Earn on the Road
Guide

Vanlife Sagas

Lesson 25

We are Dom and Marie, the couple behind Vanlife Sagas. We are two young professionals working in the advertising and entertainment industry in Ottawa, Canada. Vanning has always been part of our lives since Dom was raised in a 1985 Ford Corsair Motorhome and Marie spent her youth in campgrounds across Quebec.

“How do you make money on the road?” is undoubtedly in the top three questions we receive when talking about our van stories. Here are some short and sweet answers to help people understand one of the biggest mysteries behind #vanlife.

Our Job

Marie is currently finishing her Ph.D. in education while managing communications for events organized by an agency called Orkestra. We work with clients like museums, spas, governments, tourism boards, cities, shopping centers, surfboard retailers, AND campervan rental companies. We mainly focus on video production, branded content, community management, strategy and event planning.

How Does Marie Make Money? 

  • She manages 9 online communities;
  • She manages communications for 4 events;
  • She is a consultant for all these clients;
  • She receives grants from University for her Ph.D.;
  • She produces content for our clients on the road.

How Does Dom Make Money? 

  • I own an advertising agency;
  • I create content (photography, videography) for 20+ brands;
  • I develop creative strategies for 20+ brands;
  • I lead marketing operations for 20+ brands.

How Do We Manage All This On The Road? 

Good question. And here’s our answer: planning. With today’s technologies and team management tools, there are virtually no excuses for us not to wake up and work from wherever. Half of our clients, and because we chose them accordingly, ask for outdoor content in the first place (like tourism boards, surfboard retailers and campervan companies). Therefore, we have to be on the road at some point anyway; the other half of our clients is manageable from a laptop.

Please note: not all projects are easily manageable from a van. Some tasks like client advising and event planning are quite complicated when you are not co-located with your team.

Challenges We Face

  1. Wifi. It is our professional lifeline. Without it, we can’t work. And unfortunately, America is quite vast: the power of the Intertubes has not covered all of the territories yet. Soon.
  2. Time. Living on the road requires time, lots of it. The pace is a bit slower than in an average office since we do not have the same tools to get things done. Example: printing documents, recharging a laptop, washing a shirt. These little things need to be planned.
  3. Schedule. If you are on your own, you’ll be fine. However, when you start teaming up with others and plan projects for real clients, keeping an up-to-date, active and synchronized schedule requires skills and focus.
  4. Bad surprises. We quickly understood that we could never control 100% of our projects when working from a van. Unexpected events will stop you, and you will have to improvise as you go: blown tire, stolen camera, cold nights, dead batteries, elk attack. Name it. Clients will be waiting, and they won’t care that your Westfalia burst into flames last night.
  5. Motivation. We all love vanlife and the freedom it provides. However, working from a van is a double-edged sword: it can turn you into a national hero, or into a lousy unprofessional millennial. Waking up every morning, and choosing to work instead of going for a hike is hard. Very hard.
  6. Advice

    The advice we usually give is tailored to your project and intentions (you can write us an email at “[email protected]“). However, here are the ten commandments of working from a van:

    1. Thou shalt have a true vision and follow it.
    2. Thou shalt start thy business before taking thy wheel.
    3. Thou shalt save money before running up credit card balances.
    4. Thou shalt stay focused on your skillset.
    5. Thou shalt plan, plan, plan again.
    6. Thou shalt improvise when thy storm hits.
    7. Thou shalt stay healthy.
    8. Thou shalt listen to thy clients and guide them even when thy van breaks.
    9. Thou shalt be patient.
    10. Thou shalt look for the holy High Speed Wifi.

FAQ

How many clients do you have?

Around 10 active clients at the same time.

How do you find new clients

We call or email them when we think we can help with their brands or projects.

What are your monthly expenses?

Depending on the travel parameters, anywhere between $550 and $2000 USD.

How much money do you make per month?

Around $4000-5000 USD combined.

Pen