For the second quarter in a row, we brought in $100,000 from our YouTube channel and other related income streams! Yes, it still feels just as crazy as it did last quarter. However, 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 (our total income was $603.26)
Now that we’re making what feels like a crazy amount of money from this business, I feel like it’s important to tell you why we started writing these reports in the first place – and why I am continuing to write them (at least until we hit our goal of 100 countries).
When we first made these reports in our 6th month of full-time travel, the goal was to make enough money to cover our travel expenses so we could continue traveling. The purpose was to document that journey. We thought that if we were successful, maybe we could inspire some other people along the way to go after a crazy dream of their own.
When Kara and I used to tell people we traveled full-time, we’d almost always get the same response: “I wish I could do that.” At that point in the conversation, I would 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.
One of the selfish reasons we started these reports was to show people that we weren’t trust fund kids, and to prove to them that travel doesn’t have to be expensive. We were sharing the exact numbers behind how 2 normal people could travel the world for a year for $35,000. The hope was that, down the road, we could also show how it was possible to start a business while traveling that would continue to fund our travels, but it was just a dream at that point.
Fast forward 3 years, and we can’t believe where that dream has taken us!
Because of this path we’ve found ourselves on, I feel like the purpose of these income and expense reports have shifted. When we started, I felt like the numbers we were sharing were very relatable to the average person who wanted to go and travel. We were writing as 2 broke newlyweds, and the reports proved that you didn’t need a lot of money to go travel.
Now, I feel like these reports have become much less relatable from a travel expense standpoint, and they aren’t serving their original purpose. For a long time, I went back and forth on whether or not to continue publishing these reports, but I ultimately realized that they are now serving a different purpose that I never intended them to serve.
Based on the feedback I’ve started receiving, these reports are inspiring others outside of the realm of travel to pursue whatever they’re passionate about. This is really special to me. I’ve known from the beginning that it’s not everyone’s dream to travel (I have family and friends who would hate living a week in our shoes). That’s why I’ve never wanted to preach “everyone should travel full-time or you aren’t living life to the fullest.”
I don’t believe that, but I do believe far too many people get swept up in the current of life and just end up wherever it takes them. Then, they look up one day and wonder how they got there. If I can inspire people to at least think about what they really want in life, and encourage them to start pursuing it some way, I consider that a success.
So I am going to continue writing these reports (at least until we hit 100 countries) to show people a real-life case study about two people who went against the grain to pursue something they were really passionate about. And it worked out better than they ever could have imagined.
I think most people believe you have to make a choice between pursuing your passion or making money. We’re proof that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We didn’t go into this thinking we were going to start a successful business. We just wanted to have enough money to continue traveling. But because we started doing what we really enjoyed and worked really hard at it, we’ve found ourselves somewhere we never dreamed of being.
Thoughts on Quarter 1 of 2019
During Q4 of last year, our YouTube channel experienced a ton of growth, and our revenue shot up in areas we weren’t expecting at the beginning of the quarter. For example, we went from making $15,000 in YouTube ad revenue to $45,000 in ad revenue (due to the holidays). Then, at the last minute, we decided to offer a Black Friday discount on our online courses, and we did a surprising $15,000 in sales in 3 days.
All of this to say, we had some extreme things happen during Q4 that led us to $100,000 in revenue. Looking forward to Q1 of this year, I didn’t see how we could possibly top Q4. But once again, to my surprise, we did it.
As expected, we saw a large drop in YouTube ad revenue and course sales, but a few unexpected sponsorship opportunities and steady growth in affiliate income made up the difference. Let’s dive into the report, and I’ll explain in more detail.
1. YouTube Ad Revenue – $31,649.68 (Change from Q4 -13,999.32)
During Q4 of last year there was a perfect storm that took our ad revenue to $45,000. We had a video go semi-viral in early November, and we gained a lot of new subscribers. Plus, advertisers were increasing their ad rates around the holidays so this lead to a huge increase in ad revenue. However, by the end of the quarter, our new subscribers were starting to level out again, and ad rates started dropping the day after Christmas. We knew we’d need something crazy to happen to maintain a similar level of ad revenue in Q1.
Unfortunately, nothing crazy happened during Q1, and our ad revenue dropped by almost $14,000. However, you can see from the chart above that our ad revenue was consistent throughout the quarter. So while it always hurts to see a decrease in revenue of any income stream, we are both very happy with where it has leveled out.
2. Patreon & PayPal – $10,285.51 (Change from Q4 -$1,285.15)
It’s scary to build a business on top of a platform that you don’t own (if you read the section above, $14,000 can be given or taken away pretty much overnight). So much of our success/failure is tied to the growth of our YouTube channel, and we have very little control over that growth. 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. Course Sales – $9,758 (Change from Q4 -$13,153)
As I said in the introduction, last month our Black Friday Sale brought in $15,000 in 3 days. During Q1, we didn’t do any promotions for our courses outside of including the links in our videos and on our website. Due to the lack of intentional advertising, the drop in revenue was expected.
If you don’t know what online courses I’m talking about… We’ve each created a course to teach others the subjects where we have the most expertise. For me, that’s travel hacking, and for Kara, it’s video editing.
- 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.
- Kara’s Behind the Scenes Guide to Creating a Vlog is the course Kara created to let you watch over her shoulder and learn the exact methods she uses to create one of our travel vlogs.
4. Affiliate Income – $21,530.62 (Change from Q4 +$6,779.03)
- Amazon – $1,566.69
- Epidemic Sound – $3,660
- Creditcards.com – $16,303.93
- Audible – $90
- ConvertKit – $44.10
- Adobe – $205.17
- TubeBuddy – $22.80
The majority of our affiliate income comes from the ongoing promotion of companies and products we love such as Amazon, banks with awesome travel credit cards, and Epidemic Sound. It’s an awesome feeling to get rewarded for doing something we are already doing for free: recommending products we use and love.
The major driver of our affiliate income this quarter was credit card referrals. This was our first full quarter offering free credit card consultations and consistently publishing our “Top 10” blog post every month. Based on the feedback we’ve received, people are getting a lot of value out of these personal consultations. So it’s awesome that we’re able to offer this time-consuming service for free thanks to the commissions we receive from the banks.
If you’d like help figuring out which travel credit card(s) to sign up for to maximize your rewards and savings, you can request a FREE consultation by clicking the button below!
Or you can check out our Top 10 Travel Credit Cards post that we update every month!
Our second largest 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, and 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!
Last but not least, Amazon also brought in a decent amount of affiliate income. The majority of our Amazon affiliate income is generated by people who visit the following pages where we recommend gear we use and love.
5. Sponsored Content – $42,670 (Change from Q4 +$33,670)
As our channel grows, we’re getting more and more opportunities to include sponsors in our videos. It seems like every day someone sends me an email asking us to review their product on our channel. We turn down the majority of these offers, but if the product/company meets our 3 criteria, then we entertain the idea of adding them as a sponsor:
- Can we get genuinely excited about the product/company?
- Is this something we think our viewers would be interested in knowing more about?
- Does the company value our platform, and are they willing to pay us enough money?
This is where we saw a major growth in our income this quarter! Normally when a company wants to work with us, they will reach out and ask how much we would charge for _ (fill in the blank). This quarter, we were approached by a couple of companies with upfront offers that were bigger than any we had ever received. These offers allowed us to see that we had been undervaluing ourselves in sponsorship deals in the past.
We did a few more sponsorships than usual this quarter because a couple were too good to turn down. However, we expected to see a sustained increase in revenue in this category by increasing our rates and still keeping our sponsored videos to a minimum.
Total Q1 Income – $115,893.81 (Change from Q4 +$12,011.56)
The pie chart above gives you a quick breakdown of how each revenue stream is contributing to our total income.
Transportation Expenses – $1,984.79
Normally, we save money on our transportation expenses using miles and points that we’ve saved up by applying for the best travel credit cards. However, this quarter, the majority of our savings were thanks to sponsored trips.
For as much as we bounced around the globe this quarter, we spent surprisingly little on flights. During Q1 of this year, we traveled to 15 different countries, but we spent what most couples would for round trip flights to from the U.S. to Europe. This is because we planned our travel around a few key sponsorships in order to make sure most of our long-haul flights were covered. We also visited 5 of the 15 countries on a cruise ship, so that helped cut down our “transportation” costs as well.
|Havana||St. Maarten||Plane||$0||MSC Project|
|St. Maarten||Costa Rica||Ship||$0||MSC Project|
|Costa Rica||Mexico||Plane||$0||Iberostar Project|
Accommodation Expenses – $4,357.51
In the past, we have saved a lot of money on accommodations thanks to Airbnb credits that we have accumulated through people signing up for the service through our link. However, in the last report, I told you we had abruptly stopped receiving credits from Airbnb. We reached out to Airbnb about our links not working, but they said everything looked fine.
After a lot of internet research, I finally learned that Airbnb has a $5,000 credit limit cap. Since we had received $5,000 in credits, they quit giving us additional credits even though we were still referring new members. That alone is frustrating enough, but it’s even more frustrating that they didn’t tell us about the cap when we reached out, and instead told us our link seemed to be working fine. I digress.
To get around the cap, we have created a new account that is still offering you the same savings as our old account. So, if you’ve never signed up for Airbnb, and you want to save $40+, help us save money on our accommodations in the future by signing-up using our link below:
|Caribbean Cruise||Cruise||13||$0||Project with MSC|
|Cancun||Resort||7||$0||Project with Iberostar|
|Jordan||Hotel||7||$168.76||Project with Jordan Tourism|
|Finland||Hotel||3||$61.82||Project with Tesla|
|India||Hotel||4||$0||Project with OnePlus|
|Rovaniemi||Hotel||3||$0||Project with Hotels|
Destination Expenses – $4,135.79
This category is the money we spent while on the ground at each destination. This includes things like food, local transportation, and entertainment.
|Cuba||January 1 - 9||$600|
|St. Maarten||January 9 - 13||$247.44|
|Caribbean Cruise||January 13 - 27||$43.07|
|Mexico||January 27 - Feb. 4||$0|
|Jordan||February 5 - 22||$695.12|
|Lebanon||February 22 - Mar. 5||$635.44|
|Iraq||March 5 - 8||$264.29|
|Turkey||March 8 - 11||$824.24|
|Finland||March 11 - 14||$77.24|
|India||March 14 - 19||$160.22|
|Finland||March 19 - 24||$400.22|
|Denmark||March 24 - 31||$1,406.51|
Business Expenses – $8,402.70
Each month we pay for several online subscriptions and other things to keep the vlog, blog, online courses, and email list running smoothly. We have also hired a few independent contractors to make sure we can keep things running smoothly as our channel and business continue to grow and evolve.
Travel Hacking Wingman -$3,297.50
If you submitted a credit card consultation or signed up for my travel hacking course, you probably know Benji. He helps manage our travel hacking Facebook group for the students of my 30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker Course. He also helps me write travel hacking blog posts and give credit card consultations. I tried to do this alone for a long time, but I realized I needed help to ensure that we could help as many people as possible travel cheaper using my travel hacking strategies. So, I’m super thankful I’ve found a fellow travel hacker I trust to help me with the mission.
Video Editor – $2,290
At the moment we have two different editors who split time to help rough cut our footage. This is supposed to be saving Kara time and increasing the quality of our videos, but in all honesty, we’re still perfecting this process. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to transfer huge files around the world, coordinate schedules, and still be able to determine if this is actually saving us time. With that said, I think we’re getting close to a good process.
Convert Kit – $911.83
The great email platform that we use to send emails to our list of 50,000+ people. It’s great!
Premiere Pro – $123.41
The program Kara uses to edit our videos.
Google Service – $59.70
This is the money we pay Google for our email address every month so that we can look semi-professional.
Touchnote Postcard – $179.95
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 screens across all of our videos on YouTube. Basically, we pay $19 to avoid spending hours of our lives monotonously changing small details on our channel.
Godaddy – $107.67
This is the service we use to pay for our website, hosting, and SSL certificates. Plus, all of the other domains I buy when I think of a good business idea 😉
Gleam.io – $49
This is the service we used to host our 500k Giveaway.
Click Funnels – $291
“I’m trying to get more sophisticated with our landing pages and sales funnels, but so far I’m just wasting money with this complicated service.” I wrote this in last quarter, but it’s still true.
Shipping – $56.66
We couldn’t take the drone to Cuba so we had to ship it to St. Maarten.
StoryBlocks – $117
We were really excited to start including more stock video in our vlogs to help tell a better story, but so far we’ve been disappointed with the selection.
Motion Array – $87
This was a service we tried out for animated text and maps. It didn’t work out.
Misc – $11.98
This was a charge on my credit card… I was pretty sure it was business related, but I didn’t know what it was.
OptinMonster – $197
If you’ve been to our website, you may recognize we have a few popups on different pages. This is the service we’re using to generate more email subscribers.
WeTransfer – $24
This is the service we used to allow everyone to send in videos for Kara’s birthday surprise.
Accountant – $200
New Camera Gear – $7,623.16
We upgraded almost all of gear this quarter! If you watched our video from Turkey, you know we struggled with the decision. However, after using the gear for a few months, we are very happy with the investment we made this quarter. The new drone and the new camera set up have lead to a noticeable difference in our video quality (in our opinion).
Fixed Costs – $663.02
T-Mobile Phone Plan – $220.07
Google Fi – $221.19
Kara stuck with the T-Mobile Unlimited International plan because she can’t give up her iPhone. However, I decided to switch to Google Fi because it’s a lot faster than T-Mobile’s international service. Having separate carriers is increasing our overall phone bill, but neither of us are willing to budge from our position.
Health Insurance – $221.76
We switched to a new international health insurance plan this year: it’s called Safety Wing. It’s cheaper, but we haven’t actually had to use it, so I can’t tell you whether or not we recommend it.
Miscellaneous – $1040.31
This category is made up of expenses that didn’t fit into any of the categories above. Some little things like Spotify and Netflix, and a few bigger things like credit card annual fees.
Total Q4 Expenses – $28,207.28
|YouTube Ad Revenue||$31,649.68|
That’s a wrap for our Quarter 1 income and expense report. These numbers continue to surprise us every quarter when I type them into the computer. If you find it hard to believe that we’re making this much money while traveling the world, you’re not alone. We pinch ourselves from time to time!
Thank you for all of your support. We couldn’t do it without you. I’d love to hear what you think about this report in the comments below!