10 Questions to AJ Silvers

Don’t miss your chance to learn from an experienced digital nomad first hand how to deal with an irregular income and avoid running short on money after a longer period of no paychecks.

AJ Silvers has been travelling around the world since his late 20s and eventually became a digital nomad 4 years ago. He makes his money writing fiction and selling it through Amazon. Surely enough, he will have loads of interesting stories to share and secrets to tell regarding the digital nomad life.

It’s storytime and we highly recommend you to take part in it. Given the fact that AJ is a writer and therefor good with words, listening to him speak passionately about traveling, which is what we all love most will be a truly wonderful experience. Not to mention the things you can learn from him at our upcoming Meetup on Tuesday, March 8, at 6pm.

AJ Silvers

  • Age: 42
  • Years as a DN:4 yrs as a DN but travelling since his 20s
  • Profession:Author, Marketing Geek, Copywriter
  • Nationality:British
  • Stay in touch: facebook.com/theajsilvers
Digital Nomad AJ Silvers

Why did you decide to begin a nomadic life and what does it mean to you?

I had been running small businesses, often with remote staff, for several years while living in different parts of the UK.
I’d been hearing about this online marketing nirvana called Chiang Mai for a few years then quite by accident I was speaking to an Australian woman who ran a VA company from Chiang Mai. After 10 minutes we both realised she could not provide the staff I needed so we spoke for 45 mins about Chiang Mai.
Three weeks later I’d sold my car, most of my stuff (the rest given to charity) and climbed aboard a BA flight heading for Thailand.

How do you earn an income now?

I write fiction and sell it through Amazon. I run a series of courses teaching people how to write better fiction and how to market their books and I do occasional copywriting and conversion rate optimisation projects.

How many hours do you work at an average on a usual day?

Depends on the day and if you count ‘writing fiction’ as work. I’d write every day whether I was being paid for it or not.
But to answer the question it’s probably 4-6 hrs most days, though some times it can be 12+ depends on the project and the deadline lol.

What is your approximate travel budget for a year? Any tips on how to lower it?

I am a slow traveller, I like to spend a few months in each place though sometimes that extends. For example, I moved to Budapest for 3 months but stayed for 18 months.
I’d budget $600 for an average one way trip economy and $1500 club class or better. If you shop around you can get pretty much anywhere for that price assuming you miss any seasonal high points like Easter or big holiday periods.

As for lowering the budgets, I wouldn’t know. My philosophy is to always earn more, rather than spend less. Life is all about experiences and for me, I’d prefer to put in a few extra hours a week to generate another sale or win a new project rather than scrimp on a cheap ticket and spend the same time stuck in a crappy transit lounge only to be cramped on a long haul, multi-stop flight to nominally save a few hundred bucks.

You can make more money easier than you can get back the time wasted on that kind of trip. And that’s before you factor in the stress and recovery time afterwards.

What would you consider to be one of the best tools for becoming a digital nomad?

Mindset. You need to be able to say no to the right things and focus on what’s important for you in the longer term. There will always be another beach party, there will always be another night out at a club but sometimes not working on your dream project today could push that back weeks or even months as you’ll miss other opportunities down the line.

I am not a believer in luck but I do like the expression that says luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity. I always want to be prepared and ready to take up the right opportunity rather than miss it because I was too tired or hungover from the night before.

Do you have any advice for those starting a digital nomad life?

It’s going to sound boring but learn to budget. When you’re in the corporate life money is an easier thing to manage. Credit is an avenue many take advantage of (I personally don’t) and if you’re low on funds you just have to sit tight until the end of the month.
However, if you’re backpacking through Cambodia or trying to kickstart your new web business in Thailand and you run out of funds, there’s no ‘end of the month’ paycheck coming to your rescue.
You see it countless times, people selling off some of the high tech gear to make their rent or begging friends and family for funds to keep going. That or they’ll have to pimp themselves out on Fiverr or similar sites and work round the clock for peanuts just to get by.
Screw that. Learn to budget, learn to save 20% of every invoice you send or product you sell. Keep an emergency fund so you’re always self sufficient. Too many dreams have been cut short because nomads can’t budget.
As almost every digi-nomad works on a laptop, the other two (probably boring) essential items would be an insurance policy for your gear and regular backups for your data.
If you cannot get insurance to cover your travels then the data back up is essential. Your hardware can easily be replaced (especially if you have that emergency fund) but your data and your work is easily lost forever.

How long have you been traveling and where have you been? Do you have a favourite place in the world?

I was born into an Army family, so I’ve been travelling since I was 6 months old. I’ve lived and worked on 5 of the 7 continents (South America and Antartica are the last two on the list).
Favourite places, more favourite experiences. So seeing the Northern lights while taking a 4×4 across a glacier in Iceland, enjoying a spa in a volcanic hot spring (Iceland again), diving with giant manta rays and an unplanned encounter with a Tiger Shark in the Maldives, sailing a yacht round the Greek islands, rock climbing in Colorado, learning to fly in the States, surfing on Australia’s Gold Coast.

It’s been a crazy ride so far 🙂

DN AJ learned how to fly in the US

What is your travel frequency? How often do you change the place you stay and do you have a home base?

Usually every 3-6 months, though I have tended to stay longer in some places. I bounced back to Chiang Mai from different parts of S. E. Asia for almost two years for example.

How do you manage the distance to family and friends? Do you miss having an established home and a wardrobe without weight limit?

I keep in touch with family back home using FB, email and skype calls. Most of my friends are on the road now. Those I used to know back home live in a different world and don’t seem to understand, or perhaps are a little envious, of the freedoms and choices the nomad lifestyle can bring.

Could you imagine keeping up the digital nomad lifestyle for the rest of your life?

I will always travel and that will never change, though for the couple of years I have been looking for a long term base. The new business I am working on will be easier to scale, to the size I am aiming for, with a static office and a small team and I’ve found that long term relationships are a little harder when you’re on a different trajectory to the other travellers you meet, so that’s another reason to pause in one place for a while. Oh and I recently adopted a rescue pup so that changes a few things too.

digital nomad AJ's pup Ivy
Are you a digital nomad with experience? Then you might want to read our blog post “Hey you, digital nomad! I want to offer you something