As everyone who follows me knows, I really push those wanting a freedom RV lifestyle towards an Amazon FBA style business. It is not however; the only business model I see as viable. The discussion came up in the Facebook group today of what other ways there are of making money on the road.
Of course, if you ask this in the Fulltime Families Facebook group, you’ll be bombarded with offers to join others’ multi-level marketing scheme. I do not recommend you do that. You’ll waste time and money, and never see a steady income out of it.
There are some other business models that are viable, however. Today, I’ll discuss the three overall categories I see as viable businesses on the road. This will not be a detailed business plan, but is meant to give you some ideas.
1- Online sales
Of course, since this is my main form of income, I’m going to list this in the number one spot. Is Amazon the only solution? No. Is it the best solution? I believe so.
Living in an RV on the road has some major limitations. Not the least of which are limited space and shipping constraints. Amazon FBA solves both of these problems by storing your inventory for you until it sells, and then shipping it to your customer for you. You can schedule your shipments into Amazon to suit your schedule and location.
I know of other families that sell on etsy and eBay. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it does come with some pretty severe restrictions. First, the items you offer have to be small. Maybe you buy old magazines at yard sales and store them under your bed until they sell. I’ve even heard of some full timers who find old maps in a similar way and sell them on etsy. If the item is small enough for you to store it, you can sell it.
Of course, that brings us to the next problem: shipping. With Amazon, you ship a large quantity to the warehouse all at the same time. You can do this whenever you are close to a UPS drop off location. However, with eBay and etsy, as soon as you get a sale, you need to scramble to pack the item up and find a place to drop it off. Depending on your style of travel, this has the potential of dictating the locations you are able to visit because of your need to stay close to civilization.
2- Online Blog
Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not telling you to go out there and start YET ANOTHER travel blog for RVers. There’s plenty of them already. Many writers think that a few links for Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliate will finance their lifestyle. I’m here to tell you that is NOT going to happen. You’ll make a few bucks here and there if you have the traffic, but it won’t even be enough to pay for your time. Some people have been able to get sponsorships from companies to write about their activities using their products (i.e.- snowboards, camera equipment, RV manufacturers), but keep in mind that those people were fairly well known writers before that and worked for YEARS for cheap or free before getting a sponsorship.
So why did making an online blog make the list? It’s called content marketing. Today in her post, Dora asked how she could sell her husband’s portable RV steps and her RV trip planning service. Content marketing is perfect for this. She could write about all the different locations there is to visit in an RV or similar topics and build a following. Once that following is built, she will have the perfect audience to market her husband’s products and her services to. If you use an online blog as your income strategy, your best bet is not to rely on the blog itself for income. The blog is simply there to bring in an audience to market your wares. This strategy can work whether you supply RV products, services, or even if you sell handmade products. Establish yourself as an expert in the field and then sell to those who follow you.
3- Mobile Services
This one will require you to have some skills, but it’s a great way to make a living on the road. Basically, you have some sort of skill that others want and you sell them your services. Examples include massage therapy, chiropractic services, or even tattoo artist. All of these are easy to spread the word about once you’re in a campground. All you really need is a magnet sign on your truck or toad.
My favorite mobile service is RV tech. Everyone in the campground needs something done. You just need to find one paying client. Once others see that you have the skills, you will be very busy.
4- Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistant is a relatively new term for a fairly old profession. Of course, it is more possible than ever with today’s technology. Put simply, virtual assistance, or VA’s, provide professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely. The good thing about trying to be a VA is that anyone can do it, no matter their skill set. If you’re not too technically minded, maybe you could transcribe verbally recorded notes for an executive. If you have the know-how, you could edit someone’s podcast for them. If you are the creative type, maybe you could create infographics and other designs for bloggers and marketers.
Some VA’s are able to find an employer that needs enough work that they are kept on as a full-time employee, though this is very rare. Virtual assistants usually work on a per-job basis and work for several people at a time in order to make ends meet. The good part of starting a VA business is that anyone can do it and it’s very little startup costs. The bad is that it is still selling your time for dollars. As with mobile services, there is no way to earn more money without working more. You are also tied down to working when you could be out enjoying the RV lifestyle.
5- Selling digital products
Again, this is something anyone can do, although most people don’t believe they can. Everyone knows something that others want to know. All you have to do is organize the information in your head into a format people would be willing to pay money for. To do this, you’ll need a website and a following. There are two ways to get the following, and both ways require a large investment. The first way is to invest your time; the second way is to invest your money. You could spend tons of time for months on end interacting with your group of people until it grows to a large following. This is how I grew Touring Freedom, although that was almost accidental. The other way is to invest money, or in other words, advertise. This can be done easily, but can be costly if you are not going about it correctly.
This , in my opinion, is a fairly exhaustive list of viable business models able to be performed from effectively from the road. All have their drawbacks. There’s not much in life that doesn’t. While there are a few drawbacks to Amazon FBA, I hope you can see why I believe it is the best business model for the majority of people to choose.
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