How We Make Money Living On A Bus
Living in a bus comes with a lot of questions, often from total strangers. It's not uncommon for people to peek their heads in while they're walking by, or to ask for a tour as we're loading up groceries and pick our brains about how we live. We're always excited to share with others, whether it's our bus or our lifestyle (so if you see us, say hello!)
Every nomad I know has the same top question, so of course, I'm here to shed some light. Of course, everyone wants to know
how we make money.
There are TONS of ways to make money on the road, and our way of life is in no way the most common or accessible to everyone. That said, the tools we've picked up living as nomads can be applied across various occupations.
Those who have been following our YouTube channel and Instagram have probably picked up on the fact that Kyle is a muralist. What you might not know is that is not what he initially thought he'd be doing when we set out on the road. Kyle has a background in Fine Art, but his most recent "9-5" was as a videographer/photographer. When we decided to convert the bus and travel full time, we figured he'd pick up work as a freelance video editor. We quickly learned
things don't always go as planned.
Sometimes they go much, much better. Just before we were prepared to leave Detroit for the first time, Kyle was commissioned to do big murals for two different local businesses - Startup Nation and Brome. The murals were huge and diverse enough that he was able to build a website/portfolio around them and begin marketing himself around the country. Between Google Adwords, reaching out to mural coalitions and businesses via email, and good old word of mouth, Kyle now has multiple large pieces in Detroit, two massive (and one chicken coup sized) murals in Charlottesville, VA, as well as two large paintings he did at a live event in Philadelphia, PA (and more in the works!)
Because murals and large-scale painting isn't something Kyle can do "remotely," it's the primary factor that dictates where we travel. We continue to return to Detroit because there's buzz around Kyle and his artwork here, but being mobile allows us to pick up work anywhere in the country. Check out Kyles work HERE (and share it with anyone who might need a mural!)
I (Tobi) have a more remote, digital nomad-type grind. Since before we even conceived the notion of the bus, I have been working as a model, blogger, social media manager, and all around content creator. The company I was working for graciously allowed me to continue to work remotely since my job is entirely done on my phone and laptop. Eventually, we'll incorporate affiliate links on this site, and hopefully make a bit of money here, too (in the meantime, if you want to support our adventures and get some fun swag in the mail every month, join our Patreon!).
If you're trying to figure out what to do for income while traveling,
bank on your strengths.
Many of the nomads I've come to know through this lifestyle are bloggers, YouTubers, graphic designers, or some other type of creative. I've also spoken with many people who hop from resort to resort, working ski slopes in the winter and hiking tours in the summer. I know handymen who offer their services in whatever city they want to be in, site designers, authors, and pretty much any other profession that doesn't have to be done in person at the same location every day. The common denominator in any job that allows travel seems to have one thing in common:
When I decided I wanted to start blogging for a paycheck, the first thing I did was send out writing samples to anyone that would read them. When Kyle and I arrived in Charlottesville, he immediately started researching places he could paint - even for free. The idea is to get your name out. Get your work seen. Be the squeaky wheel. Whether it's a new city or the online community, you've got to hustle to show what sets you apart.
If there's one takeaway here, it's that you have to figure out what works for YOU and the lifestyle you want to lead, then make it your own. After all,
every location is an opportunity.
There are always new people to meet and network with, new perspectives to be shared, new cultures to experience, and new possibilities for collaboration. Each new opportunity has the potential to spark something you could never have imagined. Open yourself to experiences, even if you're still in your hometown. Often just thinking out of the box and saying "yes" to something you usually wouldn't, could open a door you never knew was there. I mean, be safe out there, but remember
sometimes you need a little push.
I don't have it all figured out. In fact, it took us leaving Detroit and coming back for me to see the city from a travelers perspective, and I *still* haven't explored it as much as I want to. It'd be an understatement to say that it's taken a push or two to get me out of my introverted comfort zone, and it's still something I work on every. single. day. But at the end of the day, I know that I grow the most in new and challenging environments and that I get stagnant and depressed when I'm sitting still for too long.
There are a thousand and one reasons not to quit a secure job, shed your roots and live on the road, but there are also thousand and one reasons to go for it if it's what you want to do. Kyle and I have a mantra we repeat to ourselves and each other when we fall behind or feel exhausted, or just want to be on vacation; and that is, "no excuses." We're living our dream. We aren't stuck behind desks or answering to anyone but ourselves. We are the only ones that determine our future, our paychecks, and our happiness.