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Vagabonds Travel for Work – Must Diversify Income

I am Tired of Being a Poor Vagabond, I failed at travel blogging, too, must find other work

MEXICO CITY, Mexico- There is a rule of long term travel that states that a traveler must eventually find work on the road or go home. Income works best in travel when it comes from a variety of sources. A good vagabonding rig will have four or five different ways of making money that can be employed in appropriate succession or in tandem around the world.

As for me, I am an archaeologist, an English teacher, a farm hand, a freelance journalist, a webmaster, a blogger, a hostel receptionist who has also experienced a dozen other professions throughout his travels around the world. Though I must admit that I only like working formally for others — as an employee — where the prospect of taking out a good story, of learning new skills, or of meeting interesting people: route work for a paycheck alone is a slayer of the human spirit.

In point, I have never been much for the grueling, blank faced, “no comment,” endless work day. I am a good worker, but I am not a workingman. I prefer to work for myself, even if that means striving 10 times as hard for a check that is a tenth of what I could otherwise make working for others.

This is the goal, the double dream:

To travel the world while working for myself; to be free to go just about anywhere while being my own boss.

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As all travelers should, I need to diversify my income options. As of now, my only independently derived source of income stems from this website. All of my self employment beans are in one sack. But, I must admit here, that I have held down formal employment for only 9 months out of the past three years, the rest of my income has come from VagabondJourney.com. Not bad.

My family has proven that we can travel on $25 a day in total.

But I do not know why we want to.

Kuan Yin in China - A vagabond must have many arms bringing in income from many sources.

This website is founded on the theme of working around the world, on open ended travel, on the traveling lifestyle. But for all too many travelers — myself included — living like this are poor in terms of income. This lifestyle often means having severe financial limitations always brooding over you, it means being a vagabond in the genuine, typical sense.

Vagabonds travel and work, but they don’t need to be derelict. I want a little more success in this life — I want more money.

I am tired of being poor. I am sick of watching my wife break out in tears in the midst of our long and tedious searches for hotel rooms that we can afford, I am sick of eating bare bottom meals that are chosen on a quantity/ nutrition/ price ratio rather than by taste, I am sick of the restrictions that are inherent to traveling as a poor man. I am annoyed with feeling guilty about feeding my family a large pizza for dinner that costs the wopping amount of $8.

I will always be a vagabond, a modern nomad wandering from pasture to pasture setting up shop and making a living on the road, but I need to start living better. I need to start making more money.

Year one of family travel has been good kicks, but year two is going to need a different tune. The income numbers that I put up last year will not going to keep us dancing through this year.

I proudly reported back in San Cristobal de las Casas that I was making more money off of the website than I ever had before. I think readers took this as a sign that I am doing well. All donations outside of subscriptions have just about ceased. I am getting there, but I am still a far way off.

Living off of a website is not cutting it in and of itself: the rate of income gain is not matching my rate of growing expenditures. My fractions are growing ever less constant as I write this.

I need to diversify my independent travel businesses, go back to the drawing board on my income strategy. Our 180 day Mexican visas are just about expired, and nowhere nearby is calling our names, so the following months will see me return to my home country — the USA — and begin new projects, receive fresh tutelage in new trades, and come out with a new set of traveling skills.

You can’t make a living travel blogging

Regardless of what the white collar travel bloggers tell you, there is no longer an adequate way to make a living running a general, multi-country travel blog. These business brats will try to sell travel blogging like it is some sort of get rich quick scheme, but it is not.

The only way to make money from a travel blog seems to be using it as a platform to sell ebooks on how to make money travel blogging: the sick irony of a publishing medium that was quickly sucked dry by too many piglets at the tit.

Too many travelers set out to make money blogging, and now we all go hungry — advertising that once sold for $150 per month now scarcely brings in $10, the dying gurgles of a diluted market. It is time for a change in strategy.

I make money from my website because I worked at it for eight hours a day for six years in a row. VagabondJourney.com currently brings in over 4,000 unique visitors a day, way over 100,000 visitors a month. This traffic brings me in a small amount of cash, but not nearly what I projected six years ago. I estimated that 1,000 visitors would roughly mean $10 of income, derived from various sources. $40 per day would be a clutch amount of money for us to make off of this site at this juncture, but this is not what we bring in.

I spent the better part of a decade chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow just to arrive and find it already looted — with only a few scraps and a stray lint ball or two for the taking.

DO NOT TRY TO MAKE MONEY TRAVEL BLOGGING, you will fail. The people who tell you otherwise are trying to sell you a product. Snakes and vipers. They came into travel blogging on the media hype that they are ex-white collar employees who found personal liberty through ditching their cubicles. They say they found a solid income from nothing other than travel blogging.

“Look at me, look at me, I use to be in a cubicle too but now I’m free,” they proclaim. “Want to know how I did it? Send me money to find out.”

These US and Canadian suburban youths really just brought the business world to online travel writing, leaving little behind. Same old same old. Like so, they are willing to lie to make money:  they will tell you that they make $3,000 a month blogging, they will give you poor advice that could ultimately get your pages dropped hard by search engines.

Snakes and vipers.

I failed at travel blogging too.

I stand before you as a prime example of yet another travel blogging failure. I set out to make money with this website, for six years I worked my fingers to the bone, I focused my mind on the task before me, I toiled hard, and I put up five pages a day site wide. I now have one of the highest traffic independent travel websites on the planet. I don’t make a quarter of what I should from it. Six years of hard work has lead to eventually making $25 a day. With small supplementation and trading work for room and board a couple times a year, my family can live on this income.

But why should we want to?

I set myself an ultimatum at the beginning of 2010:

“If I am not making over $30 per day off of the website by the end of the year, I will give it up and do something else.”

I am not going to give up on VagabondJourney.com (I am still bringing in $25 a day off of this sow), but I am going to refine my focus and branch out into other ways of deriving an independent income.

There are some topics on the site that make money, and others that don’t. Both take time and effort to produce. I need to streamline my work on focus on that which will make money and find other publishing avenues for that which will never make me a dime if published online. The hard travel information, the travel guides, WIKI Vagabond make me money; the stories, cultural anecdotes, travel tips — the interesting banter — has little to no financial value.

New methods are needed. In the coming year, new methods of publishing will come to Vagabond Journey Travel.

The romance of vagabonding is work

I am a traveler, but I live under the same economic pressures as anybody else. I do not have the liberty to have hobbies in this life, if I am going to put a large amount of time into something it needs to bring money in. I have no economic buffer, no reliable check that comes at the end of a 40 hour work week that covers all of my expense and then some, no simple 9 to 5, five day a week schedule that leaves the rest of my time free to relax and work on non-income related projects.

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The vagabond life all too often a constant search for income. The trick is to make this search as interesting, enjoyable, and fulfilling as possible: to make work a hobby. The object is to blend what I like doing with what makes me a living. But, at the end of the day, I need to add up the ledger to discover if my fractions are constant: I need to make money.

All too often the traveling life is viewed as a life of leisure, a life removed from the tar pit of work. To say that I work is to kill the romantic notion of life on the road that many people hold. I am a vagabond, I travel for work. This is part of the true romance of the lifestyle. I am not a tourist, travel is not a perpetual exercise in leisure, I am not a king presiding over a revolving lot of vassals.

If this ruins your romantic notion of travel and you leave this page because of it, then good on you — go read some tourist blog that shows a fancy, ass grabbing sort of world, suck in the lies that you want so badly to believe. I have devoted my life to travel, this is my lifestyle, my work.

I need to make a real living.

New ways of making money

I am not going to abandon travel, nor this website. Rather, I am going to optimize my money making strategies. For many years, long term readers — mostly men a couple of decades my senior — give me advice on how to make a living, almost invariably they tell me that I am thinking too small. Making money travel blogging is a dream, but it is a small dream. Many of these readers seem to belive in me, and I am sure they would smile if I reported that I am giving up this life sucking website project and diving into what I could really make a living from.

The shedding of dreams is the functional essence of maturing.

I need to mature. I am now focusing my attention on writing books, articles for the travel sections of newspapers, and on poignant online pieces that will bring in traffic and money. The story of these ventures will still be published on this travelogue daily — the deep value of a large reading audience is worth more than dollars and cents can measure (I also enjoy blogging, another unmeasurable value inherent to the occupation).

I have also started a regimen to learn new skills that can make me a living on the road. I am going beyond writing about the world and am diving into living it. I interviewed many travelers with independent travel businesses for a series that was meant to be both a vagabonding primer for readers, as well as an idea bank for me. I know that some of the income strategies that are included in this series could be better optimized with a few tweaks here and there. I am doing the tweaking and taking a couple of these strategies for myself.

Read through the stories in the Independent travel work series to discover how other vagabonds are making a living.

Must diversify income conclusion

If I can average $25 a day off of three separate ventures, I can make enough money to travel in comfort. $60 a day is more than double what we now spend, $75 per day means living large. I can make $75 a day, I just need a few tweaks in strategy to do so. I need to diversify my independent travel businesses, grow arms like Kuan-Yin, fiddle here, start up small ventures there, and bring in enough money to live and travel well on.

It is either this or the hills.

This entry is delivered in honesty. Though this angle on life is not one that often makes money or leads to success.

I am not a marketing ploy — “Look at me, look at me, I travel the world and live large, I don’t work, I blog, give me money and I will tell you how.” I am a traveler, a vagabond, and this is my story.

Vagabond Journey is the true story of world travel as I see it. It is the story of struggling for money, working, living frugal and simple, failing, and somewhere in the mix of all of this realizing that the stuggles of the open road are an essential part of the joys.

Failure is a fundamental part of success.

Filed under: Travel Lifestyle, Travel Philosophy, Traveling Webmaster, Work

About the Author:

Vagabond Journey has been featured on MSNBC.com, The Daily Mail Online, Business Insider, Gizmodo, the Des Moines Register, CBS Phoenix, NBC LA, and numerous other international and local publications. has written 2687 posts on Vagabond Journey.

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  • Debra Creighton

    As a retired airline employee with world travel benefits, I’m dreaming of the freedom to travel whenever I want, so I’m a reseller with a 12 year old company developing an online video marketing biz. http://www.comF5.com/trycomF5media
    Let me know if you want to go into the program to play with it, I will give you the ID and password.
    debra PS I like that I can work from anywhere, as much or little as I like and it is viral.
    Let’s keep you traveling!!!!

  • http://longbeachblogger.com/ mike crosby

    Thanks Wade. You’re brutally honest.

    I’ve had my own business over 20 years. I fix appliances, heating and air-conditioning. I really thought I was going to make a lot of money. In fact, my friend is here in LA from Seattle and he has a $2 million business (same as mine) and he barely makes it. I just told him looking back, I did not achieve what I thought I’d achieve.

    But one thing about having my business is that I’ve called the shots. I may have struggled, but I’ve always lived below my means, and enjoyed not working for anyone else.

    My business model now is quite simple. My hourly charge is between $175-$200 per hour. My goal is to have 5 billable hours per week, but I’m happy to have only 1 billable hour. It must sound crazy to make that kind of money, but it is kind of weird to work so little and enjoy my lifestyle.

    And I’m by no means bragging. I have little for retirement. It’s amazing here in US retirements of over $100K are becoming the norm. The model is not sustainable and we’ll definitely see the results of that in the near future.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Many good points here, Mike,

      First off, you set up your own business based off of your skills and education and you make a good living off of it. There is a time input/ income output ratio here that Soul Travelers 3 brought up in another comment: time not working has a value. The lifestyle that you set up, while you are not getting super rich, does allow for you to have time and space to enjoy your life without worrying too much about money. This is success, as far as I am concerned.

      My problem is that I put in A LOT of time for very little financial output. I enjoy most aspects of my work, so this is not a major problem, but if I am working on this website for all of my working hours I am not doing other projects, trades, or professions that I could be bringing in more money to not live a very economically hemmed in lifestyle. So while I work for myself on this website and do bring in enough money to live off of, I truly do not make enough: it is time to start other projects to run in tandem with the website to have other lines of income.

      Thanks for this comment.

  • Bob L

    Have you also thought about occasionally doing writing in exchange for fun things? Say, offer to write an article about your experience white water rafting if you nad your family can go for free? Then maybe make money off the article.

    I understand the need to keep your writing free of the kinds of influences that most travel writers have, but for the commercial world, no one really wants to read an honest review, most readers want a glorified, everything is rosy and exciting kind of writing. Certainly you would want to keep your website totally real, but you may have to suck in your pride a little on other writing.

    Let us all know about when you will be in the states. Maybe some of us readers can put the word out that you are looking for work and get you something temporary.

    Bob L

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Bob,

      Good suggestion. I sometimes will trade a blog post for free stuff. I see nothing wrong this, as I tend to write about what I do during the day anyway — so if I go on a free tour I am going to write about it the same as if I go on a paid tour; if I read a good book I am going to review it whether I pay for it or not. The problem — and the reason why I do this so very rarely — is that I am going to be honest, and if a tour, hotel, or travel service is not very good I am going to share my honest opinion. It is a dangerous place where commercialism and honesty overlap haha. I generally only accept these deals when they are offered to me and I try to state clearly that I went somewhere or received an item for free.

      I see nothing wrong with press trips, receiving free products, or doing book reviews — this is another aspect of the travel writing experience — but it is work, so to speak: I need to write subjectively, share the experience, be honest, yet not fully bite the hand that feeds.

      The value of a gear or tour review on VagabondJourney.com is that I am going to be harshly honest — I give bad reviews as well as good, sometimes I will decline to review a product or experience if I feel it is sub par — and a positive review from me, I hope, is going to be vastly more valuable than some business man travel blogger who will say that anything is good just because it was provided free of charge.

      This is a difficult line to walk sometimes, and I generally will only publish a review if I know that I can be positive about the experience (otherwise I keep silent). I just receive a little travel gadget I feel is totally dumb. The people who sent it to me keep badgering me about a review, but I won’t do it as I would need to say how I truly feel about it — which they, ultimately, do not want me to do. I have found this method the best way to skirt the line between commercialism and honesty.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks for the offer of helping to find me some temp work. We are back in the states now, I don’t know where I am going to work — there is snow all over here in upstate NY — so will probably move on to somewhere else. If you hear of any temp work around the NE, please let me know.

      Thanks.

      • Bob L

        I’ve spread the word around and will keep on doing it.

        Bob L

  • http://travelvice.com craig | travelvice.com

    If I had the money now in Peru that I did in Jan 2008 when Aidric was born I would’ve purchased a pair of minibuses (they’re called combis in this country) for around $2,500 each and joined the ranks of heavy profiteering off the lack of public transportation in Lima. These are cash cows in this city, and always have passengers (most rides cost between S/. 0.50 & 1.50 — US$0.18 & $0.54, and would likely recoup the value of the vehicle in less than 80 days). Alas, now I’m down to my last pennies, wondering how to afford our flight back to the US when we’re finally done waiting for the wifey’s USA residency visa to finish processing (10+ months and counting now…). Bleh.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      It is a funny place to be in watching your funds slip out faster than they can be replenished. It is my impression that you are in a tougher position as you are in limbo right now — waiting for the visa — so it would be a mute point starting up projects in Peru to make money. As soon as the money starts coming in, you would need to run for the hills. But I think that we could both benefit from some travel business skills re-education haha. I am thinking of having three or four independent ways to make money while traveling, I just need some time and space to set them up.

      Will share what I do, let me know of your ideas.

  • http://jasminewanders.com Jasmine

    I feel this article a lot… though I´m not traveling with a family, I do suffer from splurging a bit on food or coffees when I know I can feed or entertain myself for less or free.

    I do make a little money from my travel blog, but I think of it more as surprise additional income and not my living.

    Doing freelance travel writing for magazines and such is a great idea… with all your time on the road, I´m sure editors will jump at the chance to publish your work.

    I appreciate the realness of this post, I think a lot of wannabe vagabonds should have a look before they take the plunge for a reality check.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Jasmine,

      This is much appreciated. Occasional splurges that are truly appreciated and enjoyed are part of the enjoyment aspect of travel, don’t worry about that. This was exactly what this entry was about: I make enough money to eat, sleep, and move, but not to fully enjoy life. This is a problem. For the purgatory period of starting an independent business, not making much money and living extremely frugally is an acceptable part of the process, but the problem comes when that business matures and it still does not bring in enough money to live comfortably.

      I am seeing the signs that show the grand ends of this website publishing fiasco, and the amount of money to be won is not close to what I want to make: I need to start looking for other paths through to the other side.

      Thanks for this comment.

  • David Jacobs

    Hey Wade,

    Honest, poignant, insightful and inevitably a bit sad to read this… You CAN write. That’s a fact. I wish you all of the best with the change in direction and will miss the daily travel articles in the form you fed us.

    Hope we’ll still see the typical Wade Vagabond articles from time to time as you sort out the income stream… Just well… Since you enjoy doing them and I love reading them.

    Best of the best for you and family,
    David

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      I am going to try to keep up with the blogging, the travel questions — but the rest of the site may take a hit. I am unsure what else I am going to do at this point. I just want to write, it is just a matter of finding a medium that pays out more which would be as enjoyable as blogging for myself haha. I am suffering the fate of the man who wants too much haha.

      • http://www.makerweekend.com Calvin

        Hey, man, you’re like a celebrity it the vagabond world. You word is gold, write a book. Stay positive!

        • Wade Shepard

          Hello Calvin,

          Thanks for this, your comment made me laugh.

  • http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/blog/ Dave from The Longest Way Home

    Wade,

    I’ve noticed your decreased presence online over the past few weeks. This is obviously a contributing factor.

    I do 100% agree with you that it is not possible to make a full time living from Travel Blogging alone. At least in terms of actually traveling, and running all aspects of website like this from the road. If one were sitting behind a desk, taking small trips etc, then yes, it would be a lot easier.

    I’ve always said it. A good marketer will always beat a great writer. There are more doorstep books in the world than there are classics.

    Travel blogging may change in about 5-10 years if things like the internet accessibility , and blog formats, and advertising systems change. But, that’s not much good, as we live in the present, not in the future.

    At the moment travel blogging has become fractured. It’s breaking off into many different areas. Some for business, others still for mom & dad. It happens in many different genre’s. One can only live true to your own intent.

    I made the decision in Africa that I was not going to suffer in the worst of the worst accommodation, and eat out of garbage bins to prolong my travels, nor save money. I put health, and life first.

    Writing a “travel blog” these days has become a business for many. And, as such, they employ business tactics and shrug off anyone that criticizes them. That’s just the way it is. I would not harbor on this thought, as it will only make one bitter to your own idea of what “travel blogging” should be.

    As you know, many people who start off travel blogging, make a little cash, run with it for a year or two. Some even quit their jobs. Sit in room, writing that “book” which will get them fame and or fortune. Then blogging their hearts out while trying to cross comment, Alexa boost, win online voting awards, score SEO ranking and so on they acclaim “fame” in a very very small community. Then, add in another year and they end up going home.

    Once home they either continue to blog for a while. Then, lose interest. Auto post plugins become the norm, or they just let the site sit there. Such is life.

    I sincerely hope you find a way to subsidize your travels while working. At least you have a degree to work with. And, a family. Sometimes they may be a burden, but at the end of the day, blood is thicker than water and sweeter than the dollar.

    Don’t lose sight of what you have accomplished. Don’t bow to peer pressure. Stand tall for your accomplishments are those of only a few in this world today. You’ve been to places few have, nor will. You’ve lived a life many can’t nor have the guts to do live.

    Moreover you’ve always painted a picture of the world as it is. Not some glossy print of what people would like it to be. There is a difference. But, no, it won’t put bread on your table.

    Do what you have to do my friend. There is no point in suffering in bad accommodation and eating poor quality food. Take this time to find a way to upgrade. Take stock of what’s really important in your life.

    Only if you are enjoying yourself can you truly live the life you want. Take stock of this thought and make it happen.

    You know where to find me should you need anything. In the meantime refocus, and try to find something to make you smile again.

    Dave

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Dave,

      As always, your critique is right on. I have been focusing on reader questions lately that provoke content that bring in high search volume and other pages that will bring in the traffic, and, I hope, money haha. But the cash that is out there to be made from this venture is very low, and it is best to view it as a supplemental form of income rather than my sole way of bringing in cash.

      Your world view of travel is also right on: when the novelty and feeling of personal liberty of slumming it around the world wears off it becomes apparent that you want more. For this, I need to diversify my income.

      But, I must admit, that I approach blogging as an artful sort of project. If I went out with the SOLE intention of making money, I would be bringing in $100 a day. You would too. It is the fact that we are trying to build something that we can be proud that is holding us back from making a good living. If I wanted to make money blogging, I would write about tourism, flights, airlines, hotels, hostels, and try to sell crap. But I don’t want to do this, so I stay willfully poor.

      I just don’t have it in me to be a corporate travel blogger haha.

      So I am not packing it in, just adding some other elements into the game. I have a pretty firm set of ground rules that I can’t stomach breaking, so I need to add in other projects rather than adapting this one. I’ve maxed this sow out, I have met the law of diminishing returns face on, it is time to look for some other tits.

      Your comment made me smile, thanks.

  • http://vagabond3.com Jade

    I’ve only had my blog for about a year now but I can totally relate to this post. We’ve just started making money from our site (still not that much) and for a few months we kind of got caught up in all the hoopla surrounding “making money travel blogging” when we first started out just wanting to improve our writing and share our stories. It’s easy to get caught up in it but also very tiring. It’s exhausting reading or seeing another ebook with claims to fame and actually turns me off from travel bloggers who have ebooks. I realize that they too are just trying to make some money, but it isn’t new ideas and just doesn’t interest me.
    I look forward to seeing how your blog and life change or mature, like you said. We have the same conversations and worrying about money all the time is stressful on our relationship and our travels.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Right on, Jade,

      It is hard to try to make money doing the same thing as thousands of other people in the same place haha. I feel like the jewelry vendors in Central America who try to make a living selling the same things as everybody else around them to the same people. If these travelers would change their context — leave Central America and go somewhere else — they could probably make a lot of money. I suppose we need to do the same: put ourselves out in other contexts. How to do this is the riddle.

      You also speak very clearly when you say that worrying about money is stressful and puts pressure on relationships.

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com Jeanne @soultravelers3

    Thanks to Dave, I saw this post and mainly just want to send you some virtual hugs. I hear ya, traveling as a family and travel blogging while traveling both are tough and I am grateful that we do not have to depend on our website for our total income. When you have a child and when you have a family, really everything changes and most people do want some sense of security. Give it more time, your ideas and plans sound good, but growing a system for a family is different than for a single guy. I have great faith that you can find that freedom, abundant, security that you are looking for while you travel.

    Don’t discount all the work that you have already done for it does have great value. DO follow the examples of people who are making very good money with very good perks through travel writing and various ways of selling evergreen information products, consulting, etc.

    I don’t think the only model is the travel blogging how to make money scammers.

    I think you should also think about time factors because TIME is the only true wealth. So the goal for us is always to work less and make more. What is the use of being a vagabond if one is always working or plugged in? Part of that comes by being a minimalist and living large on little, which you have already mastered. It will help to have saved funds and investments that work for you and give you a cushion so I’d make that part of the priority like maybe tithing to yourself first or something or maybe teaching English for a while to build a nest egg or something, invest in precious metals or something. Being dead broke with a baby or young child is not fun, or dealing with serious health issues, deaths or other such challenges ( like we’ve had) …adding it to the vagabond life means tougher still.

    It’s all about balance which is hard enough as a single, but becomes more of a challenge when one is dealing with meeting the needs of 3 individuals.The only place we ever really travel is inside ourselves, so of course travel does not mean escaping life or the endless challenge that it is..including survival. I have perfect faith that you are on the right track and will find your way through this. Be kind to yourself as you continue to build your ramp to your goal and enjoy the whole process. Hugs to all three of you.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Very true, Jeanne,

      I really need to focus on this project without dollar signs in my eyes — do it for fun and take whatever money that comes as being supplemental. Though this is a hard pill to swallow after six years of working to make it a business.

      “What is the use of being a vagabond if one is always working or plugged in?”

      This is so true. Truly, I need to play more, work less, cross bridges when I come to them.

      Thanks so much for those hugs. Truly appreciated.

  • http://www.theroadforks.com Akila

    Wade – This is a fantastic, thoughtful, and heart-wrenching post. I posted something on my own site last week about how I don’t want to be a professional blogger and never have wanted to be a professional blogger. But, we do want to keep working and traveling at the same time. (In fact, today, I’m planning on writing a post on our site about how we work and travel.) In our case, we utilize our pre-existing skills and degrees: my husband is a software architect and I write and do some legal consultation (but, then again, I used to teach writing when I was younger and I have a law degree). We diversify across a variety of income sources because we’ve found that it’s the best way to keep us sustainable.

    There are definitely a few people out there making good money blogging but it is a hard road to take. You should be proud of what you have accomplished here on this blog and that you are enjoying your life with your family. Good luck in your future ventures!

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Akila,

      Good strategy to find a way to utilize skills, experience, creds, and knowledge to find a way to make a living traveling. This is truly clutch. Good call on not trying to make a living travel blogging — there are vastly better ways to make a living using the same skill set that are needed for blogging.

      “Do exceptional work,” I just read in one of your recent posts, Working while traveling. This is good advice: it will all pay off in the end.

      Thanks.

  • http://wanderlustandlipstick.com Wanderluster

    THANK YOU for saying what has been on the minds of so many of us as we attempt to make money through our websites. We may think these things or talk about them under our breath, but I haven’t seen them written out so, well, bluntly.

    I liked this line best:

    “The only way to make money from a travel blog seems to be using it as a platform to sell ebooks on how to make money travel blogging: the sick irony of a publishing medium that was quickly sucked dry by too many piglets at the tit.”

    HA HA – ain’t that the truth!

    I do make a living in the travel world, but I use blogging and my website to sell tours and books. I’d be pulling shots of espresso at Starbucks if I was waiting for advertisers to all come on board so I could pay for that next plane ticket!

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Right on, this is the old time impetus for blogging: to use a blog as a platform to hold together an audience that you can sell other products. A blog, or website for the matter, is best used as a launching platform to make money from other items and services, not an end in and of itself. Your strategy is full of clarity, I could learn something from it.

      Thanks.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Beth,

      It is a funny place to be where a marketing bubble bursts. Like a get rich quick scheme, I hope that more people regard the whole “make money with your travel blog” sales pitch with a scoff and a shrug. Sure, a few people who go out with the SOLE intention of making money from a travel website can construct can make money — but who wants to do this? This is a marketer’s world, not a writer’s. I have no interest in jumping over that fence.

      I take my poor man’s status and move on.

      Thanks for this comment and support.

  • http://travelingcanucks.com Cam

    I enjoyed this read, and your honesty. I can feel your frustrations coming through and applaud you on your self reflection.

    Though I would not put all travel blogs or bloggers in this box, I would agree that there are few travel bloggers that are earning a decent living with just a travel blog (“decent” being the operative and subjective word).

    At its core, it comes down to personal goals and expectations. Many “vagabonds” or “digital nomads” are comfortable with having few assets and no home, and use blogs and ebooks to support this roaming lifestyle. It’s not for everyone, the ironic “free” lifestyle comes with great sacrifice. The “earning to get buy” mentality of perpetual travelers can be a tough pill to swallow when the desire to keep traveling ends.

    I wish you Good luck and thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.travelblogs.com/ Gretchen

    I am not the traveler that everyone else is, but I play one as an editor on that “other site”. :)

    Regardless, I do understand your need to change your current situation and improve your monetary status. Since you have Chaya and Petra to also take into consideration, the hard decisions needed to be faced and decided upon. No one is of much help to anyone else nor themselves when their mind is fought with worry and uncertainty. To that, I can personally attest.

    Think of coming back to the US as a way of rejuvenating, refocusing, reorganizing and refinancing. Best wishes at succeeding across the board.

  • http://thaiconnoisseur.blogspot.com Peter M

    Good luck Wade, don’t give up the dream. I cannot offer advice as I am still a corporate wage slave earning only crumbs from online work, but I keep ploughing on, albeit with my safety net. You work without the safety net so I wish you greater success.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Peter,

      It is truly appreciated. Just need to huddle up and come up with a new plan of attack.

  • http://www.mexicocitydf.com JIM JOHNSTON

    I’d like to suggest a slight change in your point of view in this article. It does not sound like you are a failure at blogging, but rather a success at something that offers minimal rewards. That may sound a bit sanguine, but there’s a big difference–especially in how you see yourself. Maintaining self-confidence is always a big part of the struggle for those of us who are self-employed. Give yourself a break. I was impressed to read all you’ve done, and sorry about the poor payback.
    I admire your determination to lead the life you want. I look forward to hearing more about where it takes you. Good luck. Jim Johnston, Mexico City
    P.S. I found Tim Leffel’s new book about travel writing valuable. He has lots of real information about diversifying–something he also affirms is necessary for survival.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Jim,

      This means a lot coming from you. Very true, I have been pretty successful at publishing unmarketable content haha. Thanks for suggesting this shift in perspective. It is much appreciated.

  • http://www.hobotraveler.com/blogger.html Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com

    Hello Wade, it appears your business is making 20 Dollars per day, which is 20 Dollars more than 99.99 percent of Internet sites. I was getting about 300 dollars per month in donations, then Forbes.com make me one of their Top Five Travel Blogger, all donations stopped.

    Travel writing is a horrible way to make an honest living and a great way to make a dishonest living. Now, I like to Blog for fun, and do not care if I offend my audience, because I am 100 percent sure I do not make my money Blogging. I make my money understanding how to make money on the Internet, I am a great webmaster.

    A webmaster works for the residual money, not for the fame, while 99 percent of travel writers do it only for the fame, which allows them to live free in hotels they could never afford.

    By the way, for a chuckle, Verizon is cutting off my free BlackBerry, you will love the story.

    Thanks, Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com in Ivory Coast trying to figure out whether the rebel will attack close to me soon. They just took my girlfriends Mothers house last night, she lost all her worldly possessions, and the family had to walk to another village to be safe, abandoning the house. She was lucky to be with me, and not at the house. Now, if CNN reported that, everyone would listen, however the truth is boring, the world is owned by the promoters.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Very true. Many people in the travel blogging world look at their sites from the wrong perspective: the silent webmaster will make more money.

      The world is owned by promoters, I don’t want to play along any more.

    • http://www.thecandytrail.com/ the candy trail … | Michael Robert Powell

      Greetings from China. Not wanting to antagonize you Andy, but I see that one of your webmaster strategies is to use “false landing pages”. EG: Gay & Lesbian travel guides to absolutely every country in the world but yet each page offers zero info … (beyond ads) BUT ranks within the first page of Google.

      I thought Google frowned on/penalized these practices? Apparently not; great SEO: EG: http://www.hobotraveler.com/ga2-gay-lesbian-togo.php

      Wade, would you consider this, also: scoping the search engines to get more views?

  • G

    Wade, there’s no failure in life only lessons to be learned. I suspect you’ve learned a lot not only about blogging but also about yourself over the past few years. In particular you may have learned you’re more ambitious than you previously realized and that the small rewards of blogging and perhaps even the vagabond lifestyle no longer satisfy you the way they once did. That sort of realization can be invaluable. Good luck to you whatever you choose to do going forward. You’re a skilled young man and I’m sure you will ultimately achieve the success you’re searching for. Just be sure to enjoy the journey between now and that day. There are times that the path seems impossibly steep and treacherous, but it just makes the view from the top that much more rewarding when you finally arrive. Vagabondjourney was a good experiment and I’ve enjoyed following along. G.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello G,

      Very true, I have learned many lessons from this web publishing endeavor. Namely, I really enjoy doing it. But, unfortunately, BS sells in this business and if I don’t want to put out tons of garbage that aims to sell people things I am not going to make much money. Good online content has a much lower value than good content has in other mediums. Part of this is because PPC advertising demands that readers must want to leave the site in order for the author to make any money. So I cannot expect to make much money on a good piece of writing that people really want to read. This is another irony of web publishing. Readers and visitors do not equal income. I get more visitors than 99% of travel blogs, but many with only a fraction of my traffic make much more money than me. It has a lot to do with content — if you are a bridge between customers and products you will make money. If you are just writing interesting pieces then, no matter how high your traffic is, the income will be much lower than what you would expect it to be. Sort of silly — good, interesting content is not rewarded if published online. It is just the way it is.

      So I am in a juncture where I am searching for other means to publish the parts of this site that I deem to be of interest or value. I need to make the content valuable and not the desire to click away from it. In the upcoming months, my plans for this will become more obvious.

      Very true, VagabondJourney was a good experiment in many aspects of publishing. I have learned a lot about building a readership, attracting visitors, editing, and being a place where a good amount of people obtain information. I love this work, but the fundamental irony makes it difficult on my end to continue as I am. This next week I am going to move towards monetizing the site a little more less stringently.

      I need to make a living here haha. And I will.

      Thanks for all the support over the years.

      • G

        Wade, I think you have a lot of company on the issue of artistic integrity/quality vs compensation. That seems to be an issue that’s plagued writers and artists such as yourself for a long time. If you write romance novels or pulp detective stories (formulaic) you make a good living. Write more ambitious literature and you subsist off food stamps. Painters who do commissioned portraits of rich geezers live very comfortably while those who try to create masterpieces squat in abandoned buildings. I can certainly sympathize with your frustration, but trust that you will strike the right balance between integrity and commercial viability. G

        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

          Thanks G,

          There is a big dichotomy between art for quality and art for money. There is a balance, I just need to find it. Working on a couple of books now, so hopefully I can find a balance there. Thanks for the support.

  • http://www.travelswithanineyearold.com Theodora

    Wow! This is a depressing wake-up call. But thanks for your honesty. It does surprise me that so much hard work brings in so little… And I do hope you manage to sell more articles, though those themselves are not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow either.

  • http://www.traveldudes.org Melvin

    I agree that most bloggers won’t make a high enough income to be able to live from it. But I think that many are just blogging for fun. So if you can make some extra money on the side… Great!

    For the ones who want to earn more, I think a blog is your marketing/selling platform. Only if you have hundred thousands & more visitors per month, you could make a good income via banners. But it’s a lot of extra work to get the prizes which bigger sites charge. They get up to €65 cpm & a relatively good blogger would get maybe… $20 cpm? A huge different & a bit unfair, as we always speak about 1000 site impressions. A blog usually got a target group, so they should be easily able to charge more.

    If people would know how much their blog would be really worth for advertisers, they would charge more. But as many just do it as hobby, they charge way too less and are happy with what they get.

    So with the usual marketing prices, more bloggers would be able to blog full time.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Great clarity, Melvin,

      If people DID know the value of their online publication, then the price bar could be raised. Very right on, there are so many people blogging just for fun who appreciate ANY income that it is difficult to compete haha.

      Man, I would love a few $20 cpm ads haha.

      The premise of my site, I know, is also not prone to being very marketable. This site is an around the world style blog, and I go to and write about many different countries. This creates a major problem in terms of location relevance. If I had a site that was just about one city, then I could scoop up the local advertisers. Or, similarly, if I had a site about one topic — such as travel insurance or flights — then I would be much more marketable in these industries. But my site is of a very general nature and covers hundreds of topics and locations. There are a lot of limiting factors here.

      Running this site though has been a great lesson in marketing — more as in, what not to do haha.

      As far as site focus, my niche is perpetual, extreme budget travel. This is not the most marketable category in travel publishing, to be sure, but this is me and I couldn’t really stomach being much else in the name of money haha. I suppose the deep intent here is to come up with a way to make this form of writing profitable.

  • vic

    Respect the honesty.

  • debra Creighton

    Maybe there is something here that can help you. This guy is staying in one place and is a great marketer. http://www.mikeslife.org And missed the website this morning, but speaker said, unfortunately the marketing is more important than the product. Doesn’t matter how good the the product is, if no one is standing in line to buy. Seems that is often the case. More eyes is always the issue. Perhaps a little less content and more time spent social media marketing etc. Get other blogs promoting your blog = more eyes. In college, the authors of all the books we studied promoted/quoted the authors or all the other books we were studying. Now it’s the “Good ole boy’girls blogs.” Sorry you are in the cold.

  • John

    Wade, I am very curious what your portfolio looks like when it comes to monetizing this site. Looking at your site I see Amazon and Adsense are the primary . Amazon is a waste of time unless it is a BIG ticket item. Adsense is worthwhile when you are targeting the right keywords. Are you writing about keywords people are looking for and have a nice CPC or are you just writing whatever comes to your mind (blogging). With 4,000 unique visitors a day, and over 100,000 visitors a month plus a PR 4 and an aged domain, there shouldn’t be a reason why are you struggling. You have a PR4 with 709 backlinks, that says something positive. Your domain has strength, START using it. You can tackle competitive keywords and rank them fast in the SERPS. Just rethink your strategy because you have everything in place to start kicking ass and taking names, you just need to regroup. Please respond because I would really like to know what methods you look to as your bread and butter.

    John

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks John,

      Really appreciate this. Ultimately, I have tried just about every major affiliate program out there and have found them to be a great way for me to give another site a lot of traffic and free advertising for very little payback. I have pretty much stopped participation in almost all affiliate schemes, just keeping the Bookingwiz as a stand ins until I find an airfare booking widget that pays out a little better. As far as Amazon goes, I have significantly pulled back the reigns on it. I have a travel gear store where I refer the sale of items that I use, but that it is. This is more of a public service than a way to make money — maybe I make $10 a month from referring over 300 visitors and leading to numerous sales from this page. Right on about Amazon being a waste of time if you don’t only sell expensive products.

      My main earner is Adsense and reader donations/ subscriptions. I am going to come up with a better subscription package in the upcoming month to try to get some more $5 a month subscribers — this is probably the future of the site in terms of monetization.

      As far as selling private ads, this is the way to go to make money, but is something that I rarely engage in. I don’t sell text links, and I know this kills me. If I did, I know that I would not be publishing entries like this, as I would be too busy counting my earnings haha.

      What gets me is that I am surprised that I am earning so little. It is enough for my family to live and travel off of but not enough to live extremely well. You are very correct, I should be kicking ass and taking manes as far as making money, but it is just not going this way right now. I have been going after a collection of keywords with targeted pages, but this effort only began around a month ago so I am still waiting to see the results. If you have any additional ideas, I would really like to hear them. Feel free to email.

      Thanks,

      Wade

  • John

    I have some ideas that I could throw at you. Since Adsense is your bread, I really would like to see the keywords your targeting. Maybe I can help you out on them. I will throw an email your way

    John

  • Chris Arts

    Hey Wade,

    One thing to consider, that may or may not work with your desired lifestyle, is working in 1st world countries for a certain time frame and saving like mad (50-75% of earnings). Invest this and use this as passive income less expensive countries later. Of course the job scene in the US sucks right now but it can be done. If you are mobile and flexible about where you go, you are at an advantage. You’re smart, educated and have a multitude of skills. Get the highest paying job you can, save and then invest to spin of some amount of passive income to go back to traveling. Maybe you have heard of him but Jacob at Extreme Early Retirement.com http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ , seems to have a good formula for saving like hell for five or so years and becoming financially independent. With frugality skills and using Jacobs model, mix and match, for something that works for you. While you have to “put your nose to the grindstone” for awhile, you can get financially independent (possibly supplemented by easy work on the road) much quicker than the typical poor bastard seeking the American Dream. Something possibly worth consideration.

    Chris

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Chris,

      This is a truly excellent idea, and one that I have somewhat considered before. Though, I must admit, that finances, investment, and all of that cerebral notions of wealth is a little too much for my way of thinking haha. That world is beyond me, man, but this is an extremely good idea for a more adequate traveler. My friend Luke is doing something like this now. The story is at Travel the world on bank interest payments.

  • Caitlin

    Know what my mom said? (She asked about you when you guys were unable to come on the boat trip.)

    She said that if you write well enough to make 500 bucks a month on a blog (and garner a ton of comments) that you’d be good enough to write pieces for newspapers/magazines/etc. Not full time, mind you, because print media is a dead end career but there’s lots of freelance work. So I think the thing is you just need to apply your skills to slightly different areas.

    Why don’t you get started with a topic that will appeal to many: travel with family? You could write a general article about the benefits (and some cons) of traveling with a small child… someone would gobble that up and pay you for it.

    Or… come back to DF and we can start the city blog. Ha ha. I’ve already started writing articles.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      This is truly the direction I want to go in. Man, I really wanted to meet your parents. Next time. Thanks for this advice, it is right on: there are other publishing mediums more suited to what I enjoy writing. In point, making money like I do on a website means putting up content about products that people want to buy so that a nice bridge between buyers and things to buy are created. In point, it is a sad state of affairs when a blogger must rely on clicks going AWAY from their writing to make money. Other publication methods are more valuable if the writing holds readers IN the medium. Sort of ironic what I am trying to do here, I truly need to engage other publication methods once again. Going for the newspapers.

      I hate to say this, but I can live on vastly less money than most journalist tying to live in the USA and Canada. I need $500 per month to live and travel. Truly, I am in an economic position to undercut just about any 1st world based journalist. This is sort of sorry, but it is true : a couple hundred bucks a week will keep me living well while someone in the USA would need at least $600. I know I can make money in this medium precisely because I can sell stories for less money.

      Thanks for this suggestion, Caitlin, it is a good one.

  • FruuGal

    Wade, you are getting lots of solid advice and encouragement. Hopefully, some of the ideas will result in an increase in your income. I do believe you deserve it. You are such a hard worker and an unique person. Returning to the US for now and working as hard as you can for as much as you can is a very wise decision.

    I have often felt a bit sorry for your wife, wondering how she copes with the stress, the lack of comfort and security. She seems to be a fantastic woman and mother and you are lucky to have found her. I hope for you both an answer to your dilema.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Fruugal,

      You are right about my wife, she is pretty special. But we still live a pretty good life: we go where we want, do what we like, and, ultimately, we live pretty well. I don’t think Chaya has many complaints beyond not having much disposable income. We are not derelict yet. Thank you for your good wishes, they are truly appreciated.

  • Angel

    The guy who said you probably just need more heavy-duty marketing has the right idea. Also, your purist attitude might get in the way a bit. Many successful bloggers (who put out GOOD content) do sell other stuff. And these days, even mainstream editorial has to kowtow (i.e. compromise themselves) to their advertisers. They’re nudged to include plugs for the advertisers in their editorial & sometimes it’s more than a nudge.

    Is this so different than putting ads on your site? (I’m not trying to be incendiary here). We do sell products but DON’T allow any advertising on our sites.

    A pretty successful blogger, Yaro Starak, out of Australia, walks a nice line for both. His blog is chock full of good info (on a dif subject) but he does sell affiliate stuff & his own informational products and makes over $200K per year (& as a fan of the 4 Hour Work Week, he does travel when he wants since he is virtual).

    I prefer to remain anonymous but we have traveled steadily for the past 5 years. We transitioned our income virtually and part is made from writing. The first year we made just over 100K virtually. We are now up to 200K. I would DIE if I had to compromise like your wife is doing (from your own reports & the comments section). While we can’t live like high end travelers, we pretty much find a way to stay at 3 or 4 star situations & are living within our means.

    It was an intention that we set that we would figure out a way to work smart, abandon time-for-money and get smart on marketing. Marketing really goes a long way. Our content is good but the marketing is really KEY.

    I hope you won’t compromise. I have to admit I HATE people’s suggestions of grounding in the U.S. and working to save a nut. With all that you’ve accomplished, I have a feeling you are just a couple of small adjustments away from making it work, hitting your tipping point where your previous goals seem like peanuts compared to what you are raking in. I really hope you find a way to keep going & streamline the effort while maximizing the income. Best of luck!

  • http://longbeachblogger.com/ mike crosby

    Wade, I’ve been going through and reading all the comments. It seems that 1or 2 trickle in everyday.

    I have nothing to add except I’m encouraged to see so many in your corner with heart-felt suggestions. And if this is how the people who comment feel, you know there are maybe hundreds or thousands who feel the same way.

    Stuff you’ve written has moved me to tears, has been thought provoking and whether I realize it or not, has changed my life. How it works out for you I don’t know, but I along with all these other commenters, wish you and your family the absolute best. God bless you Wade, Mike

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Mike,

      This truly made me smile. It seems as if I can’t give up on this site after coming this far. Very true, there are a lot of good people assembled here who keep my wheels turning each day.

      Thanks to you and everyone else for this.

      Your support has been truly appreciated now as much as always.

  • Debra

    Have to agree with Angel, you may be at your TIPPING POINT. Always to soon to give up. You have received some great advice and ideas, but you know what you know about how difficult it is. What to do and what not to do. I appreciate the truth, so will others. Why not sell an e-book cheap. Have several catchy titles(“Before You…,” or “Truth about….,” ect.) for the same e-book?
    Even posting this topic was a great idea–Look at all of the responses!
    Thought of you when I read these quotes in “Chiropractic First” by Terry Rondberg, DC. They were collected by BJ Palmer. “The world makes a path for the man who knows where he is going.” and “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
    Some people find fault with my chiropractor who does a lot of advertising with free health seminars where he also markets supplements and other products. Many think an individuals advertising/ money making is wrong, but have no problem going to a big box store to buy whatever they have seen on TV. Dr Dan and his wife work long/hard hours developing their business to improve/heal people. They deserve to make a living from it. Why not add value to patients lives by showing them the best supplements etc. If people trust you, you can also add value when you suggest a product you like, great if you make money from. I can tell the sites that are just info catalogs from the sites that are content with suggestions for products.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Debra,

      Thanks for sharing this wisdom. I can’t see anything wrong with advertising or with making money if the product is good. The thing is that I have no taste for doing it haha. When I sit down in the morning to work I know that I would much rather put up content, write some stories, answer some reader questions than get on the FB and Twitter and all of those sites and promote what I have already done. I put up around 5 new pages a day (on other parts of the site besides this travelogue), and I seem to have the stubborn notion that my work can speak for itself. It truly does in terms of traffic.

      But you are very correct here: getting people into your site is only part of the game. When they are here I need to have something to offer more than free advice, tips, and stories. I need to present something that they may want that could also make me some more money. Like your doctor, I am giving free seminars here. But unlike him I do not have a real money making strategy.

      The irony of pay per click advertising has already been discussed in this collection of comments, and I feel as if I had already met the law of diminishing returns in regard to this. And for affiliate programs to be really successful takes someone to really go gung ho on them and sell them like they are the greatest things in the world, which has never been my strong point (never found an affiliate program selling much that I really believe in). But selling my own products — ebooks, guides, whatever — could be clutch here.

      Very right on how advertising/ promotion/ making money seems falsely inversely proportional when put up against integrity. But what does a phony platform of integrity mean when you are struggling to make a living? There has to be a median point here.

      Thanks for your support, it is truly appreciated.

      • Bob L

        “Behind every successful man is one overworked woman.”

        Have you considered having Chaya take over some aspects of the site? I would think she would be very good at the marketing side of it as well as many of the more detailed aspects. She is very good at writing, but I gather it is not a big interest of hers, so maybe she would like to try her hand at other parts of the site?

        I agree with the writer that mentioned your having ads. These adds by google or whoever are not necessarily in line with your stated integrity. No one expects you to only have ads on your site that meet with your view of social responsibility. If you are actively promoting something, sure, but to have a link to something, not really.

        One caution, once you start making big money, you will become accustomed to the levels of comfort and convenience and may never be able to go back to living the cheap life. it sure would be good to be building up a large cushion for Petra’s education, and any of lifes little (or big) emergencies.

        Bob L

        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

          Haha, yes, those Google ads are contextual, so are only passively chosen by me — their topics are meant to match the topic of the pages. Sometimes they are right on, and sometimes not. If someone goes through a link, that is their choice, they are saying, “this seems like a topic that I may be interested in.” It has little to do with if I recommend the page they are going to or not.

          Yes, a little financial buffer would be good. Though I think that, with those great Mexican hotel rooms, we already have grown accustom to a little higher standard of living haha.

  • Debra

    My friend knows the value of social media to promote his business, but he has no time to do it himself. Many companies now hire experts to do it for them, but my friend uses several internet marketing students as unpaid interns (on a schedule) to take content from his company website/newsletters/current news/blogs etc. and tweet and bleat their little hearts out on all the social media markets. You could just choose one (linkedin could get you paid writing jobs). The students are happy for the opportunity to build their resume. They track their success and boast about it. Maybe, you know of students or someone who can help you do the parts you hate. Offer a commission on a percentage of increase in earnings. With all of this brainstorming you will find a way to make this work for you. I know exactly what you mean, there are parts of every job we like and hate and I have always said if the world depended on my purchases, little money would change hands. Few people are like us (must confess, currently, I am resting and trading my skills as a personal assistant for a salary plus luxury living situation-while setting up my online business). Most people get their identity from their jobs $$ and want to spend the money they make. If not with you, than someone else. You are the expert in a niche and there are things that you can market– articles comparing the your kind of trip to the high end trips–too mercenary for you, then impact of high end verses your way would sell too. Having led several trips, I argue with myself all the time about what it takes for an income vs desire to be free. My travelers usually want a little more luxury, but trust me, so always have a great time despite some difficulties (closed borders–sand floors–chicken bus–cat. 4 hurricane). And it is the main reason I have not jumped into the travel blogging business. Though, as I get older, a mid-range trip is more appealing. Just returned from Mexico–stayed in high price for me $45.00 per night double. A few years ago, I mentioned to a woman that I wanted to take the 2nd class train through Copper Canyon. She told her travel writer husband. He had never even heard of it, but sent out proposals for articles. They went on a free 1st class Copper Canyon train trip and he wrote about it and received money from several magazines. I still have not been to CC. What is wrong with me? I thought about it–He did it! You are doing it, I admire you and am sure that things will very soon make a turn for the better. Most people don’t know that Rick Steves prefers low to the ground, 3rd world travel, but refuses to write about it or take people with him for fear of their behavior. He had to make his money selling mid-range travel, teaching people (who were going anyway) historical/knowledgeable travel and how not to be so ugly. He says he does not need any more money, so he travels with his family more where he likes and gives the money away. That is a great reason to make a lot of money. Your family is a great reason to make a little more than enough. More blessings! PS Love the name/place Petra.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Debra,

      The student intern suggestion is spot on! I have connections to get them, I even set up a travel news section, travel guides, and other things made for such an endeavor. But have not got around to making the contacts. I feel lazy about it, but my work days are always full haha. With you suggestion about having students do social media, I think I will reach out to get some this week. To be honest, I really hate doing the social media work, but — obviously — many people seem to love it (otherwise FB and Twitter would not be so big) haha. Good call, for sure. A good traffic tracking score board would be excellent as well. Thanks for this suggestion.

      About Rick Steves. I really admire this guy. He built up his business from the ground up, made his own videos, gave them away for free to PBS, published his own books, sold his own stuff out of his own store. He is completely self made in terms that he did not go out to work for anybody else — he made his own brand, his own niche, and he became incredibly successful. Glad you brought him up here.

      This also brings up another good point, and one which many travel writers who make their names writing about budget travel find themselves stuck it: there is far more money to be made selling to the middle and upper class travel crowd. It is hilarious to watch the droves of travel writers who once wrote about cheap this and cheap that now trying to sell to the middle class. None have been that successful, as they have labeled themselves, “Budget travelers,” and now they are stuck with this title. Some now even write their middle and upper class travel stuff under a pen name. Funny stuff.

      Right on again about how my family would probably like me to bring in some more money. Haha, too bad I write for the cheapest of the cheapest of travel crowds. Can’t help it though, this is what I am.

  • http://www.kriskemp.com Kris Kemp

    Wade,

    Wow. I think the answers are easier than you think, man.

    Seriously.

    I’m a 42-year old guy, semi-retired. I’m a dumpster diver, real estate investor, e-book author, website developer.

    You could do what I did. And please read this, because I’m not trying to sell you anything. In fact, if you want my e-book, e-mail me at: bicycledays@yahoo.com and I’ll send you it, free.

    Here’s what I did, and now I’m getting checks in the mail.

    1. I worked at Papa John’s, delivering pizzas, for about a year. During this time, I lived for free at different friends houses, sleeping on the living room couch of one, and later, sleeping in the kitchen of another. In exchange for living with these friends, I would do errands, chores. I managed to save a lot of money, because for food, I was eating pizzas or dumpster diving.

    2. I bought a small property at a tax deed sale in North Florida, sold it for profit. Used those profits to buy more properties to flip or rent out. I explain how to to this in Make Big Profits Flipping Florida Land (http://www.FlipFloridaLand.com)

    3. Later on, I got an e-mail from a bank about a foreclosure sale coming up. I was in Vermont at the time. I drove to Wrightsville, Georgia, camped out in front of one of the properties about to go to foreclosure sale, snuck in the back window to look at it. Started cleaning it out. Before I left to go look at the property, I contacted a friend who wanted to go 50/50 on the deal. He would provide the money. I would buy it and find a buyer. We would split the profit. We did that, and now we earn about $315 every month, that we split.

    Wade, I hope you’re reading this, because you can do the same thing I did and get freedom in your life.

    You don’t have to care about real estate, either. You just need to follow what I did to make it work. If you want to learn how to do this, e-mail me. It will give you freedom for you and your family.

    Another thing, Wade, you could charge $25 an hour to make word press theme websites. You’re very talented.

    If it’s free, then people don’t appreciate it. People have to pay something in order to value it, at least that’s how it seems in American culture anyway.

    Call me,

    Kris Kemp
    http://www.kriskemp.com
    http://www.flipfloridaland.com

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks again,

      The last line in this comment is truly wise. There is some odd psychological preset that makes people think that if something is priced cheap it is junk, and, conversely, if it is expensive it may be really good. I don’t think this is just American culture, but perhaps is an attribute of “modern material culture.” I went to an upper class mall in Mexico City and found many samples of cheap — sub $1 value — costume jewelry being sold for $45. I photographed it and will publish the story. Funny stuff.

      But I will surely send an email your way, and your ebook would be great to read. Thanks for all the help.

  • Kris Kemp

    Try CPALead.com or CPALeads.com

    You can earn up to $3.56 per form fill out.

    Just ask every single one of your subscribers and visitors to keep your blog going by …
    clicking this link and filling out a survey or …
    clicking this link and participating in a survey

    You can earn 3.56 per survey.

    Think about it.

    If you have 100 visitors a day to your blog who will fill out the link, then that’s over $300 a day.

    Wade. Start taking the advice of people who are leaving comments.

    Write down all the useful suggestions and try them out and see which ones work.

    You have a great blog, just refocus and try some new monetization techniques.

    You’re smart, determined, and persistent. You can do it.

    Real estate, too, is great. Get a junker house in Macon, Georgia. Buy it for $1,500. Fix it up a little. Sell it as Contract for Deed or Rent to Own for $6,500 at 12.75% interest. Do this with some other houses, and you’ll be getting checks in the mail or direct deposit. I can teach you how to do this.

    kris

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Kris,

      Will surely do this. Your help is much appreciated.

    • http://www.makerweekend.com Calvin

      Hey, can you teach ME how to do this? Do you sell a book :)

      • Wade Shepard

        Teach you to do what? Work for $3 an hour haha? If you mean build a large, high traffic website, persistence, persistence, persistence is key. Expect to publish five pages per day for 5 years before you make any money. If you don’t truly enjoy the work, then just about any other profession would be more fruitful. Foolishly, perhaps, I love this.

  • Debra

    Get a cute Donate widget and put it higher on the page. Until this article people probably thought you were pulling in big bucks and stashing it away. LOL 100,000 visitors monthly and you only need $600, only 166 people need to donate $25 per month–doesn’t have to be the same 166 each month–$100 more per month would do it. Missionaries would love those numbers. Put up a counter showing what you have received and what you need. Set up the interest account that was discussed in another article and put everything above $600 or whatever you need in it to fund the future. Ask! What do you have to lose??

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Wow, you are full of good idea. I will try this. Do you have any suggestions on where to find a donation counter widget?

      • debra

        Thanks, I just need to patent some of them. LOL I do love to encourage people. In fact, I almost mentioned teaching English, but figured you knew that one. You could do some one-on-one or group conversations $$ (easier than teaching) about blogging. When I began to think about traveling long term, I earned a TSOL Certificate. Have only taught as a volunteer.
        But before you work on the new widget, move your current support button to the top.
        Above or below it, consider writing something like:
        Vagabond Journey Travel Needs Team Members! Over 100,000 viewers each month and hundreds of comments say YOU love our travel blogs. PLEASE encourage us to consistently GIVE you FREE award-winning travel blogs by joining the VJT Team. Team Members can support one more day $XX or a few more hours.Thank You Team, Wade, Chaya and Petra

        Please let me know WHEN this begins to bring in returns.

        Then try below, but I have never done it and probably someone (intern) can do it for you using
        a cute family photo or create a “guy running around a globe” or “a group of people standing around a globe while little family is running.” Need a humble but eye catching widget. Instructions:
        http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/paypal-widget-1
        Read all the way down there seems to be a correction half way.
        Need to get to work on my own new biz, but just heard new laptop is still 10 days away.

        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

          Wow, this is a really great. It is such promotional wording like you spouted out above that I have difficulty with haha. I need help from people like you haha. I am looking for an automated donation program now which has a little bar that automatically rises with each donation. I will surely notify you when it works. Thanks.

          • debra

            In sales and lobbing for years, I have done a lot of consulting, speaking (live audience, TV and radio) and persuasive/motivational writing—speeches, resumes, newsletters, editing, promotional letters, brochure, copy, sales training power-point programs, ads and sales. Those few promotional lines from this mom are a gift for Chaya and Petra. Words are so much fun, you can arrange and rearrange them infinitely and you can use them to cause people to act for good. When I tell stories, I get to relive the event and people usually like hearing them, just not disciplined about writing them down. I really like the promotional process, a bit challenged by technology, but perfectionist enough to work to learn the best. Still admire that you just do it. Reading “Poke the Box,” you are poking, you just need to keep looking for new places/ways to poke.

          • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

            Your perspective/ strategies for action have proved to be pretty inspiring. Thank you. Will get some of these — as well as other ideas mentioned here — rolling today. Thanks you you, Debra, and to everyone else who has helped out here.

  • http://www.thecandytrail.com/ the candy trail … | Michael Robert Powell

    Wade (Sorry, I just found this now as I’ve been on the road and then off the net some weeks here in China), anyway, this is the bones bared of the travel blog – blogging scene in general; a nasty marketing lie.

    AND I AGREE.

    So, what can I add to the range of comment & advice – not much except, encouragement and anecdote.

    >>>>>>>> You are an excellent writer, cool dude, and a real traveler. Period. Start there.

    And like me, you have no stomach for the dull, cliched commercial crap of a largely pretentious, mainstream travel blogging community BUT that is where the real money is; that is what society wants.

    (I was once an occasional, freelance, well-paid travel writer in the mid-90s for newspapers but I said, ‘Stick it , society!”). Now, I think of getting back into it … as the market explodes, online … So, find your place in the online travel writing scene and offer stuff to them.

    Personally, my website makes no money and that’s fine as it’s my hobby and am (probably) the most uncompromising travel bastard in the entire scene .

    I realized the issues – what you now speak – some time ago and also loathe networking (and the time wasted online). So, I teach English – usually – on the road and always in foreign country to get amid the culture (rather than on-screen every hour as a blogger), and I also sell my travel images and digital art. I only work about 15 hours a week – lots of free time – but often I don’t work for months or years, depending my savings.

    Maybe try, again, English teaching – which would set you both up fast to living in a foreign land, saving, and traveling … And continue your site as a scaled-down mellow-income hobby, and meantime, get-known as a travel writer via other travel sites.

    Stay strong; be you …

    The path will find you …

    Regards – Michael | the candy trail … nomadic across the planet, since 1988

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Michael,

      You have been down this road before, and I honestly think that your strategy is good. Teaching not only provides the money to keep traveling, but also an “in” and an identity when in a place. It also provides time to build relationships and to get behind the mask far more than traveling fast. I like the travel fast for a while then sit down, stay for a few months and get into place strategy.

      As far as teaching though, it really is not my thing — but I have a wife who is a teacher, and she is looking to get back to working hehehe. We already know that we can live off of the website — we have been doing it for a year now — but we just want some extra income to save and to live a little less restrained by finances. Yes, taking teaching jobs in interesting locations may be just the thing: Chaya can go to work and I can walk around all day talking with people and getting content for the website with Petra. This could work out really well. Good suggestion.

      We are looking now at going out to Qinghai province — I like it out there — and are sending applications off to Kevin Stewart, who runs a really interesting school for Tibetans. It won’t pay much, but it would be worth it to be out there in the middle of nowhere with a role and a function.

      Perhaps our paths will cross?

  • http://www.thecandytrail.com/ the candy trail … | Michael Robert Powell

    Great. Problem solved !!! You continue, as is, with Petra – a “house hubby” ;) – while Chaya teaches (as I know that teaching is not for everyone) and that way you get some extra cash, foreign experience and travels, and still have that freedom.

    Such jobs usually include a free apartment, also. (And often at least free outward flight for employee).

    As for Qinghai, I was intending to head over there on route to Xinjiang while on route to the “Stans” – but it could all be timing as I maybe there within 3-6 months or much much sooner . No real plans, as usual. Be cool to meet up.

    Regards – Michael

  • wa1den

    Hey, I would like to suggest that you venture to read a really cool & helpful book I ran across, entitled “The Four-Hour Work Week”. I think you will find that it contains a LOT of very useful strategies that can help you boost the return on your time invested, regardless of the areas of your endeavors. Take a look & see what you think.This was written by a guy named Tim Ferriss.

    Another idea for consideration as well: Have you looked at all at the possibility of doing some stock or microstock photography? This is something that has to be developed over time, but has the potential to bring in ongoing residual income, and it might fit in well with your travels. I personally have used photography to advantage for bringing in some income on the side, and a good camera doesn’t take up too much real estate in the baggage (no doubt you’re likely carrying one with you already). Some of the good ones out now shoot not only photos, but also high-def video as well, and you could try adding some video clips to your blog & websites. Considering some of the places you are traveling to, I’ll bet you would come up with some really cool and interesting footage & photos of the places you are visiting. I’m soon going to be headed abroad myself, but in my case, I’m on social security now, so I’m going to have over $1000 per month guaranteed without lifting a finger… so anything additional I can manage to bring in will be frosting on the cake. But shooting video & photos for hire could be an option for you – at weddings, quinceanera parties, & stuff like that. However, the really viable option in my opinion is going to be the microstock photo sales… no issues there of your right to work for hire in the country you are in.
    I wish you the best…. perhaps I’ll run across you one day while wandering around in far-off places!

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Walden,

      My experience with selling photos is that publishers want them for nothing haha. I have never known those photo stock selling programs to make any travel blogger much of any money. Many friends and associates have tried, and very few made anything. There is a dilution of content and photos out there, and the value of photos has dropped considerably. I use to sell photos for around $50 each to magazines, but over the past year this has dried up completely. I just had one magazine wanting to use some photos, but when I told them that they would need to pay they said that they would rather find similar photos for free. They probably did. I truly feel for the professional freelance photographers out there, as their profession seems to have been seriously undercut by bloggers willing to offer up their photos for just about nothing.

      But my impression of this could change, and selling photos may once again prove valuable. This is a good suggestion, as photos from lesser traveled places or of events that magazines have articles about but no photos are of need. It just seems as if their market value has decreased considerably over the past year.

      What I find particularly onerous are the websites that automatically strip photos from a website and then distribute them without permission — blatantly violating copyright. I am currently battling various websites that have stripped thousands of photos off of VagabondJourney illegally and are using them for their own benefit. My travel photos section use to be one of my biggest money makers, but now that so many of those photos have been stolen by a plethora of other websites I am now competing for search traffic against my own photos.

      It is just looking to me as if I am fighting a losing battle with so many aspects of internet publishing. What once worked a year or two ago is no longer viable. Alternatives are needed, but so many other people are also looking to exploit them. This is a truly diluted market, and I feel as though I need to start viewing the site as more of a launching pad than a way to make money in and of itself.

      Thank you for the suggestions and ideas, it truly means so much that so many people care. Thanks.

  • Debbie

    I’m not so sure about ebooks – I think they could go the way of affiliate programmes, sites like flickr and earning money through clicks – too little, and declining revenues as more and more people come onto the internet and try to make money from these programmes. But using one of the free publishers (if Bloomsbury or the like pick up your book, so much the better, but in case they don’t….) like lulu.com doesn’t seem such a bad idea to me. They stock your book, at whatever price you want to sell it, and, provided you invest in an ISBN, you can then send some off to Amazon for them to sell for you via their “fulfilled by Amazon” sales channel. They will probably, given your web traffic, be plenty of people out there interested in reading about your travels. Meanwhile, you could also buy a few copies from Lulu.com, so you could sell them directly off your website. Just don’t let them be the publisher, i.e. make sure “Vagabond Publishing” or whatever name you would like to use :-) shows as the publisher. Otherwise people may be put off, thinking you self published because you couldn’t get a mainstream publisher to pick up your book.

    I mention lulu.com because I have bought books from them in the past, even though I don’t live in The States.

    I don’t know about teaching English overseas. If you wouldn’t want to do that in The States, would you want to do it while travelling? I taught English in China for 18 months, and what I found was my time was never my own. When I wasn’t in class, groups of students would come to visit — which obviously the university encouraged. After all, by Chinese standards they were paying top dollar for our skills so wanted to milk the most out of us.

    Why not tell us how we can help you make money, e.g. by clicking through to the advertisers on your site? Not everyone is internet savvy about this kind of thing.

    I wouldn’t go back to working for someone else, even if it meant living on £10 a day. That’s a road to ruin creatively. Put it this way, some people are suited to that life, and good luck to them, may they live long enough to enjoy some freedom in their old age, (because that’s what they will be when they finally retire – over 65 and maybe even 70) and may they make millions. And some aren’t and that’s us – the ones who left all that behind and became our own bosses.

    Going back to teaching English, I found one on one tutoring more lucrative and less stressful. But it’s not for everyone – not everyone wants to open their home to strangers. What about more esoteric pursuits like tarot reading? It’s still labour, but it does pay well. I used to quite enjoy going to spiritual fairs and just renting a booth for the day. For some of the more serious full time readers, that, to them was advertising as well as stall rental. Not phone tarot though – that’s horrible.

    Failing all of this, I once did a spot of envelope stuffing and leaflet delivering. I really did it just for the exercise, but I did make £40 for the day which I was quite pleased about. I’m not sure though if they do this kind of thing stateside.

    There is something that doesn’t happen over here in the UK from what I can see but was done across The Pond when we lived there. People would hire other people to drive their cars to whichever part of The States they were moving to while pulling a U-Haul enclosed trailer, including covering the train/plane journey back to base.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Debbie,

      Good advice on choosing print publishing over ebooks. There is something of inherent value to being able to physically hold something that you pay money for. I have never purchased an ebook and probably never will. They just seem like a big rip off to me — especially since they are often sold for more money than print books. My problem is that this first book is probably going to come in at 200 to 300 pages. All those pages cost a lot to put in print, so, economically speaking, an ebook would be vastly cheaper to produce. But there is something about ebooks that I just don’t like, and I don’t know why I would try to sell something that I would not buy. That would be ridiculous.

      So print publishing it is with perhaps an ebook compliment for people who would prefer that medium (if someone is traveling or does not have a fixed address an ebook gains new penitence). As far as self publishing goes, this will be my first choice. I interview many authors on this site, many of whom have published well distributed books through legit publishers. They generally don’t make shit from their labor — some are still waiting tables.

      Part of writing a book is to make money. If I was not concerned with this then I would just put everything online — everyone knows I won’t make much from it here haha.

      As far as teaching English goes, I have done it in various countries before. Don’t care for it too much, but this is mostly because I don’t like working for others. As you have pointed out, it is often not the most beneficial lifestyle for creativity. Though formal employment does put you in proximity to new people, new places, and is an in into a culture, place, or people. Being a foreign English teacher also provides you with an identity in a place, which is important for making friends or learning about the culture. A traveler (tourist) generally does not really learn too much about the cultures they travel through just by breezing through. Having a place in a community is really the only way to learn what is going on.

      Thanks for this comment and advice. It is appreciated.

      • Bob L

        I’ve read different things on this. For example, one guy was selling ebooks at a fairly normal price, but was not selling many. Then he reduced the price to $0.99 and was selling so many that he was making a lot more money than when he had them at a higher price. I am not familiar with the industry, but I wonder how many paper books you would have to sell just to cover the cost of publishing? Can you make more profit by selling books on-line? How do you promote a book (paper or e-book)? Can you get an advance from some publisher?

        All good questions. Obviously, the easy way is to create an E-Book and sell it from your site, but I doubt that is the best way. If you sell an e-book through amazon or some other e-book publisher, how much do you get per book? What about paper books? I think the world of publishing has gotten more complicated now that there are so many choices.

        If your book is targetting low budget travelers, I would think it would have to be low budget. Personally, with so many used books out there that can be gotten for a couple of bucks, if not free, I NEVER buy a new book. Now, if E-Books were $1 to $2 I would probably buy quite a few, put them in a folder and read them on my ‘puter when I got around to it. Heck, I might even consider buying an e-book reader, something I would not even think of doing with books being $10 or more.

        Now, I truly prefer reading paper books, and the fact that I can trade or give them away helps. I can also take them somewhere and chuck them when done to lighten my load.

        Just some things to think about. It will be interesting to see how you do no matter what you decide.

        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

          Bob, you lay out the parameters of modern book publishing well here. It is my opinion that a print book holds more implicit value than an ebook, but a print book is vastly more costly to produce (both POD and through a publisher) and ship. While an ebook, basically, is free. The difference in cost of production is vast. If I go for a print book I do not think I will make my money back — even big time publishers often have difficulty paying the bulk of their authors a fair price, but if I go for an ebook I am guaranteed at least to make some money (if only you buy one I will still be in the green haha). Unless I find a publisher, I will more than likely opt to print up a small amount of print books (100 or so) but also do an ebook.

          You really hit home on the benefit of an ebook: they are nothing, space-less digital entities which cost little to produce, so they should be sold cheap. If I sold them for $1 a piece there would be little reason for anyone to not buy one, but, buy a different token, who values something they paid $1 for?

          It will be interesting to see how this develops, I am equally clueless.

          • Bob L

            “If I sold them for $1 a piece there would be little reason for anyone to not buy one, but, buy a different token, who values something they paid $1 for?”

            You make a good point, one I thought of after I wrote the original comment. Sometimes you can sell more of something by raising the price. I have seen this on vehicles a number of times, where at a low price no one calls, but when the price is raised, the vehicle sold imediately.

            Hey, put them out there for a reasonable price, if they don’t sell, drop the price in steps.

          • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

            Yeah, we will try a few things. I suppose I have to ask myself: would I pay $10 for an ebook? No way. $5? Yeah right. $2? Yes, I may pay two dollars for an ebook. I suppose in business it is prudent to ask yourself, “Would I buy what I’m selling?” If not, then don’t sell it. Well, this may work unless you are a little strange haha. But it is my impression that if this is the case then many of the readers here are in the same boat haha.

          • Debbie

            Sorry but I can’t agree with this. With books, as with music, you pay for the content, not the medium. A physical book costs a publisher all of 50 cents to $1 USD to physically make, if that. The costs thereafter go for their fancy offices, lots of staff, the transport to get it out to the various retailers, their editors etc etc. You run a websire, and a fairly well put together one too, from what I can see. I am sure you could put together an E Book. Personally I haven’t a clue how to go about doing that, but you probably do.

            If you choose not to create your book physically and just have it available for download, electronically, people will still buy it. Some examples. There’s a band from the Middle East that I like. They don’t make CDs of their music. The only way you can get it is to buy and download it online. Then, if you want a physical CD, you burn your own. Or how about a game like bigjig (Lenagames, out of California). There’s a free online version, but if you want access to her library of pictures and to the program to make your own jigsaws, you have to buy it. When I bought my copy it was USD$19.95. Sure, it’s for life, but so is a book, well, at least until it deteriorates.

            E-Books do have certain advantages over books, when it comes to photos, and videos. You can incorporate a video into an E-Book but not into a physical book. it is likely with E-Books that the experience of viewing any photos associated with the book will be superior to looking at them in a mass produced book, even if the quality is good, because they would be that much smaller compared to the online edition. If you’re going somewhere you can download it and read it on your notebook. There would be a significant number of travellers on long commutes who might well prefer to do that instead of lugging a book around as well as their laptops.

            An E-Book is still a published book. It’s just a book that currently is only available in electronic format. But because it is published, I think it would be a good idea to look into whether or not the timing would be right to get an ISBN for it.

            How about this. Say it would cost you $12 to physically get a printer to print your book. So you still get an ISBN, make an arrangement with a publishing house to print on demand and drop ship, if orders are made for the physical book, and price the E-Book at $9 and the physical book at, say, $13. Sure, if they buy the E Book edition, you’ll make more than if they buy the physical version, but that doesn’t mean you price the E book edition at $5 and the physical one at $17, i.e. that you devalue the E Book just because of the electronic versus paper medium.
            It’s not the medium that holds the value – it’s the content.

            I can prove it to you. Go down to your local Walmart and pick up a lined 200 page notebook, the kind with tear out pages that you use for school or uni. This is worth the physical experience of actually doing it. I’ve done this very same thing at Asda (Walmart over here). Halve the price and add $0.20 for the ink and another $0.20 to upgrade the cover. That’s all a physical book is. Everything else associated with that book, including the content, is incidental to the book itself, even if its a cost, e.g. transportation for the physical book / broadband for the electronic one, that arises directly from the medium.

            There’s a guy over here, Oliver Goehler, who every now and then, publishes a new E Book on his favourite topic which happens to be how to make a living using EBay. His sell prices are around £19.50 a pop. He has some feeder stuff available for free, but beyond that you have to pay for it. And people buy his stuff. He’s now well off.

            Remember that movie “if you build it they will come….” About a cornfield and a baseball pitch? It’s a bit like that. If you write your book, include plenty of great photos, put it on your website with paypal and a secure payment method for visa/mastercard on there too, people will buy the book. And as an option, maybe have a kindle version, so Amazon can sell it for you too.

          • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

            Thank you, Debbie,

            Responded to this via email. Much appreciated.

          • frank

            You don’t have to be fancy with printed books. Just print the pages off on a laser printer and bind them with a cheap binder from the office supplies store and sell them like that. If the information is truly valuable, people will not be dissatisfied. Financial types routinely charge $10K for a single copy of a booklet printed like I just described. I currently pay $299 myself for a monthly subscriptions to a financial publication that amounts to 10 pages of a PDF file, mostly text with sometimes a couple of black-and-white charts thrown in, and I have no complaints, since the information easily returned 10 times what I’m paying, at least to me. The key is that the information has to have a very clear value. Human-interest travel stories won’t cut it.

            I don’t see what your objection to e-books is. You’re fetishing material objects. Here your own website is e-only and yet you are pissing on the e-only world. Do you perhaps have a self-hating streak? Hmm, that would also explain the low-income…

            Here is an example that might work for you. Find some towns in Central America that are suitable for cheap retirement for Americans. Give a full-description of everything an American would need to know to retire to these towns, so that your site becomes the go-to place for web searches about retiring cheap to central America. Target people who have like $800/month social security, since you seem to have an affinity for the nickle-and-diming crowd and they are also the most numerous and the retirees who really, really need what you are offering. Here’s the key, in addition to free evergreen pages, which you constantly update and which provide general information, you also sell something. For example, for say $30, you provide an introduction to providers of medical or housing or other services which you have previously inspected and can vouch for. You give the buyer a code which they provide to the provider to get a special rate, which effectively rebates part of the $30. The code is unique per buyer, so the buyer can’t distribute it on the internet to other people. You then contact both the retiree and the provider of services so as to ensure everyone was satisfied and work to fix any dissatisfaction. This provides the retiree with some assurance that they won’t be ripped off (a big fear of Americans visiting and especially retiring to other countries) or at least that they’ll have someone in their corner fighting for them. It’s a win-win-win (retiree, provider, you) situation. Each transaction should take no more than 1 hour to process, so you could easily handle 3/day. Subtracting costs (phone and travel) and there’s the $90/day you say would allow you to live in luxury. Of course, it might take several years for such a business to reach the 3/day level, but it seems like the sort of business that could grow slowly but surely for an indefinite length of time.

            There are all sorts of automated sites trying to connect buyers and sellers of services (in exchange for a small slice of the transaction), but they all seem to work half-assed precisely because they are automated. For example, craigslist, airbnb, vrbo try to connect renters and landlords–all of them are plagued by charges of fraud and incompetence. By putting a live human being in the middle, you differentiate yourself from all these half-assed automated sites. The personal touch means you are unlikely to face big competition down the road. Americans won’t be able to compete with you on cost, locals won’t be able to compete with your status as a native American.

            This is just an idea. There are other ways. The key is to sell the information that has clear monetary value, and give away the other information in order to attract potential buyers and establish presence and credibility on the internet. You’ve probably heard the quote “information wants to be free”. The full quote is like “Information wants to be free, because it costs nothing to reproduce. Information wants to be expensive, because it is valuable.” The gap between low-cost of electronic reproduction and high-value of what is being reproduced is what allows for profits.

  • http://MonkeyBrewster.com Cornelius Aesop

    I haven’t even begun my long term travel, I’m still building up my experience and website hoping to eventually make enough money off of it that it covers its own expenses then we will see about any kind of profit, big or little. That and I’m half way through a free graduate program. Yet, my true goal is to make this a lived experience and then go back to school for a PhD and teach a cultural anthropology, ethnic studies style class where I can speak from these experiences not simply a book.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Right on, a website is a great place to store your impressions about the world you travel through. Though the topics that are often interesting to investigate are not the best to make money from. If you want to make money with your website focus on resorts and tourism and selling travel haha. Hmm, it would take a very wise man to give this an anthropological twist haha.

      Thanks for this comment. Let me know how all this works out.

  • debra

    Debbie, you have said it well. Times are a changin’ Writers must embrace it. It is a great time to live in. Aspiring writers can be earn money immediately. It is a good thing. Just wondering if the oral story tellers were excited when the printing press was invented? LOL

  • Elizabeth

    Hey Wade, I came across a post where you said to a fellow reader “Andy G stresses that if you put up five pages per day for two years you will begin to make enough money to continuously travel. I agree with this advice.” Where did fail to make the money you wanted to? Not reaching that point of 150 per day. What are you doing to implanting new strategies? I would really like to know where you think you messed up at?? It could really help me implement them into my plan and not make the same mistakes. Maybe we could exchange emails and you could give me some advice?? I am not a total noob. I know about keywords, H1,H2 tags, Alt images, Posting keywords in post etc but maybe I can learn something new. I would really appreciate it. Thanks for you time and maybe we can exchange emails. If you agree, what would be the best email to reach you at?

    Elizabeth

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Hello Elizabeth,

      You hit on the point of this entry at the head: the projections made in 2007 are no longer relevant in 2011. When I did the math on this project it became clear that I would need X amount of visitors to make X amount of dollars. I have now got the traffic but the money has been much slower in coming. We do make money though — we have been living off of this project for the past year, but we just need to double or triple what we make to really continue on. We are working on it though.

      As far as improving your own site, I would recommend watching Youtube instructional videos on SEO and web construction, online tutorials, and getting a few books than talking to me. There are experts out there shedding advice everywhere, and my advice on this matter should not compare. But if you want to talk about how to gut an eat an animal, I can tell you all about that haha.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • http://www.travelnlass.com/ Dyanne @TravelnLass

    Fantastic post Wade (and so refreshingly candid!) And likewise such interesting comments. Not sure my own .02 can add anything much to the mix, but nonetheless, as a lass who long ago gave up a most promising climb up the corporate career ladder in favor of following her own brand of travel bliss, I can offer the following:

    1. There must be at least a bazillion ways to make a decent living (perhaps not posh, but nonetheless quite comfortable) from travel. I sincerely believe it’s limited only by your own imagination. And yes, agreed: NOT by working for someone else, but rather, as an entrepreneur. For starters, there’s my own example: So You Wanna Be an Int’l Tour Operator, Huh? (Note: 3 posts in a series, the final fourth in the saga, still to come.)

    Just one of gazillion ways to follow your travel bliss in this life, whilst not being compelled to eat macaroni and cheese every blessed meal.

    2. As stated, above (“…not posh, but…”) there ARE of course trade-offs involved. Just like every other path one chooses in life. IOW, Nope, you’ll likely NEVER make as many rubles following your travel bliss as climbing (like a zombie?) up the corporate career ladder. But you can most certainly make a decent living and besides… Isn’t the trade-off of “working” at what your love, worth it?

    3. Speaking of which (i.e. “working”) – let’s be realistic here. There’s surely no free lunches in life (who would be foolish enough to work at making them, only to hand them out freely to those who want one for doing nothing, yes?) Even doing what you love is most certainly going to involve a heck of a lot of hard work (not to mention, time – long hard hours, esp. in the beginning, as you’ve done here w/ VJ). But again, you’re following your own bliss after all (not say… waiting tables or changing oil), so isn’t that worth it?

    4. Only other tip I might add is… Yes, yes, you’re most surely on the right path with your plan to “diversify” (i.e. “make money four or five different ways”.) Leastwise, that’s what I did/do. I started my own little int’l tour company (specializing in travel to a country that at the time, few had even HEARD of), but I’ve also ever dabbled in various other travel-related revenue streams (taught travel classes, reviewed hotels for a world-wide hotel directory, etc., as well as taught myself HTML and became a whiz at digital graphics, so I can fiddle websites from anywhere on the globe.) In short, yes, yes, diversify. A few rubles here, a handful there – it all can add up to a decent living.

    And finally, I have to laugh. Yes, I recently started blogging a bit (mainly, like everyone else, as a way to chronicle my next crazy travel scheme – moving lock, stock ‘n barrel to some g-forsaken rice paddy.) But trust that when I first looked into the blog scene, it swiftly became obvious that making rubles at it wasn’t – in a million years – ever gonna make me rich. So I do the blogging merely as a fun thing and honestly, mainly because I’m just fascinated with learning how it all works.

    So I think you’re on the right track – you’ve built quite a nice little revenue stream here doing what you love and on your own terms. So yes, now just a matter of fine-tuning what’s working and what isn’t, and finding a couple of other ways to bring in a few more rubles for the luxury of munching on a steak once in awhile.

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Thanks Dyanne,

      Wise words here, and very much on the page of where I am right now. I considered getting into some other ventures to add to my income, but then just realized that it would take away from what I like doing. There are a lot of really good ideas shared here — someone with a less stubborn mindset could stop by and sweep up what was shared here and cash in — but I like publishing. So, rather than starting up a new profession from the ground, I started adding other dimensions to JVT. The book that I spoke of earlier is well on its way, and I have another project going that should add another facet to this game. I know well that publishing, informing, entertaining is not really the best way to make money, but, honestly, it is what I like doing. I am not starving yet. If I can match my website income with these two other projects I will be doing well. As you put it, not posh but comfortable.

      Thanks for your advice and support, it is much appreciated.

  • Larry

    Dear Wade. I loved the article and can relate.

    I will give you my point first, then the summary.

    Shoot for three times the money you think you will need by targeting the middle class and upper middle class that you seem to have chosen to neglect, to their misfortune. Those people need your help and experience as well as the vagabond. The shift is purely psychological, and can be made in seconds. The paradigm changes from neglect to help, from survive to thrive. It is all contained in the way you frame it, and the choice is yours. Good luck.

    I am a 62 y/o career piano player that has pursued his passion since 8 y/o. I still play 3 nights per week at an upscale restaurant in Baton Rouge. I have never done any other kind of work.

    I live on $600/month and that includes car insurance, rent and utilities and food and gas. I eat out often, and have no debt and I live close to my work. I save at least $700 per month.

    [edited do to length]

    And even though we have more handy gadgets to stay connected and do business with that are coming Down in price, the cost of the items we Need is dramatically rising. Food, shelter, clothing, cars, gas, eyeglasses, etc., and hearing aids…….lol.

    Of course, this is not news to you or most of your readers!

    I call this the “money trap”….others call it inflation…still others call it white collar crime, but no matter what you call it, this is a FACT that you can do little about and must plan on living with it.
    Even if you had bought gold and silver at the bottom at $258 and $4, this will not make you wealthy unless you were rich before you bought it! However precious metals Will retain your purchasing power! Keep that in mind.

    So my first money suggestion is this: whatever you think you will need to make a good living at over the next 10 years, triple it! Thats about right. So if you currently think $3k per month is about right for you, shoot for a skills upgrade that will bring in $9k per month to factor in for inevitable loss of money purchasing power! IMO, this is the only way to thrive, and without specialized education or incredible “personal power”, you will never make that kind of money working for someone else. This means that most of us need to get “way out of the box”.

    IMO, you just need to tweak the box, do some ebooks, slighty change strategy and audience, and charge more for your services while targeting a higher paid market group. Over the years, you have done plenty to help the vagabond. How about helping the middle to upper middle class travel for less and experience the “off the beaten path” lifestyle? We are people too!

    The good news is this: There are plenty of people, in various fields of interest, doing this off the internet, as you well know. They turned a passion into a big business, but one that generates alot of interest and many high paying subscribers. Shoot for that!

    You don’t have to be “greedy” to make big money. You don’t have to sell an inferior product or a pipe dream to make it either. What you have do is think smart, and you must add more value to other peoples lives than anyone else is doing….Success is always a combination of great info/great product, a well thought out and executed target marketing strategy and great Love. Board of directors of successful companies don’t sit around discussing ideas on how to survive….they are only interested in how to Grow and Thrive.

    So my second money suggestion is this: survey your fields of interest carefully to find what is most Important to middle class or upper middle class travelers now, one that they are most willing to pay or “have” to pay hard earned capital to get. That is a survey. Then develop those info skills, or partner with others that have specific knowledge and/or other resources(money), and go for it. Most of that you are doing very well. Tweak it brother!

    I myself, who am not a vagabond, need your help. There are many others like me.

    We want to go to a relatively safe place for 1-4 weeks: fly in, get reliable ground transportation at a fair price, live inexpensively but not on the cheap, immerse within the culture, know who to contact that we can trust to “guide” us to experience the out of the way spots, local restaurants, shops, markets where the locals buy, knowledge of the prices to expect to pay for goods, dinners, etc., and come home, bringing with us a unique and pleasurable “one of a kind” experience. I would pay $25-$35 per ebook for that specific info if it was a place that I wanted to visit. With some pics and trusted teasers, written within a current updated timeframe, I would buy it and never think about cost! The current info and contacts are what I am looking for.

    I have no desire to stay for 3 months in another country until at last I find out these things. I would pay a local guide $25 a day easily. I would pay $50-$75 a day for great local food. There is lodging & transportation as well. There are many income streams here. I am sure you can think of more. I am not talking about “group tours” or “guided tours”. What I am talking about is my choice of experiences with an English speaking guide. I may travel alone, with a significant other, or another couple.

    There at least one million of us in the USA alone. Once this gets going, you should be able to reach at least 10000 (1%) people per year and grow from there. That’s $250k just on ebooks. Not a bad goal for only alittle more work, but making a huge shift in psychology, markets and marketing.

    Suggestion: start another website geared to middle class travelers like myself. Devote most of your efforts to this new venture, and let VJ run on fumes for a couple of months.

    There is plenty of money everywhere! If you don’t have it, partner with someone for resourses.

    Tell your potential partners, “I will touch more people and help more people find great travel destinations at low prices with the best local info and contacts than anyone you will ever meet, and there will be more than enough money for all of us!” This does not require salesmanship. What it does require is that you have a more powerful mental “frame” of actuality than anyone you meet! In other words, you are absolutely sure of yourself and your ability to conquer this quest! No doubt No fear. Just do it. That is the attitude and you already have it!

    If you do not know any people with money to invest, email me.

    [edited do to length]

    Keep your head up – Work smart – keep traveling.

    Larry

    • Wade Shepard

      Hello Larry,

      Thank you very much for this advice. I read every word of it with due attention although I only published segments of your comment due to word count parameters.

      I thought about your advice for a long time — which is why I’ve not replied until now — and I find what you are recommending very sound. Plenty of one time “extreme budget travel” writers have already jumped ship into the middle class market.

      It has become apparent every way around that there is very little money to be made from poor people — especially poor travelers. People who make the amount of money that I make generally do not travel. They are poor, on welfare, struggle day to day to get by. My message is that they don’t have to struggle, that they can go abroad and live 10X as well as they can in their first world ghettos, and I show clearly (or so I hope) how do to this. But my example is seldom heeded. At best, I am some novelty who travels the world with a family on under $10k a year. Even among the poor there are few takers for this lifestyle. As much as I show how good it is, very few, if any will follow. . . and even less, apparently, are willing to shed money to buy ebooks etc . . . on how to live like some kind of vagabond king.

      Except for a precious handful of die hard supporters, you are very correct that my target audience is not one that I can really make much more than a vagabond living off of. You suggest that I jump ship and aim for offering specialized, down and dirty, one of a kind travel information for middle class travelers, and you are right on about this: if I tried this I would stand to make a lot more money. But that is just not me. I know nothing about this type of travel, I’ve never done it, and, the way things are looking, probably never will.

      I am a master at being poor because I’ve always been poor, I’ve become an expert at taking control of my station in life and making the absolute most of it. I live a dream that not even many rich men can touch. I left home when I was 18 without any money and managed to travel the world for the past 12+ years. I never made more than 12 grand in any given year. Looking at this, if I were to write about middle class travel and try to run tours I would be a faker, a fraud, a poseur. I know that I know nothing about this way of travel, it is a different world than the one I live.

      But what is more is that if I were to take your advice I would no longer be engaged in a labor of love, so to speak, it would be work. If I just wanted to make money, there are dozens of things I could do right now to achieve this goal. I have nothing against doing work that I’m not passionate about, I would just prefer to make a living writing about the lifestyle that I live.

      This is what I feel makes this website unique: I travel full time, I work abroad, I generally stay in places longer term, I don’t give a shit about tourist attractions, tours, partying, and trying to get laid, and it is my intention to experience the life of the common worker in every clime around this world. My goals are not that marketable, I know this. But if I gave up on them I would be missing out on engaging in work that is worth far more than the money I make from it.

      As of now, I make enough money from this website and associated projects to live and continue traveling. I don’t live like a rich man, I am thoroughly a vagabond, I complain of how much money I make like everyone else, but I’m happy. I have not been economically forced to worked another job in over three years, and my wife only did a couple month part time stint this entire time. I wake up each morning and do something I love all day in places that I enjoy being.

      My point behind this entry was that this “make money with your blog” bubble has burst. It is just a bunch of marketing designed to make a few people money. The average travel blogger will never make much of anything off their blog unless they focused on a niche that is directly tied to something they can sell. The only reason why I make a living at this is because I’ve been at it full time for six years, and during this time I was able to learn a thing or two, and have built up a pretty massive body of work.

      What I did was pretty stupid. I started on faulty pretenses of how much traffic etc . . . I needed to make a living. Since I started, the game has changed, and it is MUCH more difficult now to successfully monetize a website than it was when I started. If I knew when I first began what I would have to do to become successful in this project I probably would still be an archaeologist haha. But I didn’t know what I was getting into, and I now find myself too far gone to go back now haha. I found myself with a project that I enjoy and can just about live off of. I need more money, but I think it is within my grasps.

  • http://WideAngleWandering.blogspot.com Guy

    I recently reinvigorated my personal travel/photo blog before leaving on a long wandering trip. Along the process I flirted with getting involved in the indie travel blogging “industry” but I found it ultimately distasteful. The techniques that most indie budget travelers use to try and earn money off their blogs strikes me as vapid and unsustainabe.

    I do believe there is money to be made, perhaps enough for those living below their means, but it doesn’t come from the stories and photographs that we love to share.

    Best of luck man. For what it’s worth, I really dig your style.

    • Wade Shepard

      Hello Guy,

      Thanks for these words of encouragement. It’s almost a year after this article was written, and we are now making decent money off of VagabondJourney.com — but this only comes with running the site like a “business.” This means around two hours each day of “business” emails, reaching out to advertisers, and always developing/ burning/ starting new monetization strategies. Yes, you really hit the nail on the head: there is little money in sharing the travel information that we love to publish and share. There needs to be a decision made at some point:

      Am I doing this as a hobby or as a job.

      If you choose the latter, that means long days of “work,” researching, publishing, and promoting content that may not be very much fun creating, while hemming back on the stories you’d love to tell the world about. It’s a bit of a sorry state of affairs, as the stuff that people tend to like to read is not that which is prone to bringing in money.

      We’re sort of shooting for a middle ground: there are sections of the site that are made to earn a living off of and others that are done pretty much for fun. Really trying hard not to fall all the way on one side or the other.

      I’m also trying to free myself up from web publishing a little so I have time to work on books and converting Vagabond Explorer into a Kindle magazine, but, man, once you start running your site as a business it really takes a hold of you. Sometimes after I’m done with emails alone I’m ready to close up shop for the day.

      But no matter how you choose to do it, running your own publication ALWAYS feels like an accomplishment. Every day I go to bed fulfilled — or at least feeling as if I did something.

      • http://WideAngleWandering.blogspot.com Guy

        Fulfilled – awesome. Whenever you get some free time (hah!) I hope you can write some about how you struck that balance.

        I’m glad it’s working out for yáll.

  • http://www.overlander.tv Mark Shea

    Im 8 months into a round the world trip. I’m not losing money, but not making a heap either. I think you are right about having several income sources. I have been making ad revenue from online video, but with recent algorithm changed, most youtube partners took a two thirds hit to income. I don’t see this as such a bad thing, as it means I now have to be a bit more proactive about finding other passive income sources. I have also realised I can’t do it all, so I am employing a secretary and video editor from the philippines. Nerdynomad is one person who is making money from travel blogging, but she is one of the few….I agree, most of these ‘snakes and vipers’ are just trying to sell product.

  • http://www.empressofdrac.com Frugal Cebuana Wanderer

    This article is very hardcore. I mean I often look for budget travel resources online and most of the bloggers brag about how they earn this and that while traveling. It’s good to know the downside of traveling as a lifestyle. This is a very enlightening article. Thanks, Wade. (:

    • Wade Shepard

      It’s sort of disappointing the way travel blogging was evolving back when I wrote this article (spring 2010). All of a sudden, marketing and all that goes along with it (lying, misleading people to make sales, peddling snake oil) became something cool and desirable, when it was this world that many of the first and second wave of travel bloggers sought to escape to begin with. The cubicle was pretty much taken mobile and sold as the SOP of travel blogging, and I found this rather disheartening.

      A lot of this piece just shows simple frustration, but I never actually did go out and diversify my income. I kept at it, and I’m still keeping at it.

      After publishing this piece I pretty much dropped out of/ was expelled from the travel blogging “community” haha. I can’t say I’ve ever looked back :-)

  • mitch

    amen!…..ive browsed thousands of travel blogs all saying the same thing. such a choked market place. i can whiff the swine attached to the diamond though….reminds me all too much of craigslist nowadays…barely offering jobs just call centers seeking your information….but they post useful links every now and again..i fully appreciated every word of this blog..keep the sun on your face hope our paths cross one day :)

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