January 2016 Income Report: Humble Beginnings

And by nomad income report I really mean nomad expenditure report, in all its naked and depressing glory.
I find nomad income reports incredibly helpful. The only problem is that the easiest ones to find are the ones nomads are proud of. They cite tens of thousands of earnings every month.

nomad income report

These reports can intimidate newbies, and they often end with a sales pitch promising to teach you, too, how to make tens of thousands of dollars a month. It all reads like dazzling marketing copy, and you start to think that the pyramid isn’t just a relic in Egypt.

It’s not actually a pyramid scheme. The nomad bloggers who can write dazzling marketing copy are, surprise surprise, marketers, and they comprise a loud minority of the nomads who share their income reports.

Don’t get me wrong. Marketers are absolutely essential to online businesses–they help new business owners navigate the wild west of making money online. There are many other ways to make money online, and nomads need to know about them.  If new nomads like Sarah and I want to learn about those ways, two things need to happen:

  1. We need clear examples of nomad income reports from a variety of income streams
  2. We need to see those discouraging income reports from the early startup days.

Our monthly nomad income report aims to do both, starting now. We’d be lying if we said it didn’t give us a healthy kick in the ass too. I wonder how our expenditures will start to change now that we’ve vowed to share them.

Here’s some context before we publish our first nomad income report. Long term nomads are experts at optimizing for time. They take advantage of passive income streams: affiliate links, stock photography accounts, ebooks, niche dropship sites, and anything else that has the potential to serve up continuous revenue after a fixed start-up investment of time and money.

They build a business from Day 1 as if they intend to sell it, both to keep themselves honest about documentation and structure, and to keep their options open in the future.

nomad income report

There’s always the frozen banana stand fall back

Hugely successful nomads like Dan Andrews have been known to sell profitable businesses solely because they’re bored and want to work on something new.

They are not afraid to fail at one venture after another after another until they hit on the right idea that came to them at the right time: for the market, for their growing level of expertise, for all the stars that aligned to make this one the profitable one.


How are we actually going to make money?

Ecommerce:  Our primary source of income by the end of the year will be from selling on Amazon.com, shopify.com and other ecommerce websites.

Our short-term strategy is to find products in Amazon’s catalog that are missing a product offering or variation. For example: if Kitchen Aid has a plum colored line of kitchenware products (toaster, blender, spatula, etc.) and is missing a plum colored garlic press, knife set, etc. then we could bring that exact color or pantone to a factory and produce them to “complete the line” of kitchenware. The products may or may not have our brand names on them.

Finding what I’d call opportunity products isn’t exactly exciting, but it is one of the best ways to generate income online given our Amazon experience. The long-term strategy, and really our end-game, is to also build our brand, Nomadica, which focuses on designing high quality tech clothing and travel gear for digital nomads and professional travelers. The launch of this will be different from a typical brand launch as we will roll out products gradually and expect only five to be live by the end of the year.

Trading: I have been trading stocks since I was 16 and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed and found I’m good at. We have set aside a portion of our savings for trading, which will (hopefully) provide a second source of income.

Niche Site: We’re working on a niche site that will curate products for a specific audience. The products will be available for purchase via affiliate links, as opposed to drop ship or direct fulfillment. We essentially receive a commission for referring customers to the retailer they purchase from. This is a fairly easy project to launch and maintain, and will provide us with a third income stream.

Blogging: While we optimize our blog for content quality rather than monetary gain, we have minimal adsense widgets and use affiliate links when we’re linking to relevant gear we find helpful for nomads. We anticipate a small amount of earnings from advertising and the affiliate links when readers click through our site to purchase gear we recommend.

That’s it for now. We have plenty of ideas in the works, but are focusing on the bread and butter, what works, and what allows us to have balance in our daily lives.

Alright, you’ve waited long enough. Ready? Gird your loins, cause it’s not pretty.


January 2016 Nomad Income Report: Income

Ecommerce: Zero, nada, zilch. The factory we’re working with received a prototype of our first product for the Nomadica line and began working on the final sample. We also spent time deciding which niche products we’d source for our short-term strategy.

Trading: We made $2,211.64 in realized gains from trading. The news and economic data coming out in December did not reflect a bustling economy or the record high stock market we were seeing. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates for the first time in 9 years, the Chinese economy was failing and the US, Saudi Arabia, and other oil producing nations began playing chicken in a race to the bottom on oil prices. We chose to invest in Paypal, which was at a low and best positioned to gain from the growth in financial technology, and Gold, which was also at a low and is a great place to invest when markets become unstable.

Blogging: We made a whopping $6.99 in affiliate marketing and $0.19 in advertising via Adsense. Well, hot damn, I think that covered about 4 meals in Chiang Mai! This amount reflects the effort we put into monetizing the blog: almost none.

Miscellaneous: Sarah made $40 on a freelance project. She helped an author with the launch of her book on Amazon. She setup an author’s Goodreads and Author Central accounts and consulted on a few formatting issues for her ebook.

January 2016 Nomad Income Report: Expenditures

Accommodations: $450.43
Business: $2,681.01 (See below)
Clothing: $22.07 (Spencer loved the play place so much he forget to tell us he had to pee. Soooo, a new pair of shorts for him, a tee shirt for Sarah, and two pairs of obligatory socks at a schmancy play place)
Entertainment: $68.46 (Spenny’s play place about every day, park entry at Huay Tung Tao Lake, a few trips to a nearby pool, and a baseball Spenny begged for)
Gifts:$5.12 (A hair pin for mom, post cards)
Groceries: $338.87 (Our food totals felt like a lot at first, but taking into account there are three of us and that we had a few restaurant meals, maybe not so bad)
Health & Beauty: $54.16 (Haircuts, toiletries, a month of gym membership)
Housewares: $17.88 (little things the apartment didn’t have: a dish towel, a water kettle, etc)
Restaurants: $325.18 (also includes one or two lattes a day)
Transportation: $69.53 (We walked a lot, or spent $2-3 for a ride in the back of a songthaew)
Utilities: $47.77 (Electricity and water)

Total Income: $2,258.82
Total Expenses: $4,080.48

Net Income: -$1,821.66

Our largest expense (Business) went to our tax attorney, who charges an annual fee for his services. We also bought a premium Hootsuite account, three website domains we may use in the future, and mailed a sample back to the factory in China. All but one of these are annual fees, so if we amortize these expenses across 12 months, we come out ahead $638.43 for our first month as nomads.

We’re pretty happy with January’s income statement given the effort we put in. Our income was $859.35 more than our personal expenses (excluding business expenses).

If, after seeing our nomad income report you are inconsolably depressed, here are some helpful income reports from nomads who are much further along and bringing in at least mid-five figure monthly incomes.

Try Greg Mercer’s post on his income and expenses for Jungle Stix, a pack of marshmallow sticks he’s selling on Amazon. Yep, marshmallow sticks. He breaks out the fixed expenses and COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) for the product, which both gives a baseline to help us estimate our costs for our own venture, and a  roadmap for opportunities we may have overlooked (i.e., how much time and money it takes for Amazon sponsored ads to be worthwhile).

Johnny FD is a well known nomad based currently in Chiang Mai. He’s published his January 2016 nomad income report here. Be prepared to be jealous, but you can definitely learn a few things given the detail of his posts.

Sharon Gourlay, the writer behind digitalnomadwannabe.com, began sharing her nomad income reports at the start of her journey as a digital nomad. She had a few income streams before living as a nomad, but her posts are the most helpful we’ve found for those just starting out.




  • delove100 says:

    This is such a courageous undertaking for you & your family. I’m certain that they rewards will be felt for a lifetime. This particular post was very informative & well written.
    You got game !!!
    Best to you & sarah
    Duane Love

  • Mina says:

    Very interesting read David, many thanks for sharing with honesty! Well written and understandable!
    No doubt the reward will be felt soon and for the rest of your future together!
    All the best to you 3!

  • Konrad Braun says:

    David, love your sense of humor!
    We all gotta start someplace, eh? I too love Sharon’s income reports and actually got to know Johnny here in Chiang Mai. Cool dude!
    Keep these reports coming. They will keep you accountable. Besides, people love them 🙂
    All the best for 2016!

    • David K says:

      Cheers Konrad! Just checked out your income statement. It’s nice to see a fellow nomad at the same stage as us. 🙂 Not sure how old your kiddo is, but we should meet up for a play date the next time we’re in Chiang Mai.

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