In the spring and summer of 2015, I was hosting a travel based web series, and for the first time making good money. And, more importantly, doing exactly what I loved.
Up to this point, I had been slaving away behind a seedy Hollywood bar. Making good money, but spending most of what I made on city life. Which included rent, $12 sandwiches, and enjoying my days off.
I was living a humble life in Venice Beach, in the cheapest apartment in the neighborhood at $1200 a month, and I would notice that the van dwellers lived closer to the beach and actually paid nothing.
Like most people, I hated my job, hated my boss, wanted to travel- but didn’t know how I could afford it.
So, I began to calculate in my head what my daily life in Venice Beach was costing me. It was about $40 a day for the apartment, and maybe $20-40 for food and fun. I had saved up thousands of dollars from the bar, Benjamin, by crispy Benjamin.
I calculated that I was spending $3k a month on expenses or so, and thought if I had a daily budget of $50, I could travel for a year on savings.
While I was in Chicago on the 50th floor in a meeting, I got more rude text messages from the boss back at the bar. I thought in this moment, I have 2 choices in life. Either I can spend my time and energy for someone else, or I can spend my time and energy on myself and chase my dreams.
So, I picked up my phone, scrolled down, and blocked my boss. That was the last time I heard from him and I never went back to work.
A New Beginning
Having travel hosting experience, and dabbling in YouTube videos, also meant that I had a rolling head start on content creation. I knew how to film and edit, and how to present. So, I struck out to test my theory that I could be a daily travel vlogger for 2 weeks with a friend of mine.
Along the way in Big Sur, I mentioned to a friend about buying a school bus to travel the US. Right after he said he liked the idea, we rounded a corner and what was driving in front of us? A converted school bus!!
We caught up to them, and they conveniently pulled to the side of the road, and I pulled behind. They were some nice hippy types who told me what kind of engine to look for and how cheap I can find one for.
Buying My Bus
Two months later, I flew to the east coast to pick up a low mileage short bus, that I named Dan.
My best friend Lukas and I drove it all the way back over the week, and even picked up an older hitchhiker along the way, named Larry. The crazy idea of being a full time travel vlogger on youtube was underway and it was a success! The only problem was finding a way to upload them!
Long story short, before I sold everything and got rid of my apartment, I had lined up a manager for my entertainment work. Because of all the previous paid work that I had booked myself, an attorney, an agent, and a digital marketing guru who got me a big paid sponsorship for my crazy idea.
From vlog #1, I was a paid YouTuber. This is far from normal. It was a combination of dumb luck and passion to succeed. Almost two years later, I am still on the road!
So for all those wondering how I make money on the road:
I am technically considered an “influencer/YouTuber” and get paid by brands to use a product, provide pictures, videos, and/or make posts for them.
- I get work as a travel host for mostly digital travel series
- I make money from YouTube video ads
- Affiliate marking links which pay me a small commission when purchases are made through my referral
- And get paid sponsorships from companies
For those dreaming to road trip and start a channel: you better save tens of thousands of dollars, or cut your total expenses to $25 a day or less!
I have been losing money for two years on this endeavor, and if it wasn’t for Virgin Mobile, I would have had to stop by now. YouTube money isn’t a break even thing with expenses of 1-2k a month until you hit 50K subs or have really popular vids, or are an affiliate marketing genius.
WiFi. If you think traveling and making content is all puppies and ice cream, then you are in for a rude awakening! Having a dependable cheap way to connect to the internet is single handedly the biggest obstacle to being a digital nomad of any sort.
The first year, I was hopping from lily pad to lily pad, trying to find a place to upload. It wasn’t until I found a mobile hotspot, that I was able to have total freedom to roam. Cell signal, depending.
What I do is very different in my eyes, than what others with just an instagram account do, and I have a different professional hosting background from others making YouTube videos.
I am a person who has always wanted to get paid to create travel entertainment, and went down this road because I saw too many gatekeepers to my success, who in my opinion are blind, bland, and boring. So, I did what any reasonable person would do: I decided to gamble it all on my dreams!
Never again will I give away my personal power to someone else to determine my fate. I have all the power in the palm of my hands- a camera to share my wildest adventures with you!