(Article by Anne Dorko, who’s finally going for her dreams and sharing the dirty details with us!)
You know all those crazy adventures you imagined as a kid? They were so awesome. Then you become an adult. Things like, oh, I don’t know… an overwhelming lack of time and money get in the way of ever experiencing the adventures you once thought you’d have. There are bills and responsibilities. Ick. Ugh. Blah. Meh. But you do what you must.
Every time you think of those dreams, you say “Someday day I’ll do that. As soon as I’m done with this other part of my life.” Guess what. There is never a time when those adventures make sense in the real world. Something is always in the way. Maybe your career. Maybe the timing. Maybe a general lack of money. Maybe something else.
What would happen if you decided to take a risk?
I decided I wanted to find out. The smart move would be to keep the career job, pay off the rest of my debts, and wait before launching off into the type of adventure that I’ve always wanted to have. But I’ve decided that I’d rather live that adventure… I want to do something worth talking about, rather than wait around for silly things like money or the right timing. The right timing may never come.
My Adventure (is going to be awesome)
By best friend and I are going to travel around the USA in my car, living and working from the road, under the name, wait for it… “Girls Be Trippin.” (Cause we’re both girls. Road trippin’ around. Duh.) We’re taking my Ford Focus, and we plan to go couch surfing – with friends and relatives, but also by using CouchSurfing.org.
Unfortunately… while our lodging may mostly be free, the financial outlook is not looking good from the outside in. I recently decided to get a travel friendly computer (the MacBook Air). The computer is awesome. The price wasn’t. Which means, I went from no credit card debt, to a little extra (although I did pay for some of it in cash).
Oh, and I also quit my job just a little while back. And I have an auto loan on my car (thankfully I’m not upside down on that and I haven’t missed any payments yet). And I have student loans. And since I’m a web developer, I have things like domains and hosting to pay for every month for all my personal projects. Let’s look things over, shall we?
My Financials (are a problem)
All of the cash in my bank accounts (including a $1,000 emergency fund) add up to: $2,408.76… yippee! But I owe $4,011.89 to my car loan, and $1,633.16 on my credit card. Hmm. Not so great. My monthly obligations are as follows:
- Student loans: $150
- Cell phone: $50
- Rent: $250
- Web costs: $75
- Car Payment: $188
- Auto Insurance: $140
Here, I’ll do the math for you. Without even including other changing expenses like food, clothing, “fun money” or extra debt payments… that’s about $855 in monthly commitments.
Sure, things like “Rent” won’t actually be rent once I’m on the road, but instead money for gas, storage for things left behind, paying my family for cat care, etc… “Rent” will probably look more like $300+. I won’t have room to be picky, but I’m still trying to make money doing things that I actually enjoy doing. Right now that includes WordPress plugin development, and selling silly songs on Fiverr.
Overall regular income right now? A whopping $220 a month. The math doesn’t add up right now, which is a problem. I’ve taken a few side gigs (photography and web development) and sold a few personal belongings to make ends meet in the meantime, but something will have to change. Something tells me we’ll never be quite as secure as we’d like.
The Solution (is to be optimistic)
As it stands, I can’t reduce my bills any further. I’ll need to find extra income. Here’s a few of my game plans:
- Idea #1: Get the Road Trip Sponsored – Immediate Income Likelihood: Low. I’m doing this road trip with my best friend. We’re going to be blogging, making videos and sharing our adventures for anyone who wants to live vicariously through us. That’s also a great opportunity for anyone who wants to support our adventure and get their brand talked about in association with general awesomeness and the message that you can live the way you want to (…even in this economy). Income Potential: Depending on who eventually sponsors us, this could be anything from donated cameras, to a gas budget, to complete travel expenses covered.
- Idea #2: Sell Road Trip Merchandise – Immediate Income Likelihood: Low. Along the idea of monetizing the actual road trip, we’re going to brand ourselves. We’re both writers and creative types. People might be interested in buying what we produce. Obviously, we’ll mostly be putting out free stuff (like the blog and videos), but who’s to say people don’t want a sweatshirt with my face on it? Or you know, at least some funny picture I draw. Income Potential: Realistically, I’d expect that we could eventually bring in $200 – $300 through merchandise per month. It depends on how big or fanatical of an audience we draw, and how creative we get with merchandise ideas.
- Idea #3: Become a YouTube Partner -Immediate Income Likelihood: Low – Ultimately, I want to be a YouTube Partner. I already publish entertaining videos on my personal channel under the alias “Terribly Serious”, but YouTube is also where we’ll be sharing our travel videos. Both channels have a chance to become a YouTube Partner, which essentially allows us to make money just by sharing videos. Pretty cool, huh? From what I understand, you need at least 1,000 subscribers to be taken seriously by YouTube and subsequently get invited as a Partner. We can’t count on that right away. (But you can help by subscribing to us of course ;)) Income Potential: No idea.
- Idea #4: Premium WordPress Solutions -Immediate Income Likelihood: Not Bad – This idea is already in the works, and slowly growing. I’m going to continue focusing on developing premium WordPress themes and plugins. The more solutions I produce, the wider opportunity for income I have! Income Potential: Currently at about $120 per month.
- Idea #5: Web Development Clients -Immediate Income Likelihood: Good – My goal is to develop and maintain products, but until that takes off I can start accepting clients for web development work again. Income Potential: Anywhere starting from $1,000+ per month depending on length of projects and the budget of my clients and how many clients I’m willing to take.
- Idea #6: Launching An Online Business -Immediate Income Likelihood: Low… but after 2-3 months, Very Good – I’m launching a business with a couple of awesome partners sometime in the beginning of 2012. Until it’s out, it’s top-secret, mostly because I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say. Income Potential: Enough to retire. Or you know, enough to not really worry about employment for a while.
Until then… other income supplements I’ll be looking at:
- Offering services to friends and family with “suggested donations” to support the trip (Within 15 minutes of posting a Facebook status offering a list of services I would offer with suggested donations to support the trip, I got $50. Not bad.)
- Mini services with Fiverr – which you’ve already read about doing on Budgets Are Sexy (This brings about $80+ per month for me with my current gig.)
- Passive income through Google AdSense (I’ve made $100 annually before, but never took this project seriously.)
- Passive income through selling random designs on Zazzle products (I make about $20 every 6 months or so, but never took this project seriously.)
- Getting hired as a blogger (I… don’t know how much this pays.)
- Putting on business web seminars in the cities we visit (Would probably start at around $500+ profits per speaking event. I have an event manager who I’ve helped out in the past and is willing to coordinate that sort of thing for me free of charge.)
- Becoming so influential that people are constantly sending me free things, donating to my causes, and hiring me out of nowhere ;) (Priceless.)
Hint: If you’re ever in need of any of my services (from blogging to writing a song, to design & development and more) just hit me up over at firstname.lastname@example.org – mention you heard of me from Budgets Are Sexy to get the appropriate J$ discount! We also appreciate moral support and new friends, so please, reach out and just say hello if you think what we’re doing is awesome!
Keeping You (in the loop!)
I’ve done an awful lot of talking about how we’ll be blogging and posting videos, and I’m planning for part of that to include keeping you in the loop on our financials. If you’re interested in following us, you can do so at GirlsBeTrippin.com! (Don’t forget to subscribe to new posts on the right side of the site.)
At the end of the day this, is a high risk/high reward type of situation. We may end up crashing and burning on the financial side of things, but I think that you can’t do what you really want until you’re willing to put everything on the line to achieve it. That alone makes it worth it to me. Because whatever happens, I know that I did everything in my power to do things the way I think they should be done.
Anne Dorko is a do-everything, take-life-by-the-horns, big-idea kinda gal (you just can’t put her in a box). Her professional side involves helping small business owners get their businesses online. Her… less professional side involves posting awesome videos and sharing her thoughts in 140 characters or less.