Learn how to make a location independent income this year to start living life on your own terms.
Gone are the days of being chained to one city.
Nowadays, all you need are a laptop and an internet connection, and you can earn money from anywhere on earth — completely location independent.
In theory, it’s simple. Choose an online job, earn money, go travel.
But in reality, the path to location freedom is lined with obstacles.
The first stumbling block is choosing a job and getting off the ground.
To help you out, here are eight of your best options.
How to make a location-independent income
There are several steps to becoming location independent. But first things first — you need a way to make moolah.
As with most good things in life, these income streams don’t magically appear overnight.
They require time to build up. But if you’re willing to hustle, you’ll soon be able to support yourself from wherever your heart desires.
1. Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant, or VA, is exactly what it sounds like — an assistant that helps clients with virtual tasks.
Virtual assistants come in all shapes and sizes, meaning there are opportunities for everyone.
Entry-level VAs typically take care of admin work, like organizing email inboxes, managing calendars, and acting as your client’s sidekick. You likely already know how to do many of these types of skills. And if not, you can learn them in a matter of hours.
That said, you probably don’t want to stay at entry-level wages forever. So, to move up the totem pole, you can learn specialized skills like Pinterest management, SEO, content repurposing, podcast management, video editing, and more.
In addition to the services you offer clients, you’ll also need to know how to run your own business. All of these skills can be learned for free online, but if you want extra hand-holding, you may want to consider one of these paid or free virtual assistant courses.
2. Amazon FBA seller
Amazon FBA, also known as the Fulfillment by Amazon strategy, is a travel-friendly e-commerce business model.
In a nutshell, you choose a product to sell, find a manufacturer who makes it, make modifications if needed, slap your logo on it, then ship your inventory to Amazon warehouses.
From there, you pay Amazon to do all the heavy lifting for you. They take care of all orders, shipping, and returns — so you never even have to touch your inventory. You can manage the entire process from the comfort of your laptop.
That said, this model has been around for a while, and you may be thinking, “Is Amazon FBA worth it in 2022?”
Well, consider this.
There may be more sellers than back in the day, but there are also millions of new Amazon shoppers.
It may seem like Amazon has been around forever, but the truth is, they’re still growing. And all you need is a teensy slice of the pie to support your travels.
3. Blogger or content creator
When you think about it, it’s pretty insane how you can bootstrap a business into a beefy full-time income by simply publishing blog posts, Youtube videos, podcasts, or other types of content online.
Compared to other types of businesses, content creators have few startup costs, low overhead, and essentially no income cap.
You can use your content to create multiple income streams, including advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, online courses, physical products, consulting, and more.
Many of these income streams are passive, so once you build them, you can support yourself from anywhere in the world with little effort.
That said, blogging is not all daisies and butterflies. And it’s important to understand the disadvantages of blogging before diving in headfirst.
4. Online English teacher
If you’re a native English speaker, you have a skill that millions of people are willing to pay to learn.
Heck, even if you’re not a native speaker, there are certain platforms you can use to earn money tutoring English.
That said, the highest-paying jobs typically require native skills and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification.
TEFL certifications vary in quality — from cheapo Groupon courses to comprehensive in-person lessons, complete with student teaching requirements.
If you plan to make TEFL you’re go-to income source, it’s worth it to splurge on a high-quality course.
Not only will your students benefit, but the teaching experience is more enjoyable when you know what you’re doing. Remember, just because you speak English doesn’t automatically mean you know how to teach it.
Armed with your certification, you can either teach in-person in different countries or if you have a laptop for teaching online, you can give virtual lessons while you travel.
As a freelancer, you act as an independent contractor for your clients.
Freelancing a digital skill is a fast way to start earning a location-independent income. Some common freelancing services include:
- Content writing
- Graphic design
- Web design
The best freelance service to offer is the one you already know how to do. And you don’t have to limit yourself to the most common jobs, either.
Take a poke around Fiverr, and you’ll quickly see that people make money freelancing some wacky things.
Some freelancers focus on one-off projects, while others stick with clients who need ongoing help. Unless you love constantly marketing yourself, I suggest the latter.
6. Affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing allows you to get paid to recommend products and services you love. It’s similar to referral marketing but completely digitized.
For example, [blog owner name] is an affiliate for [favorite affiliate program] and sprinkles [his/her] affiliate links throughout [blog name]. So if you find [his/her] content helpful and would like to support them at no extra cost to you, you can purchase those services by using their links.
You can use the same idea to support your travels. Whether that be promoting a certain travel insurance, booking websites, travel gear, or anything else you think other people will find helpful.
The key to successful affiliate marketing is trust. Only promote genuinely awesome products. If you trick people into buying crap, your business won’t last long.
7. Consultant or coach
When most people think of consulting, they think of professional business or marketing consultants. But the truth is, you can offer paid consultations for anything that people need help with.
If you have knowledge in your head that can help people solve a problem, you can make a living.
Case in point — when we were “van life-ing” around the US, we met another traveling woman who worked as a holistic health consultant.
She took a few courses and earned some holistic health certifications before setting off on her van life adventure. Now she offers video and phone consultations a few days per week to her clients.
Another digital nomad I met makes a living as a virtual voice coach. People pay her to teach them how to sing via video chats. Isn’t that crazy?
As a consultant or coach, you’re only limited by your own creativity.
8. Digital product creator
Consultants focus on 1-on-1 meetings, but with today’s technology, you can easily sell your knowledge at scale.
You could publish eBooks, printables, online courses, paid email newsletters, or whatever fits your fancy.
Unlike consulting — where your income is directly tied to the number of hours you put in — digital products can be a passive income stream.
You create it once, then sell it in your sleep.
Of course, the type of product you choose determines how passive this strategy really is. An eBook may only need updates once every couple of years. But an online course with weekly live calls requires much more maintenance.
Digital products don’t need to be fancy, either.
I know several course creators who sell live online workshops that teach a skill. They record these paid workshops, then sell the recordings as part of an evergreen course.
The fastest way to location independence
You don’t have to start a fancy online business or become an entrepreneur to make a location-independent income.
These types of ideas can ultimately give you more freedom, but they usually take longer to get off the ground.
If you want to go location independent ASAP, the quickest path is remote work. Depending on your current position, you might not even have to change jobs at all — just convince your boss to let you go remote.
This is sometimes easier said than done. But if your boss won’t budge, you can always find another company with more flexible remote work policies.
Fully remote companies pop up each and every day, and they need help from people like you.
Choosing the location-independent job for you
When faced with so many job options, it’s easy to freeze when picking your poison.
If you’re having trouble deciding, just remember that nothing is permanent. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a path to jumpstart your adventure, and then changing directions in the future.
In fact, it’s actually a common strategy.
Many nomads kick off with a remote job. This is arguably the fastest way to start earning on the road, but it’s also the least flexible.
You usually have to be working during certain hours, which can be a bummer when all your traveling friends are going to the beach.
As your appetite for freedom grows, you might start picking up freelance clients to replace your remote job. It can take a while to build up a stable client base. But once you do, you’ll have more control over your schedule.
As long as you meet your deadlines, you can go to the beach with your friends whenever you want.
But eventually, you may want even more freedom. Freelancing served you well for a while, but you’re sick of answering to clients. You want to be able to go off the grid for weeks at a time whenever your heart desires. You want to be your own boss.
So you start building a business on the side until, finally, it replaces your freelance income. Congratulations! You’ve now reached Location Freedom Level 10.
The point is, everyone’s path is different, and it’s perfectly ok if how you earn today is different from how you earn next year.
Maybe you stick with a remote job forever. Maybe you fall in love with freelancing. Or maybe you jump into entrepreneurship from the get-go.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where you start, it just matters that you start.