A Laidback South American Life…Fueled by My Travel Blog

Tomorrow is feria day in our Uruguay beach town. My wife, Lisa, and I will wander the closed-off street of over a hundred vendor stalls, hear “Hola vecino” from the sellers, meet friends, and pick up fresh fruits and cheese from local farms, homemade jams, and more. Maybe even some clothes, hardware, or the electronic adaptor I need to stream Netflix on the big screen over Uruguay’s high-speed fiber internet. Feria is a regular part of nearly every Uruguay community: a weekly (at least), eclectic, mixed-artisan and farmer’s market that comes to you. Ours, in Atlántida, is four blocks from our casita.

Three blocks in the other direction we have a beautiful quiet beach where I’m about to take our dog for a run—and watch him romp past the local fishermen. In a few weeks, it’ll be near summer, and we can begin swimming and sunbathing. Earlier today, I was a few blocks away at my bilingual dentist’s modern clinic, where I’m getting a dental implant at a quarter the cost it would be in the U.S. On the way home, I swung by our neighborhood grocery store, where the owner asked about my wife, and whether our dog needed a new custom order of his favorite food. (Yes, he’s a spoiled dog). This is a typical slice of life in an affordable seaside town, in one of the most developed countries in Latin America, with its great mix of modern living and simple tranquility. This has been our life for over five years now.

How do we fund this pre-retirement life? We started our own expat blog. And it turned out that people were willing to pay to hear about our experience. The key to our success has been our willingness to keep our blog ad- and sponsor-free so that we could build our credibility with our readers.

Instead, we share free, on-the-ground, information about Uruguay expat life, to guide others on how to move here too. This has made us authorities on the subject. Then, we use that influence to land online work from others: articles on South America, gigs managing other websites, and social content. Having self-managed our permanent legal residency, and as the first people in Uruguay to get the immigration office to accept international freelance work as a valid source of income for residency requirements, we’ve built up a lot of credibility. This has led us to profitable, and often fun, online work. Rather than monetize our blog, we used our blog to monetize ourselves.

We’ve now partnered with a well-known travel blogger to launch an online-advice service (Skype conferences for $70 per hour, and $25 to answer three personalized email questions). That brings in a nice side-profit. As does managing websites for other expats and small businesses globally. We’ve also done special assignments, including articles offering insights into Uruguay’s startup scene for a U.S. tech publisher, blog posts for an auto company launching an upscale rental service, hotel descriptions written for a South American tour company, and website editing for an English school in Spain.

We’ve also taken some traditional travel blogger approaches: We’ve leveraged our travel writing for a sponsored trip to a major South American ski resort, and now we are getting a passive income stream from a few select ads on our site.

Our online credibility allows us to land those profitable gigs, and it can work for you too. Monetizing the expertise you gained building your overseas dream is a great way to start making income from your blog.

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