In conclusion of my research, an answer to my main research question is given.
The main question is as following:
What business model allows me as an AV producer to be a successful digital nomad, to be able to financially support myself, travel around the world and continue growing creatively?
To form the conclusion of the main research question every aspect of becoming a successful digital nomad as an AV producer had to be researched.
First of all, 6 existing AV digital nomads showed the following similarities in their canvas business models that are determinative for them to remain cost-effective:
- Personal relationships with clients and offering services
- Customer segments are people who need social media targeted advertising
- Word to mouth and social media are main channels
- Quality over quantity in their content
- A powerful set of AV production hardware is indispensable
- Rarely relying on key partners
- Direct sales of AV content main revenue stream
- Monthly expenses almost negligible
Worth mentioning is that often their freelancing career was built on the network of professional relationships that were gained by initially offering their services for free to get noticed and gain credibility amongst their customers.
As a creative AV freelancer who intends to work internationally, I’ve found the following platforms to be most suitable:
- Direct sales of AV content. With social media being a highly resourceful tool to get clients, direct sales without an intermediate platform allows my business to operate as intended.
- Stock footage. With a high initial time investment, this could turn to a passive income in the long run. It also offers a high degree of freedom.
- Film festivals. Even though this platform initially won’t help my business financially, it can bring a lot of new opportunities that will boost my direct sales.
These platforms seem to be less useful for me right now:
- Crowd funding. My online presence and reach is insufficient to make this platform useful.
- Intermediating platforms. Platforms like Fiverr are active, but also very competitive. Making it more focused on quantity and dropping prices, meaning I would lose passion for what I’m doing.
- Teaching. Teaching my skills to others could be profitable, but is not my focus right now.
Financially my best approach would be to remain a Dutch citizen and keep doing business from my company that I registered at the Kamer van Koophandel and pay the obligated taxes (21%) to the Dutch government. The Kamer van Koophandel requires me to work at least 1225 hours a year, and earn more than 10.000 euro, to be able to profit from the tax benefits.
The 3 selected countries to start working in are financially ranked as following:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand being the cheapest to live in with a monthly average of €663,-
- Bali, Indonesia doing fairly well as a close second place with a monthly average of €821,-
- Berlin, Germany being the most expensive in this list with a monthly average of €1.894,-
For my situation however, living and working in places like Chiang Mai and Bali would mean a lot of additional costs for travel expenses and visas, living in Berlin would not require those costs to be made.
Legally seen the following conclusions are made based on my situation:
- If I live outside of the Netherlands longer than 8 months in a year I have to unregister from my municipality.
- I’m obligated to get an international drivers license to legally be able to drive in many countries.
- As a creative freelancer I should be very wary of the copyright law, which prohibits me from stealing or copying other peoples work, unless the creator signs a release form.
- Digital nomads are in a bit of a grey area when it comes to the right visa. In Indonesia and Thailand it is practically impossible to legally earn money as a digital nomad. As a Dutch citizen I can legally work and earn money in Berlin without any premeasures.
When travelling or working in other (extreme) climates, it is necessary to take some precautions to protect your AV-equipment. Extreme temperatures and temperature changes can be heavily damaging for electronic devices, and so can the humidity level be. Exposure to various elements such as wind, rain and direct sunlight can also pose a threat to your electronics and should be avoided as much as possible. Besides protective gear and travel bags, cleaning and taking good care of the equipment helps to avoid problems.
My current AV hardware setup is technically on a professional level already, but some improvements can definitely be made to broaden my capabilities while shooting and editing in foreign countries and climates.
Analyzing all of the results above, gave me a much better ground to base my main conclusion on. The conclusion is shaped in the form of the canvas business model, with supporting explanation of how to achieve certain professional goals, while travelling and remaining financially stable. From every element researched, I had to choose what part of the solution fitted my business plan best. As the result of the main research question is a business model that’s subject to change, the answer is rather speculative and should be reviewed upon after a certain amount of time, when sufficient experience has been made with the model.