If, like us, you aren’t rich and are considering the cruising lifestyle, you’ll need to come up with a way of earning money while you travel.
First things first. If you want to truly enjoy the cruising experience and spend more time sailing, snorkeling, and fishing than working, you’ll need to make some compromises. The truth is: you probably won’t make as much money as you would in a 9-5 job.
But that’s totally fine – if you don’t stay in marinas most of the time, don’t buy useless stuff, don’t run the engine much, and avoid expensive restaurants, you won’t need to make much to keep going.
There are many ways to earn money while living on a sailboat, especially now that the phenomenon of digital nomads is widespread. Armed with a reliable internet connection or some solid practical skills, anyone can sustain a location-independent lifestyle.
We put together a list of ways to make money while cruising for you. Here we go.
This is what we opted for. Freelancing is a great way to keep the cruising kitty topped up. I do content marketing and copywriting freelance work, whilst Ryan does some writing and graphic design. Together we make enough money to keep us going and even save some money.
There are lots of freelance job options out there – from writing for magazines, to designing websites and delivering SEO projects. Have a look around and see if you can sell your skills this way.
Your objective should be to find clients who want to stay on a monthly retainer, so you don’t have to constantly find new projects and you can work on the days you prefer (like on rainy days!). It’s also better if you can find clients who aren’t in a completely different time zone to yours, so you can do your Skype call updates at convenient times.
Image source: Max Pixel
If writing is your passion, start developing a portfolio before you set off. Become a contributor to a blog or write guest articles for a number of websites. This will allow you to build a solid base of work to pitch your services later on.
You’ll probably need to start writing for free, but once you get the experience, you can start charging. Sign up to websites like Upwork and Copify, create a great profile that showcases your talent and start writing for different clients.
You’ll then be able to move on to writing for magazines or newspapers and maybe even write your own eBook or book. You may want to self-publish on Amazon to start with. We hope to be able to write a book and self-publish ourselves, once we have enough material and good stories to include.
Selling Pictures Of Your Travels
Have you got a camera? Why not upskill and start selling pictures of your travels? This can be a fun way to make some cash.
If you have time on your hands, you may want to try and sell your photographs to tourism boards and magazines. In this case, you’ll need to pitch your work in advance (through a portfolio), ask the client what sort of pictures they need and then go out and try to fit the brief. You can also try and do this in reverse – try to sell some stunning pictures you already took to a client – this will take the pressure off when you’re out shooting.
There are also websites, such as Shutterstock and Fotolia, which will pay you a fee every time your image gets downloaded from their library, so you can earn money passively while out diving or during a night passage. Not too shabby, hey?
Image source: Pixabay
This is the easiest job on the planet. All you need to do is test a website in order to provide feedback to its creators. You will be given a number of tasks to carry out on the site to complete the test – from browsing the homepage to making a (pretend) purchase. The beauty of this kind of work is that you aren’t the one being tested – the site is – so if you can’t finish off the tasks you just need to explain why you found them so difficult and your job is done.
All the equipment you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a microphone to speak your mind while carrying out the tasks. There are a number of sites that recruit for user testing, but you can start here. This gig won’t make you a lot of money easily – it is quite time-consuming and it doesn’t pay much, but it’s a chilled out way to make some money on a boring rainy day.
If you’re an expert in a field or you’re proficient in a language, you can teach online. You can either do one-to-one live sessions on Skype with your clients (these are great for conversation classes and coaching sessions) or record a training module on video, structured in different sessions, and sell it online.
This is another fun way to make money. Don’t be fooled though – it takes at least a year for a brand new blog to become profitable. There are a number of ways to monetise a blog – from affiliate links and ads, to sponsored posts and Patreon donations. Make sure that, whatever way you decide to monetise your blog, you’re comfortable with it and it doesn’t compromise your ethics.
In this article, we don’t have the time to go into detail about how to start a blog and make it profitable, so we’ll leave you with the expert – here’s a guide to blogging by Neil Patel.
Vlogging has become increasingly popular amongst full-time cruisers since the huge success of YouTube sailing channels such as Sailing La Vagabonde. Whilst vlogging isn’t a sure or quick way to make money, it’s worth a try – the worst that could happen is you’ve made some videos which your family can watch while you’re away and which you’ll enjoy re-watching yourself when you’re older.
You’ll need some decent filming equipment, a laptop, and editing software. Take a few practice videos before you dig in, so you can get used to speaking to the camera and you understand how your equipment works.
Once you start publishing your sailing series, set up a Patreon account to receive regular donations from your most passionate fans. YouTube is also a great platform for making some passive income; check out their guide on how to get started here.
Working as a virtual assistant
This is a job that any digital nomad could do. A virtual assistant job typically involves data entry, replying to emails, scheduling meetings, and compiling reports. While it doesn’t sound like the most thrilling job, it does pay per hour, which is great. And don’t forget you’ll be doing it from a hammock in a beautiful anchorage (wink, wink).
Image source: staticflickr
You can find plenty of virtual assistant gigs on websites like Upwork. The commitment varies – some companies only need an assistant for six hours a week whilst others will need twenty. Make sure you pick up a project you have enough time to handle.
Opening an online shop
Sounds like a lot of trouble, right? While we don’t have direct experience of setting up an online business, a couple of our cruising friends went down this road and they’re happy with the results, as it allows them to generate some passive income.
The key to opening an online shop is for this to be completely independent from you. That’s how dropshipping has become a thing for cruisers recently. All you do is build a website, find your suppliers and build a clientele. While opening an online shop is a lot of work to set up, you won’t need to dedicate as much time to it once everything’s ticking along. You’ll just need to keep on generating traffic to your site to make sure you’re making sales.
If you don’t mind leaving your boat for a few weeks at a time, you could look into delivering boats for other people. This is a way to make a big lump of money relatively quickly and an opportunity to experience living on a big luxurious boat for a little while.
You will need to have some sort of sailing qualification and some sailing experience, if you want to be a skipper. On the other hand, if you just want to apply to be crew on the boat, you can get away with just some sailing experience, especially if you’re hired privately.
The client will usually take care of travel costs to and from the boat for you, so if you leave your boat in a cheap marina you can make a decent profit.
Doing boat work
Boat parts break all the time and are in constant need of maintenance. If you’re quite handy and don’t mind some practical work, you could visit marinas or harbours and ask if anyone needs a hand with boat work.
This could be repainting a hull, servicing an old engine, or helping replace the rigging. Charter boats and wealthy cruisers always need a helping hand. These kind of jobs don’t usually pay a lot, but they’re cash in hand.
Image source: Wikimedia
If you’re happy to stop off somewhere you like and work full-time or part-time for a few months (or if you run out of money), then you can take on a seasonal job. These can be waitressing, crewing on a charter boat, bartending, working in a shop, or being a receptionist in a hotel.
There are plenty of seasonal jobs you can do which don’t require much experience. Have a look on job boards before going ashore – this way you’ll be able to just move to the towns where there are more jobs.
Renting property back home
This one is for those who have a house, garage or space to rent out back home. You might want to rent your property while you’re away, so it will generate some money. To do this, you will need an estate agent, a friend, or a family member who is local and can manage the property for you. They’ll need to show the property to potential tenants, keep an eye on the tenants’ payments, and carry out any house repairs.
If you can find someone who will do this for you, you can just relax and use the money to fund your travels. Oh and don’t forget to pay tax!
These are just some ideas to get you going. There are many resourceful sailors and digital nomads out there who make money in other ways.
Tell us what you do! Are you a working sailor or digital nomad? How do you fund your travels? We want to hear all about it.
First image source: Static Pexels