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Traveling the world while earning a living online – sounds like the dream, right? Well, that dream is more accessible than ever in today’s world. With so many companies moving toward remote work, it’s now possible to earn a living online all while traveling and living in exotic locations around the world. Not to mention the possibility of starting your own business, which can give you the ultimate freedom to create your dream life. But how do digital nomads make money online?
Do you need certain skills? How much can you actually make? These are all questions I wondered for years! In my journey to becoming a digital nomad, I’ve found a whirlwind of ways in which people are making a living online that I’m going to share here. I don’t do all of these jobs, so I’ve asked some fellow digital nomads to share their insights.
10 Ways to Make Money Online
#1 – Blogging
Gone are the days when blogging was just a hobby. There are many bloggers out there not just making a living, but earning over five figures a month. That said, blogging is definitely not a get quick rich scheme. It’s something that requires A LOT of work, time, and patience. But if it’s a topic you’re passionate about, you won’t mind the journey.
Whenever I tell people I make money blogging they immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s through ads. Yes, display ads are a way to make money blogging, but they are just one of many. There are so many more possibilities out there, from affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, digital products, and more. Not to mention the possibility of extending your business into consulting or tours. Some bloggers have over a dozen revenue streams!
If you’re interested in actually making money blogging, I strongly recommend investing in a travel blogging course from the start. This is something I really regret not doing. I’d be so much further ahead if I had taken the time to learn the business of blogging before starting, but you live and you learn.
It’s going to take a while to get your blog to the point where it’s generating a full-time income, so what do you do in the meantime? Well, you can either save up a bunch of money beforehand or subsidize it with other income streams. I did both.
#2 – Freelance Writing
Freelance writing is an excellent way to subsidize blogging income because it allows you to get your name out there while earning extra income (assuming the publication gives you credit). You may even get link backs to your blog which will help your SEO game. Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of starting your own blog, freelance writing can be an excellent source of revenue. With more and more publications moving online, there are plenty of opportunities.
Copywriting is writing text for the purpose of advertising and marketing. It may not be the sexiest writing job, but if you are skilled at writing persuasively, it can be a great way to make money,
Resources for finding freelance writing work: There are numerous online publications that are looking for freelancers. If you are interested in a particular publication, visit their website to see if they have opportunities posted or guidelines for pitching. You can also check out websites that list writing gigs. Upwork has a huge variety of freelance writing jobs from blogging to web content, ghostwriting, and copywriting. Flexjobs is another great resource for finding freelance writing work. It does have a small membership fee, but if you get one job it will have more then paid for itself.
Freelance writing isn’t the only way to subsidize your blogging revenue. In the case of Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan, she supplements her blogging income with two other revenue streams which she explains below.
#3 – Freelance Editing & Translation
I currently have three main income streams, all of which allow me to earn money from anywhere in the world as long as I have a good Internet connection. The first is my own vegan travel blog, which is what I spend most of my time on. Blogging is definitely not a way to get rich quick, but vegan travel is something I’m very passionate about, and after much hard work I’m finally starting to see results. I make about $600 per month in display ad revenue, plus some affiliate revenue, which is more variable. There are no qualifications required, anyone can start a blog! It’s a lot more work than it looks like from the outside, though. I often spend 50 hours a week or more on my blog, though when I’m on the road it’s much less.
My second income stream is from freelance editing and translation work. Before quitting my day job to become a travel blogger, I was a staff translator for the United Nations. Now I take freelance jobs from the UN when I can fit it into my schedule. I try to only accept jobs with long deadlines so that I can edit or translate for just one or two hours in the morning and spend the rest of the day on the work that I’m passionate about (my blog). Fortunately, it pays well enough that I can work short hours on it and still make a good living from it. It took years of work as an in-house translator to get to the point where I could get these high-paying gigs, though.
And finally, my husband and I own two apartments, one that we live in when we’re not traveling, and a smaller one that we rent out on AirBnB year-round. When we’re on a long trip, we also rent out our main home on AirBnB. We pay someone to manage the check-in, cleaning, etc., so it has been a great source of passive income for us that doesn’t take up much of our time.
#4 – Sell Physical or Digital Products
Another great way to supplement your blogging income is to create physical or digital products. Tea from The Culture Tourist sells postcards inspired by the destinations she visits as she explains below.
Besides running a travel blog, and having all the regular income streams there, like affiliate marketing or sponsored posts, I’m also creating and selling physical products on my blog. I’m writing about cultural tourism, and am focusing on art and travel on my blog. So, the product I’m creating and selling there are coloring postcards inspired by destinations I’m visiting. My ultimate goal is to help people learn about the history of the places they are visiting, local art and culture by offering them a nice educational souvenir.
I’m selling my coloring postcards through Etsy, which is linked to the webshop on my blog. It’s quite straightforward to set up your shop there, and I especially like it because Etsy is taking care of the payments. However, you can also use different platforms like Shopify or Amazon, depending on what kind of physical product you would like to sell.
If you would like to sell physical products and earn that way while traveling, think about what kind of product would be on brand and interesting to your blog audience. If you don’t have a blog, think about your talents and skills, and what kind of product you have the knowledge to create. Don’t forget to take into account people’s needs and what would they like to buy.
Make a good business plan with all the steps of the production process, marketing, and sales streams. Since you’ll be selling them while traveling, it’s good to think about the way you’ll be shipping your products while on the go.
Although creating physical products could be a bit more time-consuming at the beginning. Once your webshop is set up, it could be a great way to earn money online while traveling.
Resource for selling your digital or physical products: Etsy.
#5 – SEO Services
SEO is key to running a successful blog, and if you’re really good at it, then you might be able to turn that skill into its own business! This is what Melissa Giroux of Nomad Life 101 has done.
I’ve been blogging since 2014 and I had to learn SEO to get ongoing organic traffic. I learned it on my own – by researching, experimenting and seeing what works on my websites. Eventually, I got a few gigs for SEO – especially in my native language – Canadian French. Since it’s harder to find someone who can do SEO in another language, it was easy for me to get the job. Finding SEO gigs can be hard, especially if you’re starting out. Having my own websites – I was able to showcase my results and share my stats which was a bonus.
I now own 6 websites – including an SEO agency that does translation too. I also take care of SEO for a company as well as freelance clients. I make a living out of it – I make between CAD 3000 to 6000 with SEO every month – if I add my revenues from my blog it can go up to CAD 10000.
This is more than enough to be living abroad and traveling while saving money and investing in my businesses. I started teaching SEO 1:1 too, and this service is available for those who want to get better with SEO so they can travel and increase their own traffic or work as an SEO consultant.
Most businesses prefer to outsource their SEO – which makes SEO a profitable option for those who freelance or work remotely.
Similarly, if you have advanced skills in digital marketing, then you can use those to offer to consulting and support services. This is what Liz of Peanuts or Pretzels does with her marketing expertise as she explains below.
#6 – Digital Marketing Consulting & Support Services
After spending years working in corporate marketing and having degrees in that field, I’ve built a career as a digital marketing consultant from the road. Some marketing professionals ask their current employers just to take their job remote, and that would have been awesome! But my previous employer wouldn’t go for that – so I just broke out on my own.
Leveraging my travel blog, I began doing freelance marketing consulting work. Then full-time contracts came my way, and ultimately the business was incorporated as a boutique marketing agency. While we provide a wide range of services across digital marketing, the bulk of our work revolves around content strategy, content creation, and social media management.
Although you technically don’t need to have a degree or experience in this field, I highly recommend that you do. This is a pretty saturated industry, and businesses often get scammed or get caught up in legal trouble by not hiring qualified and experienced marketers. So being able to provide high quality (and legal) work will not only help you stand out among the rest but will help you acquire good clients and keep them.
As far as earning potential, this can be a lucrative career if you are skilled at what you do and are able to acquire good clients who pay well. It also depends on how much you want to work and if you want to stay freelance or build a company that hires employees.
For us, we work pretty much full-time hours, and our company brought in just under $200,000 in revenue in 2019. After expenses, both my husband and I are taking home salaries that are slightly higher than what we used to earn at our jobs before hitting the road. Even though we work basically full-time, our schedules are very flexible so we can enjoy the freedom that life on the road brings!
#7 – Teaching English Online
Teaching English has long been a popular job for travelers, but these days you don’t even need to move to the other side of the world to get a job teaching. Online language teaching has taken off in the last few years, and there is a huge demand for native English speakers. Chelsey from The Ninja Gypsy explains below how she earns a living teaching English online.
Living as a digital nomad can be tough since that standard 9-5 isn’t an option. That is why I chose to teach English as a foreign language while I traveled around the world.
I spent over a year teaching English in South Korea before I started teaching English online, but you don’t need to do that to teach. There are companies available that will take you on as a “tutor” as long as English is your native language. These jobs can be decent, but if you would like a higher wage, you will need to take a TEFL course. They are easy to complete and take hardly any time compared to that of an actual teaching degree.
I worked for two companies, one was teaching school-style English to Chinese children, and the other was conversational English to adults all over the world. I made $18.00 an hour teaching the Chinese children, and $10 an hour teaching the adults. Both jobs combined, I usually worked 20 hours a week, which was enough for me to fund my very cheap traveling lifestyle. It works for me, but for others, it acts as an excellent side hustle.
To do this job well, you will need a decent and steady internet connection, quality headphones/headset, and the ability to converse with individuals from all over. Some are shy, some are rude, and some know zero English. It can be a challenge, but you will meet incredible people from every walk of life that you would never have had a chance to otherwise.
If you would like to learn more about teaching English online, you can check out my full review.
#8 – Virtual Assistant
As one’s online business grows, so does their need for help. The nature of virtual assistant (VA) work will depend on the business, but it can be a great way to make money online.
Samantha Karen, who offers VA services at Digital Collectives, breaks down what being a virtual assistant is like.
Earning a living while traveling the world sounds like a dream come true and some have made this dream a reality. I for one have always been an avid traveler and the idea that I could make money while doing something I loved has always seemed like something I could never do. Until I did.
To make money while traveling I have become a virtual assistant also called a VA. A virtual assistant is someone who works with brands and businesses and does dedicated tasks for them. As a VA I mostly do Pinterest related tasks like threads, pin designs, pin scheduling, and anything else.
To expand on these three tasks, the first, Pinterest threads mean I do threads on Facebook for sharing and re-pinning Pins. Most clients do 1-4 threads per week. The second, pin designs are where I design a batch of Pinterest Pins that are branded with their colors and made for the brand owners’ pre-decided pins. This can be done on a monthly, weekly, or bi-monthly basis deepening on the person’s needs. Finally, Pin scheduling is where I schedule pins on Tailwind for the coming week or month to help the client automate their Pinterest strategy.
To be a VA you do need to have knowledge of Pinterest, access to the groups within your niche, and design skills. The amount you make varies depending on what the client wants and goes up with the more you do for them, you can choose to charge an hourly rate for how long you spend on tasks or a fixed rate.
#9 – Transcriber
Online video has exploded in recent years and many people need their video transcribed into captions. You can make money typing out what people are saying in these videos through companies such as Rev and Transcribe Me.
I used Rev last year to earn some extra cash. I like it because once you get accepted into the platform you can pick and choose which videos you want to transcribe. Plus, there’s zero commitment to how many videos you need to transcribe each month. I’ve learned a lot of random things through transcribing videos, like how to start a drop-shipping business (which is another way to make money online)! It would be difficult to earn a full-time income through transcribing, but it can be a decent side hustle if you’re a fast typer.
#10 – Web or Graphic Designer
If you have an eye and skill for design, you can make a great income being a designer. Individuals and businesses have design needs for logos, websites, and promotional materials, which they will pay you to make.
Being a designer is a great job for traveling because you don’t always need to be online. Once you have secured a job, you can work on the design offline as long as you have the programs downloaded. This is helpful if you’re traveling through countries with limited internet access.
While there are many companies hiring designers full-time, you can also work as a freelance designer. It may take a while to build up your portfolio, but once you start to build up a reputation you can start to charge more and be selective about who you work with.
Bonus job: Sell your Expertise!
If you are an expert in a specific area you could create your own online course teaching others through a platform such as Teachable. Although this requires a lot of labor on the front end, it will pay off once you get students enrolled in your course. Depending on what your expertise is, you could also offer services on websites such as Upwork and Fiverr.
Additional Resources for Finding Remote Jobs
This are just some of the ways in which digital nomads are making a living online. More and more “traditional” jobs are even becoming remote. Dynamite Jobs is an excellent resource for finding 100% remote jobs, and you can sign up for e-mail newsletters to have jobs sent straight to your inbox! Another website I love for finding remote work is We Work Remotely.
As you can see, being a digital nomad is more accessible than ever in 2021. If you want to ditch your desk and work online while traveling, start thinking about it seriously because you can.
If you don’t want to leave your current position, explore the possibility to see if you can do it remotely. If not, search remote job boards to see companies that are hiring in your field. Also, consider if you can take the skills you have and offer them in another capacity. Starting your own business is hard work, but it can give you the ultimate freedom. Ditching my 9-5 and starting an online business was the best decision I ever made.
Looking for more digital nomad content?
- How to pack for long-term travel
- 10 tips for succeeding as a digital nomad
- Living in Barbados as a digital nomad
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