The Road to Independence: Part One

In this article, I share my experiences with different ways of earning a location independent income. This is gonna be a fair and honest story. I would have loved to tell you all that there is a quick and easy way to build up an online income stream. But unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits all recipe (if there were, all the desperate, unemployed folks would have taken that road already by now). Generating a location-independent income takes hard work, resourcefulness and a lot of time.

Since it takes so much time, I am not quite there yet (at the moment, I am still busy finishing my college degree). But I am confident that I will be able to earn a location-independent income at some point in the future. Now, let’s have a look at some different options and how they so far have worked out for me.

Content Farms
One of the first things you will encounter when researching ways to build up an online income, are scams and content farms. If someone offers you an ‘online marketing scheme’ and claims to make fabulous amounts of money, it is probably a scam, and you should avoid it.

Content farms are not scams, but they aren’t the ticket to independence either (More about that later). Sites like promise you that you can make money online by writing articles. If you subscribe to these sites, you can write a piece about anything you like (as long as Google is okay with it). You submit the article and after a proofreading, it is published on the site. These farms take their revenue from displaying online ads. They divide these earnings between the writers and themselves. Hubpages takes 40% of the total revenue. The Dutch content farm I wrote for, even takes 50%. That is a big chunk. Of course, you can publish your articles on your own site, and take 100% of the ad revenues. However, these farms tend to rank high in Google, so if you publish your stuff on a content farm, you will attract a larger audience (and more ad revenues).

Since I liked writing, and people often say to me that I am a good writer, I decided to try my luck at this. In about four to five months time, I wrote about 72 articles. Was it worth the effort? Well, its hard to say, actually.

As said before, these farms promise you that ‘you can earn money online’. What they don’t say, is how much. If you want to make more than a few cents (a month!) you will find yourself writing artistic masterpieces like ‘Ten Calorie-Bombs You Didn’t Know About’ or ‘How To Remove Grass Stains From A Woolen Sweater’. Or, if you are lucky, you will find yourself a niche to write about (I did). But even then, earnings are far from spectacular. For my 72 articles, I get on average 20 to 40 euros a month. Its going to take a very long sail to find a country cheap enough to live from that amount of money..

But on the other hand, I learned a lot about writing in this period. Writing a good and clear article is rewarding in itself. And while these 30 euros are not much, they are genuine passive income. I haven’t been writing farm articles for over the past few months, but my articles are still out there, making me money. Maybe, in the future, I will return to content farming again. But for now, I do not find it profitable enough.

On to my next enterprise: Blogging. In a newspaper, I read an inspiring article about people who made a living from their blog. This encouraged me to try my luck at blogging. I started a Dutch-language blog about sailing.

Best decision ever. It gave me a mission when I was on a sailing trip. I wanted to make the perfect written impression with the perfect sunset photo, all for my readers back home. That gave a whole new level of satisfaction to my sailing trips. After a while, I started to get recognition for my blog. I have made it to newspapers and sailing magazines, and was invited to talk at a large boat show. Very cool. In that sense, my blog has been a huge success.

But when it comes to numbers, it is a whole different story. You have to have hundreds of visitors each day to make some money from ads. My blog has about 50 unique visitors a day. It turns out that reviewing new types of mascara will attract way more readers than blogging about an adventure sea trip it a six-meter boat.

Art, books and e-books
But, fortunately, ads are not the only way to make money from a blog. Blogs can also be monetized by linking them to a product or service. This is the direction I am thinking in at this moment. My photos, art and writing could fill several e-books, which my faithful readers may be willing to buy. When I want to write about some future big trip, the name of the blog will make it easier for me for me to find a publisher. I could also use the blog to sell my art. After I have finished my studies, I will set up a Let-me-paint-your-boat-business.

At this point, my inner parent breaks in to the conversation. ‘Well, kid, I hate to break this to you, but do you surely do not think that there is any real money to be made with that’? And yes, I have to admit that those things might not be enough to generate a full income. But they are a piece of the puzzle. A bit of money from my books, a bit from my art, and even some from my content farm days.

The rest may come from a more down-to-earth job. The first job tho pop up in my mind is coding. It seems a very promising avenue for earning a location independent income. I have taken a programming course in college, which I liked. Coding forces you to think very clear and concise about the things you want to make. There is a certain beauty in this. After I have graduated I will pick op coding again, and see where this gets me.

These are my experiences so far. I will keep you posted about further developments in the future, so there are going to be more useful articles here.

(To give you an impression, here is some of my art)

Gaff-rigged sailboat Pilot Cutter 3Small Ships Race Nachtzeilen

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