The digital nomad scene has opened doors for those of us who want to simultaneously earn money and travel. From ecommerce dropshipping to travel blogging, there are loads of business models that allow founders to travel the world whilst working. At the same time, earning money online is a dream that can be hard to fully realise. Despite what online articles might say, very few people end up making a tonne of money from travel blogging. (It’s entirely possible to succeed as a travel blogger, but not without a lot of time and investment, and a PR-strategy to back up your blogging). It’s important to go into your travel and work project with open eyes, and be realistic about the funds you can raise with your current skillset. However, with a bit of clever planning and strategy, you can start to make your travel plans a reality. Here are seven different ways to earn money while travelling, as well as some suggestions on how to make your income go further by avoiding common pitfalls.
Affiliate marketing has a bad rep in some circles, but it’s actually a great way to make money for people who like building, owning, and managing websites. Whether you are a writer and web designer, or have access to people who can do this for you, a high-quality affiliate project will bring in passive income all year round.
Not sure how affiliate marketing works? It’s simple: by linking out to other people’s products or services from your website, you send people to these other websites, and if that clicked hyperlink turns into a sale, you get a cut (usually anything from 1 to 15%). You still get a commission if the customer ends up making another purchase, and thanks to cookies, you may get revenue from the next few web sessions too. Sounds easy, so why isn’t everyone doing it?
- The truth is, sustainable affiliate revenue is all about the niche — you want something that has a strong need for affiliate content like reviews, comparison charts, and guides. Technical or complex products are good for affiliates, and you’d be surprised how competitive some of the affiliate rates can be. If you are a passionate product advocate, it’s worth finding out whether your favourite brands have affiliate programmes.
- There are some technicalities to consider like joining the affiliate networks, legalities, disclosures etc. Don’t try to rush into things, as you will end up making expensive mistakes.
- Brands have the right to refuse your affiliate application, so you need to ensure that your own site and brand are finished to a high standard.
- Beware of any OTT affiliate courses offering instant cash, but it’s worth taking some good advice from people who’ve done it before.
If you are lucky enough to own some good websites, you can also try advertising on them using Google AdSense, but this is unlikely to generate loads of revenue unless you they’re high-traffic authority sites.
Everyone wants to be a travel blogger. From couples and families, to foodies and extreme sports lovers, there is a travel blog out there for everyone, with hard-working bloggers using content marketing, ads, and sponsorships to power their travels through blogging.
Starting a travel blog is a great idea, but it’s important to be realistic about how much money you can make blogging. The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ definitely does not apply to blogging, and you will need to spend a lot of time advertising your blog, engaging with readers, and developing a brand partnerships plan. A blog that’s solely set up in order to make money, is probably not going to appeal to readers or publishers.
My advice for budding bloggers? Find a niche filled with passionate people who have money, and companies who want them to spend that money. Something quirky like crazy golf or Harry Potter travel may just be the golden ticket to help your blog reach the headlines. Try to stand out from dozens of other generic travel blogs with a PR-friendly ‘hook’.
Freelance life can be stressful, but if you can take your business on the road, it can be an incredibly freeing experience.
The best freelancers are the ones who are smart enough to charge high rates: don’t be shy, and don’t take on too much low-paid work. Low-paid work might keep you ticking over, but it will actually stop you from finding better work. Use all the tools in the book in order to get paid on time, and maintain boundaries with friends and family looking for cheap favours.
Your personal brand and website will be key for driving enquiries, though you will probably get a lot of your business through word of mouth. Having a profile on big freelancing sites like Upwork is also not a bad idea, as you can instantly plug into a pool of people looking for your skills. Just make sure you sell yourself well, and don’t become too reliant on sites like Upwork either. It’s always safer to build up your own client base.
In order to properly balance work with travelling, set out clear boundaries of when you will be working, and when you are going to be free from work commitments to travel. Communicate openly with clients, and hire a good VA to keep admin and emails ticking over when you’re busy.
Working on oil rigs in Norway or picking berries sound like something you’d do? There are loads of seasonal roles in agriculture and shipping that take you all over the world, leaving you the rest of the year to travel some more. Working a few ski seasons can be a great way to combine work with travel, and you’ll probably make some cool connections on the mountains.
This kind of nomadic existence isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth considering if you fancy a change. Why not start by working at a large international event or festival, and see whether you enjoy the experience?
Take advantage of seasonal work back home too, and put up your flat up on AirBnB whenever you are out of town. Here is how to get set up as a host — it’s a great source of passive income.
There are so many ways to build an ecommerce business, but it’s worth laying the foundations well before you set off on your travels. Trying to install website plugins or deal with your first customer order somewhere far away with a shaky WiFi connection is not fun.
Fulfillment by Amazon (known as FBA) is a popular business model whereby you get to ship products through Amazon, riding on their brand credibility and taking advantage of their huge online real estate. Though Amazon is the biggest one, there are other marketplaces like eBay and Etsy that are a great place for sellers to start. It’s often a very small commitment in order to sign up to these marketplaces and start selling, so this is a great route to begin with.
If you’re thinking of longevity, then opening your own online store is definitely worth it. Shopify makes it easy to manage your store on the go thanks to its mobile app and 24/7 support. When you are on the go, you should definitely look into fulfilment plans like dropshipping that automate your entire shipping process.
If you are travelling, you want a diverse mix of income streams, as well as your business to run on autopilot as much as you can. Mobile apps and remote teams can help you manage your ecommerce business from on the road. Invest in a proper ecommerce dashboard that collates sales figures across all your different sales channels.
There are more and more companies that allow you to work from wherever, especially in the tech industry. Technological advancements means that companies are increasingly having the confidence for teams work all over the world.
Running, and being part of, a global remote team can have its challenges, and you won’t be able to do this unless you’re pretty far along in your career (or very good at what you do).
Just because it’s remote, doesn’t mean that you don’t still need the same level of protection when it comes to visas, workers rights, pay, and contracts etc. Make sure you have access to a reliable line manager who you can talk to if you start to feel isolated.
Mix and match
The best way to make money and travel is to probably do a little bit of everything and test things out to see what’s really bringing in the bacon. Don’t just fly out to the middle of nowhere and hope for the best, but try to plan out all your different income streams and budget for each month.
From casual bar work at your destination, to a couple of affiliate sites and a dropshipping store — diversifying your income is a clever way to stay afloat. As you grow in confidence and scale, you can start to put more energy into the projects that are doing well. Finding another group of digital nomads or expats can be a great way to pool resources and ideas, and you may end up all together on a working holiday.
Working and travelling at the same time is awesome, and many people have embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, living it up in tropical paradises across the world. It’s not an impossible dream, but it’s one that you have to work for. Think carefully about your talents and abilities, and try to align your money-making ventures accordingly.