Working Remotely – A Review

And as part of the informal yearly review I’ve been conducting, there’s one last experiment from this year to report on.

Editing “The Little Guide to Dreaming Big” from my home office on wheels

For the first time since I hit the road, the majority of my income this year will have come from remote work rather than taking seasonal work-camping jobs. The biggest leap of faith I made this summer by deciding to boondock rather than picking a national park to work at was probably not about whether I’d enjoy boondocking (I was fairly certain I would), but rather would I be able to earn enough money from other sources to support myself.

Unless they were forced into the lifestyle by the loss of a job or some similar misfortune, most pre-retirement full-timers I meet already have a solid income source in place before they hit the road. In fact, six years ago when I first started entertaining the idea of full-timing, I didn’t know of any who didn’t (they did exist, but I wasn’t aware, not knowing where to look online to find them).

I was pleased to confirm after I hit the road that it was possible to make a living entirely from low-skill, low-paying work-camping jobs as long as a person was frugal, but ultimately I didn’t want to be pinned down in one spot for months on end working, I wanted more freedom to travel where I wanted, when I wanted.

It took years to build up my writing income to the point where last fall I decided it might be possible to go a summer without a seasonal job, and as I reported in the boondocking review post, I averaged $1,172 a month from my writing endeavors for the first nine months of the year when I was boondocking. Not quite enough to meet cost of living, but I’d already signed up to work at Amazon for the last three months of the year to cover the gap so that wasn’t a problem.

So how was it, having no boss for nine months in a row? Everyone’s experiences will vary of course, and I can only speak from my own personal experience. And in my experience, being an entrepreneur requires a surprising amount of effort.

For me, finding the willpower to stay on task was the hardest part.

I was boondocking in some truly great locations, all of which I’d never seen before, and without a hard deadline or dedicated work hours to keep me on track I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t do a spectacular job of it this year, although I did improve toward the end as I discovered what worked to keep myself on task. Namely: work needed to be the first thing I did in the morning, as if I got started on something else first I found it nearly impossible to switch focus later. It also really helped to block other distractions out when working, which often meant closing the blinds, taking a potty break before I got going, asking not to be disturbed if I was camping with a group, etc.

The second hardest part was the uncertainty factor (isn’t it always?).

The month “The Little Guide to Dreaming Big” launched, I made $2288.37. In April and May, I only made $1,500 total. I kept track of the hours I worked, and one month it averaged out to $26 per hour. One month it was only $8.61 per hour. It was nearly impossible to predict ahead of time whether I’d have a good month or a bad month. I had a good amount saved up from 2015 when my income exceeded my cost of living by several thousand dollars so I was never at risk of running out (plus I had my emergency fund and plans to take a job halfway through the season if necessary), but still I was always watching my bank account like a hawk and made it impossible to plan too far in advance as I truly had no way of knowing if I’d make it through the whole summer sans job.

All in all though, I consider this experiment a rousing success too. My goal had been $1,000 per month on average and I met that while still working less than 40 hours per week, leaving me more time to explore than I would have had I taken a job. Hopefully I can do even better next year and make it another nine months without working despite the lack of overtime at Amazon this year. Time will tell!

Related Links:

Comparing Work Options for RVers

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21 Responses to Working Remotely – A Review

  1. Ron December 9, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

    So glad it worked and hope your income continues to grow. Do you count your affiliate income in these totals. Ron

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

      Yes Ron, I still consider it writing income since I make it by keeping up with this blog. Thanks.

  2. Milly December 9, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Great job! I’m a full-time RVer who lives 100% on my writing income. Write romance novels. :p

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      Haha, that’s what all my female writing friends say Milly. Sadly I have no interest in that genre.

  3. MIke December 10, 2016 at 1:37 am #

    Thanks for the update. It really helps.

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      You’re welcome Mike.

  4. RGupnorth December 10, 2016 at 4:21 am #

    Even with the low cost of boondocking – you must be managing your activities quite well if you are getting along at around a $1000 per month. Were you able to build back up your emergency fund after all of Bertha’s expenses this year?

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

      Yes I have RG, I won’t have as much leftover as I did after Amazon last year, but the emergency fund is back up to $6,000. 🙂

  5. Jerry Minchey December 10, 2016 at 6:31 am #

    Becky,

    Like you I have been full-time RVing and living four years almost totally off of my writing income.

    As you said, some months are a lot better than other months. I’ve found that the best way to sell more books is to write more books. Some of my books sell 10 times more than others for no apparent reason.

    I’ve found that writing takes a lot of uninterrupted time, so I assume that you’re not doing much writing while you’re working at Amazon.

    Do you have plans to start writing another book after Christmas (or hopefully, you’ve already started your next book)?

    Thanks for another well written, informative, and interesting article.

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

      I never get any book writing done at Amazon Jerry, tried it my first year and it was a disaster. Now I always make my writing plans assuming these three months are off limits.

      Yes, I’m already making plans for what next year’s book will be. I still need to edit he two I have an make a hard copy available for blog readers who don’t use kindles or the like.

      Glad you found this interesting.

      • Jerry Minchey December 11, 2016 at 8:33 am #

        I agree that getting a printed version of your two books available on Amazon would be the best use of your time. It could double your writing income.

        I get almost exactly the same income each month from my eBooks and my printed books.

  6. Nicole December 10, 2016 at 6:56 am #

    “Hopefully I can do even better next year and make it another nine months without working”

    You must have such a sense of freedom since you considered earning a living writing not working. Good for you.

    • Becky December 10, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

      “Make a living doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

      Can’t remember where that quote came from but it really stuck with me when I first came across it years ago, and now I can say from experience that it’s true.

  7. Alvin December 10, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

    So glad that it worked out for you and you met your goal income. Really hate that you had the bumps in the road along the way though. I am positive that 2017 will be even better. I have been following you and a few of the people that you traveled with this year for a while. I take pieces of information from each of you and apply it to my fulltime adventures and so far it works great. I try to send people that have Casita’s and especially single women your way

    • Becky December 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks for thinking of me Alvin and sharing my blog with others who may find it useful. That’s how I get most of my new readers. 🙂

      All in all 2016 was a pretty good year for me. The worst part was the repair bills, but that’s what an emergency fund is for! Now the fund is all built back up and I’m ready to get back to boondocking out in the desert (and having more travel stories to share with you all).

      I’m glad you’ve found IO helpful and I hope you have a great 2017 as well. Safe travels and happy trails!

  8. Terri December 11, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    I’m so glad you were able to do it on the writing income for so long this year, Becky. I know you are so smart when it comes to managing your money, that you will likely be able to do it again next year. And you have inspired me. I’ve decided to not get a second job until I move apartments sometime in April, and until then, to focus on writing. (And the occasional secret shopper gig if I can get one.)

    There really are so many things you can do for little to no cost, especially out in the western part of the country, as you and I have found out. If you like to be outdoors, there is no shortage of stuff to do. And I can’t wait to read your third book, whenever it comes out!
    Terri recently posted..Musings with MorganMy Profile

    • Becky December 11, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

      Glad this post helped you Terri and best of luck! I hope writing works out for you and that you and the animals are all doing well in NM.

  9. Kent December 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    A great write-up Becky. I will say that it took me a long time to learn how to better manage my time working for myself. I *sort of joke that I have the worst, meanest, most cruel and least understanding boss on the planet… Me….
    The only thing I have found that works for me is to keep a written schedule, to plan out my day ahead of time and I pretty much live by it….. I have no shortage of.. GREAT IDEAS!! .. The problem is finding the time to implement them all. So to save my sanity I keep things pretty simple, repeatable and don’t bite off more than I can chew.

    • Becky December 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Kent.

  10. Mike McLeish December 27, 2016 at 11:31 pm #

    That’s pretty impressive! If you lived in SE Asia you’d live like a king on that money! Do you ever find you get a little lonely when working remotely?

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