Let me start by saying I started at zero, well, less than zero. I had literally no savings at all – I’d never had any. I also had a few outstanding debts, nothing major, and a period of unemployment after quitting my job. So all the methods I used to save money were legit and off my own back. I am just not a natural saver at all, I’m pretty bad with money so it was really hard, I admit, but I did it.
This is something a lot of people do throughout their studies or as graduates, I had never done any temporary work but I signed up to a few agencies after starting and quitting a permanent job with people that I literally hated, and soon found temporary admin and reception work. I must say working in dull, lifeless offices was quite a shock after my years working in fashion in London.
One office I worked in was so like ‘The Office’ from the comedy show I thought I was being Punked. While it was very, very, very boring, it was also incredibly easy. In fact there was so little to do that I was allowed to read a book or magazine all day, and I used all my free office hours to research my trip, blog and do a few freelance jobs too (as well as finish off one or two blockbuster novels).
The good thing about temporary work is that you don’t have to keep your travel plans a secret, you don’t get sucked into another career or job, and the pay is quite good for the level of work you’ll do. I wish I’d signed up with a temp agency more quickly as they found me work almost immediately. It’s definitely worth seeing agencies in your area.
I’ve run a fashion blog since 2010, and while it will never be a raging success, I have made a small sum of money from blogging for the past few years (seriously, a very small sum). If you have a blog there are several ways to monetise it, and while you won’t see big returns unless you have a huge readership, every penny counts.
Affiliate programmes are probably the easiest way to make money – sign up to RewardStyle or Affiliate Window and you will receive a small commission on items sold through your blog (typically 2% – 10% of the total sale). You can also monetise your Instagram photos by signing up to Like.to.Know.it which again means you need a hell of a lot of followers to make real money but it’s worth a try – I think I’ve made about £20 in total from my Instagram but it’s better than nothing!
I also publish content which brands and companies pay for; this could be a video, an outfit post featuring their product or any kind of editorial post. These, depending on the brand and the size and popularity of your blog, can pay anything from nothing to thousands of pounds (for the record I have never made thousands, tragically). These collaborations are few and far between so make friends with some PRs and work your contact list.
Another way I made money off my blog was to sell the freebies I got sent – this is a taboo subject and I know a blogger who had a slanderous email sent to all the PRs in London about how she would sell all her blogger freebies on eBay. Let me just say this; as a very small blogger who isn’t that popular, even I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I get sent. Some of it is for review, some is just gifted, some is lovely and some is crap. I treat anything that is given to me as mine, and I often sell my other clothes on eBay or Depop – just because something was gifted to me it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t sell it. If I didn’t I would literally be a hoarder and they’d make a TV show about it. Anyway, I hold my hands up, I do sell things I get gifted – not all of them, and it’s not a big money making scheme but just the ones I would sell even if I’d bought them.
eBay and Depop
I had a LOT of clothes – you can read my ultimate guide to eBaying HERE.
Online Content Writing
There are loads of sites that pay writers for generic content; I have worked as a copywriter for many years so this seemed like an attractive prospect for me. I looked into it (while at my temp job) and found a website called Great Content which is for any English writers, you can use it worldwide but the default language is US or UK English (although it’s a German company – go figure).
To be accepted to the site you have to submit a short, original piece of writing and a couple of links to already published pieces which is then appraised and either declined or accepted by great Content. If accepted as a writer you will also be rated from 2 to 6. You can accept writing orders from anything at your level or below, so if you’re a 5 (like me) you can accept texts rated 2, 3 ,4 and 5.
I found that there were always quite a lot of orders, most at level 4 or above, I’ve never seen anything at a level 2 or 3. Rates ranged from £1.18 for 30 words to £7.40 for 200 words, some more specialist texts pay upwards of £38 for 1500 words, which is low, but if you’ve worked as a copywriter you can probably knock out most of the shorter texts in 10 minutes or so.
I would hasten to say, if you have no professional experience writing content or copywriting then you may find the texts on this site difficult to master. If you’ve done product copywrting or category pages for fashion then you’re in luck because they have loads of those.
You can access your account from any computer with an internet connection, so I plan to pick up a bit of work while travelling when I can. Payments are made twice a month via Paypal, providing you have more than £25 in your Great Content account. I found that I was paid within a week of requesting payment.
The only drawback of this is there are limits on the amount of work you can do – some clients will only let you work on 5 texts at a time, and until Great Content have accepted them you can’t accept any more. Once you start working on texts your limits do get raised though you will only ever be allowed to work on 20 or so jobs at a time, which was annoying on days when I could have knocked out lots of texts.
I would say it would be very realistic to make £100 a month which would only take a few hours. It’s a shame about the limits but, hey, it’s an easy way to supplement your income and they’re they’re to stop you overestimating your work rate. In my first week of using the site I’d earned about £300 quite easily but this is because I was temping at the time and wrote texts while at my very quiet office job (sneaky).
I really didn’t want to do any bar work, I’d worked in clubs and pubs and even a strip club (behind the bar, don’t worry) in my teens and early twenties and promised myself I’d never work a sh*t job again, ditto retail. I had to eat my words, swallow a bit of humble pie and get some bar work towards the end of my saving period. Bar work is easy to pick up, the hours mean you can work around a day job and the tips can be good – it’s also more fun and sociable than an office job and learning how to pull a pint before you go travelling isn’t a bad idea – you might have to pick up bar work abroad, you never know.
Christmas and Birthday Money
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, but wevs. My Birthday is on Boxing day so I get a double whammy in December. I knew that my family and friends would probably, and very kindly, bestow some cash money gifts upon me. Luckily my trip would start at the beginning of February so this last minute cash injection was extremely welcome.
Don’t forget the other expenses
There are many little, sneaky costs to travel, aside from flights, transport and y’know food and water. Firstly there are things like factoring travel to the airport in your home country. I had to fly from Heathrow so that meant travelling by train to London which can cost up to £100 if you don’t book in advance. By making not of this I was able to bag a cheap ticket. Then there are injections and Visas which can vary wildly in cost.
To be honest it’s crazy how much it costs before you even get to the basic stuff. I shelled out £4000 on flights, taxes, injections, visas and insurance before I even left the country. Make sure you really get to grip with your finances, write them all down, shop around for the best prices and work out your budget per day (roughly). In Southeast Asia it’s not unrealistic to live on £15 a day if you’re staying in hostels and lounging on the beach whereas Australia, New Zealand and America will be very costly. Try and average it out at a rate that suits you, so whether that’s £20 or £40 per day.