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If a business was a car, Apple would be a Mercedes SLS in silver. Sleek, beautifully designed and carefully engineered, causing heads to turn as it cruised its way confidently down the highway of life.
Our business would also cause heads to turn, just for different reasons.
Picture, if you will, an old VW van. It’s painted orange except for the sliding door on the side which is an incongruous sky blue. It’s engine has a weird clicky sound that really should be looked at but other than that it runs perfectly if you’re not in a hurry. Inside, it’s decorated with mismatched curtains and a thick, purple rug. It has what appears to be a child’s drawings hung up around the walls.
But we’ve been digital nomads for over 1000 days now. In that time, we’ve visited 21 countries and somehow managed to keep this little van of ours from turning into a fiery wreck by the side of the road.
Web Design and Development Freelancing
Our main income for the first year came from our web design and development business, Line In. In the nine months prior to embarking on this voyage, I had my first (and only) job as a designer at a web agency, and at the same time I designed a few sites for friends and family to build up my portfolio. We didn’t get the business properly up and running until we’d already left the UK, but this initial work later led to more work from friends of friends. For us, the old adage has borne out: word of mouth has been our best marketing tool.
The next best tool has been this here blog you’re reading. Through our travel tales and photos, people have got to know and trust us. Now, when they have a web-based project and it’s a choice between Random Internet Agency and Li’l Ol’ Me, they pick me (at least some of the time). Running a blog about one of your other interests can be a great way of getting business, especially if you’re the only person who does your line of work in a particular interest or hobby niche: you can become known in Historical Horse Saddle circles as the web design guy, or accountant, or designer, or DJ, or whatever.
However, this form of marketing does take a lot of work. This blog is Erin’s full time job and it can’t be faked. You’re only going to get a community that trusts you enough to hire you if you’re genuine and you engage fully within that community. Starting HorseSaddlesFromThe1800s.com just to get business will probably fail—you really have to be passionate about Victorian riding gear for this to work.
Thirdly (and this should be obvious), do a great job.
I am passionate about what I do, and I’m willing to work hard at it to give clients (almost) exactly what they want (sometimes you have to say no to the animated dancing cat—you know who you are).
This has led to some mutually beneficial long-term relationships with clients that have brought in a lot of repeat business and those magical word-of-mouth recommendations.
There is a down side to Doing Great Work, though: it takes time.
For a long time we struggled to estimate how long projects would take and often undercharged. It’s something we still have issues with, although this year I have become a lot more exclusive about who I work with and only take on projects where I can charge an hourly, rather than a fixed, rate.
The other problem that we’ve had is my ADD-like obsession with the new and the shiny. I tend to go for the interesting or challenging jobs over the easy and profitable. This approach flies in the face of traditional business advice and, frankly, there’s a good reason why that advice exists: The way we do it is crazy.
How can you come up with a decent estimate for coding a multi-faceted web app when your last job was drawing pictures of a dude lounging at the beach?
This is only a problem until you remember that the whole purpose of this lifestyle is to enable you to do what you want, not what makes the most money. Sometimes it’s worth taking the financial hit to do what you love.
Freelance work is also inconsistent—there can be moments where you find yourself sitting on a street in Buenos Aires with a sign that reads “will code plugins for food” (actually, it reads puedo modificar plugins por comida). Other times, you’ll have to mainline coffee and you won’t get to see a pillow for a week.
For all these reasons and the fact that trading time for money isn’t scalable, this year we’ve moved away from client work into creating iPhone apps, which seem to be the perfect intersection of all of my many and varied interests.
It’s difficult to turn down money now for potential earnings later but one of the many glorious things about running your own business is that you get to say “You know what, honey? Today we’re going into the App Business!”.
Our Freelancing Tips
- Develop your portfolio and get some clients before you start travelling if possible
- Let everyone know you are available for freelance work
- Look for work on sites like elance.com—the fees are low but it’ll help you get started
- Have some savings to tide you over when you haven’t got a lot of work coming in
- Have a detailed contract and take a deposit (for us, usually 50%) before you start work
- Keep track of every minute you spend on a project and on what—it’ll help with estimating jobs later
- Do Great Work
- $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau (useful not just for freelancers but for anyone starting a small business)
- How To Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
If you really want to make money online, you definitely need start a travel blog.
Hold for laugh.
Seriously, though, if you want to work for less than minimum wage; be continually frustrated at web hosts; wonder why the hell this block of PHP code is causing your logo to appear upside down in Firefox; and spend too much of your time documenting your travels and not enough living them, then you should start a travel blog.
This travel blog is Erin’s full time job. As well as the writing and the taking and editing of photos, there’s the researching and planning our next destinations, the liaising with advertisers and sponsors, and many other tasks. If our responses to you on Twitter or Facebook are coherent and sane, you’re likely talking to Erin. If you get timely email responses in grammatically correct English, that’s her. If you ask a question in a comment, she’ll be there answering it.
We run this blog because we love to travel and we want to help other people travel, perhaps even permanently. We had stuff we wanted to share and this was the perfect platform to share it. We didn’t actively monetize this site until about 18 months after we started it. Our priority was (and still is) creating the best content we can and reaching the people we hope it will benefit.
From the lovely messages and emails that we get daily, it seems to be working. Unfortunately, and as wonderful as those messages are, we still haven’t found a way to eat Facebook posts.
Thankfully the site is now generating income, primarily from advertising and some from affiliate programmes—sometimes, if we recommend a product and you buy it through our link, then we’ll get a small commission. As with freelance work our income isn’t consistent and earnings each month vary widely.
We also receive some sponsorship through press trips. This could be a hotel or tour, or a fully paid trip by a tourism board like our trips to Flanders, Douro Valley and Jordan. We don’t earn an income from these sponsorships but they help our money stretch further.
Unlike guide books and travel sections in newspapers, however, we always let you know when a trip has been sponsored.
Our Blogging Tips
If you’re insane enough to leap into this madhouse, here are some ideas to help you:
- Use wordpress.org and buy your own hosting and domain
- Find a way to stand out from the crowd—having a specific niche can help
- Assume you’ll need to work hard with no income for at least a year, probably more
- Focus on content and building your audience and the advertisers will come to you
Travel Niche Site
As we explained in our background story Erin got started learning about online marketing by setting up a niche site in 30 days. She has hardly spent any time on the site she created, Kerala India Travel, since we left nearly three years ago but the content on there is still useful and the traffic has continued to grow by itself (almost entirely from Google searches).
We now have a fairly small but still significant and consistent income from the site from Google Adsense ads and affiliate sales. There is much more we could do to the site (it’s on our really, really long to-do list) but it truly is passive income requiring no work after the initial set up.
Running multiple websites is one way to increase revenue, although each site will take a significant investment of time and effort up front (it was hard work for the first few months) and may not show results for many months or even years.
Erin also chose her topic very carefully. It was something she was interested in and had a lot of information about and she spent time creating quality content. You don’t want to be in the position where you’re worrying that the next Google update will delist you for being spammy (our experience has been the opposite—every Google update has seen a bump in traffic).
- Kirsty from Nerdy Nomad shares her monthly income reports from her many niche travel sites
- Smart Passive Income
Our new business venture is Voyage Travel Apps and we just released our first major iPhone app Trail Wallet, an easy travel expense tracker (Update: after 10 years, Trail Wallet is sadly no longer available).
It’s only been a week, but so far it’s going really well and people have been saying lots of nice things about it. We’re already working on the next version and we have plans for a whole range of other apps.
- Creating iOS 5 Apps, Develop and Design is a great introduction to developing a full app
- I also used Beginning iOS 5 Development, but it’s just been updated for iOS 6 so get that one instead
The housing market crashed just before we left and unfortunately we’ve been unable to sell our house back in England. At various points we’ve had tenants which has brought in some income but, honestly, it hasn’t been worth the hassle to deal with while we are away so we’d much rather sell it.
Anyone want to buy a three-bedroomed house in Manchester?
Living The Life
We don’t need to make a huge amount of money. In fact, it can actually be cheaper to travel than to live in the UK or the US. We don’t have bills to pay, we don’t buy a lot of stuff we don’t need, and when we need to keep our expenses down we can housesit or travel to a cheaper destination like Thailand.
We don’t really consider ourselves budget travellers any more—we tend to avoid hostels—but we’ve found that renting nice apartments for a month or more can be just as affordable. Our total monthly expenses for two people average between £1500 and £2000 a month, including flights, insurance, gear, and business expenses (which are pretty low) and that’s with spending a significant amount of time in expensive countries like the US, Japan, and Italy, and not trying too hard to keep our costs down.
Everyone has money worries, and we’re no exception. Our income is variable and there are times when we’re glad to have our savings to tide us over. None of those worries come close to making us think twice about what we’re doing though, and somehow it always works out.
Our little business van just keeps on trucking.
Update: You can see how much we spend each year in our 3.5 year digital nomad budget, as well as year 4 and year 5.
Update October 2015
We’ve been travelling for five and a half years now. Simon hasn’t done any freelance work for the last few years and has focused entirely on making his own apps, primarily Trail Wallet. It took a few years and a lot of work but Trail Wallet has now become one of our main sources of income and sales continues to grow.
We still earn income from the blog. Advertising isn’t as lucrative as it used to be but our affiliate income (if we recommend a product we use like our backpacks then we get a small commission) has increased a lot as our site traffic has grown. We also get sponsorships occasionally (like working with Trover or Visit Finland), but as we are very careful about the companies we work with this isn’t a regular income source. I have done a few freelance writing assignments for travel companies but I don’t actively pursue this.
I barely make anything from my Kerala site anymore. Not surprising as I haven’t worked on it in five years!
We used to be on an interest only mortgage but we’re now making full repayments on our house back in Manchester so the rent only covers the mortgage and agent fees and it’s no longer a source of income for us.
To read more about our digital nomad life see our reflections on 2000 days of travel.
I am a student of class 8th from India
and I love to travel.I have keen interest in Computer science and I would love to have a job in which I could travel the world while working and earning lots of money.Can u plz guide me about how I could make a living with this.
Very nicely written. I can feel the straight-forwardness bleeding through. I happened upon your site from a link off of Digital Nomads (I think) so kudos there to them. I am a travel-blog-junkie-wanta-be-digital-nomad myself currently just working on content (along with my real job), and planning to use WordPress.org once I do get started, and your recommendation of it inspires confidence that I was right on something at least.
I’ve yet to pinpoint my brand, but that will come in time, and I have a more than just general idea already with about 4 years before I plan to take up the travel blogging path on a permanent basis, and after a semi-early retirement from the military (can 34 years of service be interpreted as early – probably not?).
But, I just wanted to say it’s great to find another traveling couple blog as mine will be, and let you know that your resources and links are spot on. Now if I could just get my wife to give up 3 suitcases and a makeup bag when she travels, I’d be set (it’s a work in progress).
Thank you for all you do, and keep up the great work. This site ROCKS!!!
Thanks for the lovely comment Gary and good luck on your own blogging/digital nomad journey!
I’m curious on the Kerala blog. Did the income drop off because traffic dropped off? Or because ads started paying less? I intuitively feel like if you don’t update a blog frequently google stops showing it love. …but who knows.
Yes the traffic dropped off so the advertising and affiliate income did too. Google will rank sites more highly when they are updated more often and have more recent links to them.
You guys are LIVING THE DREAM! Seriously I’m jealous. I’m trying to figure out how to make this happen myself. I’ve consumed all the goods on smartpassiveincome like you. It’s a LOT of work up front with no $$. …but if you love the subject you’re blogging on, a lot of it doesn’t feel like work. I started a blog on how to talk to girls. Which is great until I meet the one and get married, then I’m doomed! Lol. Thanks for being an inspiration!
If you guys are interested in making a bit of extra cash, consider renting your home out on Airbnb or Agoda. I’ve been doing the same for awhile now and I won’t lie, the passive income is a beautiful thing. All you really need to do is hire a cleaner to come in after your renters/tenants and tidy up a bit. Pretty simple, if you ask.
This is truly inspirational, I’m glad it works out well for you :)
I’ve followed your blog for a little while, i first stumbled upon it when i was deciding to take the plunge and go for a long term trip of my own, all your advice is fantastic and really practical and i can really relate to the way you travel and budget to do so. I’ve just got back from my 15 month journey and i thought I’d be able to settle back into the ‘normal life’ but its becoming more and more obvious that i can’t, there’s just so much out there to experience!!
I was wondering how hard it was for you guys to get into the freelance work via the internet? I come from a physiotherapy background so i have limited skills that i think can be utilised over the web. How long did it take you guys to learn the relevant skills and find some kind of way of generate some kind of income?
Cheers guys, keep up the good stuff
Hi I have been following your blog on and off for 1 yr now and I must say its a really awesome blog. Your inspiring life of perpetual travel is something I hope to do when I retire in a few yrs time. Anyway I notice that you both are not exactly budget travelers. You stay in fairly nice and luxurious apartments and your average monthly expenditure of 2000pounds is not cheap. Is your online income sufficient to cover this? On an average how many hrs a day do you spend on work? Keep up the good work!! James
There’s some more info in this more recent post: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/digital-nomad-budget/
We starting breaking even in our 3rd year. It’s hard to say how many hours we work especially as the boundaries are blurred as to what is actually work. I’d say around 4 hours a day though, with plenty of days off completely and some when we work all day.
Good luck with your own travel plans!
Really useful information. Thanks for putting this all together!
Hey guys, I am just writting you to let you know that I just bought the full version of the trail Wallet and to be honest is so far one of the best apps I have use when it comes to keep a track of expenses (I am a financial manager and I have used a lot). Also I am about to start a trip also around the world without ending date, but so far in order to get used to the app I even use it to track my daily expenses, so, once again. Great work
As a recommendation, in a future if you want to improve a lot your app you should include not only expenses, also income and savings, so you can just know how much money you have left in your savings when you are traveling.
Thanks very much Alejandro and I hope it helps you out on your trip. We might consider making the app more comprehensive in the future but right now our priority is to keep it easy and quick to use. Happy travels!
Thanks for a great series of posts and pictures. Testaccio, Rome sounds just right for a visit, the way you describe it.
It has been awhile since I have been on your site, but I stumbled across it once again. I just feel like I need to spend a day just reviewing your digital nomad stories and research. Thanks for sharing all of this info. I’ve been blogging for about a year and half and doing fine, but am trying to fine tune my lifestyle, so all of this helps! Thanks again!
Interesting site, and life that you are leading – it’s quite inspiring to know that this type of life can be lead. However I read a lot here about how you can make a nomadic life possible through finances, but tell me, have you had (and overcome) mental barriers to such a life? Eg, what about not having a group of friends to pop over to dinner with? How is living with same person 24/7 (do you have “time apart” days?!)? Have things like that ever been an issue?
Keep up the blogging, it’s great. I’m now off to check out your app!!
P.s. Trail Wallet does not show up in a search on the Australian store :(
Ahhh ignore me it was set to ipad only! Found it :)
We actually love spending all our time together, but then we always did even before we left. We don’t have days apart but we are usually in our own corners working during the day. We prefer renting one bedroom apartments so we have a bit more space and don’t have to live, work and sleep in one room.
We sometimes stay for months in places were there is a large network of other digital nomads, like Chiang Mai in Thailand, and it’s nice having a community of friends for a while. We’re generally pretty happy on our own though.
Probably the biggest mental barrier is just due to running a business, which we struggle with as we’re never quite sure if we’re doing the right thing.
My wife and I are in our 50’s and are ending our effort at retiring in Mexico after 4 years. While i have not been physically shot or harmed, the government just moved in a new battalion into town and the economy, supported as it has been by banditos, has crashed. I live in. Morelia.
I want to take what I spend here and live in Chiang Mai. Without adding in the costs of holidays and trips home to Europe, we spend 50’000 pesos per month including bug spray. This is a modest middle class life here with a small rented house a maid, a gardener, a car and a very slow internet. I am tired of tacos and my wife just went home to a place where things actually work. Note that all middle class types have a maid and a gardener. So this is not a big deal. My car works every second Tuesday. Mexican car and the roads ensure that you must keep the mecanos in their cups, when they show up.
So, with 50,000 pesos per month,—-(121,972 bahts). what can i get in Chiang Mai?….A modest house, maid, gardener, no drinks, no medical insurance….i have all sorts, a driver or a car and fast internet. I hate tacos so thai would be wonderful. Steak here costs 100 pesos per kilo(250 bahts)and torillas are 11 pesos per kilo.
Love you blog.
That should be plenty to live a really good lifestyle in Chiang Mai. We found Thailand to be cheaper than Mexico. I can’t say for sure as we were living off less and we were only there for a few months so didn’t get the deals you can get for longer term rentals. Here’s our budget in Chiang Mai: http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/the-cost-of-living-luxuriously-in-chiang-mai/ and info about our apartment (you could ask the estate agent we mention for more info about costs for houses etc): http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/the-search-for-an-apartment-in-chiang-mai/
Hi – Love the blog, and your stories, hope you’re enjoying San Fran (my childhood hometown). By the way, are you aware that Trail Wallet doesn’t come up in iTunes searches? I can access it via your link here, but a direct search won’t pull it up for me. Sounds interesting. Enjoy your travels!
Huh, that’s strange. It comes up when we search for it. Did you search for Trail Wallet? Are you using the US store?
We are loving San Francisco -so much good eating :)
Good reading Erin, made my day, real hard work, you all are still in India or back in UK
Thanks Francis. We are currently in Mexico.
Awesome blog – found it today and cannot stop reading.
Particularly loved the photo of you two with all your belongings in two backpacks – showed it to my wife, who is now fearing we’re doing the same :)
Wish you happy travels and life!
kuddos to you!
also smart planning. I always dreamt of this.
Hi Erin and Simon, it’s so inspiring to read about your travels. I did a long travelling stint from 1992-1995 and then another year in 2000, but now with a couple of kids, while not impossible (as I’ve seen from quite a few family travel bloggers) we feel slightly more constrained – our travels are now more holidays of a few weeks rather than a few years! If I can help you with an additional, on the side, income stream through my best price guaranteed travel portal business let me know. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/vacationincomes Cheers Katherine
Amazing posts! I love that you are so forthcoming with your information. Your writing has a nice, easy flow to it, and the info is fascinating.
I hope to get to a point where I can travel full-time; your blog certainly instills a good sense of confidence that it can be done – thank you for that! Instead of web development I’ll be freelancing in writing, photography and some business consulting – different niches, but can all be done on the road.
Thank you so much for sharing this great blog! Cheers –
Thanks Paul. As we’re not very business savvy we think that if we can do it anyone can! Sounds like you’ve got the right skills to take on the road. Good luck!
Thanks for sharing your inner workings. It’s always good to know how other bloggers fund their travels. Love the pool pics, by the way. Dahab would be such a fab spot to work from for a while. I know that’s where I’d prefer to be typing from!
No worries. Dahab was actually not the best place to work as the internet was really slow.
Hey guys — really good article. As always, I appreciate how thorough you are. We moved to China from the U.S. back in September for my husband’s engineering job, so we’re getting to travel around Asia (most of which is paid for by the company) and money isn’t really an issue. However, I started my own copywriting business when we moved so that I can now work from anywhere in the world or the U.S. Freelancing is definitely hard work, but the flexibility is so rewarding. Thanks for all these details and tips on how you make it work for your lifestyle. Happy travels in 2013!
That sounds like a great position you’re in. Good luck with the freelancing!
You guys are so inspiring. My husband and I have booked a one way ticket in June 2013 and couldn’t be more excited. I’m sure we’ll come home one day but I’m sure your advice will come in handy. I love reading everything you guys have to say about your destinations, and especially how you fund it. Your honesty is really appreciated.
I am a graphic and web designer too and hope to have enough clients for a bit of income on the road.
Very excited to keep reading…
Keep up the posts
Thanks very much Kirsty and good luck on your trip!
Hi Guys! Great website and great post. I found this (and the links) very helpful as we are gearing up to do this (again technically). We had done it before but returned home after a year for one of us to go back to school. Now that’s done we have an idea that would make us location independent, earn (we think) a decent enough income to sustain travel and are committing the next year to building a client base while still getting some travel in as vacation time permits. Again, great post and thanks for the tips.
Good luck with it guys!
Hey Erin & Simon,
Thanks for the post, I’ve always wondered how you both manage to afford travelling forever. I just got back from a trip to Germany and used your new Trail Wallet app the whole time I was there. It worked out great! Not sure if this is the best place to make a suggestion, but in future versions I’d recommend a place to type a comment on what the purchase was, just for personal reference.
I’ve been thinking of travel blogging recently and always worry about the time it requires. Like you said, enjoy the vacation or spend hours writing about it. :/
I was also inspired by your packing lists to pack very light (for me) on this recent trip. Certainly deterred me from over-shopping.
Hope Simon’s enjoying the new laptop. I never travel with a computer but I guess if I was to start blogging I’d look into a good light one. :P
Cheers from an American-university-student-who-loves-to-travel!
Glad you enjoyed the post and the app. There is actually a section to add notes on entries—it’s the box under the amount. Sorry if that wasn’t obvious!
Let us know if you do start your blog.
Thank you so much for this post. Your blog, along with the Globe Trotter Girls, have really been an inspiration to me. I’ve traveled for short periods of time, but my dream has always been to travel extendedly (though I don’t think indefinitely). The solid advice you provide on how to make it possible has given me the motivation to finally make some changes in my life and make that dream a reality. Thank you again. Here’s to a prosperous and memorable 2013!
Thank you Brenda for your kind comment. It’s wonderful to hear that you are planning some changes—good luck with it and let us know how you get on!
Wow – what a great post! Thanks for putting it together – as everyone noted, the peek behind the curtain is really helpful and a great motivator. Seeing that someone set out to do something they wanted in the way they wanted AND found some success is the proverbial light in the tunnel. Great advice is a plus – Thanks again! I wish I could recall who’s tweet I followed to get here, so I can thank them, too. Good luck in 2013 and happy travels!
Thanks very much Rob and we’re really glad the post was helpful. Good luck to you in 2013 too!
Excellent breakdown guys! Keep it up, you’re doing awesome and this is all very valuable information for everyone to read. All the best in 2013.
Thanks Deb! Happy 2013 to you both!
Thanks for sharing this with us! It’s nice to see how doable your lifestyle is, difficult though it might be at times. I’m sure it can be stressful during those months when there isn’t much money coming in, but I bet it’s also a great feeling to have so much more control over the direction of your own life. Good luck with the iOS apps!
That is the key thing Ali – we may not be rich but the freedom and control over our lives is worth so much more than a big paycheck. Happy 2013 to you both!
Thanks for sharing! I think a lot of people assume being a digital nomad or a travel blogger is easy and we gallivant around the globe for free eating at fancy places and drinking like teenagers. Nice to see a realistic take on it all.
All the best in 2013, look forward to reading more about your adventures.
That’s definitely true—people think we’re on a constant holiday and it’s so hard to explain what it’s really like. Happy 2013 to you too Cheryl!
i aimlessly discovered your website in bing…very nice!
Thanks Jeremy – hope you enjoy looking around.
Keep on, keeping on guys! You’re doing a phenomenal job and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. :)
Aw, thanks Randy! Happy New Year to you guys.
Solid tips and the wallet app is great!
Thanks Maria, glad you like it.
Hey Erin, you have made us motivated. that’s right , digital nomads have so much to do. By the way your MacbookAir looks quite handy to use, while on move. Congrats for your Travel expense tracker app’s progress and popularity!
Thanks Suzzane. I think the Macbook Air is perfect for travellers. Simon has the Macbook Retina now but you only need that if you need something more hardcore.
Really useful info, guys! Thanks so much for pulling back the curtain and letting us see how you guys have managed to travel so long and turn your dreams into a feasible lifestyle. It’s really inspiring for those of us who are just starting out on this journey and trying to fumble our way through! ;)
I particularly liked the advice about focusing on growing your audience before worrying about monetizing your blog. I have noticed a recent onslaught of newbie travelers who seem to be chasing advertisers and writing SEO posts rather than creating genuine, worthwhile content, and it really gets my goat! We have long decided to make our site the best we can while still taking the trip we want… although this may mean that our money runs out sooner (or it takes us longer to figure out how we wish to make a profit from the site), at least we will know we had the adventure we wanted to on our own terms!
Congrats on all of your success & I look forward to your continuing adventures!
Thanks Steph and glad you found it useful. I’ve noticed that too- new bloggers who seem to want advertisers and “free stuff” when their blog is still starting out. Glad you’ve decided to do things your own way and that you realise that the travelling is the important part.
Keep doing this.
(WARNING HONK AROOGA I’m about to use the i-word I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE)
I’m currently piecing together my own pick’n’mix of income streams that will hopefully get me travelling at long last, most of them kicking off in early 2013 – and you guys are an inspiration.
Keep doing this.
That said, Simon, you still need to get started with that Monkey Island style point’n’click graphic adventure. I’m not letting you off the hook on that one. Pull your finger out, man.
Aw, thanks Mike! Good luck with hitting the road in 2013. Do what we did and take the leap and figure it out along the way.
Don’t worry, Simon’s started researching his game already. It’s going to take a while but it’ll be his masterpiece I’m sure.
Very interesting as usual Erin :) i like the way you structured everything starting with building your business before leaving. Awesome!
Simon takes most of the credit for this one. We actually didn’t do as much on the business as we would have liked before we left—we recommend that people have some clients coming in before they leave. Starting a business and travelling can be tough. Still, we managed!
Stunning! We took different approach to fund our travels, maybe will put that in a post one day :)
Simon, I love what you are doing. Really impressive :)
Thanks for the great entry. I’ve been following your site for a few months now and it is always fascinating to truly see how other people are doing it. Our website is only 6months old but it’s inspiring to see a steady upswing in readership. I think you ARE living the dream… I doubt many of us wanting to live in the world are out to make a million, we’re just trying to make enough to survive while we live our dream. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Rhonda. We often feel like we’re living a millionaire’s lifestyle on a small salary. Good luck with your own site.
I ended up on your site through a link on Facebook from Life Remotely. What a great post. Thank you so much for sharing a lot of very insightful information. My hubby and I are hoping to head off in about March on an indefinite wander whilst working on business ideas. I have mine all locked, loaded and ready to go. I just need a little more time designing (I play with Digital Scrapbooking). My Dreamlining blog is just for fun and motivation at the moment. It is fascinating how you have worked on your multiple streams of income and kept it at a high enough level to maintain your lifestyle. I wish you both all the best for your continued travels. I can’t wait to dive into more posts on your website. Safe travels, Bec.
Thanks Bec and good luck on your own journey.
You make it sound really easy. I share your pain with the house. Although I have to say that despite the hick ups we have with some tennants, it is nice to know that somebody else is paying off our mortgage. We are in a fortunate position that in a couple of years time our mortgage will be paid off and the rent will finally generate income for us, so I am glad we didn’t sell it.
Ha ha—it definitely hasn’t been easy.
When we have tenants and there are no problems with the house we forget we have it and just enjoy the money coming in. It’s when things go wrong or tenants move out that we wish we could sell it.
You mentioned your sponsored stays and the fact you always tell when you’ve been sponsored. The way I look at it is you two earn those sponsorships. It’s part of your income. You earn it by being trustworthy and honest in your reviews. It’s hugely important to your readers and it’s important in exactly the same way to your sponsors. It’s good for all of us. Oh and, good writing doesn’t hurt a bit either. My wife and I love your site and compete to see who can be the first to say, “There’s a new post on NEV!” Keep on going.
Thank you Paul for your lovely comment—it means a lot to us.
Thanks so much for the insight. What a great article. It’s lucky for us that you guys are willing to share what you’ve learned. I’m really interested in learning more about setting up static sites and appreciate the reference and link to Erin’s Kerala India site. Congratulations on your successes and best of luck finding a buyer for your house!
Glad you found it helpful Gayla. We’re not the experts on static sites as we’ve neglected ours to focus on this blog, but follow the links and you’ll find some great advice from the experts.
Thanks. Simon for such an honest and useful run down of the ups and downs of being digital nomads. I’ve dropped my hours at work to spend more time on my blog and to build up my freelancing prospects (must try harder with that!) but it’s still not enough time! I’m seriously thinking of taking a sabbatical next year so I can build up a few passive income streams too. Anyway, it’s inspiring to know what’s possible without getting carried away with dreams of get rich quick schemes. Best of luck with your App!
Haha – we definitely haven’t discovered a get rich quick scheme :) It’s really hard to work on this stuff when you have a full time job so taking a sabbatical could be just what you need to push things forward. Plus you can always go back to teaching if it doesn’t work out. I hope it works out for you.
This was a really interesting read, thanks for putting the info out there! We also found that even in Europe, it was cheaper traveling there for a month than it was paying for all of our expenses while living in San Diego, one of the most expensive places to live in the States!
Many people do find that -especially if you lived in an expensive city before travelling. It’s great to realise that travel can be affordable.
There’s so much inspiring information in this post – it’s always interesting to see how people manage it and those that are open like yourselves are a rarity. Thanks for sharing – it makes me safe in the knowledge that I’ll be ok with my upcoming plans.
Thank you Marco and glad you found it useful. Good luck with it!
Thanks for sharing this information. I am just past the one year mark with my blog, and I am hoping to make some income off of it in the future (though I am just blogging part time, so my traffic is not growing as fast as it could if I had more time to put into it). There and Back Again Travel does not have a very focused niche, and I am working on fixing that, but I am also looking to start one or two more focused blogs to spread my income out a little. I have also been reading about freelance blogging and I am looking into that as another possible way to make a little money on the side.
Good luck with it Shanna! It can take a while to figure out your niche—try looking back at the posts you’ve written and picking out common themes. Multiple income sources is the best way so a couple of new sites and freelancing could be a good way to go.
Nice taking part of your thoughts and seeing you “cracking the code” of making money on the road. I can also sympathise with you in regards to having an apartment to deal with back home, it’s mainly a pain (tenants, huh), but I guess we need to look at it as a long-term investment, eventually things should turn around and then it’s good to have it.
Out of curiosity (and fully understand if you don’t want to share the figures) how much money, more or less, a niche site can bring in?
It really depends how good your niche is, how much work you put in, and if you find a good way to monetise it (eg is there a profitable relevant affiliate programe etc). We’re making around 300 GBP from our Kerala site but that’s with no work on it in 3 years. If you take a look at the two sites I recommended, they both share their income reports and are making thousands.
Thanks for the reply Erin, you guys made me think, a nice Christmas present from you two. Wish you both a Happy Christmas!
Thanks for all the recommendations Simon, some definite must reads! I think you guys have nailed it in terms of your income strategy… like so many things in life, it is smart not to have all of the proverbial eggs in one basket… you have a handful of different options, so even when one arm of the ‘business’ isn’t generating a lot of cash, you still have other options.
Congrats on all your successes!
Thanks Skott. It’s definitely a good idea to have multiple income streams, and we have more ideas for 2013. You just have to keep trying new things.
Great post! I just came across your site and it is great. I have a lot more reading to do on your site but I am loving it so far. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to the day I sell my businesses and go fulltiming in the USA. We just got back from a 43 day test run where we put on 4200+ miles across 16 states in the skoolie my son and I converted to a motor home. I have a feeling we will be fulltiming soon.
Thanks Brandon. Sounds like a fantastic trip and I hope you go fulltime soon!