Erin is an experienced travel blogger and social influencer and gifted communicator who explored the world for the last five years non-stop with her two kids. Mia & Caius may be some of the world’s most well-travelled kids with over 67 countries tucked under their belts before six and seven years old. But what happens when you stop nomadic travel? How does an abnormal family fit into a normal world? This is now what Erin writes about at Explore With Erin; her second blog after moving on from Travel With Bender (which made a VERY nice income). In this financial case study, Erin talks about what her career as a blogger and social influencer is like, and what it has been like to start over with a new blog and a home base.
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you travelled to?
From 2012 to 2017 I was a digital nomad with my two children. We travelled South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and Central America covering 67 countries. Jan 2017, we returned to Australia.
Please describe what you do for income.
I am a full-time blogger and social influencer. I have been relying on my blog income since 2014.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
How long is a piece of string? My job is never done. Some weeks it can seem like 60 hours a week, other times it is six. Depending on where we are and what we are doing. On average currently perhaps 20 hours per week.
How much money do you make?
Explore With Erin is only one year old, however made US$17,000 in its first year. This was a wonderful achievement for me, considering that was more than my third-year income on my first blog.
Travel With Bender was my first blog, and as such was an evolution and a learning curve.
In its second year in 2013 it made $11,000. 2014 $13,000. By 2015 I tripled that income to $37,000. And by 2016 I more than tripled the previous year’s income to $106,000.
In 2016 the money came from multiple sources:
- Product Reviews
- Sponsored posts
- Freelance Writing
- Press Trips
- Social Media
The largest income providers in 2016 on Travel With Bender were sponsored posts, paid destination campaigns (e.g. press trips) and two brand ambassadorships that I had set up.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Definitely. Travel is so much cheaper than what people think it is. The kids and I managed to save roughly $30,000 two years in a row.
Explore With Erin is a great part-time income at present, but I have no doubt it will soon be enough for a decent full-time income in Australia. Until then I am able to supplement my income from other sources, e.g. Rental income.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
Being there for my kids. While we were travelling I could be present with them. Now, although we are not on the road, my career still enables me to choose where I want to live, choose to take them to school, to after school activities and generally just be part of their lives. The flexibility allows us to be a family, rather than a crazy 9 to 5 household. (See Also: How to Go Location Independent: The Complete Guide)
Can I also say since leaving nomadic travel and having a home base I also love my shoes? 😀 And the excitement of a trip is once more intoxicating, instead of mundane.
Nora’s Note: I can relate! My own Epic Search for a Home Base has also rekindled my passion for travel.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
The hours, while flexible, can be demanding. Sometimes I have tight deadlines that require much more structure than I am used to.
Security is another challenge. I can’t just walk into the bank and get a credit card or a loan. Self-employed people are generally considered high risk so that has come with several challenges. It also sometimes creates some worry space in my head, wondering if this month I will be able to feed and house the kids. I’m not sure why. It’s worked for the last four years!
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
As I mentioned, we made big changes last year when we gave up our nomadic lifestyle. And to be honest it has been much easier than we thought. The kids love school, birthday parties, karate. I love shoes and having time to take care of me, which included a massive weight loss.
I envision a lifestyle much as it is now. Working in moments that fit in with my family. While the kids are at school or in bed. And in between enjoying every moment I have with them. They are only small for such a short time. I was happy to sacrifice my travel journey to give them more stability.
Any advice for the aspiring traveller about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Book a ticket and make it work. You can um and ah for so long and never be ready. Just go. And be smart. Always make sure you have savings to fall back on. Make sure it’s not all five-star resorts. Book a month in a cheap apartment in some amazing tropical location like Bali or Thailand and work your butt off. Then go and enjoy those hotels again. Balance is acquired from trial and error. And no one can tell you how to manage your balance. That is up to you and your family. (See also: How to Find an Apartment in Chiang Mai)
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I have no idea what the future holds and whether one day I will resume nomadic travel once my kids are old and grown. But what I do know is nomadic travel was one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had. It gave me my career, it opened doors to me I never knew existed, and it also made me appreciate home so much more.