Digital Nomad How To Make Money

The average digital nomad salary in 2021

This post was updated in May 2021

We get this question a lot: how much do digital nomads actually make? If you are wondering the same, then this post is for you! We’ve done some research and will pass it on to you. Today, we will talk about money and show you what an average digital nomad salary can look like.

In times like this, the nomadic part of your digital nomad journey will have to wait until who knows when. But it’s a great moment to spend some time working on your digital nomad skills. One day, we will all be roaming this planet again and then you can enjoy the freedom to choose to work from anywhere you’d like.

Hands of a woman on opened laptop, a cup of coffee next to her on the table.
No matter where you work from, your digital nomad salary needs to be set.

Are you looking to connect with digital nomads and travel families? Expand your network, learn from others and discuss important topics in our Facebook group.

So, today, we are all about the question: How much is a digital nomad income on average? And what jobs are super-hot, especially at the moment, that you can start today. Yep, today. There are work-from-home options out there that don’t require long preparation AND they are legit!

Bonus: Being a digital nomad family ourselves, we will reveal in this post how we have managed to live the digital nomad lifestyle since 2011. Excited? Great, lets’ go!

First things first: Digital Nomad Meaning

Before we start and because you might be wondering what exactly is a digital nomad after all, here is the meaning of this term that we are using in this post and on this blog A LOT. 

Funny side story, someone claimed in a discussion of a Facebook thread that they don’t consider X person a digital nomad because X person ‘only makes money from their travel blog’. I had to laugh out loud: OF COURSE, this person is also considered a digital nomad. You’ll see why:

When we split the term “digital nomad” into two and analyze the parts individually, we have the following fields of definition:

  1. >digital< 

A digital nomad makes money online, that’s why he or she is called a “digital” nomad. For this, all you need is a laptop and high-speed internet (and so much more, but that’s a whole different story).

  1. >nomad< 

The “nomad” part is my favorite element of the term: digital nomads roam the world hence why they are called “nomads”. This means, they get to choose where they want to work from. Of course, there are very different types of nomadic levels, some travel fast, some slow, some have several bases around the world and move only in between those. The point is, digital nomads CAN travel as much as they want to. It all depends on one’s taste and the phase of life you’re in. 

We, as a digital nomad family, for example, prefer to stay in one place for at least six months before we move on. We have found that with kids, it’s nicer to roam slower because everything takes longer and it also helps with staying sane.

Now, without further ado, here comes the real talk:


Let’s debunk making money online

When I first started traveling around the world, friends and family asked me on a constant basis how long I would be going on like this. Between the lines, they were asking: when will you ever return to live a ‘normal’ life and settle down. This question was usually followed by the worry that ‘this phase’ would not be sustainable and could fall back on me one day…

Well, lucky you, if you are looking into becoming a digital nomad today, you are one of many others and not an outcast like me back then. It has become a normal thing and now, especially during this worldwide pandemic, remote work and work from home jobs (aka what digital nomads have been doing like forever, duh), are now getting serious attention from people all around the world.

But the question is if you don’t sit in an office and work your hours in front of your boss’ eyes, how does that actually look like? And will they pay you as much as they would if you were physically present? Well, they should and in most cases they do. Think about it, you are saving them quite a bit of money by not using up office space! Digital nomad work is as legit as any other jobs and therefore deserve as much pay as you put in.

Related: How to be a digital nomad with no skills

Top paying digital nomad jobs

To talk about the salary a digital nomad receives, you will need to know what a digital nomad actually works to get money. And here is the thing: it is a bit like asking ‘how much do doctors make?’. Tricky, right!? It depends if you ask an allergist, a dermatologist, an obstetrician/gynaecologist, a cardiologist or a plastic surgeon. There is certainly a broader answer than just one number. And it’s similar to digital nomads. 

So, here is a list of typical jobs digital nomads can do and that are also well-paid*:

  • Coaches: $120/ hour
  • Software-engineer: 54$/ hour
  • Web Designer: 41$/ hour
  • Graphic Designer: 35$/ hour
  • Digital marketing Consultant/coach: 33$/ hour
  • Virtual Assistant: 31$/ hour
  • Marketing Specialist: 26$/ hour
  • Social Media Manager: 25$/ hour
  • Freelance Writer: 24$/ hour

Just to name a few.

Essentially, any job that you can do from your computer can become a remote job, which will then give you the freedom to choose your way of living – being it travelling or working from home. Therefore, my initial story of the travel blogger now should make sense to you, of course, a travel blogger who lives off his/her blog, is also considered a digital nomad. There are so many ways to make money online, you can choose yours too!

*All numbers are shown in USD and the majority is based on the compensation estimate of this source.

Not sure if the digital nomad lifestyle is your thing?
Are you stuck and don’t know how to start? 
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Classifications of Digital Nomads

Type A: The Freelancer

The majority of people will probably start their digital nomad journey as a freelancer. In this case, you offer your service/skill set on the market and work on projects for a certain amount of time. Some online gigs are one time contracts, some turn into returning customers. It’s always great to deliver high quality work and leave a very good impression. This way, you’ll be able to get recommendations for your work and also fill your pool of happy customers for future jobs.

Examples of freelancing jobs:

Copy writers, social media managers, graphic designers, translators.

Type B: The Remote Worker

If you can convince your current employer (or pitch a new employer) that you will be doing an equally good job – if not even a better one – from a tropical island, you can consider yourself a remote worker. The company you work for will keep paying your salary as before, the only difference is that you will have to join their regular meetings via Zoom or other remote project tools. This type of digital nomad job is a very comfortable one because it gives you the feeling of stability as you don’t have to constantly look for the new project offers as it is more common in the case of a freelancer.

Examples of remote work jobs:

Software engineer, digital marketing consultants, accountants, translators.

Type C: The Entrepreneur

I’d say, the ultimate goal for every digital nomad is to have their own business. Why? This makes this lifestyle more sustainable, it resonates more with the freedom lifestyle we are all after and it usually means a better pay than Type A and B can ever get. This being said, it is, of course, not mandatory to aim for this level of income or work ethic. It’s not for everyone to be your own boss. It requires a lot of discipline and other organisational tasks as discussed in the following video

You can even make a full-time income from podcasting!

Examples of entrepreneur jobs:

Coaches, sellers of products on Amazon, owner of a blog/website for own brand/influencer, affiliate marketing business, running a SEO or social media marketing or digital marketing agency.

Do you consider a coaching business where you can share your passion and help others by teaching them a skill/tool that you are really good at? Our mini-workshop COACH UP will help you get started as a coach:

Helping others as a coach is one great way to increase your digital nomad salary!

Digital Nomad Income Types

Now that you know what a digital nomad is by definition and what job models are out there to work remotely, here comes the numbers part that you are all here for today:

Income Type 1)

Between 10-20$ USD is the average entry level. But perhaps you are asking: how to be a digital nomad with no skills? And that is a good question, because your digital nomad salary will depend on your skills and the places your clients are coming from. So, let’s say, you have no skills whatsoever, you might need to start offering free sample jobs to friends or your family in order to build your portfolio. As soon as you can show five successful jobs you’ve done, you can start pitching paid gigs.

Income Type 2)

Most of us have skills that can be translated to the web. Think about it, you know how to write emails, so you could manage someone else’s emails as their virtual assistant. We all know our way around on social media, so why not learn more about this field and become a social media manager?! 

If you have a skill (either from before or because you mastered one in preparation for your nomad journey), then you are in a position to charge an average medium hourly wage anything between $20-30. Again, it also depends on where your client or employer is from on how much you can make per hour.

Income Type 3)

Anywhere above 30$ USD, you can consider yourself in the top-notch area of digital nomad salary. There is one out of five digital nomads who earns more than 100.000 USD per year as of this article. 22% of the digital nomads who participated in this survey said that they make between $50,000 and $99,999. This is higher than the average American employee earns. 

Skills that allow you to work from anywhere

No matter what digital nomad salary you are aiming for or currently receiving, let’s have a look at the skills that will help you on your transition to a remote job or work-from home job.

  • Computer savvy
  • Having a good level of English (knowing more than one language is a plus, for sure!) 
  • Creative skills like photography, design, writing
  • Basic knowledge of business matters (for the entrepreneurs)
  • Good level of communication skills

These are good qualities that are great to have in order to succeed with your online career, no matter if you are a nomad entrepreneur or if you perceive any other of the above mentioned digital nomad careers. 

Additionally, it helps a lot if you are versatile in any of the following areas:

  • Disciplined
  • Structured
  • Persistent
  • Focused
  • Open-minded
  • Reliable
  • Service-oriented 
  • Positive 

How much do we earn as a digital nomad family?

Your digital nomad salary defines how much quality time you can spend with your family.
Curious to know how much do we earn as a digital nomad family? Read on!

Last but not least, here is what our digital nomad salary looks like – spoiler alert: there is no short answer to this.

Looking back onto our journey since 2011, there have been good years and bad years and in the beginning, we did not even know that we were considered ‘digital nomads’. Our mind was still focused on getting ‘normal’ jobs, so we took on backpacking jobs of all sorts, amongst them bartending, waiting, we worked as receptionists in hotels, tour guides, chef cook in a small restaurant, and so on.

During those two first years, from 2012 to roughly the end of 2013, we made many great experiences and earned on average 20.000 Euro per year each.

But, of course, we knew that this is not the way we wanted to live like forever. So, by 2014, we were searching for more options – digital ones. And it happened that former clients and from my network reached out asking for help with some marketing and social media projects. Claudio transitioned to graphic and web design at the same time and so we were able to take on remote client work together.

Our digital nomad income has ever since been anywhere between 25.000 Euro to 45.000 Euro.

Additionally, Jey Jetter was born, and with the help of this digital nomad and travel brand, we have been able to work together with brands and companies on various different projects. Check out our portfolio here.

Since 2016, Claudio and I have scaled our social media and digital marketing business so that we can comfortably live and work from everywhere. No year looks the same and 2020 was affected by the Coronavirus crisis but we spent the entire year in Thailand, so the cost of living was considerably low.

Check out our video series about life in Thailand during Covid-19.

What does 2021 look like so far?

In 2021, we’ve noticed a shift in people’s mindset, which has our coaching business boom. We are super excited and grateful to be able to help so many ambitious and thriving entrepreneurs to start and scale their online businesses! Are you one of them? You’ll want to join our free Facebook group to hang out and learn from like-minded people like us!

Did you like this post? Did we miss something important? Let us know in the comments below! We’d like to hear your thoughts.