Why Digital Nomad Events Suck And What To Do Instead


One thing that you’re unlikely to see here on NomadTalk is a big list of “Digital Nomad Events You Must Be At During 2020” and that’s because we can’t think of a single digital nomad event that anyone “must be at” ever.

There are many problems with digital nomad events including digital nomadism isn’t a job, the number of gurus present, the obviousness of the work, the price tag and the hidden costs. We’d like to take a look at them in detail before we look at what you might want to do with your hard-earned cash instead.

The Problems With Digital Nomad Events

 

It’s not entirely the organizer’s fault but there are some fairly obvious problems with these events.

Problem 1: Digital Nomad Isn’t A Job

 

Possibly the biggest issue with any kind of digital nomad event is that, by definition, a digital nomad isn’t a job description. That means you can’t really build an event around it because other than a fairly useless label “digital nomad” most of us don’t really have that much in common.

You can’t group a bunch of entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers who happen to travel while they work and build a 1-day (or worse 2-3 day) program that is going to be of any real value to everyone in attendance.

You might as well just attend a bunch of random conferences in your current place of residence. You might even learn more from them.

Problem 2: The Digital Nomad Gurus Come Out In Force

 

We’re not naming any names, though if you want to come for a few beers – we’d be happy to talk about this, but most digital nomad “gurus” are at their worst utter conmen and at their best they’re completely misguided.

The claims made on the websites are designed to deliberately mislead you into thinking they have achieved a level of success that they haven’t. Our favorite is when people refer to drop shipping and sales volumes. “Sold $1 million worth of stuff”. So what? What were their profits? You can nearly guarantee that the answer is much, much less impressive.

If they’d made $100,000 on that $1 million – they’d be talking about it. But they didn’t. So, they sell you turnover instead. In truth, the most money they’re going to make all year is the speaking fee they get for trying to sell you their “dropship like a loser, sorry, boss” program.

It’s not that there aren’t people making money from dropshipping, of course, there are, it’s that they’re not selling courses on how to dropship and they’re not speaking at digital nomad events.

Problem 3: The Obviousness Of It All

 

You might be excited for a minute or two about learning to market your business on Instagram but go and look at Instagram’s most successful accounts – it’s pretty clear what you need to do to make money there.

  1. Be attractive
  2. Be female (not really optional either)
  3. Wear as few clothes as possible and take photos that look exactly like the last photos taken at that destination
  4. Add some crappy filters to make those photos “pop”
  5. Rinse and repeat

Don’t worry if you’re a little on the large side though ladies, there’s plenty of love for body positivity in horny young men looking for scantily clad lady pictures. Fat guys, on the other hand, can expect to be shunned. “How dare they!” screamed a million young would-be Thunberg-alikes.

In order for seminars to have wide-appeal at a digital nomad conference, they need to deal in the blindingly obvious. Everyone fancies a side gig making a few photos on Instagram as they travel and most of them don’t have a clue – so pitch anything above “entry-level” and your audience will ensure you never speak at one of these digital nomad events again.

Problem Four: The Price Tag

 

Nomad Summit (which we won’t be linking to) is one of the best-known digital nomad events. You can layout $297 for a seat in the back of the room without so much as a surface to work on (no tables for the peasants). Whereas VIPs can shell out an incredible $997 for the chance to hang out with the speakers at a private dinner.

This may represent the worst value for money since the $997 course on “How to make a fortune in cryptocurrency”. The guy who wrote that course will probably be speaking at one of these events to be fair.

$300 is a fairly substantial investment in yourself. You could buy 30 books for that. 30 training courses on Udemy (if you wait for the right sale in any given month). You could attend a dozen (or more) local networking events. And all of these are likely to bring a higher level of ROI than a digital nomad event.

When we get up to the $997 mark, we can only assume that you want to be a speaker in next year’s lineup because networking with the “digital nomad gurus” is not likely to bring you huge levels of other business opportunities.

The fact that the price tags end in $7 should be a huge warning sign that the value for money is next to zero. It’s a useful guide for evaluating all training online or offline to be fair.

Problem Five: The Travel And Accommodation

 

If you want to visit one of these events, you’re also going to have to get there. Most of them are held in “Nomad Hubs” around the world (probably because they have the highest concentration of people daft enough to pay for them).

You should be adding the cost of flights and hotels to your ticket price to calculate your total level of “investment”. By now, you ought to be nearing a number that would buy you a seat on a training course for a high-value certification (such as Six Sigma, PMP, etc.) that might actually impress a client or a would-be employer.

So, What Should You Do Instead Of Digital Nomad Events?

 

We don’t think there’s any need to keep flogging a dead horse. The disadvantages of digital nomad events are near endless and we’ve managed to get through this without any character slurs on any of the organizers – whom you might want to research before giving them your money.

Well, we’ve already mentioned some of the options to make better use of your money but let’s take a look:

  • Pick a professional conference instead. If you are a digital marketer – go to a conference about digital marketing. Your networking opportunities go through the roof and your chances of learning at least one thing of use to your business is also much greater.
  • Pick a professional training event instead. You may not get as much in the way of networking from a training course (though we wouldn’t bet against it either – you meet some incredible people in training, sometimes) but you will learn more than you would at most conferences. If it comes with a nice certificate that’s recognized by clients and employers, so much the better.
  • Do some online training. You could learn nearly an infinite number of skills online compared to wasting your time at a conference. You may even be able to do some networking with the other participants. Beware of price tags that end in $7 and try not to lay out a ridiculous amount of money – $997 is great for the organizer but it’s a rare course that gives you $997 of value in return. Udemy and LinkedIn (formerly Lynda.com) are good sources for this.
  • Buy some books. Book learning is my favorite way to learn new skills. In fact, one of the only regrets I have in nomad life is that it’s hard to lug a few substantial textbooks around the world. I like paper books better than electronic ones for learning new skills. You can shop on Amazon from nearly anywhere in the world.
  • Attend some local networking events. General business networking is usually very cheap (if not free) as is most local digital nomad networking (which may still be as big a waste of time as the digital nomad events but at least it’ll be a cheap waste of time). Getting out and talking to people is a useful exercise and people who are near you are more likely to want to work with you than a guy you meet in Mexico who is going to Patagonia while you head to Mongolia.

Conclusion

 

Digital nomad events suck, and they suck mainly because there’s no common thread to what makes a “digital nomad”. If you have unlimited money to spend and love conferences, that shouldn’t stop you from going but if you don’t – you might want to attend a more focused event, sign up for a qualification, do some online training, attend a local networking event, or buy some books, instead.

Nicholas Barang

Nicholas Barang is a veteran digital nomad. In fact, he was probably "digital nomading" before it was called that. He believes that anyone can make a free and independent life if they want to. He wants to help those who commit to finding their own path. And to cut through the nonsense told about this "lifestyle" by those in search of a quick buck. If you want to reach him you can send him an e-mail at nicholasbarang@gmail.com or to nick at nomadtalk.net.

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