Was he the world’s first digital nomad? Maybe, maybe not... but there is little doubt that James Clark was one of the first people to make an online living while traveling.
The Melbourne native took to the road fulltime in 2003 while earning an income from his website business and he hasn’t stopped moving since. Currently based in Vietnam he spends much of the year traveling between various hubs catching up with online colleagues. James has built his business to now include travel blogging and helping others start their own online travel business.
We caught up with James on the move in Singapore where we discussed his early beginnings, life in Vietnam and where he sees the opportunities ahead for people wanting to do what he does.
You can catch James blog at http://www.nomadicnotes.com
What I learned from speaking with James:
- Vietnam is a fast developing infrastructure – although strictly speaking communist it is home to an entrepreneurial spirit helped by a population which is 70% under the age of 40. This gives the country a vibrancy and energy that James loves. Although it is fast developing the cost of living is low with a person on their own able to survive comfortably on less than $1000 per month.
- If you’re serious about building an online business start at home in the evenings. It’s easy to start flicking through social media (something he didn’t have to worry about when starting) or watching an average television show but these are the moments when you make your choices in life. Remind yourself that you want to build a location independent business and keep at it for as long as you need to.
- Look at options to retain your existing job. Moving away doesn’t mean you have to throw it all away. If you have an accommodating boss, a mobile job, and you love what you do then you might be able to take it on the road with you.
- Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean an easy life of checking the occasional email. James still works 35-40 hour weeks but admits that the four hour work week is a little unrealistic for most people. He does find however that he no longer has such as thing as weekends as he works anytime he feels like it
- Catching up with friends is a big part of what he does. Being on the road can be lonely but James has regular hubs he visits such as Melbourne, his original home city and Bangkok where he can see old friends and have a little grounding in his life before he heads away again