We get asked all the time how we make money while traveling in our RV full time. Most people assume we’re trust fund kids or that we’re living off our savings. But like many full-time RVers in the 20 – 50 age bracket, we work on the road as digital nomads.
This is precisely why I’m writing this blog; to share exactly how we earn money on the road while living in our RV. Our path to making money on the road won’t be the same as yours. But hopefully seeing how we make money while traveling can educate and inspire you about the different possibilities for living life on the road.
How we became digital nomads
Working remotely for a company or corporation is one way to earn a wage and RV or travel full time. We, however, chose a different path to becoming digital nomads through real estate investing.
Dennis and I both had jobs that would not allow us to work remotely (teacher and bartender). To fulfill our dream of full-time travel, we knew we had to find a different way to make money. That’s when we found real estate.
Our journey as real estate investors started when Liz’s sister gave her the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. I attribute much of our life to the lessons we learned in this book. It truly is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their financial circumstances or is interested in real estate.
However, it wasn’t until our first real estate association meeting that we discovered our path as investors. We ultimately ended up diving head-first into the lesser-known real estate investing niche called note investing. We won’t go into massive detail as to what note-investing is here. But if you are interested here’s an article you can read to learn more.
We spent roughly four years building up our note-investing business in between our normal jobs. It wasn’t easy, but it paid off. In year four, we made over double our income from our day jobs. By year five we were able to quit our jobs and move into our RV.
Diversifying our income
In 2020, we slowly began closing out our real estate portfolio. Signs of an economic recession, even before the onset of the global pandemic, told me it was time to sell and take our profits. Although, looking back I definitely sold too early. This step back from note investing was at a good time. High inflation and dwindling inventory were making it harder to find a good deal.
The last three years have been dedicated to creating new revenue streams for our salary. Because $10,000 earned from three sources is almost always better than $12,000 (or more) from one. Today we earn money from:
- Our Youtube channel
- Creating content with companies we use and love (UGC and partnerships)
- Freelance writing
- Selling products
- Affiliate income
How we make money on YouTube
Our YouTube channel is quickly becoming one of our main sources of income. This was an extremely challenging income avenue to create. But now, after 5 years it’s starting to pay us a meager salary.
1. YouTube Adsense
We earn money from YouTube in two ways. The first is revenue from Google Adsense. Every time a viewer watches an ad that is played before, during, or after our video we earn a small commission from Google Adsense.
Below is what we made in 2022. This was actually less than what we earned in 2021. Growth on YouTube isn’t always linear.
The amount we earn depends on the geography of the viewers, content length, and content topic. Meaning our Adsense revenue is changing constantly.
If you enjoy watching a creator on YouTube help them out by watching the ads played on their videos. This comes at no cost to you and goes a long way in helping compensate them for the work and effort that goes into running a YouTube channel.
2. Brand partnerships
The second avenue of income we make from YouTube is through sponsorships. We partner with certain companies that we use and believe in to help promote their services on our channel or blog through a one-time payment.
This avenue makes up the majority of our YouTube income today. If you ever see an ad in our videos and are interested in that product or service help us out by using our special link to learn more. Again, this comes at no extra cost to you and goes a long way in helping us as creators.
Brand partnerships require a lot of effort on our part to keep going. We have to seek out companies we trust and believe in, find the right point of contact, then negotiate a worthwhile deal for both parties.
After that, we have to write a script, film the ad, send it for their review, and share it with our audience. Partnerships do pay well, and there is nothing better than getting paid to promote a place or company you use and believe in (something we naturally do already), but it’s a very active way to earn money.
3. UGC (user-generated content)
Another avenue of income for us is creating content for companies through user-generated content (UGC). This is content we create and give to the company to use for their own marketing purposes, such as paid ads on social media, Google, or for their website and other media. We don’t post UGC to our accounts and literally create content for their product, service, or needs.
UGC is a great way for creators who don’t have a big following but know how to make high-quality photos and videos for marketing purposes to make money.
4. Freelance writing
In 2019, Liz landed a freelance writing gig with Millionacres, a Motley Fool Company. It was my first branch into freelance writing. I found the writing opportunity by chance, the day I signed up on FlexJobs. It was the first post I applied to and luckily I was hired. Millionacres.com was all about real estate investing making it the perfect fit for my experience and knowledge in this arena.
In 2023, that opportunity came to a close. Thankfully, I was able to find another writing job with a US News Real Estate. Freelance income can be high-paying but inconsistent. The company can let you go anytime without reason. But nonetheless, writing can be a fantastic way to make money while traveling.
5. Selling digital products
After traveling to Iceland and Mexico we decided to compile our experiences into a digital travel guide. These guides are super extensive and took months to create. They took all of our first-hand experience on these epic road trips into a concise downloadable format.
Iceland is a rugged country filled with vast beauty, rich history and culture, and amazing adventures. Taking a road trip is one of the best ways to see the country and thanks to the ring-road which circumvents the island, you can easily traverse Iceland’s unique and breathtaking landscape with ease. With 6 distinct regions, determining…
You can create digital products for almost anything. How to start a YouTube channel, how to take quality photos, how to code, how to sew, or how to invest are just a few examples of potential products.
Previously, Liz ran an online course about investing in mortgage notes. When Liz took a step back from note investing she also left her role in the online program. However, I mention this to show you that digital products can be an extremely viable way to earn money rather passively.
6. Affiliate Income
The last way we make money is via affiliate income. We have affiliate relationships with dozens of companies we use and believe in. This can include products from Amazon, REI, or Pact (our favorite sustainable clothing), or services like a rental car, travel insurance, or Get Your Guide which offers 1,000 of different tours. Anytime you use our special link to purchase that product or service we earn a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
We only recommend services or products we personally use and would have already recommended (even if we weren’t getting paid for it) so it really is a win-win for everyone.
We earn around $300 – $800+ per month from affiliate income on average. The more relationships we have, and the more we promote them across our different channels (YouTube, Instagram, and our blog), the more we typically earn. Most of our affiliate income comes from a few select partnerships, though.
These six ways are how we make money while traveling currently. There are loads of other money-making opportunities to live a life of full-time travel. If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to check out our blog series about digital nomads.