The Side Hustle Overshare Experiment

Despite claims of “success” and “massive income,” It can be hard to decipher exactly how much some blogs are actually making. If the numbers are public, it’s often hard to tease out what the sources of income actually are. Some bloggers, like Jeremy over at Go Curry Cracker, are way more transparent than others. In my opinion, that kind of honesty builds a more loyal and enduring following in the long run… even if it takes longer to build.

Occasionally, an allegedly successful blogger will share their income numbers, but it’s part of their sales pitch to “sell the dream.” That is, their “product” is a fantasy about getting rich or being successful mimicking their public persona rather than making you a master of the subject matter. A widget blogger that becomes wealthy selling courses about how to be a widget blogger isn’t primarily a widget blogger any more. They’re a purveyor of fantasies.

Whether that’s right or wrong isn’t the topic at hand here– it’s just not me. I don’t begrudge anyone their success, I just don’t want to be in the fantasy business. Instead, I’m preparing to launch a paid service at The Earth Awaits that I hope will create a secondary income for us over time. In the longer term, I dream that it could become our primary source of income. I’d love it if we could start our slow travel journey, working on TEA from all over the world. We’d essentially be enjoying the best aspects of our Early Retirement plan months or years early!

Since it’s early January and I haven’t launched the new services yet, I want to share my successes and failures with you from the very beginning. In this series, I’ll share every dime that I spend, every dime that I make, and the traffic numbers that generate that income. I’ll tell you about every decision I make to try to drive more business my way. We’ll figure out– together– whether you can build a successful online business while still being shockingly transparent.

First thing’s first: I appreciate your advice and encourage you to share it. Throughout the year, as I experience the ups and downs of trying to build a business with integrity, please let me know if you see me making a mistake or see a way to be more successful. If this is a success– and I hope that it is– I want you to be a part of it.

The Ground Rules

A business lives and dies by its culture. I brainstormed a list of values that I want to underpin the way that The Earth Awaits operates.  They are:

  1. Always be Truthful
  2. Be Wildly Transparent
  3. Sell Something of Value
  4. Gain Customers Honestly
  5. Provide the Best Customer Service in the World

Always be truthful means being straightforward and honest when dealing with others, even if it means sacrificing a sale. Be wildly transparent begins with this blog post. If I make money honestly, then there’s no reason for me to fear others knowing about the magnitude of my success (or failure). Sell something of value is incredibly important. As I’ve already mentioned, I can’t sell a fantasy. People need to get their money’s worth when they buy something from me. Gain customers honestly has to do with the way the product is marketed. It might be possible to rake in large amounts of money by engaging in spamming or some other shady tactic, but that kind of behavior doesn’t build loyalty. Providing the best customer service in the world does. If I make a mistake, I should admit it. If it’s within my power, I should make it right. I should always be listening.

The Business Plan

So, what is the business anyway? As you may already know, I released The Earth Awaits back in September to some pretty massive worldwide press attention and a ton of enthusiasm from visitors. It has been an insane, gratifying, humbling ride, and I wouldn’t change a bit of it.

The problem is that TEA costs a lot to run, as you’ll soon see, especially if I’m devoting any effort at all to improving it. Luckily, I am able to write all the functional code myself, or it would be even more of a money pit, but I still need to pay for servers and services of multiple types, hire out some of the data entry, and engage a designer to turn my ugly (but functional) interface designs into more beautiful ones.

Running a site like TEA that is completely free is extraordinarily difficult to do without violating the fundamental principles of always be truthful, sell something of value, and gain customers honestly. It would probably be possible to monetize the site more effectively in the following ways:

  • Drastically increase the number of ads on the site, placing them in obtrusive and ugly locations.
  • Push affiliate links for sketchy services– hard.
  • Put the entire site behind a pay wall

I don’t want to do any of those things, so here’s the plan: later this month (January 2017) I’m releasing the most massive update to The Earth Awaits since I first made the site public. There are tons and tons of new features that users have been clamoring for from the very beginning. Some of the improvements will be completely free, and others will be a part of a low-cost premium subscription tier. The goal of the changes is to bring such massive value to users of the site that the subscription price feel like a bargain.

In short, here are the features coming as a part of the update:

  1. Saving and browsing favorite cities. (Free)
  2. Creation of custom lifestyles/monthly spending. (Free, expanded functionality for subscribers)
  3. Creation of a watchlist that sends email when prices (citywide or on a single item) change according to user preference. (Free, expanded functionality for subscribers)
  4. Travel alerts and safety notifications from the US, UK, and Canadian governments. (Subscriber only)
  5. Travel Hacking section that automatically calculates and shows airline points redemptions between user’s city and destination cities. 18 airline miles charts currently available. (Unknown, will be free if I can partner with a credit card affiliate program, otherwise a premium feature)
  6. Huge database of international schools, current tuition values, academic programs and school levels offered. Ability to see the local school options for every city on the site. (Subscriber only)
  7. Historical price data for every city and line item. Beautifully rendered charts for each price, including custom lifestyle calculations. Track price changes in each city to learn about trends and inflation. (Subscriber only)

Going forward, most new features are likely to be subscriber/premium features. I think that still leaves a huge proportion of the functionality available without paying for or even creating an account.

The travel hacking tool is an interesting case. To me, it is one of the huge “wow factor” features that I’m rolling out, as there’s nothing else like it on the internet. When you pull up a city, you’ll automatically see all the ways to could spend points for 18 different airline charts to get there. Since it is so cool and of such wide appeal, I’m hoping that I can make it available for free, as it also automatically determines the best credit card sign-up bonus to get you to each redemption. For example, it knows that on KLM/Air France, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, and thus could get four trips to Europe out of a Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up. It’s incredibly cool to watch in action.

The problem is that to date, I haven’t been successful in getting any response from credit card affiliate programs. My emails and applications go into a dark void. Since I’m planning to release these features in the next several weeks, I’m not sure how this one is going to turn out. I’m working hard to get in touch with affiliate programs so that I can cast a wider net with this feature.

As of right now, here is the pricing I plan to use:

  • Free user – $0, free features only
  • Subscriber, monthly – $10/month
  • Subscriber, annual – $72/year

In my opinion, this subscription charge is pretty modest. On an annual basis, the cost is only $6 per month, and grants access to these features and all of the features I have coming up. Some of the things I have planned are:

  • Airline reward search – Input the points that you have for a credit card or frequent flier program, and then be presented with all the cities you can currently visit with them.
  • Home buyer mode – Select “purchase” as the housing option, then be presented with the up-front cost of purchasing a home in each city, and the mortgage-free monthly cost of living.
  • Salary and price comparisons – charts and tables to compare individual price items and overall budgets between cities, as well as to calculate the salary needed to sustain your home cost of living.
Services Used

I’ll be processing payments through Stripe, which takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of me. I don’t need to worry about securing user payment data, as I will never have access to it. Stripe does take a small part of the payment collected in fees, so that will be a cost.

Since I started The Earth Awaits, I’ve been signing users up to my mailing list and emailing them monthly with information on new features and news about the site. I use Convertkit for my mailing list sign-up forms and management. I started with Mailchimp but was introduced to ConvertKit and it is head and shoulders better than Mailchimp.  The above link is an affiliate link, so I hope you’ll use it if you want to upgrade from Mailchimp. Convertkit is a monthly cost that has so far been extremely worth it.

Being able to immediately sign users up to a series of emails that teach them a little bit about the site has been a huge advantage in keeping them engaged. The API to add people to the list when they become paid subscribers is amazing, and the user interface of the site is vastly better than what I experienced with Mailchimp. I highly recommend them, and if anyone uses my link to sign up, (in the spirit of wild transparency) I’ll report that in my income as a part of this series. Right now I have a little more than 2,000 subscribers on the list, and on a good mailing about half of them actually open what I send. I lose a little under 1% of subscribers each time I send a mail, but I’m gaining subscribers at a much greater rate than I am losing them. Of the 1,000 people who I expect will read the product announcement, I am hoping that 5-10% of them will become paying subscribers.

Sendgrid is a transactional email service that I’ll be using to send my subscribers the notifications they sign up for (price changes, scheduled emails, travel safety alerts), as well as everyday things like invoices, password change emails, and activation emails. Sendgrid’s cost for a site of my size is pretty reasonable.

PythonAnywhere and Amazon S3 are the application and image hosts for the site, respectively. I love both, but they can be pricey when there’s a lot of traffic.

I contract data entry and some of the web design polish work out through Upwork. I have a set of contractors that I’ve come to trust, so I mostly use the same individuals over and over. Depending on how much work I’m doing on the site, this can get expensive.

I may try to find someone to help me improve my marketing and SEO results going forward. This can become very expensive indeed, but I haven’t priced it out. If you’re in SEO/marketing, think you could make the site score way higher on searches, and want to be featured in this series, I’d be happy to trade services.

Goal Progress

Before I can determine my progress towards goals, I have to determine what constitutes success. I’ll consider the site worth the time and effort if it can create $18,000 in net profit per year. I’ll consider a moderate success if the net profit is $36,000 per year, and I’ll consider it a major success if the profit is $72,000 per year.  Let’s look at what that breaks down to:

Success MetricAd Pageviews (@$3.00 per 1,000 views)Credit Card Affiliate Signups (@50.00 per signup)Monthly SubscribersAnnual Subscribers
Low Success ($18,000/year)6,000,000 Pageviews360 Affiliate Signups150 Subscribers250 Subscribers
Moderate Success ($36,000/year)12,000,000 Pageviews720 Affiliate Signups300 Subscribers500 Subscribers
High Success ($72,000/year)24,000,000 Pageviews1440 Affiliate Signups600 Subscribers1,000 Subscribers

These are the numbers I would need after accounting for costs, so the real numbers are higher.

Of all of these pathways to success, some are way more likely than others. Making the site this successful on pageviews alone involves a level of traffic that I could have managed only if every day was like the best-ever day on the site. Further, driving this kind of traffic is exhausting and makes me a little bit anxious about keeping the site up and functioning well. Further, I’ve found that many users don’t bother to pull up city details (where my banner ads are), so keeping the site entirely ad-supported seems implausible at the moment.

The credit card affiliate numbers of between 360 and 1440 signups per year (1-4 per day) seem reasonable, but as I mentioned, I haven’t managed to find a credit card affiliate program willing to work with me yet. I’m hopeful that this will come to pass, as it’s such a natural and obvious fit for the site.

That leaves us with paid subscribers. Contrasted with pageviews, these numbers seem entirely reasonable. If I can sign up just over 20 new annual subscribers per month, I’ll hit my low success goal of 250 subscribers in 2017. If I can sign up 80 annual subscribers per month, I’ll hit the high numbers.

Since I haven’t launched the paid features yet, there is nothing to report on this front. Next month we’ll be looking at a partial month of signups, but also one of the periods of most intense interest as the features will be brand new.

Costs to Date

As you will see, The Earth Awaits has not been cheap to get up and running, even with me doing all of the engineering myself.

ItemThis Month CostLifetime Cost
Data/API Licenses$0.00$1,300.00
Web Design$904.20$3,589.02
Data Entry$329.83$633.98
Application Hosting$146.00$488.00
Image Hosting$8.91$27.76
Stock Photos$0.00$45.00

Despite the large costs so far, I really feel optimistic about the subscriber tier and the future for the site. If you wanted to know what it costs to bring up a site like The Earth Awaits, even if you do the really expensive stuff yourself, there it is. Basically, it’ll take 100 annual subscribers right off the bat for the site to get to break-even (probably 125-130 after Stripe costs and taxes).

Traffic Numbers

In October, when I saw the most media attention after the release, I had over half a million pageviews and over 110,000 sessions on the site.

Anatomy of a Side Hustle

October Numbers for The Earth Awaits

December was a tiny fraction of that for a number of reasons– the biggest was that there was no media attention. I have been heads-down on the new features and had absolutely no time to contact press and try to drive big traffic numbers like I did in October. I have a few promising media leads and people who want to write pieces on the site, but I haven’t pushed them forward because I’m so close to being able to convert those visitors into subscribers.

Anatomy of a Side Hustle

December Numbers for The Earth Awaits

Income Numbers

We’ll explore income in greater detail next month, but the site made $48.49 in Google Adwords income last month, and that’s it. Nobody signed up using any of the affiliate links, and there were very few ad clicks.

That’s not awful, though! To this point, it has all been about investing in something people actually care about using. Now it gets interesting.

Am I Crazy?

What do you think? Am I nuts to share this level of detail? Do you think it will help me, or hurt me? Any ideas for how to make The Earth Awaits a wild success? Let me know in the comments!

27 thoughts on “The Side Hustle Overshare Experiment

  1. Mark Doctoroff

    This is my 59th year of “independent travel”!!

    I have loved travelling… and tailoring my professional life around my travels BUT, I don’t like keeping my head filled with the “small stuff”!!

    As mentioned previously, my wife/partner still do not have any sort of budget…
    and our travels have very limited planning– so as to maximize the “adventures/encounters of chance”!!

    I am not advocating that anyone do as we do… but too much detail tends to “bog one down”!!

  2. Mrs. BITA

    I love what you are trying to do here from a transparency perspective, and I look forward to future updates like this, while cheering for the success of TEA from the sidelines. The travel hacking section sounds kick ass. I can’t wait to see it.

    About your shouting into the void problem with credit card companies – have you considered having some of the miles and points guys make an introduction on your behalf? Maybe contact Doctor of Credit, or the Points Guy, or Million Mile Secrets and see if they would be willing to make an introduction either because they think TEA is awesome or maybe in exchange for a years subscription?

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hey, thanks Mrs. BITA! You are thinking exactly the right way– I actually have someone doing an intro for me, but the person I’m being into’d to is out of town… it’s my most promising lead so far. In this case I’m asking for the help of someone who already knows me, and I’m going to try to make that work before I cold-contact anyone. Very good thoughts, thank you!

  3. TheFIexplorer

    I really appreciate how you call out the selling of a fantasy. Just starting out, I am seeing what you are talking about everywhere.

    Real numbers, real data helps people understand what you’re doing, and obviously will pay off in trust as well. A really good approach.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks, TFIE! Yeah, I certainly understand the temptation to “sell the dream,” and I can’t even argue that it’s unethical as long as everyone knows what they’re getting, but it’s just not who I am. I’m happier doing this 🙂

      It’ll be an interesting journey to see if I can make this work!

  4. Dee

    I found your blog through a media article on your new venture – well done and i’ve enjoyed reading all your past posts and following along now. I’m curious as to how you came to decide on your paid subscriber rates – it’s been something i’ve been looking into for my own ventures. Best of luck!

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hey there Dee, thanks for the comment. There are a couple of elements that played into how I picked what felt like a fair subscription rate. I ran polls in a few places to test what people felt a version of The Earth Awaits with non-specific “premium features” would be. Those polls indicated a price somewhere around $7.50 per month. I also looked at the sites that are most similar to The Earth Awaits which have paid services– some are subscription, while others sell various PDF reports about education or salary comparisons (which are really just automated using some of the same information I’ve aggregated, and which I plan to add as premium features myself). All of them charge a subscription cost that is higher than what I will charge, making mine (completely subjectively and in big quotation marks) the “best” deal if everything else were equal, which of course it’s not.

      So, it’s part polling and part seeing what the market will bear. At $6/month for full access, especially as I start introducing my version of what some similar sites charge $50 for a single download of, it feels like a pretty good bargain to me.

  5. Wolfgang

    In general I love the idea of The Earth Awaits. But I can’t help but think it’s kind of useless without information about residency and taxation. You can’t just pack up your stuff and arrive in a country without being allowed to. Of course if you bounce around as a tourist you can… but to actually move to another country you will need VISAs, etc.

    Also Taxation is a HUGE issue. Most countries that I looked into are not tax free. As a matter of fact we just met with a tax attorney in Austria (where we’re from) and the headache to move back to Austria with all of our money here in the US would be sizable. Double Taxation, Health Insurance, Social Security (which young FIRE folks may not care about) are just a few of the issues to consider. Also 401Ks/Roth IRAs/… mean nothing if a foreign government wants to tax you…

    Without that information the site is just a dream I’m afraid. Fun to look at – but not really helpful for anyone who >really< wants to retire abroad. This seems to be a common theme though in the FIRE community (except for folks like the Mad Fientist and Go Curry Cracker).

    And as such not worth paying for.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Well, specifically I was asking about whether or not I was crazy to share the specific level of information I’m sharing, but I suppose you’re entitled to share your opinion the site as a whole.

      That said, The Earth Awaits doesn’t tell you how much you need to save— it tells you how much you need to spend to support a particular lifestyle in a particular place. Yes, for the time being the monthly costs presented are after-tax amounts, but it’s not as though that information is completely useless, since the user can still do their own tax estimates with the required net income after tax in mind. The site is also not just aimed at retirees, it’s aimed at digital nomads, slow travelers, and people who don’t propose to take up residency for long enough to be subject to taxation, or who don’t plan to repatriate their money.

      Further, I’ll eventually get around to adding some basic taxation information, but this is one area that’s virtually impossible to both parse and estimate from simple prompts to the user because it’s such a complex topic that’s highly individual.

      Anyway, guess I won’t count on you as a customer– which is fine. I don’t need 100% of visitors to become customers to break even. If I managed to convert just 1% of unique visitors into subscribers without ever increasing traffic numbers from December, I’d hit the high success numbers mentioned here. If I get the traffic back to October levels, the required conversion number becomes 0.07%. Is it possible? I guess we’ll find out.

      1. Wolfgang

        I didn’t say I didn’t appreciate what you’ve built! Actually I very much like the site and the information on there. And if the site spits out Granada in Spain as a retirement destination as an example I’m thinking: cool, I could move there (having an EU passport). But the majority of your readers I would expect couldn’t easily.

        I was just trying to point out what I consider missing. And even as a digital nomad, etc. you’ll have to have some plan on how to a) legally live somewhere and b) deal with taxes if you decide to. Unless you are happy with expat insurance and bouncing around every 90 days or whenever your tourist permit expires – which could get pretty old after a while.

        And yes, I realize that it is probably impossible to add taxation information into every location the site recommends. Heck just for one country it’s pretty much a nightmare.

        One thing I forgot to point out about health care: it’s good to say what it should/can cost – but the quality of the care is also important. For example my sister lives in Spain – and while health care is in general OK the big issue there is that you don’t get to pick your own doctor. Your PCP (which you also don’t get to pick but get assigned) will transfer you. Don’t like your PCP? Tough luck.

        Again not trying to rain on your parade – just pointing out things that I consider mandatory information before making a radical move to pack up and move elsewhere.

        And of course it’s fine to completely ignore all the above and continue selling the dream – unattainable as it may be.

        1. The Vagabond Post author

          The visa situation is just as highly variable as the taxation one (though there too I have some aims to increase the level of information)– and being a resident somewhere doesn’t necessarily make you a resident for tax purposes, including many European countries that have a non-lucrative or retirement visa scheme that allow expats from the US and elsewhere to pay effectively nothing in local taxes so long as they don’t also have a local source of income (though this usually does come at the sacrifice of access to social programs, unless the country has a way to “buy in”– some do).

          Anyway, again, the site is not meant to take every possible consideration into account– though it does it’s best to be as informative as possible and the breadth and depth of information is always increasing, there will always– always— be a great many items that are up to the individual to determine if their specific goal is to be a permanent resident abroad. Taxation, long-term visas, and health care costs are currently among them. We can agree that the site lacks the ability to give the full picture necessary to achieve a relocation. It’s the implication that it’s, to quote you, “just a dream” that seems to unfairly diminish the site. The data presented is factual and the budgets calculated based on broad testing and cross-referencing against real-world results. Travel safety alerts, international school data, ability to model custom spending, information about human rights and how to travel there at low or no cost– all of those have some inherent value and are factual in nature. Could you do your own research and find all that information? Certainly. The point of the site as a business is that someone has already done it for you. It might not be worth the nominal cost to you specifically— but that’s not the question being asked in this post. The question posed in this post is whether it’s of value to enough people that it’s a viable business.

  6. Trish

    I really like The Earth Awaits, and I wish you all the best with monetising the site. I think the credit card affiliate programme model has a lot of potential once you can get a partner or two on-board. The problem I see with the subscriber model is that I don’t think the site is something that most people will need to refer to all that often, because (most) people don’t move all that often. Subscriber models make a lot of sense for, say, language learning sites where people log in daily. But as a user, I would visit TEA quite a few times in the course of a week/month and then, once I’d narrowed down some of my top choices, I’d go elsewhere to do more research on those locations (visas, taxation, and more as mentioned above).

    Anyway, all that is to say that I think you’ll have better luck with credit card and other travel-related affiliates, ad revenue, and maybe a donation feature to allow people to donate one-off or regular amounts. I would certainly make a one-off donation, as it was only through TEA that I discovered that Portugal is a very viable retirement location for myself, and we are now aiming to FIRE there within the next 5 years 🙂 So TEA has provided considerable value to me already. However, I would be reluctant to make ongoing payments/donations because I don’t think TEA provides much ongoing value to me. But I would love it if I am proved wrong and your subscriber model is a huge success, and wish you the best of luck.

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hi Trish,

      Thanks for weighing in. I think you might be surprised at the number of people who regularly return to the site as an outlet for their wanderlust.

      At the moment, I just don’t see donations or ad revenue as a plausible means to support the site. Donations because, to be frank, people aren’t particularly charitable on the internet and I don’t know of a lot of sites, even those that bring value, that are able to support themselves based on donations alone over the long run. Half a million pageviews and massive worldwide media attention yielded around $250 in ad revenue, which was about a quarter of what the site cost that month to run, and that assumes that my time is worth nothing, too. Whether credit card affiliate programs will be able to make it break-even or profitable… well, we’ll see on that.

      If you’re donation minded, my perspective would be that you might as well sign up for a subscription (whether for a month or for a year), then simply immediately (or before the subscription runs out) downgrade your account, which the user will be able to do for themselves at any time. Since your subscription will continue until the end of the term, you get the effect of a one-off payment/”donation”, and you get to enjoy the premium features too!

    2. Wolfgang

      Trish, ever been to Portugal? We went to Lisbon for a few days just before Christmas 2015 and absolutely loved it. And found it incredibly cheap as well (coffee for EUR0.60 or so). Makes us want to consider at least a partial residence there, too… Might help to speak a little bit of Portuguese – especially outside of the big cities.

      1. Trish

        We haven’t actually been to Portugal, and will definitely be looking to make a trip there before we make any concrete plans to move there. The plan is that it will be our “base” while we do small trips around Europe, and we may settle down more permanently if we find it agreeable. While we love travel, I did the whole “living out of a backpack” while slow travelling thing for a year back in 2013, and would prefer to have some semblance of a base when travelling in the future 🙂

        And thanks for the response, The Vagabond! I think I will do what you suggest with the subscription.

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  8. Ten Bucks a Week

    Keep grinding, I see huge potential. The information is useful, but the tax comment was relevant, but you’ll get there. Everything looks clean and useful to me.
    Thanks for the transparency, I was wondering how sites got monetized.

  9. Trish

    I’ve just had another idea for how you might monetise/improve TEA – perhaps make more in-depth PDF city/country guides for your top-searched cities, which are available to purchase either one-off for a fee, or available for premium members? That could be very useful.

    Because I do think there is some merit in Wolfgang’s points. While it’s too much work to do in-depth information for all locations, I’m guessing there are some that are searched much more frequently than others – e.g. Chiang Mai I expect gets a lot of interest, and you could outsource some of the writing/research to digital nomads living there for reasonably cheap. And you could create a “top 10 cities” list or something on your front page to further promote those cities. Just a thought 🙂

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Hey Trish, Thanks– that’s actually the next step in the monetization process. It’ll be possible to purchase the “premium” data for a single city in PDF report format, with a possible upsell to allow the user to generate a new copy of the report on demand any time for 6/12 months for a few bucks extra.

      1. Trish

        Cool 🙂 I was thinking not just of the premium data you mentioned above re travel alerts/travel hacking/international schools etc but also a bit about visas and taxes (not about, say, double tax considerations but it’s easy enough to just find basic information about a country’s individual income tax rates and stuff), and also some more article-type information, maybe a few interviews/comments from real expats living there to make it more “personal”.

        It would definitely be some work to get all this information but it’s something you could do slowly further down the line, and you could definitely outsource some of this.

    2. Mark Dee

      Trish’s “notion/thought” makes a lot of sense to me….

      While I live in Penang [Malaysia] and think it is the very best for retirees] places like Chiang Mai are also of interest { I will be traveling there in 2 weeks for a couple of weeks– as it is “my fallback city”.

      One could also have a “top 10@ for Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Europe etc….

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  11. FrugalPrice

    Your transparency and honesty helps to build trust and make you more personable. Just reading this piece and looking over TEA, I can’t help but root for your success. Good on you, keep doing what you’re doing.

    Regarding monetizing TEA, a couple thoughts ran through my head. They’re probably not good ideas, but they might help you even if it’s figuring out what TEA won’t become. 🙂

    * It would be nice to see a cost of living for short periods. My assumption is that shorter rental periods may be a bit more expensive, but may engage your users more frequently. For example, what would it cost me to live in Bangkok for a month or two? If I retire there, then I really just need to use your site a few times before I make my decision. But if I’m a digital nomad, then I may be using your site every few months to find my next location. If you were able to tie in to AirBnB or some apartment rental site, that might provide you with affiliate income. A coworker of mine living in Europe basically AirBnB’d and couch surfed his way through a number of countries while working remotely. I was quite jealous and would love to do something similar, but I can’t find the time to put together the pieces to estimate what it would really cost me.

    * Enabling smaller transactions while people dream about achieving the goal of retiring someplace exotic. The pictures you’re using on the site are gorgeous. I know if I was checking the site while planning on retiring at a particular place, I might want want a print to hang on my wall to remind me what I’m working towards. Depending on how long until retirement, I might add on a coffee mug, mousepad, …

    1. The Vagabond Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, and for the encouragement! I’m actually working on a different angle to generate revenue and to address some of the needs of people who aren’t interested in a subscription, but would like to research a specific city– I’ll have more on that in the next month or two.

      Shorter term cost of living is something I may explore in the future, too. I’ve given it a tiny bit of thought but don’t have it fully worked out in my head yet– I think something like that is probably coming at some point, though.

      Thanks again!

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