Can digital nomads earn as much as “regular” freelancers?

A little over a month ago (towards the end of June) I’d officially made my transition from full-time freelancer to digital nomad. Then, not too long after that (in early August) I found myself celebrating my second anniversary as a WordPress developer for Codeable.

And that got me to thinking… Can digital nomads earn as much as “regular” freelancers?

this should be simple

I’m here today to try and help answer this question once and for all.

I’ve got real-world experience as both a “regular” freelancer and as a digital nomad, plus I’ve kept detailed income reports all along the way, so I figure it shouldn’t be too tough for me to help answer this question. Well, at least from the perspective of a WordPress developer anyways.

I suppose I should probably take a moment to clarify exactly what I mean by “regular” freelancer here as well… To me, this term is synonymous with “stay-at-home” freelancer. I’m talking about those who choose to freelance from home as opposed to digital nomads who travel the world doing essentially the same thing.

So, first things first, let’s take a look at my income during my first full month as a digital nomad;

Next, let’s compare that income against the 23-months I spent freelancing at home;

^ One note about this data: From August 2015 through March 2016 I was not participating in any affiliate programs, hence why my passive income shows $0.00 for these months. So, the average I’ve calculated here for “passive income” is an average of the 15 months I’d actually earned some passive income, rather than an average of all 23 months.

get paid

When we compare my income between freelancing and digital-nomading they’re pretty consistent.

My average total monthly income as a freelancer was about halfway between $12-13K and during my first full month as a digital nomad I was able to bring home just north of $13K.

My “work income” as a digital nomad was around $500 more than my average income as a freelancer. However, the exact opposite held true for my “passive income” which dropped by just over $500 as well.

I do know that one of the affiliate programs I’m participating in was having some issues in July which I believe is responsible for a good chunk of the decreased passive income, but overall it was still a great month and I’m not going to sit here and complain about it.

Now, if we were to compare my monthly incomes between freelancing and being a digital nomad without looking at the “averages” then here’s how July would have shaken out;

  • My “work income” of $11,994.50 is the 9th highest grossing month over the past 24 months.
  • My “passive income” of $1,048.68 is the 10th lowest grossing month over the past 15 months.
  • My “total income” of $13,043.18 is the 8th highest grossing month over the past 24 months.

Overall it’s probably a bit too early for me to definitively call this one once and for all, but so far it’s sure looking like digital nomads can earn equally as much, if not more, than “regular” freelancers.

Although there hasn’t been a tremendous swing in my own personal income through my transition from freelancer to digital nomad that’s perfectly fine by me.

As a digital nomad I get to experience more than I ever did as a “regular” freelancer while spending less each month than I did back in the states… For me, that’s a major win and one of the primary reasons I’d encourage you to hang up your “regular” freelancing hat and become a digital nomad today!

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