Financial Case Study: Mitch Glass, Project Untethered

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Mitch Glass is the blogger behind Project Untethered—a movement to teach adventure-craving wanderlusters how to build an “untethered life”. If you’re looking for inspiration to “break the mold”, escape your comfort zone, earn money from anywhere, and create a dream life you can live on your own terms, check out his free newsletter.

But blogging is just one form of location independent income for Mitch; he’s also a copywriter, content writer, and a real estate investor. Learn more about his lifestyle and career here!

Financial Case Studies

This post was originally published in 2019. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

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

In 2015, I ditched my doctoral program, set off on my first backpacking adventure, and never looked back. I started with a one-month “practice trip” in Thailand and then moved on to the real deal— a 10-month Gringo Trail voyage starting in Mexico and ending in Brazil (for the Olympics).

Originally, my plan was to go back to the U.S. after my trip and continue my career. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Instead, I headed back to Cali, Colombia to take salsa classes for a few months. That’s when life took an unexpected twist.

I met a cute Colombian girl in salsa class, fell in love, and got married. Since then, I’ve been based in Cali for the past two years taking short trips around South America and the Caribbean.

Please describe what you do for income.

I’m a freelance copywriter/content writer, blogger, and real estate investor (flipping houses in Colombia).

How many hours per week do you work on average?

It varies. Usually around 15 hours freelancing, 20 hours blogging, and 5 hours studying marketing/copywriting. I don’t spend much time on real estate—my wife’s company takes care of that.

How much money do you make?

Blogging – I just launched my blog a few months ago, so that is earning me approximately zero dollars (having a blast though!)

Freelancing – I typically earn around $1,000/month working 15-20 hours a week. Honestly, this could be (and should be…and will be) much higher. The problem is, I get so immersed in blogging that I don’t make time to seek out higher paying clients.

Luckily, $1,000/month is all I need to live a comfortable life in Cali. My goal is to double my rates within six months and triple them by the end of the year.

Real estate – This one’s exciting. I think it’ll be the key to unlocking financial freedom within the next decade (if I’m able to keep my grubby little fingers off the gains). I’ll spare the nitty-gritty details, but I expect to earn at least 30% on my investments per year (with minimal effort on my part). I am extremely blessed to have stumbled into this business by accident/marriage.

Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?

I currently earn exactly what I need to support my lifestyle (without touching my investments). I hope to up my game in 2019 so I can start saving more.

What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?

I love being in control of my time. If I wanted to, I could focus my time on certain jobs, work more hours, and make more money. But that’s not my priority. My priority is traveling whenever I want (without asking permission). It’s being free to hit the gym and go to dance class every day. It’s the ability to spend hours and hours on passion projects that don’t earn me a penny. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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

By far the biggest challenge is balancing a freelance career (trading time for money NOW) with blogging/passion projects (building an asset that may or may not generate income in the future).

Another big challenge is mixing travel with growing a business. Here’s an example. I want to start marketing myself to higher-paying copywriting clients. However, I have a trip planned to hike Torres del Paine in a month. It wouldn’t make sense to land a bunch of new clients when I’m about to leave, right? (At least that’s what the procrastination voice keeps whispering in my ear).

The last big challenge I had while traveling was adjusting to life in a backpack. At first, the struggle was real. But after spending time on the road, I learned some cool packing hacks that changed everything (apparently I’d been doing it all wrong). Since then, packing for trips and living out of a backpack has become much easier.  

(Nora’s Note: Yep. Living out of a backpack has some serious challenges. I actually tried three backpacks before deciding that “backpacking” in the strictest sense wasn’t for me. Here’s what I did instead). 

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

Building off the last question—Right now I’m trying to grow a business while still making time to travel. It’s tough. My vision for the future is to get to the point where I no longer need to grow. To reach the point where my business generates enough income to live and travel as I please, while managing it on a part-time basis.

I’m not interested in building a six-figure business (although if it happens by accident, I’ll take it). I want a minimalistic lifestyle where I earn enough to fund my travels, save a little, and most importantly, enjoy my precious free time.

(Nora’s Note: this is important! Earning money is not the be-all and end-all. It’s about knowing how much money you need to live the life you want. I learned this a few years ago when I made my own Income and Expense Choices).

My ideal life would be alternating between six months of travel and six months of focused work every year. I don’t expect these goals to change anytime soon…maybe if kiddos get thrown into the mix.

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

Don’t get tunnel vision. Or at least don’t get it prematurely. I’m not saying it’s bad to choose a path and dedicate yourself to it. I’m saying that before diving head-on in one direction, you should take time to explore different travel job opportunities. If not, you might waste tons of time climbing up a ladder—only to realize you were leaning against the wrong wall.

One more thing. if you’re trying to build a location independent lifestyle, I recommend keeping work and travel separate until you’ve established yourself. Building a successful business by itself is challenging. Throw travel into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s definitely not the easiest way.

Instead, here’s what I recommend. Save up money in your job at home. Go on a long trip, traveling cheaply and exploring many different destinations (without working). Choose your favorite, and create a home base there. Then, go full-out business-building mode until you have something you can take on the road with you.

Everybody’s different, but that’s what I’d do. Just make sure to keep the end game in mind and not get sucked into business-building-only mode forever.

(Nora’s Note: Great advice! I built my online business concurrent to learning how to travel full-time, and it took a toll. Now, here’s what I advise people do before quitting their day jobs).

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t try to start a location independent business alone. Surround your yourself with like-minded people. Put yourself out there and make friends (people you actually care about, not just people you want something from). Nora and I are good places to start.

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1 thought on “Financial Case Study: Mitch Glass, Project Untethered”

  1. What a cool case story! It sounds like you have so wonderfully embraced the life that found you. I appreciate the realistic take on earning money. Thanks for sharing.

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