How We Make a Full Time Income Online

When we left Ireland back in July 2013 to pursue our work/travel dream – I knew that the road would be an uncertain and rocky affair. In order to make a full time income online it takes a lot of work. Yeah, it can get easier as time goes on, but initially it’s tough going. The uncertainty that goes with being your own digital boss is both extremely rewarding and frustrating.

how we make a full time income online


What Do We Do Online?

We often get asked what it is we do online – or more to the point; how do we make money.

It’s not complicated at all, but for those of you who’ve little experience of how the Internet game works, I’ll try and explain it as best I can.

Ok, so there’s a saying that the online digital community refers to quite a lot – “Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket”.

This is a very, very important concept when you seek a full time pay cheque online. Rather than having just one business (I’m talking freelance businesses here by the way), it’s best to have multiple streams of income.

Obviously when you’re starting out, it doesn’t make sense to spread yourself thin and try loads of different ideas. It’s best to test one idea at a time and then if it’s profitable – you build it up and scale it if possible.

So that’s exactly what we did.

Back to The Start

Let’s rewind back to the end of 2012 for a min, back to when I created my first online income stream.

I always knew that there was plenty of ways to make a living working online, the trouble was – I’d little knowledge of Internet marketing or anything related to Internet terminology.

But I did have a massive passion for learning whatever was necessary to get a foot in the door and try to make something work.

That’s when I started to wonder if there was ‘real’ money to be made from travel blogging or any other form of Internet writing. Building a business from just writing seemed too good to be true back then and something that I thought could never provide a sustainable income.

I was very wrong.

To make a very long story short, I found a website called Location180, talked to loads of online entrepreneurs and decided to start contacting companies offering to write blogs posts for them. The reason behind this was that I was already writing loads of articles for this blog and not getting paid a penny, so I figured why not write for someone else and see if I can get paid for it.

how we make a full time income online

Working at the beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand

So over the following weeks I started getting a few clients here and there and I was writing posts about washing machines, mouse traps, cruise ship holidays, machine guns…you name it.

The topics were diverse and very interesting for the most part. At that stage I was getting $5 per 500 words, which wasn’t great, but when you’re trying to build something from the ground up – you’ve got to roll up the sleeves and get the elbow grease out.

It was during this time (early 2013) that Florence and myself decided that we were going to move to Thailand – specifically Chiang Mai, in order to take a CELTA course and teach English. We both wanted to live abroad and obviously travel as much as possible. So teaching English was the perfect solution for us.

Florence wasn’t entirely keen on the idea of teaching English initially but she came around gradually. We had our spot in the CELTA course accepted and we were set for starting that July and we’d our flights booked to Bangkok.

However by mid-April – the writing biz had really taken off and I’d a decent chunk of recurring clients under my wing all looking for blog posts and other types of content. They were satisfied with the service I was providing them and I was extremely happy being able to make a few grand a month from sitting in front of my laptop.

I remember one day in particular that month – I’d made $300 by 3pm and decided to text Florence to let her know the good news. She was working in a crèche at the time. It was that moment when I told her the news that she realised that the whole online thing was a definitely possibility.

The following day we put our teaching English plans to the back of our minds and focused on building up the writing business.

Present Day

Fast forward to today and we’re still heavily involved in the content production business. In fact – we’ve two separate writing businesses (not keeping all the eggs in the one basket remember?) both of which provide companies and businesses with content. In addition to this we also make money from a few niche sites and our travel blog.

Our income fluctuates from month to month, but being wise with the money we make has meant that our savings are still intact and we are travelling around the world using the money that we make online.

how we make a full time income online

Frustrating day at the office in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

We’ve also published our first EBook last month – which was never meant to be a money spinner, but the idea is to eventually publish a few more books down the line which should add to the income stream.

Our focus over the next few months is to grow our savings. Moving forward, we’re working on three new projects that will launch in early 2015 that will hopefully diversity things even more for us.

As with all freelance businesses – your monthly income is unpredictable. Some months you can make a killing while others you’re just making enough to get by. Initially this was a major psychological hurdle for us to come to terms with.

What we’ve learned though is that it’s normal. The nature of the online freelance beast means that nothing is certain. You’ve got to hustle and keep the finger on the pulse to make sure that your empire withstands the bad months.

Most people need the security of a solid pay cheque at the end of each week or month – and that’s perfectly fine. It’s the way the world functions.

However, the online game is different. Your income will fluctuate like the line on a heart monitor from month to month and this is the part of the location independent lifestyle that puts many people off. The amount of work you put in doesn’t always equate to the money you get out.

how we make a full time income online

One of our mobile offices for a few days was a mountain villa in Koh Samui, Thailand

Making the decision to go fully location independent was pretty easy for us. The freedom it gives with time far outweighs the money side of things and that’s what we love about it.

Yes, we’re concerned with making as much money as we can in the process. I’ve been asked, what will happen if the whole online thing goes bust? If it does then we’ll try and make a go of it again online – failing that we will try something else.

Better to have tried and failed that to have failed to try.

Anything is Possible Online

Anyways, the point I’m trying to make in the post is that it’s possible to make a living online. Once you really see how vast the internet is in regards to various possibilities of making money then things become real.

We have good friends who are in the process of making a life for themselves from the comfort of their laptops. Some of them do exactly what we are doing – providing content for businesses. Others sell ebooks online on the likes of Shopify, Ebay and Amazon, selling advertising on their websites and a few are publishing Ebooks full time. Writing ebooks and selling them online is a very viable way of making a sustainable income.

The possibilities are there to be explored.

The online lifestyle is not for everyone – that’s for sure. However, if you think it’s something you’d be interested in trying out, then let nothing stop you.

Just before we left home in 2013, Florence didn’t even own a laptop – let alone know how to do most of the stuff she does online nowadays. Today you’ll find her designing mobile apps, writing ebooks, creating digital newsletters and managing social media accounts for various companies on her MacBook.

Don’t let inhibitions prevent you from getting started online. Figure out what type of business you’d like to start up and then go from there.

how we make a full time income online


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About the Author

Carlo and Florence are an Irish couple who left home in 2013 to pursue their dreams of travelling the world while building an online business so that they could work from anywhere. They've both visited over 50 countries together so far. Stay in touch with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat.

33 Responses to “How We Make a Full Time Income Online”

  1. Sheralyn says:

    So many people think it’s impossible to earn a dime online, but your story goes to show that anything is possible! Well done!!!

    • Carlo says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Yeah, I think it’s the whole “working for yourself” idea that people are a little concerned with as well.

      But hard work pays off in the long run and if you want to make something work online, then nothing should stop people from achieving it.

  2. Bart Warrot says:

    I’m liking the article 🙂 The start may be rough but as long as you are dedicated enough to make it work, it is very doable 🙂

    I like your idea of diversifying risks by setting up multiple freelance businesses.. I’ve been trying to fit all my services into 1 business, might be worth looking into setting up some side-gigs 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      Hey hey – look who it is! 🙂

      How are you keeping mate? Hope all is going well for you and your girlfriend?

      Yeah, definitely makes sense to keep a few eggs in another basket just in case.

      It’s all about the hustle as you’re well aware, so as long as you put in the effort the dividends should pay off in the long-run.

      How’s the apps going?

      • Bart Warrot says:

        Been doing great 🙂 100% location independent work, though I usually still work from home seen that my girlfriend is in school 🙂 Will be working from London a couple of times in next month, so just enjoying it 🙂 Most of my work still comes from SEO and social media, with a small bit of content writing and web development 🙂

        With the apps: I’m starting with something new: I’ve found a solution to build 1 piece of code and ‘deploy’ it to different targets (android store, apple, …). Xamarin is what it’s called. It’s programming (in C#) though, it will be a lot more difficult than the Pillar Apps so I wouldn’t recommend it without programming experience 🙂

        But this should allow me to build more and better quality apps. In long term, I’m thinking game apps 🙂

        The bet is still on to get to 10$ daily, right? 🙂

        • Carlo says:

          That’s good to hear mate. Sounds like you’ve definitely stepped things up a notch.

          Definitely won’t be dabbling in code anytime soon 😉

          And, yes – the best is still on!!

  3. Ellen says:

    Hi Carlo, good to read about your journey. Isn’t it strange what a difference a few years makes eh…

    I think any freelancer (as I make money online and off) will have income fluctuation, and it definitely takes some getting used to having been in a job with a regular pay packet for so many years. It still freaks me out some months…

    I just read a great book by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (a total freelancer/ indie publishing & writing hero of mine) called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, which is really excellent (and you know I read a lot of books and I don’t say it lightly) – I’ve been working in big corporates for 15 years and it still taught me a fair bit about some of the nuts and bolts of running your own business. Totally worth it.

    Anyway, catch up with you soon! Ellen 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Ellen,

      I’m definitely going to check out that book! Anything that can help running the online thing is worth a shot imo.

      You’re right about the fear of being out of a regular paycheck – it can be very unnerving.

      A few people ask the question – “what if it all suddenly comes to an end”? I usually reply what if your boss taps you on the shoulder one day and says it’s all over for you!

      You can’t control that aspect, but you can control your online destiny to a certain extent as you know.

      It all boils down to the mindset and how much you want to succeed. That’s the way I think about it anyways 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by Ellen.

  4. Eugene says:

    Hi Carlo. Congrats on taking the plunge and getting it done. I quit my job in April to work on some online marketing, drop shipping and electronic projects but I’m still relying on my savings for now rather than income. The article writing service sounds like it’s a good one to get started on if you’re trying to be location independant. How did you get your first gigs? Did you just mail some people or do you go onto Elance or Fiverr? Also, I guess writing articles can be a tough business to scale. Do you outsource any of your writing?

    • Carlo says:

      Hi Eugene,

      Thanks for the words man.

      Drop shipping is something I’d love to get my teeth into some day – the biz model behind it is solid if you can find a profitable niche.

      The freelance writing is a tough cookie to scale, but it is possible. However, I do think that it has a ceiling (With the amount of revenue you can consistently make each month). $4000 a month is easily achievable, but after that it does get a little more difficult.

      We do have a solid team of writers around the world that are both really good writers AND really good individuals. Certainly a lot better at writing than I currently am.

      My skill set lies in managing the business along with Florence (who is also a very good writer herself).

      I find clients using a combination of targeted advertising campaigns and cold emailing/referrals. I also got a few clients through freelance sites initially (elance and other related sites).

      Thanks for stopping by mate.

  5. nayar says:

    this is awesome Carlo, it so inspiring to see that you’re making this lifestyle work for you. Hopefully i dont have long to go either haha. keep it up, best of luck for both of you.

    • Carlo says:

      Thanks Nayar. You’ll get there just fine.

      It didn’t happen overnight that’s for sure – and it took (and still takes) a lot of work due to the nature of the freelance biz.

      But we love being in control of our own mini online empire and it gives us the lifestyle that we crave. 🙂

  6. Ray says:

    I always wondered what you did on the side besides “Next Stop Who Knows!” Your attitude and passion have definitely helped along the way. Most people settle for a regular pay cheque with the 9-5 so they can live comfortably, as well as plan for the future with Retirement savings.

    How do you or your colleagues address this topic with a location independent lifestyle? Is there enough money to be made in this business where you can set aside some money for Retirement? Or is the money essentially just reinvested back into your online business and/or additional travel in areas where the cost of living is extremely cheap?

    • Carlo says:

      Well, personally speaking Ray – I’ve never really bothered worrying about a retirement plan.

      Mainly for the reason being: I may not even make it to that ripe age in life 🙂

      Now, I’m not saying we’re living paycheck to paycheck or anything (we’ve got our savings built up over the last few years) – but we’re not actively putting that money into a “pension/retirement” fund where we cant’ touch it etc.

      Due to the nature of the freelance industry – a regular income is not guaranteed OR irregular.

      This is what turns 90% of people off the idea of working for themselves online, and it’s an understandably concern.

      Not everyone wants this uncertainly in their life in order to have the freedom to choose their own adventure etc.

      This is a lifestyle that both of us choose and enjoy.

      We have a system where we reinvest some money each month, save some, travel, and try to enjoy life as best we can.

      Not having to worry about a boss or anything like that for us gives total freedom and that’s why we want to make sure it continues.

      Like most people we have concerns for the “what ifs” etc, but that’s where a good system for saving comes into play along with a good budget plan.

      I’m glad you’ve gotten some value out of our journey Ray. That’s always a nice thing to hear 🙂

  7. Ryan says:

    Hey guys, great write up. Couldn’t agree more about the freedom or lifestyle aspect of working online. Even though you may not be making as much as you could with a traditional desk job, you’ve got a lifestyle that is yours and something that you’re able to control, develop, and nurture along. Great making your acquaintance here in Medellin!

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Ryan. Thanks for the nice words. Yes, I totally agree with you about being able to control things etc.

      It was great to meet you yesterday and I’ve gotten some creative ideas for feature images thanks to the ones you’ve created on your blog. 🙂

  8. Carlo,

    Love hearing your story on how you made your online business a reality.

    The biggest takeaway for me is diversify your income, but focus one idea at first. I tell online entrepreneurs this same strategy because it’s so easy to get distracted with “shiny object” syndrome.

    In your opinion, when do you think someone is ready to start their second idea (or business)? Once it’s profitable or once it’s steady?

    • Carlo says:

      Personally David, I think once you have a clean system in place with the first business, then it’s much easier to devout the time needed to build another one up.

      Even though the biz may be profitable, this doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the right time to start up a second one. That’s the way I would view it anyways. I like having a firm grasp of something and know it inside out before exploring further afield.

      That’s the route I went with the content biz. I put in the time and effort to make sure that it was both profitable AND manageable before I dipped the toe into other endeavours. 🙂

  9. Gerry says:

    Fair play to you Carlo! Live the dream. Looks like that game of tennis will have to wait another few years…

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Hey! Mr. Healy – long time no see. Hope you and the family are keeping well?

      Will you be home for Christmas at any stage? We’re home for about 6-8 weeks depending on a few plans. Would be great to meet up for a drink, and possibly that game of tennis! 😉

  10. Jon Bowes says:

    “Your income will fluctuate like the line on a heart monitor from month to month” yes…. it does. Haha.

    This is exactly what I’m doing now. Starting my copywriting business. I don’t do much content creation though, it’s mostly sales pages, marketing letters etc. I’ve had great luck with finding clients through Fiverr through offering a really low cost, high value copy review, then I make a pitch later for higher end stuff.

    Also, I just published my first Kindle book a little while back, only a short story under a pen name, but it’s INCREDIBLY easy to write a book and publish it. Working on my second one now, about 50 pages in, hopefully it’ll be ready within a month or two! This one I’m gonna publish under my name though, so I want it to be really great quality.

    It’s always cool to see someone else doing the same thing, and doing it well for a longer period of time. I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it’s becoming to make a living online. Thanks for the great post and the inspiration!

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Jon,

      Yes, your right about trying things out online and making that first $. It’s not as hard as people assume. You’ve just got to be prepared to put in the time and effort.

      Nothing worthwhile comes easy and the online game is certainly no different.

      Great to see you living it up and as I said already, I like your website a lot.

      Thanks for the words buddy.


  11. Nice post. I like the honesty of this article. Some bloggers pretend it’s easy to be a digital nomad and all you have to do is start a blog, but clearly there’s more to it than that. No doubt it’s difficult to persevere when all your efforts may come to naught.. Well done Carlo and Florence. Good luck!

    • Florence Murphy says:

      That’s too true Hugh. Starting a blog is the easy part of the whole thing!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      We appreciate the kind words Hugh. You’re right – it’s not as easy as most people say. Starting a blog however, is a massive first step as you know. Safe travels mate.

  12. Hi there! I am also hoping to make a living online, freelance writing for the most part. I’ve had my own travel blog for two years now, but it’s brought in virtually no money. As you say “the internet is vast” and there lies my problem… In trying to find customers (good paying ones) how do you decide whom to approach first? Are you selective, or do you just pitch as many businesses as you can? Thanks!

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Marie,

      At the start we focused on local companies from our vicinity back home. This adds a lot more “personality” to the outreach we found.

      Luckily we don’t have to pitch anymore, as we get referrals which makes things very easy to manage, as we can just cherry pick the clients we want to work with

  13. Angel Jony says:

    Your story is slightly same as my online life. I was the person who can not find a better solution to make huge money online. My first online earning was only $10 from a micro job site named Microworkers. But now I am in a stage of online earning that I don’t like money less than $100 😀 😀

  14. This is a very encouraging post, thanks! We are at the start of our journey and our saved money is running out quickly 🙂

    We are just starting to think about the ways to earn money online, wish us luck! 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      Plenty of ways out there. Just be realistic and be prepared to grind it out over the long term.

      Nothing sustainable happens over night – not in the freelance world anyways Kristina!

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