In Q3 of this year, we brought in over $168,000 from our YouTube channel and other related income streams! Yes, that feels as crazy for me to type as it does for you to read. 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. 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 of 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. 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 3 of 2018
Wow! Where do I start? This quarter’s report is a special one. Who knows, this could be the best income and expense report we ever post. Hopefully not, but it will be a hard one to beat moving forward.
In the quarters leading up to this report, our income from YouTube and other related activities had increased to a level we never expected. This quarter, we continued to maintain our normal revenue streams, and we hosted our first tour which turned out to be our biggest financial win in the last 3 years.
Hosting our first tour was a daunting task and a big risk. Once we committed to hosting the tour, my brain raced with “what if” scenarios. What if we can’t fill all of the spots? What if people drop out at the last minute? What if this costs way more than our budget? What if someone wrecks a Vespa? What if we’re terrible hosts? What if no one has fun?
Thankfully, I’m a very optimistic person, and I can dismiss those thoughts almost as quickly as they come to mind. There were 101 reasons this tour wouldn’t work, but thankfully we didn’t let those doubts hold us back from one of the most rewarding months of our lives (both personally and financially).
When you get further down into the report and you see how much money we brought in from the tours, you’re going to think, “Wow! They brought in that much money and got to spend a month driving around Italy on a Vespa and eating delicious food?”
At the risk of sounding like we’re complaining, I’ll keep this part short. Technically, yes. We got paid well to ride Vespas around Italy. But it wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and delicious Italian wine. We knew going into it that hosting the tours would be a lot of work, but nothing could have prepared us for how all-consuming and exhausting it would be to host 4 weeks of tours back to back.
The tours were a huge success, but that came at the expense of neglecting everything else in our lives for an entire month (including our main focus for the last 2 years: our YouTube channel). Going into it, we thought Kara would be able to edit for a couple hours every night, and the plan was to continue posting a couple videos per week.
That didn’t happen. We weren’t able to upload a single video during the month of July, and you’ll see below that several of our income streams were down due to the decrease in uploads. However, the income from the Vespa Tour more than made up for the dips in other areas.
This was a super interesting quarter, and we wouldn’t trade the experiences that we’ve had over the last few months for anything. Even if the Vespa Tour wouldn’t have worked out financially, it was rewarding in ways that we never expected. There’s something about connecting in person over a unique shared experience that creates a very special bond. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came and made the trip so special!
Ok, let’s dive into the details of this unique Q3 report!
1. YouTube Ad Revenue – $13,947.59 (Change from Q2 -$1,661.75)
We saw a dip in ad revenue this quarter, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I expected considering we didn’t upload a single video in the month of July. When I realized there was no way we were going to have time to edit and upload videos during the Vespa Tour, I got really nervous that YouTube would punish us for not uploading for a long period of time. I fully expected to see a huge drop in both new subscribers and ad revenue.
Even when we weren’t uploading, our ad revenue stayed between $100 – $150 per day, and when we started uploading again it jumped back up between $175 – $250. It’s nice to have a library of 500 videos that can continue getting views and earning ad revenue even when we aren’t posting new videos!
Although our channel’s ad revenue faired better than expected, I do feel like we lost some momentum after not posting for a month. Before the Vespa Tour, our channel was growing around 1,000 new subscribers per day. Ever since the tour, our growth has slowed to 500 – 700 new subscribers per day. It’s hard to complain too much about 500 – 700 per day, but it’s not a good feeling to see your growth curve going in the opposite direction.
2. Patreon & PayPal – $5,759.04 (Change from Q2 -$2,621.97)
Our Patreon revenue is directly tied to the number of videos we upload. When you set up a page on Patreon, you can choose to charge your patrons monthly or per video. We choose “per video” for this very reason. We didn’t want our patrons to pay us anything if we weren’t creating new content. Since we didn’t upload a video in July, we didn’t make any money from Patreon that month.
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. 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 – $11,453 (Change from Q2 -$4,896)
Our course income dropped by almost 30% this month, but it’s not as bad as it looks. Last month Kara launched her editing course and sold over 50 in the first week which inflated our Q2 income.
I had suspected that our sale of online courses was closely correlated to our YouTube channel’s growth, and since our channel is growing more slowly after neglecting it during the month of July, I expected the drop in course sales to be more substantial.
Thankfully, this was our first full quarter of selling 2 courses, and I believe that’s what kept our income at about $10,000 for the quarter. We’ve each created an online 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.
We do very little promotion for either course. My plan for Q4 is to create an email funnel for both courses that promote the courses to our new subscribers. I’m hoping that this will increase our combined sales to $5,000 per month (that’s the goal).
4. Affiliate Income – $14,673.18 (Change from Q2 +$2,316.76)
- Amazon – $1,226.64
- Epidemic Sound – $2,850
- Creditcards.com – $7,172.64
- TravelCon – $2,892.75
- Audible – $165
- ConvertKit – $44.10
- Adobe – $322.05
The majority of our affiliate income comes from the ongoing promotion of companies we love such as Amazon, banks with awesome travel credit cards, and Epidemic Sound. It’s an awesome feeling to get handsomely rewarded for doing something we were already doing for free, recommending products we use and love.
This is where the income report really starts to get exciting! Of the $14,000+ we made from affiliates this month, over $11,000 should be reoccurring moving forward. The only one off promotion we did this month was for the TravelCon virtual ticket ($2,892.75).
This was our first full quarter being a part of a travel credit card affiliate program. Even with very little promotion, this program has become the biggest contributor to our affiliate income. Our biggest forms of promotion at the moment include our Top 10 Travel Credit Cards monthly posts, and our free credit card consultations.
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!
My goal is to continue producing more helpful travel hacking content and hopefully get our credit card affiliate income to over $5,000 per month by the end of the year.
Our Epidemic Sound affiliate income is still increasing. 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 – $8,500 (Change from Q2 +$5,000)
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 quarter we published 20 vlogs, and only 1 of those videos was sponsored. We’re thankful that Audible saw enough value in our first sponsorship (in Q2) to sponsor a second video this quarter. I love listening to audiobooks, and it’s awesome that Audible is willing to pay us to recommend our favorites!
The biggest chunk of our “sponsorship” income came from a video that wasn’t even posted on our channel. We worked with Matador Network to make a video for GoRVing. The agreement was for us to travel to Maine and be the “talent” in the video, and post 2 Instagram photos promoting the final video when it was released on the Matador Network’s channel.
This was the most we had ever been paid for a sponsored video, and we didn’t even have to bother our audience (you) with an ad on our channel. It was awesome!
6. Vespa Tour – $113,000 (Change from Q2 +$113,000)
During the month of July, we hosted our first tour! It was exciting, fun, exhausting, stressful, and rewarding both emotionally and financially.
We conceived and planned this tour completely from scratch. When we originally had the idea for the tour, we didn’t know if anyone would be crazy enough to come on a tour planned by two YouTubers who had no clue what they were doing when it came to hosting a tour.
So, we were surprised when our tour sold out in less than an hour. We had originally only planned to host one week long tour, but we were encouraged by how quickly the first one sold out. So we opened up 2 additional weeks of tours that sold out within the month. Then our family and friends decided they wanted to come, so we planned a 4th week of the tour with them! In total, we hosted 4 weeks of tours with a total of 45 people.
When we originally sold the tickets we hadn’t fully planned the tour yet, and I had to do my best to estimate the costs. Thankfully, my estimates were decently accurate once everything was tallied up at the end of the tour. Although we spent a lot more than expected on some things, other things ended up costing less than we had budgeted.
The part that made the tour really special was also the reason it ended up being a big financial win for us. We planned and controlled every aspect of the trip, and we had (wonderful) friends and locals help out instead of hiring a professional company to oversee things like logistics and meals.
We didn’t do this to save money. We did it because we wanted our tour to be different from all of the other group tours. We wanted the people on the tour to connect with locals and have an experience that was authentic to the region.
Instead of hiring a professional tour guide, we hired a local college student who was knowledgeable about the region, but more importantly, super passionate about her hometown. Instead of hiring a professional chef, we had a local friend come to the villa and cook us authentic food that he grew up eating. Instead of meticulously planning out every aspect of the day, we left plenty of free time for people to go off on their Vespa and discover the area without a guide.
Hosting the Vespa Tour was one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. Now that the tours are over, it feels like we have 30+ new best friends, and it was an incredible feeling to get to share one of our favorite places in the world with all of our new friends! If you came on the Vespa Tour and you’re reading this, thank you for making it such a special month.
There will probably never be another Vespa Tour, but we will definitely plan other tours. If you’d like to be the first to know when we announce our next tour, add your email below!
7. Speaking – $1,000 (Change from Q2 +$1,000)
A few weeks ago we gave our first talk ever at a conference. We were invited to speak about getting started on YouTube at TravelCon, which was NomadicMatt’s inaugural travel conference. We were super nervous before giving our first talk, but it went extremely well. I never thought I would enjoy public speaking, but it was a huge adrenaline rush and actually a lot of fun!
From a financial perspective, speaking at the conference didn’t really make sense. The $1,000 we got paid, didn’t even cover the cost of our flights from Kyrgyzstan ($1,400). So we actually ended up paying $400 to speak, and I probably spent close to 40 hours preparing for the talk.
With that said, we didn’t do it for the money. This was an opportunity for us to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones which I believe is the best way to grow as a person. And, hopefully, it put us in a position to give more talks down the road that could pay off financially (or at least give our brand more exposure).
Total Q3 Income – $168,332.81 (Change from Q2 +112,092.04)
The pie chart above gives you a quick breakdown of how each revenue stream is contributing to our total income.
Transportation Expenses – $3,648
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 month we ended up paying for a lot of flights out of pocket because we either 1. couldn’t find an available award flight or 2. it didn’t make financial sense to use our points.
We spent a lot of time in Central Asia this quarter, and it turns out that there aren’t a lot of award flights (flights you can book with points) available when traveling within the region. On top of that, there isn’t a lot of airline competition within the region which means flights aren’t cheap. So, we ended up spending more than usual on flights this quarter.
Plus, there were a couple times when award flights were available, but it actually made more sense to save our points and just pay for the flights. When I redeem frequent flyer miles, I try to get at least $.02 of value from each point. So, if I do the math, and I’m getting less than $.02 of value per point, I usually save my points and just pay for the flight. I’ll give you a quick example.
One way flights from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Austin, Texas were $700. It would have cost 42,500 United miles for an award ticket, plus taxes and fees of $100. Below is the math I use to get the value per mile.
$700 (cost of a paid ticket) – $150 (taxes and fees of award ticket) = $550 (true savings of using frequent flyer miles)
$550 (true savings of using frequent flyer miles)/42,500 (frequent flyer miles needed for award ticket = $.0129 (value per mile)
Since I was only getting a value of $.0129 per mile, I just decided to pay for the tickets to Austin instead of using my frequent flyer miles. I hope that makes sense and wasn’t too confusing.
|Italy||Maine||Plane||$0||Matador Network Project|
|Maine||Italy||Plane||$0||Matador Network Project|
|Dallas||Vancouver||Plane||$161.20||25,000 United Miles|
Accommodation Expenses – $343.07
Our accommodation expenses seem to keep getting lower. It helps that we spent the month of July in Italy hosting the Vespa Tour. The villa that we stayed in definitely wasn’t free, but our accommodation costs were lumped in with the Vespa Tour expenses. Outside of the Vespa Tour, Airbnb credits we receive from referrals and a couple sponsored trips enabled us to keep our accommodation expenses crazy low this quarter!
|Ripatransone||Vespa Tour Villa||34||$0|
|Maine||Hotel||5||$0||Matador Network Project|
|Vardzia||Guest House||1||$15||Redeemed Marriott points|
|Issyk Kul||Hotel||7||$0||Media for World Nomad Games|
|Tyler||Sister's Hosue||3||$0||Thanks Kayla!|
Destination Expenses – $2,376.49
This category is the money we spent while on the ground at each destination. This includes things like food, local transportation, and entertainment.
|Italy||July 1 - Aug 4||$39.30|
|Maine||August 4 - 9||$119.68|
|Georgia/Armenia||August 10 - 29||$920.80|
|Azerbaijan||August 30 - 31||$38.37|
|Kyrgyzstan||September 1 - 18||$413.07|
|Austin||September 19 - 22||$53.83|
|Tyler||September 22 - 25||$183.96|
|Vancouver||September 25 - 30||$512.81|
Business Expenses – $3,208.80
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 – $1,019.75
In addition to helping us secure partnerships, Benji also manages our private travel hacking Facebook group, writes blog posts, and helps with credit card consultations. I guess it’s time to think about updating his title…
Video Editor – $601.60
For the first time ever, we hired an editor to help rough cut our videos in an effort to cut down on Kara’s editing time so we can start uploading more consistently. Kara would like me to make it VERY CLEAR that she still edits our videos. Our new editor just cuts off the unusable stuff at the beginning and end of every clip and then adds the clips to the timeline in Premiere Pro. This usually saves Kara a couple hours of time, but she’s still doing all of the real editing and crafting the overall story of the video.
Convert Kit – $0 (paid upfront yearly)
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”, “The Mistake Fare Manual”, and now Kara’s new editing course.
Premiere Pro – $98.28
The program Kara uses to edit our videos
Google Service – $49.17
This is the money we pay Google for our email address every month so that we can look semi-professional.
Touchnote Postcard – $299.90
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.
Godaddy – $92.05
This is the service we use to pay for our website and all of the other domains I buy when I think of a good business idea 🙂
We had to invest in some new backpacks, hard drives, and other miscellaneous things this quarter.
Fixed Costs – $1,010.09
T-Mobile Phone Plan – $219.05
Health Insurance – $558
Google Fi – $233.04
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 used the T-Mobile Unlimited International plan for the first 2 years of our travels. However, at the beginning of this year, I decided to switch to the Google Pixel 2XL and try out Google’s phone service called Project Fi. It’s a lot faster T-Mobile’s international service, but having separate carriers is increasing our overall phone bill. So I either need to convince Kara to come to the Android dark side or jump back on the T-Mobile train with Kara.
Miscellaneous – $550.31
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 and birthday presents for friends and family.
Vespa Tour- $66,215.45
I’m not going to try and break this category down in detail. That needs an entire expense report of its own. Instead, I’ll just give you the total cost of running the Vespa Tour all lumped together.
Total Q2 Expenses – $11,136.76 + 66.215.45 = $77,352.21
|YouTube Ad Revenue||$13,947.59|
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 – $650
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!
This quarter we only put our frequent flyer miles to use once. We redeemed 25,000 United miles for a last minute flight from Dallas to Vancouver. These flights would have cost us over $800, but instead they were only $150 in taxes and fees. They would have been even cheaper, but we had to pay a fee for booking them at the last minute.
Airbnb Credits – $1,167.40
When someone signs up for Airbnb using our link, they save $40 on their first stay. Plus, we get between $20 – $40 when that person completes their first trip!
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!
Partnerships – $4,500
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.
Maine Trip (Including Flights) – $3,500
World Nomad Games – $1,000
Total “Savings” – $6,317.40
That’s a wrap for our Quarter 3 income and expense report. These reports are getting more and more unbelievable. If you find it hard to believe that we’re making this much money while traveling the world, you’re not alone. We’re having a hard time believing it too! 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!