Apr 152015

Or more like, income trickles.  Since it is income tax day, why not talk about income?

One of the things any proper digital nomad, or any traveler needs, is an income.  Preferably, an income which doesn’t require massive amounts of time every day to produce.  If one is to go out and travel, visit new places, and have new experiences, one does not have the time to waste doing some useless worker bee 9 to 5 menial labor.  An income that comes in, without doing much more than rudimentary maintenance from time to time is the ultimate goal here and there is in fact a name for it:  passive income.  The name is exactly what it implies.  Money that comes in because one has done something simple, and does not have to do anything much more to continue to bring said money in.

You have probably heard of some common examples of passive income.  The most popular is of course, affiliate advertising.  Affiliate advertising is simple in it’s set up and use.  Sign on with an affiliate program, place ads in strategic places on your website/blog/social media pages.  Users click the ads, maybe buy stuff, you get a commission.

Amazon is the big leader in affiliate advertising.  And yes, I am signed up with them.  Other popular venues are Commission Junction, Click Bank, and of course Google themselves.  In fact, go to just about any major retailer, search their website and you will find a link to their affiliate program.

The process is simple.  Sign on with the program of your choice, pick the types of ads you want, they provide the codes, and plug them into your sites.  When someone clicks an ad, the link goes to the page you have specified.  In most cases, you don’t make any money unless a purchase is made using your link which has your super secret code in it.  Other ads, like most of Google, pay on the actual click.  So the more clicks you get, the more money.  Easy money right?  Well, let’s look a wee bit closer.

How often do you see ads permeating the sites you visit?  Ads that look like part of the content you are trying to access?  Even worse are ads that require you to cancel to get to where you want to go.  Affiliate ads are all over the place.  In virtually every site out there.  It is the most popular way to monetize a site, but with millions of ads out there a saturation point is reached.  Sooner or later most people will just gloss over the ads without so much as even looking at the subject.  Throw in enough ads and you will start to lose viewers.  They came to view your wonderful content, not more ads for more crap.  With so many ads out there, is it worth it to even bother?  Depends.  (See how easy and sneaky that is?)

If you can find affiliate ads that are specific to the subject matter of your site, for example, if you go to Fritter Apps, you’ll see ads for iPhone accessories, computers, tablets, cases, things of such a nature which are in tune with the website.  Rarely, if ever will you see any affiliate ads here on the Fritter.  Oh, I might sneak a text ad in here or there, like I just did, but given the subject matter of minimalism, it kind of goes against the grain to muck up this grand old site with a lot of advertising.  And as for the app and ebook ads over there on the left, those are all my creations.  Not affiliate ads, but direct to links to the things I have personally produced and have for sale on line.  Well, almost, the Cafepress store could be considered a form of affiliate advertising I guess.  But for now, it is as far as I care to get with ads for this site.  You may have differing opinions about loading up your site with ads which is fine.  If it produces some income, go for it.  It’s passive income.  Very little work once you have it all set up.  The trick is to not be too intrusive and only show ads that are pertinent to the subject matter.  If for example, you are writing a travel blog, nobody is going to click on an ad for home improvements.

As for other income streams, there is the aforementioned CafePress.  This is an easy and free set up for one to sell branded merchandise without all the bother of acquiring inventory, printing, keeping a physical store, and dealing with customers face to face.  CP handles all the dirty work.  All you do is upload your logos, pick the products you want, set up the store, and riches will be yours in short order.  Or maybe a few bucks here and there.  Still, it costs nothing to set up, just go in now and then, shuffle some products around, promo it on your sites, and that’s it.

Royalties are another possible source of income.  If you have produced something that can be purchased repeatedly over time without having to replenish it, you can continue to make money off of it.  In my case, I have my eBook, also available in PDF version, which has sold maybe 150 copies over the course of 2 years.  Nothing special but it still manages to put a few bucks in my pocket every so often.  If I could ever get ahead financially, I have several ideas for more ebooks, it just a matter of taking the time to do all that writin’ and stuff.  If you are thinking of writing a book, go digital and self publish.  iBooks Author on the Mac or even the iPad makes it so easy to put your manuscript together for virtually nothing but the time it takes to write said manuscript.  You can get fancy with interactive content like video and links, and then publish to the iBookstore without having to deal with publishers nor printing.  I, who failed most of those boring high school english classes, and still could not tell you the difference between a noun or an adverb, was very surprised to sell as many books as I did.  Write enough good material about interesting subjects, get it out there, and promote it on your sites, and there is another bit of money coming in.  Go to most blogs and you will find a book the author has written, available for sale somewhere on the site.

But royalties go beyond authoring a book.  Anything you can produce that can be bought repeatedly with minimal changes, can bring in some cold hard cash.  All my apps are good example.  Four of said apps are of the paid kind and while I’m not in the top ten (or tens of thousands) of big sellers, I do manage a sale now and again.  As with all app developers, I keep hoping for that one big killer app that will go viral and make the millions of which I could really, really use right now.

I also get a monthly royalty from all that video work I did last year.  Two months of cutting up hours of video into bite sized chunks and then selling said videos on Vimeo has produced a rather surprisingly sizable income every month.  It’s never the same and there are some real slow months, but a year and a half on it’s still paying out.

So what if passive income is just a bit too passive for your budget?  Well, then time to do some actual work.  In other words, trade out your skills for money.  Some of you immediately think, “Get A Job.”  No.  Always work for yourself.  Getting a job means working for others who will quickly take advantage of and try to control you.  Never allow such a horrible thing to happen, no matter how bad things are.  Put your skills, and you do have skills, to work for you.  In my case, I build websites and apps.  Either one, depending on the complexity, takes about a week of my time to produce.  And either one can easily provide me with anywhere from 1/2 to a full months worth of income.  It’s just a matter of marketing and finding clients.

You can do the same.  It could be anything.  Cut hair, teach English if you are in a foreign land like New York, and can speak whatever the hell lingo they speak up there.  Virtually any kind of skill can be monetized if you have the gumption to do so.  You can barter said skills out for things like lodgings, travel expenses, virtually anything you might need whilst out and about.  Determine what sort of skills you are good at, and always look to develop new ones.  The more you know, the more you will have to bargain with.  For example, in addition to my coding, computer, and writin’ skills, I can also:  be a kayak guide, stand up paddle board instructor, charter captain, do minor repairs on your average motorcycle, loot and pillage a small town, and I’m extremely good at annoying wimmen, although I’ve yet to figger out how to monetize that one.  Maybe I can get them to pay me to leave.

One other thing I have been doing is Amazon Turk.  I spoke about this program before.  It’s an Amazon program where you, as a worker, do computer tasks for money.  Things like filling out surveys, transcriptions, and other such nonsense.  I’ve been doing it since last fall and it does put some money in my grubby little hands.  But beware.  Turking is boring as hell, tedious, and takes a lot of hours to bring in some decent cash.  You should easily be able to bring in $10 to $20 in a day but don’t expect to make much more than minimum wage.  Right now turking is putting food on the table for me but little else.  When I start doing some serious travel, I doubt I will have much time to do it.  But if you find yourself sitting around at night putzing around the inter webs, playing games, or Darwin forbid, watching television, go sign up and do some turking.  Might as well get paid for being online.

Anyways, the point is, you can make money, without doing the actual job bullshit that we are all so brainwashed to do.  There are many ways to bring in some income, none of which are going to make you wealthy, but if you are frugal and minimal in your lifestyle, can easily cover your monthly budget.  But don’t just listen to my ramblings.  If you want to see how someone has taken the digital nomadic lifestyle to the next level go take a look at The Professional Hobo.  I came across her blog recently and there is a lot of good stuff in there.

The Hobo is a textbook case of how to bring in some decent income and still be able to travel, explore, and see the world as we all should be able to do.  She has given me some good ideas on future income streams including the possibility of getting paid to travel and write about said travels.  In fact, because of her blog, I found an interesting site called Tbex.  Tbex runs several international conventions which bring travel bloggers and travel sponsors together in one place to meet up and make with the deals.  Turns out, getting paid to travel and write about it is a thing, and this convention helps get said thing going.  As it happens, there is a convention coming up in October in Ft. Lauderdale which would be an ideal time and place for me to go and see what I can find.

Right now, in terms of income, I’m still not making enough.  But I’m slowing gaining some steam.  A few ads here, an app or website project there, maybe this travel blog convention could produce something.  Sooner or later, all these little income trickles will form up to become a genuine income stream.  Allowing me the time to go and do some proper travel and exploring.  Got any good ideas about adding some income?  Short of actual, you know, work?  Share them in the comments.  No secrets here.  This information is here to help everyone who seeks it.

The means to support yourself whilst traveling are out there.  Seek them out and make good use of them.  Don’t rely on any single source for income.  Keep yourself mobile, minimal, and free.  Life will be way more better when you do.

Capt. Fritter

  3 Responses to “Digital Nomad: Income Streams…”

  1. We have a friend who has been writing a travel newsletter for years. He was a newspaper publisher before hitting the road full time so he knows how to get press passes to sites they want to see. Then he writes about those sites in his newsletter, in effect, giving those sites free advertising to thousands of other travelers.

    We have another friend who is good at playing the stock market; he advises others from his RV as they travel the country.

    Then there’s the one who carries an 1800s camp kitchen in, and on, her van plus trailer and travels from one historical reenactment site to another selling food to other reenactors.

    Then there’s the one who writes a fabulous blog about camping out in the boonies who makes good money from her Amazon affiliation because she has so many readers wanting her to keep on doing what she does that they use her link to buy pretty much anything.

    Then there’s the one who lives on a boat who gives great advice on how to stock a boat galley with links to the products she recommends.

    The trick in all of these appears to be finding an audience that wants what you have. It doesn’t matter what you are selling if no one is buying.

  2. Would it be feasible for you to sell an instructional eBook detailing your experience making money on Amazon Turk?

    • Not really. What I learned I picked up at the forum here: http://www.mturkgrind.com Pretty much everything you need to know can be found here. And there are people on there who are bringing in $200 to $500 a week doing this. But they use scripts, multiple computer screens, and other more advanced techniques than I will ever use. Join the forum and look around. Ask questions. It’s a good group and everyone is willing to help.
      C. F.