This post is about finding ideas for digital nomad jobs (and location-independent gigs / freelance work) that are non-tech related.
We recently talked about where to find remote work and showcased some of the best job boards for digital nomads. Even with a quick glance, one thing should have jumped out at you: 90 percent of the (legitimate) listings for digital nomad jobs are “technical” — meaning, they’re for coders, engineers, and such.
No need to despair if you aren’t a developer or don’t know a full stack from your back end. This week we’re going to look at some digital nomad job ideas that aren’t technical. No coding experience required!
30+ Potential (Non-Technical) Remote Work Jobs
In 2007, I met an Austrian woman who was funding her trip by playing the online role-playing game Everquest.
Believe it or not, she earned enough by selling in-game currency and epic quest items to fund her travels in Southeast Asia. Along with the ease of using WordPress to blog, I blame her for putting the remote work bug in my head early after escaping the corporate world.
I did include a few of the far-fetched remote work gigs and ideas I’ve encountered over the years. You’ll also notice a few (stock trader, NFT creator, etc) that are conspicuously missing.
These ideas for digital nomad jobs and gigs all have one thing in common: I’ve met someone, either in person or online, who has funded their life of travel by doing it.
You should obviously have some expertise, credentials, or certifications before declaring yourself a coach. Then again, the folks at Kajabi (a powerful platform for hosting your own course / coaching) claim that you only need to be one level ahead of your students to be successful.
Among the many types of digital nomad coaches I’ve met while traveling, here are some of the most prevalent:
- Life Coach (shudder)
- Business Coach
- Fitness Coach
- Career Coach
- Relationship Coach
- Weight-Loss Coach
- Coaches to help you launch your coaching business to coach coaches
Many of them use the Kajabi platform, as do I:
Some photographers enjoy the many hours of post processing that have to be done after a shoot. When I was working as a photographer, the eye strain from parsing through thousands of shots was my least favorite part. The real fun, for myself, was the event or shoot.
I’m not alone. Not everyone wants to go cross-eyed from sifting through and fixing thousands of images. That’s why some professionals choose to outsource their photo processing to outside freelancers.
Providing online counseling and therapy
Life coaching adheres to some loose qualification, but providing therapy and counseling should only be done by licensed professionals.
In 2019, I met two different German psychologists who had converted their brick-and-mortar practices into location-independent businesses. They were meeting with clients online while living in Bali.
I also met a telehealth nurse who lived in Bali and wrote prescriptions for patients back in the U.S.
Online teaching and tutoring
According to Guy Kawasaki’s book Wise Guy: Lessons From a Life, everyone is better at something than someone.
There’s a chance you have a skill, no matter how simple, someone else wants to learn. If there’s a demand, you can teach or tutor others remotely from anywhere in the world. “Teaching” can also be synonymous with “assisting” newbies.
In Malaysia, I once met a traveler who helped new photographers through the steep learning curves for Photoshop and Lightroom.
Again, this could be done with your own Kajabi platform. You could also get started on one of the popular online tutoring platforms.
I have personally met location-independent professionals teaching or tutoring:
- American Sign Language
- Guitar / music theory
Editing and proofreading
Even if AI takes over the jobs of writers someday (there are already some frighteningly impressive tools), editors will still find work.
As all professional writers know, you can read something 100 times and someone else can still find errors. This happens because of the way our brains perceive (and hide errors) while interpreting the raw input from our eyes.
Did you know there are many different types of editors? Some can command higher fees than others.
- Beta readers and proofreaders
- Fact checkers
- Line editors
- Copy editors
- Content editors
- Developmental editors
Selling stock photos and video clips
Building up a portfolio takes time, but once you do, it can generate a passive income while you travel. I met a Russian traveler in Timor, Indonesia, who had funded years of traveling by selling photos through Getty Images.
With so much competition, narrowing down to a microniche (e.g., aerial drone footage of real estate for sale) is critical.
The author capturing stock photos in Peru
Big brands and government entities are (finally) realizing the importance of making sure their content is properly accessible to everyone. Google also considers the accessibility of a page important for determining the quality.
Freelancers listen to videos and speeches to create closed captioning. People fluent in different variants of sign language can add picture-in-picture videos and thumbnails of themselves signing to videos.
Audio and video editing
Again, much like photo processing, many professionals don’t have the time or expertise to do all their own editing after producing content.
After getting set up for remote work, freelancers can edit podcasts or YouTube videos from anywhere in the world.
Mobile notary and loan-signing services
This one is primarily an option while traveling in the United States. If willing to work hard, self-employed freelancers can earn good money by providing mobile notary services.
My friend Bill Soroka wrote a best-selling book and created a course about getting started as a mobile notary.
Like many of these gigs, giant platforms such as Fiverr have created global competition that drives prices down. You’ll need to microniche (e.g., I do children’s books about imaginary animals) to survive. Graphic artists could produce:
- Book covers
- Book illustrations
- Social media kits
- Technical drawings / schematics
- Custom illustrations for online posts (such as those seen on Yoast.com)
Professional resume / CV services
Sounds boring, but that’s exactly why busy professionals pay someone else to do it for them.
Falling into the same category, some executives outsource building their Linked-In profiles and their online dating profiles!
Creating Airbnb listings
Some hosts are great at creating inviting spaces. But when the time comes to photograph, describe, and advertise that space, they stumble.
KDP (ebook) author
I did meet one person in the Thai islands who was successfully traveling (on a tight budget) by creating hundreds of low-content ebooks. He blasted his book farm to Amazon via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and had a few hits.
Personally, I feel like this is another one of those digital nomad gigs like dropshipping that earned good money years ago, before the mine ran out of gold.
Getting local hotels and restaurants listed online
Somewhat related to the above Airbnb listing gig, I’ve met two different travelers who were moonlighting as “listing freelancers” in Asia.
Independently owned restaurants and guesthouses don’t always do a stellar job of getting themselves set up online in booking and review sites. The ones that don’t employ native English speakers struggle even more. Many businesses simply don’t know how to market to travelers or what we want to see in a listing.
As a listing freelancer, you may take photos of properties, do local SEO, and get family businesses set up online so they can be found and stay competitive against big hotel chains.
Setting up WooCommerce shops for brick-and-mortar retailers
Yes, I said there wouldn’t be any coding jobs in this list of non-tech digital nomad jobs.
But sometimes, brick-and-mortar businesses simply don’t have the time to take decent product photos or write product descriptions themselves. Putting an entire inventory online is a lot of work.
The best part about this freelance gig is that you have the potential to sell ongoing maintenance as well. Items will invariably become out of stock, new items need to be added, and prices will need to be amended.
Creating / fixing menus for restaurants
How many times have you eaten in a restaurant abroad that had serious issues with its menus? Some of the menu mistakes are hilarious. I encountered the menu mistake above while traveling in Borneo.
One English traveler I met in China even carried his own printer and lamination machine to fix menus he encountered! He had clip-art for popular dishes ready to go so capturing food photos wasn’t as big of a concern.
Online poker and blackjack
Although I’ve met two different travelers good enough to support themselves with online poker, I can’t advocate gambling for your livelihood (unless you do it under the guise of stock and crypto trading, ahem).
That said, teaching poker and blackjack strategies can be done from anywhere.
Working as a virtual assistant
Working as a VA can be done independently if you already have relationships from the corporate world. You can also find gigs on freelancer.com.
If your boss is in Eastern Time Zone, you’ll probably not want to base yourself in Bali or Thailand with a 12-hour time difference.
Content writing is still a thing; although, finding reliable freelance gigs has become more challenging.
Please don’t fall for the many SEO-writing scams seen online. If someone asks you to write or edit a full article as part of your application process, there’s a good chance they’ll sell your work and you’ll never hear from them again!
Newsletter and brochure creation
Savvy companies know that keeping their customers’ attention (and therefore loyalty) is a challenge now. Some will pay freelancers to create weekly newsletters to stay in touch and spotlight past content.
On that note, you could also learn to create the most effect email funnels for businesses.
If you already escaped a corporate job to begin traveling the world, you may be able to work as a consultant for whatever industry you left.
Begin by building a master spreadsheet of all your contacts from your previous career. Parse through and log when you reach out to each person. Stay in touch with your old network. Follow the sage proverb:
“Don’t wait until you are thirsty to begin digging a well.”
Providing remote live-chat customer support
Many large companies strive to reduce the cost of call centers by allowing location-independent freelancers to handle customer requests via online chat.
If you’ve ever seen the little “How can I help you?” customer support pop-up in the bottom right corner of a website, there’s a good chance someone working remotely as a digital nomad will answer if you click. Many of these remote workers handle support requests via chat from all over the world.
If you’re fluent in another language, there’s a good chance you can find remote work as a translator. The types of opportunities are too many to name, but I did once meet a freelancer who approached ecommerce sites and offered to write item descriptions in two additional languages. He stayed busy.
Translation services aren’t relegated to only spoken languages. Sign language interpreters are in high demand.
Creating podcast transcriptions
Speech-to-text technology still just isn’t good enough to accurately transcribe a conversation between two people. Professionals hire live humans to transcribe interviews or at least edit what the software spits out.
Like many of the digital nomad jobs found here, this gig follows the old axiom:
You don’t have to be a miner to get rich during a gold rush.
Cold-call selling and following up on leads can be done from pretty well anywhere.
Location-independent day care
On the beautiful island of Koh Lanta, Thailand, I met a woman who was watching the small children of traveling families during the day. This allowed the parents to go do things like rent a scooter to explore the island or dive together. They couldn’t have enjoyed the same activities while traveling with small children.
The day nanny was a freelancer who spoke several languages, adding to her allure. She also had plenty of recommendations. Her activities for the kids were a blend of fun, educational, and cultural activities.
If you’ve got the voice and are willing to travel with a decent microphone, doing “voice acting” is a location-independent freelance gig.
Good luck trying to do voice work in places such as Ubud or Canggu, Bali, where the hammering of construction and droning of motorbikes never stop!
Tarot and astrology readings
I met a woman in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia, doing this online for a customer base. She had already built a list of trusting clients at home before dissolving her brick-and-mortar business (or dark tent?) to begin traveling.
Reiki and energy work
I once met a traveler who would clear the “bad energy” from luxury bungalows and hotel rooms before new guests checked in. By paying a flat fee for the service, the guests were convinced they would enjoy a better experience on vacation.
The front desk would recommend her services to arriving guests and take a 50-percent cut. You never know if the couple who stayed in the room before you were arguing!
Social media management
Scheduling and writing posts consistently isn’t always enjoyable, especially if you aren’t proficient. Lots of companies outsource this role to digital nomad freelancers.
Medical coding and billing
I haven’t yet figured out what this is, but I’ve met several Americans who do it remotely!
Answering common DIY questions on YouTube
Who says you have to be an influencer to make money on YouTube? A novel approach is to create hundreds of short videos to answer long-tail “How to” searches.
Sometimes the queries are nothing more than “How do I pronounce [insert word].”
Social-media ad consultant
Helping customers create high-quality Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram ads is in big demand. My friend Amanda Robinson (aka “The Digital Gal“) has built an impressive business doing this as a self-employed digital nomad.
Creating custom promo videos
Freelancers can use software such as Visme.co, Doodly, or InVideo.io to create custom animations for ads, blog posts, social media, and whatever other applications.
I’ve used all three of the software platforms above; each has its strengths and weaknesses. For quick, one-off animations, I enjoyed using visme.co the most. The interface is intuitive and easy to learn.
More Freelance Digital Nomad Gigs to Come
I’m going to maintain this post of freelance digital nomad jobs and gigs as a living list. I’ll continue to add remote work gigs and freelancer ideas as I meet people who have successfully implemented them!
- For some more inspiration, have a look at 3 things that happen when you leave a job to travel and work remotely.
Photo Credits: Alex Kra, Alizée Baudez