Hello online fanatics! Today I invited a digital nomad Sharon Gourlay to come share her experience about her lifestyle. This is perfect for people that are interested in becoming a digital nomad. She primarily shares her blogging tips, successes and failures on her blog DigitalNomadWannabe.
- Sharon runs a few sites that she is interested in and monetizes them primarily with Amazon
- She is a prime example of a digital nomad, traveling around the world and visiting many different countries(Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil etc.)
- You will get see the advantages and disadvantages of this lifestyle
- She went from knowing nothing to earning a nice income for herself and her family, covering their traveling expenses
- Commitment is key if you want to pursue your dreams
Interview with Sharon Gourlay
Q1) Hi Sharon, thanks for taking the time to do an interview. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience and share a bit about yourself?
My name is Sharon Gourlay and I am an Australian mum of two preschoolers who decided I wanted a better lifestyle for my family – one that didn’t revolve around one or both of us away from the kids for the majority of time. I also wanted to do more of my favourite thing in life – travel.
When I first hear about “digital nomads” this seemed like the perfect solution. Initially, I thought there was no way we could do this too and would find excuses why it was possible for others and not for me. I then woke up one day, decided this was lazy thinking and it was worth the risk to give it a go. I am so glad I did!
A bit over a year later, the four of us set off to travel the world while we continued to grow our income. We are now six months in and I love this lifestyle! The pressure to earn can be stressful at times, but I have done a good job of getting to the point where I now earn enough passive income to cover all our expenses. We are currently travelling around Europe on this money.
I have always focused on the long term and building sustainable passive income streams. It means that it has taken a while of full time work to get to the point where we are now, but every month keeps growing nicely and it is very exciting.
My income comes from my travel blog, wheressharon.com, and two Amazon affiliate niche sites. I also blog about how I make money on digitalnomadwannabe.com along with lots of blogging tips, but I make very little money from that site itself.
Q2) What does it take to be a digital nomad?
You could do it immediately if you are happy to do freelance work. As stated above, I prefer to look at the long term, so it took just over a year before we were earning enough money to live the way we want on my income (about US$2500).
It can be hard to work out the best way for you individually to earn money online and this tends to take a fair bit of time. Once I found what suited me best (using SEO to make affiliate commissions), it took about 6 months to be self supporting.
Q3) I love that you share monthly income reports. The best part is that it started with almost nothing and now it is at the point where you are earning $4,000+/month. What were some lessons you learned when publishing these income reports?
I love publishing income reports. They are quite addictive! The best part about it is that I do put the time into collating all my income and costs together and analyzing how the month went and what I can do to improve. The fact that these help others is a big bonus!
Q4) What are your monetization methods for earning income and how does it work?
Most my money comes from Amazon. I basically find good buying keywords, like best suitcase, that have low competition and that I think I can rank highly for. I then write big guides about the product in question, include a ton of keywords and wait until they rank well in google.
I also make some money from sponsored posts on my travel blog – basically writing a review or something about a travel related product. I am mostly stopping that now though as it is time intensive and I would rather work on growing my passive income.
I also make some money from AdSense.
Q5) As a digital nomad, you travel all around the world. Can you share with us some perks the digital nomad lifestyle brings?
The absolute freedom to be where we want, doing what we want. The best part is that it enables us to have a much better lifestyle. Travelling is so much cheaper than living in our home city of Melbourne. In Penang, where we spend a lot of time, we live in a big house, have a hire car, a cleaner and eat out all the time for a lot cheaper than the basics at home.
I also find that while travelling, I am able to meet a lot of like minded people. It is quite rare at home that I come across anyone with similar goals and mindset.
Q6) Although you have made excellent progress, what were some struggles you faced while working towards the digital nomad lifestyle?
The hardest part is having the self belief. It can all look great now, but I put in so much work and so many hours to get to this point. It is hard to keep working so hard when the rewards are so few at the beginning.
It is also hard to keep it up now at times when things go wrong. Knowing I have three people dependent on this income when it’s not fully reliable can be stressful.
Q7) What are some useful tools that you use to build your business?
Q8) I know it is not easy being a mom of 2 and run an online business while traveling the same time. How do you manage your time efficiently?
I basically have to work every moment I get. It is something I struggle with when we are travelling (we spend about half the time more settled in Penang) as there are not enough hours in the day and I have to completely sacrifice any me time. It is worth it, but I do miss just enjoying travel.
It is also a constant balancing act as we constantly re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t especially when it comes to sponsored travel. With a successful travel blog, I am able to get a lot of travel for “free”, but this involves a lot of work in exchange for the accommodation/sightseeing/etc, so I have to constantly weigh up if it is worth it.
Q9) Do you outsource anything in your business? And if so, what do you outsource?
I outsource some writing. I have tried all the cheap writing services but I find out that I end up wasting more time than I gain. I stick to my brother now who is fantastic and writes big, awesome articles for me to keywords very well. It costs a bit more, but is a lifesaver.
Q10) I know traveling is fun, but what were some problems you faced while traveling to different countries as a digital nomad?
The most annoying part is probably visa restrictions. We don’t want to have to apply for working visas which can be difficult/impossible to get, so we have to be very mindful of how long we can spend in each place. Malaysia is our home base in part because we get 90 days on arrival. However, on our first entry, we were only given 30 days so this was a pain as we had to leave again sooner than we hoped.
Time zones can be annoying but since I have an international audience, it is not that much of an inconvenience.
Q11) What are some advice you would give to folks that want the digital nomad lifestyle?
Commit to doing it, work hard and smart and there is no reason that you cannot get there. The main reason I started digitalnomadwannabe.com was to show that I was just a normal person who had no idea what they were doing but was still able to make it work. It is interesting looking back to my first blog post. I really had no idea. I love seeing how far I have come and I hope it can inspire others too.
Q12) Last but not least, is there anyone that influenced or inspired you to pursue your dreams?
The first people who inspired me were Tracey and Colin Burns at Our Travel Lifestyle. I was looking up blogs about travelling with young kids as I wanted to know if it was possible. I found their blog and that’s when I first heard about digital nomads. It totally opened my mind to what was possible.
I want to thank Sharon for taking her time to take on this interview. For those who would love to learn more about the digital nomad life, check out her blog here.