Making Money As A Location Independent Nomad

I’ve spent a good deal of time in contemplation since I got rid of the biggest monkey on my back, the home sale. I’ve sold nearly everything…only the car and hang-glider remain. And my only bills are the cell phone and Netflix. LOL. Soon I’ll have rent and food, but otherwise only incidental expenses like plane tickets and additional climate-specific clothing along the way.

Back in the 1980s and early 90s I spent much time in exotic places while living abroad for 7 years, just dreaming that ‘if there could only be a way to make a living here, or there.’ I used to imagine, in 1992, sitting on a beach in a tropical paradise and doing business on a laptop, wirelessly. But realistically, unless you had big bank, it just wasn’t possible. In those days, it took phones but, more essentially, your people. I didn’t want people in that respect—only contracted service providers as needed.

You had to make money based on citizenship, location, and more often than not, trading time for dollars. This tied you to “home.” And it tied you to an office or workplace. And it tied you to a commute. And it tied you to co-workers. And it tied you to a boss.

It tied you to a life that in my view, basically sucks.

And I’ve had it both ways. When I returned to the San Francisco bay area in 1992, I set out to be the boss, to start a company and I was ultimately successful, growing to about 30 employees and a few million in annual revenue. While it’s better than being in the grind as an employee, it’s still a grind. I didn’t love it.

It has always been my dream to be citizen, location, and time independent. To put it succinctly: make money while you sleep anywhere—and I don’t mean on a pension, social security, or 401K distributions.

Working in a specific geographical place, at an appointed time, for a specific number of hours whilst braving traffic and other soul-crushing trappings of “freedom”—like microwaved frozen dinners—isn’t quite my idea of a life of any quality sort; I did elements of that long enough to know.

And at a point I was just restless and fundamentally unhappy all the time. I even had a lot of money, property, and business assets. But I couldn’t bring myself to just explicitly say that I’d trade it all for a simpler life of contemplation, sunshine, reasonable work geared to not require 40+ hours per week hands on, but still live in paradise and change paradises every month or few months.

So, I just self-destructed a bit to a bit too much, to the point where that trade-it-all became so obvious to me. I had automatically—out of basic drive—established a few modest digital-online channels of income over the years, and even vacation rentals via contract instead of ownership. So, once my life had deconstructed enough otherwise, I realized I could give my dormant dream a real go.

I’ve reflected a lot on enhancing those I have and developing more channels of income that are location and time independent (make money while you sleep). Of course, since I have 7 years under my belt both living full time abroad (3 visits to the U.S. in 7 years) and traveling and getting around in dozens of countries during that time (when it was harder than now), an obvious income channel is making money online around the Nomad space itself whilst being a nomad myself—analogous to being an influencer and making money on paleo as I was doing Paleo.

I’ve rejected that idea totally.

I’ve been reading many other nomad influencers and for some, being a nomad is a full time job. That is far from a criticism—for, I might not be taking this plunge otherwise. No, rather, their creativity has demonstrated to me how much I don’t want to go down that path myself. Being a past influencer in the paleo movement was such that every damn thing you put in your mouth, every hike, every sleep, every barefoot walk…was an opportunistic must to create content to influence—and not for the simple pleasure of living as you’ve come to live. It’s exhausting and to add to that, I was never that much interested in being corrupted, as so many other influencers in that space have become with books upon stacks of books and “paleo” products upon pallets of products.

Where I go from here is to catalog my journeys for the abject pure pleasure of it, with nothing specific to sell about it, save perhaps some memoire styled books along the way, someday.

I want to do quite a lot of photo documenting, for lack of a better term. I got the idea while hiking with an old friend as my tour guide in the Alpujarras, the former Moorish region of southern Spain, this last summer. My friend claims that an enormous chunk of our perception is visual. Perhaps we already sense that, since we have sayings like, a picture is worth a thousand words.

So the obvious question then, is ‘well, why not write a thousand words to go along with each picture?’

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Joe on January 6, 2020 at 17:21

    Great stuff Richard. So how do you plan to make money?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 6, 2020 at 18:04

      Two ways. First, reinvigorate the blog channels I already have had for years and used to do 3-6k per month.

      Second, establish 2-3 new ones via drop shipping businesses. There’s a link in the right sidebar. I already have one, but I’m working hard to do two more in the months to come.

  2. Peter Mailand on January 9, 2020 at 06:20

    Clever post.

    • Chris on January 18, 2020 at 19:28

      Hope to see more posts like this. I’m thinking of making this plunge myself in one year.

  3. Greg P. on January 22, 2020 at 18:02

    Regarding this:

    “First, reinvigorate the blog channels I already have had for years and used to do 3-6k per month.

    Second, establish 2-3 new ones via drop shipping businesses.”

    I’m curious about this (and have very limited knowledge about how folks make money from a blog channel)….

    I’m guessing that you mean making money when someone orders something from a link on your site? In other words, commissions from affiliate links? Doesn’t that kind of income require a lot of traffic to the site? I’m just not sure how to square that level of traffic with your desire not to be an internet influencer?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 22, 2020 at 18:48

      Yep, exactly. While the blog itself has three streams (amazon Associates, AdSense, and custom affiliate deals), Amazon is the biggest and easiest.

      And you are exactly right, requires traffic. Mine isn’t what it used to be, but because it’s 17 years old with 5,000 posts, there is a complete passivity to it. I can fuck off and still do decent.

      But I’m going to do more, given it already exists.

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