The digital nomad movement is a fully-fledged cultural phenomenon with developers, designers and freelancers galore cashing in. While the glitz and glam of traveling the world and using a few digital skills to pay the way has some serious plus-points, there are a few things that require careful consideration before laptops are placed in rucksacks.
Freelance designers and design agencies often ask themselves this very question. Before answering this question let’s first look at it from the other side- What message are you sending by the number of designs that you are presenting, and what is the client expecting of you? I have sat through meetings on both sides of the spectrum.
Combined with the rise of crowdsourcing and online talent marketplaces, the rise of the nomads means that marketing managers have direct access to talented freelancers all over the world who are often cheaper, faster while offering the same quality as agencies and in-house teams.
The design and creative agency model is suffering: simply said – clients want more work, faster, delivered to a higher standard than ever before and they don’t want to pay anywhere as much for it as they did twenty years ago.
Design agencies have been scrambling to deal with this in different ways, some have grown the agency to spread the costs over a larger number of clients, some have innovated new products or services. There has also been a noticeable growth in the number of niche and deeply specialized agencies while others have done what was once the unthinkable and become open to free pitching – one of the industry’s biggest bugbears.
Freelancers of every denomination are all too familiar with feast and famine cycles; from weeks of solid work and long hours, to periods of intense thumb-twiddling, the cycle can challenge even the most stoic self-starter.
For designers, the cycle means going from intense work with a client that needs everything immediately to relatively sparse days with little work.
It’s very logical why this happens, the intense work means unopened emails, LinkedIn connections ignored and neglected marketing efforts – it’s because you didn’t have time to nurture your contacts. Combined with long lead times, you can sometimes end up without work for weeks at a time.
So how do you manage the feast and famine cycle?
Did you ever dream of travelling the world? Seeing the endless tea fields in Sri Lanka, exploring the cultural heritage sites in Vietnam or standing on the ancient grounds of Machu Picchu? Can you imagine that many 20-something year olds are doing exactly this without giving up their career?
The professional nomad is a new breed, they’re an explorer, adventurer and a creative professional all rolled into one, gathering inspiration from the wonders of the world around them.