Even though we’ve been doing it for a over a year now it’s taken a while for us to feel like we are ‘qualified’ to write about how we make money from anywhere in world. I think it’s because we never actually thought we’d be able to do it, successfully anyway. But here we are a year after spending the last of our hard saved travel fund on new laptops to further our ambitions, having been travelling around Mexico for the last 8 months.
It’s the dream right? To have the freedom to be anywhere in the world and work when you want, on your own schedule. Well it’s ours anyway and we feel so incredibly lucky to be able to wake up and do just that everyday and also immensely proud ourselves for building up a business quite literally from nothing. Neither of us ever having done anything like this before and looking back on how far we’ve come is crazy.
But, and this is a big but, it’s bloody hard work some days. Add to that the fact that I’m a workaholic by nature and J is quite the perfectionist when its something he really cares about and you have the recipe for us plugging away relentlessly for 12 hours or more. We’ve learnt to regulate that a bit better than we were doing early on and plan in downtime, but it doesn’t mean what we do is any easier. And yet we wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s definitely not for everyone, but here’s a glimpse into how we make money from anywhere in the world. I hope you find it inspiring and useful.
Our first big break that gave us the ‘YES! We might just be able to do this’ feeling came from an opportunity that arose from writing a guest post for a well known popular travel blog. They liked our writing and it just so happened that they had an opening on their writing team for a few articles per month. We were on a beach in Thailand when the email came through and obviously we jumped at the chance.
If you’re not familiar with blogging, basically a guest post is where a writer writes a post for another blog for free. There’s a number of reasons why someone would do that, sometimes it’s just for the love of writing and the acknowledgment of being published. But most times people have their own smaller blogs and are wanting to get the word out about that. It was a bit of both in our case.
From there our freelance copywriting portfolio grew and we now manage a number of contracts with clients that we write for on a weekly or monthly basis. We started pitching for work on a freelancing website called Upwork. It’s competitive and they take a large cut of your earnings, but if you stick with it and focus on applying for good jobs you know you can do rather than taking a scattergun approach you’ll have more luck.
You’ll also need a solid profile and to perfect the art of pitching. Each time it’s pretty much like applying for a job, but after you land a few and start getting some reviews it becomes easier. The platform will then also start to contact you for projects similar to those you’ve done before which it recognises you have skills in. Obviously we were targeting primarily writing work but there’s all sorts of projects on there for creatives.
Our current top earning client is one that we actually started working with through Upwork. The company contacted us after we’d finished the Upwork project to see if we would be interested in working with them on future projects, this meant we didn’t have to pay fees and could set betters rates. More on rate setting later. It’s my favourite thing. Not.
When you first start out freelancing, and ongoing, you really need to work any and all contacts that you have when it comes to finding work. Another of our writing contracts came our way through a very good of mine who invited us to a meeting at the company he worked for at the time to discuss the possibility of us contributing articles to their website on a regular basis.
It was our first proper business meeting as the ‘The Whole World or Nothing’ and we were bricking it, but it went well and we landed the contract. Despite me going bright red when discussing our writing rates, it was so embarrassing and it wasn’t even a difficult conversation. At all. We mainly write about travel, because, well, that’s what we specialise in, but our portfolio includes things as varied as interior design and construction.
Social Media Management
We also have a few clients for whom we manage their social media or aspects of it. This was never something that we intended to get into and just kind of fell into it because we’d been building our skills managing the social media for our own blog. It started with the bigger blog whose writing team we’re part of, they needed a new virtual assistant and due our reliability on the writing gigs they’d given us, asked us if we wanted to step in.
The others have come about as add ons for other writing clients. We do a lot of Pinterest management in particular and quite enjoy it. It keeps the work varied but it’s also a challenge to keep on top of the constantly evolving beast that is social media. I do most of our client and own social media work but J helps out when needed, especially with our own social media. If you follow us on Insta stories (which you totally should by the way) that’s mainly him.
The Travel Blog
And last but by far no means the least on how we make money from anywhere in the world, The Whole World or Nothing blog. We have the same story as many bloggers. It started out as a hobby, a way to just update family and friends about our travels, never imagining we could turn it into an actual business that we have actual business meetings about. We knew nothing about blogging a couple of years ago, so much so that we’d never even read one!
So the million dollar question, how do we make money from our travel blog? Well first off our freelance work all runs off the back of it. Without the blog we wouldn’t have even half the freelance clients we currently have. But we also make a small amount directly through The Whole World Or Nothing in affiliates, instagram takeovers, sponsored content and brand partnerships. If you’re not a blogger yourself your next question will undoubtedly be, but what the hell are they, so I’ll try to explain.
Most companies that sell products run affiliate programs and they basically work by giving bloggers a small cut of their profits for advertising their products. So for example if you read our blog regularly you’ll know we recommend stuff to our readers that we personally use. And if you click on a link we provide for things like our backpacks or our camera it won’t cost you anything extra as the customer, but we’ll we receive a small percentage of the price you pay.
Brand partnerships are where we work with a company who pays us a specific amount for an agreed series of promotions of their product. For example oomi noodles who we worked with last year sponsored us to walk the West Highland Way in return for promotion of their product on Instagram and Twitter throughout our adventure. And Auto Europe provided us with a car for our road trip around Ireland in return for social media promotion on the trip.
I won’t get into this here too much but it’s important to obviously only work with brands whose products you genuinely use and know your audience will be interested in, otherwise you’re going to quickly lose credibility. Something else we’ve dabbled in are Instagram takeovers for other businesses. This where we are paid to post our travel pics on a company's Instagram and bring our audience with us over to their page.
There are also lots of opportunity for bloggers with an audience to work with hotels and tour companies in return for complimentary stays. I personally hate it when people (including other bloggers) refer to them as free because they are flipping not. They’re hard work and unless you’re staying in a very expensive place, often the price of the ‘free’ stay works out at a very poor ‘pay rate’ when you break down how much of your time the promo takes. We did a few on our Irish road trip but no way could we do it all the time.
So How Much Do We Actually Earn?
Okay so how much we earn varies quite a lot, and when say a lot I mean to extent of between £7 - £50 per hour. Which seems crazy right? Let me try and explain why it differs so much. First of all we have different rates set with different clients depending on the type of work we are doing. And second of all sometimes we work super quick and some days it seems to take forever to write a few hundred words. Then there’s the internet. If we are saddled with a shitty connection our hourly rate just drops and drops. Hate those days!
In general writing is more lucrative than social media management work but that also depends on the specifics of the contract. In the beginning we would just accept pretty much any rate going but we try to really place value on our time now and generally don’t accept anything that pays less than 10p per word for writing work.
It can be easy to get ‘caught out’ because what can look like a good rate can easily turn out not to be if the client adds on sourcing photographs and requires multiple edits. So you really have to nail down the specifics before accepting or quoting for a job and this only really comes with experience.
Freelancing is completely different to earning a salary in this sense. If you are earning a salary you generally still get paid the same no matter how long a job takes you but with freelancing you have to be really good at managing your time and productivity if you want to earn a decent income from it. We also have a small profit coming in from our house which we rent out after the mortgage and other expenses are paid.
So all in all, drumroll please...we are currently earning somewhere between £2,000 - £3,000 per month. Which sounds quite a lot, or maybe it doesn’t, but either way it’s way less than what we were earning as a combined income from our old corporate jobs. And that’s before the expenses of running our website and the social media management tools we use. However our monthly living costs are generally around the £1,500 mark depending on where we are and what we are doing so we are are also able to save some money.
The Hard Stuff
So I touched on this earlier but one of the things that I have personally found hard when it comes to freelancing is setting rates. Maybe it’s just the brit in me that hates talking about money but if you are wanting to freelance there’s no two ways about it, you have to become comfortable with talking about money. You need be proficient at negotiating, get good at placing a minimum monetary value on your time and also learn to be comfortable at refusing to work for anything less once you have set that.
There’s plenty of mediocre writers and social media managers out there that will work for peanuts but if you are good at what you do it’s vital that you recognise that in yourself and place a value on it. This has definitely been the steepest learning curve for me and I still haven't perfected it. Having an accountant is also an unnecessary expense for us at present too and so we’ve also had to learn all the boring stuff about how to keep accounts and file taxes.
Then there’s the technical aspects of making money from anywhere in world. Obviously I’ve mentioned wifi and how a good or bad signal can make or break a working day. But we also carry a lot of expensive equipment with us that we have to take care of. Naturally we have insurance but the inconvenience of something breaking (like our camera just has) or something getting nicked has a direct impact on our ability to earn our income so we’re pretty protective of our things.
The Good Stuff
Now for the good stuff, which by far outweighs any and all of the hard stuff. I’ve written about this before in more detail here. But the freedom our business affords us is probably the single best thing because it is allowing us to be able to build a lifestyle that we love. Yeah a poor wifi signal is annoying but the fact that I can just shut my laptop and go for a walk along the beach in the sunshine and come back to it in an hour when it’s hopefully better more than makes up for it.
We’re completely in control of our working days and our time in general. The work still needs doing obviously but if we fancy a lie in we do it, or if we fancy switching things up and taking the afternoon off and working for a few hours in the evening instead we can. This is also important for our productivity when we are writing. If we can’t get in the flow we often down tools and do something else for while. Again that’s something which comes with experience because there’s just no point plugging away at a task for hours which if you were focused would take you half an hour.
Another cool thing about freelancing is that if we don’t like some work we are doing or a client becomes a real hassle to work with we have the power to drop it. Obviously you can’t just do this willy nilly or you’d have no clients but just knowing you have the option, even if you don’t actually do it that often, is great. We’ve been in the position recently where we made the decision to move away from a few lower paying clients to free up our time to work on better paid and longer term projects. Some of these just keeping offering us more money to continue though, so that also has its advantages too.
This Year’s Plans
So what’s on the cards for this year? Well naturally we want to earn more and work less...doesn’t everyone? But we’re in the fortunate position that we are directly in control of that. And so we have a plan. A detailed business plan with specific income targets. But in general what we’re going to be doing over the coming year is getting a serious save on to allow us a period of time where we can drop back on some of our freelance work, live off those savings and really focus on upping the traffic to our website to allow us to increase affiliate income. Or passive income stream as it is otherwise known.
And what that basically means is a lot of work up front (work we just don’t have time to do at present with the amount of freelance clients we have) but then if we get it right, the monetary rewards continue to flow in after that without too much maintenance on our part. Hence freeing up more time do other things or less things.
Because we can quite literally be anywhere while we are making money, in order to save and get to this point we’re going to be branching out into the world of house sitting and are so excited about it. Probably more due to our love of pets than the free accomodation, ha ha!
So yeah in a very big nearly 3000 word nutshell that’s how we make money from anywhere in the world, how much we actually earn and what our immediate plans are for The Whole World or Nothing. I hope you’ve found reading this valuable and inspiring.
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