Make Money While Traveling

Here at Unwork to Travel, we are all about using lifestyle business to allow us to live life and travel the world on our own terms. And this post is intended to help you do exactly that!

Location independence and travel

First of all, it is worth pointing out that making money while traveling is not entirely necessary. You could save up, then take a trip, go home, save up, then take another trip. But if you design your life in such a way that you can earn money while traveling, then when and if you choose to go home, and even where that home is, will be entirely up to you.
This is why location independence lies at the heart of Unworking. For that reason, most of what we cover here will involve making money online. As long as you can earn your living from your laptop, home can be anywhere you choose! But we will also cover a few ways to earn money based on the locations to which you travel. These methods will be perfect for the “slow travel” that many digital nomads enjoy.
With the early disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into the meat of it.

1. Blogging

If you want to create a lifestyle business based on the internet, I think a blog is one of the most worthwhile things that you could possibly do. In fact, I wrote an entire post about why you should start your own blog.

But what should you blog about?

This is what throws many people, and keeps them from ever starting a blog of their own. If you want to have a lifestyle business, however, and you already know what skills you plan to leverage to do that, then it should be easy!
Are you a freelance writer, a cryptocurrency trading guru, a web designer, nutrition expert, personal trainer? Whatever you plan to do, blog about it! If you plan to leverage your expertise in a field in exchange for money, then you should have a blog where you trade your expertise for a following.
The things that are “simple” to an expert can be mystifying to someone not in that niche. So give that information through your blog. You might be surprised how many people would love to read about tricks of the trade, which you see as just irrelevant pieces of the daily grind.
For instance, Michole and I use online, lifestyle business to gain the freedom to travel. Naturally, we blog about it, to help others do the same. And if you really think you can’t think of anything to blog about, then tell us in the comments below! We would love nothing more than to help you overcome this hurdle.

How do you make money off of a blog?

Are you ready for the way to make money fast by blogging? Well, here it is. There is no make money fast blogging strategy. Womp, womp, womp.
The truth is, blogging can be hard work. At least, it can be if you want to have a great blog. You need to put together great content, and sometimes in-depth content. Sometimes, your preexisting knowledge will be enough, but other times a great blog post might involve a great deal of research. And at first, it is highly unlikely that you will receive any monetary compensation.

So why do I feel so strongly that you should start a blog? There are several reasons.

First: Blogging will serve to sharpen your skills. This is doubly true of anyone for whom writing is an essential part of their trade. If you plan to write ebooks or freelance as a copywriter or content writer, then what better way to sharpen your skills and stay up to date on industry trends than by consistently researching and writing about those topics for your blog?
Second: BRAND-For most online entrepreneurs, their blog is the centerpiece of their brand. Perhaps you have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube accounts. You don’t actually own ANY of these. They are all hosted on someone else’s platform, and you are at their mercy, which has been a death nail for many Youtube content creators.
Meanwhile, a blog is YOURS. You control everything about it. Your readers’ entire experience on your blog is defined by your vision. Not by Google or Mark Zuckerberg.
Furthermore, your blog can be an amazing tool to manage coordination between your other platforms and help you get your audience to follow you on more platforms.
Third: Proof- The proof is in the pudding, as they say. But in this case, the proof is in your blog. When I first discovered lifestyle business, lifestyle design, and the concept of digital nomads, I happened to stumble across two blogs: The Expert Vagabond, and Goats on the Road. Both of whom are run by experts in these things. How did I know that they are experts? Just from looking at their blogs! The abundant advice they offered, combined with their own collection of globe-trotting adventures, was enough to convince me that they were experts in the type of lifestyle business that I wanted for myself.
Similarly, when Michole needs proof of her web design abilities, or when I need proof of my writing abilities, we need only point prospective clients to our blog.
As I said before, making money from a blog does not happen overnight. It takes time to get traffic and build trust with readers. How long? Many go for years before this happens, which is all the more reason why you should be getting started right now! But if you are smart, and give your readers epic content, then the income should start trickling in sooner rather than later.
And how exactly do you make that income? The two main strategies involve affiliate marketing and ads. Affiliate marketing is when you link to a product, and the manufacturer gives you a small commission if someone purchases that product.

As for ads, we all know what those are. Typically, people use Google AdSense. I am sure that you have seen it on countless websites before. In fact, if you look at the two ads in our sidebar, these are done through google ads. Google will show your reader something it thinks they will be interested in, in hopes that they click the link and purchase the item or service.

Unlike affiliate marketing, however, Adsense pays you a MUCH smaller commission just for someone clicking on, or in some cases just seeing, the ad. Whether or not they end up buying the product does not change the commission.

Summing up

You should absolutely be blogging! Seriously, I think there is a reason that almost every heavy hitter in the online and lifestyle business arenas have their own blogs. If you still need convincing, check out our article Should you start a blog?. And if you are already convinced, which I know you are, then head over and get started with how to start a blog in less than an hour. (Maybe pop out or something here)

2. Start a niche site

Niche sites are similar to blogs but tend to be less involved. Niche sites tend to focus on one type of product or activity and provide readers information that will help them make a purchase. From there, AdSense or affiliate sales will generate income for the niche site, just like for a blog.

For instance, let’s say we wanted to create a niche site about baseball bats. We could call it “www.bestbaseballbatreviews.com,” or something of that nature. If people are looking for information about baseball bats, they are probably considering purchasing one. If your site thoroughly answers their questions, they might click the link and buy, earning income for your niche site.

How exactly are niche sites different from blogs?

Typically, niche sites are smaller, lower quality, and require far less time and resources. They tend to focus on one thing very specifically and have a limited number of pages, which are not updated over time as they would be with a blog.
The bad news is, they are not worth a great deal when it comes to building your brand, which blogs are great for. And because they are not often updated over time, they tend to slowly lose weight in search engines, meaning that they will not be a golden goose forever. They also tend to have lower income ceilings than blogs, meaning that you will need to have a few of them to generate a solid revenue stream.
Despite some of these drawbacks, they can be a great part of a lifestyle business portfolio. Particularly because they require very little upkeep once they are completed. Furthermore, you could blog about your experiences creating one. Yet another topic for your amazing blog that I know you have already created!

3. Youtube content creation

Youtube content creation was once seen as an extremely lucrative venture. However, changes over the years have led more and more location independent lifestyle business entrepreneurs to abandon the platform.
With that said, there is still value to be made there. Sure, ads on youtube will not earn the money they once did, but they can still generate a small bit of income. Furthermore, using youtube can be a powerful tool in affiliate marketing. It is one thing to read a product review, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video review is worth a million words.
Many people will head over to Youtube and search for unboxings, reviews, and other types of videos about a product when they consider purchasing. Using youtube this way can be the perfect compliment to your blog or niche site when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Furthermore, the traditional “vlog” is not dead. Indeed it is alive and well. Since this article is all about how to make money while traveling, then it seems exceedingly likely that you would be interested in visiting some really cool places.
Simply documenting the places you travel to and your activities there on video is what you might have heard referred to as “travel vlogging.”  As with purchasing products, many people will search up videos of the places they are interested in traveling. Meanwhile, others might just want to live vicariously through your experiences. This audience has long made travel vlogs a staple of youtube content creators.
Like blogging and niche sites, creating youtube content is nothing like a get rich quick scheme. In fact, most would argue that it is no longer a get rich slowly scheme either. However, combined with a blog or niche site, its cumulative, passive effect has the potential to grow over time.

4. Podcasting

In many ways, podcasting is very similar to Youtube content creation and blogging. You create a piece of content, and then it is just there, hopefully earning you money.
The great thing about podcasts is that they are the best way to leverage other people’s  knowledge and success and bring that to your own audience, through interviews. They can also be a great way to learn about a topic that you wish to know more about.
Heath Armstrong, he of the sweet ass freedom journal, began his podcast by interviewing the brightest minds in the online business world. Not only did this function as a location independent, lifestyle business of his own, it also allowed him to freely pick the brains of the best and brightest lifestyle entrepreneurs in the industry!
Podcasts are generally monetized by selling ads. The podcaster will usually plug a product or service at some point during the podcast, in return for payment, which is usually based on the number of downloads the podcast gets.
As with creating youtube content and blogging, you should not quit your day job tomorrow, expecting a podcast to pay off next week. However, a podcast is much easier than you might imagine to start and has the potential to earn a great income over time.

5. Freelancing

Unlike starting a blog or a niche site, freelancing has the potential to earn income immediately. A great deal of what is out there about lifestyle entrepreneurship and online business is based on the idea of “passive income,” such as the methods described above.
This is one reason why freelancing tends to get a bad wrap in those communities. Unlike a blog post or a niche site page, which has the potential to generate income long after you post it, freelancing still requires you to “trade your time for dollars,” as they say.
Still, it is often the fastest way to achieve location independence. Michole and I do a good bit of freelancing work ourselves, and without that income stream, we could never have left our jobs to hit the road full time. Personally, I do not want to be doing freelance work forever, but I really do not think that there is a quicker way to achieve location independence and get your lifestyle business than through freelancing.

How does freelancing work?

Many digital nomads do their freelancing through freelancing websites. Upwork.com is the largest and most well known of these. It has essentially cannibalized most of the other major freelancing sites to become the only game in town. There are other, smaller sites such as fiver or freelancer.com, and there are some great niche specific sites, such as the job boards on Darren Rowse’s Problogger.com.
By and large, most of these sites are pretty similar. You generally sign up as a freelancer to provide a service, while those needing a service done will sign up as clients. Typically, clients will post a job, along with a job description and estimated budget. You will then write a proposal and submit it along with a “bid,” the price for which you would do the job. Generally, there is some type of interview process, which allows the client to decide between her top choices of freelancers.
These sites, such as Upwork, handle all of the payments. This offers security and peace of mind to both the client and the freelancer. In exchange for this, however, Upwork charges around 20% of your earnings for their part in the transaction.
This probably sounds pretty good right? Well, I’m not here to sell you sugar-coated half-truths, so here is the rest of it. Most of these freelancing sites suffer from the same problem: too many freelancers and not enough clients.
Naturally, this drives down the prices of jobs and makes it very difficult to get started. Furthermore, it can be very difficult to get any jobs on a site like Upwork if you don’t already have a proven track record on the site. See the problem?
Furthermore, many freelancing sites, Upwork in particular, offer clients the ability to advertise jobs solely to “native or bilingual English speakers,” or Freelancers only in the U.S. However, this is very poorly enforced, and as a native English speaker with a Master’s in technical writing, you might find yourself competing for jobs against someone in India using google translate.
With all of that said, the best way to freelance online is the same as the best way to freelance offline: via personal and professional connections. If you are an expert in a field, it is likely that you already have relationships with others in that field. Draw upon these connections to build a freelance business, and you will likely have a much easier go of it.
I only recommend resorting to the likes of Upwork and similar sites as a very last resort. With that said, there are those who do very well on Upwork style sites, but they appear to be the exception, not the rule.

What kinds of freelance jobs are there?

Just about anything that you can think of. I once saw a client on Upwork who wanted two Halloween costumes made for her children! More generally though, skills related to writing, and web design are in high demand.

Writing

Seo Writing
SEO writing is the bottom of the barrel, as far as freelance writing is concerned. One of the biggest drawbacks is that grammar is not really a necessity, so you will likely be competing with people in countries where they can afford to work for far less than you. However, it may serve as the foot in the door that you need in order to more lucrative work from clients.
Content Writing
Better paying and more demanding than SEO writing, content writing is that step up you are looking for if you got your foot in the door with a client as an SEO writer. Unlike SEO writing, which is written for search engines and tends to be much shorter, content writing is for the reader. Therefore, you will need significantly better writing skills than you would for SEO writing, and you will be competing against a smaller pool of applicants.
Content writing comes in several different forms. You might be writing blog posts for standard blogging sites, content marketing style blog posts for businesses, or writing ebooks. Which of these you do will obviously depend on which is the best fit for your skillset, or just where you can get your foot in the door.
Combining writing with other skills
This can be the best way to set yourself apart from the competition as a freelance writer. For instance, let’s say that you are an expert at Ebook formatting and publishing. You would obviously stand out as a candidate to write an Ebook because you could handle the technical side of the process as well as the writing.
One of my first and most lucrative jobs as a freelance writer was writing GMAT test prep material for ESL students. I had a fairly extensive background teaching English to ESL students, and I am sure that is what landed me the gig.
   So think outside the box. Ask what your particular niche could be, what you bring to the table that other writers don’t. Then, look for ways to leverage that to clients.
Copywriting
Without a doubt, copywriting is the top dog of freelance writing. Why is that? Because copywriting writing is where the money is, for both the client and the freelancer.
“Copy” is the text that is intended to sell something. This could be an entire web page about a product, or it could just be a few words on a landing page. It could even be the text on an email opt-in popup. Converting these things leads directly to money in a client’s pocket. It should be no surprise then, that clients are willing to shell out the big bucks for this service.
Imagine that a client is selling a one month diet and workout program, with personalized coaching, and the cost for this is 750 USD. The difference in making a sell to one reader out of 100 and five readers out of 100 is 3,000 USD! Now imagine that the client’s web page gets 1,000 views per month. That is the difference in 7500 USD and 37,500 USD.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that clients are willing to pay the big bucks for copywriters. Not to mention, it is a great skill to have, because it will allow you to write your own copy, should you ever decide to sell a product yourself.

Web Design

Naturally, building websites is a perfect fit for a location independent lifestyle business, if you have the skills. How much you can make doing this will depend almost entirely on your own abilities. If you are capable of building complex websites with obscure features and troubleshooting problems for clients, then the sky is the limit.
However, you do not need to be a web design guru to earn a decent income. Many people just want a simple blog built, and sometimes maintained. The information to learn these skills is readily available on Youtube, for anyone with the will to learn.
In fact, that is exactly how Michole learned to build and maintain websites. Now, she not only builds our own sites but also uses her skills to earn money by freelancing as a web designer.

Graphic design

Love using Photoshop or Lightroom to create amazing images? If so, then graphic design might be the perfect freelancing job for you. Unlike some other freelancing jobs, like writing, you will not be competing against the entire English speaking world for jobs. The smaller pool of freelancers will make it much easier to get work
This also piggybacks very well off of web design. Many people will need a fair bit of graphic design for images, logos, etc. when creating a website. As always, if you can take care of both in a single package, that saves the client valuable time and money and further distinguishes you from the crowd.

Social media management

There are very few businesses out there who would not like to have a stronger social media presence. Some simply do not know how to build a solid social media community, while others simply do not have the time.
In these cases, many businesses turn to freelancers to manage their social media presence for them. And if you are a social media guru, then you can cash in with these companies.
Never before has it been as easy or cheap for businesses to take their message straight to the consumer. Social media cuts out the middleman of cable companies and ad campaign agencies.
The amount of time that people spend on social media has skyrocketed since Tom said hello to us all on Myspace, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. This is a free, and essentially captive audience, that companies would love nothing more than to tap into and deliver a compelling message to.
As a social media manager, you will be the one who helps them do exactly that. And compared to the cost of traditional advertising, what you might consider an amazing salary, would just be a paltry sum for companies to pay

Seo Guru

Like most things on this list, learning to optimize websites for search engines is only a Google/Youtube search, and some time and effort, away. And fortunately, it is one of the least understood aspects of online business.
Most people create a blog because they want to write about something. They create a business website because they are an expert regarding a product or service. But very rarely do these people have any idea how to make their websites rank in google or other search engines.
As an SEO, you can be the missing link. If they have a  product or blog, then there is already a huge market out there. All that is left is for you to get that website to the first page of Google so that the world can find it.
I do not think that I need to explain why this is so valuable. If a website can not be found via search engines, then it will be almost impossible for it to connect with its audience, no matter how great the content or product.
Be warned though: it can be more difficult to find decent paying jobs as an SEO than you might at first think. There are several reasons for this.
First, even more so than with SEO writing, there are many capable SEOs living and working in countries where they can live on peanuts compared to what it will cost you to live in the U.S. or Western Europe. You will have to compete against them for clients, and you will, likely, not be able to compete on price.
Of course, one of the benefits of having a location independent lifestyle business is that you could be working on a beach in Thailand. In that case, you are the one who can afford to work for less!
Second, many “SEO gurus” will actually use black hat techniques, attempting to sort of cheat the search engines. If a website is found doing this, Google can essentially blackball it, from which many sites never recover.
Therefore, it is essential to have a good reputation for using reputable techniques to achieve good results. This will help you gain the trust of new clients. However, this can make it very difficult to get your foot in the door as an SEO.

6. Location-based travel jobs

So far, we have focused exclusively on online business opportunities to make money while traveling. These are what most people think of when they think of location independence, and lifestyle businesses.
However, if you are into “slow travel,” which we are huge fans of, then working at select destinations throughout your travels can be very rewarding, financially and otherwise. Below, we will take a look at some of the most popular ways to make money while traveling, by working in the locations to which you travel.

Teaching English

Teaching ESL (English as a second language) is one of the old staples that people used to fund their travels long before online business even existed.
Generally, nothing is required but a high school or college degree, and an ESL teaching certificate: TEFL being the most popular of these. There are opportunities around the world to teach English, particularly in Southeast Asia, which has long been a hotspot for location independent travelers, anyway.
Some of the larger programs are very structured and include plane tickets to and from the country and prearranged lodging. Meanwhile, some teachers prefer just to show up in Southeast Asia and nail down a job once they are there.
This is something that we have considered in the past and may well do in the future. Meanwhile, a great deal has been written about how to do this, by those who are far more knowledgeable about it than us. So I will leave you with a  link to Dave’s ESL Cafe, which is the foremost authority on teaching English abroad.

Seasonal work in seasonal vacation towns

Perhaps the most famous example of this is the “ski bums” who congregate in ski towns during the winter. They usually work on ski resorts for low wages, often living in vans or sharing an apartment with several others. The main perk? They get to ski for free! While this will not be some travelers’ style, to others, it is living the dream.
The same can be done in beach towns. I once took a semester off from school to go and work on the beach in Panama City Beach Florida. Panama City booms in the spring and summer and completely dies over winter. Most people who work there only work during the summer months, living off of what they made through the winter.
Many others travel there to work on the beach, or in bars and restaurants during the summer. It is not a bad way to fund a stay at the beach!

As a Divemaster

Okay, hear me out. Yes, this one is mostly on the list because it is a dream of mine, but that doesn’t make it any less credible.
When you think of scuba diving, you probably imagine crystal clear water and beautiful beaches. Would you like to have a skillset that would get you a job in those places? Me too! And the great thing about working as a divemaster is that that it is relatively easy, compared to becoming a high-level surfer or snowboarder, which you could do for many years and never really be great at.
I will leave you with a link to Sarah at coffee with a slice of life. If you read her experiences and still do not share my desire to become a divemaster, then I still accept you as a human being, but I do not understand you!

Working on a cruise ship

Again, this is something that Michole and I have both considered, and hope to have the chance to do in the future. We have friends who have worked on cruise ships as everything from performers to bartenders, and they almost universally enjoyed the experience.
Furthermore, most of them have saved a TON of money while doing it. This is because you sign a contract to work on a ship for a given period of time, and while you are on the ship you have free meals and no rent!
I know that working on a cruise ship might not be quite as fun as being a passenger on one, but I think it would beat the hell out of a desk job, and I really can’t think of a more enjoyable “real job” that could allow you to make money while traveling.

7. House sits, workaways, and Hostels

Okay, we are at the end of the list, and this is something of a catch-all for “what’s left.”

Housesitting and petsitting

Michole and I have used housesitting and petsitting, and are currently doing it as I write this, to fund our travels. Sometimes, you are paid for housesitting and petsitting, while other times you do it in exchange for a free stay. Either way, we feel that it should count as a way to make money while traveling.
For instance, we are currently in Krattigen Switzerland where hotels cost about 180 USD per night. The way I see it, that means that we are making 180 USD per day to hang out with six precious kitty cats!
To learn more about how we use trusted housesitters and rover to arrange house sitting and petsitting jobs to fund our travels, check out Make Money Pet Sitting with Rover.com.

Workaways

Workaway is a website where you can find opportunities all over the world to do any number of jobs in exchange for room and board. Like house sitting, this could be a staple of your location independent lifestyle, so we still think it counts as a way to make money for travel.

Hostels

Finally, the day to day operations of many independent hostels are taken care of by travelers who are working for room and board, similar to workaway gigs. In fact, you will find many of these at workaway.com. But others you might find by calling the hostel, or just by hitting them at the right time on your travels!

What now?

Now, all that is left is for you to get started! Take action, and create your own lifestyle business today. Maybe you still have questions. If so, then please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments below, or to contact us via the contact page or social media.
We run this blog, and I wrote this post so that we can document our own process of becoming location independent, and help others achieve location independence as well.
It is absolutely possible for you to have your own lifestyle business and make money while traveling. This is a key part of “living life and traveling the world on your own terms,” which is exactly what we want for you.

Now go get started!

Disclosures

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund this blog. Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase one of the packs below, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

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