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Emily here! This guest post is full of creative ideas from e-commerce expert Patrick Foster on how you can support your travel habit. I hope his practical tips encourage you to look at the realistic possibilities of work as a digital nomad. Enjoy!
When you’ve got a burning case of wanderlust, it’s hard to ignore. Traveling the world, seeing new sights and meeting new people is a calling like no other.
Unfortunately, experiencing everything the world has to offer doesn’t come for free. Plane flights, hostels, visas — they all cost money. Either you work your way around the world in bars and coffee shops, or you go home for a few months and work in a menial job for a few months.
What if I told you there was a way to support your wanderlust while you traveled by working for yourself? A digital business might just be the thing you need to sate your desire to see the world. Here’s how.
Do your research to find the perfect business model
First things first: do your research. Before jumping headfirst into the world of digital business, you need to find the one that works for you. You’ll be spending a fair amount of time on your business, especially in the early stages, so it’s important to do something you love. That means finding your niche.
Find something that interests you — traveling, for example. You’re passionate about it, and you know the ins and outs of the field. But to monetize it effectively, you need to narrow it down to a specific aspect of traveling. For example, traveling on a budget, or within a certain country. This helps you hit a more specific target market, which in turn means you have less competition to go up against.
Once you’ve decided on your industry, you’ll need to choose your business model. There are several business models open to you, but the most popular options are:
- E-commerce: sourcing products and selling them through an e-commerce platform. There are dozens of online store builders out there that are easy to use, no coding required, making it easy and accessible.
- Dropshipping: this is perhaps one of the easiest options open to you (but it’s by no means a cakewalk). Dropshipping involves connecting with a third-party supplier who both provides the products and fulfills the orders. Learn more here.
- Digital products: you don’t need to sell hard products to make hard cash. Ebooks, online courses, webinars — these are all simple to make too. You can create an ebook in minutes with Designrr that you can sell online.
- Affiliate reviews: affiliate reviews sites drive traffic for businesses by collecting reviews of specific products, such as laundry machines or children’s toys. Essentially, you get paid for a customer that clicks from the site through to the business’ product page. Find some examples to inspire you here.
Don’t scrimp at this stage. Nail down your niche and find a business model that works, and you’ll create a solid foundation for your digital business.
Choose a business platform that’s right for you
Once you’ve found your niche and picked your business model, you’ll need to choose your platform. If you’ve opted for the e-commerce or dropshipping route, you should choose a DIY e-commerce store builder such as Shopify or Big Cartel. This is where you will showcase your products and take customer orders, as well as host (and regularly update) your e-commerce blog.
Dropshippers will need to find a dedicated dropshipping service such as AliExpress or Light In The Box to provide your products.
One of the great things about dropshipping is that they’ll fulfill your orders for you — you won’t see or touch your products at any stage.
However, as many of your competitors will be selling the same products as you, you’ll need to get your marketing on-point to make them stand out (more on that later). If you’re opting for original products, the path is a little more complex.
You’ll need to source the products yourself by finding a dedicated supplier. And as you won’t be able to physically complete orders yourself, so you’ll need to connect with an order fulfillment company to do the legwork for you.
If that sounds like too much work for you, consider selling a digital product instead. Most e-commerce platforms and content management systems make it easy to sell e-courses, webinars, and ebooks online — and it’s a lot less work too.
But if you’ve decided to go down the affiliate review site, you’ll be best served by a content management system such as WordPress or Joomla. These platforms let you create and upload blogs, videos, audio, and so on.
Simply find brands with affiliate schemes and sign up to their programs. Successful affiliate sites are optimized for search engines (that’s partly how potential customers will find you).
But all of the business models are nothing without a strong marketing strategy…
Put a strong marketing strategy in place
So you’ve got your site ready and your products or affiliate reviews are all up to scratch. But don’t buy that plane ticket just yet! Now’s the time to implement a solid multichannel marketing campaign. When you’re traveling, most of your work time will be spent on your marketing strategy. Updating, refining, and tweaking it to maximize traffic and sales is a crucial part of running a digital business, so take the time to get it right.
To start with, create social media profiles across a range of networks. It doesn’t need to be exhaustive. Simply finding two or three social platforms and building an active presence across them is enough.
Use a social scheduler such as Buffer to plan and schedule your editorial calendar in advance — this will save you time and money as you’re trotting the globe. It’s also worth investing in paid ads too. Most social platforms offer ad options, and PPC campaigns are an effective means of driving traffic to your store. Find out more in the video below:
Use these ads to direct people to a landing page where you can collect email addresses in exchange for a freebie. These are known as lead magnets, and offer the customer a value in return for their contact information.
Lead magnets are easy to create. For example, a travel niche store could create a handy ebook with some useful budget tips for cash-strapped travelers. Or if you’re a cosmetics brand, you could offer a free sample to entice customers to hand over their email address.
Once you’ve got a good email subscriber list, implement an email marketing campaign to push products to customers. An email automation tool such as Zoho Campaigns is easy to use and lets you scale your marketing as your business grows.
You’ve found your niche, built your store, and your marketing is drawing customers in. But before you leave, plan ahead. Most countries have internet cafes or at least wi-fi capabilities. If you’re backpacking across the mountains of Tibet, you might struggle to find a cafe with a wi-fi connection. Consider investing in a tethering service for your cell phone, or look at a 4G pay-as-you-go option. If it’s really unavoidable, find a friend to look after your business while you’re unreachable.
Put the work in now and plan ahead, and you’ll soon have a thriving business to support you as you explore all that the world has to offer.
Patrick Foster is a writer and e-commerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading e-commerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.
Emily again! I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips to help support your travels! Which one(s) will you implement in your own business? Comment below to let me know! The one I’m most excited about is designing an e-book because I’m currently working on one to be released this year.
Thanks for reading!