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How to Make Money While Traveling: Blogging, Web Design, Photography

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In this post, you’ll learn how we became location independent. And how to make money while traveling and living abroad. I’ll cover the specific ways we make money while traveling and living abroad, including blogging, web design, and photography.

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How to Make Money While Traveling

Last week, a reader wanted to know how we earn our living here. We are in a fairly unique situation compared to most expats – at least those in Cuenca. The majority of expats here are retired. They receive a monthly income from pensions or investments and don’t worry too much about their income.

When we moved to Ecuador, it was for a set number of years – we hoped for 2-3 years minimum, as long as the expenses were what we projected. After than, we would run out of money and go back to Canada. Returning wasn’t our goal – it was our worst case scenario. We planned on finding work and staying here indefinitely – which is what we have done.

Here is the question:

Hello Bryan & Dena,
I really enjoy your web site and all of the posts. The new one on health was very enlightening. I have been very interested in the costs of living abroad and have found your site very informative.
I hate to be so personal but how are you generating income to live down there? I know you have the blog and I hope that it with ads is paying you a bunch. Are either of you also working there or via computer back in Canada? Are you writers?
Are you able to get by just writing and living/enjoying life there? How is a typical day for you — not a weekend day but a “work” day?
Feel free to ignore my questions, but to a certain extent I am living vicariously through you. I am a few years off from retirement but like the idea of living elsewhere for at least part of the year.
Thanks for your hard work and interesting site!

So, how do we earn our living? It’s a bit of a long answer, but here goes, for anyone interested.

Project 1: GringosAbroad

What started out as destination-ecuador.com (boring, I know) was changed into what it is now: GringosAbroad.com

Our initial plan was to write and make revenue from advertising earned on our travel blog. The advertising revenue hasn’t really developed to the level we planned, but we are making money from the project.

As a result of our travel / expat site we were hired to cover online business by About.com (at the time, run by The New York Times Company). It was proof that we knew how to run an online business.

Also, through GringosAbroad we met Hernan Rodas, the founder of Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges. He asked us if we would like to visit the Galapagos Islands in return for some writing.

So while we still don’t make enough to maintain our lifestyle by means of GringosAbroad, it has opened up many opportunities for us. And we have plans to generate some revenue from it over the next few months.

Project 2: Storyteller Media 

As a result of our first blog, we have been hired to run numerous content marketing campaigns for travel companies in Ecuador. We have also sold our photos and footage to agencies, restaurants, filmmakers, and other bloggers around the world.

Project 3: Other Websites

Since we began GringosAbroad back in 2009, we have started a number of other sites. These include coffee, camping, and photography.

In addition, Dena has done some writing for International Living and for About.com. I have designed a number websites

I know what you’re thinking: Why do you work so much?

How Much Time Does This All Take?

Although some weeks we end up working all 5 days, this is unusual. On a normal week (although those haven’t been very common this past year) I work about 3 days per week and Dena works about 1+ days. The rest of the time we have for our family and our interests.

I’m a big believer in Parkinson’s Law. And try to take time every week to go offline.

What about you? What do you do to earn a living abroad?

6 Ways We Benefit From Our Travel Blog

This month we celebrate our 5-year anniversary of blogging. In this post, I share some of the benefits of travel blogging. But first, here’s a little history.

Our Ecuador Expat Blog History

Just a few months after arriving in Ecuador we published our first post (November 2009).

Our first site was called Destination Ecuador. We quickly changed it to GringosAbroad. And while we did hope to make a little money from click ads, we never imagined what it would become.

  • Today, we publish three weekly blogs under our media company: Storyteller Media
  • We now make 100% of our income from blogging. We have successfully transitioned to full time (professional) bloggers (although we still don’t work full time.) 🙂

In this post, we share some of the benefits we’ve received from running an expat blog. And some reasons you should think about starting your own.

6 Ways Blogging Benefits Us

They really can be broken in two categories: what we get and what we give. Our blogs have always been free – we don’t offer any of our blog posts on a subscription model. We want everyone to have access to our information.

Here are six of the benefits we’ve received from our Ecuador expat blog:

  1. Blogging puts things in perspective: Just taking the time to sit and write it down often changes how we are feeling. It could be stress, fear or even anger. We’ve frequently written about hard situations. And both Dena and I have been helped by the simple process of writing it down. There is something about being forced to choose words for feelings that is very therapeutic. This can be especially helpful for new expats as they get settled into their new home.
  2. Create work opportunities: We have been offered more jobs and partnerships that I can count. Offers in marketing, management, education, and tourism. We did accept a job blogging for a Galapagos travel company for a few years – which we loved! I never dreamed that a blog could generate this quantity or quality of business proposals.
  3. Generate many press requests. We receive regular requests for interviews – both television and print. And while we’ve accepted two offers (a House Hunters International episode and a news piece with Reuters) we are really quite private people and the exposure doesn’t interest us. Two of Ecuador’s national television stations have contacted us for feature interviews, including Ecuavisa just last week. We have had numerous print magazine offers and countless blog interview requests. If someone likes the press and wants this type of exposure, there are lots of opportunities.
  4. Earn income: Not to be overlooked, is the regular monthly income that we generate on our sites – in spite of not selling anything. 🙂 We are working on some new products but until now we have generated our income without direct sales.
  5. Help other expats: The original purpose of our site was to help others relocate. We have been thrilled with the feedback from hundreds of expats who have successfully made the move abroad. Our sites have been read by more than 600,000 unique readers from just about every country of the world. Without a blog, it would be impossible to make that kind of impact. Reading comments of appreciation from other expats really gives us a sense of satisfaction.
  6. Shared stories with friends and family back home: A surprising number of family and friends still follow our site. Although we have some private channels for friends, our blog also allows us to share the details of our travels and adventures.

What do you think? Are you interested in starting your own expat blog?

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How to Start an Expat Blog

Are you thinking about starting an expat blog? Congratulations! (Don’t worry – it isn’t that hard.) Here’s what you need to know:

Free Guide: We have created a detailed guide to help you setup your first travel blog. The guide is free and based on our experience of setting up dozens of blogs (for ourselves and clients). This is the best way to do this. Why not start it now?

  1. Use self-hosted WordPress: While you can get a free blog, it will be frustrating (if not impossible) to build an audience. A self-hosted WordPress blog costs less than $90/year (if you use HostGator) and you have full ownership of your domain and site content. This is how we run all our sites.
  2. Determine your niche: To be successful, you need to think about your angle. What makes you different from the other expat bloggers? Why should someone subscribe to your newsletter? Some examples could be: Ecuador for vegan retirees, a stamp collector traveling South America, or Cuenca for cycling couples. Of course, you need to make sure your niche appeals to a large enough segment of readers. Be careful not to go to broad. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one.
  3. Post regularly: You don’t have to write long posts, but if you are going to build an audience you need to post regularly – a minimum of once a week is best. Worried you won’t have enough to say? Here’s a list of 73 blog post ideas.
  4. We created a section on this site to share what we’ve learned with other expats and travelers. We write about how to make money with your blog, how to write a post and then format it.

So there you have it – not that bad, right?

The best advice I can give you is to: just get started. Set it up and start posting. You will learn what you need as you go along.

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Your Turn

Are you thinking about starting a blog? Why do you want to become a blogger? What is holding you back? If you already have an expat blog, what tip can you share?

Please share your url in the comment section as well. We’ll see you in the comment section!

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