We all hear these terms thrown around. It begs the question:

What’s the diff?

I didn’t know for a long time.

And that’s probably why I’d stare blankly back when someone would ask how my “freelancing/consulting/remote business” was going.

I didn’t know which category I fell under. (And at that time, it didn’t really matter.)

I’ve had a couple years to marinate on these terms and so today, here’s my best interpretation of them. 

Digital nomad vs. travelpreneur vs. freelancer vs. entrepreneur ๐Ÿคฏ

Digital Nomad

A nomad is someone who moves from place to place.

A digital nomad is someone who lives and travels from place to place while working online using the powers of the Internet. 

Digital nomads are pretty hardcore; they don’t really have a home, or live anywhere in particular, and spend their time traveling while working. 

They also *work*. I mention this because you’re not a digital nomad if you just travel and roam the world. Then you’d be a couch-surfer, traveler, vagabond, beach bum โ€“ you get the idea. 

Digital nomads are NOT paid to travel.

They pay for their own travels using the income generated through their service- or product-based business. Jobs where you ARE paid to travel are more like: teaching English abroad, being a tour guide, or working as an au pair, flight attendant or cruise ship worker. 

Some digital nomads work *just enough* to pay for their travels and living costs. Others work maybe even more than 9-5ers and remote workers. Most digital nomads spend the majority of their day working.

Yep, they’re in an exotic location but their main focus isn’t to see the sights all day. Their main focus is their business, and seeing the sights in off-business hours is an added bonus. 


Disclaimer: “travelpreneur” is probably the least commonly used term in this bunch. I didn’t make it up, but when it came to picking a term that described my situation best, I felt “travelpreneur” was the one.

It is a blend of my two loves; travel and entrepreneurship. 

And just so I don’t thoroughly confuse people, I usually break it down into “traveling entrepreneur.” 

“Hey, I’m Elise, and I’m a traveling entrepreneur.”

I chose this term because it: a) nails my two interests in one word, and b) is loose enough to not put me in a box (like “digital nomad”). 

A digital nomad has some pretty specific terms around it. A travelpreneur does not. 

To be honest, a travelpreneur is probably pretty similar to a “remote worker” or someone who’s “location independent.”

Why? Because all of these positions refer to the fact that I am an outsourced contractor for my clients, and I can deliver my work solely online.

A remote worker and someone who’s location independent both work from outside the traditional office. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are working from home; they could be in Thailand and all that really matters is they are delivering as promised!

Pretty cool, right? I thought so. And that’s why I went with the term “travelpreneur” since it says all that with a travel twist! (I hope.)


A freelancer is someone who is self-employed (whereas a digital nomad and remote worker could very well work for a company) by offering services to clients. 

A freelancer is living the “work-for-yourself” dream, whether that’s on a full-time basis or on a “side hustle” basis (so many terms used in this post โ€“ let’s get them all out there, shall we!).

Freelancers do not work for free (LOL) so where the name comes from, I do not know.

They often run a sole proprietorship business and work with clients on one-time projects or deliver longer-term, recurring services. 

Fun fact: Forbes has reported that freelancers (part-time and full-time) make up 35% of the U.S. population, with that number expected to reach 50% by 2020. 

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Ah, we’ve reached the mack daddy of all these terms. Perhaps the broadest, the most general, but the one that encompasses them all. 

An entrepreneur, simply put, is someone who runs a business. 

More specifically, according to BusinessDictionary.com, an entrepreneur is “someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision-maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced.”

To me, the key here is that an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to solve a problem or need, and organizes all the moving parts to deliver that solution. 

So, at the heart of this all, whether you’re considering being a digital nomad, a travelpreneur or a freelancer, you need to start with identifying a problem that a specific group of people has, and then solving that problem for them with your unique set of skills. 

Simple, right?

Easier said than done, I know. But if you’re feeling stuck as to where to start or what you might want your lifestyle to be one day, I hope this framework helps. 

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