Hey there! We’re Jayme and John from Gnomad Home – living the van life with our two pups Nymeria and Delilah out of our self-built 1996 Chevy Express van.
We tend to travel wherever the wind blows the cool kind of air our pups enjoy and we spend time exploring all the great scenery this country has to offer. We make our living by running and managing websites.
We had been gradually learning and researching the idea of creating informational websites as a business for several years, but we didn’t actually start doing it until the spring of 2016. That’s when John landed an internship helping develop the content for a large website, which encouraged us to start our own that July.
We started our van life blog Gnomad Home in October 2016. Even before we got our van, we decided to document the whole process. Even if it was just for our own amusement.
We put a lot of thought and research into all aspects of our van build, and we very quickly realized that it was tough to find useful information on building a van – there was a lot out there, but it was scattered, or outdated, or only applied to one specific build.
Creating Our Website
So we decided to create our own resource that answered all the questions we had before we started our build – and we’ve been researching, thinking and writing about building vans ever since.
What exactly we do to make money
We build, manage, and create content for our own blogs and websites – the main one being our van life blog ‘Gnomad Home’.
Gnomad Home is our true passion project, and it’s where we like to spend as much of our work time as we can. We write detailed articles about van life and every aspect of converting a van into a mobile home.
Our goal is to answer all the questions we had when we started building our van, and make it easier and less intimidating for enthusiasts to jump into this lifestyle.
Main Source of Income
Our websites generates income mostly through Amazon affiliate links. If you get to Amazon through our sites and buy something (anything), we get a small commission at zero cost to you. And since Amazon carries pretty much everything, it’s a great way to monetize without being bias toward a specific product or brand.
When we first hit the road, we were also freelance writing through upwork.com, and we lived off of a combination of freelancing, website income, and savings. Now we’re able to completely support ourselves financially, with our websites.
September of 2017 was the first month our income was higher than our expenses, and it has kept rising since then. We started our first website in the summer of 2016, so it took well over a year for our income to support our lifestyle.
How much money are we making?
This is a tough one to answer because our income changes every month, and it’s been increasing rapidly for the past several months. Most of last year, we were living off savings and only bringing in a few hundred dollars a month.
September was our first month cracking the $2,000 mark and covering expenses, but last month (March 2018) we made almost double what we used to make in a month of working our old 9-5 jobs.
Our daily work life
It varies. We are our own bosses and we are in charge of what we do each day. Some days we play music and swim and run with the dogs and do yoga and eat around the fire. Some days we’ll work from 5:30am until 2am with very minimal breaks.
Other days we’ll work just in the morning, or just in the afternoon, depending on what’s going on. We work A LOT – more than we did in our 9-5 jobs – but we have the freedom to choose when and where we work with van life.
We’re trying to get into more of a routine these days. Our ideal work day involves getting up with the sun, and going through our morning routine of meditation, reading, writing, exercise, dog walks, and breakfast.
Then we’ll settle in to our computer work around 9, and work until about two hours before sunset. That’s when we’ll take the dogs for another walk, hang out and relax a bit, and start cooking dinner.
If we’re working on a big project we might return to work after dinner, but otherwise we’ll play Yahtzee, or jam, or sit around a fire. Then it’s to bed for some light reading and much-needed sleep!
Challenges we face while working on the road
The biggest challenge for us is finding reliable cell service.
We need internet to work, and we rely on Verizon’s unlimited data plan for our internet needs.
It just so happens that the most beautiful wilderness spots are usually in dead zones, and too many times we’ve had to leave an awesome campsite because we needed internet. But we’ve learned a lot of wicked tips to finding beautiful wilderness campsites with cell service – it can be a bit of work to find them, but it’s worth it!
Tips for enthusiasts
It takes a lot of work. You don’t realize that until you begin, but it really does. We fear that some people dive into van life without much of a financial plan – and you really need some sort of plan before you hit the road.
We had a nice savings cushion from selling all of our belongings that helped us get started, and we were betting on our businesses supporting us before we ran out of money. But we also knew we could fall back on freelance work if we had to.
That said, don’t let the idea of a lot of work scare you. Even though we work a ton, what we do is so fulfilling for us that it’s more fun than anything.
We honestly have “work meetings” for FUN sometimes. And the freedom that comes with van life makes everything worth it. So just know – whatEVER your dream is – if you want to make it work – you have to hustle. We firmly believe that if you want it enough then it’s within your reach – but you need to WORK for it.