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How do I make a living working online?

It was a jump into the deep end when I left the Netherlands in 2015 to become a digital nomad at the age of 54. But I made it, somehow. It has not always been easy, and still, I know my fair share of worries. But I guess I can say that overall I am glad I did change my life.

But not knowing where your next penny is coming from is a scary situation, well, for me it was. I am kind of a control freak. And facing the reality of becoming homeless in the Netherlands due to unemployment, the housing crisis, and being unable to pay my mortgage was not something I looked forward to.

I always have been a good-behaving citizen that took responsibility for actions and things like that. And here I was, on the verge of running away from it all, for that is how it felt.
Leaving behind a shitload of problems to face yet another uncertain period in my life by becoming a digital nomad and trying to earn an online income.

But somehow I made it and at the moment I am doing well.
It was a long journey with steep learning curves.

I have been on the road now for over 7 years. And I think I can say I manage my finances pretty well. I live debt free, I live a minimalistic lifestyle, but I am not stingy nor need I be.

So how did I manage to make an online income?

People keep asking me how I managed to make an online income that allows me to travel. But most of the time people have a wrong perspective about my cost of living. They think it is pretty expensive. But when you travel without a house “back home” that you need to pay for, or obligations “back home”, this lifestyle of mine is pretty affordable. You would be surprised.

I can manage from an income of around 10.000-12.000 Euro/US$ per year.

Half of that income now is passive income. The other half I work for.

When I started off I decided that I had learned from my previous life: not to put all my eggs in one basket. So I spread income and risk of losing it. 

At the moment my income sources are (in order of importance)

  • selling books through my websites
  • consultant for those that want to move abroad or become a digital nomad
  • life meetings with people and groups
  • advertisement income
  • a paid guest post here and there
  • affiliates
  • answering questions for a share of the revenue

My business model is very vulnerable when it comes to customer behaviors, exchange rates, and banking costs. When you have a small income every penny counts, and when the Euro is as weak as it is at the moment (November 2022) I get a lot fewer Mexican Pesos for the same amount of money or more. That hurts.

But I still manage, and I can still ride my motorcycle.

 I am a bit lazy and stubborn maybe.

I also must confess I am a bit stubborn and lazy. As long as I can eat, pay the bills and travel around, I do not feel the need to work more or earn more income. And I rather have someone throw some money in my direction instead of being on the interweb all day doing a cold acquisition. We all hate cold acquisition, don’t we? Either as doers or receivers of such mail, calls, and self-advertisement.

And I dislike working for a boss. I love projects with a start and end date, but working for a boss, like every day the same old same old……so not my thing anymore. Not even online. Being told what to do somehow kills my zest for work. I love jobs that challenge my creativity and honor my freedom.

Did I know I would be successful from the start?

No, I did not, when I left the Netherlands in 2015 I was scared shit. But I had nothing to lose, absolutely nothing. So why not give it a try? I did have a plan B, just in case, but never paid much attention to it. I just focussed on making enough income every month to keep me going and maybe save up a little bit for those bad weather days.

I changed my business model over the years, I ditch the dream of becoming a YouTuber, not my kind of thing, but I learned that over the years. I do not have much likability on social media. And I had to accept that. I could change probably, and dishonor myself by becoming someone I was not just to please the public, but that is not me either. So I just accepted the YouTube failure and adjusted my business model.

I split up my website leavingholland.com into this English version and a Dutch version serving solemnly Dutch-speaking people.

I created opportunities for myself to become highly findable in search results, hooked on to trends and needs from people searching the internet. And slowly it became a success.

Is this it for you? Are you happy?

Everybody always wants to know whether or not I am happy. As if moving to another country is a guarantee for happiness, or simply because people love happy endings.

I don’t know if I am happy, I often ask myself that question. I can somber a lot. My glass usually is half empty. But I am realistic enough to realize I drank the other half and I liked it enough to keep drinking.

So I guess I am happy. As happy as can be? Maybe?

As for finances? Who does not dream of winning the lottery? Of never have to worry about money ever again? I know I do. So I guess I do not have enough yet. But does it rule my life? No. It is good as it is. And as long as it does not go downward, I am satisfied with what I have accomplished.

Curious about my online offers? Or eager to talk to me about this topic or moving abroad? Check out this page