Today I’m going to address a question I receive quite a bit on my YouTube channel, a question I find quite interesting and in fact, it’s the single and only question that I had before I moved out to Thailand.
Before I moved to Thailand, I was wondering, would it possible that by being in a city that’s full of digital nomads like Chiang Mai, would it be possible that I could get work just by being in Thailand?
Before I came here I reached out to a couple of other YouTubers and actually asked them this exact same question. They gave me the same kind of the answer that I’m going to give you and they were spot on with what they told me. What I wanted to know was,
As a web developer, if I moved out to Thailand, would there be a big demand in Chiang Mai for web development work?
This doesn’t just apply to web development. You could be reading this as a copywriter, as a graphic designer or something else, and you may have the same question. You may be wondering the same thing.
The answer, unfortunately, is no, not really. There isn’t that much of a demand.
For me this was really disappointing at the time, in hindsight, it didn’t really matter in the end, so it shouldn’t also matter for you. If you’re going to become a digital nomad and if you’re going run your business online and work on your laptop, you should be focused entirely on getting your clients online and through the internet. That should be your main source of clients.
Now, that being said, I’m not saying that there isn’t a demand and you won’t get a single client in Chiang Mai.
Let me try and put it into perspective.
If you’re from the US, the UK, Europe or another western country, there are going to be way more opportunities for you there if you’re looking to get clients. You have to remember that in Chiang Mai, it’s very difficult for foreigners to own a business, and it’s also illegal, unless you own a business, to work for another Thai business. That’s just one of the obstacles.
There are not that many foreign-owned businesses in Thailand. Most businesses are owned by Thais.
If you’re thinking you’re going to come to Thailand and do work for Thais, the second obstacle is the amount of money that Thais pay. They don’t pay a lot.
If you’re a web developer or something like that and you’re working for 40, 50, $60 an hour, or maybe more. When you move to Thailand you’re not going to get that kind of money working for a Thai business (unless perhaps you work in Bangkok).
Even if you had a legal business and if it was all above board, you’d never even get that kind of money. You likely wouldn’t even get half of that.
Now, that’s not to say that you’re not going to get any clients, or you’re not going to meet people that will need your help. Stuff like that will vary depending on the skillset you have, there is still a digital nomad culture here and people may need you to help them.
Working for other digital nomads is not something that I would rely on, not is it something I would even anticipate that you’re going to encounter when you come to Thailand.
Last month I did an interview with Jess, a video editor, on my YouTube channel. She’s got a great skillset because there’s quite a good amount of people in Chiang Mai that do YouTube and may require video editing services.
There’re some people with some really large channels, which I know shes hooked up with and if you’re like a video editor, that could be a great opportunity, everyone needs video nowadays to promote their products and services.
If you’re a web designer, your opportunities may be more limited. A lot of digital nomads in Thailand are web designers and web developers. These guys and gals are probably not going to be looking to pay other web developers for their help, but that being said, you never know. You could get the odd connection here or there.
I wanted to address this topic and let you know what you should and shouldn’t expect if your planning on coming to Thailand to start a business.
Number one, it’s illegal to work for Thai companies if you’re not a registered Thai business and you don’t have a work permit.
Most digital nomads do not have a work permit.
Number two, the pay is just ridiculously low in Thailand. You’d never get paid what you’d get paid back at home.
My advice to you guys looking to come to Thailand and for those of you who are looking to network and get clients. Stay in your home country and build your client base up for a year or so if you want to work for people within your home country. Or, get all of your clients online through websites such as Upwork.
If you’ve got time and you really want to go for it, then build your business through online clients and make sure that you establish online sources of leads that you can then convert into clients over time, this is something that I cover extensively in my free 30-day freelancing course.