Full time travel: 5 ways we’ve earned money on the road

(…plus some ones to avoid…)

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Recently I’ve read a few articles about how to make money as a side hustle — and some of them strike me as down right ridiculous.

  • Make jams.
  • Buy and sell things on Ebay (sponsored by Ebay, btw).
  • Teach English online.

Ok ok, I love making jam, and a long time ago I did make some money selling my personal possessions on ebay.

But as to turning this into a side hustle, let alone making it a side hustle that you can take with you on the road — making foodstuffs is not a terribly great idea, and while I understand leverage, I don’t really advocate spending quantities of money in order to sell things just to make money.

There’s far better ways to do it.

Here are 5 sources of income that have worked for us, and — because it would only be fair to give the whole picture — I will also cover a few that just haven’t… We tried a few of them as well.

1. Social Media Influencer / Brand Partnership

I’m starting with this one because it’s been the most lucrative to date — it was a complete game changer for me.

When I first considered this, I was living in Thailand, building my own business, strapped for both cash and time — I really wasn’t looking for another thing to try.

But given the advantages and disadvantages of how I was running my business at the time (see below), when I got told the fastest growing direct sales company in history had just opened in the UK, and it had just fallen into my lap out of the blue — I was a bit curious.

First though, I was sceptical (and quite judgmental) but I soon warmed up. I researched it a bit more and when I learned that network marketing has made more millionaires than any other industry — I changed my tune.

Done well, it is an extremely successful business model.

That’s the critical bit.

  • I partnered with a great company who produce award winning luxury, ethical products, and I joined an incredible team who only really use attraction marketing (hurrah, because as a millennial, I am way allergic to paid-for advertising).
  • The compensation plan is extremely competitive, so I’ve made a considerable amount of money right from the start. I’d say Day 1 but that would be misleading — it is possible — but I was sceptical. Until I dipped my toe in and saw for myself how good the products were, I played it cautiously. Not a huge regret — that’s just a sidenote on hesitation.

Advantages:

+ With the right support, you can achieve pretty quick results. I jumped up 4 ranks in my first 2 months.

+It’s been a lot more fulfilling than my previous business — I’m now helping people on my team to grow their own successful businesses, and my customers are loving the products as much as I am — so I get to help more people, and at a lower price point, as they no longer have to invest in huge big coaching packages in order to buy from or work with me.

+I’ve had incredible personal development . NWM is generally known for — and I agree — I get the best coaching and business training of my life, all for free. No more spending on expensive coaching programmes ever again, unless I want to.

+Discount on luxury products that I would previously have paid full price for (I love bargains).

+Working with an amazing family company who offer pretty substantial incentives (including great trips — I already won a spa weekend for me and my partner, and am just 2 ranks off from qualifying for not just the car, but a founder share in the company. I will report back on this, but I am definitely open to wise financial investments and potentially a separate income stream for the rest of my life.

+The comp plan structure means there are multiple sources of income, and with money coming in each month, I now have time freedom to do more of the things I love to do — (travel, write, and master the art of sourdough baking.)

Disadvantages:

  • These relate to network marketing being done badly — the horror stories we’ve all heard of — getting tied into minimum personal sales targets, of harassing friends and family for sales, and reputations ruined by selling out or turning into a pushy sales person — but that’s why it’s so important to get the right company, the right leadership, and the right comp plan. It makes a significant difference to your success.
  • I have really enjoyed it, so I have found it to be quite addictive. I love being able to work from my phone instead of being tied to my laptop, so I’d say learning good boundaries around time spent on your devices is very much recommended. Eye strain and phone addiction is not good for health.

OK - I think I’ve gone on enough.

Learning how to position as an influencer by leveraging my lifestyle and my social media platforms has definitely transformed my business, and they are great skills for these times — but its not the only way to make money.

So let me continue.

2. Online coaching business

I feel this one is going to get more than a few eyeball rolls BUT — here’s where I first began.

Before I’d even heard of “digital nomad” lifestyles, I had read The 4 Hour Work Week and yes, I was plotting to leave my full time job and find a way to make money as I travelled the world.

I was qualified as a yoga teacher and I was ready to take my yoga mat around the world. But in a flash of inspired intervention , I hired a business coach, and I sought guidance on how to take my business online as a lifestyle coach to help people integrate yoga into their lifestyle and their business.

(Side note: yoga is amazing! I can testify to many of the benefits yoga can bring you — especially in business).

So I made a decent amount of money doing this, and it is viable as a business if you’ve got the time, energy, resources and commitment.

Advantages: good money, amazing and interesting clients, and it was tremendously rewarding being part of their personal growth as well as continuing my own. As long as I had good wifi, I was able to connect with my clients anywhere in the world. It was also very satisfying creating my own business from scratch, and learning and leveraging tech to be a solopreneur.

Disadvantages: substantial overheads, loneliness, and the constant hustle for new clients burned me out. Plus — on the road, you have no control over wifi so it was frustrating and more limiting than I anticipated. Freedom — nil points.

Overall it left me with little energy or time or spare money to actually enjoy the time I was spending in these amazing places, hence exploring other options to have more freedom.

3. Affiliate Links

Both my partner and I have both used affiliate marketing and earned money (and got other interesting benefits!) by doing this.

In no way would I say that I can live off these sums, but passive income is fun — and if you stick to products or services that you know, like and trust, and you can remain on brand for your business — you get to keep your integrity while doing it.

For us, this revenue has been an add-on, like Amazon affiliate links, or affiliate partnerships with service providers, and it complements our main business. This is compared to something like dropshipping — which we haven’t even looked at and I don’t know the first thing about.

You do need to have a platform to have affiliate links on — such as a blog, website, YouTube channel or email list.

+ Advantages — very easy, very simple, and good potential to scale

- Disadvantages — affiliate links can easily overwhelm a site or a business page, so don’t overdo it!

4. Remote working: social media manager & content creator

Remote working (working online, or from a different location) is a great option while travelling — though as business owners ourselves it was never our intention to work for others! However, we were already using social media for our businesses, and when the opportunity to team up with a brand presented itself, it was a great additional income stream to add to our portfolio.

Landing a paid position as a social media account and content manager — in your niche — is a bit of a dream. As entrepreneurs and social media business owners, we are fanatical about producing great content anyway.

So for us this is a great way to hone our skills in content creation, and for them it’s about efficient outsourcing — it’s been a really valuable partnership for both sides.

Advantages: Regular income, great strategic partnership for both us and the brand, great learning opportunity for SEO, social media and content creation.

Disadvantages: if not priced and scoped correctly, this kind of partnership or job could end up tying you down. If it’s not a brand you love working with, it could actually be the opposite of fun, and a quick way to suck up all your time. Negotiate well!

5. Blogging

And finally…. blogging. It’s actually one of my favourites because I love writing, and being paid to write is just awesome.

It is taking time to get used to the vulnerability, but I’ve enjoyed it because writing has been a great way for me to hone my craft, and get clear on what I think. This quote from Joan Didion often makes me smile:

“I don’t know what I think until I write it down”.

Keeping a blog has been great for sharpening up as well as sharing my thoughts, for creating community, as well as for learning more about creating content. While it is still early days for monetising — it’s definitely not something to give up the day job for (yet) — with the right intentions and consistency, it is definitely a grower.

Advantages: Fun (because I’m a geek), great community, great for expanding my thinking and writing skills and my personal brand, great income potential

Disadvantages: inconsistent income in the beginning, open to criticism(!), hard work, and, honestly, coming up with headlines is challenging.

That’s our top 5.

This is a true tale of our experience, and there are plenty of other way to make money out there, but these are the main sources of income which have kept us going for the last 16 months.

But before I finish, let me balance it out.

Here are the things that haven’t worked quite so well:

  • teaching yoga — I love it, but it’s been tricky to do while travelling unless classes were practically given to me — and — frankly, the other businesses are a lot more profitable,
  • teaching online — I failed the application process!
  • interior photography — fun, and led to amazing free stays around the world, but it didn’t pay
  • product testing & review sites — In a word: Disaster. Stay away.
  • part time jobs in places as we travel — mainly the same reason why teaching yoga didn’t work well for us — we liked our freedom too much and didn’t want to be a) tied down or b) messing about with visas and work permits etc

So there you have it.

Our favourite, and not-so- favourite ways to earn money while we travel.

No affiliate links have been used in this article.

For the curious, though, and for more info on connecting with me — you can take a look here.

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care

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