Make Money Online

How I Make Money Online To Support My Travels

Derek Personal Stuff, Work & Travel 136 Comments

Make Money Online

Ever since 2008, which is when I decided to stop working on board cruise ships, something I had been doing on and off for several years prior, I’ve known no other work but the kind that can be done on the internet. But at the same time, I understand that saying “I work online” doesn’t really give others much insight into how I actually earn my money and consequently, how I fund my travels these days.

The question that a lot of people want to know is: “What does ‘working online’ really mean?”

First, let me give you a quick background about how I got started. After saving up a decent amount of money during my time on cruise ships, as soon as I ended that stage of life I immediately decided to put all of that money into a savings account that was not to be touched for a long time. This forced me to start looking for new income opportunities right away because it was as if I had almost no money at all. This really put the pressure on and so I started reading a few books about other people who managed to earn money while traveling.

And it was the books about those people who were able to make money online that really caught my attention and so, I decided to give it a try myself. I chose a couple of options that appealed to me (there are thousands of ways to earn money online) and got to work.

For the first 4 months I failed miserably. I earned a grand total of $0.00 during that period of time, something that certainly made me doubt my decision. I was working/learning every day for at least 8-10 hours but my efforts yielded no results. However, it has always been my belief that those who fail at something are those who give up and that if you can push through the obstacles and continue to learn as much as possible, success will eventually be achieved.

Fast forward a few years and here I am, earning all of my income online, an income that allows me to continue traveling around the world as much as I want.

And now I’m going to try and explain exactly where that money comes from as best I can in the hopes of giving you a clearer picture of how ‘working online’ works for me.

It Starts With The Blog

This blog is actually my main online project and as a result, the main source of my income these days. I work on my blog almost every day and I could easily spend 50+ hours per week on this one website alone, writing posts, promoting posts, being active on all social media channels, answering emails and comments, updating my eBooks, adding new pages of information and on and on. Blogging is a ton of work, far more work than most aspiring bloggers ever imagine, especially if you want your blog to earn you some money.

Through the blog, I earn my income in a few ways…

eBooks

To begin with, there are the eBooks/Travel Resources that I have written. These books are designed to help others achieve their travel goals using the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, and they also help me earn an income. I spent months working on each one, pouring a ton of energy and effort into the content, and I am constantly updating the material as well in order to make sure that each product is always as relevant and useful as possible.

Work on a Cruise ShipLive a Life of Travel

But despite this setup, every now and then I receive an email from a reader who is disgusted that my eBooks need to be purchased. Usually their argument is that this is just a travel blog and as a result, all of the information should be free. In addition, they claim that if I really wanted to help others achieve their travel goals, then I would release all information openly, at no cost whatsoever. Fair enough, I certainly understand their point.


However, here’s how it really works. If I didn’t charge money for my eBooks, there would be no WanderingEarl.com, and as a result, I wouldn’t be helping anyone at all achieve their travel goals. As I stated above, maintaining this website is no joke, it takes up the majority of my time and I work mighty hard to keep this site going. If I didn’t earn any money from the blog, it, and I, wouldn’t survive. Everyone needs some sort of income to live. It’s as simple as that.

Also, one thing I’ve always tried to do on this site is to keep advertising to a minimum. While I will promote certain companies that I truly believe in, I actually turn away approximately 95% of the advertising offers that I do receive in my inbox. Recently I decided to estimate how much money I have given up by not putting much advertising on my site over the past 4 years. The figure I came to was $40,000 USD.

But since I’m a firm believer that a site flooded with advertising is a site that isn’t going to last very long at all, I plan to continue giving up this income. I’ll take a little here and there but that’s it.

So, that’s why I charge some money for my eBooks, in order to maintain and grow this site (which also involves me being able to travel). And if the feedback I receive every week is any indication, the amount I do charge for these products is well worth what you receive in return, which is the balance I have always worked hard to achieve.

Wandering Earl Tours

While Wandering Earl Tours is a relatively new project of mine, something I started only towards the end of last year, I’m quite blown away by the success so far. I have already led three tours and I have three more planned for this year, all of which are sold out at this point. I absolutely love organizing and running these tours and I can’t wait to start choosing destinations for next year’s trips as well.

Wandering Earl Tours - India

Of course, at the same time, organizing these tours involves a great deal of work, not only during the actual tour as I travel around with the group, but in the months leading up to the tours when I am extremely busy with the preparations, bookings and overall organization. Tack this work on top of my normal blogging workload, as well as trying to travel to new places in between, and I barely have a free moment these days.

Am I earning a fortune from these tours? No way. That’s not my goal. Besides, I told myself that for the first year of Wandering Earl Tours, I just wanted to break even and maybe enjoy a tiny bit extra for my efforts if possible. And as the tours hopefully continue to grow, which will involve another increase in workload, I do plan to try and compensate myself fairly for all of the effort that I do put into each and every trip. Again, the plan is not to become rich from this project, but to offer affordable trips to various countries in exchange for a modest income.

Advertising

When it comes to blogging, you will find an endless debate about whether or not there should be any advertising on such a site. I’ll tell you this. When you start a new blog and suddenly an advertiser is offering you $50 to place a link on your site somewhere or $100 to place a banner ad, it’s hard to turn that cash away. You now have a chance to make money online and of course you’re going to be excited!

Every blogger needs to tackle this topic on their own and decide how much advertising, if any, works for them. Yes, the money is tempting, but I’ve seen far too many bloggers who begin accepting as many advertising deals as they can only to lose their audience completely, simply because readers don’t want to see a site loaded with ads. Then, once your readers are gone, the advertising offers will stop coming and any other chance you have of earning money through your site most often goes out the window with them.

On this site, I made a decision when I first started to not accept any advertising for the first two years and I stuck to that.

These days, I’ve decided to accept minimal advertising here on the blog, usually in the form a small banner ad in the sidebar for a company/service/website that I have used or tested out myself and that I believe is indeed useful for travelers. I don’t place any sponsored posts on this site at all but I might, on occasion, add a short blurb at the end of a post promoting something that, again, I truly believe is really worth checking out.

The reality is that if I accepted all of the advertising offers that come into my inbox each day at the moment, I could probably earn $3000+ per month in advertising alone. But I don’t. As I said, I turn away 95% of those offers and as a result, I usually earn just a small amount of ‘pocket cash’ instead. The thing is that I really want all of you to stick around this site and to continue being a part of this community, so there’s no way I’m going to plaster ads all over the place and try to squeeze out as much advertising income as I can. I’m sure that’s not what you want to see and therefore, it won’t happen.

Sponsorships

On occasion, I have an opportunity to create a sponsorship deal, something that typically nets more money that a simple advertisement. I enter into such deals only when it’s a product/service that I absolutely support and love, something that I really want to share with all of you, such as the XShot Camera Extender. Should I be taking money for promoting these products/services? There’s certainly a debate in that as well but again, the way I see it is that given the amount of effort it takes to maintain the site, the odd sponsorship deal here and there doesn’t hurt, especially if I believe in what I’m promoting.

As you see though, I don’t do these deals often so it’s not a huge money maker either, just some another small stream of income in the end.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate links are links on this site that, if you click on them and purchase a product/service on the other end, provide me with a small commission. The biggest, and almost exclusive example of affiliate links on WanderingEarl.com, can be found on my Travel Gear page where I link to the Amazon.com sales page for all of the gear that I actually travel with and that I think are great items. If you were to click on any of the links and then purchase something on Amazon (doesn’t have to be the item you clicked on, it can be anything on the entire site), I receive about a 6% commission. It’s not much but as you’ve probably figured out by now, it’s another source of income that, when combined with all of the other small sources of income, eventually adds up to an income that helps keep me traveling around the world.

Traveling in Burra Mountains

Other Stuff

Apart from the blog, I also work on many other online projects from time to time. But to tell you the truth, most of these projects fail or they don’t lead to any income. That’s just a part of working online. You need to experiment all the time in the hopes of finding something that works, and eventually, some do pan out.

For me, some of my more successful projects have included freelance work as a writer, some basic website building, writing/selling a couple of non-travel related eBooks on other websites, affiliate marketing and some blog consulting. Almost all of these opportunities resulted from networking with other travelers or people in the travel industry and up until this year, when I decided to stop some of these projects in order to concentrate more fully on the blog, they kept me busy most of the time.

Each of the above also offered another stream of income to add to the pile.

And trying to grow that pile is what it takes to make money online.

Do I receive a fixed income every month? Nope. In fact, I never know how much I’ll earn each month at all. I have great months, terrible months and average months and I also never know if the extra effort I put into anything will actually yield better results. But, I am earning an income in the end and somehow, over the past few years, this income has allowed me to continue traveling around without having to tap into my savings. It has also allowed me to continue working on this blog and to try my best to highlight the benefits of travel while proving that long-term travel is more posible to achieve than most people think. And after all, this is the core reason this blog even exists.

Everything I do is intertwined…without travel there would be no blog, without the blog there would be no travel. And luckily, earning my income online, which hopefully I’ve managed to explain somewhat clearly above, allows me to keep it all flowing together.

Any questions about how I work online or about working online in general? Let me know below and I’ll be happy to answer!


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Comments 136

  1. Richard John Merlin

    Hi Earl, good Blog site. I’m a retired English engineer, ( amongst other occupations). I love to travel, having set foot in 100 plus countries, and will be setting up a blog in near future. People like you inspire me, and others, to go out there and see it all ! As I get a basic UK pension each month, it helps to go towards travelling expenses. Currently I’m living in Bulgaria, and am planning to return to Nepal this coming winter, spending several months there, maybe helping out at an NGO, and saving to tour SE Asia next spring. I’m also considering moving to southern Crete, as I enjoy trekking and am a sun worshipper also, so Crete seems ideal for me. Your info on setting up a Blog is helpful, as I’m not very IT proficient.
    Thanks, Englishman Rick

  2. PK Kar

    Hi Earl
    It is very inspiring to know your part of the story of how one could make money for his lively hood. I wanted to know how at all one could start a blog.
    Regards
    PK Kar

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  5. Jørund

    Hello Earl,
    thank you so much for sharing this. I am just starting out with blogging, and though my blog is a sort of personal blog which covers three four topics I do hope to make it my source of income for sustainable travel by motorbike in the future. Your articles are so inspiring and reinforces my tiny and growing belief that I am indeed on the right path, and makes me BELIEVE that I can indeed with time do it too. Thank you again.

    The possibilities!! Hehe.

  6. Bethany

    Hi Earl, I’m currently in Greece with my family. In about a year I plan on venturing off on my own travels and making a career out of it. It’s scary to think that in just a year I’ll be off on my own and not just moving out, but also, off traveling the world. I’m researching like crazy and reading this and many other posts you’ve made has really helped put me at ease with the transition that’s coming my way. Thanks so much for all of your amazing advice. Happy travels!

  7. Kendal

    It’s actually starting to work for me (I think it could be doing better, but I haven’t been making it my main focus, though I should), I’m excited. Next month I’m traveling again and don’t have a lot in savings, so I’ll be relying on the drop-shipping to keep me afloat. I think I’ll make about $500 this month…

    If anyone’s interested you can contact me through my website. I think I may have found a great online job for us digital nomads. 😀 Maybe we can create some new digital nomads too! 😀

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  9. Kendal

    I’ve started experimenting with drop shipping online, as a traveling income. It’s been going slowly at first, but I think it could be a good source of money if you stick with it. I’ve also started a YouTube channel that’s currently making about $60 a month and I’m working to build it up to at least a couple hundred. Putting my eggs in many baskets. 😉

    1. isabella

      hello kendal,
      i am sorry to jump in, but could you be so kind to let me know what is drop shipping online?
      I am browsing around for online opportunities as well. 🙂
      thanks a lot in advance
      cheers
      Isabella 🙂

  10. Sarah Shaw

    Great tips Earl, I agree with the ads. Google adsense barely pays anything anyway, and it gets so annoying half the time. I think this post has persuaded me to get rid of it. Thanks for the great content of this post.

  11. Jen

    Just started traveling full-time myself and I come back often to your site for inspiration and advice. Really enjoyed this post and your candid thoughts on advertising on your blog.

  12. Mach

    Earl,
    Great info! It was interesting to hear how it is a fine balance between credibility and sustainability. I really have appreciated all of the information you post and so totally understand the need to provide people with the opportunity to support that. With your eBooks people get some value in return. I don’t see a problem with that at all. Value for money! Keep up all the good work.

  13. Daisy Sandoval

    Hi Earl! Love your blog, very inspiring! Like you I also love to travel and admire what you’re doing. The freedom of doing what you love makes it all worth it. Thanks for all the tips, I’ve been reading a lot about online businesses and travel blogs like yours and Chris Guillebeau’s which also love. Soon I also plan to start writing a blog on my adventures and hopefully inspire others to live the life they dream of. By the way if you want to save on hosting check out my hosting services daisyshosting.com. Good luck with everything and keep being awesome 🙂

  14. Caroline

    I really like this post and this is the kind of route that I would really like to see my blog following. I recently met an online business consultant for some advice on how to further my blog (I don’t even have my own domain yet so action hasn’t featured much in my grand plan yet!), and I was really uncomfortable with the advice being given: basically become a sell-out and spam people! That session made the decision for me, I’m going to primarily focus on creating quality posts and attracting a readers…and just see what becomes of it. I also really like the ebook idea. I just purchased your ‘working on a cruise ship’ ebook and I have to say that I was much happier handing over the money, knowing what it would be contributing towards, than I would have been in a book store!

  15. Jerry Williams

    I get mileage on Alaska Airlines that I can use on other airlines for international travel with my BofA Debit card. I don’t use credit cards and so I use my debit card for everything and earn lots of miles.

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  17. Steve

    Great stuff Earl. Agree on the ads to start up. I really like the idea of not putting up any ads for two years. I think that’s something I’m going to institute with my own travel/life blog.

  18. Mike

    The Tax man always gets his cut!
    I remember when i worked on board and the Canadians and British didn’t have any tax withheld, but ol’ uncle same sure made it a point that if we earn money (even in another country) we had to pay up.

    Found your site a few months ago, used to work on board for RCCL. Great site, nice work, is this just blogger or do you write your own code?
    and the ad choice is definitely a good one.

    cheers!

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  20. Kara

    Hi Earl,

    First, love the blog. Thanks for always coming across so personable.

    In regards to sponsorship, do you usually (or ever) approach sponsors yourself, or is it usually the other way around? Any tips on how to persuade companies to sponsor you?

    Thanks!
    kara

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey kara – Normally sponsors approach me but on occasion, if I find a service/product that is a perfect match and that I use myself, I will contact them about sponsorship. In the end, the way to persuade a company to work with you is to show them the benefit of working together. A company is not going to be interested in sponsorship if you can’t provide them a clear return on their investment. You need to show them how large your audience is, exactly who makes up your audience and what benefits would be enjoyed by connecting to that audience. You need to show exactly how such a partnership will increase sales, increase visibility, etc. by being mentioned to your readers. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it for a company to spend money if they don’t know what the return will be. Hope that helps!

  21. Jana

    Hey Earl,

    Forgive me if this question has already been asked, but I’m just wondering if you pay taxes in the US at all? Or does being a nomad mean you can avoid paying taxes anywhere since you’re not a resident in any one country?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jana – Yes, I pay taxes in the US just as if I was living there full time. A nomad cannot avoid paying taxes although there are ways to avoid paying taxes on your first $90,000+ of income if you have established residency elsewhere and spend at least 330 days of the year outside the US.

  22. Robert Leader

    Thanks John,
    That’s encouraging,
    I did a round the world trip with my wife a few years ago and it was interesting to see how some places had changed and some were just the same. Cultural sites like the Bangkok temples were exactly as I remembered them, but the sampan harbors of Hong Kong have virtually disappeared.

  23. Robert Leader

    Hi Kendal,
    Yes, I have thousands of photos. Those from my Merchant Navy days and my first trips to Morocco and Egypt are in black and white. All the overland trips from 1966 onwards are on color transparencies, so illustrating my material would be no problem.

  24. John

    I don’t know if my opinion matters to you but as a consumer and fellow traveller, I would love to read your stories. You can look at that 200 mil in two ways.
    1. There are a ton of travel blogs out and your information is probably not as relevant as what they are writing.
    2. There are a ton of travel blogs out and no one else is writing or can write the experiences that you have to share. It will be a more unique story to be told.

    Also, there is the possibility of revisiting some of these places, with your books in hand to tell a “compare the times” type of story. If there isn’t a market for it yet, create it. If the story is interesting, and you get the word out, people will read.

  25. Robert Leader

    Hello Earl,
    I’ve just discovered your blog and found it fascinating.
    Would I be out of order if I asked for some advice?
    I’ve just set up my own website to promote my books and now Create Space and Goodreads are saying that I should also be setting up my own weblog. In my youth I did the overland trips to India, Asia and across Africa so I have all my old diaries, two unpublished travel books, published and unpublished travel articles and a stack of travel poetry I could draw upon. My travels always provided backgrounds for my thrillers so there are direct links between the two interests. The problem is that I have just read that there are already 200 million travel blogs out there. Plus my stuff will all be vintage. I’m 75 years old. So would there be any interest from what I guess is mainly a young online community?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Robert – There is always room for another travel blog in my opinion but the key is to create a niche and focus on something very specific. Having a general travel blog will be difficult in terms of gaining readers but if you can narrow your focus to one particular aspect of travel, you have a much better chance of standing out.

  26. InaFD

    Hi Earl! I’m glad I came across your blog. The way you explained how to earn through online is quite honest, I think. I’ve just started blogging and linked to affiliate marketing. You’re right, online work takes time, and a lot of creativity. I’m working on getting more inspiration to write. Thanks for your inputs!

  27. Khoa

    Hi Earl- Call me a late bloomer or whatever, but I just stumbled upon your blog and have been reading obsessively. I love the fact that besides sharing your travel stories and tips, you’re very candid about topics like this and oh the armpit thing (it cracked me up so hard). Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for creating such an inspiring blog. I’m hooked. Anyway, I’m originally from Vietnam. I saw you have been here, but there is no post. I’m pretty interested in what your impressions were. Maybe, it was circa pre-blog. If you ever come back, let us your vietnamese readers know.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Khoa – Thanks for the message and welcome to the site! And you are right, my travels to Vietnam were pre-blog, in fact, they were way back in 2000, so I guess it’s time for another visit. And when I do travel there again, I will absolutely let you know!

  28. Shelley

    How do you choose your next destination? Is there is a method to your madness? Do you plan a years travel ahead of time, or go with the flow and just country hop whenever you feel like it?
    Do you have a list of places you haven’t been to that is on your Must See list?
    I’m just wondering how a full time traveler plans their time? Seriously, you lead a very fascinating life.

  29. karen

    Interesting post Earl. I myself have been debating whether to enter the online income realm for some time…I’m still debating and haven’t quite worked out a way to make money online doing something I love and believe in as most online success stories tend to derive their income from preying on the insecurities of vulnerable people. On the other hand I’m a journalist and would love to write useful ebooks such as you have. I have written one about how to travel to the Galapagos islands without paying for an expensive cruise. Only problem was it has made me about $100 and took three weeks to write! Oh well…like you say there’s always the next project! 🙂 By the way my mum likes your site too!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Karen – It can be tough to find a way to make it happen but with online income, you really just need to experiment with a few different ideas. As for your eBook, it’s a great idea although the audience would be very small. So for the next one, I would try to pick a topic that a wider audience would be interested in.

      And that’s cool that your mum likes the site as well…hello Karen’s mum!

  30. John Dianni

    Earl,

    I just want to say that I love your blog. The writing is witty, clear and concise. You never seem to run out of useful and interesting topics to blog about.

    We’re in the process of building a website that will help users create their own travel plans and also help them connect with other travellers and tour guides.

    I found your move towards hosting tours interesting because it has always been a priority to involve the blogging community early on. The hope is that we can create a community for travel bloggers that is similar to what airbnb, homeaway and vrbo is doing for private real estate. Keep an eye out for us. We plan to launch later this year.

    In the mean time, I’ll keep enjoying your blog.

    John

  31. Sand in my Suitcase

    Thanks for sharing these tips for how to make money from your travel blog. Very informative – nice that you’re so open about it :-). We’re professional print magazine and newspaper travel writers, and it’s interesting to learn about the blogging side too…

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  33. Rachel Mazza

    Hi Earl!

    Have been reading your blog for awhile now and love it!

    I’m from America, currently living and working Melbourne, Australia for the past year.
    I’m planning to head to Asia for a few months (to start!) at the end of this year and want to know where you keep your money.

    Do you have a bank account that you keep everything in back “home” wherever you started? Or do you open a bank account in new countries you stay long term?

    Just trying to figure out the best way to keep my travel cash safe AND accessible, while having an easy way to put some money into savings as well.

    Thanks!
    Rachel

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rachel – I just have a couple of bank accounts back in the US that don’t charge any fees to withdraw money overseas and that’s about it. There’s no need to open a bank account in every country with this kind of set up. And these days, there are ATMs in every corner of the world for the most part, so it’s never really a challenge to withdraw it while on the road.

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  35. Sara

    Hi Earl!

    Thank you for an amazing blog post. I hope that I in the future can make some money of my blog as well. I’m far from it now though. I’ve been wondering about how it works with taxes and stuff when you make money from your blog. Do you have your own “firm” or how does it work? Does all the money goes into your American account? And then?

    Do you ever make deals with companies? Like if you get a product from them for free you’ll review it or write about it in your blog?

    I love your blog btw.
    Take care,
    Sara.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sara – With taxes, it all depends on where you’re from and what you do. But I pay taxes just as any US citizen pays taxes.

      As far as deals with companies, I normally don’t accept products in exchange for a review. If something really caught my attention that I thought would be extremely useful for the readers of the site, then I would consider testing it out though.

  36. Kendal

    Oh yeah, I remember BOA saying something about a CC. I’ll check that out….. if they have bonuses and points. 🙂 And Capital One and Charles Schwabb… thanks 🙂

  37. Michael

    Figuring out how to make a living blogging sounds very difficult. You could spend 50 hours a week for a year and still not see a lot of money. I’m currently trying to figure this whole online money thing out. I’ve made money with YouTube and article writing but it’s not a guaranteed income. I hang out on the warrior forum which is a great community for learning how to make money online. Any warriors here?

  38. Sarah Somewhere

    Hey Earl, don’t apologize for making money from the products you create/promote, inluding this blog. I’m not sure why creatives/bloggers are targeted for actually making money from what they do, when it’s what every single person on the planet is trying to do -make a living. Good on you for doing it the way you do, I’m sure it’s taken a shit-ton of hard work and dedication so I hope you DO become rich! But I totally understand that it is all about having the freedom to continue to travel when and where you want, and that is my goal too, so thanks for the inspiration!!

  39. Sam

    I enjoyed reading about how you started your travels and how you make your income online to support your travels. I’m looking to start traveling too. I’ve detached myself from the traditional “9-5” and I’m constantly brainstorming on how to put my talents to work online.

    Thank you for taking that leap of faith. It’s inspiring, necessary, and bold.

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  44. Kendal

    Ah I think BOA did tell me about their credit card… I’ve been debating what CC to apply for, which one would be best for me. Right now I just want to pay off the two I have, and not get in the habit of using them. I have learned a couple tricks for gaining miles, but haven’t used them – don’t have a card that gives me miles right now. I applied for one but never heard back…. I wonder if any would even approve me right now. lol

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  46. Jason Mize

    Hey Earl,
    Anyone who complains about the price of your eBooks has obviously never read one, they are worth every penny!

    This is a great post about a subject I always find hard to explain. When people ask what I do I normally just reply that I’m a web designer but the reality is much different animal. Just this week I retouched images for an online catalog based in Kansas City, listed properties on Craigslist for a broker in Brooklyn, NY and worked on a marketing plan for a horse riding company in Playa del Carmen, Mexico – and it’s only Wednesday…

    Keep fighting the good fight and I can’t wait to read your post on building blog readership.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jason – That’s perhaps the best and most varied list of online work I’ve heard of yet! Well done with putting it all together and making it happen. And I appreciate the eBook comment as well. Hope to catch up with you when I get back to Playa!

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  48. Kendal

    I’d like to know about this too. I have Bank of America which has a deal with BNP bank, so I can withdraw without fees at those banks, but I think there’s still a fee for charging on it. And I just swallow fees in other countries.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kendal – Bank of America does have a credit card available now without any international transactions fees as well. And they are also part of the World Alliance (something like that) of Banks so there are many banks around the world where you can use your ATM card without any fees. Check out their site and you’ll find a list.

      I also have a Capital One credit card as they don’t charge any transactions fees either and the same is true for Charles Scwabb bank, another very popular option among long-term travelers.

  49. Casey

    As one of your loyal 3-year readers (though rare commenter) I can tell you that you make the right decisions regarding advertising and sponsorships. I have stopped following so many blogs when they start to have those nasty little blue links embedded in unnatural sentences that have no business being in the post. Thanks for sharing how you make it work. For now we’ll stick to using our blog as a kind of scrapbook to remember things and assuming we’ll go back to regular-ish jobs. 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Casey – I certainly appreciate you commenting now and I’m really honored that you’ve been following the site for so long! And it’s great to hear your input as well. I definitely have no intention of adding those kind of links into my site, that’s for sure.

      As for your blog, you never know what can happen. Quite an interesting experience you had seeing the Dalai Lama, especially since I’m currently in Romania 🙂

  50. Savi at Bruised Passports

    Great post Earl. I agree with you- blogging is hard work and its SO time consuming. We’re newbies, but concentrating on producing quality content (and photos) as often as possible, hoping those help in the long run 🙂

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  52. David Weddle

    Hi Earl. What do you think of “Travel Packages?” I live in Kansas City, MO, USA. There are always these deals. Some say they are good. The unfortunate part is that you cannot choose your return flight, I dont think. I went to Los Algodones, Mexico to have my teeth fixed. What a pleasant experience that was! I stayed in a $30 bed and breakfast, and they babied and babied me. Washed and folded my clothes, for example. I will never forget their kindness, and it just blows the USA dental experience out of the water. Not to mention the fractional price of the work. I am eager for more. So what do you have to say about the Travel packages? Did you ever use one. Keep up the good work! I am gonna order one of those camera sticks that you use. Kewl idea.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey David – I’ve never really used a travel package myself but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. If you find a package that matches exactly what you’re looking for, then why not? It all depends on the person but I’m sure there are packages for everyone out there…the key is to just make sure they are being offered by a reliable company with a great reputation so that you get your money’s worth!

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  54. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    Thanks for sharing Earl! I always wonder what other bloggers are doing to make money and fund their travels so I love reading these types of posts. It’s the same for us… we’re pulling in money from lots of different sources all at wants until it adds up to a nice figure. That seems to work well for many people who work online.

  55. Sagar

    Hey Earl

    I’d love to know your banking details, all this income goes to your account in the (US?), and then accessing it in the course of your travels..how does it work.

    Thanks
    Best,
    Sagar

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sagar – It’s quite easy as I just use an ATM card that has no international fees so that I can access it all from any country.

      1. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

        And where exactly do you get such an ATM card? Which bank?

        For me, internet money is quite complicated, as Paypal doesn’t work with Egyptian banks, so I have my paypal account connected to a friend’s account in the US, and to access my money I have to find some foreigner that has a paypal account, send them the money and they withdraw it for me 😀

        I know, I need to find a better way…One of those times someone will just receive the money and never give it back to me 😛

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Mina – I only know of the options in the US which are Capital One Bank and Charles Scwabb bank…those both offer ATM cards and credit cards without any fees. But there is the Global ATM Alliance and if any of these banks are in Egypt, you could open an account with them and then use it without any fees at any of the other banks on the list, anywhere in the world:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ATM_Alliance

  56. Wil @ Where's Wil

    When I graduated from college I spent all of my efforts trying to make a living online because I wanted to travel and after a few months of self publishing I was making more then enough to start traveling.

    Shifting more effort from my primary source of income (self published writing) to blogging has been enjoyable but has slashed my income. I was just contacted by my first advertiser for my blog and it’s very rewarding to watch it grow but I’m struggling to find a balance between blogging, traveling and writing.

    I’m three months in on my nomadic lifestyle and I love it. I started in SEAsia just like you did.
    If anyone’s interested in my story, check out my blog.

  57. Shane

    Bad Earl! Naughtly Earl! Daring to make money from your hard work. You seem far too nice to have done so but I really wish you had sacastically quizzed disgusted ebook guy on his charitable works and how he manages to live on air and berries alone.

    On the issue of advertising, our most visited site is nothing but advertising. We offer most of this advertising for free so we are making well under minimum wage here but, judged by our feedback, we are happy to be providing a much appreciated service to small businesses and individuals – as well as to our readers. (One of the ways we do make a little pocket money is by selling your cruise ship ebook – which is a perfect fit for us and our readership).

    Obviously, we need money to live so for the moment have to occasionally whore our main blog out to advertisers a bit more than I’d like so we can eat and stuff. Overall, I think if you are coming at the business with the right attitude of providing something of genuine use, interest or inspiration – and are not just chasing freebies – most readers will understand and accept a bit of give and take.

  58. Megan

    Thanks for pulling back the “income curtain”! It’s sad that bloggers/writers have to defend charging for information products, especially onces that are clearly valuable. It constantly amazes me how many income streams online earners typically have, and I think that’s great. No change to get bored, that’s for sure. The tours are a project that I really enjoy hearing about, especially because I’ve never seen another blogger start something like that up. Organizing group travel is no easy feat though, that’s for sure.

  59. Steve Wong

    Hi Earl,

    Your blog is amazing. Thanks for all the useful info you have provided to us. Keep it up.
    I would like to read more of your travelling stories round the world.

    I do hope you could achieve your travel goals from your online business.

    Thank you

  60. Global Nomads

    We have been focussed on cutting our costs down and spending less instead of earning more. This has lead to happier and more balanced life. We are less consumers and have more time for the things we want to do. For us, less is more.

  61. Gary from Livefreedietravelling

    Hi Earl,

    A really good blog piece and my son and I are pretty much experiencing the same journey but a year or so behind you!! It does take a bit of faith in all the minor income streams and in the hope that your link building can bring sufficient traffic to make a difference.

    Keep up the good work though

    Cheers

    Gary

  62. The Happy French Soul

    Hi Earl,
    I have been following your blog for the past few weeks now after searching something on Google and visiting your Facebook page. It is actually very rare that I follow a blog online on a regular basis but I really enjoy reading your articles and learning from you.
    I am starting my Travel journey in a few days only and wanted to Thank you for confirming that this is all possible. We only need a bit of Faith, Motivation, Creativity and Hard Work to get there. It is accessible to anyone who truly wants to take this path.
    At the end of the day, this is all about making choices… Money comes by itself if you keep your doors opened and if you keep believing 🙂
    So Thank You again and keep the Great Work you do! It is inspiring and motivating.
    Cheers
    THFS

  63. George

    I was thinking of getting into the ebook business soon. I always love writing resources and helpful posts an an ebook just puts it all together. Thanks for this.

  64. SkydivingNadz

    I think it’s fantastic that you continue to embrace uncertainty & live the adventure! I do the same, and while it’s not always easy, it is always worth it. Hope to cross paths & grab a beer with ya somewhere/sometime! 🙂

  65. Jacqueline

    I’m glad that you turned away most of the offers. I’ve seen some blogs which are flooded with ads and they’re overwhelming to read!

  66. Erin

    Thank you for breaking this all down for us to better grasp what exactly goes in to your online work. I believe in your books 100% and was happy to pay for both of them since they are so loaded with info and you’re so approachable and ready to answer any questions people ask.

    Beyond that your drive is remarkable and it’s what intrigues me about your traveling and your blog. It’s so important for people to see that you work extremely hard for your traveling rewards. 🙂

    I’m beyond grateful for your knowledge. I hope you keep traveling for a very long time and like others have said, thank you for keeping tons of ads off your site! You are amazing!!

  67. Matthew Bailey

    Hey Earl,

    Great post. I find it actually unfortunate that so many people want everything for free these days. Music, movies, books, specialized info, etc. A lot of travel blogs, which are not even that good, are basically causing professional and really great travel writers to lose their income and ultimately their jobs.

    I earn a small amount of income from a travel hacking site I designed for Canadians. Most of the info can be found online for free but it would take one a long time to find it all and it would be mind-boggling. To make it better, I send real-time emails when a deal comes out. Again, one could technically find this themselves but do they want to spend 1-5 hours per week searching or just pay a small fee of $10/mth to have it done for them. My time would be worth that.

    I totally agree with your statement. How could one create an amazing blog, which takes 25-60 hours per week, and do it all for free? Either you would need to work full-time somewhere else and have zero life or you would need to be homeless. This would only work if everything else was free too including food, accommodation, flights, etc.

    I’ve talked to you a lot over the years and you really are a world-class guy. Congrats on all the success and can’t wait to see the growth of Wandering Earl Tours.

    All the best,

    Matthew G. Bailey

    1. Drew Meyers

      Agree with you – it’s unfortunate everyone is on the “free” kick. It means many people are spending way way more time than they should searching for information — and the right person has already found that and put it into a central spot. But that person needs to earn a living, too..

  68. Matthew Bailey

    Hey Earl,

    Great post. I find it actually unfortunate that so many people want everything for free these days. Music, movies, books, specialized info, etc. A lot of travel blogs, which are not even that good, are basically causing professional and really great travel writers to lose their income and ultimately their jobs.

    I earn a small amount of income from a travel hacking site I designed for Canadians. Most of the info can be found online for free but it would take one a long time to find it all and it would be mind-boggling. To make it better, I send real-time emails when a deal comes out. Again, one could technically find this themselves but do they want to spend 1-5 hours per week searching or just pay a small fee of $10/mth to have it done for them. My time would be worth that.

    I totally agree with your statement. How could one create an amazing blog, which takes 25-60 hours per week, and do it all for free? Either you would need to work full-time somewhere else and have zero life or you would need to be homeless. This would only work if everything else was free too including food, accommodation, flights, etc.

    I’ve talked to you a lot over the years and you really are a world-class guy. Congrats on all the success and can’t wait to see the growth of Wandering Earl Tours.

    All the best,

    Matthew G. Bailey

  69. M

    Hi Earl!
    That was really interesting! I was wondering how you went about getting a readership for your blog back when you first started blogging, before anyone knew who you were?
    I can’t remember how the heck I ever found you, but sure am glad I did! 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey M – I’ll also be writing a post about how I started getting readers in the beginning…should have that post up in the next few weeks!

  70. Jason Eyermann

    I’ve purchased your ‘Live a life of travel’ E-book and i loved it. I would certainly recommend it to others. I would love to see a new E-book going through country by country detailing pros and cons of each country for the travelling person.
    I would have thought another good why for you to make money would be a travel writer companies like Lonely planet amoung others. Your CV for this is full to the brim.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jason – Thanks for that comment and glad you enjoyed the book! And thank you for the new book idea as well.

      As for the writing for places like Lonely Planet, those aren’t actually writing gigs. Those are mostly fact-gathering jobs and the pay is very low since there are a lot of people who would be interested in doing that. Also, because I write so much for the blog, I prefer my other projects to involve less writing in order to keep things balance and to keep me sane!

  71. Osvaldo

    I saw on the last post you were asking the same question as me. I thought Earl was ignoring our concerns, but even better: he dedicated a post exclusively to us 😀

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Osvaldo – I definitely wasn’t ignoring you 🙂 Any of the comments I didn’t reply to in that last post will be answered in a post!

  72. Janet

    Hi Earl. I get it. I get that you’ve got to make a living somehow, and therefore you charge a price for your ebooks… and I agree. It’s like when people get disgusted that people in the spiritual-based niche charge things.. You still need to live and survive in a material-based world, so you still need money! I get a little disgusted by people who think everything online should be free… But on the other hand, giving free resources away is another marketing tactic so I get confused by what you should charge vs. keep free.

    Also, I make money online but being a professional blogger (earning via my blog) does seem like way too much work than I’m willing to put effort in. Yes, I make money online through digital services… Yes, I utilize my blog to have a name for myself, but I’m not sure If I would consider myself a professional blogger? Because I don’t have ebooks yet and ad offers have been few and far between (although I always take it, a few extra $100 here and there). For me, making money online has been a combination of my graphic/web design + blog writing (which I do get paid for as a contributor to other sites). But still, am I a ‘professional blogger’ at my own blog? Not sure about that…

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Janet – I think it doesn’t really matter in the end what you label yourself in terms of blogging. Some bloggers just call themselves writers. I would just keep doing what you do and label yourself however you want. Placing ads on your site or having eBooks shouldn’t determine the quality of a site, so it shouldn’t determine your official ‘professional classification’ either!

  73. Ash

    People need to get out of their head that paid means bad or paid means you dont care about anything but money.You provide everything for free on the site, the ebook is just a easier consolidation of all of you blog work. For someone like you who works 50 hours a month on blogging, emailing and keeping everything up to date as a single person I think it would be dellusional to expect you not to want to make money on it.

    Do you outsource anything for your website and how do you keep your laptop safe.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ash – At the moment I don’t outsource anything as I prefer to do things myself. And in the end, there are very few aspects of the blog that could be outsourced. I certainly won’t outsource writing posts or answering emails or my Facebook page or anything like that and that makes up the bulk of the work. It just seems silly and not genuine to me to have someone else doing any of those things. As for keeping my laptop safe, I’ll be writing about that in an upcoming post as well but I really don’t do much at all…I just keep it locked up in my hotel room for the most part.

  74. Toni

    Thank you for being honest Earl – far too many travel bloggers say one thing and do something entirely different (like placing advertising when they say they’re not) 🙂

  75. Michele

    I agree with the first commenter! Your e-books are full of great information and well worth the purchase price imo. I bought them more than a year ago and I just read them again a week or so ago. Just to echo the sentiments above, keep it up. I really appreciate that the site isn’t full of ads as well as your philosophy in maintaining it.

  76. Amelia

    Hi Earl, keep it up! You do such a fantastic job with your blog, and I may have to purchase one of your ebooks soon too. Your serious work ethic is really inspirational.

  77. wong kae chee

    Hi Earl,

    I hope you will earn enough money to keep on travelling for a long time, and more money to stash away for when you decide to do something else. I wish you all the best.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ted – Thanks for reminding me about that…I forgot to add it in the post! I do receive donations each week, a handful. And while it doesn’t add up to a huge amount, it can be $200 per month sometimes as there are people who do help support the site each month through that method.

  78. Gemma

    Hey ya Earl

    Thanks for being so honest about how you earn a crust.
    You see a lot of people trying to sell things on the internet but the quality of and the passion you have for your projects really stands out.
    The posts are very inspiring and always entertaining so thanks!
    Gemma

  79. Matthew Karsten

    This is the formula for most of us who make an income online. And it’s always tough to explain to others — you can’t just say “I’m a teacher” or “I’m a doctor”. To be honest sometimes I’ll make something up when chatting with people because I don’t feel like having the same 20 minute conversation for the 300th time. 🙂

    You did an excellent job of it here though.

  80. Karen

    Hiya Earl – Your content is inspiring, entertaining and useful. I hope that your e-books bring you bucket loads of success. Quite frankly you don’t need to explain why you charge for them.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kendal – I still manage to have my fun 🙂 And starting last year I now take a couple of ‘vacations from the internet’ each year and try to unplug whenever I can. Unplugging is necessary in order to avoid burning out!

  81. sam

    Hey Earl, I think you stated everything pretty well and gave a much better understanding to your readers…….But knowing you for over 20 years or so there’s 1 message you missed… BE CREATIVE…. Most people don’t realize how creative ( and motivated) YOU are…. You can’t be a magical hippie and hope you can create an online income…..To all the reader who don’t know Earl…. be creative and think outside the box

  82. Peter Parkorr

    Very interesting to hear more of your story. Hope the blog continues to be a success for you! As bloggers become more professional in how they run their sites, people who think we should give away all our time and effort for free are just unrealistic.

  83. Paul

    Good article Earl. People really do fail to realise what a full time job blogging can become. It’s pretty clear that your content is genuine, and I think it’s crazy that there are people who have criticised you (e.g. The ebook example)for trying to make a bit of money to sustain your lifestyle..

  84. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    Rock on, bro 🙂

    I haven’t gotten into the sponsorships yet, other than with blog posts. Blog first, newsletter second, eBook sales, then sponsorships and I’m just now dabbling in advertising spots. I also still do the occasional freelance gig, plus I do brand consultations and moving abroad consultations. And we are moving into offering social media packages to Spanish and English clients, plus a new blog building service….so it’s an ongoing process as well!

    A big portion of our income in 2013 also comes from the retreats we are running (which you guest-spoke at back in March down here in Cancun), teaching people blogging, brand building and social media management. That’s more physical, at least for now…the idea is to take them on the road in 2014 and start offering them in different countries as opposed to here in Mexico.

    Great insight, as always…always a great thing to show people the variety available in the Internet when it comes to bringing in the dough.

  85. www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

    Great article, but it leaves us begging one question… how much?

    Because there are so many different styles of travel (from frugal and basic, to fist class and luxury, and everything in between), we think it’s a necessary part of an article like that to add it all up. Or at least tell us a monthly average from each category. That way, there may be some categories we feel are worthwhile to follow up on, and others maybe not.

    1. Wandering Earl

      As I mentioned in the post, it changes every month and there is no category that is always the biggest money maker each month. It all depends on so many factors and that unpredictability is part of making money online. And ‘how much’ a person needs completely varies as well…I know of people who rarely spend $500 per month on their travels as well as those who can’t travel without spending $1500 per month. So how much you would need depends on your own style too.

  86. terri

    hi earl,
    for someone wanting to do a similar thing to you, would you recommend starting with a tumblr/wordpress blog, starting with hosting a free website or by buying a domain name and learning to build a site?
    thanks!

    1. Melissa

      I’m obviously not Earl but I have to say, if you want to get started blogging, spend a little money and get started on the right foot with a self-hosted WordPress site with a professional theme. You could start with Blogger or WordPress.com but you’ll only want to switch it over later so avoid the pain now.

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Terri – I absolutely recommend going straight to a self-hosted WordPress site (buying the domain, getting a hosting plan, etc.). This gives you the most options and your site will be taken more seriously if it is self-hosted for the most part. And this way, if the site grows, you don’t have to go through the process of switching from a tumblr to a self-hosted site later on down the road. In my opinion it’s best to start with the option that can really give you the best chance of having a successful blog.

  87. Jérémy

    Hey Earl,

    Very interesting topic. When I explain that I earn money online, people are always amazed and ask me tons of questions. Now, I’ll just give them the link of this article, ahah !

    Like you, I run my travel blog which is my main project, and I regularly start new projects beside, to see what works and fails, and to start diversifying my incomes (like the new blog linked behind my name).

    Jérémy / French reader 🙂

  88. Gaelyn

    Thanks for sharing this part of your story Earl. I really need to get motivated to finish my ebook about traveling to the Grand Canyon. And you’ve sparked some ideas about offering tours in South Africa as well. Keep on blogging. And so agree about sites with too much advertising turning me off.

  89. Michael Hodson

    Great post, Earl. Like all of us in this business, you’ve got to have a lot of lines out in the water to catch enough fish to keep traveling. How is that for a completely mixed metaphor? 😉

    I hope the vast majority of your readers understand your logic and reasoning on all of this — charging for eBooks, affiliate links, and the like — because the reality is that you are providing a great amount of content and service for very little, if any, money out of your reader’s pockets. Kudos to you on many fronts, including laying this all out for them.

  90. Spinster

    “…every now and then I receive an email from a reader who is disgusted that my eBooks need to be purchased.”

    Ignore ’em. Keep up the good work.

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