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Six Years as a Digital Nomad: The Good, the Bad & What’s Next

Six Years as a Digital Nomad: The Good, the Bad & What’s Next

I can’t believe this is the sixth time I’m writing one of these digital nomad wrap-ups.

I can’t believe I quit my job in April 2015 and I have not worked for anyone else ever since.

It has been a bumpy road; one littered with failures and mistakes, with giant potholes that showed up out of nowhere (worldwide pandemic, I’m looking at you). 

And yet, I’m still here. I’m still writing. 

I’m not only writing, I’m video making, too. Something I never would have thought would be part of my repertoire when I started this business back in 2016. 

This has been one wild ride and the last 12 months may have been the wildest of all.

Palace de cibeles in Madrid along Paseo del Prado

I started 2022 in the stunning Spanish capital of Madrid. It was my first time in Spain and it was one of the best ways to start the year.

You can catch up on all of the yearly recaps from the beginning if you’ve missed out:

The Good

I always like to read the previous year’s recap post before writing these. What was going on in my head a year ago when I sat down to write this post? How was I feeling about my business? My blog? My channel? My income? My work-life balance?

I noticed that last year’s post, more so than the others before it, focused much less on the actual business aspect of life as a digital nomad, and so much more on how I actually felt about my business.

2020 did that to me I think.

I was recently on a press trip where I met another travel blogger and we got talking about how much our perspective on success and blogging has changed over the last two years.

“I’m so happy to be making enough to live a good life,” she said. “I used to be so focused on each month being better than the last and now I’m just happy that I can continue to live this life.”

It made me realize that without even really noticing, I’d sort of done the same thing over these last couple of years.

That’s not to say that I haven’t still been working my butt off to grow my business, but the numbers have mattered so much less than they did before.

Success in the last 12 months has been how many wonderful people I’ve been able to connect with thanks to this business.

Success is being able to make my own schedule and go on trips that really interest me and only check my emails once a day (ok we’re less successful with this one than I’d like to admit).

I’ve been so enjoying the process and the creation of the work I’ve been doing and with this has come more success in the traditional sense of the word. More followers, more pageviews, more money. Amazing how that happens.

lithuania park

This was one of the first pictures I took in Lithuania last summer. It is at the park behind our apartment building and I was so in awe that it was still this bright at nearly 10pm.

Starting Again

As many of you already know, Luke and I made a huge move almost exactly a year ago today.

We left Mexico after five wonderful years and moved to Lithuania.

I was so nervous about what that would do to my business, but I was also excited. I was excited that Europe was going to be my backyard and I was excited for what that would mean for the growth of my YouTube channel and blog.

I came over here having wiped my slate clean. It felt like I was starting again even though I wasn’t really. I was taking this business with me.

But that mentality stood me in good stead. It meant I could experiment, I could take risks. What was the worst that could happen? I was already starting from zero, right?

It allowed me to experiment with different video styles to find what was my favorite. It allowed me to spend more time sitting at my computer updating old content instead of worrying about creating tons of new content.

It allowed me to visit places that I never would have thought of visiting before moving to Lithuania and write about them so that I could share them with all of you.

woman in front of trakai castle lithuania

Adventuring around Lithuania during those first few weeks here was such a memorable experience.

More Traffic Than Ever

When travel came to a halt in March 2020, I was getting some of the best page views of all time on my website. I was regularly receiving 80,000 monthly visitors and this was pretty big (for me).

In June 2022, I hit 110,000 pageviews.

Not only have I reached a milestone that I have dreamed of for my blog for many years, but I surpassed it by a whopping 10,000 and counting. My pageviews continue to increase week-over-week. 

I know this is because it’s summer and much of the European travel content that I have on my website is more popular than it is in say, February, but it means that I can start planning for other cyclical content for winter and expect roughly similar results.

It also feels good to know that all the work that I have been putting in behind the scenes on my blog that no one really notices over the last two years has paid off. 

woman in front of cathedral in vilnius lithuania

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since we wiped the slate clean and moved to Lithuania. SO much has changed, including me.

YouTube Continues to Grow

I got called a “YouTuber” the other day which shocked me. I guess I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, perhaps even a blogger.

But with nearly 32,000 subscribers on Youtube and videos that often reach at least that many viewers, I guess I sort of am a Youtuber now?

I have been having so much fun making YouTube videos this year.

I mean, let’s be fair. I have been having so much fun traveling this year.

In the last six months alone I have been to Madrid, Cassis, Marseille, Bergamo (twice), the Italian Riviera, and Cinque Terre, Rome, all around Andalucia Spain, and back to Italy to the tiny island of Ventotene.

Not to mention I have revisited Vilnius and Kaunas as well as several smaller towns around Lithuania like Marijampole and Birštonas.

You can watch all of my European travel videos here.

I have been enjoying my travels so much and sharing those moments through videos has felt like an extension of that enjoyment. Even when I’m traveling solo, I’m taking my YouTube community along with me and we’re sharing in the experiences for weeks afterward.

That’s pretty magical.  

woman taking a photo with a phone

Traveling and creating, making sure I get enough information to write helpful articles, and also trying to enjoy the place and appreciate what I get to do and where I get to do it has been such a gift.

Working with More Tourism Boards & Brands

When I moved to Lithuania last summer, it was my goal to start working with more brands and tourism boards. Currently, the majority of my income comes from three main sources and that sort of scares me because if one of those goes away, I lose quite a large chunk of the revenue for this business. That’s not a great business model for the long term. 

I knew it would take time to build my website and channel to something that would be worth their while and I also knew it would take time to make good connections with people.

It has felt a bit like a snowball effect since April but since then I have had some really fantastic traction working with the MEET Network, the Andalucia tourism board and I have already lined up a few more to work with in the coming months thanks to a recent conference I went to.

I feel so grateful that some of the dreams I have been having for this business ever since I started it back in 2016 are finally coming true. I guess it’s time to start dreaming a bit bigger.

woman posing in front of the trevi fountain

A selfie in front of Trevi fountain when I spent 24 hours wandering around Rome in May!

Hiring Writers

I promised myself in 2021 that once I finally got back to the income that I was earning in February 2020, I would start re-investing money back into Eternal Expat to grow it further.

It took almost exactly two years, but by the end of February 2022, it was looking like I could finally start investing in this business again and so I did. I currently have two regular writers on Eternal Expat who create monthly content about Europe and I have a few writers in Mexico who have been writing once or twice a month as well.

For me, beefing out the content across these locations is important to me and a good first step in growing Eternal Expat into a destination where people can find everything they need for their travels to these destinations. 

It’s not just about more content, it’s about more awesome content. I want people to feel like they are getting advice from their best friends who know those destinations very well and I think that is what we continue to produce on this website.

Hopefully, this is just the start of what we are all capable of creating together.

woman sitting on a bench in front of potted plants

Exploring the stunning Cabo de Gata Natural Park back in May of this year.

The Bad

As this post goes live I’m somewhere floating around the Aegean Sea in Greece while still earning passive income and filming videos and taking photos and how could I possibly have anything bad to say about this life?

I feel so incredibly grateful that this is my job and while I know how hard I fought to keep this business running over the last few years, I truly feel like the luckiest gal in the world that I was able to not only salvage it but turn it into a prosperous business that is growing bigger than I ever could have imagined.

But, it’s a yearly tradition to find something to complain about and, let’s be honest, no life is perfect. Mine is certainly no different.

Winter

I had my first full winter in six years and it was a long, dark, cold one.

When I came back to Lithuania after spending Christmas in the UK and a week in Madrid, I didn’t leave my town for six weeks. Not once.

I barely left my house during that time.

The few times I went out each week were simply to go to the grocery store.

I got a whole lot of work done, which I believe was a huge help in setting me up for the success that my blog is seeing now, but it didn’t feel great at the time.

When I finally left in February to go to Cassis to see some friends, I realized how much I missed the sunshine, the warmth of its rays on my face.

From February it felt like it continued to drag on. It wasn’t getting much warmer, it was still snowing occasionally, and the days were still so short. It felt like spring would never arrive. 

It was a big wake-up call for my mental health and one that I think I’ll be paying much closer attention to come next winter.

woman in a coat and scarf

Freezing by butt off in winter trying to smile through it.

Finding Balance

I love my job. I love to travel. I love to write and I am so grateful for how well everything is going. So grateful in fact that I haven’t been able to say no.

I’m afraid. Afraid that it will all come crashing down again. Afraid that this success won’t last or that perhaps we’ll move again and I will have regrets about not having made the most of our time here.

In the last 6 months, I have traveled for at least one week per month. In some instances, up to two weeks per month.

I come home for a week or two and during that time I have to catch up on calls, emails, articles, editing videos, spending time with Luke, seeing friends, sleeping, eating healthy, exercising.

When I got back from 10 days in Spain at the start of June I immediately go sick. I spent a whole week trying to catch up with work in between blowing my nose, coughing, and drinking cups of ginger tea.

It’s not a sustainable way to live but I am also loving the pace of it all. 

It’s really hard for me to say no at the moment and I also don’t really want to. So I have to find a way to balance working and healthy living while also traveling and making the most of every opportunity. 

I’ve started going for runs on my trips like that morning jog around the Colosseum when I was in Rome or a morning run in Malaga with my friend Katherine.

I’m making sure that I make my own breakfast and when I can I try to make healthy choices when I’m eating out or when I can, self-catering at my Airbnb or hotel. I’m opting out of late nights (most of the time) and going to bed early so that I can get a good sleep and wake up early to sightsee and create content.

I’ve also had to let go of the pressure of learning Lithuanian for now. I would love to pick up my studies again at some point, but the stress of preparing for my classes and of knowing that I should be studying in between those lessons was really weighing me down. Something on the schedule had to give and my weekly Lithuanian classes and bi-monthly Spanish book club have both had to take a backseat for now.

What’s Next?

Hopefully more of the same!

I will be in Greece enjoying a real vacation with Luke. It’s a country we have both dreamt of visiting since we met back in 2008 and we are finally making it a reality.

Once I’m back, I still have a whole lot of work to catch up on including lots of blog posts and videos from both Greece and my trip to Spain last month.

I have a few exciting projects to explore for the summer before I head to Italy in September for a trip with my mom.

I don’t have any other plans set in stone until Christmastime so I’m looking forward to how I’ll fill those gaps and continue to grow this business (and myself!).

Domantas

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

Thank you for amazing content! Are you planning to travel around the region and visit Latvia, Estonia or Poland until the weather still allows travelling in such a far North?

It would be super interesting to see your oberservations of the differences between Vilnius and Riga or Vilnius and Warsaw.

Plus, for Youtube and blog, it could be more interesting to read about a little off the beaten path destinations than these super famous ones.

Thank you!