Boondocking with Solar - Wild and Free Camping in an RV
Creating usable electricity from the sun all starts with solar panels that collect the readily available energy from the sunlight, just like leaves on a tree. The energy then flows from the panels to a controller that monitors and manages the flow of power so that the maximum amount of energy is stored, even on a cloudy day. The energy is then stored in batteries. Finally, the inverter transforms the stored energy to electricity that is compatible with your lights, appliances and other electronic devices.
Meet The Wynn’s, Jason and Nikki. We sold everything, packed up our two cats and bought a home on wheels so no matter where our adventures took us; we were never far from home. Now, we travel from place to place in an effort to wear out our adventurous soles. This is how we make money and travel.
Photo/Video: Before hitting the road, Jason was a professional photographer and Nikki was a makeup artist in Dallas, Texas. We both worked in commercial/advertising so naturally we looked to those same skills to fund our new mobile lifestyle. We quickly realized there is a need for affordable, yet quality video/photography in the travel/tourism industry and we’ve been filling that need ever since. From tourism boards, to adventure companies, to campgrounds, we create experiential and promotional videos and photographs. This is our main source of income while traveling full-time on the road.
Blogging: We also make a small passive income from writing the occasional article for various publications and for distribution on our own website, Gone With The Wynn’s.
Photo/Video: We put in between 16-20 hours a week scouting/filming/photographing and another 25-30 hours editing and script writing. Being out and about capturing the moments is the fun and rewarding part of our job. Depending on what we are capturing we meet new and interesting people and see places we otherwise would have never known about or bothered to see. The endless hours in front of the computer make up the reminder of our work time, and this part is indeed a “job”. Some days we go right for the computer as soon as we wake up (around 7am), we’ll never make it out of our pj’s and once we are officially cross eyed, we will finally shut everything down (around 11pm) and go to bed.
Blogging: Blogging, especially if you publish a post a week and interact with your readers, is extremely time consuming. We put in between 20 – 30 hours a week into our blog/social media/answering reader emails and comments….. Writing good content takes a lot of time (often 6-8 hours for one post), answering emails/comments/social media (around 3-5 hours a week), then editing photos to go with each post (anywhere from 1-6 hours per post) and then there are our videos (anywhere from 16-20 hours per video).
Photo/Video: The average yearly salary for a photographer/videographer can vary widely. When we had our studio in Dallas we would easily earn 6 figures. On the road, we have yet to make the same earnings. If we are willing to move quickly, the pay can be lucrative because we can stick to a firm schedule and book lots of jobs in advance. If we want to take time to enjoy each location and book jobs on the fly with a flexible and spontaneous schedule we usually just make enough money to pay the bills. See our post: costs of living on the road for our personal expenses. As for our pricing, we try and stick to basic 10 hour day rates and work each estimate based off of time invested per project.
Blogging: Very few bloggers make any money at all, much less good money. Some months we will make $1000 (rare) while others we make $0. We don’t sell advertising on our site (just not our thing) so our only income from our website comes from our monetized videos on YouTube (around $100-200 total a month, thank you for watching), the occasional sponsored post (sometimes paid, sometimes barter or trade). We can also make $100 – $300 to write content for other publications/blogs, but only when we find time to pitch an original idea. Personal blogging is not a great source of income….it could be but your odds of making great money from a blog are about as good as you becoming the next big movie star, it’s possible, but not likely. If you blog, do it because you have a story to share or want to help others, not to make money.
Our most essential work tools are our laptop computers, cell phones and our camera gear. All of our cameras and equipment are listed on our post: Secrets to DSLR HD Video on the Road.
We work primarily with tourism boards, adventure companies, and campgrounds by providing video, photographs and blogs/articles. Sometimes a company or brand will contact us in need of our services but most of the time we are researching and pitching companies that we think fit our goals and lifestyle. If we do our research well, come up with a good solid pitch, we rarely get turned down; about a 75% success rate. If we contact a company or town on the fly because we are going to be in the area, it’s more like a 25 – 50% success rate….and sometimes it’s just a trade because we really wanted to go on that kayak trip.
Travel – Each job is unique and we are always exploring something new and often times a really beautiful location (check out the post on Idyllwild, we would’ve never visited this mountain town without being hired to film one of the local campgrounds). If we’re not inspired by today’s job, tomorrows will be somewhere totally different, so there is always a light at the end of that tunnel.
Forced Exploring – Our job is to capture experiences through still and moving pictures. So we have to dig to find what makes each person, place or thing unique and interesting. We have discovered some of the best destinations and people through our work, and that’s what gets us excited for the next gig.
Inspiring Others – the biggest reward and payment we get from our blog is the thankful comments and emails. It’s incredibly humbling to know you have inspired someone to take that trip, make a change their life or saved them a ton of money on travel resources.
IRS Write Offs – Because we both owned our own companies in Dallas, before leaving on our RV adventure, we decided to incorporate and it’s worked out very well as our RV adventures are all pretty much a write-off. We have a great CPA who helps us stay legit, within the laws, and with his help we can write off the depreciation of our RV, many of our food expenses, our campgrounds, fuel, insurance, cameras….well pretty much everything that is related to us making a living.
Travel – Packing up and moving along at a fast pace, not knowing if you will have cell service or internet, and having new distractions outside your door daily can make working on the road nearly impossible. Most of the time our work locations are where everyone else is drinking beer and on vacation…it’s incredibly hard to resist the temptation to join in as we peer out our windows.
Computer Time – We spend a good portion of our time with our noses buried in computers, editing, writing and documenting the people and places instead of experiencing them. Yes, we are those people in the dark corner of the coffee shop working away while everyone else enjoys the day.
If we could go back in time and give ourselves a few pointers, they would be:
Develop your portfolio(s), set your blog up and get some clients before you start travelling, I’m talking like a year before you hit the road. Content is king and if you have none then why would anyone want to pay you to create it for them?
Keep track of every minute spent on each project – it’ll help with properly estimating and pricing jobs later on down the road.
Double the amount of time. If you think you need 4 days, give yourself 8. You never know what obstacles will pop up. Rain, slow internet, RV breakdowns…so on and so on. And don’t forget to schedule in some time off!
The Fantasy Job
The dream job for us is the one Ansel Adams had. We would love nothing more than to be commissioned to travel from National Park to National Park and capture the beauty of our amazing national treasures!
Now it’s time for you to think outside the box. There’s no set of guidelines and anything is possible. Of course, some jobs are naturally easier to perform remotely such as webmasters, software developers, and writers. While doctors, teachers and firemen will have to do some creative thinking, but there is always a way.