A lot of people worry about getting mail on the road once they start traveling full-time. But the real kicker is how on earth do you get paid on the road?!
As part of our journey to pay off our debt and build our business on the road, Heath and I have built up over two dozen different income streams, from affiliates to clients to sponsors to products. Getting paid out from them all can be a huge HASSLE.
From what I’ve heard from other travelers, this is something many freelancers and entrepreneurs struggle with on the road.
In this blog post, I’m sharing the multiple different systems and processes we use to actually get money into our accounts each month. We’ll cover how we get paid by:
- Clients & sponsors
- Online products
- And ticket sales for events, like our RV Entrepreneur Summit
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty!
How We Get Paid on the Road
Most commonly paid out by: Freelance clients and affiliates
Paypal is the most common and easiest way to get paid on the road. Most businesses have Paypal accounts set up and are familiar with the process of sending money via Paypal. (This is how we pay contractors like graphic designers and editors.)
I have a love/hate relationship with Paypal. They make receiving money so easy, but they take a 2.9% cut.
We get paid for various things through Paypal, including affiliate commissions and guest blogging. For us, Paypal is the best option if you want to be paid quickly.
We once waited six months for payment on an ongoing guest blogging contract. After the outstanding balance reached the thousands, we demanded they pay us in Paypal because their payment system just wasn’t cutting it. They now pay us directly after invoicing via Paypal. Instead of being paid $250 per blog, we end up making $242.75 per post due to Paypal’s cut, but that’s better than waiting months!
While a handful of our clients pay us via Paypal, we are most often paid via Paypal by affiliates, typically on the first of every month. These payments are usually through bigger companies like Bluehost, ConvertKit, and WeBoost.
Mostly commonly paid out by: Solo-preneurs
Cash (which is an app by Square with an exceedingly confusing name) is an app similar to Venmo or Paypal’s “I’m paying a friend” feature. It’s designed for paying friends, but is also sometimes used for business. Just link the app to your bank account and you can send money to anyone else with an account.
When I edit weddings for a friend’s business back in Texas, this is how he always pays me. Cash does not take a percentage of your payment and will send you a text letting you know the money is transferring to your account. Best text message I ever get.
This is a great route if you’re being paid by a solo-preneur or a small company.
All hail the people who pay via direct deposit!
I used to assume this is how all companies paid employees and contractors, but I was naive then.
Let’s talk about Outdoorsy first.
We are affiliates for Outdoorsy and they sponsor the podcast, so once a month they send us payments via direct deposit. We even get an email the day before the money deposits to let us know it’s coming! They do all of this using Bill.com.
It took a couple months to get this all set up in their system, but now that we are set up, everything is smooth sailing. (We do get paid in full this way.)
We use Gumroad to sell Heath’s ebook. (We’ve also used it to sell our documentary and t-shirts in the past.) As far as getting paid for our products, Gumroad has been the easiest system we’ve used. They send a direct deposit weekly like clockwork.
They do take a cut, so we make $9.35 for every $10.00 ebook we sell. The cut they take depends on your membership level with Gumroad. We use a free account, so they take a larger percent. When we sold multiple products, we paid $12/month for an account that allowed us to get paid without Gumroad taking a percentage. Depending on how much you’re selling each month with Gumroad, a paid membership may be worth it for you.
Only used for: event sales
We use Eventbrite for selling tickets to in-person events, like our RV Entrepreneur Summit. So far this is the best system we’ve found for selling tickets.
Unlike other payment processors, Eventbrite will let us pass on the fees (meaning the ticket buyer pays a small fee that goes directly to Eventbrite instead of us).
This saves us thousands of dollars and means that we earn the full price of each ticket we sell. This also means we have more money then to put toward the conference itself! We research multiple options for selling our tickets, and this one seemed like it would be the easiest and best for us. Otherwise, $6,000 of our ticket sales would go straight to Eventbrite, which would take away a huge chunk of our operating budget for the event.
But there is one HUGE con to Eventbrite…
We do not receive a single cent of our earnings until AFTER the event is over.
This can be incredibly frustrating when you have to spend so much money upfront for conference costs. However, it does make it easier for us to give refunds on tickets and keep us accountable for actually holding the event and not just taking the money and running (which is I believe why they set up payments this way).
Three to five business days after the event concludes Eventbrite will direct deposit your earnings into your bank account. (If you are an affiliate for an event on Eventbrite, they will pay your commissions out via Paypal.)
“Credits” or Gift Cards
Most commonly paid out by: Referral programs
Instead of sending you cold hard cash, some affiliates will pay us in credits or gift cards. Amazon is the big player here for us.
You can be paid by Amazon in three main ways: gift cards, direct deposit, or check. For gift cards and direct deposit, you need only have a $10.00 payout balance. For checks, you need at least $100.00 payout balance.
We prefer to get paid in Amazon gift cards. In this way, we can treat ourselves to gifts on Amazon for “free” using our earnings. That’s how I got Heath his Star Labs sweatshirt that he is OBSESSED with! 😜
Some companies with referral structures will also do this. For example, if you sign up for Creative Live using my link, I get a $15 credit to my account (and commonly, you do too!).
In case you haven’t heard of it, Creative Live is an amazing resource for courses on topics like photography, graphic design, film, and the arts. They frequently offer free, live courses which I love to take advantage of. I highly recommend their 30 Days of Genius or Creative Photography courses.
While this isn’t a great way to get cash in your pocket, referral set-ups like this are great if you use a product often will use the credits. “Free money” as they say.
PS If you’re a blogger and you haven’t signed up for Amazon Associates, you need to! It’s pretty simple, as long as you have your own domain name. Plus, it’s a great way to try your hand at how affiliate marketing works with low risk, since everyone already loves and trusts Amazon. (Not an affiliate link, just a little advice based on my experience building our blog!) You can see my first post trying my hand at using Amazon’s affiliate program to make money here: 13 RVing Essentials: What You Need to Buy AFTER You Buy Your Rig
When you have to get paid by mail…
Mostly commonly paid out by: Large companies and old school affiliates
Unfortunately, way too many companies will only pay you with checks in the mail. This is especially true if you’re working on short-term contracts or if you’re working with old-school companies (AKA basically every company in the RV space).
We typically get checks from 4-6 different companies a month. Without a mailbox outside the RV, this can be frustrating, but it’s hard to be too annoyed when people are sending you money.
We send all of our checks to my parents’ house in Texas and my mom deposits them into our bank account for us.
This isn’t ideal, but it’s 100% better than constantly updating addresses with clients so checks can be sent directly to our location, or going through the mess of forwarding mail to our current location constantly. Checks are one thing you really don’t want to get lost in the mail!
We will have checks sent to our current location if we plan on being in the area for over a month. Since it always takes forever for checks to arrive in the mail and I want to make sure we have plenty of buffer time, we rarely do this.
This is the best process for us, though it may not work for everyone. If you have someone you can trust to receive and deposit your checks while you travel, this is may be a solution for you.
All in all, there are many different ways to get paid on the road but these are what work for us. For us, the battle is always between being paid a little less, but quickly via Paypal versus getting paid out slowly, but in full via check.
Through diversifying our income streams (you can read more about the main ways we make money while traveling here) we’ve been able to strike a healthy balance where we feel comfortable knowing that we are going to have enough in the bank to fill up the gas tank.