Ways to create a mobile income and the tools you’ll need

Hemingway sitting at his mechanical typewriter doing his own kind of mobile income

Creating a mobile income is on the mind of every expat. Unless you are retired and financially secure, of course. We discuss the many ways to create a mobile income, as well as the tools you will need to make it happen.

A mere 30 years ago, the concept of a mobile income was limited to finding a series of short-term jobs as you travel. Or if you were a writer, you could schlep your mechanical typewriter with you, hoping for inspiration by destination.

Fortunately, things have changed. Join us as we explore ways to create a mobile income.

The World Wide Web

Enter the world wide web, or www, or the web as we all lovingly call it.

The web has enabled people to achieve two things. Firstly, it allows people to generate an income in a great variety of ways. Secondly, it makes many people location independent.

Put the two together, and you have a mobile income.

The ideal way to enjoy expat life

Having a mobile income is the ideal way to enjoy life as an expat. It gives you the opportunity to experience a foreign culture whilst making a living to pay your way.

The great thing about being mobile is that it means different things to different people.

Some older expats prefer a slower pace. They prefer to move from one destination to the next infrequently. Some want to remain in one country and apply for residency.

Others have ants in their pants – they relish the opportunity to move around regularly.

Either way, your chosen level of mobility should have little effect on your ability to earn an income.

Woman sitting in coffee shop with notebook making a mobile incomeSo, is it passive income?

This question is not an attempt to get off topic. Many people ask me about my “passive income from the blog”. So, I think it is worthwhile to discuss it.

The short answer is no, a mobile income is not passive income.

Income can be divided into three broad categories namely active income, portfolio or investment income, and passive income. The names are self-explanatory.

Passive income in turn, can also be divided into three broad categories:

  • Earning rental income from real estate;
  • Earning royalties on intellectual property;
  • Business activity which requires insignificant participation.

From that description, it becomes clear that passive income follows active income or activity. Before you can earn a passive income, you need to create an asset that will produce that passive income.

Beware claims of big incomes

Some old wisdom comes to mind: if it’s too good to be true, it is!

There are literally thousands of outrages claims about mobile incomes or different internet income opportunities. Many of these promise six-figure incomes within a few months, some of them are even willing to share their step-by-step secret recipe. For a fee, that is.

A mobile business can generate significant income. And there are loads of evidence in the public domain to support this notion. However, most opportunities will require long hours of work and many months of dedicated attention before a decent income starts to flow.

The message I want to convey is simply one of prudence.

Multiple income streams

Conventional business advice is to focus on one thing and to do that thing exceedingly well.

In contrast, when you consider ways to create a mobile income, it is advisable to create multiple income streams. This could mean two different approaches.

A notebook with money on the side illustrating a mobile incomeFirstly, it could be multiple income streams from within a single business. For example, a blog (a single business) could generate income in different ways, such as advertising and affiliate marketing.

Secondly, it could be multiple income streams from multiple small businesses. For example, you can manage a blog as well as an online store.

The conventional advice of doing something well will remain true. But creating multiple income streams is an effective strategy to secure a steady income stream.

Mobile income

The heading may just as well read “mobile business”, because most of the options that we will discuss, take the form of a business. In fact, even if you work for a corporate, you can consider it a business as you are essentially selling your time or certain deliverables.

So, let us have a look at the six groups of activities from which you can create a mobile income.

Corporate work

By building and maintaining a good relationship with an employer, some expats manage to secure an income after resignation from a position. To a lesser extent, some manage to remain employed while working from “home”. In some cases, home becomes another country altogether.

Professional services

Anybody with a professional or technical qualification has an opportunity to create something of value.

While some sell consulting services, others compile courses or write books. All of these have value and the more qualified you are, the better your chances are to monetize your product or service.

Business services

Think of any type of business. Then think of all the services required by that business to operate successfully.

Almost all services required by businesses can be offered online, presenting you with a way to create a mobile income.

Very generally, there are two ways to connect with businesses in order to sell your services.

The first way is to register on platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer. These are specialized sites that act as intermediaries, for a small fee.

The second way is to create your own platform – your own website – and advertise the services you want to offer.

If you want to research examples, search for “virtual assistant” and look at the amazing number of high-quality businesses offering their services online. Also, take note of the variety of services offered.

A young lady at her desk with an open computer that illustrates a way to make a mobile incomeTeaching & coaching

The number of people teaching online, specifically languages, has exploded recently. It has given rise to an entire industry, providing a source of mobile income to many thousands of expats.

Not far behind is the growing industry of online coaching. And, no surprise, online counseling.

Content marketing, publishing & blogging

If you have a good mix of writing and tech skills, you can offer your content marketing services to brand owners.

Like so many aspects of life, technology has simplified publishing and put it within reach of most people. From self-publishing a novel to selling e-books on Amazon, publishing is a viable way to create a mobile income.

I can vividly remember the first time I read about a blog. And how fascinated I was about the idea of having a diary on the web. Today, starting and maintaining a blog is as mundane as buying and using a mobile phone.

Even in today’s crowded blog space, those with an interesting or rare niche can most certainly establish a blog that will generate an income.

A typewriter with the words Blogging that shows a form of mobile incomeOnline sales

When someone mentions online sales, we inevitably think of the behemoth called Amazon.

Fortunately, thanks to drop-shipping, you can start and manage an online store without inventory or any other physical infrastructure. This allows you to sell virtually any product, to most major markets, from anywhere in the world.

Pick your devil carefully

When starting an online business, there is one piece of advice that will serve you well, and that is “the riches are in the niches”.

This is particularly true for professional services and blogging. Teaching and coaching, business services and online sales are far less affected by this.

By sticking to your area of expertise, and then refining your niche as sharply as possible, you can build an online reputation as an expert. Why is it important? Because people don’t mind paying for expert advice.

On the other hand, without a sharp niche, you will be just another online presence – just another website amongst the millions out there.

Tools you will need for your mobile business

The tools, apps or platforms that follow are by no means an exhaustive list of what is available. Or what you would need. It is instead an overview of the most important tools to start creating your mobile business.

A small toolbox on a computer keyboard showing the tools that you will need to have a mobile income

#1 Learning

Udemy is an online learning platform aimed at professional adults. It is the leading marketplace for teaching and learning, connecting students all over the world to the best instructors. Udemy is helping individuals reach their goals and pursue their dreams.

Super Star BloggingThe Business Of Travel Blogging program will help you avoid the rookie mistakes that cause most people to fail at travel blogging. It is comprehensive, will assist you to take consistent action and turn your blog into a profitable business that makes a difference.

Super Star Blogging CourseSuperstar Blogging is a multifaceted school teaching you all aspects of running an online travel website. Whether you want to turn your hobby into something more or find a way to move your career forward ten steps, these courses will give you that insider’s depth of knowledge you need.

#2 Website hosting

Siteground on Travel HippiSiteground has something to offer everybody, no matter if shared, cloud or dedicated hosting is needed. Their servers are optimized for the most popular apps including Joomla, WordPress & Drupal. Their support team is brilliant, providing fast support that is available 24/7. And they assist with issues beyond hosting.

#3 Cloud storage

SyncYour data is one of the most important things you own and it’s crucial to have it backed up and stored securely. Sync is one of the only cloud-based companies that offer end-to-end encryption that protects your confidential data in the cloud from unauthorized access at all times. They have a free plan offering 5GB of data so you can start right away.

#4 Intermediary platforms

On Upwork you’ll find a range of top talent, from programmers to designers, writers, customer support reps and more. It is the largest global freelancing website, enabling businesses to find, hire, and pay highly-skilled freelancers for short-term and longer-term projects.

Freelancer claims to be the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by a number of users and projects. Through their marketplace, employers can hire freelancers to do work in areas such as software development, writing, data entry, and design right through to engineering, the sciences, sales, and marketing.

Airtasker is a trusted community platform that connects people who need to outsource tasks and find local services, with people who are looking to earn money and ready to work. From simple to complicated tasks, Airtasker can help you complete your home cleaning, handyman jobs, admin work, photography, graphic design or even build a website.

#5 Email marketing

MailerliteMailerlite is the best-advanced email marketing program. It’s easy to use and the functionality will enable you to communicate with your audience in a professional manner. Building your email database becomes a breeze. We love the simplicity, flexibility and competitive pricing structure.

#6 Graphics editor 

Snappa is a cloud-based graphics editor for social media as well as general marketing purposes. It makes creating visual content easy without the use of complex editing tools like Photoshop and other similar image editing applications.

#7 Accounting

Wave accountingWave delivers innovative financial services and award-winning free software to small businesses around the world. It has everything a small business would need. From basic accounting, invoicing, payroll, linking to your bank statements and easy capturing of receipts via mobile.

Invest in your mobile income

Whatever opportunity you choose to explore, your mobile income is a business and should be treated as such.

No business, not even a web-based business, can function without infrastructure. The various tools and apps we discussed earlier, are the electronic form of infrastructure that your electronic business needs.

Invest in it, wisely, and it will reward you with a mobile income to live an expat life of mobility and financial wellbeing.

Web Hosting

Keep it professional

With a mobile business, you have this marvelous perk of working in your pajamas, if you want to. And you should do it every so often! It is the source of deep gratitude and great pleasure.

But! Keep it professional. Don’t ever allow the freedom of mobility (and privacy) to affect your work negatively.

Invest in yourself as much as you invest in your business.

Good books to read


“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down” – Charles F Kettering

I would love to have your thoughts about ways to create a mobile income. What worked for you and what didn’t?

Liked this post? We’ll appreciate a pin and share!

Plan your mobile incomeSome of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you make a purchase or use a service.

Sold everything, became minimalist. Retired early, in Hispanic America. Helping others do the same. This free guide will help you plan your relocation. Do you have a question?

2 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful article, Chris. I hope to join you ‘on the other side’ in a year or two, and hope to get my online business going before leaving. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thank you Cecile, and good luck with the planning. In the mean time, please don’t hesitate to send any questions you may have, we will gladly assist.

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