Last week, a reader wanted to know how we earn our living here. We are in a fairly unique situation compared to most expats – at least those in Cuenca. The majority of expats here are retired. They receive a monthly income from pensions or investments and don’t worry too much about their income.
When we moved to Ecuador, it was for a set number of years – we hoped for 2-3 years minimum, as long as the expenses were what we projected. After than, we would run out of money and go back to Canada. Returning wasn’t our goal – it was our worst case scenario. We planned on finding work and staying here indefinitely – which is what we have done.
Here is the question:
Hello Bryan & Dena,
I really enjoy your web site and all of the posts. The new one on health was very enlightening. I have been very interested in the costs of living abroad and have found your site very informative.
I hate to be so personal but how are you generating income to live down there? I know you have the blog and I hope that it with ads is paying you a bunch. Are either of you also working there or via computer back in Canada? Are you writers?
Are you able to get by just writing and living/enjoying life there? How is a typical day for you — not a weekend day but a “work” day?
Feel free to ignore my questions, but to a certain extent I am living vicariously through you. I am a few years off from retirement but like the idea of living elsewhere for at least part of the year.
Thanks for your hard work and interesting site!
So, how do we earn our living? Its a bit of a long answer, but here goes, for anyone interested.
Project #1: GringosAbroad.com
What started out as destination-ecuador.com (boring, I know) was changed into what it is now: GringosAbroad.com Our initial plan was to write and make revenue from advertising earned on our travel blog. The advertising revenue hasn’t really developed to the level we planned, but we are making money from the project.
As a result of our travel / expat site we were hired by About.com. See Project #2. It was proof that we knew how to run an online business.
Also, through GringosAbroad we met Hernan Rodas, the founder of Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges. He had been following GringosAbroad on Twitter for a while and he asked us if we would like to visit the Galapagos Islands in return for some writing. See Project #3 for more information.
So while we still don’t make enough to maintain our lifestyle by means of GringosAbroad, it has opened up many opportunities for us. And we have plans to generate some revenue from it over the next few months. UPDATE (February 2, 2013): By making some small adjustments, our site is now generating solid revenue. Here is how we make money with our travel blog.
Project #2: About.com
After nine months in Ecuador, we finally were hired. We had applied for a number of jobs online and in April of 2010 I was hired by About.com as their online business expert. I’ve now been with them for more than two years.
What type of work does this entail? Since beginning, I’ve been through a few contract changes but now, I’m writing 8 articles per month, plus roughly that many blog posts and a weekly newsletter. I also maintain my site section and update content as need be. Could you write for About.com? Check out their Be a Guide site and see what topics are available.
Project #3: Red Mangrove Galapagos Blog
As mentioned above, we met Hernan Rodas through our blog and we began chatting via Twitter. After our initial Galapagos trip, Hernan asked us to setup and run a blog for his company (it has become the Red Mangrove Galapagos Travel Blog). He gave us freedom to write in our own style and about the topics we wanted to cover. This is very uncommon for a corporate blog. Normally everything is sanitized and run through marketing, but we were given a writing assignment without a muzzle. And we get to cover the Galapagos. Contract blogging doesn’t get any better than this. And 2 months ago we went to the Galapagos for a second time – to take pictures, create videos and take some more excursions. Who knew that research could be so fun?
In addition, Dena has done some writing for International Living and for About.com. I have designed a few websites and make some money from some affiliate marketing projects.
UPDATE (February 2, 2013): We have added a fourth project, BloggerAbroad.com where we share and teach how to make money blogging.
I know what you’re thinking: Why do you work so much?
How Much Time Does This All Take?
Although some weeks we end up working all 5 days, this is unusual. On a normal week (although those haven’t been very common this past year) I work about 3 days per week and Dena works about 1+ days. The rest of the time we have for our family and our interests.