When we left our 9-5 jobs to travel full time we had no idea how it would work or how we would make money. Zero clue. We just did it.
Before we quit our jobs we were working pretty “standard” American office jobs. I was an accountant and my husband Joel was working as an engineer. We were not rich by any means but we were making a comfortable living.
Quitting Our Jobs
When we decided to leave our office jobs to travel full time, our jobs were not nomadic by any means. Our work required our presence in the office for 40 hours a week and when we inquired if our jobs could be done remotely online, the answer was always a solid “NO”.
So we saved as much as we could and then we quit them. But that also meant that we needed to find another way to make income online. Easier said than done.
We saw social media, blogging and photography as an opportunity to make side income on the road. Sponsored posts were becoming “a thing” on Instagram and we decided to give it all a shot.
I started my blog Funlifecrisis.com along with my Instagram account @vagablonde_laura. We figured if we worked really hard, we could get some parts of our travel paid for or at least get some free stuff that we need for the road.
What we didn’t realize how much time all of this would take us and how difficult it would be to break into such an overcrowded market without any prior knowledge of photography, social media or blogging.
It seemed that everyone around this time was trying to become a so called “Influencer” (cringe). We just wanted to find a way to travel more.
We invested our money into photography gear, software, purchased faster laptops. We spent 20-40 hours a week learning about photography, editing, writing, SEO, coding, website design and more.
After a year my blog started gaining some traction with over 100K visitors a year and my Instagram account gained over 100K followers, but the jobs and money were not exactly rolling in.
It wasn’t until I took it in my own hands and started doing outreach to different companies that I started getting more Yes’s and getting photography jobs. But there were a lot of discouraging No’s and negative or no responses along the way.
Slowly I started getting some sponsored posts and making side income during our travels. Some months we got invited to participate in big campaigns that brought in $2000-3000 for creating blog posts, photos and social media posts.
Some months we got free stuff like van rentals or hiking boots. But some months we got nothing.
Because of the instability of reliable income most of our travels are still paid for by our own savings from our 9-5 jobs. Anything we make on the road is a nice bonus but we don’t fully rely on that completely. Or at least not yet.
Some of the difficulties of making income from travel photography and blogging (along with the obvious ones like lack of internet, place to ship stuff or office space) is that traveling is no longer a vacation, it’s a job.
When we go to locations now we often spend most of our time setting up camera gear, looking for angles and shooting photos. Having to produce certain types of content often creates stressful situations when the deadlines are short and the settings just don’t work out as planned.
It does often interfere with our adventures and can make it difficult to choose between creating content and trying to make a living or visiting a place for the simple purpose of enjoying it.
But it is also something that we chose to do. If it all works out and continues bringing in side income that allows us to extend our travels, in my opinion it’s worth the extra effort.
Something that I am constantly reminding myself is to know when to put the camera down, look up from the lens and just take in the view for the pure joy of enjoying it.
Travel blogging and photography is a dream job pursued by many, but it can also be completely unpredictable and fully depend on you to make the effort. There are no bosses who will tell you what time you should get into office, what needs to be done during the day or when the next payday will be.
It’s all up to you. Working remotely really teaches you about persistence, discipline and that quitting is always within a reach but not how you want it all to end. Those that stick with it can make a decent living or at least a side income that allows them to travel more.
Isn’t that the ultimate dream?