Home World TRAVEL 10 Ways We’ve Paid for Our Life of Travel (+How You Can Too!)

10 Ways We’ve Paid for Our Life of Travel (+How You Can Too!)

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10 Ways We’ve Paid for Our Life of Travel (+How You Can Too!)

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It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 15 years (almost to the day at the time of writing this) since Nick and I sold our possessions, quit our jobs, and set off traveling the world. But, how have we been able to afford a life of full-time travel and living abroad? Find out exactly how we do it in this article.

In this post, I’m not going to list ways we’ve managed to save money, downsize, or take on extra work. This is strictly about how we earn an income online, and on the road, and how we get paid to travel.

10 Ways We’ve Paid For Our Life of Travel

Hopefully, this list below gives you some inspiration and ideas for how you too can start to earn money online, while traveling and living abroad.

These days, we make money solely through our websites and digital products, but the money-making ideas on the list below were excellent stepping stones for us, and I highly recommend them!

1. Creating Marketing Videos

drone view of raja ampat islands
A drone’s eye view of the FAM islands in Raja Ampat

Nick’s great at video editing and over the years, he’s become skilled at operating a drone. Because of this, we’ve received offers to film and edit marketing videos for companies, and in exchange, they’ve paid us for the completed video.

Probably the coolest one was for Dive Grenada, a scuba company in Grenada, or the one we did for a hotel while traveling in Raja Ampat (pictured above).

We’ve had a drone since 2014, back when they were bulky, heavy, and glitchy. Our first drone was the DJI Phantom 2 and it was so big that it had its own backpack! Thankfully, we’ve upgraded drones since then.

dji drone with backpack
Our first drone was so big it had its own backpack!

If you’re interested in filming and editing, start honing your skills and reach out to local businesses in your niche or area of interest. These days, the new iPhones take excellent cinematic-style videos, GoPro is great for underwater or action footage, and of course, having a drone gets some amazing aerial shots.

2. Teaching English in China

teaching in myanmar
Volunteer teaching in our makeshift classroom in rural Myanmar – one of the best weeks of our lives.

This was the first year that we made an income while on the road. It was 2012 and at this point, we had done some volunteer teaching in Laos and Myanmar, but knew of a few people who were making good money teaching in places like South Korea, China and Japan.

We were planning on traveling to China anyway so while we were there we decided to contact some schools. We searched online, and also went to many cafes and hostels and found job boards with “Teachers Wanted” adverts. We then called and emailed our resumes.

We didn’t expect to hear from many (any?) of the schools as we had no official prior experience (only volunteer work), but we were wrong. Many schools were interested! So, we took our time siphoning through the options and found a company that we resonated with and ended up signing a one-year contract.

Within a month, we were living and working at Shane English School in Yangzhou China, teaching students in different classes from the ages of 4 to 16. We worked 20 hours per week and earned around $1,400 per month each. In the end, we reached our goal of saving $20,000 which was put towards our epic 5-month trip around Central Asia.

china teaching students
Having fun with some of my students in class in Yangzhou, China

To date, some of our best memories are from that year in China. These days, however, you don’t have to move abroad to teach, you can do it online from the comfort of home if you choose. You can read more about teaching English abroad in our full guide here, or in the articles below.

Read More About Teaching English:
8 Best Online TEFL Courses This Year
How To Choose a TEFL Course (10 Tips to Help You Decide)
10 Best Places to Teach English Abroad
12 Best Online English Teaching Companies

3. House Sitting and Pet Sitting

In 2013, we heard of something called house sitting and pet sitting and even though the concept of receiving free accommodation in exchange for taking care of a furry friend seemed too good to be true, we signed up for the Trusted Housesitters platform.

After being a member for around a month, we received an offer!

Not only did the homeowner reach out to us (rather than us pitching them), but it was to take care of a sweet dog in the Caribbean on the island of Grenada. We had no idea where that was at the time, but if you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that Grenada became our home for many years, and even though we don’t live there anymore, it still feels like home.

Over the years, we pet-sat at 5 different homes in places like Grenada, Barbados, and Costa Rica. While just one of the homeowners also paid us a salary, others offered to assist with flight costs. With all of them, we received a vehicle for our use.

pet sitting a dog in the caribbean
Our first pet sitting job was to take care of this sweet boy, Spare Dog

House and pet sitting was an amazing way to supplement our earnings. By not paying for accommodation, we were able to afford to live and work in beautiful destinations and meet some of the best dogs in the world.

Make sure to read our full guide to house sitting and pet sitting, and take a look at the articles below for more information on how to get started.

Read More About House Sitting and Pet Sitting:
10 Best House Sitting Websites to Find a Job
How to Prepare for Your House Sitting Interview (and Nail It!)
Questions to Ask Before Accepting a House Sitting/Pet Sitting Job
How to Become a House Sitter and Pet Sitter (Complete Guide)

4. Freelance Writing Work

working on blogging on my laptop on website
The more articles you’re able to bang out a month, the more money you’ll earn as a freelance writer

At one point, this was a huge income earner for us. It was one of the top ways we initially made money online, while on the road. When we were house sitting and our blog was still growing, we reached out to a bunch of publications and pitched our article ideas.

Some said no, but many others said yes!

We had full-time columns with two online publications and received a few one-offs from time to time as well. At one point, between the two of us, we were consistently writing 30 articles per month!

Freelance writing was and is a great way to make money. There’s money to be made if you have the dedication and motivation to write quality articles. The more articles you can produce, the more money you can make.

Professional Blog Working
We loved freelance writing from here…but didn’t last long when the shade moved and the sun came out!

These days, we pay a large team of professional freelance writers to create content for our websites. Many of them write 3 articles per week, for a total of 12 articles a month each. Those same writers also have other writing gigs…meaning they’re making a great monthly wage for sure. High-quality, human-written content is still very much in demand.

To get started freelance writing, you can reach out to colleagues in your niche to see if they are looking for writers. Other options are to sign up for platforms like Solid Gigs (which sends you the best writing gigs to your inbox each week), or FlexJobs and Upwork.

Read More About Freelance Writing:
10 Best Freelance Writing Courses
10 Freelance Writing Skills You Need to Succeed
15 Pros and Cons of Being a Freelance Writer
How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners

5. Selling Video Clips

While we were filming videos from around the world for our YouTube channel, we never considered the fact that someone might want to buy some of the clips.

One day, while we were traveling, Nick’s brother in Canada messaged: “This guy from Korea keeps calling and leaving messages about wanting a video of yours from Mongolia. I’ve hung up on him a few times and I’ve ignored him, as it’s probably spam, but he’s called a lot so now I’m letting you know”

We thought it was weird as well. But, we called the guy.

As it turns out, it wasn’t spam. A Korean marketing company wanted a 10-second clip that we had made from our travels around Mongolia…at a rate of $100 per second. That’s the most money we’ve ever made in 10 seconds!

If you take great video clips with your camera, phone, or drone, you can sell them to platforms like Artgrid, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock. Or, maybe a foreign media company will contact you too!

6. Social Media and Content Management

social media manager

For a couple of years, back in 2014 and 2015, we had a few clients who paid us a monthly fee to manage their social media accounts and to create content for their blog.

We’d learn about their brand and goals, and in turn write content that was a fit for them (in this case, it was financial and lifestyle which was right up our alley).

We would post engaging content on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and at one point, we were even running Pinterest accounts. This was a great gig as it guaranteed us a consistent income every month.

If you’re interested in becoming a social media manager, reach out to businesses in your niche on places like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn and see if they need any help.

Read More About Social Media Management:
How to Make Money as a Freelance Social Media Manager
15 Best Tools for Social Media Managers

7. Travel Blogging

FAM trips for bloggers
Us with the press trip crew in Chicago. Influencers from Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. Plus the PR reps for the hotel we stayed at.

This is the main way we’ve earned money as digital nomads and is our current (and most favorite) money-making method. Here are a few of the top ways travel bloggers make an income.

Paid Press Trips

As our blog grew and we received more visitors to our website, YouTube channel, and social media accounts, we started to receive offers for paid press trips from various brands.

As travel bloggers, we’ve received numerous emails from tourism boards, hotels, and tour companies offering us free trips abroad, plus a salary. This is one of the coolest parts about being in the travel space. We’ve met some amazing people, experienced some epic things, and earned a great income along the way.

Getting paid to soak in a Japanese bath in Tokyo, plot new trekking routes in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan, and go swimming with pigs in the Bahamas are some of our most memorable press trips.

how to swim with pigs in the bahamas.heic
Photo Bomb! Swimming with the pigs was so much fun

As your engagement on your social accounts grows, or as the traffic to your website increases, you’ll start to see offers coming in as well. You might be tempted to say “yes” to everything, but don’t. Only agree to work with companies that you resonate with, and that you can honestly recommend.

In-Content Ads

Another major income earner through our website is from in-content advertising. We’ve all seen them, we all don’t like them, but there are ads everywhere these days.

There are different levels of ads that website owners can choose from and we have ours turned way down. We could be earning more, but we don’t want to annoy our readers too much!

Once our website traffic reached 50,000 users per month, we were able to join Mediavine which is one of the best ad companies around.

Ads can be obtrusive, but they help to support our website and we’re able to earn money from our otherwise free content that we create. Once you reach 50,000 users per month, I recommend joining Mediavine (they have a great community). You simply press a button and ads will be turned on for your website. You’ll be making money in no time.

Affiliate Marketing

The final major way we earn money through our website is through affiliate marketing partnerships. We recommend products that we use, like, and know are reputable. When you purchase something using our link, we receive a small commission — and we thank you for your kind support!

Some of the top affiliates that we promote and love are travel companies like Get Your Guide, Viator, Discover Cars, and Booking.com. We also share the best digital nomad companies for TEFL, freelance writing, proofreading, and blogging.

Read More About Travel Blogging:
How to Make Money With a Travel Blog
5 Ways Travel Bloggers Are Making More Money Than Ever
How to Choose a Travel Blog Name
10 Reasons to Start a Blog

8. Building Authority Niche Websites

Fly Fishing in Lake District Argentina Patagonia
Create a website around a topic you’re passionate and knowledgable about

Goats On The Road is our baby, and we’ve been running it since 2012. But, many of you probably don’t know that we have 3 other websites!

One is in the outdoor sports niche, one is in music, and another one is destination-specific. We have teams helping to run those sites, and while Nick works quite a bit on the sports website, we have experts writing on the other topics. These smaller websites aren’t our main earners, but a decent amount of money trickles in each month from them.

Gone are the days of creating spammy, get-rich-quick, websites where the writers and owners are anonymous (thankfully!). But it’s still possible to start small authority sites around a topic that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about and create a useful resource for your readers.

Read more About Creating Niche Websites:
101 Niche Website Ideas to Get You Started
10 Reasons to Start a Second Blog
Our New Website: An In-Depth Progress Report After 2 Months
How To Build a 6-Figure Blog in One Year

9. Speaking Gigs

Speaking Travel conferences to find fam trips
Nick speaking on the subject of travel bloggers working with brands at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul

Over the years, our brand grew and we started to become known as experts in our niche. We’ve been invited to speak on various blogging, digital nomad, and travel topics. Some of them have been in-person speaking gigs in places like Turkey and the USA, while others have been paid online summits.

We always love sharing our knowledge and are still working on being confident speaking in front of people! Creating a prerecorded product for an online conference, or joining a live summit online is one thing, but standing on stage in front of hundreds of people is quite nervewracking.

Once you start to become recognized as an expert in your field, you’ll probably be asked to share your wisdom with others. Say yes! You never know who you’ll meet, or where that path will lead you.

10. Creating and Selling Digital Courses

SEO Course Graphic

The final main way that we’ve supported our travels and lifestyle over the past 15 years is by creating and selling digital products and courses on the Teachable platform.

With our Travel Blog Kickstarter Course, we’ve helped more than 1,000 people start and grow websites in a variety of niches! This is something we’re proud of as we believe that owning your own business through blogging is the best thing ever.

Sure, there are pros and cons of blogging (as with everything), but there’s no other job we’d rather do.

On top of helping our students create websites from scratch, we also have an advanced blogger course called SEO Made Simple with around 300 enrolled students. Soon, we’re planning on coming out with a new, more personal coaching experience as well. If there’s one thing we love, it’s engaging with our amazing community and we’re stoked for the new venture.

If there’s a topic that you’re knowledgeable about and something that you believe you can teach others to do, why not create a course? With platforms like Skillshare, Teachable, YouTube, or creating your own website, there are many ways you can share your advice with the world.

Read More About Digital Courses:
Free Travel Blog Kickstarter Course (when you start a blog through us!)
Free 1-Hour SEO Training Video
SEO Made Simple: Advanced Blogger Course
7 Best Platforms to Sell Online Courses

That’s it!

Goats On The Road nick and dariece
Thanks for reading and happy digital nomadism!

So far, we’ve been to more than 75 countries on 5 continents and have been able to support our traveling habit over the years using the 10 ways I shared above. The main thing we’ve learned is the importance of diversifying our income streams and that it’s okay to try (and fail) at new things.

I hope you found this list useful and inspirational! If so, please share it with your friends on social media, WhatsApp, or email 🙂

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