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I’ve gotten asked, more than usual lately, what the heck I actually do. As a blogger, photographer, and traveler I think most people assume Scott and I are constantly running around the world going on adventures as often as we can (yes please!).
The reality is, we are usually cuddled up working hard from our little home (think 450-ish square feet) with Gibson, our cat.
So where are we living?
What are we doing?
And how do we make money?
Read on my friend.
Where We’re Living
We’re currently renting and living in the cutest little cabin just outside of Petoskey, Michigan. It’s where Scott grew up and all of his clients, from over 9 years of owning his own business, are based in the area.
After we got married we considered buying a house either overseas or in the Northern Michigan area. Turns out buying a home is expensive, like crazy expensive. Plus we’re not in a place in our lives to commit to a home. We both knew if we moved into a new home that all of our money and energy would suddenly be put toward home projects and we really wanted to save money and time so we could travel as much as possible.
We also knew Gibson had his own limitations. He can’t live without us……for real.
We once started a 5-month adventure traveling Southeast Asia and 35 days in, in the middle of getting scuba certified, we had to quickly fly home and save him. He had completely quit eating and it started to cause a whole bunch of other problems. He spent 3 nights in a specialty vet hospital downstate just to find out it was all stress-induced from missing Scott. He missed him so much he wanted to die.
You’ll be happy to know that after 5 months with a feeding tube and lots of lovin, Gibson is alive and happy as a cat could possibly be, especially now that we work from home full-time. (As I type this he’s sleeping on Scott’s lap while Scott is working away. See? Beyond happy.)
So, we found this great place to rent, in the cutest little neighborhood, right on the lake. I learned to sail this summer and Scott fished every other night and we find ourselves saying how much we love our little cabin on the lake daily. Sometimes I think we’re going to stay here forever and live out our lives like we’re a set of characters on On Golden Pond.
We also got rid of our downtown office to eliminate as much overhead as we could. We currently work from home, travel as much as we can, and when we go, Gibson stays with Scott’s parents and I’m pretty sure it’s his favorite little getaway.
What We Do For Work
As I mentioned above, Scott’s had his business for over 9 years and has a good client base in the area. We felt that staying in Northern Michigan was a good call for us and our work. I joined him full-time over a year ago and the two of us do mostly commercial photo and video work. This means commercials, ads, web images, and social media. Our clients vary from hotels to hardwoods companies to the local visitors bureau and everything in between.
We love it! We get to work with amazing clients who let us get really creative and create something special together Here are some examples of our work:
Northern Michigan Hardwoods: One Man’s Vision
Petoskey Hockey: Promo Video
Trout Creek: Winter is Here!
Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau: Fishing Feature
Stafford’s Hospitality: Employment Video
Northern Michigan Hardwoods: Mulch Video
Recently, you’ve probably noticed a shift in our work. We’re getting into the online world and starting to focus on creating passive income.
Our client work is a traditional work model in the way we make money: do a project (provide a service) then we get paid.
With passive income, you do the work and make money passively, without having to be directly involved. I can create something and it will live for however long, making us money as we go. This is ideal for us traveling and living a lifestyle that fits with our life vision. We can make money while we are out for a walk, on vacation, or even while we sleep!
My blog is an example of this and one we’ve enjoyed learning more about. I started the blog full time in October and it’s been even better than we expected.
Focusing on passive income is a way for us to have complete freedom and control over our business and our lives. Well, not complete control, let’s be real, but a heck of a lot closer to it. Right now, we’re about 80/20 on client work and online. Scott is 80% client work, 20% online and I’m 80% online and 20% client work.
We’d like to see those numbers shift so we’re both 90% online and 10% client work in the next year. We will take a look at this as it goes and aren’t making any drastic changes quite yet, but it’s on our radar.
How Do We Make Money?
1. CLIENT WORK
75% of November’s Income.
As mentioned above, client work is still our main source of income. We work with different clients to get them the materials they need to advertise, promote, and showcase their business. We have about 5 main clients and then get called for different projects here and there, mostly by word of mouth.
2. ONLINE STORE
24% of November’s Income.
The GO hats we recently created and are selling have been a hit and we are just so darn grateful. We created them as an idea and a way to provide something that we love, for people. We both wear hats often, especially when we travel and we thought how cool would it be if we designed our own? We put them out there to see what people would say and the response was beyond what we were thinking it ever would be.
We’re so excited to share them with all of you and are putting together our THIRD order already. We’re also hoping to expand the shop as we go. We’re not too keen on an online store being our thing, however, we LOVE what it’s been so far. We’d like to keep expanding slowly and at a realistic pace.
3. AFFILIATE EARNINGS
1% of November’s Income.
Yes! Affiliate earnings were 1 freaking percent of November’s income after just 2 months. You guys, writing this has me all sorts of pumped! Blogging and affiliate links take time to build, lots and lots of time, but we’ve already seen a return!
Affiliate links are NO additional cost to you. I have affiliate links throughout my blog and if you click on them and buy something, I get a small commission from the sale.
For example, if you go to my 21 Gift Ideas For The Travel Lover blog post, you’ll see mostly affiliate links there. If someone clicks on one of my links and makes a purchase on Amazon, no matter what it is, within 24 hours I’ll get a percentage of that sale.
For the Future
Youtube was originally going to be the big thing we dove into and our main way to make money. Funny how things change. We had a grand plan for videos and our travels and our lives and were super excited, but it’s been the one thing we’ve hardly touched.
I think I had way too many ideas at the beginning to feel like anything was really working and found I enjoyed blogging the most. Now that blogging has been consistent and doing well, I’m ready to explore videos again.
Stay tuned as my big goal is to create a video a week starting hopefully this month but for sure January! In the meantime, subscribe to my Youtube channel to catch all the action!
5. PARTNERSHIPS AND SPONSORS
For the Future.
We haven’t started this yet but it’s right around the corner. Essentially we plan on partnering with brands and businesses we believe in to promote their products or services. We’re looking forward to connecting with local companies as well as new places from around the world.
So there you have it. What Scott and I actually do. Fun huh? We think so.
This season has been a big shift for us. Focusing on our online adventures and ways to earn passive income because we know it’s the best option for us in the long term.
What started as a Youtube dream is now alive and well via blogging. You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you give it a try. Be flexible, consistent, and willing to go all-in or at least part-time in and see if it will work for you. Stick with it and be willing to adapt. It’s fun to think of how different these numbers will be next year and what things will look like.
If you have more questions about what we’re doing, please, please, please let me know! I LOVE to talk about it and get ideas from other people or just explain what we do because I know how different it is.
Thanks for being a part of this journey. It means more than you know.