5 Businesses We’ve Tried & Failed in the Past 3 Years
We were recently featured on The Professional Hobo’s Financial Case Study series, where for the first time we revealed our online income, and we were met with a lot of reactions. Many were very positive, others more in disbelief that it is possible to earn such a substantial income from affiliate websites, and we also received quite a few emails from people with questions wanting to know how they can do it too. In fact, we are often met with that question from people we meet throughout our travels, and even from our own friends and family members. In fact, the most common questions I get in my email inbox are “how do you afford to travel so much?” and “how can I do it too?”. I know all travel bloggers reading this right now are probably nodding their heads.
The truth is, the options to making money online are endless. Go ahead and Google “how to make money online” and you’ll find countless articles and lists from fellow bloggers with ways in which you can make money while traveling the world. The key here is that doesn’t mean all of these are going to work for everyone and you aren’t necessarily going to make gobs of money, especially in the beginning. But if you stay focused, keep educating yourself, learning from your mistakes, tweaking your business model when its not working, and keep pushing through, it will payoff.
I got to thinking recently about what it took for us to get to where we are now. We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to build some websites, throw in some affiliate links and start collecting a paycheck. It started with two people reading other peoples’ travel blogs, wanting to travel the world, and wondering how in the hell they were making money to do it. From there it took A LOT of research. It took A LOT of time. And it took A LOT of money down the drain. It took 5 failed business ventures before we ever started earning a sustainable income.
A Restaurant in Thailand
This was alllll Charlie. Yep, I’m going to go ahead and put the blame on him for this one. Many don’t know, but he actually had part ownership in a restaurant in Thailand. He was kind of the “silent partner” and did more of the behind the scenes and web work. But he actually got into this partnership before we ever made the move to Thailand. This was what we always considered our “ticket to Thailand”. It’s what got us there. It was what we needed to finally get the courage to pack up and move our lives across the world. Unfortunately, no money actually came out of that initial investment. It was a lot of money lost and a lot of lessons learned. But guess what? We know we wouldn’t be where we are today had we never made that move to Thailand.
The Trading Travelers – Travel Blog
Like so many other people, we believed that all of these travel bloggers we were following were actually getting paid to travel the world and write articles on their blog. And WE WANTED TO DO IT TOO!! I mean…how cool would that be?! We quickly learned it doesn’t exactly work like that. In fact, very few travel bloggers actually get paid for their writing. Most bloggers make money from their blog through paid advertising, sponsored posts or links, affiliate links and other less glamorous-sounding methods. And it takes a lot of work to make a sustainable income. A lot of hustling. And a lot of website traffic. We realized this wasn’t exactly the picture we had painted in our heads so we never took our blog to that level. We have the blog because its more of a hobby, a way to share our adventures, and allows us to connect with other wanderlusters, digital nomads and you! It does get us some perks every now and then, but we make very little money from it.
Affiliate Websites – Round 1
When we first broke into the world of affiliate websites, we got off to a pretty good start. You may recall if you’ve read our Dumb Enough to Keep Going Success Story. We started off with just a couple of websites and we were ranking for our keywords in the top 3 spots on Google within just two months. We couldn’t believe that it was actually working and we were already seeing the money come in. Until one day we woke up and one of our websites was completely de-indexed by Google. Essentially, our website was penalized. No traffic = no money. And then a few days later, the same happened to our other website. And then, we were completely blindsided when a few days later our travel blog was penalized as well! Every website we owned was penalized. It was then that we almost gave up on everything and went back to 9 to 5 jobs. Fortunately, we kept going. We learned from our mistakes – and there were A LOT of them – but we picked up, started all over and gave it another go.
If you haven’t heard of Teespring, it is essentially a crowd funding for custom t-shirts. You design a shirt, you set your price and goal of how many you need to sell, and then you advertise the hell out of it. If you meet your goal, then it will be fulfilled. So really, your only investment is in the design of the shirt (if you’re not a designer) and advertising. There was one point when we were in Chiang Mai where literally EVERYONE was doing Teespring. So of course we jumped on the bandwagon. And we failed. We tried a few things, put money into a design and advertising on Facebook, but never had an order fulfilled. Fortunately, it wasn’t too costly of an investment and it was kind of fun. But it was also just another distraction taking our focus from what was actually making us money. It seems like there are always these trendy bandwagon schemes popping up, and not to say that they don’t work because I’m sure they do, but its also very easy to let yourself get distracted and keep from following through with one idea.
FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon
Fulfillment by Amazon is where you sell items on Amazon but you store them at Amazon’s warehouse and they handle the packing, shipping and customer service. This is another “trendy” business model and one we really wanted to get involved in. We spent a lot of time educating ourselves about it, taking courses, listening to podcasts, talking to other people in the business and researching products. We spent over a year investing time into this and even ordered some product samples, yet we never pulled the trigger. I think we were just looking for that “perfect” product and nothing ever seemed right. Nonetheless, it was a lot of time and energy invested into a business that never even got off the ground and time is money, right??
So what is the point of all of this? Am I saying not to try any of these business models? ABSOLUTELY NOT! What I am saying is that it took us 3 years and a lot of mistake and failures to get to where we are now, and I expect to have many more in the future. Don’t be discouraged when you hear of other people’s successes because you feel that you should be doing better, or the same thing didn’t work for you. Maybe it just needs tweaking or maybe you just need to give it a little more time. These are all profitable business models. I know this because I know people that are making money in all of the above ways. But don’t spread yourself too thin. Focus on what you’re good at. Don’t let yourself get distracted. Take more courses, invest in the proper tools, and take advantage of the wealth of free information online to keep educating yourself and growing your skills. But most importantly, do something. And don’t give up. Keep pushing through. I promise…ITS WORTH IT.