This report is being published late for a couple of reasons. The first is because we’ve been really busy. The second is because, for the first time since we started publishing these reports over a year and a half ago, it feels to me like we’re bragging by publishing this report.
Up until this point, we’ve been scraping by financially. We spent the majority of our savings during the first year of travel (2016), and we were still “losing” money up until Q4 of last year. These past reports were easy for me to publish because they showed that we were making sacrifices to pursue our dreams. This felt admirable to me, and I was proud of the financial risk we were taking to turn our dream into a reality.
I hesitated to hit publish on this report because I didn’t want people to get the wrong impression. However, when we first started publishing them, we said our goal was to inspire others to go after their big dreams. It wouldn’t be fair to share the struggle (financially) without sharing the success!
So, here it is… In Q1 of this year, we brought in over $36,000 from our YouTube channel and other related income streams! The numbers in the report feel completely crazy to us, but it hasn’t always been this way. If this is your first time ever reading one of our income and expense reports, I suggest starting with the first one we ever published in July of 2016. Spoiler alert, our total income was $603.26.
So, now more than ever, I feel like it’s important to tell you why we started writing these reports in the first place. It is NOT to brag about how much money we’re making. Trust me, when we first started sending out these reports, we were actually losing a lot of money!
There are three major reasons we started sending out these income and expense reports:
1. I (Nate) am a business nerd! I always wonder how much money people are making and exactly how they’re making it. I wish more people would transparently share their entrepreneurial journey; so that’s why I do it! When other people do it, I find it inspiring and incredibly interesting! So I hope you’re inspired or at least entertained when you read these.
2. When Kara and I tell people that we travel full-time, the response we get the majority of the time is, “I wish I could do that.” At this point in the conversation I usually just bite my tongue. I realize that, for some, full-time travel truly isn’t possible. But for most of the people who say “I wish I could do that,” they could if they really wanted to. Yes, some people would have to work harder than others, but most people could make it happen if they were willing to make travel a priority.
A couple years ago, Kara and I made travel our top priority. We saved up money for over a year, we moved out of our apartment, we sold our cars, and we quit our jobs. Now we put in the work (almost) every day to be able to afford to continue traveling. We hope that by sharing this report each month, it will inspire some of you to go from “I wish I could” to “How could I.”
3. We’re not special, and we want you to remember that no matter where this journey takes us. I feel like once people become “successful” it’s easy to think they’re “special,” and that’s why they were able to achieve success. At this point in our lives, Kara and I are pursuing this crazy dream of turning our passion for travel into a sustainable business, and we’re starting to see some level of success. Our hope is that by sharing this journey from the beginning you’ll be able to see that two regular people had a crazy dream and worked hard to make it a reality. In turn, we hope this will inspire you to dream a big dream and go after it.
Thoughts on Quarter 1 of 2018
Wow! I never thought we’d publish a Q1 income report that put us on track to earn over 6 figures in a year while traveling full-time. It’s crazy to look back at just how far we’ve come in the last 2 years. The first income and expense report we ever published was a monthly report of July of 2016. We made a grand total of $603.26.
I remember being really excited when we made $8,792 the first quarter of last year, and we almost broke even on our income and expenses. Here we are one year later, we’ve quadrupled our income, and it’s looking like we may be able to put some money in the bank for the first time since we started traveling.
In the beginning, we never thought we’d earn enough ad revenue from YouTube to pay the bills. So, we’ve focused on creating multiple income streams that are complements to our channel. Now that our channel is growing faster than ever other revenue streams are growing along with it.
To give you some perspective on the unexpected growth we’re experiencing, the majority of last year our channel received 75 to 100 new subscribers per day. This year, our channel is growing between 750 – 1,000 new subscribers per day. As more people discover our channel, there are more opportunities for them to buy our courses, sign up to become patrons, and buy stuff from our affiliate links.
So, our channel growth has resulted in a huge jump in our income this quarter, which I’ll break down for you now.
1. YouTube Ad Revenue – $14,184.58 (Change from Q4 +$5,966)
Honestly, this is more money than I ever thought we’d make from YouTube ad revenue. We’ve worked hard to create multiple income streams because I didn’t think it would ever be possible to cover the expenses of traveling full time with YouTube ad revenue alone. It turns out I was wrong! Our ad revenue this quarter more than covered our expenses, and there was even a bit left over.
Out of the 8 million views that received in Q1, almost 50% of those videos were monetized (This means YouTube showed an ad on the video and we split that ad revenue with YouTube). Our monetization rate has been closer to 30% in the past. So, the major jump in ad revenue was due to a combination of increased views and a higher monetization rate.
2. Patreon & PayPal – $6,501 (Change from Q4 +$2,656)
It’s scary to build a business on top of a platform that you don’t own. So much of our success/failure is tied to the growth of our YouTube channel, and we have very little control over that growth. At the moment, YouTube is being very kind to us and showering us with new subscribers. But in the back of my mind I know that things could change at any moment, and we could be right back where we were last year (barely scraping by).
This is why we’re so grateful for our patrons! Thanks to their support, we know that no matter what YouTube decides, this is one consistent source of income that we can count on every month!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Patreon, it’s an online platform that allows you to support the work of your favorite creators giving them a chance to continue working on their creations without having to worry about where their next meal is going to come from!
3. 30 Days To Becoming A Travel Hacker Course – $8,675 (Change from Q4 +$3,590.20)
30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker is a course I created to teach others the strategies I use to save thousands of dollars on flights and hotels.
This is a great example of our channel’s growth impacting other revenue streams we’ve created. In the description of every video, we promote a free guide I wrote called the “Ultimate Guide to Lounge Access.” When someone downloads this guide, they are added to our email list. Over the following week, I send them a lot of free and useful information about how they can reduce the cost of travel by implementing my favorite travel hacking strategies. At the end of the week, I give them the option to buy “30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker” where they’ll get access to all of my best travel hacking strategies in an easy to follow online course.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of online marketing, this is called a sales funnel. If your funnel is good, the more people you put in the funnel, the more people end up purchasing your product in the end.
Now that our channel is receiving over 3 million views per month, more than 50 people are downloading my guide and entering the funnel every single day. This means 50 new people per day learn about my course, and a small percentage end up purchasing it.
If you’re interested in learning how to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles to travel around the world for pennies on the dollar, check out 30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker!
6. Affiliate Income – $4,979 (Change from Q4 +3,590)
- Amazon – $1036
- Epidemic Sound – $1,800
- Ultimate Photography Bundle- $1,978
- Other – $165
Last year we purchased a bunch of online photography resources at a crazy discount during a one week sale called the “Ultimate Photography Bundle.” Kara used these resources to improve her photo editing and level up our Instagram game. This year we had the opportunity to promote the bundle and earn a commission for each bundle we sold. I sent out an email to our list, and Kara made an Instagram story promoting it. It obviously resonated with our audience because we were able to make almost $2,000 with just those two posts.
Our most consistent source of affiliate income is Epidemic Sound. We get all the music for our YouTube videos through this service. It’s hard to find good music for YouTube videos. Kara used to waste hours of her life searching for music, now she has a huge library of royalty-free songs to choose from! She loves this service, promotes it at the end of all of our videos, and we get paid anytime someone signs up for a free trial.
If you need music for YouTube videos, click here to check out Epidemic Sound!
As usual, Amazon also brought in a decent amount of affiliate income. It’s pretty awesome that we made over $1,000 just by recommending products we use and love. The majority of our Amazon affiliate income is generated by people who visit the following pages.
5. Video Licensing – $500 (Change from Q4 -$1,000)
We aren’t proactive about seeking out sponsored videos or video licensing deals. However, sometimes they come to us. This quarter we granted non-exclusive licensing rights to our footage from the Bolivian Salt Flats to a company for $500.
5. Sponsored Content – $1,500 (Change from Q4 +1,500)
In the past we have done very little sponsored content, but as our channel grows we’re getting more and more opportunities. We turn down 90% of the opportunities that come our way because they aren’t a good fit for our channel, but this quarter we got an opportunity to work with DJI to review their new mobile gimbal.
The video we did for DJI was less about the money and more about (hopefully) creating a long-term relationship with a company that makes awesome products! The mobile gimbal was a good starting point, but we’re hoping we’ll have the opportunity to review one of their new drones at some point in the future!
The pie chart above gives you a quick breakdown of how each revenue stream is contributing to our total income.
Transportation Expenses – $3,949.49
We started the year off by going on a cruise through the middle east. The cruise wasn’t cheap, but it was a great way to see 4 middle eastern countries in the limited amount of time we had during the month of January. Cruises are a little tricky to categorize in this report because I track transportation and accommodations separately, and a cruise falls into both categories. So to keep things simple I just included all of the cruise expenses here in the transportation category.
Had it not been for the cruise, our transportation expenses would have looked crazy low for all of the travel that we did this quarter. We basically flew around the world 1.5 times for less than $2,000 thanks to miles and points!
|Nashville||Oman||Plane||$44||85,000 UA Miles|
|Dubai||Nashville||Plane||$201.42||80,000 AA Miles|
|Nashville||Aruba||Plane||$31.20||30,000 AA Miles|
|Aruba||Delhi||Plane||$184.82||100,000 UA Miles|
|Mumbai||Bangkok||Plane||$0||33,824 Citi Points|
Accommodation Expenses – $1,082.88
Thanks to Airbnb credits we receive from referrals, hotel points, and a couple sponsored trips, we were able to keep our accommodation expenses crazy low this quarter!
|Nashville||Home||10||$0||Thanks Mom & Dad|
|Nashville||Home||4||$0||Thanks Mom & Dad|
Destination Expenses – $2,424.86
This category is the money we spent while on the ground in each destination. This includes things like food, local transportation, and entertainment. Let’s be honest though, most of this spending probably went towards delicious local food.
|Nashville||Jan. 1 - 11||$233.24|
|Oman||Jan. 12 - 19||$161.26|
|Dubai||Jan. 19 - 29||$114.91|
|Nashville||Jan. 30 - Feb. 5|
|Aruba||Feb. 5 - 12||$99.51|
|India||Feb. 12 - March 12||$827.77|
|Bangkok||Mar. 12 - 20||331.57|
|Myanmar||March 20 - 31||656.60|
Business Expenses – $3,219.88
Each month we pay for several online subscriptions and other things to keep the vlog, blog, online courses, and email list running smoothly. I look at most of these expenses as “investments” instead of expenses because most of them are tools that enable us to make money.
Partnerships Manager – $1,425
This quarter we gave Benji some additional responsibility. In addition to being our Strategic Partnerships Manager, he’s also started managing our private travel hacking Facebook group for people who purchase my travel hacking course. Now that we have over 200 members, it was getting hard for me to keep up with it. So I was very excited to get some help from a fellow travel hacking expert.
Travel Hustle Editor – $200
This quarter Claire finished up her final two posts in the Travel Hustle interview series she was writing for the blog!
Convert Kit – $323.54
The great email platform that we use to send emails to our email list of 25,000+ people
Teachable – $297
The platform where I host my course “30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker” and “The Mistake Fare Manual”
Premiere Pro – $98.28
The program Kara uses to edit our episodes
Google Service – $47.22
This is the money we pay Google for our email address every month so that we can look semi-professional.
Touchnote Postcard – $238.66
This is the service we’re using to send postcards to our patrons!
Epidemic Sound – $45
This is where we get all of our royalty free music for our YouTube videos!
TubeBuddy – $57
This service allows us to bulk edit the cards and end cards across all of our videos on YouTube. Basically, we pay $19 to avoid spending hours of our lives monotonously changing cards on our channel.
Gleam – $39
This is the service we used to host our 100k Giveaway.
Motion Array – $57
We bought some cool new transitions for videos from this service.
Express VPN – $12.95
We had to buy a VPN so we could access YouTube on our river cruise and upload our videos.
Fixed Costs – $1,157
T-Mobile Phone Plan – $371.13
Health Insurance – $558
Car Insurance – $210
Google Fi – $49.53
It would be irresponsible to travel without health insurance, so we pay what feels like too much money for an international health insurance plan every month. We’ve been really happy with our T-Mobile Unlimited International plan for the past 18 months. However, this quarter I decided to switch to a Google phone and try out Google’s phone service called Project Fi. It’s still early, but so far it’s far superior to T-Mobile’s international service.
Miscellaneous – $2,143,20
This category is made up of expenses that didn’t fit into any of the categories above. Normally, it’s made up a few small purchases we’ve made here and there, but this quarter we had a couple of the big expenses included in this category.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Membership Fee – $450
Google Pixel 2 XL – $948
Total Q2 Expenses – $13,959.44
|YouTube Ad Revenue||$14,184|
This is how much money we saved this month thanks to partnerships, frequent flyer miles, and referrals. This is just a fun vanity metric to calculate. If you love numbers like me, it’s fun to look at how much money this quarter “should have” cost us.
Frequent Flyer Miles – $5,500
Before Kara and I left to travel full-time, we saved up almost 2 million miles and points! We’ve used these miles and points to save over $25,000 on travel expenses. If you want to learn how to do the same check out my course 30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker!
Nashville to Oman – $1,800
We redeemed 85,000 United Airlines frequent flyer miles to fly from Nashville to Oman for only $44! It’s still crazy to me that frequent flyer miles give you the ability to book two tickets to the other side of the world for the same price that you’d pay for a nice dinner.
Dubai to Nashville – $1,600
These flights should have cost around $800 a piece. Instead, we redeemed 80,000 American Airlines miles, and we just paid $100 each in taxes and fees.
Nashville to Aruba – $600
We had to head straight from a wedding in Nashville to a wedding in Aruba. Thankfully, the flights didn’t break the bank. Instead of paying $600 for flights we redeemed 30,000 American Airlines miles and paid a grand total of $31.20 to fly to Aruba.
Aruba to Delhi – $1,500
It is not cheap to get from Aruba to Delhi, India. The cheapest tickets we could find would have cost us $1,500. Instead, we redeemed 100,000 United miles and only paid $184.82 for both tickets!
Partnerships – $8,160
Every month our YouTube channel gets over 3,000,000 views, which gives us opportunities to partner with companies for free experiences/accommodations in return for featuring them in our videos. Below are partnership exchanges we participated in this quarter.
Oman Desert Camp (2 nights) – $400
Visit Dubai (Hotel & Activities) – $1,610
Delhi Food Tour – $150
Myanmar River Cruise – $6,000
Airbnb Credits – $1,202.93
When someone signs up for Airbnb using our link, they save $40 off their stay. Plus, we get between $20 – $40 when that person completes their first stay!
It’s a win-win, and we wanted to say thank you to everyone who has signed up and taken a trip using our link!
If you want to save $40 on your first Airbnb stay, click the link below to create an account!
Total “Savings” – $14,862
That wraps up our Quarter 1 income report. It’s still hard for me to believe what I just finished writing! We just made over $20,000 traveling the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!