Walking away from my job in Corporate America was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. (You can read the full story here.) While it was an adjustment I’ve come a long way since then. Here are 6 ways I’ve made money since leaving Corporate America. Let’s see how you can make money remotely!
A twenty-minute drive would put me in a pleasant office park, an inoffensive cubicle, and in an ergonomically correct chair. I’d open some emails, then head to the cafe with a co-worker and choose from one of many healthy breakfast options. Back at my desk, I’d take a few meetings, answer more emails, possibly argue with a director (yep, I’d do that on occasion), and then take lunch. I’d have a late-day snack—maybe more coffee (just for fun)—and then I’d wrap up and head home.
Doesn’t that sound like a perfect Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday…? Every day felt like that.
For some people, it would be a dream come true, and for a long while, it was my dream job. I loved the people–still do–and generally enjoyed my work. While I wasn’t particularly challenged, it was a secure and comfortable existence.
I’m always a little skeptical about comfort. Last week that company laid off 150 people. There are never guarantees.
Goodbye Cubicle, Hello Open Road
While I was fortunate to work on great projects with great people, that level of “security” kept me complacent, and the paycheck kept me from exploring other possibilities.
When the opportunity to travel the country in an RV presented itself, it was time to say, “Goodbye cubicle, hello open road.” But I didn’t leave because I was overworked and underpaid (another Corporate America epidemic), I left because I was under-creative and would never earn any more money than what someone else dictated.
So I hit the road and decided that I would explore other income possibilities—something that truly scared me. The transition hasn’t been easy, but worth it. I’m growing in ways that were never possible in a cubicle.
How To Make Money Remotely
While I’m still figuring things out, here are 6 ways I’ve made money since leaving Corporate America. I hope these ideas help you if you’re exploring new work opportunities.
Income #1: A Random Acting Gig
I found my first “job” within eight weeks of becoming a full-time RVer. You can read the How To Find Remote Work but here’s a quick summary: while grounded in Oregon due to storms, I found four short-term job possibilities by searching on Craigslist. I followed up on an acting gig for both me and Bryce in an educational video about being foster parents.
I’m not trying to influence you to become an actor. I’m trying to show how simply searching on Craigslist can lead to job opportunities, especially if you’re willing to stay in one place for a while. Heck, you can even find remote jobs on Craigslist if you want to keep traveling.
Money made: We made $100 for 1-hour of work and then spent it on a fancy steak dinner (something we hadn’t done in a long time).
Pros: It was relatively easy and fun, and didn’t require a long-term commitment.
Cons: Short-term jobs are a great way to supplement income, but not a long-term income solution.
*Side note: neither of us is an actor, although I’ve done some bit parts for charity, and Bryce is shockingly hilarious at improv!
Income #2: Blog Writer
Every so often, I spot a job opportunity in a Facebook group, like when I found a blogging job for an RV rental company. At the time, I had written only five blog posts on our very sparse blog. Luckily, they liked at least two of the articles—whew!
Then I found another RV rental company that I was more aligned with and they paid more! I wasn’t able to keep both jobs since they are competitors.
Money made: Company #1 – $75 per article; Company #2 – $200 per article
Pros: There are many benefits to blogging for someone else. First, I get paid for skills I want to develop anyway—woohoo! Additionally, you have an opportunity to be featured as a blogger and link your blog to theirs, often resulting in increased traffic.
Cons: I have to turn in one blog article each week. If I’m not feeling creative, writing can be difficult. Also, if you’re building your own brand, any work you do for others is time away from your own business.
*Side note: I was barely a “real” blogger at this point. It proves that you don’t have to have all of the skill sets to land a job, just enough along with some determination.
Income #3: Pinterest Virtual Assistant
Like many people, I didn’t think Pinterest was a “thing” anymore. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When an RV friend asked if I knew anyone who wanted to be a Pinterest Virtual Assistant, I nominated myself. By then I learned that Pinterest was critical to building a business, so I jumped at the chance to learn it.
Pinterest is NOT a social media platform. It’s a search engine like Google, and a critical platform to grow a business. A ‘“pin” is linked to a URL that leads people back to your website, vlog, or other business (see image above). Bloggers and entrepreneurs often outsource Pinterest management to an expert. A Pinterest VA can do everything from creating and “pinning” pins, and analyzing client accounts to improve them.
Money made: $15 per account, per week (1-hour average per account). Earnings can be as high as $250 per month, per client, depending on the level of service you offer to Pinterest clients.
Pros: It’s fairly easy to do once you get the hang of it, but there’s a bit of a learning curve to start.
Cons: Can be tedious (at least for me—some people love it!). As a nomad, you have to have great internet connectivity because the platform is image-heavy, and download speeds are critical.
Income #4a: Online Training – Part 1 – Course Development
I spent twenty (plus) years as a corporate trainer, manager, and coach. When I left my job, I really wanted a break from training to explore other things. But I know training really well which made it hard to resist a training development contract that I learned about through another Facebook group.
Money made: $1,500 one-time, plus $75 per month for course email management.
Pros: It’s only a 30-minute course and I love the organization. If I do good work, they said they’d hire me for more work.
Cons: This was my first major deliverable outside of a corporate structure, so I have to be self-motivated. 30 minutes of training might sound light, but that’s about a 20-30 hour job. Do the math and you’ll see that the hourly pay isn’t great. Lastly, again any work I do for others is time I’m not spending on my own business.
*Side note: Do you see a trend that Facebook is a great place to network and find work?
Income #4b: Online Training – Part 2 – Pinterest Course
I met Bryanna Royal, an RVer, wife, and mom of four who runs Virtual Powerhouse, a social media strategy company. She has Pinterest training for VAs that she hires. I saw potential in packaging and selling it to help others grow their Pinterest accounts, so I helped her redesign it and test it with a small group of bloggers. We charged hardly any money since it was a beta test but now sell it as an on-demand course. It was all about using Pinterest to boost your website or business traffic.
Money made: $262.50 and $25.00 for a customer referral fee. The income earned for the on-demand course has yet to be determined.
Pros: I saw the potential in her training and loved helping her take it to the next level. We co-created a product that added huge value to the group we trained as they are getting triple the growth rate in their subscribers!
Income #5: Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you promote someone else’s product or service and earn a percentage of the sale.
I’m just now dipping my toe into the affiliate marketing pool, therefore the income is hardly worth sharing. I bring it up though because it has so much potential, and I plan to grow this income stream this year.
Money made: $38.59 from Amazon affiliate sales and $15 from my friend Liz Wilcox’s book, Tales From The Black Tank. This book is no longer available, unfortunately!
Pros: Even though it’s small, seeing some money come in is exciting! The potential is huge. And if you align with products and services that solve problems for the people who like your brand, you’ll increase credibility and loyalty.
Cons: Not a lot of cons other than choosing good affiliates, learning how to do it, and marketing it well. Also, be careful not to slap any old product on your website, or push it onto your readers, as you might you’ll lose credibility and potential subscribers.
Income #6a: Selling My Own Products – Digital
I lead a mastermind group with some blogger friends. We meet twice a month and hold each other accountable for goals. It’s been a fantastic support system.
One of the members, Liz Wilcox, who ran the Virtual Campground, suggested we put together an RV Holiday Bundle of products to sell.
Awesome idea—except for one problem—I didn’t have a product to sell!
I thought I had busted my butt before, but it was child’s play compared to the frenetic pace I worked to produce an online training course, called How To Transition To Remote Work, in record time. It was exhausting yet rewarding when we actually made something that people wanted to buy!
The best part is that I have talked to several people who bought our products, and heard how it helped them with their current problems. How amazing is that?
You can sign up here for my Free Remote Work Training.
Money made: $426.40 (the total made was just over $4,000, but we split it eight ways with other product contributors).
Pros: Creating your own products as a blogger/online business is one of the coolest things ever! Nothing beats being your own boss, creating your own products, and setting your own hours.
Cons: Being your own boss, creating your own products, and setting your own hours is a myth if you do it 24-7. Work-life balance gets pretty skewed and boundaries get blurry when you work for yourself. I’m working on this.
Income #6b: Selling My Own Products – Physical
This almost didn’t make the cut because I’m NOT doing a great job of selling my art. However, I did sell two pieces—on a fluke—at an art auction in Bend, Oregon.
Let me explain what I make. I collect random objects from our travels—pieces of wire, springs, plastic thingies, and toys/parts from thrift stores—then I deconstruct them and reconstruct them into new forms. It’s such a fun art form because I never know what’s going to emerge.
In Oregon, I was thumbing through the local paper and saw that an art show fundraiser was happening the next day. Luckily, I was able to enter two pieces just before the deadline.
Shockingly, there were exactly two people who wanted my art and I sold both pieces!
Money made: $55 total ($110 total, but I split the proceeds with the organization).
Pros: Holy cow, people like my art and want to pay me for it! Crazy! Both people told me they would have paid double if the auction prices had gone up.
Cons: I’m producing more than I’m selling, and while I know I can sell more, that would require another investment of time. I would like to get something going, except I think you can see a theme in this blog post–right?
I’m doing too much and it’s not all sustainable.
How Will I Earn Income Going Forward?
This past year I wanted to experiment with different ways of earning income, and I accomplished that.
Now I’m evaluating what I should actually spend my time on and what will lead to both income AND satisfaction.
So far here’s my plan:
1. Earn consistent income from our More Than A Wheelin’ blog. We are currently redesigning our site to improve user experience, add more valuable content, and increase affiliate sales.
2. Relaunch and sell my How To Transition To Remote Work online course.
3. Keep blogging for one other company for predictable income, but I want to phase that out later this year.
4. Two stretch goals for later in the year:
a. Conduct workshops and/or public speaking. I love in-person training. It’s what I enjoy most and people get a lot of value from them. More to come on the topic, when, and where.
b. Develop a second digital product–more to come on that.
Additionally, I’d like to phase out working for others this year, if possible. And if time permits, I’d like to keep creating art, and possibly sell it (more for fun).
Final Thoughts On How You Can Make Money Remotely
It’s still a year of exploring but with more focus than last year. It’s unstable and scary at times, but that’s part of the journey, too.
I hope I’ve provided you with some ideas on searching for remote work. I also recommend better knowing what you want and need first, followed by a targeted search. These are just some of the ways you can make money. The 6 ways I made money after leaving corporate America are just a few of the options that are available to anybody. Get out there, and find the one for you.
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