When you live outside the rat race and have an advice-giving travel site, people are always asking questions. Like:
How Do You Afford to Travel?
The better question is “How Much do You Spend?”
The “afford long-term travel” topic is slowly growing into a whole series of posts. If you prefer listening to reading, you can listen to me talk about these answers:
For word-lovers, here are my shorter “how to afford to travel full time” answers:
- I’m rich in time.
Once I quit my desk job, I was suddenly a time billionaire, which can make the rest of life pretty cheap. I’m able to wait for cheaper transit options. I can work-exchange and do touristy activities. I can afford the time it takes to shop at markets and cook meals.
- I fly for free.
If you don’t have the financial habits it takes to travel hack, get them. And then start flying for free. In my first two years of travel hacking alone, I flew thirteen times. I paid $11.20 or less for twelve of those flights.
- I find dirt cheap flights.
When I do pay to fly, I use Skyscanner like this, I check out Kiwi, or get an error fare.
- I’m flexible.
Being rich in time makes it easy for me to go with the flow. Example: flights from the U.S. to Australia are usually $2,000 roundtrip. When I saw a deal for $600 in early 2017, I dropped all my plans for April and May to fly down undah.
- I stick to a budget.
I write down everything I spend. Every. single. thing. Seeing my spending tallied up regularly keeps me in the know about what’s happening with my bank account. It also prevents me blowing cash on big nights out and items that don’t end up adding much value to my life.
- I live other people’s lives.
Travel that isn’t 100% about you is usually cheap or free. To me, taking a train somewhere, staying in a hotel, going out to eat, and visiting museums or shopping barely registers on my fun meter. Yawn. I’d rather go to a locals-only watering hole, a family home in a remote village, an Italian rooftop birthday party, a moonlight sail to a private island. You can, too. For free. How? See #1-5 here.
- I go without.
The happiness I get from doing whatever I want makes it easy to live without the lesser happiness of having whatever I want. Those who kill off the seeds of longing sown by western culture end up with rich experiences that money can’t buy. Try it! For travel, start with #6-10 here. For everyday life, I do or have done all but a handful of these 101 everyday money hacking strategies.
- I travel slowly.
Example: One month I rented a Croatian apartment, bought groceries at markets, walked all over historic Zagreb, read books, went running every day, talked to my family and friends, and never wanted for anything. Total cost: about $400. Spending a month in 10 cities all over Europe, however, costs thousands, is exhausting, and can even be boring.
- I work as needed.
There are tons of jobs to do while traveling the world. In eight+ years of travel I’ve worked for thirteen months total. In 2014, I started teaching myself how to make money with a website. In 2015, I got more serious about it. Because I’m unwilling to treat this site like a job, I still make less than half of what my poorest employed friends are making. But I have enough money to do the things I want to do, and I’m rich in the commodity I care most about: time..
How Much Money Do You Make Blogging?
I think when people ask this question, what they often want to know is, “Would blogging a viable option to sustain my life? Could I quit doing the thing I don’t really like and make easy money as a blogger?!”
Let’s deal with a few misconceptions here. Easy money. Blogging..
Blogging Is Really…
People often equate “blogging” with keeping a diary and watching the cash roll in. Oh no. Not. even. close. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most people aren’t interested in reading your play-by-play of your day in Rome, the cute thing your dog did, or how annoyed you are about crappy customer service reps. You have to write about what other people want to hear, give them information that helps them. That’s not “blogging.” That’s becoming an author. I say “blogging,” because it’s shorthand for “I spend my time writing whatever I choose.” But I should probably stop. I don’t write a blog, I write articles. I’m not a blogger, I’m an author who owns her own publishing platform.
And that, my friends, is hard work! The research, the formatting, the interlinking, the infuriating website background admin… if you’ve read Blogging Is No Easier Than Being a Stripper, then you know writing is less than 5% of running your own publishing platform. To top it all off, effort-in does not equal money-out as most employees are used to. I can spend a week working 16 hour days and never know how future income resulted (or didn’t!) from that effort. Making ‘easy money’ as a blogger is an oxymoron.
Uh, a Number, Please?
To answer the original question: I make enough. My goal was to make $600 a month. In the 36 months after I hit that goal, my income grew steadily and plateaued at a number that buys my groceries, pays my bills, and allows me to put money in savings. But I’m not a good example of how much money you can make “as a blogger.” I don’t “blog” to make money, but to have the lifestyle I want (control over my time and attention). Running my own publishing platform is just one my many life hacks.
A better answer comes from a survey of bloggers. Here’s how much they make and what’s required to get there. Spoiler alert: 36% make over $3,000 a month. 25% make $500 to $1,500 a month. 39% make less than $500 a month. So how much money does a blogger make? Somewhere between some, a little, and plenty!.
But How Does A Website Make Money?
There are lots of ways bloggers make money from a website. Bloggers are really authors giving out free information and ideas. You could get the info at a library, but here’s what you can’t get from a book:
- the ability to contact an author in real-time
- quick-click access to other ideas or information by the same author
- the ability to know the author on a deeper level
- the opportunity to talk to other people who have read the same information the moment you finish reading 1the comments section
- the delivery of new information and ideas as they become available
Ultimately, we want info from people we trust. Trust develops from experience and predictability. Spending long enough on an author’s mailing list (here’s mine) gives you some certainty about what to expect from them.
The combination of quick-click accessibility and opportunities for intimate familiarity make self-publishing internet authors some of the best information sources available. And they’re free.
So how do they put groceries in the fridge and keep their laptops charged up?
The possibilities divide into either what or who they know. The “what” you probably already understand. Ever been clicking through someone’s website and hit a “paid content” wall? That author has invested enough time building credibility with readers that they can now successfully charge their readers directly. Selling e-books or webinars or coaching sessions full of the author’s knowledge is another path.
The “who” is the thousands of readers who know and trust said author. Sometimes a blogger gets donations from readers. Sometimes they agree to display ads for products 2they hopefully truly believe in to their audience. Sometimes they allow sponsors to talk to their audience directly. (Here’s Why I Mostly Say No to Sponsored Posts.) Finally, word of mouth is still king in the money-making world, and authors with a healthy readership are poised to deliver recommendations to thousands of people. When you buy a product a blogger recommends or join a service a blogger taught you about, that blogger gets money from the company or service you patronized.
The latter is known as an “affiliate relationship.” They’re a way of thanking authors for giving products and services word-of-mouth exposure. Yes, this system can definitely be exploited. However, most successful authors don’t reach great heights without trust and credibility which they certainly wouldn’t earn by endlessly praising every promotable product or service.
I earn money for the time I spend at the keyboard via a combination of information products, affiliate relationships, the rare sponsored post, and a few ads on posts my regular audience doesn’t see. Once a reader even “bought me a drink!”
How Do I Start a Blog Like You?!
If you’re raring to go, head over to How to Start a Blog that Makes Money for step by step instructions.
Just curious? There are tons of things I wish I’d known before monetizing my little site.
If I could only do one thing differently, I would have paid for a how-to blogging course like this one. Instead I spent hundreds of hours researching and implementing ideas with no overall game plan. And learning all about systems or software that I never ended up using. Silly. And exhausting. (Here’s more about Why I Wish I’d Paid for Blogging Help.)
So I guess I recommend that you don’t start a blog like I did. Instead, learn from my mistakes and follow these steps.
Why Does Your Domain Name Suggest Pornography?
Ha! Because I am an idiot.
I may have had a dirty mind when I was a teenager, but not in 2010 when I was reading a zillion travel quotes trying to come up with a good site name.
I’ve always been wary of the way “the things you own end up owning you.” Susan Heller’s declaration about packing resonated:
Traveling with less really does net you more incredible experiences. The less you have, the more you see how little you need. The less you need, the more you give. The more you give, the more you get. Really.
A “half the clothes” mentality unlocks a quality of life that’s the best I’ve ever had. Maybe being mostly naked would, too. Ha!.
Aren’t You Scared?
Yes. I’m scared shitless. I’ve said before: life is terrifying; travel won’t change that. But we’re all scared. Life is full of uncertainty, and that’s permanent. All you can do it try to get good at being uncomfortable.
Sometimes. When you live outside the mainstream cultural script, there are scary days where you feel intensely lost. You wonder what you’re doing with your life, if you’re ever going to regret not getting a PhD, getting married, having kids, buying a house, pursuing a career, etc.
For me, the scary days now are far fewer than stress-ridden days of my 9-5 desk job, where I longed to spend my time in a way that would ensure I escape the most common deathbed regrets.
I get through the scary days pretty easily, because there are so many days now where I’m thrilled about what I’m doing. Way, way, way, way more than my old, “safe, secure,” cookie cutter life where I felt tied down.
Are You Ever Going to Settle Down & Get a “Real” Job?
Oh good golly, Ms. Molly.
I used to say, “Well… none of us can predict the future.” But now the future is here! I’ve been longing for a stronger sense of community. I spent several stints in 2018 testing out a small town in my favorite ecosystem in the world. My 2019 calendar had 80% fewer travel plans than the preceding years. I’m super happy.
As for a “real” job – not if I can help it! 40 hours a week as an employee just isn’t compatible with my priorities. Read: Why a Hard-Working Perfectionist Doesn’t Want a Job..
Can I Buy You a Drink?
Is it because I motivated you to start flying for free?
Or my stories made you laugh?
Or you loved my RTW packing list?
Or I helped you decide which house sitting site to use?
Or I showed you how to work and travel?
I’ll take an oaked bourbon on the rocks.
Or a prickly pear margarita.
Or a flat white.
Or water. I drink a lot of water.
Do You Accept Guest Posts?
Yeah, if you’re cool.
Fair warning… I kind of hate the commercialization of the internet. Like, so bad I once quit for a month.
So if you’re just following some wallet-emptying guru’s advice to “build your brand,” I’m not sure I’m the online buddy for you. But if you want to share your travel expertise, or your saving-money-to-travel wisdom, or the ten things travel taught you… let’s do it!
How Do I Sign Up for Your Emails?