nomads make money while they travel. The most popular include freelancing, consulting, online courses, blogging, and affiliate marketing.

How to become a digital nomad

Freelancing is a great way to make money as a digital nomad. You can work in a variety of industries and fields, from writing and editing to web design and development.

To get started, create a profile on a freelancing platform like Upwork or Fiverr. Then, start bidding on projects that interest you. Once you land a few clients, you can transition into working full-time as a digital nomad.

Consulting is another great way to make money as a digital nomad. If you have expertise in a particular field, you can offer your services to companies and individuals all over the world.

Another excellent way to generate income as a digital income is through starting a blog. You can monetize your blog through advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling digital products like e-books and courses.

Affiliate marketing is also a wonderful way to make money as a digital nomad. It involves promoting other people’s products or services and earning a commission for every sale you make.

To get started, sign up for an affiliate marketing program like Amazon Associates or CJ Affiliate. Then, find products or services that you believe in and start promoting them on your blog or social media channels.

How to earn passive income as a digital nomad

Passive income is the dream, particularly for a digital nomad – you never have to stop traveling. However, setting up passive income takes work.

As a digital nomad, an ideal way to continue funding this lifestyle is to generate passive income. This way, even when you’re not working, you can still earn money.

Investing in real estate as a digital nomad can be a terrific way to generate passive income. It’s the best way that I’ve found over the years to travel and have income. You can buy properties in desirable locations and rent them out to short-term tenants.

Or, you can purchase dividend-paying stocks and bonds or online real estate investment funds that will provide you with regular income payments.

How to become a digital nomad

Starting your own online business is also a fantastic way to earn passive income, as digital nomads often have a lot of flexibility in terms of what they can do. A survey among digital nomads worldwide in 2022 revealed that most are self-employed, with more than 65% owning their own business.

For example, you could start an online store that sells products related to your niche. Or, you could launch a blog and sell digital products like e-books and online courses.

There are many different ways digital nomads can generate passive income. By choosing a couple of methods that interest you, you can create a reliable stream of revenue that will help fund your travels for years to come!

If you’re interested in generating passive income as a digital nomad, I suggest checking out my guide on the best ways to do it.

How to find digital nomad jobs?

What are the best digital nomad jobs? Where can you find them?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. The internet has opened up a whole world of opportunities for remote workers. With a little ingenuity and some hard work, it’s possible to find digital nomad jobs that offer the ideal blend of location independence, remote work, and decent income.

The best way to find these jobs is to start by looking at the skills that you already have. That is, the best digital nomad job for you will depend on your skillset, interests, and goals. Wondering where to begin?

To find remote job openings, start by searching job boards and websites that specialize in this sector. In the past, remote jobs were mostly reserved for highly skilled professionals with in-demand skills, such as software developers and designers. However, with the rise of the internet and the growing popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle, there are now a number of job boards that target digital nomad communities.

These job boards offer a wide range of remote jobs, from customer service and administrative positions to online marketing and social media jobs. Because they cater to remote workers, they often have a number of free resources online and tips for landing a remote job. If you’re interested in working online, be sure to check out one of these remote job boards.

How to become a digital nomad

Once you’ve found a few promising leads, it’s time to start applying. When applying for remote jobs, be sure that your profile matches the job description and highlight your digital nomad skills, such as the ability to work independently and manage your time effectively. With patience and effort, you can land the perfect remote job and start enjoying the freedom of working online.

While this digital nomad lifestyle has a lot of benefits, it can also be difficult to find steady work. That’s why I put together this guide on how to find digital nomad jobs. It features a list of skills, courses, and even personality traits to help you with your digital nomad journey.

The courses include suggestions for those just starting out, or you are already mid-career. You can choose a niche and become highly proficient in that niche.

What kinds of online businesses are best to start for digital nomads?

Digital nomads are a growing breed of entrepreneur. These remote workers are not tethered to a traditional office, and they have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. If you’re a digital nomad, or if you’re thinking about becoming one, you might be wondering what kind of online business is best to start. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

There are many different types of businesses digital nomads can start.

A business you can jumpstart immediately is freelancing. If you have skills in writing, web design, social media marketing, or any other area, you can start offering your services to clients online. However, remote work is not for everyone.

If you’re the type of person who needs structure and support in order to get work done, then freelance remote work is probably not for you. You need to be able to motivate and organize yourself in order to be successful in this remote profession.

How to become a digital nomad

However, if you’re the type of person who thrives on independence and enjoys being your own boss, then remote work can be an excellent option.

You can offer your services as a virtual assistant. Also known as a VA, a virtual assistant is a remote worker who provides administrative, creative, or technical support to clients from a remote location.

Depending on the freelance clients’ needs, virtual assistants could oversee everything from social media management to graphic design to customer service. Versatility is key when it comes to being a VA. This is a great option if you’re organized, detail-oriented, and good at managing your time.

Another option is to launch a remote job board. This can be a great way to help businesses connect with talented workers from around the globe. To succeed in this business, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the market. You’ll also need to put together an effective marketing strategy to reach your target audience.

One more excellent track for digital nomads is starting an online store. The internet has made it possible for anyone to become an online entrepreneur, and there are a number of platforms that make it easy to get started. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you launch your e-commerce empire.

First, you need to choose a niche. What are you going to sell? For example, if you’re a travel blogger, you could leverage your own blog to sell travel guides or e-books on your website. Second, you need to decide how you’re going to fulfill orders. Are you going to dropship? Finally, you need to establish a remote work schedule and lifestyle that will allow you to run your business effectively.

Fortunately, there are a number of free resources online available to help you get started as a digital nomad. Once you have the basics down, you can start selling your products and services online with relative ease. You can sell physical or digital products related to your niche.

If you’re interested in becoming an online entrepreneur as a digital nomad, I suggest checking out my guide on the best businesses to start.

Where can I find digital nomad communities? 

A full-time digital nomad can go anywhere. But, one of the biggest challenges digital nomads face is loneliness.

There’s no shortage of digital nomad communities out there. Digital nomad communities can be found all over the world, from the beaches of Bali to the streets of Berlin. You might say that there are too many of them!

There’s no one digital nomad community – they’re spread all across the globe. You can find digital nomads in big cities, small towns, and everywhere in between. There are even digital nomad communities in remote locations, like deserts and mountains. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the perfect one for you.

The first step is to decide what kind of community you’re looking for. Do you want a large, active community with tons of events and activities, or a smaller, more intimate group? There are pros and cons to both choices, so it’s important to decide what’s most important to you.

Once you’ve got a general idea of the kind of community you’re looking for, the next step is to start your search. The best way to find a digital nomad community is to search online. There are a number of online forums and groups dedicated to digital nomads, and many of them are very active.

You can also find digital nomad meetups in most major cities, and these are a great way to meet other digital nomads, gain new friends, and learn about the lifestyle.

Finally, if you’re traveling to a popular digital nomad destination, such as Bali or Chiang Mai, there are likely to be a number of digital nomad communities already established there.

For those who feel chained to their desk by the digital world, digital nomad communities may seem like a far-off dream. However, these digital oases are more common than you might think. Just a few of the most popular include:

  • NomadBase: A digital nomad community located in Thailand that is open to digital nomads from all over the world.
  • Nomad House: A digital nomad community located in Spain that offers temporary co-working space and lodging for digital nomads.
  • The Dojo: A digital nomad community located in Bali that offers a variety of amenities for digital nomads.

So, whether you’re looking for online or in-person digital nomad communities, you should have no trouble finding what you’re looking for.

Digital Nomad Checklist: Guide to Freedom

The digital nomad lifestyle is one of freedom and flexibility, but it’s not necessarily an easy one. There’s more to it than just packing your laptop and heading off into the sunset.

In order to be a successful digital nomad, you’ll need to plan ahead and make sure you have everything you need to stay productive (and sane) while working remotely.

How to become a digital nomad

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge into the world of remote work, there are a few things you’ll need to check off your list first. Here’s a digital nomad checklist to help you get started:

A good laptop

This is pretty much essential for any digital nomad, so it’s non-negotiable. To find the best laptop for your digital nomad needs, it’s important to do your research.

Remember, not all laptops are created equal. While there are many great laptops on the market, some are better suited for digital nomads than others.

In general, digital nomads should look for laptops that can handle the demands of remote work, such as video conferencing and multitasking, and promise long battery life and a good selection of ports.

If you’re constantly on the go, you’ll want a laptop that’s lightweight and portable. But if you’re mainly working from coffee shops and co-working spaces, you might prefer something with a little more horsepower. And of course, price is always a factor.

It’s vital that you look for a machine that can handle all your work needs whether you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, or web developer, there’s a laptop out there that will suit your needs. You’ll need something reliable to work on, after all!

A good internet connection

Digital nomads are a growing tribe of people who have embraced the freedom of working remotely. Whether it’s for a short-term project or an extended period of travel, digital nomads rely on portable wifi to stay connected and productive.

While the digital nomad lifestyle has its perks, it can also be fraught with challenges, particularly when it comes to finding reliable internet.

In fact, 65% of remote workers from the United States consider having a reliable internet connection as the leading concern when they’re choosing a destination or accommodation even just for short vacations trips.

Fortunately, there are now some great portable wifi options available for digital nomads, making it easier than ever to stay connected while on the go. Portable wifi hotspots offer a fast, reliable way to get online, whether you’re working from a coffee shop in Bangkok or a hostel in Rio de Janeiro.

Since they rely on cellular data networks instead of wifi hotspots, they’re much more reliable than relying on public wifi. Moreover, the fact that they’re small and lightweight makes them easy to take with you wherever you are in the world.

A place to live 

For digital nomads, the world is their oyster – but finding a place to stay can sometimes be a challenge. Fortunately, there are a few great resources that can help digital nomads find housing in their next destination.

First, there are websites specifically devoted to digital nomad housing, like NomadBase and Roam. These sites offer a variety of options, from co-living spaces to private apartments, and they make it easy to find housing that fits your budget and lifestyle.

How to become a digital nomad

You can also try search engines like Booking, VRBO, and Airbnb, which often have an extensive selection of digital nomad rentals available for a few weeks or months at a time. Most digital nomads choose co-living spaces specifically designed for the digital nomad lifestyle.

Finally, don’t forget about good old-fashioned networking – tell your friends and family you’re looking for somewhere to stay, and they might be able to show you the ideal place to suit your needs.

A comfortable place to work 

You’ll need to be comfortable working remotely. That means being able to stay focused and motivated without an office environment or set hours. You’ll need to find some remote work-friendly spots.

Coffee shops and libraries are always good bets. Some even enjoy working in hotel lobbies. But, co-working spaces are overall the best option for most digital nomads when it comes to remote work.

With the growing number of digital nomads, it comes as no surprise that there are also a growing number of coworking spaces that cater specifically to this group. These coworking spaces often offer features like fast Wi-Fi, plenty of outlets, and comfortable seating. In addition, some digital nomad coworking spaces provide amenities like bike storage, showers, and on-site cafes.

One great option is to search for digital nomad coworking spaces that offer a variety of seating options, like standing desks, lounge areas, and private meeting rooms. This way, you can mix up your workday and avoid sitting in the same spot for hours on end.

Another tip is to look for coworking spaces that have lots of natural light and plenty of outlets for charging your devices. And finally, be sure to check out the amenities offered and ensure they offer everything (or at least most things) you need.

Noise canceling headphones / earbuds

You’ll be spending a lot of time in coffee shops and co-working spaces, and trust me, you don’t want to hear your seatmate’s phone conversations. A pair of noise-cancelling headphones will come in handy, both for blocking out distractions and for making video calls in public places.

In picking what’s right for you, keep in mind that digital nomads need headphones that are durable and portable. We often work in coffee shops and other public places, so we need headphones that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Since the digital nomad lifestyle means being always on the go, we need headphones that are easy to pack and carry with us.

A sturdy backpack

For the digital nomad, a backpack is not just a fashion statement – it’s an essential piece of gear. After all, when you’re constantly on the move, you need to be able to pack light and stay organized. That means your backpack serves as your office, your bedroom, and your home away from home. So it’s important to choose the right backpack for the job.

First and foremost, it should be spacious and well-designed, with plenty of compartments for all your digital devices and cables. Second, it should be comfortable to wear, with padded shoulder straps and a hip belt that distribute the weight evenly. Finally, it should be stylish – because let’s face it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in coffee shops and co-working spaces, and you want to look good while doing it.

A travel adapter

As a digital nomad, I’ve come to rely on my travel adapter to keep me connected while I’m on the road. Whether I’m working from a remote location or simply keeping in touch with friends and family, my travel adapter is an essential part of my kit.

If you’re going to be working from all over the world, you’ll need an adapter that can handle multiple types of plugs. After all, you can’t exactly do your work from a cafe if you can’t plug in your laptop!

Some adapters are designed to work with a variety of different electrical outlets, making them ideal for use in countries with diverse power standards. Some also usually come equipped with multiple USB ports, so digital nomads can charge all their devices at once. Many models even come with built-in surge protection, ensuring that delicate electronics are protected from power spikes.

A virtual mailbox

As a digital nomad, I often find myself on the move, with no permanent mailing address. And if you rely on friends or family to hold onto your mail for you, they might eventually get tired of playing postal worker.

Even if you have a forwarding address, it’s not always convenient to get to your mail in a timely manner. That can be a problem when it comes to things like bills, packages, and other mail. Fortunately, there’s a solution: virtual mailboxes.

A virtual mailbox is a digital service that provides you with a physical mailing address. This can be particularly helpful if you need to receive mail while you’re travelling.

Whenever you receive mail at that address, the virtual mailbox provider will scan it and send you a digital copy. You can then view and manage your mail online, and even have it forwarded to your current location.

Virtual mailboxes are perfect for digital nomads who need a reliable way to stay on top of their mail.

Communication apps

If you’re a digital nomad, chances are you’ve got a pretty good handle on remote work. But what about remote communication? Just because you’re not in the same physical space as your team doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch and stay productive.

There are a number of great communication apps out there that can help digital nomads stay connected not only with their teams but with their family and friends back home as well.

Slack is a great all-in-one communication tool that can be used for everything from real-time chat to video calls. Zoom is another great option for video calls, and it’s especially handy if you need to share your screen or record a meeting. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, consider using WhatsApp or FaceTime. If you need to collaborate on documents, Google Drive is an essential tool for digital nomads.

How to become a digital nomad

In today’s increasingly connected world, more and more people are choosing to become digital nomads, working remotely from wherever they happen to be. While this lifestyle comes with many advantages, it can also present some challenges, especially when it comes to communication.

Fortunately, there are a number of apps that can make it easy for digital nomads to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, and friends. If you need more help in choosing the best communication apps for your digital nomad lifestyle, you can check out this article.

Local sim card 

Getting a local sim card is now less important if you have an iPhone or Samsung that has a T-Mobile plan. You can get off the plane, turn on your phone in 152+ countries, and it will work seamlessly.

However, there are still some great local sim cards if you want to save on rates and get a local number. Getting a local number is great for long-term travelers who don’t want higher phone bills, less data, and don’t want to rely on Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, and other apps to communicate while abroad.

If you do go the route of using your phone, there’s a trick I’ve used for years that still works to get a local US number while abroad.

Google voice

If you’re a digital nomad, Google Voice can be a lifesaver. It’s a US-based phone number that you can use while living abroad, and it’s perfect for keeping in touch with clients, family, and friends.

Here’s how to set it up:

First, create a google account if you don’t already have one. Then, go to Google Voice and click on “Create a new account.” Follow the prompts to choose your Google Voice number. You can select a number from any area code in the US.

Now that you have your Google Voice number, you can start using it right away. Simply give out your Google Voice number when someone asks for your phone number.

Prepare a Pre-Travel Checklist

For a digital nomad looking to go on a next adventure, it’s important to check out this pre-travel checklist before you hit the road. From ensuring that your laptop is backed up to packing your nomad essentials, this checklist will help you make sure that you’re prepared for anything.

How to become a digital nomad

First and foremost, be sure to back up all of your important files before you leave. Whether you’re working on a new website or just have some photos that you don’t want to lose, backing up your files will give you peace of mind while you’re traveling. You can use an external hard drive or cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

You should also make sure your passport is up to date and that you have all the necessary visas for your destination. Don’t forget to make copies of all your important documents, organize your finances, and set up a budget for your trip. This will help you avoid any unwanted surprises later on. Look into travel insurance to protect yourself from any potential risks as well.

To ensure you have everything you need, check out this full digital nomad pre-travel checklist.

Conclusion: Is Being A Digital Nomad Worth It?

For the longest time, the traditional 9-5 office job was the only way to make a living. But in recent years, that’s started to change. Thanks to the internet, more and more people are finding ways to make money online – and that’s led to the rise of the digital nomad.

So what is a digital nomad? In short, it’s someone who uses technology to work remotely, usually from a different location each day. That might mean working from a coffee shop in Madrid one day, and then from a beach in Bali the next.

These days, more and more people are opting to pursue the digital nomad lifestyle. There’s no doubt that the digital nomad lifestyle is alluring.

And who wouldn’t want to trade in their stuffy office and soul-sucking commute for a life of sunny beaches, tropical drinks, and working from wherever the wifi is strong? But is this idyllic lifestyle really all it’s cracked up to be? Is being a digital nomad worth it? That’s a tough question to answer.

Here’s the truth: The answer depends on what you’re looking for in life.

If you value freedom and flexibility, then the answer is probably yes.

If you’re looking for stability and security, then you might want to stick to the traditional 9-5 lifestyle.

If you thrive in adventures, you will be forever altered.

If you’re open to immersing yourself in new cultures and learning about how the rest of the world works, it’s absolutely worth it.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to be away from family and home, then this isn’t the best option for you.

If my family has a medical emergency, I get to go there right away with no questions asked and no restrictions to consider. Is that worth it? What’s the price or value of not being able to take care of your parents?

Being a digital nomad is the ultimate flexibility. To me, it’s worth it!

Growth Hacking is Overrated

“Growth hacking” is a technical term for customer development. Essentially, it involves figuring out what your customer wants without ever having to talk to or interact with them.  How?

By using tools like OptimizelyGoogle Analytics and KISS Metrics, you’re able to learn more about your customer based on a specific set of metrics. These types of programs allow you to discover their likes, dislikes, and interests solely by monitoring their Internet usage and what sites they frequent most.

So, what’s the problem with customer development via growth hacking?

The Problem with Growth Hacking

You can’t growth hack your way into your customer’s mind.  Sure, you may gain a little understanding about them thanks to the software program, but your growth will be faster if you actually keep a finger on the pulse of your customers. How do you do this? By having real conversations with them.

The software developers responsible for creating these types of programs are partially to blame. I’m not saying that they are schmucks, but not all of these growth hackers are worth the beaucoup bucks they’re generally paid.

A large number of software developers (and non-savvy business developers) have the illusion that “if they build it, they will come.” In this case, the second “they” refers to the customers who they expect will adore everything they do and flock to their software simply because it exists.

In all fairness, this way of thinking is not entirely their fault. We fawn over stories of icons such as Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook and dream of being that one in a billion.

However, overvaluing software developers and undervaluing business developers can give software developers a giant ego and false sense of worth. Unfortunately, it is this inflated ego that can drive them to quit projects midway through to pursue their own passions. And, why not? They can, right?

While it’s great for anyone to follow their passion, this is bad luck in these types of situations. Plus, it’s just awful for the teams they leave behind.

Growth Hacking Can Be Good…Within Reason

Personally, I love the concept of growth hacking. In fact, by definition I am a growth hacker. But I also know that you cannot – 100% cannot – grow your company without getting to know your customer face-to-face.

For instance, consider the concepts behind Lean methodology which forces you to GOOTB (Get-Out-Of-The-Building) and talk to your customers. It’s so much better! Why?

It makes your potential customers part of the growth process so you become customer-centric. When you follow Lean methodology, you are constantly putting your product or service in front of them to test their response, giving you immediate feedback that is essential to your growth power.

One way to do this is by signing up for Lean Startup Machine. This is a three-day course designed to teach you the process by which you can learn enough about your customer base to make your business more successful.

When it comes to Lean methodology versus growth hacking, Lean methodology wins every time!

Customers Aren’t Numbers

Customers aren’t just numbers.  They have a voice.  So, hiding behind the numbers and hacking away at code, pretending that you’re staring at a matrix screen that somehow tells you all you need to know about your customer… that’s all bunk.

Your front end sales people have the pulse on your company.  Your business development people actually know what your customers are saying – and they’re worth listening to.

That’s why I believe that growth hacking is seriously overrated and may, in fact, be one of the worst effects of modern tech culture.

What’s your opinion on growth hacking? Do you find it helpful or not? We’d love to know your thoughts!

Life Without a Cell Phone

Life Without A Cell Phone | Live Work Anywhere

From my home wifi, to airport seatac wifi, to SFO airport wifi, to Gogo InFlight, Boingo as backup, to rail Wifi on the BART…

Convince me that I need AT&T.

I’ve been without my phone for several weeks. Other than people asking me why I’m not using my other number, and me not being the best atreturning voicemails (same as always), nobody has noticed. I have an iPhone and use iMessage with friends. I use Google Voice with others. I’m covered.

I’m actually better now at returning calls than I was before. Google Voice lets you READ your voicemails. I know how to prioritize them. They may have spelling errors or some incorrect words, but you get the gist and at the very least a quick laugh.

I never answer my incoming calls anyway. Not usually. Everything I do work-wise is batched and scheduled. Plus, now you can carry around Wifi devices like Roku, Clearwire, and those from AT&T and Verizon. There are also a bunch of other options if you look hard enough.

“What about an emergency?” I hear you say. What did we do 10 or 20 years ago? We found a way to contact the people we needed. Texting with a cell phone can actually create an emergency! Learning to be patient and flexible goes a long way.

Not having a phone can actually help you manage your schedule more intentionally. And it can even help you calm your nerves!

Sent from my iPhone via Wifi

Do you use a cell phone? Why or why not?

6 Tricks to Sell Out Your First Skillshare Class

Skillshare Infographic 6 Tricks to Sell Out Skillshare

6 Tricks to Sell Out your first skillshare class

1. Promoting

If Skillshare already exists in your city….  great!  You can leverage their lists for distribution.

If Skillshare is new to your city or doesn’t really exist yet, ask:

What other business networks exist locally?

What other networking platforms exist where you can post your content?

For example:

  • EventBrite
  • Meetup groups
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Biznik

Be careful of terms of service, but what I did is I pointed the other services to my Skillshare class link.  It’s all extra promotion (and SEO) for Skillshare and they encourage you to promote via social networks.  Leverage what you can, as long as it drives people to Skillshare, it’s a win/win for everyone.

Also, for the first class, keeping the costs low ($15-$25) and the class size low (5-7) will guarantee higher success.  Saying your first class “sold out” with people on the waiting list helps create demand.

The first class is hardest.

2. Build Interest

Tip: “seed” a few people in the class.  Nobody likes to be the first person to book the class.  People who are passing by and think the class looks interesting are more inclined to come if they see that others are also interested.  This validates your class concept and gives social proof, which is a must for the first class particularly.

Create a few promotion codes and give them out to friends and influencers.  Having 2-3 influencers in the community you’re targeting on the list will guarantee that your class will fill up.

Be sure to post the class a few times before it begins, for example:

  • 2-3 weeks prior make the first announcement
  • 1 week before the class, post on a day where your target audience will be most active (have your seeders planted by this stage)
  • 2 days prior make a post about how excited you are about the class to continue to build excitement
  • the day of (for those last-minute attendees)

3. Create Networking Opportunties

Potential students are likely looking at the profiles of those who signed up.  Having people who have interesting profiles helps because the potential students are going not just to learn but also to network and to create a network around a similar subject.  Encourage the students to meet other like minded people in class.

4. Focus on Great Copy:

In your class description:

  • what is it you’re teaching and why?
  • what will the student walk away with?
  • how is it applicable to them?

Don’t use tech terms that nobody will understand.  But don’t be a used car salesman either and play buzzword scrabble.

> You’ll learn: 

In this section, instead of saying

“how to use social media to grow your audience” (very generic and non-unique weak promise)

try

“how to increase your Twitter following to 1,000 quality followers in the next 30 days”  (realistic target, high quality, great ROI on class)

> You’ll walk away with:

Make sure these are practical skills.  The student should see themselves having actionable items immediately from this course.

  1. a twitter account (if you don’t have one already)
  2. the knowledge and tools to go from 0-1,000 twitter followers in 30 days

> About the Teacher:

Next, they want to know why you are qualified?  Have you done this?  Why you?

Self-promotion is SO hard but it’s necessary.  Students want to know and believe that they will walk away with the tools and knowledge to do what you did – this creates a WOW factor and will help also drive attendance.

5. Select a Great Location

Having a great location, one that resonates with your audience, is also key.  If you’re talking about tech issues to a tech crowd and you plan to meet at planned parenthood, it’s probably going to affect the turnout.

Remember, you are still selling your skills and a new class.  If you hold it at a reputable location, your credibility increases.

6. Connect with Students

This is less about filling seats, now, and more about quality.  You want to build value.  Send the students an email, a survey, take an interest and interact prior to class.  Tailor your content to the needs and interests of the eager learners.  They want to learn and they are taking time to come see you.  Give them so much value that you feel like you’re getting ripped off.  They will walk away feeling like they got their money’s worth and then some.

The result?

Powerful endorsements and “street cred” on Skillshare.  Your next class, while still following similar principles, will be easier to sell and you can increase the size of your class, and price.

At least that’s what I did.

FreeConferenceCall.com to Launch StartMeeting

FreeConferenceCall.com launces StartMeeting

I’ve been using FreeConferenceCall.com and FreeConferencing.com to connect remotely with clients.  I have been happy with my service from FreeConferencing and had switched from Webex after testing it.

But, I was wondering how FreeConferencing was planning to monetize with all calls and conferences being free and zero advertising… but today I found out how – with a sister company called StartMeeting.  A premium service for audio and web conferencing.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I am confident that, based on their track record with me, it will deliver.  I’ll let them tell you about it below.  If anyone has experience with StartMeeting, can you share your experience?

Premium Services from FreeConferenceCall.com

It Took a Conference Calling Company to Get Screen Sharing Right:
StartMeeting Offers Conference Calls or Conference Calls with Screen Sharing

StartMeeting.com LogoFreeConferenceCall.com has launched a sister company, StartMeeting, to allow you to Share Better at a fraction of the cost! StartMeeting is a new audio and web conferencing service that incorporates state-of-the-art features including screen sharing; easy-to-use meeting recording; and a customizable online Meeting Wall.StartMeeting is offering customers the audio and web service for significantly less than similar services. Prices for screen sharing start at $19.95 per month for a 50 participant capacity. This is compared to $39 for 15 participants at GoToMeeting and $49 for 25 participants at WebEx.For more information, visit www.StartMeeting.com

Features:

  • Cloud-Based Recording: User-friendly simultaneous recording of screen sharing and audio meetings, and files can be shared via Facebook and other platforms (Windows and Mac).
  • Synchronized Audio Conferencing: Reservationless calls include toll, toll-free, and an integrated high-definition VoIP platform — all with a dedicated access number.
  • Dedicated Meeting Credentials: Unlike some other audio/web services, hosts are given exclusive credentials to set up their meetings that never change.
  • Screen Sharing: Unlimited screen sharing of content. Subscriptions are offered with 50, 200, 500, and 1,000 participant capacities.
  • Meeting Wall: Customize it with colors, logos, profile pictures, and upload files or links that support the online meeting (without emailing the documents to participants).
  • Audio Web Controls: Mute, lock, identify or disconnect a caller; enter lecture mode (one-way communication); and hold Q&A Sessions with participants.
  • Enhanced Audio Features: Customize hold music and a greeting for participants entering the conference.

Guts Not Grades

Guts Not Grades | Live Work Anywhere

Having a startup is about conviction. The most appropriate synonym that comes to mind when I think of entrepreneurs and startups is resilience. I compete with Ivy League grads for business who, disturbingly, many people look at in awe. Book knowledge and street knowledge are very different things. But, beyond knowledge are instincts and guts. Two things that can’t be taught.

I believe there is such a thing as “Startup DNA.” A startup is like a newborn baby. It needs nurturing.

People tend to get hung up on titles and labels. They mean very little, especially in the beginning when building a product. The product matters, your early customers matter. Not quitting matters.

It’s difficult to see the view from the top of the mountain when you’re climbing uphill and the top is hidden in the clouds. But, entrepreneurs know deep down inside that if they keep at it, keep climbing, eventually they’ll see the clouds clear (and return, and clear, and return, etc etc until they reach the top).

People have said entrepreneurs are special in the sense that they are illogical, unreasonable, or downright insane! It’s true that an entrepreneur is unique. Most people aren’t interested in extreme sacrifice. They would prefer to be comfortably led like sheep. The job of the entrepreneur is to convince the sheep that he/she isn’t crazy for thinking differently. There’s a process that takes place to get to that point that involves many sacrifices, overcoming doubts and challenges, and infinite bouts of courage.

As with dealing with a sick baby or trudging uphill when you’re exhausted, it’s not about running when things get tough.

Some people are cut out for startups; many are not. There is an excitement, even a cool factor, that people get caught up in. But when the hard work kicks in, 50% drop out. When there are tough days or funding is running low, the strong are separated from the weak, and the last one standing are the ones with conviction.

The true test comes when things are difficult.

Giving yourself a pseudo0title to get attention or to get into certain events or companies doesn’t actually change your DNA into that of a startup person. Skipping a night out with friends or a family function, even with all the pressure and guilt, to hit a deadline, is true dedication.

This is what I mean by necessary sacrifice:

“The workload of a start-up is ridiculous. It’s really not healthy. For eight years of my life, there were very few waking moments that Tripod did not completely consume. I rarely returned the phone calls of good friends. I routinely missed important family gatherings. I couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend. To put it plainly, I didn’t have enough time to maintain the sort of normal relationships typically associated with the human race.”

Bo Peabody, Greycroft Partners, in his book Lucky or Smart

I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you ever wonder if the daily grueling grind, the ups and downs, the mental anguish, the ramen noodles, the amazing days followed by crushing defeats, if all of it is worth it… take a look at Bo’s story. Are most people willing to stick around for EIGHT years, with few friend or family interactions? It’s up to you. I won’t lie, it wears on you. You question things—a lot. Sounds borderline insane, but it takes guts.

There has to be a balance, don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge believer in “sharpening your saw” as Stephen Covey says. Too much for too long causes productivity to diminish relative to time output. But what I am saying is that you have to have the chops to handle it.

A final great quote from Chris Dixon, CEO of Hunch, and active angel investor:

“It’s a cliche, but early-stage startups are really all about the people. Had you taken any company I’ve been involved with and drawn a straight line extrapolating forward, I don’t think you would’ve seen why it was an interesting company… what ends up happening is that the environment changes, you discover flaws in your original concept, and good entrepreneurs adapt and change. The only way you would’ve seen it is if you’d understood the passion and the guts of the people involved”.

– Chris Dixon, quoted on Founder Collective

Passion and guts.

I’ve had business partners, developers, salespeople, interns, clients, deals, and so on, come and go. Recognizing that this ebbs and flows, that startups are in a constant state of flux, is the key to overcoming the bad days and learning resiliency. Behind every cloud is a silver lining, after every crushing defeat is a rewarding accomplishment. You have to have the guts to keep going.

What do you think it takes to run a successful startup?

Cell Phone Contracts Will Be a Thing of the Past

Ditch your cell phone! Your cell phone plan, that is. (Pay attention AT&T, the world is getting even more connected)

One of the most challenging things about traveling is avoiding international roaming on your cell phone. Why can’t the phone companies all just get along? As soon as I cross the border from Seattle to Vancouver, I’m be forced onto another cell network and forced to pay double the price.

I’ve been starting to use my Google Voice number more often, which uses a Seattle-based area code. It’s currently forwarding to my cell phone, but it takes a message and sends me an e-mail if I’m not available.

I open the Google Voice app on my phone or via web browser and find the voicemail has been transcribed to text!  It’s not 100% accurate, but I get the gist.  If I want to hear the message, I just hit the play button.

Pretty great stuff! It means I no longer have to pay an expensive telephone bill.  But Google Voice only lets you forward to another US number. What if I’m out of the country and I can’t forward to my cell phone?

The best solution I’ve found, if you want to be “in the office” and not force someone to leave a voicemail, is to purchase a Skype online phone number. For $60/year and 2 cents/minute, I can be making and receiving phone calls to and from any US number from my own US Skype number.

Even for business lines at Beer2Buds, we use RingCentral. RingCentral allows you to get a toll free number and fax for $100/year. You can forward your number and/or any extension to a cell phone, Google Voice or Skype number.

My last AT&T phone bill was nearly $200. For around the same price, even though it’s less convenient (you need Wifi), I carry around a Clear modem for when I need to contact someone. Even if there’s no wireless but there is 3g/4g, you can still be “connected.”

Oh and I almost forgot to mention—SMS is such an integral part of my business life. With Google Voice, you can also send AND receive text messages! And you don’t pay $19.99/month like you will with AT&T.

This is a text message I got today that popped up on my phone from Google Voice.

The world is becoming more connected. The cell phone giants will have to start playing fair or the growing VoIP services of the world will be the dominant players, which is already starting to happen.