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There are many ways to make money traveling the world. This is how we support our digital nomad lifestyle and how you can do it too.
“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” – unknown
“What do you do for work?”
That question or some variation of it will inevitably make its way into a conversation when we meet people on the road. We could be pumping fuel, pulled over at a scenic overlook or grabbing a bite to eat and someone will spot our rig and strike up a conversation.
Most people assume our rig is for weekend adventures, but once they learn that it’s our full-time home I can see the wheels spinning and anticipate the next question. The one I still chuckle at is “did you cash out of a tech startup and retire early?” The answer is no and we’re not independently wealthy either.
When Kait and I decided to live this lifestyle beyond the original year that we had planned, we needed to figure out a way to earn a living. While we considered applying for remote jobs, our entrepreneurial spirits were strong and we decided to make a go at building our own thing.
We’re Full Time Content Creators
For us, it naturally turned into full time content creation which started with this blog. Now we also produce content for our YouTube channel, I’ve self-published two books and Kait is getting ready to publish her first cookbook.
How to Make Money Traveling
The next question that follows is usually along the lines of “how do you make money running a blog and YouTube channel?”
The primary ways we earn money are advertising, affiliate programs, sponsorships, product sales and a membership program. There are many ways to monetize your blog and YouTube channel, these are some of the ways we do it.
As long as we can get good internet access, we can run our business from anywhere in the world. I remember standing at a scenic overlook in Tibet waiting for the sun to rise over the Himalayas and thinking to myself how glad I was that we transitioned to this type of lifestyle.
If content creation isn’t your thing, there are many other ways to earn a living while traveling. Since we hit the road in 2015, we’ve met people from all walks of life who live this lifestyle and they’ve figured out different ways to travel and earn a living.
- HR consultants,
- customer support reps,
- seasonal workers, and
- traveling nurses to name a few
As more and more people embrace the nomadic lifestyle, there are also more resources available for those who are interested in making a go of it. This is a breakdown of our main revenue streams to give you an idea of how we support this lifestyle as content creators.
This video explains some of the different revenue streams that allows us to make a living while traveling the world. Keep reading for the breakdown.
By enabling advertising on your blog, you can monetize the content based on the number of views or impressions. The more traffic to your blog, the more advertising dollars you can earn.
To monetize your blog, look at joining an advertising network such as Google AdSense, Mediavine or AdThrive. The benefit of going with an advertising network is they manage the advertising piece of the puzzle which means you can focus on creating good quality content for your readers. In exchange for providing this service, they take a percentage of the earnings. Alternatively, you can build your own advertising program by contacting companies directly and working with their marketing team.
We started with Google AdSense and switched to AdThrive once our blog reached over 100,000 pageviews a month. Some of the benefits have been great customer service from the AdThrive team, higher earnings per thousand impressions, and better higher quality ads. Do your research before signing up with an advertising network and make sure to read the fine print.
2. Affiliate Programs
There’s a good chance that the companies making your favorite gear have an affiliate program. If not, you can look to see if the gear is sold on sites such as Amazon, REI or Walmart which have their own affiliate programs. When you write about your favorite gear on your blog, you can use an affiliate tracking link for that product. This means when a reader clicks on the link in your blog post and makes a purchase, you will earn a percentage of the sale.
Affiliate commission programs have a wide range of how much they’ll pay out so it’s important to look at the details of each program to understand how much you can expect to earn per sale. This will also help you decide which affiliate link to use. For example, your favorite off-road recovery boards may earn you 10% commission through the manufacturer’s affiliate program or 4% with a popular online reseller. Affiliate programs also have their own terms of service which you’ll want to read in detail to make sure you don’t violate them.
There are so many ways people support their nomadic lifestyle and the great news is there are a lot of options out there.
3. Selling Products Online
Books and merchandise are popular items that you can sell online without having to carry the products with you and shipping them out. You can turn your blog content into an ebook and sell it as a digital download on your own site or through a platform that allows authors to self publish books like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. There are other options such as iBooks, Nook, Kobo and even book aggregators like Draft2Digital.
My first two books were published through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and I plan to use it for my third book as well. Kait is looking at selling her cookbooks directly on our blog through an e-commerce platform.
Other products you can easily set up to sell online include tee shirts, stickers, hats and other wearables. Companies like Teespring make it simple for you to create an online store to sell your merchandise. Upload your designs to their platform and configure your storefront to get started selling your products. They handle the printing, shipping, returns and any customer service questions. This gives you more time to explore off the beaten path where there’s no internet.
4. Subscription Service
Membership service providers like Patreon allows content creators to earn revenue on a regular basis. Our Patrons pledge a monthly amount to get exclusive content, access to monthly video calls, meet-ups and more.
Do you have a skill or expertise that can help others? Coaching is another way you can earn an income. We offer coaching sessions to help people optimize their YouTube channel and earn a living as a digital nomad.
6. Work Exchange
HelpX and Workaway are two sites that provide opportunities for those who want to travel and volunteer work in exchange for free lodging and/or food. Although you’re not earning income, it is a way to learn and supplement your travel costs.
7. Outdoor Jobs Board
There are quite a few job boards that focus on outdoor adventure jobs. Occupation Wild is one that focused on “Life Beyond 9 to 5.” These types of outdoor job boards provide a good resource for finding work that matches your outdoor adventure lifestyle.
There Are Some Challenges
As with everything in life, there are some challenges with living this lifestyle, but we’ll gladly take the unpredictability of traveling and working from the road. Having the flexibility to work and play from anywhere in the world and the freedom to change our course at a moments notice is what we love about being digital nomads.
Below are some of the challenges we’ve faced while working on the road.
It can difficult to predict how much money we’ll make each month. Website traffic, video views, product orders will change month to month. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we saw an immediate drop in revenue across the board.
Companies can change the terms of service anytime they want. This can impact the amount of money you earn through the program. For example, Google AdSense can change their terms to take a larger share of the advertising revenue.
Need access to a reliable internet connection. While we have a cellular data plan and a RV cell phone booster we also enjoy camping off-grid in the national forest. That means we have to plan stops in areas where there is good signal to upload video files or publish content on this blog. In addition to the videos and articles, we need to manage emails, comments, and other projects that require good internet access. Read our post on How to Stay Connected on the Road.
Access to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Anytime you access a public network, data protection is a concern. Not only that, but if you ever travel to a country like China, website such as YouTube and Google will be blocked unless you use a VPN. The service we use and recommend is ExpressVPN.
There are so many ways to make money traveling. You don’t need a website or YouTube channel to make it work for you. Figure out what you are passionate about first. Our dream is to travel and work for ourselves. It happened to manifest into full time content creation. If you’re dream is to travel and paint, a membership site like Patreon or a peer-to-peer e-commerce site like Etsy might be the way to go.
- Start Your Own Blog – How to Setup a Self Hosted WordPress Site
- The RV Entrepreneur School – 8 Ways to Make Money Blogging. Receive a $10 discount on the course by using discount code RUSSOS10.
- Create a YouTube Channel – YouTube’s Guide on Creating a New Channel
- Tales From the Open Road – In my second book, I share anecdotes of how and why we started our content creation business.
- Expert Vagabond – Read Matt’s post This Is How I Get Paid To Travel The World
- Gone With the Wynns – Nikki and Jason have featured many success stories of how people Make Money and Travel.