Welcome to the 11th edition of “How to Make Money While Travelling” which features successful nomadic teams and interviews with location independent entrepreneurs.
So, how do you make money while travelling?
For the last 18 months or so I have made around 50% of my income consulting and freelancing for companies. I was running my own design / development agency and also working on marketing and consumer hardware projects. Another 25% from side projects and passive income (mostly affiliates), and then the last 25% from property rental income. The split is in the process of changing - I just exited my agency a few months back to get away from client work which I hated, so that regular income is stopping, and my side projects and new startups will be my main income source now.
What were you doing before "YoGrow" and "Don't Eat Alone"?
Before this jaunt of being location independent I was employed to work on some hardware products. I was heading up marketing for a UK company called Y-cam, and a similar role for Yeelight, part of Xiaomi, working on smart home and the Internet of Things. Before that I was involved with running lots of different companies, as owner or manager but normally dealing with sales and marketing. A printing company, a PR promotions company, a nightclub, a cocktail bar, an awards ceremony, a radio station. I’ve been around.
What are your reasons for becoming location independent?
I've been running my own location independent businesses on and off since 2003 but for various reasons I was pretty much staying in the same place - London. I love London, but I did get a little bored of the grind. I realised that life was too short to spend it commuting, living in an expensive city, working for someone else... Personally, I had very few commitments and no dependents. I’d already found minimalism so had very few possessions. It all seemed right. I felt that I would be stupid to not take this chance and experience an improved or different way of living.
Do you face any challenges while both working and travelling?
There are lots of challenges in life, there always are, even having no challenges is a challenge. I have new challenges all the time, as you solve one, another appears. Right now my biggest challenge appears to be routine. In London I had a nice routine, gym, healthy food, walk to work, hang out with friends, weekends to explore. It was a good routine and allows for an almost meditative state of being. Travelling means routine is harder, as things are more flexible, less constants, more stress, less options, less control. I’m currently working on improving my routine, but it's still a daily challenge, and decision-fatigue can get tiring. Because of this lack of routine, its easy to take days off, work on the wrong thing, spend too long on something, miss appointments, work too much, etc etc.
How do you find work while travelling?
My income streams have been generated by creating - creating things I want to use, what I see a gap in the market for, creating viable businesses quickly and creating value and income for clients and friends through marketing and business optimisation.
My side projects are super varied, and I create a lot. Some work, some don't, but you learn a little on each one, so if I get an idea one day, the next day I do a business canvas and run some numbers, the next day I'll create it. Most of them generate income passively which is also great, I don’t like admin or bureaucracy.
Consulting and freelance work comes through people I meet around the world or through word of mouth from those people. I have some profiles on freelance sites, and I have got a few clients through those. I'm very honest with people, if I am not interested in there project, I won't work on it, and likewise if I like their project, I'll just keep giving them advice and my thoughts. They can use it or throw it away, but sometimes they hire me or ask me to join the company.
My income streams are a little in flux at the moment as I have just sold my half of the business I've been working on for the last 18 months - this was a high-end development and design agency platform, so I got a few consulting jobs through that too.
Why do you think businesses should offer more remote working opportunities?
Because it seems to be cool to say that? As a multi-time CEO, Director and Manager, I know you can work remotely on many tasks. But, and I don’t want to be the party-pooper here, I do not believe that all companies can do it, or that all employees can do it or even that it's better in anyway. I would love to see proper tests done; 2 employees, one on-site, one remote, work for one year, see which is the better employee after it. In the developing world, it's very 1 or 0 if you know something, which may be good for remote positions, but not every job is so clear cut. I would love to be proved wrong, but the power of people together in a room is pretty strong, what's coming that can beat it? VR? We’ll see.
If you were to give advice to someone who wants to quit their desk job to become location independent, what would it be?
Make money. Make money away from your 9-5 before you quit. Earn $50 per month, that's your target before you quit. If you put in the spare time - the evenings, the weekends, the lunch breaks, you can do it. But you will quickly see how hard that is, and thank god you have the regular income while you learn. If you quit, then learn, you will most likely fail. I see it too often, people burning through their savings, back to their desk in 9 months, giving up on the dream.
Alternatively, save money. Save money and invest it, in property, or stock, so that gives you a passive base income to give you runway to live.
Don’t just save a bunch of money and spend it until you try and earn something on your own. That’s a really stupid thing to do.
What is your favourite travel quote?
A lot of people use travel as a basis for finding happiness, travel and then find out it's not their surroundings that's the problem or answer. So I’m going with my man Buddha;
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are; it solely relies on what you think”.
Do you have a mantra, slogan, or catchphrase?
I have 2. “Just another chapter in the book” is my narcissistically zen-like catchphrase that I use to explain any amazing or terrible events in my life - just shrug it off, it’s just another chapter in the book. The other is ‘Keep moving forward”, which I just like to make sure I keep progressing, keep improving, keep on moving forward with life.
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