The million dollar question: “How do you make a living traveling the world?” It seems like a foreign idea to most people — like an unattainable dream. Dozens of travel bloggers have written about this subject, but I hope to bring a different perspective because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the world (well, a beach town near the city); we have rent to pay, monthly utility bills, and no plans to sell everything to become permanent nomads.
I did have plans to leave everything behind in my twenties, but as I’ve grown older and planted roots in our beloved beach town, that desire has diminished. I see the value in balance and have found this lifestyle currently makes me happy. Things may change in the future, but for now, I’m learning to be location independent and work for myself, but with a home base.
So how do I make enough money to work for myself and travel at least once a month? It’s a combination of things and often a juggling act that comes with some anxiety about where my next dollar will come from.
So far this year, I’ve brought in more income than I did in all of 2013. That doesn’t mean I get to keep all of that money. There are expenses involved with running a successful blog, which include CPA fees, hiring freelancers, equipment insurance, Travel Insurance (we use World Nomads), new equipment, web hosting, and, of course, taxes. Not to mention the $320 per month I now get to pay for medical insurance.
Still, it’s more than I made working for someone else and I’m able to work from anywhere in the world, doing what I love!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR SELF-EMPLOYMENT
Getting started on your path to self-employment can be daunting. I spent years studying everything I could get my hands on. I’ve had to work extremely hard and sacrifice other things in my life in order to get to where I am today. There are a few courses that really helped me take the leap and trust in my own ability to leave my traditional job. I recommend these online courses to anybody who is considering working for themselves: Designed to Sell and Build Your Own Empire in 1 Year.
Working for yourself usually means your income will come from many different sources. Here are a few of mine.
Most people are not going to get rich from selling their photos, but it’s a welcome surprise when someone likes your images enough to purchase a canvas or print. I’m forever behind on adding current photos to our fine art portfolio, so it’s always a work in progress.
We don’t actively seek out photography jobs, but we have been hired by a few hotels and San Diego restaurants to provide photographs for their marketing materials. Also, if a destination likes a particular photo or set of photos, they will occasionally offer to purchase them. In the past, we’ve photographed new construction homes and remodels for contractors, but our current photography portfolio includes mostly hotels, restaurants and travel destinations.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTING
I work with several online and local companies as a social media consultant. This isn’t always related to travel, so I’m able to learn about how different industries use social media. These projects range from short two-week gigs to several months.
We write sponsored posts and place the occasional banner ad on our blog. This income varies greatly from month to month because we are extremely picky about who we work with.
I’ve written for a few sites over the years. This portion of my income has grown tremendously in the past couple of months as editors and website owners find our website through Google search. If freelance writing is your dream, you’ll want to readBecome a Freelance Writer: Get Published and Get Paid.
REAL ESTATE & STOCK INVESTMENTS
I invest in real estate with family and have been involved in flipping one or two houses every year. I bought my first house at the age of 21 and have learned a great deal about real estate and stock investing from my father. Since I was a little girl, he’s always worked for himself and made smart investment decisions. This has also taught me that you win some and you lose some, but don’t ever invest more than you can handle losing.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH BRANDS
There have been a few brands over the years who have reached out to us to become brand ambassadors. These are usually long-term partnerships with companies who offer products or services which we already use or that we feel our readers would benefit from hearing about.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS
We have been invited to participate in paid social media campaigns over the last year. These are usually DMOs or hotels who invite a group of top bloggers to help promote their destination.
THINKING ABOUT STARTING A TRAVEL BLOG?
As you can see, living the life of a professional travel blogger can be overwhelming at times. You need to learn how to juggle a million things, stay on top of writing posts, share often on social media and be able to produce several different income streams.
When I’m not traveling, I’m usually tethered to my laptop, trying hard to fight the urge to spend all day at the beach (which is only a five-minute walk from our house). Multiple deadlines in one week can get overwhelming and it often feels like I’m never caught up on work.
In addition to creating content, we are always making sure our site is running smoothly and we’re currently in the process of switching our site from Textpattern to WordPress. Thankfully, WordPress has themes like StudioPress to make the switch a little less painful. We’ve been through our fair share of hosting companies and have found Blue Host to be the most affordable hosting for bloggers.
If you are interested in starting a travel blog and you are not sure where to start, I bought the Travel Blog Success course about six months after we launched the blog and I can’t recommend it enough. The value I’ve gotten out of this course continues today, four years later, with the forum and Facebook group where I’m able to share ideas with other professional travel bloggers on how to make money in this ever-changing industry. For a more in-depth look at how to start and run a successful travel blog, read this post.
While I love my job and wouldn’t change it for the world, becoming self-employed was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. We both worked eighty plus hours per week for at least two years after launching our blog. Even when I started seeing an income after one year, I kept my part-time job because the money is never steady. Some months I make $500 and some months I make over $5,000. I was a basket case the first few months of full-time travel blogging, so I’ve had to train myself to trust that things will work out when those slow months inevitably occur.
Self-employment is definitely not for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of jobs that can be done remotely these days. One of our most popular posts covers ten of these careers that are perfect for travelers.
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. The price stays the same for you, but if purchased through this link, the company would pay us a small percentage of the sale.