If you’re planning on giving up the static 9-5 office job to travel around the country in a van, you need to have a rough idea of how you’re going to fund your new lifestyle.
Picking up odd jobs and casual work as you move about will help you to get by, but it’s not guaranteed that there will be work where you arrive, and hunting for jobs in a brand new area can be difficult.
It’s always good to have a back-up plan when it comes to your finances; having a steady cash flow (even if it’s just a trickle) will make vanlife much less stressful and means you aren’t constantly on the lookout for work everywhere you go.
That’s why options like passive income are worth considering. Read on to find out all about passive income and how it can support your life as a wanderer.
what is passive income?
First things first, a disclaimer: passive income is never going to be totally passive.
While you can definitely earn money with minimal effort, there’s always going to be some level of management involved. Of course, it’s partially up to you — depending on how much you work on these projects and which passive income method you want to pursue.
So now that we’ve made that clear, what actually is passive income?
In a nutshell, passive income is a way of generating income without having to actively go out and work. You will have to put some time and effort into setting up your source of passive income at the beginning, but once the initial groundwork is laid, you can reap the financial benefits of your passive income piggy bank without having to do much more work.
While we’re at it, here’s another disclaimer: passive income doesn’t usually replace your actual job. Of course, there are stories across the internet about people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in passive income via their blogs, but it’s worth taking these stories with a pinch of salt.
Instead, think of passive income as a way of supplementing your earnings or topping up your emergency funds — freeing your time up so that you can do more of the things you love: in this case, exploring the world in your van.
how to get started: monetizing your content
One of the great things about passive income is that you can make it doing something you love, or doing something you’ve been doing anyway.
Take blogging, for example. If you’ve been living the vanlife for a while, you might have already set up a blog sharing stories about life on the road. Blogs are a great way to document your adventures, keep family and friends in the loop about, and share your experiences and advice with people looking to do the same thing.
If you’re writing a blog anyway, then why not monetize it?
There are a few different ways that you can earn passive income from your travel blog — we’ve listed them below to give you some ideas.
Affiliate marketing is a relatively easy option when it comes to making money from your blogging.
Affiliate marketing works by signing up to an affiliate program and promoting a company’s products by writing reviews or guides, and sharing links on your blog. If one of your readers clicks a link, goes through to the company’s store or product page and buys something, you’ll get a small percentage of the profits.
If you decide to do affiliate marketing, there are a few things that you need to think about. For a start, you don’t want to compromise the quality or authenticity of your blog by posting loads of links to weird or irrelevant products — this just comes across as spammy and can scare readers away. You want to build the trust of your readership and value of your site.
Instead, stick to promoting good-quality products that you love using because they make life on the road easier. You should be happy shouting about all the positives of these products — after all, people are coming to your blog not just for entertainment, but for inspiration and advice too.
As an example, here are a few affiliate links:
Selling advertising on your site is a super easy way to support your vanlife with a bit of extra cash.
This is probably the most passive out of all of the strategies listed here — all you need to do is sell a bit of advertising space on your site to a business. You can do this using Google AdSense, who will hook up with paying advertisers and sort out pretty much everything (although you get to decide on the ad types and formats for your site). You’ll then get paid depending on the amount that ads are clicked on or seen.
The only issue with this method is that you need to have a seriously high amount of traffic to generate any meaningful income. If you’re getting a load of visits to your blog though, this is a great option. And even if it’s not a huge amount of money, it’s nice to have a small but steady trickle coming in without having to do a thing. It’s a cliche, but when you’re living out of a van on a budget, you soon realize that a little can go a long way.
blog sponsorship & sponsored posts
If you’ve gathered a large audience through your traveling experiences and carved out a name for yourself in your niche, then blog sponsorship could be the passive income strategy for you.
Sponsors usually come in the form of brands whose products are aligned with your blog’s values and style — they pay for the exposure they would get from being featured on your blog. Likewise, their sponsorship establishes you as a trustworthy expert in your niche.
If you can get it, sponsorships can provide a steady source of regular income while you’re on the road.
You may also find that brands reach out to you for sponsored posts — i.e. posts where you are paid to promote a product or business while appearing as organic content (albeit with full disclosure). Many brands are turning to sponsored posts as they have far higher success rates than traditional ads, and they’ll pay good money for them.
Sponsored posts aren’t just restricted to blogs either; if you’re an influencer with a decent following on social media, brands will pay you to post about their products on Instagram or Facebook.
selling products online (the easy way)
You might think of selling products as a demanding, full-time job, but it is possible to make this method more passive, while still earning money.
First, you need to build an online store — which is easier than it sounds. Creating your own ecommerce store is no longer as super complicated as it used to be — these days, anyone can set up one up using an online store builder without having to know loads about code.
An Etsy Store or Weebly Webstore are both user-friendly and a great choice if you are selling crafts or handmade goods. Alternatively, if you have nothing to sell, ecommerce solutions like dropshipping can vastly reduce the workload of creating and running an online store to the point of passive income.
If you haven’t heard of dropshipping, it’s basically a business model that enables you to run a store without the difficulties of making products, storing them in warehouses, or shipping products to customers. Instead, you partner with a dropship supplier who does all of this for you. All you have to do is build a storefront, and market the products to generate some traffic and sales.
Pursuing this option means you will need to consider a robust ecommerce platform. This comparison of WooCommerce and Shopify explains the benefits of choosing a powerful platform to run your dropshipping store. However, most big ecommerce platforms are intuitive and easy to use with plenty of attractive, ready-made shop front templates to choose from, and you can even run one almost completely using apps on your phone.
Dropshipping is perfect if you’re traveling around living the van life: it’s not location dependent, so you don’t have to worry about storage space, expensive overheads or traveling away from your store or warehouse.
It’s cheap, relatively hassle-free business model that allows you to roam anywhere without the usual stress of owning a store. Of course, initially, you will have to put some work into creating your store (or integrating buying options into your blog), but if you employ some of the above tactics, you can minimize your efforts while increasing your revenue.
These are just some of the ways you can support your nomad lifestyle with passive income.
However, it is worth noting that you’re not going to be earning thousands within your first month of setting up some passive income strategies. The point of a passive income is that it gradually builds up over time, and will be a helpful bonus that frees up more of your time to do the things you love while traveling around.
Do you use passive income to support your vanlife already? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!