Friday, 6 November 2015

Make money while travelling?

Hello again, it's me, Cameron, that guy who used to post on here all the time!
You may have noticed that over the few years Jen and I have been cruising around in Rocky, our troopy my input on this blog has began to drop quite a bit! When we were out central we both lacked time, then we went overseas to the USA, focusing on Buffalo Wings and skydiving and then off to the UK to hang with the monarch. After all that I wrote a couple of sneaky blogs as we hit the road again, but after that Jeni has been doing all the hard work on Trooprock Aussies! Well I have been incredibly busy between work on a couple of projects. Firstly for fun, but also with the idea of making some cash trickle in while we romp around on our adventures.

It all begun not long after we acquired Rocky. I had this idea to write a story on some characters and monsters I made up in high school for a video game I never had the skills to make. I ended up putting in a bit more effort than I thought and the story got longer and longer! I worked on this story on and off and finally finished it earlier this year during our more recent visit to Stanage Bay. I was pretty happy to have finished it, did what I thought was my final edit, then had it read by my father to be told it is an absolutely incredible story, but needed to be edited hardcore. This brought me down a bit, but I edited and edited, with the help of Jen and a few other people, then edited some more to the point I was absolutely sick of editing. I also began work on the sequel to the book to escape the tedious work of editing. To put it bluntly, I hate editing, it absolutely sucks. But it is what changed my cool story to something that was eventually publishable!
So now I have a beautiful polished story ready for the world to read. I decided to go down the line of self publishing. Using this path opens up much more profit per sale to the author, rather than all profits going to the big publishing companies. Currently it is available on Amazon as an e-book only, but will soon look into the options of print on demand paperbacks.

Amulet of Aesterus 

So this marks a massive achievement and you can understand where all my creativity has been placed over the last few years. Now I labelled this post as "Make money while travelling?". At the moment I am no authority on this subject, however I am learning and wish to share what I learn, as I learn. Necrosanguin is a labour of love, I'm happy not to make much from it. It was written for me and if I can give people a great experience while they read it, that is all I want. If it makes money as well, I certainly will not complain! I really love the book and believe in it, however the self published scene is massive and breaking through would be a massive feat. I will keep you all posted how it fares in the future.

My other project which I have really spent a lot of time with since starting it is Li'l Aussie Monsters. This idea began with a character I drew in 2011, Bubba Bunyip. The idea was to take something that terrified me as a kid, in this instance the old Bunyip from the Big Banana and make it adorable. It worked! Not long after I came up with Johnny Jump Bear. I looked at buying a screen printing machine and realised it would take a hefty chunk out of my travel fund, so I left it at that.
While working at Paronella Park this year I read over a book my father gave me again, the "4 hour work week" which is all about outsourcing, multiple streams of income and being able to get enough money to get by and enjoy yourself without having to work massive hours. I then had this great idea. It is exactly what I needed to print my own designs! My genius idea was to start a shirt printing company that would be able to receive custom orders and sell all over, it was an awesome idea, BRILLIANT! I'd be a drop shipper for creators all over the world. I'd make bajillions! But as with all the amazing get rich quick ideas I come up with, it had already been done. This was good and bad, the bajillions I dreamt up had disappeared, but I was able to release these shirts I had in mind! Huzzuh!

Firstly I went with Red Bubble. It is a nice easy to use site offering what I was looking for, but after receiving my first order decided it wasn't quite right. Next I decided to try Printful through Shopify. Shopify lets you create your own online shop without any programming skill, it is really nice and easy to use, but comes with a price tag. Thinking the cost was in AUD I thought, ah why not give it a go for a year, see how it goes. Turns out the cost was in USD and cost 440AUD for the year. No biggy, I set myself up to earn approx $10 per sale, so 44 shirts, I'm on top! Easy... Maybe? The online shirt business is gigantic and is a hard one to crack! Printful is another custom printing dropshipping company which is located in LA. They use high quality American shirts and the prints are nice. Sometimes the orders can take quite a while to come in, however the quality is mostly great. I say mostly as I have made a few orders which have had stitching come loose due to problems when the shirts where put together. Printful are pretty good about it though and with photos of the problems will offer a refund or replacement for free.

Again, I attacked this as a labour of love, Jeni and I have a heap of fun cool shirts to show for it! I kept releasing my original characters at a rate of about one a week. Not to much success. Afterwards I decided to do some market research and be observant on what customers to Paronella Park were wearing. Most of what I saw was cheap Kmart/Big W shirts (especially among the oldies!), surf brands like Billabong or Quicksilver among the teens and young adults, characters, specifically super heroes and pop culture characters on the older kids and famous cartoon characters on the young kids, lots of Frozen. A lot of blokes also wore fishing shirts (BCF know what they're doing!) and a heap of funny shirts.
Original Aussie cartoon characters are not what people are into and don't really feed the needs of any "niche". I recently tried my hand at a more humorous shirt with the Bad Day Fishing shirt.

Bad Day Fishing
Had a few people say it is awesome, but no sales as of yet. Maybe not quite original enough! The other thing I may be doing wrong is going for quality instead of cheap, but I wouldn't feel right selling something I wouldn't buy for myself! I do have a few more ideas to try with the Li'l Aussie Monsters even if the shirts don't end up being successful over the trial year, I will put the shirts on hold, but do have other plans for the characters later down the line.

The other thing I am working on learning is marketing. I have run a few advertisements with the Li'l Aussie Monsters without much success. The most successful was a like and share Facebook competition. After cost of product and advertising was about $50, I made no sales, however the Facebook page gained over 100 likes. Good or bad in the long run, I am not sure!

Of course the back up plan for making money while travelling is to work a real job, but that's no fun! Actually Jeni and I do love working in the tourism industry and it is a great way to learn more about different places! I am unsure if tour guiding is a real job, but it brings in a bit of cash between travelling!

All in all I don't believe there is an easy formula to making good money without working while travelling, but I'll continue to explore the options and share with you all whatever I discover between our adventures!