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I burrowed my head into my heads and groaned. This can’t be happening, I thought.
Because when I opened my bank account to check the balance, I saw this:
Where did all our money go?
Oh, that’s right, a killer lightning storm in the Dakotas melted my house battery and cost over $250 to repair. And I didn’t even bother getting a quote for the leaking window we discovered in that storm knowing we couldn’t afford to fix it anyway. Between gas, groceries, and basic expenses, we were burning through cash faster than I expected.
So here we were in September of 2014 in our 24th state, not even halfway to our goal, completely broke, AND our refrigerator inexplicably stopped working.
A week earlier, we had stopped in Texas and stayed with family while the RV was in the shop getting new batteries. It felt weird coming home in the middle of our fifty state road trip and I was getting the impression that based on some of their comments, no one expected us to actually drive away to finish our journey.
But we did.
Which is how I ended up here, hoping I was going blind and seeing the numbers on my bank statement incorrectly because we could barely afford more groceries and a new fridge was out of the question.
I mean, I knew we were losing money every month. It was a matter of time until this happened. We had one sponsor for our documentary and my freelance writing wasn’t going to fill a single gas tank. But I kind of assumed we’d have it all figured out by now. Heath and I are smart kids. We’d been blogging (and making $0) for years and Heath did already find us one sponsor. But then no other companies replied to us so we didn’t hold out hope that we were going to be those super cool sponsored travelers who can afford anything except Passport America campgrounds any time soon.
We were broke.
Backs-against-the-wall, move-into-my-parent’s-driveway-for-the-foreseeable-future broke.
Six years have passed since that very stressful September, but I still think about it sometimes. How completely in-over-my-head I felt. How Heath and I looked at each other and said we will figure this out. Promised each other we will make it to all fifty states—no matter what.
So we hustled.
It was a long road getting there, peppered with some serious tears, two overdraft charges, and at least one particularly nasty argument when Heath reloaded our Starbucks card but HELLO WE ARE BROKE WHAT ARE YOU THINKING.
I started writing more and Heath found his first freelance client to pay him $800/month. I signed up for Amazon Associates so I could start earning the “affiliate income” I’d heard other bloggers swear by. Heath negotiated more hours and I went all-in on blogging.
By Christmas, we checked off the lower 48 and broke even for the first time.
By the time we made it to Hawaii on Valentine’s Day, we were making enough to start paying down Heath’s student debt.
And by the time the Alaskan highway thawed and we drove to our 50th state, we figured out video production would be our first mobile business and started finding clients. Exactly a year after our wedding, we were making on average $3,750/month—which equaled what we were making at our full-time jobs before we started RVing.
It’s easy to look at where we are now and forget about those low moments of wondering if my credit card would get declined at Walmart. Or the time Heath and I didn’t speak for 30 miles because he accidentally put ultra-premium gas in the RV which cost like 50¢ more per gallon and he filled up 50 gallons!!! I may still be harboring frustration at that little mistake.
We needed the motivation those low moments gave us, the motivation it still gives us.
Because after that first we-can’t-live-without-a-fridge emotional breakdown when we realized we couldn’t afford to keep moving, October 2014 looked like this:
It was the first time since we quit our jobs that our bank account grew. Barely enough for us to buy a small apartment fridge, but it was our first net positive.
And I thought for the first time maybe, maybe we can keep traveling the world and find a way to support ourselves too.
This month we’ve been sharing all about how to build a sustainable life on the road by building remote income. Making money from anywhere is the biggest hurdle for RV entrepreneurs (or digital nomads as Heath hates to say).
At the beginning of the year, we had over 80 people tell us they would love if the RV Entrepreneur School had a 28 day series on becoming an RV Entrepreneur, full of how-to and tactical lessons.
I love creating and working on courses and the idea of putting together a helpful resource around building a business on the road sounded like a blast—and something I could have used six months ago.
So we made one.
Why we’re creating a course around RV Entrepreneurship
When Heath and I started our video production business from Franklin (our first RV), we made everything up as went along.
Every single roadblock was a lesson that helped us push forward and gradually grow our business.
Some roadblocks were mental, like navigating the fear that we wouldn’t be taken seriously if we were taking a video call from an RV.
Other roadblocks were logistical, like how to figure out pricing our newest client or even how to go about finding more of them. Each of these obstacles were lessons that helped us hit our goals of building a business while getting to travel and see the world.
And as we’ve grown in our journey, so have our business goals.
At first, the goal was to see if we could finance the rest of our journey across the country.
Then the goal was to see if we could create enough freelance revenue to cover our bills and not have to go get a “real job.”
Then it was to build a six-figure business so we could pay down our $30K of student debt while still being able to travel.
This year, a big goal was to take Campground Booking from a bootstrapped business to $500K of venture funding and build an impactful company with profitable returns the team and investors.
Each of these goals comes with their own lessons and takeaways, ones that we have shared on our blog and the RVE podcast but never in a succinct easy-to-follow, step-by-step course format.
We’re putting this course together to help others who are navigating some of the questions we went through at various points in our business.
- How do I find a business idea?
- Should I quit my day job to focus on this and go all in?
- How do I validate if my idea can be feasible/profitable?
- How do I file a business if I’m living on the road?
- How do I write a contract for my first client?
The idea of this course is to focus less on how to RV full-time (which we already covered in our book) and more on how you can create a business you love that supports you and gives you time to enjoy your travels.
We’ve been working hard for months writing the lessons for this course and can’t wait to share it with you!
Being an entrepreneur is not at all what I expected for my life. I didn’t take any business classes in college or plan on graduating college, starting a video production company, and then becoming a full-time blogger.
But I knew I wanted to travel as much as possible and starting our own business made it possible.