What is the Best Way to Fund a Travel Lifestyle?

How to make money to fund your travels (Affiliate Marketing)

Breakfast in Hungary

Many travelers hope a travel blog is going to provide enough income to have a location independent lifestyle. What could be better than getting paid to write about your travel experiences? The problem is that blogging is one of the most difficult ways to earn an income online. It takes a phenomenal ongoing effort to write and promote posts and even then you have to steer topics towards selling something; you don’t make money by writing an online travel diary. There are much more effective, faster and reliable ways to earn money while traveling.

Want to be a Millionaire?

Imagine if you had one hundred thousand dollars in the bank. In today’s financial climate, you would be pretty lucky to earn a safe 3% per year or $3,000 ($250 per month). That means if you could make $250 per month in regular passive income, it would be the equivalent of having $100,000 in savings. If you could ratchet that up to $2500 per month you would in fact have the income of a millionaire. ($1,000,000 X 3% = $30,000 per year. $30,000 / 12 = $2,500 per month)

Elusive Passive Income

The hard part, of course, is earning the passive income. After all, if it were so easy everyone would be doing it.  Many of the travelers I have interviewed are proving that consistent online income is definitely possible. (Check out some of my interviews with Pat Flynn, Kirsty Henderson, Karol Gajda, Nomadic Matt-Mathew Kepnes, etc.) One thing I can attest to, and I know all the people I have interviewed would agree, is that passive income is NOT easy. It takes a lot of upfront work and knowledge of internet marketing. You have to spend hundreds or probably thousands of hours learning until you can consistently deliver profitable results.

If Blogging Doesn’t Work, What Does?

There are people making money blogging, so I know it is not impossible. It is just really, really hard. There are rock stars making millions traveling the world, but there are also countless musicians that play only as a hobby. Becoming a successful A-list blogger is a lot like becoming a rock star. It takes years of dedicated, focused effort and some good luck helps a lot too.

A better alternative to blogging is creating mini-sites to market other people’s products or services. This is often referred to as affiliate marketing. It basically means building a small website to get targeted traffic to sell things. You don’t have to create the products because there are thousands made by others to sell already. You just have to get traffic to a site. If a sale is made through your web site you earn a commission, often around 50%. So for a $100 product, you would earn $50 per sale. Five sales per month would earn you $250, the equivalent of $100,000 in the bank as I mentioned above.

Get Rich Quick (Earn a Decent Income Slowly)

There is a science to getting traffic and finding out what works and doesn’t. It can take years to get that level of marketing and technical sophistication. There are some good training programs to walk newbies through all the steps of creating niche affiliate marketing sites. Some programs can cost thousands dollars, especially if there is a real life seminar, and others are membership programs for $97 per month or more. While I am sure those programs have value, they are a far too pricey for most people starting out.

I have just completed Corbett Barr’s Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course and found it to be a great inexpensive course to get started in affiliate marketing. Corbett walks you through all the steps in choosing topics, researching market potential, finding products to sell, creating mini-sites, search engine optimization and more with a real affiliate marketing example. The best part is that all the modules have comments so that you can ask questions that Corbett will answer. The modules explain everything clearly and concisely without all the hype and pushy sales tactics. Affiliate Marketing for Beginners is relaunching today (August 10th) with a two day discount. The price increases  on Thursday.

To be clear, this is not a quick and easy way to riches. It takes time to research niches, find products and start earning commissions. Some of your sites might be successful, some not. Like anything in life, consistent effort and regular improvements are required to find out what works best. My niche sites make almost no money at all. When I got started I didn’t know how to research key words and optimize sites effectively. Actually, I didn’t even bother to find products to sell. I hoped to earn enough from Google Adsense. Well, I know that ads alone don’t earn much income. Now I need to put in the work to implement Corbett’s techniques.

Again, if you don’t have the motivation to implement what you learn in the course then save your money. Corbett makes it clear that his program is about ethical marketing of good products that people want to buy. Creating a sustainable income honestly, takes work and time. If you want to get a good, easy to understand, comprehensive introduction into building mini-sites and Internet market, then Affiliate Marketing for Beginners is good value for the price.

You have probably guessed that I get a commission for selling Corbett’s program (affiliate marketing) :-). For anyone who buys through the links on this page, I would like to offer an extra mastermind group where we can regularly share our experiences, problems and lessons learned. If you are interested in working through Affiliate Marketing for Beginners with me please email after you go through the course. It would be great to bounce ideas off of others doing similar things. I can show you some of the sites I have and mistakes I have made to hopefully save you some time when you do it for yourself.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

12 Responses to What is the Best Way to Fund a Travel Lifestyle?

  1. Kirsty says:

    Nice post, John. I think people might not realize how many and what sort of variety of sites people living off earnings from the web actually have. This post over on my blog gives a bit of detail on the 20 sites I have: http://www.nerdynomad.com/2009/11/03/499/ I think somewhere in the comments Nomadic Matt mentions having about 40 sites too… so we’re not just earning from a single blog. I only recently started even earning from my blog… I was convinced it wasn’t possible to earn much from a blog and that the effort would be too much so I was reluctant to star one, except as a hobby which is what I did. I only started earning recently from Nerdy Nomad and even still, it’s not very much when compared to the earnings from my static HTML information sites (that rarely need an update!)

    The point is not to get fooled into thinking that a travel blog alone will help you earn enough to travel. Learn about affiliate marketing, SEO and keyword research. Get some more sites up while continuing to blog. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and choose a variety of topics.

    I’ve put in thousands and thousands of hours in over the past 10 years to get to the point of earning an average of $2200-ish so far this year. A lot of that time was spent learning new things and doing it as a hobby, though. It can be done a lot smarter and a lot quicker than I’ve done it and the potential to earn a lot more is there if you work smart and stick with it.

    Blogs are a great way to stay in touch and maybe sell a few ads but it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that are most people’s bread and butter.
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..Keeping Myself Entertained with Rwandan Hash =-.

  2. Dan says:

    Great comment from Kirsty! I think a lot of people put too much energy in to their “follow me on my business/travel journey as I learn” blogs when it would be better spent building a legit business that can be the leader in a profitable niche. “Earn a decent income SLOWLY” is critical. It helps to think of things in 5 year plans. If you can’t stomach 5 years of upending your life and learning a whole new skill set I say man don’t bother! PS these captchas are damn hard to read!

    • John says:

      Thanks Dan.

      There does seem to be an over-supply of “follow me on my business/travel journey as I learn” blogs. The idea of easy passive income sounds great but I think a lot of people (me included) are finding that “easy” and “passive” are not words typically associated with earning an income.

      I am also starting to believe that real world businesses have a much better chance of success than trying to compete with the millions of people willing to work for free online.

  3. Phil says:

    Good article, except, your basis of calculation is wrong. I doubt that any millionaire would be lazy/unaware enough to settle for the 3% annual interest! This ‘poor economic climate’ is actually a great investment time and any good managed portfolio should get you upwards of 9%. Even my 78 year old mother who knows nothing of investing has a portfolio that is earning in that range (she uses a portfolio manager)!

    So, really, if you had 1m invested you would be seeing 90k/annum in interest. You would have to pay income tax on that or course, so, let’s say you’d end up with 63k/annum after tax and then deduct a certain amount in portfolio and transfer costs, you would have at least 50k, if not 55k/year.

    So, that is the target if you feel the vanity of claiming an income like a millionaire.

    Apart from that, it is a great article. ‘Earn a Decent Income Slowly’ is a great mantra!

    Keep it up! Great work.
    .-= Phil´s last blog ..The value of things =-.

    • John says:

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for the comment.

      In a previous post, I used a 6% return as a base rate and several people commented that it was too high. I thought that no one would disagree with a 3% return. 🙂

      If you can get steady and safe 9% returns then you are doing better than I am. My mother’s portfolio made a total of 1% over the last six years after counting the 30% drop in 2008. This year was a great year for investing, but I am not wise enough to get anywhere near a 9% yearly return.

      • Phil says:

        Hi John,
        (As I replied in an email) I am no stock market genius, but, I follow the advice of people who are! I subscribe to the Motley Fool and, while not perfect, their Stock Advisor service has done me well. For example, since they recommended NetFlix it has gone up 300% (in the last 2 years or so).

        The trick is to stay on top of things – or pay someone to do so. Personally, I like following it.

        When you hit ‘a certain age’ (which sadly I have) you realise that you have to get your act together and save money for the inevitable!
        .-= Phil´s last blog ..The value of things =-.

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m so Glad that http://www.theplanetd.com/ led me here. I’m trying to do some research on the use of affiliate programs and travel bloggers and haven’t gotten many answers. I’m not looking for a program, I’m looking to find out if many actually use these programs and if it is actually profitable or does it tend to really be more of a trickle?

    If you or anyone would be interested in answering a few questions for me that would be great. You can e-mail me, contact me at http://travelfed.wordpress.com or find me on Twitter @eSkyGuide

    Going to check out Corbett’s program now. Thank you.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..One letter on a plane ticket says a lot about you =-.

  5. John says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Although I am no expert, I think it is definitely possible to make a good income (thousands of dollars per month) on affiliate sites. Many of the people I have interviewed are proving that.

    However, as Kirsty says, making it from a single, or even a few, travel oriented blogs is unlikely. You have to write about what people want to buy. Most travel blogs don’t fit into that category, including this one. Popular blogs focused on popular cities, travel products, hotels, etc. are more likely to be successful but even then you will likely need dozens of blogs to make a good income.

  6. Interview with Niche Marketers, Andy and David Boyd | JetSetCitizen.com says:

    […] have written recently that niche marketing is one of the best ways to make money online. It is no get rich quick scheme but it does have the potential to earn a solid consistent income […]

  7. Tom@ En Espanol Karaoke says:


    I’m building multiple sources of online income. My obective is to have the CHOICE to live location independent. In the past i had the ability to live where ever i wanted, however the reality was that i kept coming back to the UK for long periods of time.

    So for me its all about freedom. A series of small endevours should allow me to live where i want with adequate income and some savings.

    For now im building Adsense sites (easy and quick) Amazon and ebay affilaites, affilaite Marketing keyword reseacrh and wordpress blog tools. Oh and the obligator hosting compnay 🙂 although i dont promote hostagtor but wpWEBhost

    I hope that contirbte to your blog.


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