These thoughts have been rattling around in my head for a couple of days, and since it’s another early morning I am going to try to write them out. You would think that now that I don’t have a corporate job and a Monday-Friday schedule establishing work/life balance would be easy. I certainly envisioned that a life without that schedule would be much easier to manage. In some respects it certainly is; the travel days are so much easier, I don’t have the constant pressure of needing a cell connection absolutely all the time, and we don’t have to cram all the fun stuff we want to do into just the weekends. But, as someone who is used to a rigorous schedule it is a bit of an adjustment, because here we are in this beautiful place and there is still work to do. So we have to figure out when. And it is complicated by having another person to work through it with. It’s no surprise that I like a more formal schedule than Lee does. I want to look at every day and say “Let’s work until X time and then go see things” and Lee would rather work until he is ready to stop and then decide what to do. I understand rationally that his approach makes perfect sense, but it offends my Midwestern sensibilities somehow. But I am not the boss of him and although sometimes I get itchy with the desire to project manage his day, it’s incredibly important that I don’t. The reasons for that one should be obvious.
I need to take my own advice here and sort myself out first, so here is what I have been doing with my time. Finding work is work as anyone who has ever looked for a job knows, and a few hours every day need to be applied to that task. First, I spent a considerable amount of time working on foundation items to start our three businesses (business cards, resumes, websites, etc) and now I am working on marketing and job searching. Since I haven’t done a ton of job research over the years this has required some education on my part. For example Career.com was the place to go the last time I seriously was looking and now it’s Indeed.com, which didn’t even exist the last time I job searched. Unfortunately, these job sites’ search engines aren’t very helpful when looking for contract, temporary, or freelance work. Finally, after some research, I broke down and paid $50 for a yearly subscription to FlexJobs.com. Basically for $50 a year they sort through all the ads and weed out any company that is not reputable plus provide a search engine specifically designed for folks looking for short-term work. If you are a master of internet searching, you certainly won’t need this site, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I found it, because it is saving me a ton of time.
Simultaneously I am researching consulting firms and sending out my resume. Many companies hire contract workers though larger firms and they have databases of resumes and will search for skill set matches to meet their clients’ needs. Many specialize in certain types of work so finding reputable ones that need skills sets like yours can be a little tricky. I reached out to my professional network for these companies and also looked for jobs that were interesting, and then backtracked to the firms managing those positions and put my resume on their site. In the notes section, I made it clear I was looking for short term assignments and completely mobile because they will use my Florida address and think I am only available for jobs in Florida, which is obviously not the case. I also have set up my consulting business and Lee’s video business on two freelance sites, Guru.com and Upworks.com. These sites are particularly designed for freelancers who bid on smaller projects and initially seem like a great way to get “filler” work. It takes a significant amount of time to build a portfolio on these site, however, and since I was doing it for two businesses the work was double. Once that is done you have to look very carefully at what folks want, the descriptions are often vague, and then put together a proposal. In Lee’s case in particular I need to be extremely careful when writing bids to not inadvertently commit his time for too little money as the time it takes to edit can vary greatly based on the amount of raw footage. So, I am proceeding VERY cautiously with these two sites, but I do think they are an important part of our overall strategy. Finally, I read the Work Kamper news bulletins religiously. Combining outside work with a work kamping job is absolutely the most cost effective strategy, but it requires some luck and major coordination. Thus far we have let the work kamping jobs and family commitments drive where we have stayed, but going forward that will probably flip and the work opportunities will drive the itinerary with work kamping jobs being picked up wherever possible to reduce costs.
Sound unpleasant? Well, it can be, especially when you are trying to figure out a website that is not particularly user friendly and to add to that I have never been great at marketing, and it’s been a bit of a struggle. Also, don’t forget we have regular life as well. Meals to cook, dishes to wash, and Lee has been working on several home projects that simply need to be done before we hit Quartzsite. (He added several new outlets yesterday, including a 12 volt outlet for my fan in the bedroom so I can get to sleep when we’re boondocking). We need to plan travel days and research travel day campgrounds. Although we have gotten better at managing those tasks, they still can take a chunk of time, in particular when we are driving through challenging terrain. Along with regular life stuff, I’ve also been working on this website, trying to clean up some of the pages.
Which brings me to monetizing this website. All along folks have talked to me about the possibility of monetizing the website. I steadfastly said I wouldn’t even think about it until my first year was done. Well, here we are at the end of the first year and I had to keep that promise to myself. First of all I don’t generate the type of traffic that could make this site a significant revenue stream (over 500 unique visitors a month or 10,000 hits) and even if I did, I am not sure how I would feel about it. As I have said in the past, I write this blog to help people. I write the blog I wish I could have read when I started. I am in no way an expert in this lifestyle, actually the opposite, which is kind of the whole point, so if anything I think of myself as a story teller. I tell my story and if it helps, great, if not, well at least it helps me just by writing it. So I thought about adding a “Tip Jar” thinking I could put one out there just like I was playing guitar on the street and folks could “virtually” throw in a dollar or two. Before doing something like that though I wanted to get the VOC (Voice of the Customer, or reader, in this case) and asked a close friend, Lee, and a reader who doesn’t know me personally at all for their feedback. It was very negative from all three and all three said it could “turn people off.” Since that is absolutely last thing I would want to do, I started to look into banner ads. It turns out that since I use WordPress, which I like very much because of the ease of formatting and excellent Spam filter, the only banner advertising they allow is their own. I would only consider banner advertising if it was a product I personally approved and a reputable company, so that was completely out. I do own my website domain and if I wanted to I could leave Word Press but that would be a ton of work and again I really am comfortable with the Word Press format. So that leaves me with being an Amazon Associate. Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Search Amazon.com here
As a side note I also found a few recipes and Lessons Learned I never put on their respective pages along the way and fixed that and made sure the campground reviews and major milestones pages were completely up to date. Hey if you are going to re-look at every single post, might as well double check everything!! It took a day and a half, but I am glad it is all done!!)
So at this point you are probably thinking “why is she writing about all of this?” First and foremost I write about my life and this decision was a big deal to me. Many things in my life are different now and this blog and writing about my experiences helps keep me grounded. Plus it does take a chunk of my time. I spent hours on the yearly updates and updating all the links took over 8 hours. Since time is a precious commodity I needed to think about whether this time was well spent. I never want to be a person that just writes about life and doesn’t live it, so I need to balance this time with revenue generating time and living life time. Finally, I think many people feel they will write a blog and make enough money to supplement the lifestyle. There are lots of blogs out there and the ones that generate money in the RVing world are a small subset of the total. From what I am seeing the people that make some income from a blog also have something special and unique to offer. Technomadia has their internet and cell phone expertise, Paul and Nina from Wheeling It offer financial management support and detailed campground reviews, Kyle Hensen offers RVer insurance information, and Howard and Linda from RV-Dreams offer budgets and all around support for people who are interested in the lifestyle. All of them have spent years on the road and massive amounts of time building the knowledge and materials required for their particular expertise. They provide a valuable service and deserve to be compensated for it. If you want to read a great blog post on the pros and cons of blogging check out Nina’s post on the subject here When I look at myself I think, I am new at the lifestyle, have no particular area of expertise, and really, I am just telling a story as truthfully as I can. I hope its a good story and who knows where it will ultimately lead, but for right now I am thrilled that people read at all and are so wonderfully supportive in their comments. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be happy if people click on a link and buy something we recommended, but if that never happens that’s ok too. Alright back to the important stuff.
I have listed all the things I am working on mainly to show it’s a lot of stuff for someone who isn’t working a full time job anymore. Add into that our work kamper hours, and hours spent actually working on jobs, and if we weren’t careful we could fill every day. But the whole point of this is to see and experience things. That’s why we travel and stay in beautiful places. So on the other side of the equation is the amazing nature we are surrounded by. It’s tough to stay inside and work when it’s all right outside the door. It is a constant balancing act and one we are still trying to get good at. And you may be thinking “boohoo, you have it so tough”. And that would be fair. The me from a year ago may have thought the same thing. But let me show you in pictures what is a few miles down the road so you maybe you can understand why establishing a balance is a struggle. With
views like these it can be hard to strike a balance!
Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Search Amazon.com here
You are going to crack up on this one, Tracy. A few minutes ago, I decided to buy something on Amazon, and I was thinking ‘Whose account can I go through? I’ll check out Camper Chronicles.’ Good timing on the post!
My WordPress visitors have been registering over 500 in the monthly stats….are those considered ‘unique’ visitors? If not, how would I know how many I am getting?
Best of luck on the work/life balance. Since leaving the corporate world behind, my stress level has gone way down, and I feel (and I am) much healthier. It took a bit to shed that though. I’m sure you will find your balance and you two will do just fine. 🙂
Jim that’s so awesome thanks so much!!! I don’t know how to tell unique visitors on Word Press either although they don’t have that requirement to run ads. I looked at my followers and how many hits each post gets and kind of guessed. Sorry not to helpful. And thanks for the balance advice I am getting there !!
What a beautiful place you are in! Great pics!
I have every confidence that you and Lee will succeed!