If you’re reading this, chances are you’d like to travel more, but there’s one pesky little thing that’s holding you back.
Because while travel doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s not exactly free.
You need a way to finance your nomadic adventures without having to work some menial office job for months on end, scrimping and saving so you can get away for a couple of weeks at a time.
Having constantly travelled and worked since 2011, our best ways to earn money while traveling are:
- working online
- working abroad
- working for a travel-friendly company
How To Get Started Working Online
How can I work online so I have the freedom to travel like you do?
Given our life of constant travel and adventure, this is something we get asked all the time!
So we’ve put together this page detailing the best way to get started working online.
The first thing you should know is that there are many different ways to make money online, but how we’ve mostly done it over the years, and what we recommend for others getting started, is freelancing.
What Is Freelancing?
In case you’re not familiar, freelancing involves providing a service direct to a client and getting paid accordingly.
In pre-internet days you usually had to meet with clients face-to-face to discuss project details, agree on terms, and then make sure everything was done to their satisfaction. But nowadays more and more freelancers work via the internet, often serving clients they’ve never met in person.
Below are a few examples of online freelancing jobs, with rough estimates of how much you can earn for each.
- Article writing (1000 words): $10 – $100
- Copywriting (per hour): $30 – $150
- Editing / Proofreading (per hour): $15 – $50
- Facebook/Google ads management (per project): $100 – $500 flat fee + 10-15% of client spend.
- Graphic design (per hour): $20 – $75
- Online tutor (per hour): $10 – $50
- Product descriptions (200 words): $7 – $15
- Project management (per hour): $20 – $60
- SEO consulting (per hour): $30 – $150
- Social media management (per month): $250 – $800
- Translation (per hour): $10 – $50
- Video editing (per hour): $20 – $70
- Virtual assistant (per hour): $10 – $50
- Web development (per hour): $20 – $100
Do any of those skills resonate with you?
Don’t worry if you don’t already have any of those skills because many of them you can learn “good enough” in 90 days or less to start earning a good living online, allowing you the freedom to travel and work from anywhere.
Why Do We Recommend Freelancing?
Here at eTramping, for several years now we’ve generated most of our income and funded our travel lifestyle via freelance writing.
We write articles in English and get well paid for them, even though we’re not native English speakers!
So we know from experience that freelancing is a great way to get started working online. It’s worked for us, and for many other people we’ve met all around the world.
But is freelancing really “the best way” to get started working online?
For most people we would say yes, and to explain why we need to talk about…
Passive income is the dream of everyone who works online.
The idea is that you do a bunch of work up front, usually creating some kind of digital product, like a piece of software, an ebook or an online course. You then launch your product, people flock to your sales page, and money flows into your bank account while you’re sleeping, or off scuba diving in South East Asia.
Books like The 4-Hour Workweek popularized this approach to online business and made it sound very simple and straightforward.
Unfortunately, as many an aspiring online entrepreneur found out the hard way, passive income doesn’t come easy.
In fact, out of the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of web workers we’ve met and corresponded with over the years, we’d estimate that less than 1% of them are truly making a good living via passive income sources.
And that’s a generous estimate!
The reality is that passive income is a difficult nut to crack, and most people who do achieve success with it have put in years of work in advance.
Which is why we advise that anyone new to working online resist the temptation to try generate passive income right away. Most likely, chasing passive income will end up costing you a lot of time and money, and leaving you feeling frustrated and dejected.
Yes, passive income is a great long-term goal and something you should ultimately aim for, but you’re much better off focusing on freelancing for at least your first year or two working online.
And yes, freelancing does mean trading your time for money, which is essentially the opposite of passive income, but even as a brand new freelancer just beginning to learn one of the skills listed above, you can realistically be earning $1000/month 90 days from now.
That’s something that’s all but impossible to do via passive income.
Justin’s Freelance Journey
Here’s an example to show you the power of freelancing.
An American college-dropout named Justin decided to start freelancing about a year ago.
He didn’t have any existing skills to speak of, so he spent a month teaching himself digital marketing and web design via free and low-cost online courses.
Then he spent another month practising what he’d learned.
In his third month, he started applying for jobs online and was able to find consistent work at $9/hour.
Not a lot of money by any means, but it was all Justin needed to get started.
The more jobs he completed, the more referrals and testimonials he received, and gradually he was able to raise his rate.
A year after he began, he is charging $40-50/hour for his services, with no shortage of work.
And here’s the really cool part.
Even at the lower end of that range ($40/hour), Justin is now able to earn $2400/month working only 3 hours per day, five days per week, on a flexible schedule and from anywhere in the world.
That’s more than enough money to pay his bills, and leaves him plenty of time to pursue other interests.
He can visit a different country every month if he wants to, or spend 20-30 hours per week working on a passion project or building a passive income business.
This is by far the most realistic and reliable path we’ve found to online business success, and we’ve seen many people achieve it over the years. Well, including ourselves, as that’s how we managed to travel and buy food at the beginning of our journey.
To summarise, here are the steps involved:
- Pick a skill that you can freelance online
- Spend 1-3 months developing that skill (don’t worry: you don’t have to become a complete expert)
- Start pitching prospective clients and finding jobs
- Do good work, collect testimonials and ask for referrals
- Steadily raise your rate and reduce your hours as you gain more experience and build your reputation
Once you’ve done all that, you’ll only need to work 15-20 hours each week to cover your expenses, and you’ll be free to spend the rest of your time however you wish, and wherever you wish :-)
If You’d Like To Get Started Working Online...
We mentioned Justin above, the college-dropout from the United States who now earns $40-50/hour freelancing online, only a year after he began.
He’s one of many successful students we’ve seen from an online course created by our friend Niall Doherty.
Niall is an Irishman who has worked online since 2011. He spent almost four years traveling the world without flying, visiting 37 countries while earning a living mostly as a freelance web designer.
You can check out his Start Earning Online video series and get a bunch of free lessons on how to build an online freelance business.
Here’s what you will learn from Niall:
- How to pick a profitable skill that you can use to make money online.
- The easiest way to find your first paying clients.
- How an Irish couple earns $10,000/month online while traveling the world.
- How Susan earned $1,226 in her first “full” month working online, despite spending just 11 hours per week on her business.
- Why “follow your passion” is bad advice for building an online business.
- How many hours per week you’ll need to build your own online business.
- The secret weapon for overcoming procrastination and getting things done.
- And a whole lot more.
How to Work Odd Jobs Around the World
There’s a great hostel in Auckland, New Zealand, called the Attic Backpackers.
When we stayed there most of the people working in there were fellow travellers. They had decided to stop in Auckland for several weeks and earn a bit of money manning the reception, cleaning the rooms, and socializing with the guests (that seemed to happen every night there).
On evenings, weekends and days off work they would explore nearby attractions, and there were in big supply (check out our bungee jump off the Auckland Bridge).
Such odd jobs aren’t all that difficult to pick up while traveling.
There are also plenty of places you can work in exchange for room and board. WWOOFing is one popular option.
Another is teaching English in Asia. Agness taught in Cambodia and China, Cez did it just in China. From our experience, and
From our experience, and what we heard from fellow travellers and teachers all around Asia, China is the most lucrative place to teach. It doesn’t require as much time commitment as other countries (allowing you to travel or develop a blog in your spare time) while paying a significant salary.
You can save upwards of US$18,000 a year!
There are plenty other jobs like these. Message us if you have a suggestion.
Working for a Travel-Friendly Company
Having a stable job and traveling around the world is possible. Some would even call it a dream job. But that’s a real option that you can exercise.
Agness is a great example who managed to land such a job.
While it seems difficult to come by, with today’s technology, anything is possible.
You can ever look for a job that specifically allows employees to work remotely, or create an opportunity for such in the workplace where you are now.
All you need to do, is to excel at your job, tell your superiors that you really need to take a breath and travel, and have a serious and open conversation about your options.
Bosses are also human!
It’s a lot of a hassle to find a good replacement, and managers are well aware of that. More often than not, given a choice between losing an employee or allowing them to work remotely, they would choose the latter.
So, if you want to travel, first talk to your bosses and be frank with them about your intentions. If your job is possible to be done remotely, they may prefer to accommodate that rather than lose you.