How to Make Money As You Travel - Van Life Part 1

I have a belief in the energy of our Earth whether it be inspiration by God, inspiration from the Universe, or whatever you want to refer to it as. Call it what you want, but in my opinion, the universe is always willing to guide you in different directions for the sole purpose of bringing you success.


A few years ago I wanted to learn a new skill and hobby. I specifically wanted to try my hand at metal smithing and loom beading. Upon receiving my tax returns that year, I decided it would all go to jewelry making tools and supplies. I had never in my life expected that $800 and a simple desire to learn a new hobby would flower into a business fully capable of supporting myself (and my husband) as we lived our dream of travel and life on the road. I watched a ton of youtube videos, blog tutorials, google search after google search and I learned very simple techniques. I wasn't learning how to make jewelry with the intent to start a business. It was a simple inspiration that I chose to act upon and pursue. I had no clue it would someday support our dreams of truly living the way we wanted (and allowing for way more free time in our week).

There are seriously so many ways to go about earning an income while traveling. I have heard that you shouldn't make a business out of a hobby because you will end up hating it. I can believe that to an extent (I have definitely had my moments), but if you expand on that hobby, you can continue to love it and continue to create.


Through this process, I learned 3 important things I want to share with you:


Failure exists. It is a possible outcome for everything on this planet. If we don't try things because we are afraid of something, we have already failed. Failure teaches us to try harder. It exists to challenge us to create success. Failure is necessary in many cases in order to learn and reach success.

I started off making jewelry just for myself and then eventually for friends and family that started to express interest in it. Jace suggested I should start selling some of the pieces I made and wore for myself. For a long time, I did not want to and refused. I was afraid I wouldn't even sell anything, and no one would like it. So I did nothing. One random day I got the courage to give it a go and decided I would try it out. I took some photos on my iPhone and added a few simple pieces on an Etsy shop I opened up. That same week I sold one item. A toe ring. I sold a piece of jewelry to a total stranger. Someone that didn't know me at all liked what I had created and found it valuable enough to pay money for it. After that toe ring, I sold another one. And then another one. The first month I made a grand total of $19. It was the most exciting thing of my life. I could not believe it. Sales started increasing (as did price because I found out I was actually losing money in the beginning), and my excitement and enthusiasm still hasn't worn off.


Ok, don't misinterpret this one. Don't steal people's ideas. But do you guys know how many other jewelry companies are out in the world?? THOUSANDS. I am not the only one making arm bands and toe rings, etc. Ask yourself "How can I stand out?" Think about what you are doing. Who are you as a person? How are you unique? How can you sell yourself? You are your business. YOU make your business unique. There will be many other people similar to what you're selling or doing, but what makes you stand out against the rest?

Carteo (my jewelry store) did well for months. It wasn't amazing, and we were not quite millionaires, but it did alright. When we moved into our van it blew up! Orders were coming from all different directions, and countries I hadn't even heard of and all we did was talk about it. We shared what we were doing. We were unique because we were creating jewelry while living on the road. We had no idea if it would work or not because we were traveling, but that in itself made it unique. I was living on the road with my husband. We were in a van. We were making jewelry and it wasn't your typical "hippie" type of jewelry. People love a unique story. People love to see "regular" things done in a unique way. Find your way.


What do YOU know about? Be ultra specific. We didn't just decide to do jewelry in general. Theres a million types of jewelry pieces and techniques. We started off with JUST silver and gold-filled, hammered texture toe rings. Then that same technique as an arm band, we still don't branch out and do bezel stone settings or prong set diamond engagement rings or pendants with intricate jewels or stones... we do very simple hammered-texture pieces. That's what we know. You may think the more variety you have the better because you'll appeal to a wider audience, right? But its actually the opposite. The more specific you are, the better. You reach a specific target audience who is just looking for your style and will buy it. Like I said before, be unique.

Think about these 3 points for a bit. Brainstorm, write down your ideas. ALL OF THEM. Which one is closest to your heart? Which one can you imagine yourself truly diving into? Share with us your thoughts and questions.

When you've created something successful in your mind, making it a reality is more attainable than you can imagine. I am constantly creating new ideas that I am working towards. I know they can all be successful because there are thousands of people already looking for what I am creating, what YOU are creating. I desire the success of my businesses because through them I can accomplish my goals, my dreams, through them my family and I can live out our wanderlust.

In the next post we will share the logistics of a starting a business, and a few key things you may want to include.