As promised in ‘The Experiment‘, we said we would share both our successes and failures in our attempt to make money online as part of our new location independent lifestyle. While we started out on this experiment and journey very naive and optimistic, back in January 2012, we have come a long way since and learned some valuable lessons about the world of online entrepreneurship. In this series of ‘How to Make Money Online and Travel’, we will share our experiences, thoughts and lessons learned from what is now a few different attempts at generating an online income to support our travels.
The First Experiment at Making Money Online:
We were randomly discussing possible ideas to generate an income online when I suddenly told Steph “I have a great idea! I know this website called Zazzle that is going to help us make money…let me explain”
For those of you that don’t know, Zazzle allows creative people all around the world to upload designs to their site for a huge variety of products like t-shirts, mugs, Iphone cases, decoration accessories and much more. Then, if one of your products gets sold, Zazzle will manufacture the product, add your design to it and distribute it to the client. Zazzle will be in charge of collecting the money and fulfilling the order. Nice right?
With my business cap on, I saw that Steph’s talents on taking pictures could go beyond a mere hobby. Her pictures could eventually become Zazzle products. Take a look at the following video as to why I saw Zazzle as a possible source of income.
Armed with naive inspiration and an enthusiasm to make money as soon as possible, we opened our Zazzle account. Then, Steph created our first Zazzle product: a Wrapped Canvas. (If you click on the link, I think you are one of the few people that has ever seen this product). Besides the canvas, Steph also went ahead and uploaded photos to use as designs on other types of products like iphone cases, ipad cases and my favorite one….a mouse pad!!!
We thought we had found the best method to make money online. Afterall, it could be automated, would pour the cash into our bank accounts while we traveled and we would be recognized designers with worldwide fame…
Lessons Learned From Our First Experiment:
Naturally, the reality was the opposite. We failed at our first attempt to generate an income online while traveling and here is why:
- The products in Zazzle are overwhelmingly expensive. (Our commission was only 20% by the way)
- We had not done any marketing to drive traffic to our products.
- We are not designers and our products left a lot to be desired compared to the competition.
- We spent about 2 hours in total on this ‘project’, from setting up our account to uploading products.
- We received about 2 visits…in total…in 8 months.
- Without paid advertising, Zazzle’s SEO is not strong enough to drive traffic to your Zazzle store.
From this experience we learned some important lessons:
- Focus on our strengths.
- Marketing is a key driver of sales.
- Spend more than 2 hours on a project that you expect to make money from…
- Promotion and branding are very important.
What a breakthrough! (DUH)
Trust me, when you explore the door of making money online, sometimes common sense runs through the back door.
Fear Not…There’s Still Hope For Travelers To Make Money Online!
Anyways, we wanted to share with all of you our first attempt at making money online while travelling. If you are a talented designer, then by all means take a look at the many multiple websites, like Zazzle, where you can definitely create some products and possibly make some money. If not, I hope our experience saves you some time and you may skip this option.
Bare with me though, as it wasn’t all failure for us. In my next posts in this series of ‘How to Make Money Online and Travel’, we recap on how we have experimented with various forms of generating an automated online income while traveling.
In fact, my next story will tell you how Steph and I became the partners of a Hotel within our first 20 days on the road!