Is this the kind of life you’d like to live? You trade in your stuffy office job for a life of travel. You crisscross the country all year long, no matter the season, seeing cities and sites most people don’t have time for. You conduct all your work on free Wi-Fi at trendy coffee shops and cafes while enjoying local sweets. If you need a more formal spot, you hit up a library or plop down a few bucks to set up shop in a co-working space. Your meetings are conducted through Skype, interviews are conducted through FaceTime. This may sound like a fantasy, but for more and more people, it’s a reality. This is the life of a digital nomad.
A digital nomad, or mobile bohemian, is someone who uses technology like the internet and smartphones to conduct business and make money. They’re known for embracing a lifestyle of exploration and travel while rejecting the more traditional office settings that they find archaic and stifling. It’s an attractive idea, but many people find it to be unrealistic. Is being a digital nomad actually possible? Can you really make money working remotely? The answer is yes. There are whole communities dedicated to exchanging tips and methods on the digital nomad lifestyle.
One common tip for making money as a digital nomad is dropshipping, which is selling products online and having them shipped by warehouses and suppliers at wholesale prices. Combining a dropshipping operation with an inventory management software system is key. It creates a business that’s profitable, scalable, and mobile enough that you can be a digital nomad without having to struggle financially. Here’s a three step guide on how to do it.
Find a Warehouse
The first step in dropshipping, and maybe the hardest, is finding a warehouse. Warehouses that dropship aren’t SEO experts, so a simple Google search might not be enough to find them. Shopify’s guide on dropshipping offers a great collection of ideas on how to find a supplier. My favorite method on their list is to buy an item from a seller and see where the item was shipped from and contact the warehouse directly. Almost any product can be dropshipped, so put some thought into what you’d like to sell. Smartphone cases? Candles? Backpacks? Athletic wear? There’s a warehouse for that. You just might have to go a few pages back on Google to find it.
Once you find a warehouse, you can then call or email the warehouse. Ask them whether or not they do dropshipping. Some guides suggest avoiding the word “dropshipping” entirely. Here’s what you can say to open up the conversation.
- Do you allow sellers to list your catalog on their own websites?
- Do you ship orders directly to customers?
- Can I purchase your products wholesale for resale online?
Set Up a Store
There are a lot of options for choosing which marketplace where you want to sell your dropshipped products. Amazon and eBay are always options. They have such huge audiences that you should absolutely be selling there. If you’d like to also have your own domain, Shopify makes it easy to design and customize a powerful store. If you’re building your site with WordPress, WooCommerce is the standard option. If you’ve got web development experience, an open source shopping cart like Magento or Zen Cart can provide a powerful and reliable tool for selling online.
Wherever you decide to set up your shop, remember to remain aware of their restrictions and requirements when it comes to dropshipping. Some marketplaces, like Etsy, have audiences that frown on dropshipping. It’s your responsibility to know what’s against the rules and what isn’t to avoid having your store suspended. The simpler you can make the process, the better your digital nomad lifestyle will be.
Get an Inventory Manager
An inventory manager is the best and easiest way to run a dropshipping operation. In a normal dropshipper relationship, you have to forward sales orders from your shopping carts and marketplaces to your warehouse. They’ll ship it, send you the tracking information, and then you’ll have to forward it to the customer. That’s a lot of middleman communication that slows down shipping times and forces you to hop on your computer. Why do it by hand when it can be automated?
Inventory management software like ours here at ecomdash will integrate with your warehouse and automatically forward your sales orders to your suppliers. When the order is filled, we’ll send the tracking information directly to your customer. We can also track inventory at your warehouse, so if they sell out of your product, we’ll list it as unavailable wherever you’re selling. This prevents overselling, refunds, and angry customers cramping your new digital nomad lifestyle.
Use Apps to Further Automate
If you’re using dropshipping to support yourself as a digital nomad, here are the apps you’ll need to keep your time, money, travel, and business running like a well-oiled machine.
In some ways, it’s easier to stay productive in a traditional environment than it is for digital nomads. When you work in an office, there are less distractions to come across. Productivity apps are a staple of the digital nomad toolbox for this reason. Many nomads swear by Trello for their productivity needs, an app that functions as a sort of digital project manager to organize your workflow across multiple projects. Mint is a popular app for monitoring your finances and it directly integrates with your bank. You don’t want to end up broke in a foreign country. Money changes hands quickly and automatically when you’re dropshipping. Mint will help you keep score.
Whatever marketplaces you’re using to sell your dropshipped products, you’re going to want to have their apps on your phone to check sales, communicate with customers, and monitor analytics. And yes, you should be selling on multiple channels. The more eyes you can get on your product, the better. Keeping the mobile version of your selling platforms in your pocket allows you to manage your business without cramping your travel plans. Amazon and eBay are the most obvious choices. If you’re using Shopify or Woocommerce for your own domain, grab their apps as well.
International Management Apps
The chief appeal of being a digital nomad is that you can do your job from anywhere. That means often times you’ll be in different countries or communicating with buyers who are across borders from you. That’s why it’s important that you’ve got apps readily available that will help you with the management of international business dealings. A time zone app like Klok will help you make sure you know when you’re able to get in contact with your warehouse. You’ll need a currency converter like XE Currency as well while you’re choosing how to price your products. XE Currency will provide you with live exchange rates and handle all your conversions much faster than a calculator.
Inventory Management App
The ability to manage your ecommerce inventory is difficult enough to do at a desk. It’s even harder to do when you’re traveling the world as a digital nomad. However, if you’re using ecomdash for hands-free inventory syncing across channels and automatic routing of sales orders, you can use the ecomdash mobile app (also available on Android) to make sure you aren’t running out of stock from anywhere in the world. You can even manually update quantities if you notice anything inaccurate.
As you’re globetrotting, you’re going to want some apps that assist you in making your travel plans. Try Kayak to plan and manage your flights. It syncs across multiple devices for even more convenience. A language app like Phrasebook will help you understand the local languages of the places you’re visiting. Basic communication abilities in these countries will keep your trip both fun and safe. Lastly, grab a cross-device notetaking app like Evernote or OneNote to save your ideas and automatically sync them from your mobile device to your laptop. That way if you lose a device in your travels, you won’t lose your important notes.
The life of a digital nomad seems to be so incredibly rewarding that you might think it’s too good to be true, but modern technology has made it possible. With automated dropshipping you can join the wave of workers that’s reimagining what employment looks like. Why spend your life at a desk or on someone else’s schedule when there are other options? Give the digital nomad lifestyle a try.