One of the benefits of living in today's world is that the internet has freed us from 'place'.
No longer are we bound to a physical location to earn a living. You still have to show up, but not necessarily 'in person'. You can work from home, from the beach or from anywhere in the world if you so choose. (Or the pool... )
And if you're a traveler, and money is an issue – there are jobs you can do while traveling.
show up in person jobs
‘Location independent’ work is perfect for travelers: you can work before you leave and save money for your trip, or you can take your work with you and continue working while you travel - and of course stay away longer.
Or you can do both: you can start an assignment from home on Tuesday and finish it in Paris on Wednesday.
If you're thinking seriously about earning an online income, there are some significant advantages to working from your computer: you can earn quite a bit (although, as with everything in life, there are no guarantees) and it can be great fun! Granted, it’s not for everyone, but if you're keen to try, the sky's the limit.
The bottom line is this: a regular salary is predictable, while online work is unpredictable, unstable, BUT potentially lucrative. Note the word 'potentially'. Some women make very little - they might make a hundred dollars, become disillusioned and move on. Others make a decent living wage (myself included) and a few, very rare others make the kind of money you'd expect from a trader or a top lawyer. It can be done.
Online work from home or anywhere which isn't the office is a good fit for you if you agree with any one of the following statements:
These are jobs for which you don't have to be in physical proximity to other people - for in-person meetings for example.
This works well for people like graphic and web designers, coaches and consultants. Obviously you’ll need clients you can help online, but it can certainly be done. You can work full-time while you’re home and part-time when you’re on the road.
For those jobs that don’t translate well to online work (chefs, massage therapists, gardeners), this might be your chance for change. Have a look at these online jobs: is there anything here you might be qualified for? Or perhaps you're interested in retraining and starting a new career? (I was 55 when I launched this website...)
Here are some of the more accessible work from home ideas:
This is now all the rage. People hire other people (usually women) to do work online for them. I've used VAs, as they're called, for a variety of tasks, from research to project management to accounting and writing. They can handle correspondence, appointments, social media and pretty much any task you might need online. This is outstanding work for retired women who are looking for ways to make extra money, or for travelers who need to earn extra income.
Transcribing takes excellent typing skills, a lot of patience, an ear for detail and blocks of distraction-free time, but if you can find a quiet place to work while on the road and know your way around a keyboard, you can likely become an efficient transcriptionist. Then you can do your work from anywhere that has a stable wifi connection – a legitimate way to earn money working from home (or the beach). TranscribeAnywhere has a free mini-course to help you decide if transcribing is right for you and which niche might work best.
If you’re someone with a knack for grammar, consider taking a course to learn the technicalities of proofreading so you can turn your obsession into a career. This free course in particular will explain what proofreading is (and if it’s a good fit for you), how you can take your passion and make money from it, and the most important thing: how to find and attract clients who need your expertise.
For me - and this is a personal thing - writing is one of the best jobs in the world. It's also probably the most competitive, the least lucrative, and the hardest to find. Still, the joys of seeing your name in print (or screen) and your first paycheck are hard to beat. I actually framed my first newspaper byline...
If your goal is to make enough to stay on the road, becoming a freelance writer is definitely an option. To compete, you've got to be not only good, but you have to know what editors are looking for. It helps if you have a specialty, and most people do concentrate on a group of topics - travel (see below), tech, health or fashion, just to give you a few examples.
If I were starting my career, I'd probably do two things: buy a copy of the Writers' Market and join the Freelance Writers' Den. The Den would answer all my questions and provide me with guidance on jumpstarting and managing my career, while the Writers' Market would tell me where to pitch and who might be likely to buy my stories. This may not be one of the top money making opportunities but it is a legitimate career with long-term prospects if you stick it through.
This is one example of focusing on a specific industry as a freelance writer, and it's something I do.
If this is where your passion lies, I would consider taking a course. Travel writing has its own special secrets and taking a reputable course is by far the easiest way to break in, in my opinion (or, if you happen to live in a city, you could attend some courses in person - fantastic!)
I've taken most of the better-known courses on the market and although I've been writing for several decades, I always learn something new and get my investment back. One that stands out is the course taught by David Farley, whose travel stories have been published in the kinds of major publications we all dream of writing for. I wrote about this course here.
This is perfect if you have an interest in something - a hobby, a passion, a skill: you can turn it into a money-making machine by launching a blog designed specifically to make money online.
Through trial and error, I believe the best way to do this is by learning from people who have ‘made it’ as bloggers and whose income is in the seven figures. My own mentor is Jon Morrow and although he shares his expertise with advanced bloggers, he recently launched a revolutionary course for beginners who want to start a blog from scratch and turn it into a proper income. The course takes you through the basics and beyond, applying money-making strategies from the very beginning.
(If travel is your passion and you're willing to build it yourself and learn from your mistakes, this in-depth resource on starting a travel blog will show you the way.)
It's one thing to launch a blog for fun or to keep family and friends informed of your life but if you actually want to make a living online, there are few ways of doing so.
For the first nine years of this website - Women on the Road - I barely made any money at all. I wasn't really trying. I sold a few things on Amazon when it made sense, shared information about some courses I'd taken and loved, but that's about it. Then I 'retired' from my full-time job and found out the hard way that the mortgage doesn't stop just because the salary does, and I needed to continue working. My choices were: find a job, or find a way to make money from my passion, travel blogging. You can guess which I chose.
One of the things that jumpstarted it all was this fabulous book by Sharon Gourlay, How To Make Money from Your Blog. I've probably read most of what there is online that doesn't cost an arm and a leg - but it took Sharon to show me how much money I was actually leaving on the table by not doing a few simple things. So if you have a blog and you want to use it to earn, this is the first place you should start, bar none. I can't begin to tell you how much she has helped me!
I now make money from affiliate programs which is, in simple terms, selling things and getting a commission. If I have an Amazon link on my site and you click it, you pay the Amazon price and I get a few pennies. Those pennies pile up and can provide a handsome income - and there's a lot out there beyond Amazon. Anyone can do this - but you already have to be online and you need an audience. It's hard work and long hours and a decent income is slow to come by - but when the money rains, it pours. Find out more by clicking through to my page on affiliate marketing.
The beauty of the world is that there is always someone wanting to learn something. If you have a specific skill you can teach, you could earn a decent income by developing a course around that skill. Both Skillshare and Udemy will help you develop your course and provide a platform to attract students. They take a (large) cut but the more students take your course, the more you make. I’ve been thinking of developing course myself.
Another option is to tutor students online. You can try and branch out on your own, using Facebook to connect with families who have children who need help in a subject, or you can join one of the many tutoring sites like Skooli. They connect you with students who need tutoring (and of course, take a cut of your pay as payment).
This is a little more specific, as it deals with teaching English only. Of course you can teach English in person anywhere, but you can also do it online. VIPKid pays you US$14-$22 an hour teaching Chinese students, grades 4-12. VIPKid has the curriculum, you just teach! (Oh, and their Beijing staff takes care of communication with parents so win-win).
You will have to be available for set times each day (which can be tricky during travels), but you set your own availability, so you can work around particularly full days. You can work as many hours as you want, piling the hours when you’re at home and opting for a lighter load when you travel.
These days, most coaches do their work online and this is a highly popular and lucrative way to make extra money from home. If you've ever dreamed of setting up a coaching practice, this might be the right time for you. As long as you have a Skype connection somewhere along the way, there's no reason you can't practice your coaching profession online. I have a friend who runs her hypnotherapy practice via the web! This professional training and certification program might be just the thing if you've always dreamed of becoming a coach and weren't quite sure where to start.
Are you creative? Do you craft? Consider selling your handmade goods online. Soaps, wooden signs, hand sewn clothing, knitted hats and gloves: all of those are incredibly popular and make wonderful gifts and you might as well put your hobby to work.
While there are many ways to do this, Etsy is one of the most popular and accessible. You can set up a shop and sell your wares through the Etsy database. Here's an overview and guide to launching your Etsy shop and how to do it with success. To drill down, here are Etsy's own set-up instructions in detail. Remember, Etsy is also one of the first places people to go to find something handmade or customizable, so you’ll be where your audience is.
Unlike other online jobs, this requires shipping out a physical product (unless you’re selling printables or some other downloadable graphic), so you need to consider how to ship when you’re 3,000 miles from home.
This really isn’t a way to make money online, but a way to save money while doing the online shopping you already do, if you live in the US (sorry, everyone else! It’s US-based only).
Sign up here for an account and before you buy anything online, go to Ebates.com, type in the name of the shop (Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy) and then resume shopping. Ebates will transfer you to the site you want, track what you purchase and refund a percentage of your purchase price back to you in a “Big Fat Check.” You DO have to wait a few months for the payback, but it can be as much as 20% cash back!
The even easier way to make money? Share your special Ebates code with friends and family, and depending on the deal that month, Ebates will send you between $5 and $25 when they sign up and make their first purchase. (I was unable to join because I live in the EU…)
Here's how I did it. I started Women on the Road in 2006 with a company called Solo Build It! (SBI) in the days before Wordpress. What SBI did for me was teach me how to run a business online. These days there are multiple sources for this type of information but back then, You can get all this information elsewhere but by the time you've paid for individual courses and spent the time collating everything, you’ll probably pay as much and spend more time. But you have to be serious about wanting to run a business.
What really works for me now is taking training courses: I probably spend more on courses and workshops than on anything else. It’s called investing in myself, and it’s probably the most important thing I’ve done for Women on the Road.
I earn money through writing, advertising and affiliate sales but there are many more work from home jobs out there.
I just threw a ton of information at you, so it's no wonder if your head is whirling. Let's do something fun: here's a quiz to help you figure out which online job best fits with your interests, skills and personality. Take it by clicking the image below!
Working overseas may not have been part of your plan - but knowing how to find a job or how to make money could be a lifesaver if you're short of cash on the road or thinking of extending your travels.
I've done lots of strange - and less strange - things to earn money to travel: English teacher in Brazil... Union interpreter in Algeria... Freelance writer (everywhere)... Office manager in Italy... UNICEF consultant in Laos... Conference hostess in Geneva... Toilet seat sales in Montreal (yes, really)... This website, Women on the Road...
This page is about physical show-up-in-person jobs, but there are also plenty of online jobs for women out there. It's also about jobs as opposed to a career. (Click here if you want to browse one of the main online job services to get an idea of what's out there for someone with your skills.)
It can be luck or perseverance or a mixture of both, but there are a few ways you can put luck on your side. Here are a few tips and resources for finding a job abroad, and below you'll find specifics under each job. But generally...
Teaching English is a common way to make money for travelers of all ages. Being a native English-language speaker is helpful, and a proper qualification is even better.
Until relatively recently, demand was so high that many organizations would snap you up just for being English mother tongue. No longer. Now you need that piece of paper, which schools like MyTEFL can provide (you'll get 35% off the course if you use my promo code, SCRIBE35). Or click here to find out how to choose the best TEFL course.
Good luck plays a part too...
Demand is highest in Asia but there are plenty of teaching opportunities in other parts of the world.
Interested? Here are some great countries to teach English if you're over 50!
Imagine sailing into a different port each day, sightseeing, tax-free shopping, banking your entire salary, meeting exciting people from all over the world, having several months off a year, using passenger facilities on board for free...
Sound too good to be true? Not at all. You absolutely can see the world and get paid for it - on a ship.
According to Amanda Hathorn-Geary, who runs a business as a cruise employment specialist, "If you love travel, saving a ton of money and meeting and working with amazing people, working on a cruise ship will be one of the best career moves you will ever make."
Amanda knows what she's talking about. She started at the bottom as Seasonal Youth Counsellor with Princess & Cunard and over the next decade worked her way up to Human Resources Manager. She has trained thousands of crew members and now provides consulting and recruitment services to potential cruise employees through her books, her course or a Skype coaching call if you have a few questions.
According to Amanda, there's a specific profile for cruise ship staff, and before you apply you should make sure you fit it. A cousin of mine worked as a croupier on a ship for years and only gave up her shipboard lifestyle when she started a family, so being solo can be helpful (although cruise lines do hire couples). Just make sure you understand what cruise ship employment entails before you jump on board.
And by the way, although cruise workers tend to be on the youngish side, there are many exceptions to the rule!
If you have any experience that can be put to use in a developing country, you might pick up some short-term work with international organizations like the United Nations or its agencies, or with charities like Oxfam and Save the Children.
Here are some areas in which you might find work - if you're qualified:Communications and report-writingFundraisingMonitoring and evaluationWeb work and social mediaHealth and medical specialtiesSanitation...
You get the picture. If you have the skill, flog it.
It can be relatively easy for these agencies to hire people for very short-term assignments (as opposed to nearly impossible if you're looking for a real job).
The most complete job listings for UN agencies are usually found at UNjobs.org, and a good alternative is UN Jobs List. You could also look for non-profit jobs overseas or check out the boards at DevNetJobs. Let's face it: development or humanitarian not-for-profit jobs require special skills: unskilled work goes to local people (and rightly so).
And here's a great guide to getting a UN job - with links to most UN agencies, making your job a lot easier!
Plan in advance. Look up the UN and NGO offices where you're going. Write ahead. Spruce up your CV. Or just call once there.
If you're a professional, using your skills will probably be the first thing you think about.
I've been a professional writer or journalist all my life so working with words is the first thing I look for (even if I do sometimes end up doing strange things, like selling toilet seats!)
If you're a health professional or an engineer you're lucky: you have naturally portable professions, like mine. If you're a schoolteacher, you may be able to find replacement work or a real job (this site has a lot of listings).
There are plenty of nursing jobs (have a look at my page on international travel nursing for a few ideas), medical jobs, accounting jobs, and other professional jobs to be found in other countries.
And here's where you find them:
Let's face it, some jobs are usually more suitable - or available - to travelers in their 20s and 30 (I say usually because I've found all sorts of unlikely jobs but that's more the exception than the rule).
So if you can't type and the thought of teaching sends shivers down your spine, you could always try...
One of my all-time go-to travel sites, Transitions Abroad, has a great page with advice about finding tourism and hospitality jobs. And if you're considering a gap year, the British site Payaway (not just for Brits!) has fabulous resources.