These posts are a way for me to share the ups-and-downs of working for myself, of trying to take my business off the ground, of how to make money as a digital nomad, or whatever you want to call it. They’re a way of holding myself accountable every day because I know at the end of the month I’m going to have to tell you what I’ve done to be better.
See the most recent posts for How I Make Money as a Digital Nomad Here.
I also hope that this series will help those of you wondering if you can do it, too. If you want to know what it’s like trying to find freelance work, how much I’m actually raking in each month, and what the rate of growth is over time for my journey, then this is the place to get it.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments. I will do my best to answer them in these monthly posts.
Let’s start with the outgoings. I’m going to preface this by saying Luke and I completely share everything. I’m lucky to have someone who is so supportive of my huge leap into this digital world, both emotionally and financially.
Zip. Zilch. Nada. We have been incredibly lucky here in Mexico and Luke’s company pays our rent. It was one of the major selling points for me. It means that whether I make $1 or $10,000, we have a roof over our heads. It also means I can focus 100% of my time on my own work and I don’t have to get a part time job to cover the rent.
Grocery shopping is really cheap here in Mexico. Fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper than the US, cheaper than the UK (except maybe from Aldi), and cheaper than they were in South Korea. A week’s shop tends to cost between 800 and 1,000 pesos or between $40 and $50 USD. That’s without skimping. We buy plenty of meat, lots of fresh produce, a few nice beers, and the odd dessert. So this month let’s just say we spent $200 on groceries, or $100 each.
While we don’t pay rent, we do cover the bills. We pay for gas, electricity, cable, and a cleaner who comes once a week. That all comes out to about 1,000 Pesos a month for both Luke and I, or $25 each.
Whenever we want to go anywhere, since we don’t live very close to a metro, we usually get an Uber. It costs us between 60 and $100 pesos or between $3 and $5 to get a taxi into the center of Mexico City. This month we spent about 600 pesos on taxis or about $30.
5. Drinks, meals out, & other fun
All the rest of our expenses came in the form of going to a bar, restaurant, or cafe. Most of the other activities we did on weekends this month were free. We’ve probably spent another 1,000 pesos each or $50.
6. Marketing Expenses
Of course the running of all these websites costs money. I pay for Facebook advertising, for my domain names, for different editing software, and for courses that improve my understand of the blogging business. This month I spent $30 on marketing.
In Total: $235
That’s pretty low. I still have to get a cell phone which will add another few hundred pesos to my outgoings a month. I assume as we meet more people, we’ll go out more and spend more, but at the minute, our outgoings are minimal.
Now for the reason you actually came to this post. I read a really interesting article the other day by Brendan Van Son. In it he explains how he uses the “octopus” approach to life as a digital nomad. He has his finger in as many pies as possible, so if one falls through, he still has an income stream from other places. That’s sort of the model I’ve adopted.
Here’s what I’ve earned and from what outlets I’m making money.
1. Affiliate Marketing
What’s affiliate marketing? Basically I put links to products that I use and love on the site. If you click on those links and buy it, I receive a (very) small commission. In addition to this blog, I run a fashion site. Both websites are still in the fledgling stage, but have enough of a following that between them a few purchases are made every month. The sites I use most are Amazon and Shop Style Collective. This month I made $15 on affiliate sales.
I work with a copywriting company where I do some travel writing. They give me a topic and a brief and I write a short piece for one of their clients. This month I made $200 copywriting.
3. Sponsored Content
I sometimes receive a commission for writing about a company or product on one of my websites. This is still a new source of income for me and I’m learning as it happens. I made $50 on sponsored content this month.
4. Freelance Writing
Some months I do really well with my freelancing. I write for a few different websites and apps. It’s mostly travel writing, but I sometimes write fashion pieces for smaller websites. This month I made $125 on Freelance Writing.
5. Social Media Management
I have a few solid clients each month (but am always looking for more!) whose social media I run a few hours a week. This month I made $300 on Social Media Management.
This is something I’ve only just started dabbling in this month. I’m hoping to make a few passive dollars on some of my images on iStock and Shutterstock. I’m still learning how to tap into this earning potential and will be looking for more clients and ways of making this happen over the next few months. I didn’t earn anything from it this month
In total: $690
It’s not much, but it’s enough to cover my expenses and still have money left over each month here in Mexico. I couldn’t possibly live off of this if I were in the US or the UK or even if I were paying rent here in Mexico. Obviously this isn’t my ideal end of month bottomline, hopefully it’s just the beginning. I am working constantly to increase the income for each of these outlets and turn this into a lifestyle that I can sustain no matter where I am.
Sunday 19th of February 2017
Great tips :) I travel a lot and I tried all kinds of ways to make money online What works best for me is Koocam. Can do it from anywhere I teach my hobbies, and sell my knowledge in any field that I'm good at . It's great !
Sunday 19th of February 2017
Thanks, Arava! I've never heard of that one before, I'll definitely be looking it up though. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Friday 4th of November 2016
Really loved reading your blog. A lot of blogs i have come across I read and get bored and move on but have been really drawn into reading all of yours!
I was just wondering what blogs and courses helped you in writing and getting to the stage your at now? Also how did you meet Luke? I know you said he lived in New Zealand but how did you both have such a desire to travel and yet you were both on the other side of the world and whats the best way to gather work and draw attraction.
Also another quick question what camera do you use to take your pictures on?
Briana and Kyle
Saturday 13th of August 2016
Great post! Will be following your journey into being a digital nomad! I am curious how you initially landed your social media clients?
Wednesday 24th of August 2016
Thanks so much Briana and Kyle! To get clients, I put myself on a few freelance sites, and I also reach out to people that I've previously built relationships with. Feel free to drop me an email for more specific details ;)
Sunday 7th of August 2016
That's really interesting Laura, thanks for posting. We moved out (back) to Hong Kong last year (it's a long story !) and have started dabbling in a bit of writing but no income as such though I hope it will lead to something. The most expensive thing here is rent though we've got it covered. Any great article and very inspiring ! Happy travels !!
Monday 8th of August 2016
Thank you so much, Ben! I would love to visit Hong Kong one day! Happy travels to you, too :)
Tuesday 2nd of August 2016
Thanks for the detailed account. I'm only now starting to think of using my blog for income generation and thought it was best to just pick one thing, but I like this octopus approach. Would you mind sharing what copywriting company you work for? If not, that's fine. I'm going to do a Masters in Digital Marketing and i'm hoping to get into the social media management as a business. Any tips or advice on how you did that would be really appreciated. Thanks!
Tuesday 2nd of August 2016
I'm glad you enjoyed the post Lillian, sending you a more detailed email now :)