Four years ago, I landed in Paris. I had no apartment, no phone, no bank account and no return flight.
What I did have was a wrinkled slip of paper with a hastily written address that I handed to a cab driver. He was nice and waited for me as I walked up to 23 rue de la Chine and let me borrow his phone when no one answered.
This is how I moved to France.
Over the next year, I walked the wide avenues, learned the language, made friends and lived off of a small stipend from the French government and savings from a restaurant back in Kentucky.
I also tried to start a blog. And in total honesty, it failed. Miserably.
While there are several ways to make money as a digital nomad, not all of them will provide you enough income to live the lifestyle you want.
Now, working at Teachable where I interview successful bloggers & see every day people creating courses and generating significant revenue, I look back on my time spent and wish I could sit down with my former self.
Now I know the exact audience building strategies that would have gotten views. I know how I could have built my email list and how I could have monetized it. I now know that my blog probably wouldn’t have made money within the year. Looking back, I would have started an online course.
And while I can’t go back in time, I can share what I’ve learned with you.
A Blog Might Not Be Your Best Option
I'm going to be blunt, a blog was a terrible idea for trying to generate within the first year.
Here’s the deal, blogs:
- Take time
- Aren’t perceived as valuable
- Are a continual investment
Blogs Take Time
Amy Lynn Andrews puts it bluntly, “much of the money bloggers make doesn’t come from blogging directly. A blog is a platform or online home base. After proving their trustworthiness, bloggers use their blogs as springboards to launch other products & services that bring in income. Examples are ebooks, books, speaking gigs, products, ecourses, etc.”
The bottom line is that blogs don’t make money. They don’t. They build an audience which you eventually monetize through ads, products (like - cough cough - courses), client services, and sometimes even merchandise.
But before you can monetize an audience, you’ve got to have an audience. Which makes blogging incredibly useful for long term business growth, but not so effective if you’re trying to quickly generate money within a couple months or a year.
And as SmartBlogger says, "Don’t start a blog. In my opinion, it’s a terrible way to make a few bucks on the side. For one, there’s the time investment. I’ve never seen anyone learn everything necessary to build a profitable blog in less than three years."
Blogs aren’t perceived as valuable
The second thing is, blogging, content, words, just aren’t perceived as valuable.
Compare the average price of blog to an ebook to a hardback to 1 online course.
81% of “bloggers” never make even $100. An author makes only 8-15 cents on every dollar made on their book. The “average” YouTuber with 5K views per month makes just $15/month.
Bloggers who are making a living off their blogs tend to cite selling online courses as their main stream of income and on average, an instructor will make $5,426 using Teachable (also - consider that we’re growing 30% month on month - many of our instructors are just starting with their course and still bringing in income 4,5,6 months out).
For a more detailed look at how the data stacks up, check out this post.
Continual time investment
Once I sat in on a webinar with Jessica Sprague as she talked about creating her course and how that differed from “slogging at a blog.” I love this phrase.
As much as I love writing & pour my heart and soul into every post, there are always weeks when having to push a post on Thursday feels like a chore (the week my grandmother was in a car accident and I flew home for instance).
This is why blogging burnout is a thing and why you see so many bloggers talking about it.
The thing about a blog, a podcast or even a YouTube channel is that you will be creating content...forever. And I’ll be the first to say, I don’t want to worry about writing lengthy blog posts when I’m in a new country, meeting new people trying to experience a culture.
The Other Options
Here at Teachable, we we wrote a great post ranking 17 different ways to make money online. It’s an awesome post with tons of juicy ways to make some cash.
It includes things like:
- Foap - Where you can earn a few bucks selling your travel photos on Instagram
- Writing an ebook
- Becoming an affiliate for someone else's blog
- Monetizing a YouTube channel
- Doing search engine evaluation for goole
- Domain flipping
- Becoming a virtual assistant
- Being a brand ambassador
- Freelance writing
- Starting an online store with Shopify or Etsy
But the honest truth is that if you’re traveling, enjoying & experience a new culture you’re probably not going to want to be someone’s virtual assistant, copywriter or designer or Google’s search engine evaluator.
These things are cheap on your time, don’t make enough money to support traveling or simply take as much time as having your own biz. None of these, besides maybe Foap which only earns a few bucks, are things I would want to do while traveling, which brings me to my main point.
If I were to move back to France with the intention of traveling and bringing in passive income, I’d create an online course.
Why I Would Have Started An Online Course
Looking back, it's now clear to me that I should have started an online course. Here's why:
1. Courses generate passive income
Unlike almost every other option for making money online or while traveling, with a course you create a constant stream of passive income.
While most money comes in during your launch, courses continue to bring in hundreds or thousands each month after they've been created.
Simply keep your enroll setting open and you can see sales.
Check out how Linguisticator does it:
Also, if you know you have to do work upfront, I would have personally created my course before I left & launched it when I was there.
2. You can generate more money than with other information products
Our current global culture upholds the idea that education is important. From the US to Europe, India and Asia, we all agree that education is crucial for success.
Especially if you’re in the US, we expect to pay thousands for a university education. However, because of the high tuition, there has be an increasing interest in alternative forms of education like developer bootcamps or, well, online courses.
With this cultural mindset, you can charge hundreds of dollars for an online course. Compare this to an ebook or book or blog - would you even consider paying $50? That’s half of what we at Teachable think you should be charging for an online course at minumum.
3. You can do it faster with a smaller audience
When you start to generate money from a blog, it means you've had to grow it to a couple thousand readers & followers and then you've got to either create an information product or start advertising.
But the bottom line is that you can make money with your course even with a small audience, which means you don't have to spend months and years growing your audience. Even with just 800 people on your list, you can make thousands.
Here's how the math works out:
So, let's say I want to make $1,000 a month to travel & I'm going to sell my course for $200. I only need to grow my audience to about 250 people!
A blog with 250 readers is hardly taken seriously, but with a course, you're generating rent.
4. You help a lot of people
The other thing about courses is at the end of the day, your making money from sharing knowledge.
Having an income that supports you is a fact of life, but with a course you can feel good about how you make money because you're teaching something valuable that helps people.
5. I had a profitable idea sitting right in front of me
Here's the kicker. Looking back on my move to France, I 100% had a profitable course idea in front of me.
I was in an extremely active online Facebook community where everyone was desperately seeking information about how to move to France, how to amp up their French, how to get placed in a city they wanted... this was all stuff I was learning, researching and, by the end of it, was ready to create a course on.
Now, I know that I could have created a course and sold it to other teaching instructors and young dreamers hoping to move to another country. This is a profitable idea, unlike another blog about what cafe to visit when you're in Paris.
How to Create a Course
If you're ready to create a course, I've got good news, I have all the resources for you:
Now, let me know what you think? Where do you want to travel to next and how are you going to get there?