What’s The Quickest Skill To Learn To Be A Digital Nomad?

By Jamie McSloy / March 26, 2018
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What’s The Quickest Skill To Learn To Be A Digital Nomad?

I saw a thread the other day on Reddit (I think) where a guy was asking about the quickest skill you could learn so you could quit the 9-5 prison cell and be free as soon as possible.

The guy had taken an Udemy course in programming or something, and wondered when he was going to be ready to get out of America and into the big wide world.


Regular readers of this little blog will see some of the issues with this approach immediately, but seeing as I’ve been giving responsible, long-term advice over the past couple of articles (see here and here) I figured I’d do this one too.

And a lot of people won’t answer the question either. They’ll say, “It depends” and “you should think long term.”

That’s good advice, but let’s answer the question.

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)

If you want to get out of a career quickly and go live on a beach somewhere, what are your options?

Let’s find out.

Analyse The Problem

Let’s analyse the problem first.

You want two things basically:

  • Quick income
  • Portable income

Obviously the best answer is to wait six months and build a real, tangible business, but we’re setting the rules based on the question. The above is what you want. Here are the compromises you’re going to have to make:

  • You’re going to have to spend a lot
  • Your profit margins are going to be low so it looks like you’re moving to a cockroach-infested studio in somewhere really crime-ridden until you’re stable
  • The first few months are going to have you working hard so don’t think it’s time to party

Now… I might be exaggerating a little on the second, but the problem with people who look for quick fixes is that they want everything in addition to the stuff they’re actually asking for.

So if you’re the guy from above and you’re asking, “How do I quickly and easily move to a tier one city like London, New York or Tokyo, only work ten hours a week and get it for cheap – preferably with investing no money into the business?”

Then you’re out of luck.

It would take a lot of luck and a lot of skill to get this in a short period. There are people who work for years to reach that stage, and they know a hell of a lot and work really hard… so trust me, if there were a way to avoid the hard stuff, they’d probably have found it.

So, we’re looking for something with the following caveats:

  • You have money to invest in the business
  • You are going to keep your overheads low
  • The capital is matched by your work ethic

Let’s talk about the best option.

Pay-Per Click Advertising

If you have a budget, then learn PPC advertising. Here’s why:

  • You can scale quickly
  • It’s easy to sell products, services and more
  • You can use it for arbitrage

All of these pathways work, and on a short-term schedule your options are limited:

  • Niche sites and SEO work take longer to gain traction
  • If you’re a freelancer, it will take time to gain traction. You need to build up a client list and unless your career right now involves skills that transfer to freelancing, you’ll need to work your way up. (E.g. it’s very rare that you’ll just jump into writing $10,000 sales letters as your first writing gig.)
  • A lot of people recommend consulting but they are dumb. What are you going to consult on when you have no real-world experience?
  • All the black hat stuff is stupid and won’t work.

PPC Advertising is a legitimate skill to learn. You will burn through money learning and you’ll make a lot of mistakes, but within a couple of months, you can follow one of the above pathways and be relatively successful. Here are your pathways in a little more detail.

Affiliate Marketing/Arbitrage

Essentially, you leverage your money and someone else’s work. This can be as a product salesman/affiliate marketer and/or you can simply be the middleman for a cut.

So if someone is freelancing, you might say, “I’ll get you clients with PPC and you give me a finder’s fee” or something similar. Essentially, you’re running affiliate marketing with real-world service businesses that you partner with.

Offering PPC As A Service

This is simple. You run a PPC service. People will pay for this, and you’ll get your base pay plus the ad spend or something else you’ll work out.

If you’re living in Cockroachville, you won’t need many clients to start with. As you scale, they’ll earn more, you’ll earn more and you can attract bigger budgets too.

Obviously, this is tougher because you take on someone else’s risk… but that’s why you spend a few months getting it right first. Besides, quick and sure-fire money making strategies are going to have risk. Those are the trade-offs we’ve already talked about.

Selling Products

Let’s assume you go the “traditional” affiliate marketing route. This is tough and you have to put a separate set of skills together in addition to PPC. But it can be done.

Or, you can do your own products – though you’ll be hard-pressed to get your own products within a short time-frame.

Finally, you could be a reseller. Dropshipping and the like fall under this banner. In any case, PPC will be your bread and butter here in the short term.

Is This Smart?

I don’t actually recommend this approach, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

Some might wonder why I’m suggesting PPC as a base skill as opposed to copywriting, and the answer is simple: It’s got a faster return for someone who is specifically asking for a speed idea.

In reality, I’d recommend learning at least one long-term money making skill (Probably copywriting) and then worrying about living the jet-setting lifestyle. This is not only a better long-term play, but it also expands your options. (I.e. you can live without cockroaches as roommates.)

“But What If I Don’t Have Money?”

If you don’t have money, then jetting across the world to find a new life is probably not the best idea. I know some people will disagree, but I can’t imagine life is going to be any easier if you have no income-generating skills, no money-producing assets and you’re in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone or anything.

That might just be me though.