Ricky Shetty, along with his wife Anne and their 3 young kids, sold their home in Vancouver, BC a year ago so they could travel to every country in the world while earning income online from 7 different sources. In this episode you will hear their inspirational story of living the digital nomad lifestyle!
Transcription Episode 97: The Digital Nomad Lifestyle: 7 Income Streams For Travelling The World As A Digital Marketing Nomad – With Ricky Shetty
This is your host Derek Gehl, and today I’m going to be talking to an entrepreneur that is living a really interesting life. A life that I think a lot of people dream about. Look, I’m not talking about private jets and Ferraris, what I’m talking about is creating a digital business that has given him his kind of ultimate freedom.
Now, he’s a hometown boy, from here in Vancouver. He’s also the founder and brains behind the family friendly website, Daddy Blogger.com where he writes about fatherhood and family travel. He’s also the owner of Digital Nomad Mastery, where he teaches people how to become digital nomads. He’s been to 80 countries on six continents and one of his big goals is to be the first family to visit every country in the world.
He’s currently traveling with his wife and three young kids in southern central America. Today he’s actually in Nicaragua, and we’re going to dig in to how he’s architected this incredible life using the internet and the digital business. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Ricky Shetty to the show.
I actually worked in Europe during a working holiday visa in London. I then, backpacked my way around 20 countries in Europe. I actually went to Japan, I taught English there for a year in Tokyo. I traveled through Asia, South east Asia. Went into Australia, and I spent another year doing working holiday visa in Sydney.
Backpacked around all of Australia, New Zealand, and then the money ran out, so I actually came back to Vancouver B.C., Canada where I’m from, and where my whole background is, my family is there. I came back there and staying with the parents as you do when run out of money.
That’s when I was like, “Okay, what do I do with my life, I’ve spent my 20’s traveling and it was amazing, but I don’t really have a career trajectory.” I’d done a lot of ESL teaching, I’d worked in a bank, one of the big banks in Canada Scotiabank as a teller. When I was back in Vancouver I was trying some odds and ends jobs like working as a ESL teacher in downtown Vancouver. Then I started getting into internet marketing, I was like, “Okay, I don’t really want to work as a teacher in terms of working for a boss, or working in a school.”
Then I started doing internet marketing. I would say my first internet marketing kind of online business was … Well, my first I guess venture into entrepreneurship was more network marketing. I know there are a lot of people who start off as entrepreneurs that way. Unfortunately I failed in that business, as a lot of network marketers do. I tried three or four different MLM companies and then I started just following my passion.
My passion is social media, and I launched my blog (Daddy Blogger.com) on December 1st, 2012. So, it’s been running for five years, so I would say that was my first kind of forte into internet marketing because blogging is kind of a easy way, it doesn’t take a lot of skills, or a lot of upfront investment.
And I just started to see what would happen because I was really passionate about fatherhood, and family, and building strong marriages. A quick little side note here Derek. My parents actually ended up getting a divorce, so I actually grew up quite broken. When I entered university and all that’s when I started opening up and becoming more sociable, and started healing myself, and then I decided to re-launch the Daddy Blogger website because I had a lot of fears around marriage and fatherhood, and repeating all mistakes of having a divorce and having a broken family. That’s a little bit of the origin story, and why I started Daddy Blogger.com, and that’s been running for five years, and then from there I’ve been venturing in a few different areas. But, that was the beginning Daddy Blogger.com.
I had this yearning and this desire to travel because I think a lot of us who are travelers, once you get this travel bug, you want to keep traveling and traveling. But then I was like, “Okay, my travel days are over because that was in my 20’s. Now, that I’m a married man I got to be responsible and raise this kids in the suburbs.”
I don’t know. There was this yearning and this longing for adventure and travel. There was I guess some form of discontentment. I had become a domesticated, suburbanized dad, and honestly Derek I wasn’t happy in that role. A lot of dads or moms might be happy leaving in the suburbs, and having that routine, but I was actually going through some depression honestly. I was feeling down and I’m like, “Okay, there must be more to life than this, am I just going to stay in the suburbs until I die and then maybe someday retire?” We already had two kids, and we have three kids currently. We have our daughter who’s five, we have a son who’s four, and then we have our youngest son who’s one now.
But, when my wife was pregnant with the third, I guess I suggested, that’s a good word for it, suggested to my wife, “Hey honey, what would you think about traveling with a third kid because you’re going to be on mat leave.”
For those of your listeners who are not from Canada, in Canada we have the luxury of having one year paid maternity leave. My wife was going to be away from her work, and getting paid for a whole year, and because we had two kids we were already comfortable, or more uncomfortable than our first one in terms of raising the kid and having more confidence, and knowing the ins and outs of parenting. I suggested to my wife let’s travel and she’s like, “Okay, we can travel, you mean like for two weeks, a month.” I was like, “How about a little bit longer, you have a year off right?” She’s like, “I don’t know about that.” We had a lot of back and forth.
Finally, I guess I convinced her. I went from suggesting to convincing my wife that let’s do it for a year and if we don’t like it we can always come back to Vancouver, but if you like it we can keep going. If I don’t like it, or if my wife doesn’t like it, or if the kids don’t like it, or if there’s any health issues, for any reason we’ll come back.
This is actually good advice for any married couples, or just couples in general, where one member of the family, or the marriage wants to travel and the other doesn’t, I would suggest maybe trying doing a trial run of maybe three months, six months a year. It was basically when my wife had our third child we ended up leaving and we’ve been traveling for a year or plus now, and we’re really loving it. The big dilemma now is do we come back, or do we settle somewhere else and we keep traveling nomadically.
There’s obviously a lot of pros and cons to each of those scenarios. Right now we’re loving the travel but it’s actually quite tiring, especially if you’re checking in and checking out, packing and unpacking, travel planning, and working while you’re traveling. Taking care of kids and worrying about their schooling, and worrying about their doctor check ups and health issues, and languages. We’re traveling in south and central America so we’re learning Spanish.
Obviously, a lot of dynamics are placed here, so we’re like you said, 14 months into this journey and we’re honestly thinking of slowing down because like I said, it’s quite tiring. One of the big goals of this particular trip was to visit every country in South America, and every country in Central America, and we actually did finish every country in South America. There’s 12 tour countries within 12 out of 12, and in Central America there’s eight countries, and we’ve done seven out of eight. And as of Costa Rica which we will be in next week, we’ll have done every country in Central America. We will have accomplished what we set out for during this trip.
Now, while you’re traveling, I know a lot of people kind of have this dream, “I want to travel and have a business and stuff like that, that supports my travel.” What are some of the challenges you’ve run into running your businesses while you’re traveling?
You might be staying in a great hotel, or a great Airbnb, you’re just not going to have that stable of Wi-Fi. It’s very difficult if you’re doing things like coaching or podcasting, or you have a mastermind, and you have clients that are relying on you to be there at a certain time and place. All of a sudden you’re not there and it’s because the Wi-Fi is not working.
You need to have backups to some degree if the hotel Wi-Fi is not working, you need to have a café or restaurant nearby, maybe have a data plan where in case there’s no network you can jump on the data plan. The number one challenge we’ve faced is having that consistent, reliable Wi-fi continuously during our travels.
My wife is more of a slow traveler, she likes different things than I do. She likes more beach time, I like learning history and culture. We’ve kind of have to adapt. I’ve had to adapt to her need for slow travel, she’s had to adapt to my need for fast travel. We’ve had to blend that beach time and culture time. Sometimes my wife would stay in the hotel, or she’ll meet me later on with the kids, and I will do my solo trekking, or the more adventurous stuff. Sometimes I’ll hang out with the kids and my wife will do more of the … She likes arts and crafts, or going to the market, or having spa time.
Sometimes it’s important to have that, and even the other thing I would mention too is we lose out on the romantic time, right, like the dates because in Canada where our parents are we have a babysitter. The grandma and grandpa can babysit anytime we want, but we don’t have that when we’re traveling. Luckily, some of the hotels, you can just pay some of the staff and they can look after the kids, so we’ve had some bits but not enough. That’s been another challenge, nurturing the marriage.
Of course the language when you’re traveling in a place like south and central America, it’s primarily and only Spanish and most of the locals do not speak English, even the hotels or restaurants, or buses, or transport is all going to be in Spanish.
We’ve had to learn the language. As I mentioned to you the whole logistics of travel planning is difficult. The logistics of packing and unpacking, finding a place to stay, figuring out the public transport system. All those things are very challenging and very stressful, and difficult. But, at the same time that’s what I also love, languages are different, and adapting and learning problem solving skills, learning flexibility, and adaptation, and a lot of other skills as well.
Sorry, there’s one more challenge. The other big challenge is the whole socialization challenge because when you’re in a city, a country, a continent, your hometown you’re going to have your stable friendships, you’re going to have night out with the boys, or girls night out, your kids are going to have kids to welcome them to their birthday parties. Socialization of our kids has been one of the hardest things. We’ve actually been volunteering in orphanages when we’re traveling. We stay at different orphanages and then our kids get the kid plan.
Right now as we’re doing this interview we’re in a homestead here in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, and there’s actually a home system, a family with kids who are the same age as our kids, our two older ones anyway. The kids play with the other kids even though they don’t speak the same language. That’s been another challenge. We could record the whole podcast just on challenges of the digital nomad.
Now, let’s shift gears a little bit. Let’s get into the business side of it. You’ve got your blog, you’ve got numerous things going on. How are you generating income while you travel?
My current revenue model is I have a few active income streams. One is private coaching, so I do private one on one coaching through Skype or Zoom, or Google Hangouts.
Then I do a weekly mastermind group, so that’s a paid mastermind group. I also record quite a few different online courses, so on Udemy I have four Udemy courses, and I have a few self-posted online courses as well.
And then besides that I’ve been doing the podcast and the travel blogging. We can get into the whole thing about getting sponsorships when you travel too, because it’s one thing to get clients when you’re traveling, but it’s also another thing to save money while you’re traveling, getting free hotel stays, free sightseeing, free food, free transport. My travel blog helps with this information. And then I actually run a virtual summits as well. I did one last year, and I’m looking at running a few virtual summits. I also have a few other smaller income streams: like affiliate marketing and Kindle sales.
But, my passive income streams are currently my YouTube ad revenues. I have a YouTube channel which just hit as of a couple days ago, four million views, and that generates a couple hundred of passive income a month. And then Udemy again, it’s about a hundred a month in passive income through Udemy. And then Kindle, I have a book on fatherhood on there, so that’s a little bit side income. Affiliate marketing there’s no consistent regular income on there, it’s pretty much whenever someone clicks on the links and buys stuff. Right now my goal has been to focus on, “Okay, how do I increase these passive income streams?” And I’m very much about trial and error. Okay, what’s working, what’s not?
My coaching is working, my masterminds group is working, those are strong and stable. Online courses are doing well, and I want to keep recording and putting more on Udemy. I haven’t been doing as well on my Kindle book. I probably need to tweak it, or add some more different Kindle books. Affiliate marketing, I need to work on the data area, but I’m very much about trial and error. Whatever is working keep focusing on that, and what’s not working, kind of toss it. Don’t try to fix what’s broken, as the whole saying goes, right?
But, some other people that’s their sole source of income. I think one of the things is really to figure out what is your strengths, but also what is your likeability factor. You can have a strength in something, but you might not like doing it. You have got to figure out what you are passionate about. What are you strongest at, and what does the world need, right? That’s what basically business is all about. Solving problems for the world, solving problems for people and getting your profits.
Because I was the event host, or the conference producer, a lot of people would be asking me for advice and tips, and at first I would give away all my information for free, and I still do. I love sharing, I love enabling and inspiring, and supporting others. I give a lot of my info for free. But, at the same time I don’t want to give my one on one personal time for free as much anymore. Back in Vancouver I was already starting to get into coaching, and people would hire me just for one hour sessions, and then I started building programs, more like a program-based one rather than just sessions.
I’m aiming to get more clients that are more three to six months, or two year long, rather than just a month, or two sessions here and there. It’s definitely been a trial and error process there as well, and also figuring out my rates. Do I charge hourly? Do I charge per session? Do I charge by month? Do I just charge for the whole six months?
Right? It’s been testing a lot. I haven’t done any formal training. I obviously watch YouTube videos about it, I listen to some podcasts about coaching, I hired a coach myself. This is another great tip for people who want to become coaches. Hire a coach yourself, and you learn from that person how they coach you, and obviously you share your struggles and difficulties, and challenges with that person.
So, hiring a coach myself, reading books, and listening to podcasts, and watching videos about the subject helps as well, and then for some people they might want to do more of a formal course like a workshop, or course and certification.
I just decided to take it online, and I run it every Wednesday evening and at specific standard time like 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. There’s four members in that group currently, and most of them have been in that group for about five or six months currently. I keep it limited to about five or six maximum because you want to have individual attention to each of those members, and we have a very structured approach every week.
I’ll bring the same structure and I’ll outline it quickly here for your viewers and listeners. Basically, the first 10 minutes is weekly updates, so I’ll do my weekly update, and the other three or four members will do their weekly updates, and those are ten minutes each.
And those are also very structured, they’re not just randomly talking about anything you want to talk about. But, we usually talk about what went well in the week, what didn’t go so well, what are some of the challenges, and then we’ll also give our lesson.
What lesson did the week teach us, and then we’ll also give ourself a rating, zero out of five, five being the best week in the history of weeks, and zero being the worst possible week. And then finally we’ll say, “Okay this is how my week went, and this is what I need help or support on.” We’ll do 10 minutes of sharing and then 10 minutes of feedback where the members will give feedback to other members.
We’ll do that with all of the members. That will last for about an hour plus, and then for the last 30 minutes roughly, we’ll do a hot seat session where it just focuses on one problem that the member is facing, and that person will share a struggle, and then everyone else will brainstorm and give possible solutions. That person who’s on the hot seat has to commit to taking action, and then next week we actually follow up if that person has actually taken action on the solution or not. That in a nutshell is how our mastermind works.
Now, I want to shift gears. I want to talk about YouTube for a second here. Now, you’ve been building up your YouTube channel and you said it just broke four million views on YouTube. Let’s talk a little bit about that and give me an overview. When did you start your channel? What kind of strategies are you employing here?
You might want a link to this one Derek, but I proposed to my wife using a flash mob at YVA airport, and made the front page of the Vancouver Province which is a provincial paper in British Columbia where Derek and I are from. But, I did this flash mob proposal and I put it on my YouTube channel, and then we got married, and I put that on my YouTube channel, we did the family videos on my YouTube channel like our baby’s first steps, and her first talking, her first crawling, those kind of stuff, right? The typical family moments, and then because I was an event producer, I was putting a lot of YouTube videos about my events on there, my conferences.
And then I started basically just putting as much content on there because I believe at the end of the day content’s king. I was putting videos about family on there, about travel on there, about business on there, and I started categorizing that and then it started taking off to some degree. One of the videos has 1.5 million now, a quarter of the videos have 100,000, 200,000 views, 300,000 views, and some of them have 50,000, some of them have 10,000, and then the others just have 50 to 100 views. It’s about putting content on there, and not just putting content on there happenstantially, but also putting content on there strategically like putting content with strong titles on there, strong descriptions and strong tags on there.
You kind of have to think what is the YouTube viewer searching for when they type in something on YouTube. Of course the age-old how to videos: how to make money while traveling the world, how to start an online business, how to write a Kindle book, how to change a diaper, how to deal with toddler tantrums, how to deal with unruly kids, or discipline your kids, or how to stop your kids from fighting. Anything like those how to videos are probably what the YouTube viewer is actually typing in the search bar. You got to think ahead of the game, and think in the mind of the searcher, and then create a title to solve that person’s problem, what they’re looking for. Be that first person to solve that person’s issue.
Be strategic in terms of writing the title, writing a description, and then tagging. A lot of my viewers come from YouTube referrals only. I don’t actually share the majority of my videos on any of my social media. I basically just upload them on YouTube, put the strong title on YouTube description and in tags, and then YouTube does the work for me. I just make sure that the ads are turned on, and then YouTube does the work for me in terms of helping me find those viewers. I’m kind of hands off after the YouTube video has been uploaded, then I don’t even look at it, and then all of a sudden at the end of the month I’m like, “Okay, how are these videos doing? Where is the traffic sources coming from? Which videos are doing well?”
And then I’m like, “Okay, all of these videos regarding those kind of questions I alluded to earlier are doing well, or these travel videos where I talk about these countries, or these specific issues.” For example, I do a lot of hotel video tours. Those ones are really good because then another dad, or another mom who wants to go on a family vacation, they can actually see the video tour of the hotel that we stayed in. Some of those hotel video tours are really good.
The other thing I would suggest as well is when you do a YouTube video, especially when you’re doing kind of the style I do which is travel blogging, I will work with companies and then I’ll do a review of the hotel or the sightseeing attraction, the restaurant we ate at, or the transport we’ve taken, and then I’ll actually send it to the company.
So, I’ll send it to the hotel and I’ll say, “Hey.”, we’ve just stayed in the hotel, and here’s a video. If you like please share it with your network.” It might be we’ve got to stay for free, but not every time we’ve done a review. Sometimes we haven’t got the stay for free.
That’s been another great way that we’ve been able to build up the views is by the businesses we’re working with, or staying at, or the sites and attractions, they sharing it to their Facebook pages. Some of them have actually embedded our videos on their website, so that’s been another strategy to build up my YouTube channel as well.
Also, putting them on my blog. I put a lot of the videos on my blog, so my blog readers have obviously a connection to those. Those are some tips and suggestions for building up YouTube channel out there.
You mentioned the whole accountability factor because we all have great intentions and wishes, and hopes. We want to do a Kindle book, we want to do affiliate marketing, we want to do a Udemy course, but we don’t usually do it on our own unless we’re hyper, hyper, super, super disciplined. I know if I kind of just started by doing it, it wouldn’t have totally happened. So, working with Scott, or working with someone in general is really good for that accountability piece we mentioned earlier in the interview. Scott and me we co-created four different courses, and they all have to do with some part of me and digital nomad.
How to get started as a digital nomad, how to become a travel blogger, how to create online courses, how to get sponsorships. All these courses are connected and sometimes we’ll actually have people buy all four of them together.
In creating a Udemy course, I would say definitely picking a unique niche, and a narrow niche where there’s not much competition. We found that digital nomad is kind of trending and it’s going to trend even more in the future when more and more people realize, “Oh, I can actually make money and travel.” I guess we want to be trail blazers or forerunners in this digital nomad.
Basically, you have to figure out your skill set, right? Your skill set might be web design, graphics design, it might be social media. If you love social media then why don’t you manage it for someone else? If you love talking, why don’t you create courses? If you love writing, why don’t you create a travel blog? If you love doing audio interviews such as you do Derek and I do, why don’t you start a podcast? I would say start something with the intention of making a little bit of money online, and if you see that’s working, if you see, “Okay, I’m making like $50 a month then you’re onto something, right? But, if you keep doing it for five or six months and you’re making zero every month, you might be like, “Okay, I want to try something else.” I would say try doing something that you’re interested in, and that you’re good at.
The other suggestion I would say is coaching is a good model in terms of kind of maximum followers, the quickest way to the most cash. Coaching is a good trade of planning for money. You can usually make at least about 100 US, or more per hour, or per session for coaching sessions. Maybe start by just coaching your friends for free, and then if you like coaching and if your friends feel that they’re benefiting from your coaching advice then you might be like, “Okay, now let me start charging $50 an hour, or $80 dollars an hour for my coaching.” And boom you’ve made your online income.
I would strongly suggest that looking for a source of online income which might just be part time at first, and then from there expanding to making that maybe the primary source into full-time income, and if not building what I call a patchwork income. The whole multiple streams or online active and passive income. Start building up maybe $500 as a coach, $1,000 as a social media manager, start building that.
The other thing I would say is that travel is cheaper than you think especially in places like Southeast Asia, Africa, South and Central America. It’s actually cheaper than living back in your hometown. We as a family of five, we can travel in Central and South America for under 2,000 US per month in most countries with the exception of maybe Brazil which is quite expensive, and Argentina which is quite expensive. But, most other countries we’re able to survive comfortably. We’re not just eating Ramen noodles, or bread and butter. We’re eating out, we’re not like luxurious travelers. We’re staying at homesteads, or hotels, or Airbnb, not all inclusive and all that. I would say mid-ranged budget travelers. You can survive as a family of five for around a 2,000 US dollar mark. Back in Canada we’d be spending more than that for our mortgage, and our car, and our insurance, and eating out, and all of that. Travel is actually much cheaper than you think and that’s another advice I would give to people.
Starting somewhere like Southeast Asia which is kind of the easy way to start, and then maybe start traveling to places that are a different language and a different culture. Travel doesn’t have to be also overseas, maybe just start traveling in your own city, your own country, maybe to a different province or state. Just start traveling and then start making income online and soon both of those two desires of yours: to travel and to make money will merge and you’ll be able to travel around the world for indefinitely.
The other thing that I want to kind of highlight here because I think you’ve alluded to this and I think too many people get this wrong. Too many people start out saying, “Hey, I want to be a digital entrepreneur, and I want to build passive income.” They start chasing after passive income right away and they just bypass the active income, but the reality is to build true passive income takes time, and I think what you’ve done is smart. You’ve got the active income which is giving you that immediate income, but you’re also building the passive income. As far as I can see it, that’s not where you started, you started with active and I think a lot of people … There’s this misconception the internet is all about passive income. People get stuck into that passive income dream and trap, and the reality is the easiest, fastest way to generate income from my books is active.
That’s an important message to take away there. First of all Ricky I want to thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and giving our listeners so many tips and strategies, and insights of what it’s like to be a digital nomad. Last question for you is if people want to follow your travels, they want to connect with you. Where do they go?
I’m all about at the end of the day connecting, inspiring, helping. I’m not about the money enough. I need to be more about like, “Okay, let’s make money while helping that person.” But, I’m just like, “Let’s help that person and the money will come, I’m not too worried about it.”
And that’s my philosophy and attitude and I’m not making six and seven figures, but I’m okay with that. I travel the world, I’m super grateful for each and every city, each and every country, each and every continent we’ve seen and I’m so grateful and appreciative of that.
I know it’s possible because I look back, Derek to my days when I was a depressed, domesticated dad back in Vancouver, and now I’m a digital nomad dad. I’m like, “If this is possible for me then it’s possible for others.” Now, I just want to inspire others and help, and support anyway I can. If you as a listener have this dream of making money while traveling the world, I want to help support you anyway I can.
Go forth, take action, apply what you’ve learned and stay tuned for more info-packed episodes of the Project Ignite Podcast.
This is your host Derek Gehl signing off.