64 Ways Location Independent People Earn a Living

Have you ever wondered how you could earn a living that would allow you to live and work anywhere in the world? Many people already living that dream shared the details of how they make a living in the recent Location Independent and Digital Nomad Survey.

64 of their answers are below. The results might surprise you if you thought location independent people were all bloggers or online business owners.

The truth is that these people earn a living in many different ways. Sure, there are plenty of freelance writers, consultants and web developers, but there are also professional musicians, lobbyists and land developers on the list.

Check out these 64 real ways people earn a location independent living:

  1. Database consulting for MySQL
  2. Sales (other peoples’ products)
  3. Public affairs and public relations working in digital engagement
  4. Updating blogs and ghostwriting
  5. Through coaching and consulting, by helping expats and diplomats cope with homesickness and culture shock, staying focused on their goals and overcoming the emotional and motivational challenges of expat life
  6. As a music composer and sound designer along with running an audio production company
  7. Website design and audio engineering
  8. Through a business that produces ready-made newsletters, sold online to people cross North America
  9. Graphic design for a Fortune 500 company
  10. As a freelance writer, involving blogging, copywriting, ghost writing and article and e-book writing
  11. Affiliate marketing
  12. Software development, end user support, training, documentation, database management, project management, technical marketing & strategy and producing travel content
  13. As a self-employed webmaster, blogger and travel writer
  14. Communications strategy consulting and content development
  15. Running a yacht charter company
  16. Professional poker player
  17. Freelance script writer and script doctor
  18. Online community manager, community consultant and entrepreneur
  19. Translation and related language services
  20. Instructional designer and consultant for large businesses
  21. Reporting, copywriting, and marketing consultation
  22. Project Manager for an electronic medical records software company
  23. Geographical information analysis for research institutions
  24. Consulting services for organizational development
  25. Selling information products and coaching
  26. IT project management and regulatory compliance
  27. Web development
  28. Senior consultant for a large data services/hardware company
  29. Customer service manager for online software company
  30. Website design and management with 2 major contracts
  31. Sales (conducting phone sales with Skype to contacts in the US)
  32. Market research
  33. Writing for other people, recording conferences and audio programs and selling “stuff” on-line
  34. Web developer
  35. IT systems design and software implementation
  36. Creating websites to sell online niche products
  37. Freelance translation of technical documents
  38. Working as a full time employee at home for a major IT company
  39. Through three websites and some freelance design work
  40. Building blogs and websites for small companies and social media consulting
  41. International airline/aviation consultant and lobbyist
  42. Land development and consulting
  43. Affiliate marketing manager and digital marketing consulting
  44. Through recurring income from web hosting and support contracts
  45. Adjunct professor specializing in online learning (teaching and designing online courses)
  46. Consulting, training and coaching in the fields of new ways of working and information worker performance
  47. Professional musician
  48. Public relations for creative (advertising, marketing, PR, design) firms
  49. Working for a publisher (writing, illustration, photography)
  50. College instructor
  51. Health and wellness coaching
  52. Running a web application with a monthly subscription model
  53. Consulting in software development
  54. Selling an extension to a popular content management system
  55. Working for Matador Network and Where There Be Dragons
  56. Arts consulting
  57. Business advisor
  58. Manage operations of online business
  59. Senior IT consultant
  60. Marketing coach and copywriter
  61. Trading forex (foreign exchange)
  62. Owning an internet business
  63. Selling online eBooks
  64. Running a technology sales website
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  • http://www.squidoo.com/riskfreebusiness lawrence benkelman

    Great post with lots of great ideas for work.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danielmcclure Daniel

    This is a great little article, it’s good to see exactly what people are up to already. I look forward to more of these snippets as the full results from the survey come out. Good work guys and a big thanks to everyone for sharing!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Yes, thanks everyone for sharing. I can’t wait to write more (and read what other blogs write) about the results.

      • W Radford

        You left out ‘professional MAGICIAN’. Just FYI. Extremely L.I.P.

  • http://www.seanogle.com Sean

    Definitely lots of things I never would have thought about being L.I. on that list. I think I am going to live on a yacht and become a musical composer…

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      I was thinking about being a professional poker player and college instructor ;)

    • cecilia

      hi sean, i completely agree with you!! i travelled all around the world on my own, i m italian and one day i ll go living on a tropical island, pacific area whom i know nearly everything. it s about 22 years i m a bank employee and still saying the same thing i want to escape (vojoscappa of the email means in italian slang escape ahah), hope you understand my perfect english ahah, best regards cecilia

  • http://www.refocusingtechnology.com/ Jeremy

    Corbett,

    I see a ton of technology jobs. It is amazing to me how quickly technology changes the landscape of business. Many of the jobs that are allowing people to live this way probably weren’t even jobs/positions 5 to 10 years ago. Very cool. Thanks for the information

    Jeremy @ RefocusingTechnology.com

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Yeah, living the location independent life was a much different proposition 10 years ago. It wasn’t impossible, though. Steve Roberts was doing it waaay back in the 1980s.

      It’s exciting to think about how technology will improve people’s lives even further over the next 10 and 20 years. Location independence will definitely become a more attainable lifestyle.

  • http://runabroad.blogspot.com Renato

    I am already a “location independent person”, I work as a senior software engineer for a small Silicon Valley-based startup. I am (currently) based in London and I am currently looking for my next short rent somewhere in Europe. But this post gives me a few more ideas if I want (or I have) to change soon…

    Thanks!

    Renato

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      That’s great, Renato. It sounds like the company you work for is quite progressive. Is the entire company distributed throughout the world, or is there a central office that most people work from?

  • http://www.proofhub.com/ Justin

    Great post! I myself have tried some of these and was successful in some and got failure in others. being a freelancer one major thing required is a central system so that wherever you are you can access things in an easy way.
    Initially we used basecamp (www.basecamphq.com) for project management purposes and it changed the email email games we used to play. Though we find out some even better product named Proofhub Proofhub (www.proofhub.com)which provided the same or you can say better services at a cheaper and effective price. The thing is that wherever you are your work should be effective enough to attract more business.
    Thanks for the post

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Thanks for the advertisement, Justin ;) Your point is important though. Communication is one of the trickiest parts about being location independent.

  • http://ExileLifestyle.com Colin

    Haha, guess I’d better learn to play poker and compose music. Then I’ll be set!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Fascinating!!! I took part in the survey (I’m the freelance translator of technical documents) and it’s so interesting to see the large scope of jobs that you can take with you across the globe :) Interesting to see what I share (blogging) and what is different between myself and other technomads (no children and in the younger age group in my case).
    Really looking forward to further information on the survey!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Thanks for participating. I’m glad to see such a diversity of people represented in the survey. It makes interpreting the results very interesting! I look forward to sharing more soon. I love your nickname here, by the way. Which languages do you speak?

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

        English, Irish (Gaelic), Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Esperanto! I’m currently learning Czech (and blogging about if it’s possible to learn it in 3 months flat!)
        Looking forward to these results :)
        All the best!

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  • Phil

    I’ve been a freelancing IT consultant for 10+ years and whilst the pay has been excellent and it’s also allowed me many good travelling experiences, it’s definitely not a silver bullet or the end goal.

    The business model (if you could call it that) is fundementally flawed, in fact it plain sucks. You’re always trading your time for a dollar, which means ultimately although you have a bit more flexibility, but you still have to show face everyday and put in your 8 hours.

    The only way to have true freedom, is to build a residual income stream which isn’t dependent or reliant on you warming a seat 5-days a week. That being said, consulting can be a good stepping stone to nirvana.

    • Jeremy

      @Phil : Man, you are like my mirror image then. I’m in the exact same boat, but consulting only for about 8 years. I tried expanding the consulting buisness, i.e. hirring people, which helped some, but didn’t really get me to true freedom either. I think like you said residual income streams are key. So my task now is trying to figure out what is the most straight forward way to turn my 8+ years of IT Consulting experience into some sort of product that can be sold. Would love to kick around some ideas with you around that topic if your interested.

  • http://www.adventurerob.com AdventureRob

    I do 10 of these and still don’t earn enough to sustain myself (yet) :/

    • http://www.overseas-assistant.com/en/ Overseas Assistant

      Hi Rob :)

      I reckon it can be tricky to make your incomes steady enough.
      The thing is to re-assess your business as often as possible and find what you can ameliorate whenever possible.

      Good luck! :)

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  • http://www.brighteyecounselling.co.uk Modernape

    I’m an online psychologist providing live therapy sessions over video or IM, and I manage to make ends meet, its been sustaining my ILP lifestyle for 3 years in 4 continents.

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  • http://MonkeyBrewster.com Cornelius Aesop

    Great list, I’ve been reading on many aspects of what people do to maintain their lifestyle while traveling and the necessities of being a digital nomad but nothing really listing what everyone is doing to actually earn an income while traveling. I want to break my own way of making income through location independent means but I’m no expert in anything – but hopefully by the time I take that jump move outside the US I’ve refined any skills needed.

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  • http://www.salsaking.com Rico

    How come everyone praises an article that has a number of repeated suggestions (streching it to the number of 64) ? I am getting into this idea of blogging slowly, and it appears that a lot of the comments act as a lead to “hey, come check my stuff out” – reoccuring theme of “e-books, blogging” – maaates…All good though – It’s a wonderful post! Can’t wait to get more :)!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett

      Hey Rico, I think you’ll find that empty comments like “nice post” won’t help you connect with anyone or deliver new visitors to your site. The more value the better. Try to contribute something to the conversation. That usually works best.

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  • http://www.hyperoffice.com Pankaj

    Nice article. I’ts amazing you could think of so many things one can work on from home. to condense, almost any information work can be done from home.

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  • http://www.humandesigner.com/en/ Logos and Websites Designer

    If you do Design and Webdesign, you have to compete with talented people from emerging countries who set the prices very low compared to someone who wants to remain location independant (costs of living aren’t the same!).

    I think that it’s the main difficulty if you don’t manage to have at least 4 big clients who constantly rely on you.

    Added to that, there is the issue of trust.
    Many companies have difficulties to trust someone they can’t see or meet.
    So, you’d better have to find those 4 big companies before you become truly virtual.

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  • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

    I’ve been location independent for 8 years. I have a graphic design and marketing business that has done very well over the years. I’m now expanding to other markets in hopes to create a more passive income.

  • http://wiseninja.com Alex

    Comprehensive list! I’ve met many location independent workers but meeting everyone this list will take a while

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  • http://www.nomadwayoflife.com EJ

    Very cool post.

  • http://www.OdetoSuccess.com Monica Ray

    Corbett – thanks for the list, I’m really enjoying reading your blog and hope to someday too be location independent :).

  • http://travelcreditcards.tumblr.com/ Ron

    This list is really timeless. Today may be a couple years after this post was published but it still rings true. Hopefully those who read this list a couple years ago have figured out how to implement some of the stuff here.

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  • http://www.centsablechicks.com Centsable Too

    Great post! I am a web developer and already working location indepently. However I only have one main client, and if I lose them, I’ll be in trouble. I’m embarking on other ways to generate income, and your post has given me more ideas. Thanks much!

  • Alwyn

    The list is nice, but what would be really helpful are tips or pointers on how you get from point A (employer has you chained to your desk) to B (you setting the terms on how and where you want to work).

    Telecommuting has been a hot subject for many years now, but I don’t see much evidence of companies allowing people with technical skills to do that unless they low ball themselves to India levels.

  • http://www.ivblogger.com Sheyi

    Am I permitted to do 2 or more of this? Lol

    Great post its funny i’m just seeing it now

    Sheyi

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  • http://www.PromoteU.webs.com Meri

    Just came across this article (years later, ah, the joy of the Internet!) Noticed that there are creative jobs on your list, i.e., professional musician, freelance writer, etc. I am that. Is it really possible to earn a living doing those things abroad? I live in the US and the ‘starving artist’ is alive and well. I’ve met older musicians who’ve told me there was a time many years ago when musicians could earn a living but that time is gone. Maybe things are different in other countries? I’d heard that musicians who perform original music are more respected in Europe than in North America. I wonder if that’s true… Just curious whether anyone might still be following up on these comments.

    Thanks for the article anyhow. Interesting…

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  • http://www.AroundtheWorldin80Jobs.com Turner

    This is a great list that I had to share – http://aroundtheworldin80jobs.com/demystifying-location-independence/ – Make me wish I would have learn about web design and computer oriented things back in college. Oh well press on. Just found your site Mr. Barr and am impressed. Thanks for the info.

    -Turner Barr

  • http://www.mobopreneur.com Mobopreneur

    Hi Corbett,

    Pretty cool list!

    I’m curious about how people would do consulting in location independent manner – is the communication done via Skype or such? How about the billed hours?

    I personally do the typical – I blog and run blogs as a business.

    Cheers!

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  • http://www.indikadefonseka.com Indika De Fonseka

    Great post and thanks for the bank of ideas!
    I’m looking to nail this for 2013 and I’m going with a mixture of 2 things mentioned.
    But I’ll know where to come if ever I need a ‘Plan B’!

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  • http://www.nextstopwhoknows.com Carlo Cretaro

    Great list! I’m excited at finally becoming location independent myself :)

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  • http://2globalnomads.info Global Nomad couple

    One option is to forget the whole making money thing and go to live in a place where you can live without any money. The world is full of all kinds of monasteries and there is also some communities offering money-free way of life.

  • http://www.mendener.net maTTes

    but where to get jobs for your way of earning?

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  • vinodh

    Hi,
    you covered the entire list of location independent workers.
    thanks&regards
    vinodh

Up Next:

3 Ways to Become Location Independent

The idea of becoming location independent sounds great to most people. Who wouldn't want to be able to live and work anywhere you choose? The hardest part about reaching your goal of location independence isn't in having enough desire to do it. The hardest part is earning an income that doesn't require you to show up to work every day in one place.

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