This guide is the ultimate guide (meaning it’s long and detailed) for earning money while you travel, on your own terms, and in your own hours. If you’ve ever wanted to be a digital nomad, or work on vacation, this is the article for you.
Having regular money in your pocket while you travel the world is pretty much the dream for many people (including myself, I’ll admit).
The bad news is that you’re unlikely to receive this for ‘free’, or for minimal/zero effort.
The great news is that it isn’t difficult to be a full-time digital nomad; with a bit of effort and preparation, you’ll never have to step foot in a harshly-lit office cubicle ever again!
Ready to begin? Awesome. You’ll need a few main things:
- A laptop
- An internet connection
- A verified PayPal account
- A bit of knowhow about taxes
- A marketable skill
Also, quick note before we dive in – I am not going to list things like working in a bar, or retail or whatever. Such things are kind of obvious really, and this guide is more aimed at those who wish to work for themselves rather than someone else.
What is a ‘Verified’ PayPal account, and why do I need one?
Pretty much anyone over the age of 18 can possess a PayPal account. However, many companies require you to have your home country’s bank account linked directly to it in order to pay you.
It’s also important to note a lot of online companies won’t pay people via bank transfer, cheque or crypto, because it’s too expensive to send these overseas; PayPal is universal, and the recipient is the one who pays the 2.9% fees (although some companies do cover this for you).
This is called a verified account, and is a security measure, as well as a way of identifying the person earning the money for legal and tax purposes.
Many online/universal companies won’t pay you without a verified account, so be sure you have one beforehand to avoid losing out on hard-earned money.
Wait, I need to know how to do taxes?
Yes. Whenever you carry out work where you’re not specifically part of a company, but an outsourced entity (Uber/Deliveroo drivers, for example), you’re a sole contractor when you work for an online company, and they don’t process any tax or national insurance that your country requires employed people pay.
Different countries have different rules and percentages, so do some Googling to make sure you don’t accidentally wind up being done for tax fraud; governments often take it quite seriously, and you can end up in jail, even for a small amount, so learn how it works.
What is a marketable skill, and how do I get one?
A marketable skill, in the briefest sense, is an ability you acquire in order to earn money in exchange for practising that ability. Anything from an artist, to a transcriber, to a fry cook are all marketable skills that can be transferred worldwide.
Some skills can be learned without having to take any special kind of course, but having some kind of certification is always a plus, as it shows dedication to employers, as well as proof of ability.
How to learn a skill online
If you want to travel, then the best kind of skill is one you can ideally do from anywhere, at any time, to keep you flexible and free whilst still managing to earn a living.
Please note that some of these links below are affiliate links, which means if you book a course through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to yourself. This keeps the site running smoothly!
How to do audio transcription from your laptop
Almost everyone under the age of 40 can type reasonably well these days, but typing with your index fingers, and being able to proficiently touch-type at 110wpm with 99% accuracy (my current proficiency), takes work and practice.
Udemy: Touch Typing Mastery – £9.99
This course has 1.5 hours of video tutorial, alongside 12 downloadable resources, and lifetime access after purchase, meaning that you can truly learn at your own pace, and can always go back to the materials for a quick refresher down the line if you need to.
Typing.com: Free Typing Courses
If you’re on a very strict budget, then this free website will teach you the basis of what you need to know, in order to get you started.
Places you can apply to be a transcriber
The requirements vary for each of these, so read their individual rules and style guides carefully.
Rev.com: Audio typing, video captioning, and translation jobs available. Can get quiet in summer and holiday months, but pays decently if you take advantage of the text expanders in the editor.
Scribie: Audio typing jobs available. Word of warning, Scribie do not pay well at all, but if you want something you can literally do on the plane, or to wile away the hours between a layover, this is a viable option.
TranscribeMe: I have personally failed the entry exam for this one three times. It’s not the most intuitive, and there are no ways to know what you did wrong, so it’s a case of guessing what they want; their style guide is very slim and non-specific, but if you can get through, they pay semi-decently.
Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Taking a TEFL course will allow you to teach English in any country you wish; you don’t need to know how to speak the native language in order to do it. Plus, there are both classroom and online opportunities available worldwide.
This particular job does have some restrictions, however, so word of warning ahead. Absolutely anyone can get TEFL certified, but a huge amount of schools (both online and bricks and mortar) require some form of Bachelors degree to apply.
However, if you dig around you can find positions that don’t require a degree, just proof that you can apply your TEFL qualification skills to the classroom.
If you lack a degree, opt for a Level 5 TEFL course (this is on par with the CELTA) for more clout on your resume. It’s also worth noting that the Level 5 is the only regulated course.
How do I become TEFL certified?
I will say this: avoid those Groupon courses for $30 like the plague. They’re great if you want to dip your toes in, see if it’s for you (it’s what I am doing right now, in fact), but they’re often outdated and not regulated.
A true TEFL course can set you back up to (and over) $1,000, so bear that in mind. You may be able to get student funding in your country, however, so look out for it.
Online Certified TEFL Courses
Research and list as many as I can w/ affiliate links here.
Tefl.org – out of all of the research I’ve done, this seems to be one of the best. Highly reviewed and with a sleek layout, this website offers a mixture of TEFL courses, both online and college based.
TEFL Graduate – This site has the Groupon codes I mentioned. Their courses are as cheap as the prices suggest; they offer a lot of external YouTube content (available free anyway), so they’re good for a cheap tester, but I’d go with Tefl.org if you want a decent course.
The TEFL Academy – This school seems to be primarily UK based, but they do offer online-only courses that I assume to be available to those outside of the UK, however you should e-mail them first to double-check before dropping money.
Sell your travel photos to stock websites
The most apparent downside of diving into stock photography as a career is that it is a very crowded market. With travel being cheaper and easier than ever, many people are capitalizing on even the shortest of trips to get some great snaps.
That being said, it also affords you some great opportunities. A keen eye and an outside-of-the-box thought pattern can earn you some great pictures that go beyond your average sunset or macro piece.
Here’s some great sites that offer the opportunity to earn money from stock photos.
Alamy have some strict requirements with a commission rate of 40-50%, but with today’s prosumer market being more affordable than ever, many people will already possess a suitable camera, or be able to buy one.
Can Stock Photo have a fast review process, and simply pay out at $100 once you make sales. If you’re a contributor you can also earn money via a referral program
Chances are, you’ve heard of Getty Images. They’re the international behemoth that owns many of the celebrity images you see floating around, as well as a huge number of stock images used in famous book covers.
Getty’s huge clientele list mean that there’s some super high expectations from the photographs you try to sell them, and also affects your revenue, which seems to depend generally on how well your existing work sells.
Become a Travel Blogger – On Your Own OR Someone Else’s Blog
Let me stop you there. I am in no way about to suggest that you’ll get rich doing this, but since it is absolutely a viable way to make some money – even just $100 a month – I’m adding it in here.
However, with some careful planning, a lot of research and even more patience, blogging (or guest posting) can be a profitable career to launch for yourself.
So, how can you actually make money from a blog? There are a number of ways.
- Ad Revenue: Different ad services offer different click-through rates, but this is probably the ‘easiest’ (low effort) way to earn a few dollars.
- Affiliate Revenue: If you sign up with Amazon Associates, or something like SkimLinks, you can earn revenue when someone purchases something, at no extra cost to the customer.
- Guest Posting: Most blogs won’t pay you for a guest post, but they are a great way to drive more traffic to your site. More traffic means more revenue! It also increases your Google ranking, as it offers dofollow backlinks, which are gold dust in the blogging world.
- Sponsorships: This is something you likely won’t actually need to think about until your blog is already making a decent amount of money, but sometimes a company will offer you freebies or even money to write an article on their product. Be mindful of this if you’re a very small blog; you don’t want to be promoting shady or unreliable services, as your readers will only blame you for perpetuating it!
If you’re going to run a blog that makes actual money, there are a few absolute requirements you’ll need to fulfil. I plan to write a full guide on this at a later date, but for now perhaps you can Google these terms and see what you find:
- A ‘voice’ that makes you stand out
- A domain name (dot com preferable)
- A dedicated host (shared is okay, but they tend to be slower)
- A security certificate
- Posts with a 1,500-2,500+ word count
- A strong niche (travel, family, food, etc)
- The patience to do lots of keyword research
Make travel video content on YouTube/Twitch
Once again, this is not some guaranteed cash cow (in fact I would treat this as a dedicated side hustle until you begin to make tracks), but with the right tactics it is possible to earn a modest income to subsidise other earnings.
YouTube: It should be noted that to monetize your videos in 2019, you need 1,000 subscribers and over 4,000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months. For context, if you were to make one video a week for a year, that would mean you’d need about 77 views minimum on each video within the first year.
Twitch: To begin earning money on Twitch, you need 50 followers and an average view count of 3 per stream. That being said, most streamers don’t earn a penny until they start seeing about 20-30 organic viewers per stream concurrently.
Sidenote: I am not including Mixer or similar streaming sites on this guide, because it is more or less a dead platform unless you’re sponsored by Mixer itself, or a large company. The platform has almost zero audience for travel streams, but try it if you feel you can carve a niche there!
Some other noteworthy mentions that don’t really require full explanation are:
- Write a novel, or a non-fiction ebook about your travels
- Graphic design for other content creators
- Web design, or web coding is invaluable these days
- Make WordPress plugins
- Make phone games and sell them on the App Store
And there you have it. There are infinite ways to make money, but these are a great selection of ideas that, with the right amount of know-how and dedication, can prove profitable for your travels, and keep them going for longer.
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