One of the most-asked questions we get from folks both at home and that we meet along the way in our adventure is: ‘So what is a typical digital nomad day…what does it look like?’
Well, here in Chiang Mai it looks a lot like our days before we became digital nomads: we work, we eat, we sleep, we travel and explore. Yet, at the same time, we do every single one of those things differently than before.
We work when we want. Doing things that we want to do that will make us money.
We eat when we are hungry – meaning we’re down to about two meals a day plus a snack at night. And we stick to our low carb/keto way of eating.
When we get tired, we sleep. And we are both night owls – and when we fall asleep at 2 am we don’t fret about the alarm clock because THERE IS NONE!
We wander off the beaten path…hoping not just to see the sites but to make some human connections along the way.
This is not how we lived in Koh Samui, and it’s not how we will live in many destinations. But our pattern of travel is fast-fast then slow: travel hard then settle down for a bit.
So, this is what a typical day looks like when we have slowed down to focus on the business while traveling rather than focusing on travel while running the business.
A Typical Digital Nomad Day for Matt and Lisa in Chiang Mai
Over the past few weeks in Chiang Mai we have fallen into a bit of a pattern. It looks something like this:
Between 10 and 11 AM: Matt’s Up
Matt gets up, puts on water for our keto-rific bulletproof breakfast tea (we found collagen powder at a local scientific store and have replaced MCT oil with coconut oil in our morning tea) and checks on social media, blog stats, Amazon orders and various other morning KPI checks.
Around 11 AM: Lisa’s Up
Sleeping is literally one of Lisa’s superpowers. She can do it anywhere and far longer than anyone I know. But usually at some point around 11 AM I notice that Lisa is awake and checking on her social media and business KPIs on her phone in bed.
11:30-ish AM: Heads Down Working Time
Heads down working time drinking bulletproof tea over our laptops. Our flat has internet that is fast and reliable enough to meet our needs so we do our work there.
Lisa’s Heads Down Time
Lisa has mostly been focused on new product development. Planning and sourcing new products is one of the hardest things to do in the world of Amazon FBA. Every Amazon seller wants to import and sell the right product to make healthy margins.
These days there are a lot of tools to analyze product performance of goods that other sellers are selling on Amazon. This leads to what I call ‘product waves.’ Some product does well…but all of the other sellers see that volume and margin on the same analytical tools at the same time! So they rush the same product to market thereby destroying margins and the ability to make money on that product.
It’s a classic Tragedy of the Commons economic problem. We’ve heard so many stories of people who follow the formula, use the analytical tools and then lose their investment because of this ‘product wave’ phenomenon.
Lisa prefers to lead the herd rather than follow it. But his makes new product development infinitely more difficult. She spends a LOT of time looking at trends and products poised to go viral in order to be a product leader rather than follower. The time she puts into research and thought is the most important time we invest.
Her other big task is adjusting each product’s ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale), which is a key metric used to measure performance of the ads we buy on Amazon to drive sales of our products. For all you math geeks, ACoS = ad spend ÷ sales. The key to profitability on Amazon is keeping ACoS under the mid-teens. Lisa has a natural knack for managing ACoS. It’s the perfect task for her amazing memory and natural mathematics skills. But it’s time consuming and requires a lot of heads-down concentration to get right.
She also manages our customer relations and has been able to use customer service recovery techniques to turn one-star Amazon reviews of her products into five-star reviews (review stars are the lifeblood of any Amazon business)!
Matt’s Heads Down Time
While Lisa is growing and managing our products, I’ve been studying and perfecting search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the art and science of making search engines want to put your website or web store above other similar websites or stores. The mantra is: if you are not on the first page of a google search then you don’t exist.
It’s a simple concept but it is infinitely complex and ever-changing. Learning the intricacies and tools of SEO was a full-time job for a few weeks. Now it’s only a part-time job. But applying it is even more time consuming. I’ve been spending hours and hours on it every day.
I’m also in charge of Around the World’s social media program. In addition to promoting Saucey Socks and Saucey Chic, I’ve been expanding the social media presence of this blog. I’ve gotten active in the digital nomad blogger community and have expanded our presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
And if I’m totally honest, I also spend a lot of time reading the blogs of other digital nomads and full-time travelers – both for entertainment as well as inspiration regarding our future travel. Among my favorites are:
I also spend heads-down time managing state sales tax filings, writing blog posts like this one and managing day-to-day tasks as they pop up.
2pm-ish: Lunch Meeting
A few hours later our tea is finished. We start to get hungry, so we venture out for lunch. Sometimes we’ll explore a new part of town or run some errands, but typically we just meander for a bit then eat at whatever place we stumble upon that looks good.
This is our time to talk about our travel plans and where to go next. Those are our favorite conversations!
We also typically talk about the business and bounce ideas and problems off of each other.
On the way back we pick up water and sometimes get a massage. 😊
3pm-ish: Back to Work!
With new perspectives gained over lunch conversations we tend to spend the late afternoon back at our laptops banging out more work or, as they seem to say in the digital nomad community, CRUSHING IT!
4:30-5pm: Working Out and Relaxing at the pool
After a couple hours I get restless and tell Lisa I am heading down to the pool. We usually leave our laptops behind but bring our iPhones and e-readers with us to the pool.
By 5pm or so we are both swimming laps in the pool. When we started swimming a few weeks ago, we did about 4 lengths in the ~20-yard pool in about 10 minutes and were exhausted. These days we are doing 20-30 lengths in about 20-25 minutes. We even invested in swim goggles. Pretty sure we are CRUSHING IT in the pool, but I’ll have to check with some DNs to see if that phrase applies beyond work stuff.
Anyway, we do love to get our exercise this way: it’s fun, cooling and one heck of a workout! Plus, it’s easy on my still-lingering ankle dance party injury.
After swimming we relax by the pool reading books on e-readers or catching up on social media on our iPhone for an hour or two. I’ve finally, after two years, nearly finished the Harry Potter series. I’ll miss Harry, Ron, Hermione and the whole gang when I’m finally done.
7pm: Evening Activities
Eventually we shower and head out to dinner. For the first time in my life I am showering and shaving in the evening rather than first thing in the morning. I love it because it means I am operating on MY schedule rather than a corporate schedule.
Sometimes we head out to dinner with a specific restaurant in mind. Other times we have an area or street in mind. Sometimes we just wander until we find a place that looks right for us. Dinner is a sacred time for talking and enjoying each other’s company. iPhones stay in pockets until the end of the meal. Here are some of the places we’ve liked.
After dinner we either head to a social activity such as bowling, game night or open mic stand-up comedy or we head home.
9 or 10pm-ish: Chill Time
When we don’t do something social we get home and either watch some American TV on Hulu with VPN (here is how to watch American TV while traveling), have a glass of wine, do some work or some combination of those three. Lisa has also been making a few keto-friendly desserts with coconut or almond flour for us to enjoy.
Somewhere between 1 am and 3 am: Go to bed.
Sometimes we lose track of time but usually we are pretty exhausted by 1 or 1:30 am and head to bed happy knowing there will be no alarm clock waking us up in the morning.
It’s a good life
We’ve really enjoyed living this way in Chiang Mai. We feel like we’re ‘crushing it’ with the business but get to live by our rules and are exploring/traveling every single day.
I suppose this may all sound a bit boring compared to the way the digital nomad lifestyle is portrayed by many bloggers and on social media. But the reality is that we treat running the business as a full-time job…jobs with many perks and lots of freedom, but jobs nevertheless. And every job requires some structure and self-discipline…working for yourself most of all!
Soon we’ll be back on the fast-travel track and we’re both looking forward to that, too: focusing on travel while keeping the business going as a secondary concern. But for now, it’s a very good life living a typical digital nomad day in Chiang Mai!