When Heath and I moved into our RV right after our wedding day, we had one singular goal: visit all fifty states. Back then, we had no idea that anyone full-time RV-ed before retirement, or that there was a movement of people quitting their nine-to-fives in favor of working on the road.
It took less than a month of traveling across the southwest part of America for Heath and I decide we wanted to find a way to make our RVing lifestyle permanent. There was only one hitch: we had no idea how to make money on the road (at least not yet).
Could we blog? Make videos? Find consulting gigs? Would anyone actually hire two 23-year-olds who quit their jobs to live in a van down by the river?
We decided that since we didn’t know what would actually work, we would try it all. We both blogged, we volunteered to make videos for clients for free to grow our portfolio, and Heath found a consulting gig helping an author plan a cross country book tour (What better gig for an RVer?). That was all in our first six months of RVing.
Since, we’ve explored plenty of different ways to make money during our travels:
- Guest blogging
- Marketing gigs
- Video production
- Book sales
- Movie sales
- Affiliate commissions
- RV Rentals
- TV Shows
We thought living in the RV would make it more difficult to find clients or gigs on the road, but the more we’ve traveled, the opposite has been true. Here’s five ways that RVing grows our business:
1. Living in an RV makes you stand out.
Believe it or not, there aren’t many 25-year-old married couples who live in a Winnebago. When we meet future clients, this strange fact has been one of our biggest advantages. Living in an RV makes you memorable.
It’s easy to think that living in a trailer would make people take you less seriously. But when we tell potential clients that we live full-time in our motorhome, it piques their interest and almost always leads to them sharing their own RVing or camping stories. Before you know it, we’ve bonded and we’re working together.
Even in more corporate environments where Heath has spoken at conferences, someone almost always comes up to us and is excited to talk about the RV lifestyle.
2. Full-time traveling shows you’re not afraid to take risks.
This is the biggest key, in my opinion. Jumping into full-time travel is a stressful, scary thing. Potential clients recognize that. It’s like a little business card that says, ‘Look, I’m not afraid to jump into the unknown and make big things happen.’
Taking risks has also allowed us to continuously bet on ourselves. For instance, we had a choice last year to stick with a 40 hour/week client (aka a full-time job) or break-away and bring on multiple clients. In the moment it was incredible scary and we were worried that work would dry up, but it never did.
It was a similar feeling when we left our full-time jobs three years ago to go and travel. Each risk has helped us gain more confidence and display that confidence to future clients we can work alongside.
3. Traveling allows you to meet more people easier.
When we were in California a few years back, Heath found out that the World Domination Summit would be taking place in Portland the same week that we’d pass through town. Being the connector that he is, Heath emailed Chris Guillebeau, the conference founder and NYT best-selling author, and asked if we could volunteer during the summit. Chris enlisted our video skills and we suddenly had an all-access pass to the conference.
Today, I can trace almost all of our clients back to us attending this conference. It’s been our biggest key for making new friends and business connections. But, we never would’ve been able to attend if we weren’t passing through town at the exact right moment.
4. Blogging allows people to get to know you before hiring you.
Keeping our blog and podcast current while traveling have been huge for growing our business in two ways:
- It shows people who we are.
If you’re reading this blog and you feel like you know Heath and I, that’s a testament to the true power of blogging. When you can read someone’s writing or hear their voice on a podcast, you start to feel connected to them. Heck, if you’re anything like me, you start referring to them as “My friend, Michelle,” even though we’ve never actually met (how I refer to Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, even though we’ve never met in person). This is great for potential clients to get a pulse on who we are, what we’re about, and if we’d be a good fit to work together.
- It’s a great way to tell people what you do without being salesy. Earlier this year, someone reached out to hire us to help launch an online course after following our blog and podcast. (Shout out to Cindy & Jana, y’all are awesome!) Our blog has been a great way for us to casually say “Hey, we are videographers and you can hire us” without pushing our services explicitly. Two weeks ago, a fellow full-timer reached out and asked if we were in Austin and if we could film an event for her. We don’t openly look for work through our blog, but it’s a great way to keep people abreast of your services.
5. Travel keeps you focused on doing work that matters.
When we first started RVing, we had two sources of income: guest blogging for random companies and our sponsor for Hourly America (Snagajob).
The only problem was that guest blogging didn’t pay extremely well (≈$50/post). In order to make a decent amount of monthly income from guest blogging, we’d have to spend a ridiculous amount of time behind the computer, instead of exploring new places.
Since we’d rather go on a hike in a beautiful national park, we found ways to do work that pays better and requires less of our time (i.e videography). A one day video shoot can easily pay $1,000, where we’d have to spend nearly a week of writing blogs to make that same amount. In this way, travel has forced us to continuously learn how to do work that matters, work that pays the bills and still allows us time to explore our beautiful country.
When we first started RVing, a lot of people expressed concerns about how detrimental RVing would be to our careers. It made us weird, unreachable, or unrelatable. But in our experience, none of those things are true.
The truth is, if we had never moved into an RV, we’d still be working our 9-to-5 gigs, dreaming about taking vacation days and praying for a chance to work from home for a day or two. Now we can work from home, set our own hours, and explore–all while growing our business (AKA living the dream).