The idea of being free in time, space, and money is so luring for many people. I’m telling my story to show that it’s possible, and that you can do it too. So here’s how I make money online while I travel… and while I sleep, for that matter.
This page is specifically created for everyone who has ever asked me how I do it. It includes everything I have to share on the topic of how I make money online – my beginner’s doubts and challenges, monthly earnings since I’ve started two years ago, and tips and resources on how you can do it too.
This is a personal story.
If you want a shortcut, here it is: I’ve started by doing affiliate marketing, and it still is the foundation of what I do.
a) Advanced method that helped me succeed in making money online
RAM comes with an invaluable free membership to a Google+ group, where the founder Jennifer and other RAM members discuss the strategy, exchange ideas, and help each other. This was crucial in my success, because I met real people who made it work. The group kept me trustful and motivated.
RAM is for intermediate to advanced-level online marketers.
b) Beginner’s prerequisites to online marketing
If you are new to making money online and affiliate marketing, you would need to understand the basic concepts and strategies first. Some of the best online courses for affiliate beginners are offered by Pajama Affiliates. Before going into the more advanced RAM method, here are a few helpful training topics you need to master:
If you like personal stories for some additional inspiration, read on. Here’s the table of contents, feel free to jump to the section that most interests you:
Table of Contents
- 1. Summary
- 2. My lifestyle as a digital nomad
- 3. How I came across the idea of making money online
- 4. What is affiliate marketing
- 5. How I started the online affiliate marketing
- 6. My first two-year Amazon monthly affiliate income report (Feb ’15 – Apr ’17)
- 7. Beginner’s challenges in online marketing
- 8. So how easy is it to make money online while traveling?
- 9. What you need to succeed in making money online
- 10. What you can start with today
- 11. Disclaimer
- Other ways to make money while traveling
2. My lifestyle as a digital nomad
One very good friend keeps telling me that I lead the life of a millionaire, because I have all the time in the world. I feel the same, but with two small differences:
- I do it on a slightly lower income 🙂
- Millionaires do not necessarily have much free time. Many of them are workaholics, or their fortunes are part of a mechanism that requires their presence.
Millionaire or not, the online income style works for me. It brings me freedom.
I’ve always loved to travel, and traveled extensively for months at a time. I financed it from my savings. Vacation was great, but each time I went back home I had to reinvent my business of making money. I knew that in order to support this freedom lifestyle I needed a more sustainable income model. That’s why I wanted to make money online while I traveled, so I can have continuity in my work.
I’m living the dream. During the past year, I’ve traveled for more than six months on different continents. Right now I’m living in Bali, but I could just as well live anywhere else. My current income is almost 100% on autopilot with very little maintenance, and I work to add more to the passive income.
My work is entirely based on creativity and enjoyment, and not on willpower. I’m not exactly bragging, as I know that adding a bit more discipline would skyrocket my productivity. I’m just saying I’m enjoying my work.
Discipline and getting out of the comfort zone, as I’m beginning to discover, is enjoyable as well. It definitely adds to personal growth. But it took me a while to get here, as I first needed to unwind from the mandatory discipline I was used to in the school and work system.
3. How I came across the idea of making money online
A few years ago I read “ The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. In the book, Tim writes about how he makes a substantial income online ($30,000+ per month at that time) with just a few hours of work, while he travels the world and explores whatever else he wants.
He advises to be alert and look for a “muse” – an idea that would inspire you, and proceed to setting up an online business that would bring passive income. By setting up these online properties (websites, links, online stores, etc), they would work for you and produce money without having to constantly trade time for money. And then follow your heart’s desires in the free time.
I naively believed the book. I’m saying naively not because the book lacks substance – in fact, to this day, it’s one of my master books. Tim Ferriss is an absolute genius of business and of the new “lifestyle design,” as he calls it. But because apparently in my world I was the only one who believed in it.
Excitedly, I had shared the book with some of my friends who turned out to be more skeptical and incredulous of the possibility to intentionally pursue such lifestyle.
I’m pleased to take note that my naivety redeemed me quite a few times in my life. Believing in possibilities and following my curiosities took me on dirt roads that generally did lead somewhere. That was the case with Tim Ferriss’ book.
I kept my eyes open, and actively expected to be inspired. I slowly defined the lifestyle parameters that I wanted for myself:
a) Freedom of time
- That I should build passive income, and not trade my time for money;
- That if I wanted to remove myself from any responsibilities for large periods of time (months), I could do just that;
b) Freedom of space
- That I could travel and work from anywhere (with wi-fi connection);
c) Freedom of money
- That I can be financially self-sufficient.
Every idea that came to me I subordinated to these three factors. Luckily, I became more exclusive with the flow of ideas that constantly crossed my mind.
Slowly, I narrowed it down to affiliate marketing. It seemed the perfect passive income model for me, and the ultimate model of freedom – with no boss, no clients, and no employees.
4. What is affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing where you promote other people’s products. You don’t deal with any of the responsibilities of direct selling, the trick is to drive traffic to the seller’s offer. Depending on the setup, the seller will pay you a commission based on sales, or based on number of clicks, or other specific actions.
One of the most successful affiliate programs for physical products on the market is Amazon. That’s how I derive a large part of my income at the present moment.
Using various strategies I learned about in the RAM program, I build links and websites, and I direct people to Amazon. Their sales page does the conversions. I don’t convince anyone to buy anything. Amazon does a great job to convert people with their layout, reviews, related products, offers, etc.
There are many ways to make money online, but different variations of affiliate marketing make a large share of it.
If you are new to online marketing, and affiliate marketing more specifically, you can start here.
5. How I started the online affiliate marketing
It took me years of slow research, while going on with life as usual. In the back of my mind, the goal to make money online while I traveled was quite clear.
At the end of 2014, I found myself in favorable circumstances that allowed me to explore online affiliate marketing full time.
I read tons of articles, watched countless instructional videos, bought many ebooks, participated in expensive online workshops, and I got into an advanced stage of analysis paralysis. Trying to get to it from so many angles made me feel lost in the rainforest of too many ideas.
I started to be very skeptical of the outrageous claims of $100,000’s dollar income per month. In particular, I mistrusted the trainers who would begin their video by showing off their beach house and the Lamborghini. I did not want all the hype, I just wanted a down-to-earth approach that would bring me a decent income.
The worst part was that I did not directly know of anyone who was successful at making money online, so I started to question the legitimacy of affiliate marketing altogether.
In the midst of my frustration and desperation of sorting out the true and the fake, I remembered a woman from whom I had bought an ebook a couple of years before. I remembered her because she seemed very normal, down-to-earth, and not in the shiny-glitzy category. She seemed SINCERE. So I looked her up online, curious to see what strategies she was using lately. That’s how I discovered Reverse Attack Marketing (RAM).
By that time I had already had the foundations of blogging and affiliate marketing covered, so I could dive right in.
I’m forever grateful to Jennifer, because due to her program I’m making money. I continue to follow her and listen to what she says, because she is one trustworthy person in the sea of shady and honest people teaching online marketing.
6. My first two-year Amazon monthly affiliate income report (Feb ’15 – Apr ’17)
Amazon is currently the largest single affiliate platform I make money with. A large portion of my income comes from it. I got into promoting physical products from Amazon as a direct result of learning the Reverse Attack Marketing (RAM).
I do not promote Amazon products by means of any other method. So my Amazon income naturally reflects the progress in implementing RAM, and that’s why I’m choosing to display it in this context.
As a side note, you can use RAM to promote anything: a blog post, a website, a product of yours, any other affiliate offer, etc.
I was debating with myself whether to make the income public or not. Not sure if it’s good or bad, but I know that I would have liked to see someone’s numbers when I started.
I’m sharing my income for the first two years of affiliate marketing with Amazon because I want to emphasize the progress in time. It starts with very little money, and then it slowly grows. The growth is potentially unlimited, but the beginnings are humble. If you rely on organic traffic vs. paid traffic, you have to expect that your pages will need time to build credibility and get promoted in the first results.
Many people get discouraged for lack of immediate financial rewards, and abandon before they see substantial results. If you keep motivated and get past the beginnings, there’s every chance to reach a high income level as passive income. Then you can have all the time in the world to work for more money, or simply pursue your life’s dreams.
If you search online some more, you can find income screenshots with much higher incomes than mine. Well up into tens of thousands of dollars a month. I used to be skeptical of those claims, but I’m not anymore. I see other people who do what I do, and I can roughly figure their income level.
There’s one particular woman that I “spy” on, and get inspiration from. Just based on the number of links she puts out there, the positioning in search engines, and the traffic she is generating, I know she must be making at least ten times more money than I am. She’s been doing it longer than me, but she is also working a lot on a daily basis. Which is something I’m still catching up with 🙂 .
7. Beginner’s challenges in online marketing
I did face many challenges, but the goal to make money online and travel wherever was always alive in my mind.
As you can see in my two-year Amazon affiliate income screenshot , it was a slow progress for me.
a) The thrill of the beginning
The first $5 I made online in February ’15 and paid by Amazon in April was awesome and a big success! I figured that it worked. If I could make a single dollar online, than it meant just doing it over and over again.
I just didn’t know how much work doing it over and over again would require. Would it be like swimming downstream, or would it be like the mythical Sisyphus pushing the boulder with no notable results?
I felt very high when the income increased from $5 to $29 to $39 (monthly 🙂 ), and I was crushed when it dropped again to $23.
Doubt crippled in many times, as I didn’t directly know of anyone who made money online. I just didn’t know if substantial amounts were doable, or the $25 per month would be the more realistic expectation.
c) Slow growth
Building organic traffic online is a slow process. I rely entirely on organic results. This means that I do not pay for advertising, but I use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to be promoted by search engines (Google) to hopefully the first page, and even more hopefully to the first position.
Paid traffic could bring faster results, but it can bring you down financially even faster if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can spend a lot of money with no results. It is advisable to move to paid traffic only after you understand how the internet works, and you have an amount of money that you can lose with no regret.
To this day, this is my largest roadblock. I’m a procrastinator by nature. I set up this model to make money online with no boss, no clients, and no employees, so I wouldn’t be accountable to anyone.
Little did I know that the lack of deadlines meant I had to only be accountable to myself, which is the hardest. Zero-accountability I was aiming for would not take me anywhere nice.
I still struggle with the discipline. I like to work out of enjoyment and creativity, and not out of willpower. Lately I figured that discipline is enjoyable, which is a new one for me. I feel that when the mind is super relaxed, it needs challenges.
So the discipline is my new overdue enjoyable challenge, if it makes sense. I’m very happy, as I will probably be more productive and increase my income at a faster pace.
On a second thought, I think I work much more than I’m aware of. Aimlessly surfing the net has always been my vice. So now I surf the net with an aim. Only that I don’t count the hours, just like you don’t count the hours watching TV.
8. So how easy is it to make money online while traveling?
Looking back at my last two years, and computing how many hours I’ve worked (or rather how many months of vacation I’ve had) against the relatively stable passive income that came in every month, I can say that it was incredibly easy.
However, we tend to forget the hard times. My brain is wired for pleasure anyway, so I definitely tend to forget the struggles.
But to be objective, I must remember and mention that there were hundreds of times when I could have given up. I was doubtful, I was demotivated, I was unsure, I was mistrusting, I was lazy, I was low-energy.
In fact, the phycological roadblocks were more prominent than any physical barriers (time, money, workspace, etc). I had to persevere.
What kept me going was my desire to be free (the three freedoms I was seeking: in time, in space, and money). It was an all-or-nothing approach. It was basically the rat race of a regular job life, or the freedom. So I had to have faith that I would succeed.
In a nutshell, I can say that it’s extremely easy and extremely difficult at the same time. It depends on what you want out of your life.
9. What you need to succeed in making money online
- Expect a slow progress. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. While it can be highly rewarding long term, the beginnings are dim for sure.
- You must have the ability to be self-taught. Yes you can buy courses and learn from others, but eventually you will have to do lots of research on your own. The ability to keep curious and learn throughout your career is the key trait to succeed.
- Expect to invest not money, but time. Learn how to build organic traffic. Paid traffic is expensive and can get you broke very fast.
- Persevere. The income will grow slowly, and there won’t be immediate money to motivate you.
- Keep focus, it’s very easy to get lost. There are countless ways to make money online, you eventually have to stick with something that works and keep doing it. RAM is tested and proven!
- Internet is always changing, maintain a flexible mind.
10. What you can start with today
- Basics of affiliate marketing, blogging, websites, and SEO: Pajama Affiliates
- Advanced affiliate marketing: Reverse Attack Marketing (RAM). If you decide to try it out, make sure you also get the free monthly membership to the Google+ community, which was priceless for my success.
I wish you to be successful!
This article is not associated with or endorsed by Amazon.com. I do not work for Amazon. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Any logos, trademarks, etc. belong to their rightful owner.
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