It was at that moment, surrounded by an angry gang of taxi drivers, at a Port City in Borneo, that I realised I had brought this situation on myself. I realised I could continue this stupid game of who is right and who is wrong, to stand their in the searing tropical heat, still loaded with my backpack. To let that anger energy surge through my body, like a crazed warrior of old. To take this destructive path to it’s bitter end, out of pure pigheadedness, or…. to walk away. To accept what is, not what I want, but what is.
After 10 months of traveling South East Asia, of deciding this will be my lifestyle until I have filmed the whole world, this was one of my biggest lessons. That in the end, it is all a game, there is nothing worth getting angry about. That wherever you are, everything you know, you think, you believe, all stems from your own upbringing, your own culture. And that to survive, in another culture, you must forget all that is known, all those silly little rules of etiquette and manners, and just observe.
“Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
What makes a person want to leave their home country and explore the world? I have asked many expats this question and the answers tend to be the same. The search for something better, the feeling there is more to life than what they grew up with. For myself, I can’t explain my obsession with needing to see the world. And it is an obsession, that takes over everything; career, relationships, all the rules of the game, such as saving for one’s retirement. I just know that ever since I was a child I’ve felt the need to experience the world, with my own two eyes, to try and understand how things work from my own perspective.
“It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.”
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
The biggest fear for me was how would I survive, if I don’t work the 9 to 5, climb the ladder of promotion. And I suppose what I have realised is that no one has any certainty in anything! And what is the point of doing some shitty job you don’t like just because you have an unfounded fear that if you don’t you will end up in poverty? One of the great skills one learns on the road is the ability to adapt. I’ve found it is always good to have a plan B, as things don’t always go as expected. This is such a valuable lesson in life and work; to be flexible and ready to change plans at a moment’s notice, when circumstances demand such versatility.
I’ve met a lot of fascinating people on the road, digital nomads making money from all kinds of ways and means. Playing the stock market, online gambling. I remember one in particular, an young English lad, not quite 25. He did all the right things, went to uni, paid it off with part time jobs and when his study was finished, the golden job at the end of the road was no where to be found. He felt cheated by the system, and without many options found a way, via his interest in online poker, to escape the depressed UK job market. He studied the top players, researched their earnings and then in a leap of faith he moved to Chang Mai to set up an international gambling den made up of other online forum members keen on an overseas adventure. A mansion and swimming pool, a maid and motorbike, a motley crew of Westerners found they were making more money than they had ever dreamed of, for one quarter the cost of living in their own countries. “I felt I was cheating the system, I just could not believe things could be so good” confessed the young Yorkshire lad.
“To destroy a man, give him everything he desires”
What would happen if you didn’t have to do anything, if you didn’t have to work, you didn’t have to raise children? If you had complete and utter freedom. I tried this! I cut myself loose from the bounds of my own community, making a home in the borneo jungle. I lived the life of a bohemian artist imbibing in a chaotically destructive lifestyle. I became the wild man of Borneo and my work reflected this. Nothing was holding me back, no one was stopping me from doing exactly as I pleased.
Excess, Decadence! The rise and fall of the Roman empire, the french nobility before the revolution!
I looked into my heart of darkness, and there was a void, an empty space. I was bored with doing whatever I wanted, I needed some meaning. Instead of looking in, I needed to look out!
“People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing.”
There is nothing better than arriving in a strange town, and having a passionate stranger give you a tour. Technology, the internet provides the introductory letter of old. When it works, there is a joy in sharing something people enjoy. I suppose this shallow pleasure is the meaning in my trip now. It’s not delivering babies or nursing orphans, but I’m following my passion and who knows where that will lead. Teenagers want to save the world, adults want to find a way to live in it!
I still have my dark moments about my nomadic lifestyle decision, I still have fears that Im going backwards, that one day I will just become that strange bearded homeless man on the periphery of society, unable to reconcile human behaviour with human ideals. I still wonder whether the world really is as dangerous as they say. So far, so good. My belief still holds true that wherever I go, I will find good people willing to meet up with a traveling man, wanting to document their story. The journey continues…..
Travel Blogger, Samuel Jeffery of http://nomadicsamuel.com/ interviews Traveling Filmmaker, Mark Shea of http://www.overlander, getting tips on how to make videos, how to interview people and what gear to use.
At the start of my round the world travel video adventure I made a video talking about the 7 things I wanted to achieve on my trip. 9.5 mths in I look back on what I have achieved. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VgzCP2pE44
The seven goals were:
*To see the world
*To film the world
*To get paid to film the world
*To get fit
*To find a traveling partner
*To make a difference
*To find a home
And what have I learnt from my travels, to observe and not react, that my view of the word is determined by the way I was brought up and the culture I was raised in. And most importantly, ‘Without people you are nothing!’
Music: Lerax by Re-Drum, Album: It’s Better to Burn Out Than To Fade Away
Features quotes from:
The The – Slow Emotion Replay http://youtu.be/7epsKzky3aI
Joe Strummer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTNDPPb4224
In this article I wish to discuss the options I am exploring with regard to increasing my revenue from video related activities as I travel the world. My original plan of relying on an increase in youtube adsense income, due to increased video turnout, has not come to fruition. So to keep the travel show on the road, I have to explore other options.
I’ve written a few of these articles now, both on overlander.tv and other travel sites, where I give people advice on how I manage to travel and make money.
It’s funny but whenever I decide to write these articles, I always get chastised by my mother! She can’t understand why, with all the hard work and trial and error I’ve gone through to establish a career in the precarious arena of independent filmmaking, I would want to share my hard won secrets!
But for me, the sites I value the most in my own research, are those that cut the bullshit and are completely honest in their articles. I’d like to mention two that I regularly check up on, will video for food is the best resource for information on the changes in the online video landscape and nerdy nomad offers a great insight into how to make money online as you travel. “and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use . . . silence, exile, and cunning.” James Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
So here goes, some brainstorming on the possible directions I may consider in order to keep the overlander boat floating merrily on the seven seas.
* 1. Set up a 2nd youtube channel to increase adsense revenue. Tourism bodies around the world pay big money to promote their countries to the world. Unfortunately many of these campaigns get lost in the pure mass of video being released ever day. My idea is to set up one youtube channel that features all the tourism videos from around the world. The idea being to give viewers one location to see what the world has to offer. In theory it is a great idea, but in practise a little more difficult. Recent changes on youtube has reduced adsense revenue and written copyright permission must be gained from each country. I will persevere with the idea, but it is a slow riping fruit, so will explore quicker money making options first.
* 2. Set up a charity or cyber beg. Many film projects have gotten off the ground from funds raised on cyber begging sites like kick-starter and indiegogo. And many a ‘charity’ has raised funds for some worthy cause by traveling the world. Personally, I feel very uncomfortable with both concepts. Why the hell should anyone give money to help me travel the world. What do they get out of it? And if I did feel the need to raise money for some cause, why the need to travel the world to do it. Why not just raised funds at home? BUT maybe I need to forgo my uneasy feeling about raising funds with cyber begging sites and explore this option!
* 3. Sell Stock Footage I have a video production friend from New Zealand who makes a nice little side income by selling stock footage on sites like artbeats, alwayshd and footagebank. I’ve avoided this one, it involves shooting video in a way different from my current style (i.e. no handheld footage) Another longterm money earner that I would prefer to not have to do. It would mean changing my whole shooting style.
* 4. Sell dvd’s on amazon with createspace. As an Australian, the only way to get access to the American masses who use Amazon, is to set up an account with createspace but they take a hell of a cut. This is an option also used with success by my New Zealand mate. An option worth trying OR I could explore throwing money into online advertising to direct more traffic to my video downloads on my own website, thus keeping all profits for myself.
* 5. Produce video business profiles while travelling One of my main sources of income in Australia involved producing business video profiles. Without a work visa, I can’t offer a service in many of the countries I visit. But there is no reason I can’t sell a product online in these countries. This product could be charging a business to list on my website and youtube channel. And if that does involve filming at the business, this ‘service’ could be offered free. The benefit for business is they get high search ranking in google for their video because of my channel’s following and my SEO knowledge.
This option is a quick way to make money BUT requires time to market to business and more video production on top of the growing pile of videos I’m yet to complete. It is also less lucrative overseas than in Australia given currency and wage differences.
* 6. Branded Content, business ads. I could sell 30 second slots in my videos whereby as with the video business profile idea, business only pay for the listing, not the service. This would be an easy idea to implement, but may not always be easy given the nature of my content. My videos are not straight out tourism profiles of an area, and it doesn’t interest me to do ‘bog standard’ tourism videos.
* 7. Approach television for travel program funding. Despite my belief that online video is the future, television is still where the money is. I could approach Australian stations ABC and SBS or the travel channel with a travel show concept. This would most likely mean not being able to continue to broadcast footage on youtube and may involve some ‘pigeonholing’ of format. Worth exploring but not feasible as a one man operation. Television likes big crews, particularly the Australian funding bodies which would be involved in the deal.
* 8. Set up a global video business profile network. This is the idea I like the most. Because basically it involves me using my expertise in business profile video production, to help other producers around the world make money. I’ve already explored this idea with a Malaysian video producer, and have other video production friends around the world keen to be involved. I believe I have cracked the code on what works with regard to online video business profiles and I have devised a system that will allow any producer to copy this format. The benefit for business is they also know from the output what type of video they will end up with. Bookings would be made through a single website, prices would be determined on a country by country basis, in agreement with the local producers, and a 20% fee would be added to help maintain the website and cover marketing costs. This concept has already been explored in America, but not in a way that producers name their price. With my concept, everyone wins out.
Looking through the long list of possibilities, the options I have decided to explore RIGHT NOW are; the branded content idea, whereby business can feature a 30 second ad both in my videos and on my channel, and the global business profile video network. I like both these ideas because once they are set up, sales can be done online, I don’t have to do much extra work and they both represent good opportunities for future growth as they become more widely known. The 2nd option also gives me the opportunity to meet other producers as I travel, as happened in Ipoh.
So there you go, all my ideas laid out on the table!
One may ask why give away your secrets, with the chance others could copy them!
Well I have a belief that a lot of the problems in the world are due to a fear of scarcity of resources. That fear leads to people being greedy, hoarding things for themselves.
Now maybe there are too many people in the world, or maybe there are too many at the top of the tree not willing to share the fat around. Whatever the true story, I don’t want to play that fear game, I’m not going to make my life miserable now, to hoard for an unknown future, for who really knows which of us will even make ‘old bones’!
So for video producers, young or old, who also have a desire to travel, feel free to borrow, modify and test any original ideas you get from my own experimentation with exploring ways to make money with video. And if you do have great success, send me a note, love to hear how it all goes.
I have been travelling for 115 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 55 seconds! I know this because I just added a cool day countdown to my website.
So where are things at with regard to my trip and what have I learnt during my time on the road?
I’m in Borneo at the moment and I must say the place agrees with me. It’s a place I can live out my ‘boys own adventure’, trekking into remote locations like some modern day explorer.
I’ve been using Kuching as a base from which to make trips into the interior. Two local people, Nicholas and Francesca have both helped in feeding two streams of interest I have been following in my recent videos; spirituality and social anthropology. Work and Money
Working on the road has not been easy. I’m terribly behind in my editing. Pretty much all the best stuff, still needs to be edited. My planned main income source, youtube adsense, has taken a terrible dive after google recently changed their search algorithm. Basically my income has halved. And if I’m to be honest with myself, this is partly the reason I have not worked so hard to edit all my footage. I’m considering my options and wondering if youtube is the best fit for my content. Sure it gets the most views of any video platform, but if those views result in half the income one could get from other sources e.g. television, it is not sustainable for independent producers. When television converges with the internet, youtube hopes to still be numero uno. Recently they paid out $100 million to 100 new channels to help with this transition. Unfortunately though for those independent creators who have built a following on youtube, they were not selected in this new initiative, with most of the money going to unknown production houses.
Do we need more of the same tv offerings, I suppose time will tell? I think it is a risky move by youtube, making outcasts of their aspiring amateur ‘content providers’. Maybe the door is open for a clever start up to form niche channels, travel content for example seems to be completely ignored in youtube’s new convergence push.
Despite the downturn in my adsense revenue, I still turned a profit after the first 3 months of travel. I’m not going to go into detail but all that income has been video based e.g. stock footage sales, video download sales and other video platform ad revenue. If anything, the youtube changes have forced me to find my own permanent sources of passive income and not rely on the ebbs and flows of advertising. I have a few ideas in the pipeline and only wish I had a crystal ball to work out which of these ideas will reap the most reward before expending valuable time. Finding a balance
I found when I first started this trip, I did tend to over indulge a bit. Why not, I was making a passive income in a strong currency, I was travelling the world, why not live like a rock star! In Bali, after maybe 10 years of not smoking, I started again. My reasoning, everyone smokes in Asia and cigs were cheap! I also found I was drinking most every night. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘party’ atmosphere when around other travellers who are up for a good time on their short yearly holidays.
I’ve since stopped smoking and recently stopped drinking (short term social experiment). I realised on an extended stay at a remote longhouse in the jungle, the only thing I truly craved when away from civilisation, was my morning cup of coffee.
I’m a typical Aussie male, love a drink, love a beer at the end of the day. But I’ve come to realise alcohol is like a safety blanket. People use it to pep themselves up, to help bring sleep, but essentially, it is a time waster. I’ve realised being half tanked is not the most productive way to end a day.
Which brings me to another outcome of my travels and my on-the-road reading. Like a lot of ‘digital nomads’ I read that damn Tim Ferris book, ‘The four hour work week’. At first I got some good out of it, I assessed aspects of my life using the Pareto principle. I made some positive changes, cutting back my digital footprint, closing my personal Facebook account, which I deemed a time waster and generally avoided tasks I didn’t feel like doing. But then I looked at the fruits of Tim’s book, I researched those ‘living the dream’, Swarmy digital narcissists, each trying to flog the other useless online products, with hyperbole and snake oil. I recommend the book, but personally I WANT to fill my hours with meaningful work, I just want to be in control of when and how. I’m still working on finding that balance but already feel buoyant with the results of time gained from cutting time wasting activities from my daily activities. Solo Travel
There are certain things that just shouldn’t be done alone. We are social creatures and I think if one is to enjoy solo travel, one must find strategies that helps one meet strangers. The internet and sites like couch surfing are a great place to start. But I think it is also important to be open to just meeting people out and about. When on Perhentian Island, I vowed I would not eat alone for any meal. So I would approach other tables, ok, usually groups of attractive women, and ask them if I could join them. Never was I refused. Taking on a challenge like this, changes your whole mindset. It actually puts you in a great mood and gives you a great feeling of independence. You can float in and out of social situations as you please.
But what about longer term friendships, and romance I hear you ask? Well yes, this is a problem, a 3 day holiday romance may be all fun and exciting to start with, but it is not really a sustainable relationship model. I really don’t have the answer to this one. Personally I think I’m going through sexual transmutation, and it’s a liberating feeling, not being driven by some evolutionary drive to perpetuate the species or to put it more bluntly, feel the need to chase pussy. Oh God I am getting old!
I would like to meet someone, but there is no great need at this stage in my journey, which is a nice position to be in. Challenging yourself to follow your dream
It is amazing how when you start on the quest to follow your dream, people and things quietly fall into place without the slightest need for action from yourself. I’ve always been very lucky in my travels and yet still I worry about money and the future like anyone else. Recently I spent a restless night while staying in a remote jungle longhouse. Right near where I was sleeping, a small house was built for the spirit of the surrounding jungle. The builder of the longhouse was told in a dream to build a small house for the local spirit, in order to protect the residents of the longhouse. As I lay there tossing and turning, in the netherworld between wake and dream, I heard a voice whisper softly, ‘If you believe, it will be’. I’m not talking some kind of Rhonda Byrne rip everyone off ‘the secret’ kind of way. It was stated like a fact. As though to say, you are doing as you wanted, why worry about the outcome, continue on your path, and it will all fall into place.
Now I imagine a lot of you are going, what hippy trippy shit is this you are going on about! But for me, a person who cut and slices my way through life, trying to stamp my mark on every aspect, struggling and fighting to make things happen the way I want them to happen. My experience has shown, again and again, no matter how much I think I’m in control, I never really know where my next break is going to come from. And if I have my eyes firmly planted on where I think my opportunities may come, I may miss an actual opportunity!
So worrying is such a pointless activity AND it will kill you, so now, I just do my thing, and somehow, through some alchemic mystery, it all seems to fall into place….sickening really, for a control freak
So really, it’s all going fine and dandy. Of course there are days when I wonder how I will make this all work. But it’s happening, my eyes are clear, I’m alive and for those moments when I’m in tune with all around me, filming an amazing story, meeting amazing people. Well, there is no place I’d rather be.
Happy travels, and love to hear your comments below.
I’m 12 weeks into my Round the World Trip. I now have some idea of what to expect in my quest to film the world and make money doing it.
My adsense revenue from youtube has not increased, so I am exploring other ways to make passive income while traveling. One exciting avenue is teaching other video producers how to make business profile videos.
I have had to change my filmmaking style to suit my traveling lifestyle, but despite the changes, I find I still have a backlog of films I will have to edit at some stage in the future.
I talk about the problems I have experienced on the road and how I have overcome them.
Any viewers who wish to travel the world themselves longterm, feel free to ask me any questions below.
Ever had a dream to just travel the world?
On July 24th 2011 Aussie Filmmaker Mark Shea set off on a new journey with the goal to travel to each continent and make a living on the road.
Mark's motivation is to show that wherever he goes, He will find good people, passionate enough about where they live to show him round. To inform, entertain and inspire, learning about culture, customs and beliefs.
Exploring the new international world of Digital Nomadism Mark will produce videos while on the road, using lightweight High Definition equipment, and aims to survive solely on passive income made from his online ventures.
Countries visited so far:
*Indonesia *Singapore *Malaysia *Brunei *Philippines *Hong Kong *Japan *South Korea *North Korea *China *Laos *Cambodia *Thailand Mark has been travelling for 668 days 3 hours 12 minutes 53 seconds