This is our first article about travel finances and I expect that it’s something that will evolve over time as we learn more and adapt to being self-employed. We’ve spent the best part of two years studying other travel blogs and looking for the secrets to making money on the road and it seems that everyone does it differently, including us.
We’re not interested in writing an e-book about “Making Money Online” which is full of useless tips that, on their own, won’t make you money. We only tell you how WE make money and hopefully this will give you some ideas on how you too can make the leap to being self employed and enjoying full time travel.
We are officially 3 months into working for ourselves and we still find it nerve wracking after being in full time employment since we were in our early teens but I think we are slowly adjusting our mind set and are worrying less about money.
Currently we are earning money (yay!) but not as much as we’d like (boo!) and we will be aiming to try to even this out a little over our first year of travelling and working for ourselves.
In the interim we can travel quite easily as we sold everything we owned in England (including two houses) before we left and so we have a nice amount of cash in our pocket to tide us over. We prefer not to rely on this and instead make sure that we earn enough money online to fund our lifestyle. We’re not millionaires yet (ha!) but we’ll keep you in the loop on this so you can celebrate with us when the time comes – e-champagne for everyone!
SHOW ME THE MONEY
For now our income comes from the following sources:
Glen started a company way back in 2010 named StorSafe Solutions. The aim of the company is to build, maintain and host websites along with other miscellaneous services like business card design, social media management and copy writing. Originally Glen had wanted to grow this company in England and become self-employed quickly, however not long after the company was incorporated he was offered a great opportunity to work for a huge American company in London that he just couldn’t turn down. At the same time we decided to buy a new house which needed our two salaries to support it and so our plans to become self employed were put on hold for a while. Glen kept the company going in the background and StorSafe still retains all the clients that Glen started with way back when which we are very proud of.
Ever since we decided to quit our jobs and begin a new nomadic life we have ploughed all of our efforts into the company, which has re-branded as StorSafe, and in the 10 months since then we have bought on lots of lovely new clients who keep us busy! We’re on track to triple our income this year and that is purely the result of being able to dedicate more time to the company.
StorSafe is our main source of income and fully funds our travel expenses.
We have been dabbling with this for the last couple of years and have had varied success. For those who have never heard of it (me – 2 years ago) affiliate marketing involves promoting products online in the hope that someone will buy something you suggest which will result in you receiving a small commission from the seller at no additional cost to the buyer. Essentially like a digital finders fee. Many travel blogs run solely on this concept and yes, ours also contains some affiliate links.
Outside of Couple Castaway we have three different affiliate sites on the go at the moment and we are experimenting with different strategies on each to see what works. Largely we find affiliate marketing a hassle. It takes up a lot of our time for little return and is probably not something that we will continue with in the long-term, though we’re not quite ready to cut the cord just yet.
Currently one of the blogs is monetised and earns us a regular but small income (though it took 2 years to achieve this) and the other two are growing but at a very slow pace because we have devoted less and less time to them. We know what we did wrong – we picked subjects that we aren’t even remotely interested in. It’s really difficult to be passionate about something that you don’t care about and so our top tip would be to affiliate with a product you actually love. For this reason alone we are not expecting huge results from them but if we figure out a way to really make passive income from them we’ll let you know (for free of course) – for now, watch this space.
Advertising works on a similar concept to affiliate marketing. The aim of the game is to build a website that receives lots of traffic (over ten thousand unique visitors per month) and then you reach out to advertisers within the niche of your website and offer them advertising space on your site. They get direct access to thousands of people in their niche and you get cold hard cash. Win win.
We actually make a pretty nice chunk of change on one of our affiliate sites from advertising and it takes very little effort from us, so we love it!
We think that advertising is the way forward for travel bloggers and this is where we are putting our efforts in relation to monetising Couple Castaway, though not quite yet. We have a bit more that we want to do before we start reaching out.
Interest on savings
Unexpectedly we make quite a lot of money from premium bonds. This is a tax fee savings account in the UK which allows each person to hold up to £40,000 in “bonds”. You can take the money out whenever you want but whilst it’s invested with them (the Government) you are entered into a monthly draw to win cash which is essentially interest on your investment. The more money you invest the higher number of entries you have in the draw and the more chances you have to win. Prizes start at £25 and go up to £1,000,000 so here’s hoping!
Currently we have the majority of our money invested here and we “win” between £25 and £200 per month. The money turns up in our bank account and on a good month will pay for our entire accommodation costs.
Over time we may have to withdraw money from the account which would likely see our winnings reduce but for now it’s a nice little income top up. If you are saving up to take a little work break then I would highly suggest putting your savings here. Even if you only win sporadically the interest still works out better than most banks and your money is about as secure as it can be.
Both Glen and I regularly use freelancing websites UpWork (formerly oDesk) and Elance to find freelance jobs – writing for me and geek stuff for Glen (I have no idea what he’s doing). Generally it pays much less than what we would make if we got the job via StorSafe and sometimes we are working for a pittance (I’m talking writing a 1,000 fully researched article for £5) but if you build up your profile and become a bit of a commodity you can set your own fee and actually become quite successful. These days we largely work with the clients we met on Odesk privately at a much more satisfying hourly rate whilst avoiding commission payments to the site and this makes it a much more viable income source.
Freelancing can be frustrating to begin with but the potential is there and it’s one of the best ways to make money online.
We also use it to outsource some of our admin work and have been introduced to some really talented people who do great work at bargain prices.
The initial game plan is for us to be fully location independent and this would mean that all of our income would be generated from working online. This way regardless of whether we stay on the road or return to England, we can keep being self employed. Whilst we’re in Asia this is pretty simple but we need to earn enough to be able to comfortably afford to live in expensive countries too and at the moment it would be a tight squeeze. (NB our rent alone in London was £3,000 per month, ouch).
It’s definitely possible and we hope to achieve it by the end of year one. With the base we have given ourselves I think the goal is relatively reasonable, however if things don’t go to plan we’ll also look at ways of making money offline, such as:
- Teaching English abroad
- Working in bars / restaurants
- House sitting
- Applying for our Australian work visa and grafting for the year
- Anything else someone will pay us to do **This excludes trying to smuggle drugs out of countries – all other options considered.
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