When I began taking photographs, it was just a hobby...something I really liked doing on vacation. It never occurred to me I could ever make any money. However, I quickly realized what a lucrative opportunity it was.I built up my photography business from home with the intent of going full time as a photographer and traveling the world to capture amazing imagery. And this past year, it finally became my reality.
Imagine a life where you get to travel, earn enough to live, and enjoy doing what you love. Samantha Wei and Yeison Kim are based in Costa Rica and earn a living from blogging about their adventures. Their blog now generates a healthy income averaging more than $5,000 each month in revenue.
You may remember a time, as recently as a decade ago, where vacation rentals were simply in beach areas. If you were like me, you got a huge catalog each spring, in full color, with a tiny photo of each house, and a cryptic description: "2bd/2bath Between the roads, onsite parking, rooftop view."
I've always been fascinated by Spain, with its unhurried pace...warm people...and colorful history. So a year ago I spent several months traveling from the medieval villages of Girona in the northeast, down to the windswept beaches and emerging surf towns of the southwest.
A decade after leaving the corporate world and moving to Mexico, the word that best sums up my move is "freedom." These days I'm visiting five to seven countries a year. I have the freedom to set my own schedule...decide what days are workdays...enjoy lunch at the beach with my feet in the warm sand...or park myself in a coffee shop in an easy-going colonial city.
Right now I live in Tamarindo. It's a lively but manageable resort town on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Here I enjoy long days at the beach, fresh—and cheap—seafood dinners, sunset happy hours, and mingling with the vibrant expat community made up of Americans and Canadians in big numbers but also Argentinians, Italians, Israelis, French, and a dozen other nationalities. Everywhere I've gone in Costa Rica I've met a lot of expats who own and run businesses—surf schools, tour operators, B&Bs, beach bars, art galleries, petsitting, microbreweries, catering, food trucks...and more. But despite their varied niches, all these business owners have something in common.
Retiring to Lake Arenal in Costa Rica almost four years ago was one of the best decisions my wife Beaty and I ever made. We lived in the little East Texas town of Crockett and the kids were all graduated from college. After practicing dentistry for 38 years, I was hitting the point where I was ready to get out. Beaty had already retired from her physician's assistant job.
I never thought of photography as a way to earn money. It was just too much fun as a hobby. So, you can imagine my elation when I sold my first framed travel photo for $600! And, then, sold two more on the same weekend. I had been a teacher and a programmer, back in the States. But when I began living out of a suitcase—accompanying my husband on his longer business trips—I started photographing my travels
My friends thought I was crazy when I first started talking about selling my photos. I had no experience and I barely knew how to work my camera. But they have no idea how easy it was to put my travel photos online and start selling them as stock.
Ecuador has it all: stunning beaches, dense jungles, snow-capped mountains, and lush plains. And when you spend them here you are among some of the friendliest people on the planet. My husband, Warren, and I spent three months exploring the country...and we found a way to make huge savings, leaving most of our budget for enjoying the food, destinations, and culture. The mountains in the Otavalo area were our favorite. Soaring peaks and dormant volcanoes surrounded green valleys, where llamas and horses grazed under blue skies.