Last week I gave you the cost analysis of my year long trip around North America. Now it only makes sense to show you the other, much shinier, side of the coin: the benefit analysis.
Was it worth it? I don’t think I have ever met anyone who went travelling and, regardless of the amount of money they spent, ultimately regretted it. Not one person has ever said that to me. Of course it was worth it!
But since this is an analysis I’ve gathered what numbers I can drum up to share with you.
To re-state my goals of the trip, I wanted to experience and photograph as many national parks and other beautiful places as possible, improve my photography by getting lots of practice and, at the same time, build my photography audience.
I have these calluses on my hands that I never used to have and I’m starting to think it is actually from holding my camera! I took a total of 19,444 images which works out to about 55 images per day and 350 gigabytes of data.
I visited 19 National Parks including 4 in Canada and 15 in the USA. That is in addition to the countless national monuments, national recreation areas, national seashores and state parks I went to! I have visited many more national parks in the past – these are just the ones that were new on this trip. But still, there are so many more to see.
During this first year of being a full-time nomadic photographer I didn’t want to worry about making money so I decided to do everything for free in an effort to build my audience.
I wrote two photography ebooks during the trip and gave them away for free. 8 Types of Natural Light That Will Add Drama To Your Photographs was released in November, 2011 and Before The Shutter was released in March, 2012. Because they were free, it is impossible to know how many copies are out there in the world. They have been on many websites and lots of people emailed copies to their friends. But, as far as the ones I can account for, there have been 29,091 copies downloaded.
Here’s how the sources of the downloads break down:
My website: 8,911
Barnes & Noble: 3,143
It is worthy to note that only one of the books is on Amazon and it’s only been available for one month! So one ebook in one month on Amazon did better than both books on all the other distribution channels combined!!
In order to get the ebooks from my website, you have to sign up for my newsletter. That’s how I built my email list that I use to send out a monthly update about my travels, the most popular blog posts from the past month, new images and photo tips. I can also use that list to promote any future products I make.
Right now my email list contains 2,500 people. It is interesting that the ebooks downloaded from my site are around 4,500 for each book. So that means that lots of people were able to download without signing up. I am guessing that they probably got the download link emailed from a friend. Which is ok, I’m totally cool with that. The whole point was to spread the word.
Not that many people unsubscribed from the list. I calculated that 2% of the people will subscribe, download the ebooks, and then immediately unsubscribe. About 4% of the people unsubscribed eventually.
I also had a few publications during the year:
- my image of downtown Victoria at night was on the cover of Harbors Magazine, which is the in-flight magazine for Kenmore Air;
- my image of a sleeping sea lion was featured as a full page in a children’s book on urban animals called “City Critters”;
- my image of fishermen in silhouette appeared in an instructional photography book called “BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography”;
- and best of all I had an image featured in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wild Weather Pictures of 2012” collectors edition magazine.
All of these publications were totally unsolicited. Each of them discovered my image somewhere and came to me.
As far as income goes, I sold about $800 worth of stock images. That is my only income during the year and I put no effort at all into selling the images. They were totally unsolicited.
Now that the big trip is over my focus is on making this lifestyle sustainable. In the future my travels will be much slower and cheaper. I won’t be driving 46,000 kilometers in a single year and going to 105 campsites. Staying longer in each location will mean cheaper camping and that, combined with less driving, will keep costs down. As far as income goes … well, I’ll just say that I’m really excited about some new projects I am working on! I hope to have to my next photography product out in September and this will be my first product that is for sale.
Next week I’ll have more details about how the risk I took to change my life affected me on a more personal level and what I learned about becoming a full-time nomad.