Financial Case Study: Marc Smith, Marc My Travels

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Marc Smith began blogging in 2012 on a whim. He had a successful event planning company that wasn’t bringing him any joy and so in an effort to shake up his life he embarked on a “30 day tourist in my own city” adventure blog. It was like adding balsamic vinegar to strawberries; a surprising hit. Over the next two years, Marc closed his event company and ramped up the travel blog. It was first called 30 Day Adventures, but then in 2018 Marc renamed it to better reflect his travel and adventure style. Today Marc is location independent with is usual home base not on the road being Toronto. Learn more about Marc Smith and his blogging career, income, and lifestyle here! 

Financial Case Studies

How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?

I was happily based out of Vancouver until June of 2016 until I had to vacate my beautiful condo as the owners were moving back to town. Since July 2016 I have been location independent, dividing my time between “work” trips and staying with various friends in Toronto and Montreal.

I have travelled to almost every province in Canada (only Newfoundland and Nunavut are missing from my stamp book). I have also spent a lot of time in the U.S., especially Hawaii, Oregon, California and New Orleans. Trips to the UK and Portugal are some of my favourites and in 2019 I went to Thailand for a truly luxe adventure. Elephants, private pools and my own room butler, oh my. 

Please describe what you do for income.

My income model for Marc My Travels fluctuates but at any given quarter there is a mix of website ad revenue, sponsored posts, freelance articles, brand ambassador deals, consulting fees and speaking engagements. It takes a lot of revenue streams to make it work as some months the streams could be as high as 75% of my monthly revenue or as low as 5%. It’s a revenue roller coaster. I have just recently added affiliate marketing to the mix as well.

How many hours per week do you work on average?

Greater than 30 but less than 200. LOL 

I am always working even if I am not in front of my computer. I am always meeting people, taking pictures and thinking about what is next. It is not the 9 to 5 I used to have 20 years ago when I was an employee but many of my “working” hours don’t feel like work to me because they are things I would be doing regardless. 

Is it work having lunch with a friend, taking pictures of the food and then sharing them on social and in a story? It certainly is, I just get to have a glass of wine or two and share it with a friend over some laughs.

How much money do you make? 

I previously shared that my revenue is a roller coaster and that is 100% true. At my lowest over the years I may have earned just over $1,000 in a month but I’ve also earned over $8,000 in a single month. Thankfully as I am location independent my monthly expenses are quite low and as I am often hosted on many of my travels, I have lived quite frugally. It is all about cash flow management.

Prior to Covid I would say that in an average year my income would be divided up in the following percentages:

  • Speaking engagements – 30%
  • Brand ambassador – 15%
  • Freelance writing – 20% 
  • Website advertising – 5%
  • Sponsored posts – 15%
  • Consulting gigs – 15%

Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?

Barely. I have made enough to live but not enough to save. Cash poor but experience rich is what I like to say. The past 9 years have been truly amazing and my life has been opened up by all the adventures I have been on.

What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?

That I have learned to live with a lot less. I used to have a closet filled with so many clothes I could go over two weeks without wearing the same thing twice or doing laundry. Now everything I own/use is with my in a backpack and a carry on sized piece of luggage

I absolutely love all the people and experiences I have had as well. There are people in every city I have been to that I could “call up” for a coffee if I was back in town. I love that. I am connected in a way that those that only get one vacation a year never get to experience.

Marc Smith with a glass of wine in his private infinity pool at the Paresa Phuket

What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?

Money plain and simple. Where it is coming from and how much is coming has been a constant stress for me. Because I launched into this career with both feet I hadn’t set myself up financially with as large of a safety net as I now recognize I needed. No regrets though.

See also: Managing Your Money – A Guide to Financial Planning for Lifestyle Travelers

What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?

I do see this changing for me, however thanks to Covid everything is up in the air. I am currently exploring a couple of side hustles that may or may not support a location independent lifestyle. 

Going forward my travel blog and freelance writing will be taking a secondary position in my work day. It will go from a primary focus to a passion project that will hopefully continue to contribute to my bottom line.

In a perfect world I would stay in a city for a month, get to know it and explore to my heart’s content and then move to the next one. All while working away on projects that don’t require me to be in the same office every day. 

Basically I want to chase the good weather. 

See also: How 8 Digital Nomads Survived the Pandemic Without a Home

Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?

A good bookkeeper is worth their weight in gold. See also: Filing Taxes as a Digital Nomad

Minimize your lifestyle to needs (not wants) and go for it. If you can build up your “business” while still earning a regular pay check, do so and bank as much money in advance of cutting the cord as you can. It will definitely take some of the stress away in the early days.
See also: Before You Quit Your Day Job…

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