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How to Make Money Online While Traveling: The Fundamentals

“How to Make Money Online” series table of contents:

  1. How to Make Money Online While Traveling: The Fundamentals
  2. How to Make Active Income Online While Traveling
  3. How to Make Passive Income Online While Traveling


I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries on how to make money online while traveling as a digital nomad. In this post I will be sharing my thoughts on how to do this, but I want to do it in a way that explains the foundation of money making.

First – the income you want to make should be classified under the following: active or passive.

To explain it simply:

Active income is short-term income you get from performing certain services. This income can be created by your day-job or freelance work you perform online.

Passive income is income that you can get with little effort and time. It might require a lot of work to get started, but not much work to maintain. Examples of passive income include money made from your website’s ads, from a rental property you own, or from sales made from your online dropshipping store that are automatically fulfilled.

With active income, you’re trading time for money, but with passive income you aren’t. Active income seems a bit less favorable, however it can be easier to obtain and still help you achieve location independence. Roles in graphic design, digital marketing, and computer programming for example can for the most part be done anywhere in the world (as long as there’s Wi-Fi).

Obtain the Right Mentality

Currently I’m depending on active income, but working towards passive income. Regardless of which channel – active or passive – both require excessive persistence and work. There are tons of articles out there making it sound super easy – but I call bullshit. Making money online requires an extreme amount of hustle, and it’s not for everybody. Some flourish under the pressure while others break apart.

The reason why I bring this up is that I want to get you into the right mentality for the work you’re about to do. Many articles demonstrating how to make money online sound especially generic and repetitive but don’t talk about what it truly takes to become a free bird. As you’ve seen from my past posts, I’ve already spent months working on passive income and have only mainly succeeded in securing location independent, active income positions (that may or may not last). I still have a long way to go.

Evaluate Your Skillset and Your Plan

Now that I’ve prepped you for the journey you will embark on, there are certain questions you should ask yourself before starting:

  1. What is your goal? Do you want to be a digital nomad and travel around the world? Or are you merely looking for a bit of extra cash on the side? Are you looking to make a full-time lifestyle change towards freedom?
  2. Are you looking for active income? Or passive income? Or both? Active income returns are short term and you’ll see the gains right away. Passive income returns may take months or years! Are you willing to persist?
  3. How badly do you want it? Are you willing to quit your day job or work outside of your full-time position to make your dreams a reality? Will you work 80 hours a week over 40 hours a week to make it happen? I make it sound unappealing but that’s how you have to think about it. It ain’t gon’ be easy. It might be easier to live a more “normal” life but what’s easy might not be what’s best ;).
  4. What are you good at? Making money online entails certain skill sets that can be used for both active and passive income. The most popular skills include digital marketing, copywriting/blogging, and computer programming, but there are way more…I’ll list them below. Even if you don’t have a lot of these online skills, you can start your passive income journey by building a website and going from there. In terms of passive income, I believe you can make a living out of most all passions – e.g. there are successful blogs such as “Cute Overload” or “Nerd Fitness“. Anything is possible with the power of the internet. If you have a fanbase, you’ll most likely be able to monetize your product (if you go to my section “blogging” on my site I will explain how in the future).

Skills to Make Money Online

The thing about making money online is there are many different routes – you just need to choose the correct method for yourself, depending on your mentality, skillset, time, finances, and other features.

Making money online entails providing products or services, or using money to make more money (investing). Here is a pretty comprehensive list I’ve compiled of skills that you can use to earn money.

  • Photography
  • Photo Editing
  • Graphic Design
  • Digital Marketing
  • Teaching English
  • Filling out Paid Surveys
  • Computer Programming
  • Web Design
  • Copywriting
  • Consulting
  • Selling/Reselling/Private Labeling Products
  • Podcasting
  • Video Tutorials
  • Audio Engineering
  • Audio Production
  • Video Editing
  • Real Estate Investing
  • Stock Trading

With each of these you can categorize by:

1. Difficulty from general to more specific/complex. Some require a larger learning curve and have more demand so you can charge more for those types of services (but they’re obviously more “difficult” skills).
2. Overhead costs. Is it time & effort that’s required, or money? Or both?
2. Active or Passive? A lot of these skills can actually generate both types of income.

In the next section I will categorize by active or passive income from lower to higher barrier of entry.

Categorization of Active Income

The best way to choose your route of income is to understand what it takes to achieve success in each channel. Some routes may resonate more than others, and some may require more “upfront cost” if you will.

I’ve created this infographic based on my own opinion of how difficult it is to get into each active income channel. Disclaimer: This is mostly for ENTRY of channel – but each channel requires a lot of time and effort to actually get good at. Because the activities essentially go from general to specific and gentle to steep learning curve, they also follow an upwards trend of how much money you can make when you go towards the end of the spectrum (though it is not a direct correlation).

digital nomad active income

Feel free to share the above infographic and credit to 😉

While you’re considering the best route of active income, also think about the future brand you want to build. Do you want to create a graphic design portfolio? Or build a marketing agency? Always BUILD something, whether it is your own product, portfolio, or merely experience, because that is what lasts over short term gains.

If you want to think even more long term, it might also be best to consider the passive income route.

Categorization of Passive Income

I’ve created a similar chart on passive income. The left-hand side of the infographic shows ways in which you don’t need to build a brand, but you still can. The second way is stronger, in which you’re developing a following and building something to monetize now or later.

digital nomad passive income

Feel free to share the above infographic and credit to 😉

After you’ve gotten a grasp of each passive and active income route, you can figure out your game plan and go from there. It is advantageous to focus on ONE, make it successful, then move on to another if you’re trying to diversify. I talk about how to create focus in this post.

In my next few posts, I will explore each active and passive income route.

If you liked this post, please check out this post on how to make active income online

Also check out this post on how to make passive income online.



  1. Wow, what a really great post and the infographic is tremendous!

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Thanks so much Ian! I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  2. Fallen in love with your writing, you definitely added a reader to your blog!!

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Ah thanks so much! 😀

  3. arava arava

    Great article!
    I travel a lot, and i tried all kinds of ways to make money online.
    What works best for me is koocam.
    I teach my hobbies and sells my knowledge in any field.
    It’s great 🙂

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