One of the top questions that I get asked is “how do you afford to travel constantly?”. If you do travel more than the average, then you’re certainly getting the same question from friends and strangers. If not, they already think that you’re some sort of billionaire, spending time sipping margaritas on the beach and getting massages all day.
Those who travel a lot know that, paradoxically, a life of constant travel is less expensive than living in the US or Australia or most of the expensive countries of the world. With plane tickets included and 5-star views.
However, I’ve got a confession to make: I am NOT a travel blogger. And you don’t have to be a travel blogger in order to travel the world on your own terms!
Actually, you shouldn’t consider starting a travel blog in order to fund your travels. Indeed, there are some big guys out there doing it for years. But the vast majority earns close to nothing – or in any way, not enough to fund a life of travel. But worry not! This doesn’t mean that you have no chances to make an income on the road.
I stopped sharing my other blog projects with friends because they were always disappointed. The ones who knew that I blog for a living wanted to know the name of the blog. I gave it to them.
“But it’s not a travel blog,” they all said.
Of course. Because travel blogging doesn’t pay my bills. I love to travel, that’s true and I am fortunate enough to be able to do it constantly, but that’s not where my money comes from!
So… “how do you afford to travel the world constantly?”
I am a freelancer for most of the time. I also have other blogs that are completely unrelated to travel, which bring in a decent amount of cash each month to allow me to travel the world.
No, it’s not all glitz and glam, I’m not spending my days licking cocktails and soaking the sun. I work hard for it, but I am not doing it in a cubicle. I am working hard with great views from my window. I go to cafe shops and co-working spaces, I take time outs whenever I want to and I do whatever I feel like doing.
Most of the time… at least.
Because money doesn’t grow on trees that only world travelers know where to find. No – the people making a fortune by working just 4 hours a week are the 1%. The top of the top. The ones everybody envies.
But do you want to know a secret? You don’t have to be like them! You can be like me and like thousands of other people that are still living a location independent life, still exploring the world and working on their own terms. But you have to work hard. It’s not that bad, though!
How to do it too
Although I am suggesting everybody who wants to go the self employed, location independent, nomad or call-it-whatever-you-want way to start a blog ASAP, you don’t really have to do this. There are various ways to earn your bacon while traveling the world, but I am focusing on two:
Freelancing and blogging.
Out of these two, the former is the easiest and it gives you the biggest chances to succeed. Of course, you need to have a bit of knowledge or at least be able to do a lot of research and you must be able to write at least decent copy, but it’s doable. It’s not that hard. You only need a strong will and the desire to succeed. Look at the beach you want to live nearby, and that will be your motivation!
If you’re wondering how to start freelancing, let me offer up this helpful hint: in all likelihood, you will never feel 100% ready. You will have doubts and you will wonder if you’re good enough. Freelance writing isn’t rocket science and if you’re a decent enough writer you can succeed. You have to think of it as a business, though. I don’t care if you just love to travel and you love to write about it because you’ve traveled so much. This isn’t about you, you self-centered ninny! It’s about the businesses that you will be helping. If you can remember that, you’re already eons ahead of your fellow word-loving peers.
Freelancing will not always be glamorous. When I started up, just because I needed the practice and the money, I was writing about all the crazy stuff that clients threw my way. I wrote about the best home waxing kits for men, the top toilet scrubs, benefits of elephant dung and other horrible stuff.
Of course, you don’t have to follow the same route that I did, but everybody has to start somewhere. You won’t have a big magazine asking you to write a piece for them and pay you $200 afterwards unless you have a TON of recommendations. A TON of published content. And you’re good at it.
I am not good at writing and I never was. However, I am making a living out of this and it should be a strong enough reason to prove everybody that this is still doable.
Do you want to know a secret? Over half of the article writing jobs available online right now are all for writing SEO articles and content people don’t really care about. And that still pays $15 – $20 a piece, so you can go this route easily if you’re that type of person. But if you give it your best, you will learn a lot of secrets and you’ll soon be able to earn a ton.
And I will share you many of those secrets on this blog!
Where to land your first Freelancing job on?
That first job is extremely important. Without it, you can’t get anywhere. So do your best to land a job ASAP.
The website that I suggest for this is Upwork. This is a platformer for freelancers to share their services and get assigned all sorts of projects. You’re competing in real time against thousands of other freelancers and many are ready to sell their skin for close to nothing, but you have to start somewhere.
Create an account, take some tests on the platform to have something to show your potential clients and start bidding. Always bid below the budget of the jobs your interested on. Remember: you’re not making it for the money now, you’re making it for exposure. And you’d better do a great job from the start, otherwise you’re screwed!
After a job is completed on any freelancing platform, you get rated. Get too many negative ratings and you can kiss your freelancing job goodbye! But start strong and really soon you’ll be able to increase your rates. You’ll secure long term customers. You’ll get recommendations and the snowball will get bigger and bigger.
I started on Upwork with the horrible articles and slowly – but steadily – built a reputation. Just a few months after starting, I landed my first long term client. $500 a month for writing articles for their website, responding to comments and doing minor maintenance on older articles. I was working about 25 hours a month for that sum – about an hour a day, sometimes less, sometimes more and sometimes not even a single second. That means $20 an hour. Great wage, especially if you’re living in a cheap place in SE Asia as I was doing at the moment.
And that still left me many open hours for taking in more projects. Pretty soon, I was the one who started to decline offers. If I didn’t like the topic, if I didn’t feel like writing about it, if I didn’t like the person offering the job… I was in full control. Eventually.
Because you first have to start somewhere.
And the best part is that you should keep learning while doing this. Analyze what your employers are doing and make it your plan to do it better.
I always though that if a guy pays me $20 to write an article for him, then he’s definitely earning a lot more with it. Of course, there are risks and some are losing money, but overall, this should be the rule: the client gains more than you do.
So why write a $20 article for a client who’ll make $30 out of it (or more) when I could write it for myself and get all the money?
This is what I thought when I first created my first blog. A couple of months later, I was making ZERO dollars with it. So it’s not that easy. But it helps. It’s experience you gain. It’s stuff you learn. And eventually you’ll make it.
Just be smart. And keep on doing it!
Am I making millions? No, far from it. But I am making enough to sustain my lifestyle, and while it’s been a tough road, I’m not putting in nearly as many hours at my desk as I used to in my old, traditional job.
Finding motivation and momentum in the beginning can be really, really tricky. But if I can do this, I’m confident that you can, too. I really believe that a location independent lifestyle is possible for anyone willing to put the work in, but it can be hard without a support system. I want to help anyone who is looking for more information, because with some dedication you too can work from Bali, surrounded by green nature and spectacular views, then take a break to take a refreshing swim in your pool!