How to make make money while sailing! One great interview with Sailopreneur Founder Elin Rose
By: Daniel Novello
- Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Elin. I am sure many of our readers are now sitting in their offices or at worksites and dream about what you have done but somehow feel they lack just the right skills or motivations. What have you got to say to them to get them off their arses?
- Thanks so much Daniel, it was a pleasure!
That is a great question actually, because this is where it all starts, by getting off your arse and start doing what you dream of!
What you’ll need is not just any motivation but the right motivation.
Most of us might have a motivation but they lack the guts to prioritise it above anything else. It’s often very hard to put oneself first but in a funny way we think we’re doing just that when we go out on the job market to seek employment. We think; I’ll put myself first and take care of my career, for that I need a good job, then I need a house and I´ll get a mortgage, then I’ll be set for life and I can take holidays for a few days a year. I’ll then want a family and I’ll get a new larger house, a car, luxury items and then I’ll to work until I´m 65!
During all those years that we spent working, we might have looked outside the window at work and wished we had more time with family and friends or doing more of that hobby we enjoy so much. No matter how much we like or think we like our jobs, we all daydream about what life would be if we didn´t have to work 9-5.
You can do this test yourself by asking people“what would you be doing everyday if you didn't’ have to work but you could still get the money?” and then ask yourself that!
This may all sound very cliche but there’s a lot of truth in it. I’m not here to say what is right and wrong, there’s no such thing. We all make our choices based on what we’re looking to get out of life. But many do not really know what they want from life and end up going with the flow. Too many people end up wasting big part of their lives on activities that don’t serve them.
For me, I’m not looking for a career in the traditional sense but work that allows for mobility yet a consistent income. My advice is, take the time for yourself to figure out what your core values in life are, and then decide whether that’s worth prioritising above anything else.
I observe many of the younger generation that go from job to job even after graduation from a Uni. They study something and spend many years finding what job they should be doing, then a high paying job comes a long and they stay in that for years. I also know the rare types that actually really enjoy their jobs but their answer is still the same, if they could have the money without having to work, they’d choose the first at an instance.
When I left my job I went sailing for three months around the Azores and Madeira islands. I spent many weeks defining my core values or the principles that I want to build my life on. They were the following: Location freedom, internet business offering scalability, portability and uncapped earning potential. I came home from that voyage and started looking into what I could do online and of course the options that fitted that criteria were endless!
Once you have your core values defined, start to work backwards from that and bear in mind that an income needs to be generated from your activities. If you have a hobby and you want to make an income from it, such as travel photography, then you need to start building your content and figure out how to profit from your work. If you then have the motivation and perseverance to see through the challenges, you will succeed.
There is a lot you can do on the side when you work in a job. Side hustles can easily bring in income. Use the hours after work and during lunch breaks to work on it. If you’re thinking to yourself, ´well I’m too knackered or too drained after work, I couldn’t possibly fit anything else’ Then most likely you’re right, your attitude is negative and you’re not ready to change anything. That’s why most people give up before they start. Change your way of thinking or don’t change at all! It’s a matter of priority and we all make time for what we think is important.
An example; A good friend of mine is a property manager in a construction firm and manages big scale projects. He has 6-8 projects at a time during his daily 5-9 working hours. He’s got major responsibilities at work but his attitude towards is fantastic. He’ll do overtime most days to get a few days off work the next week or to work from home. His side hustle after work is renovating his own properties, so he’ll only buy houses within a walking distance from his workplace. This allows him to meet his own contractors during his lunch break and walk to the site after work and work a few hours in the evening. He’ll then have late dinner at home, go to sleep, wake up and repeat. I’ve never seen him tired or drained and he certainly never complains. On the contrary, he’s so energetic because every day he’s working on something that he loves and he he knows that one day, it will allow him to leave his job. He sees the big picture and so he works towards it. He’s an example of someone who pursues his passion whilst having a job, but a passion that comes with a massive reward if he sees it all through.
If you are going to pursue your passion and eventually leave your job, you must find the right thing to do that brings an income. Your time is the most valuable commodity and if you’re going to spend hours on something on the side you’ll need to work from a plan which clearly demonstrates the income stream this activity will bring in. It is usually some form of a business but hobbies can be turned into a business. If the goal is to replace your income write down the monthly figure you need every month.
You may also need far less than you currently make in your job if you cut down on all the unnecessary expense. To begin with you need to sacrifice or you’ll not deserve the rewards. Do you need those two coffee cups a day at work or can you bring your own coffee from home? Do you need to go to the cinema every week with your friends or can you do a fun home screening? Think about it. You can live for less for the first year. Take the surplus and invest more in your side hustle.
If you think you need more than you currently make in your job, then that’s even better! That means you are driven by money and so you’ll most likely be driven to sell something.
Here's a simple example: If you make £2000 a month in your 9-5 job you’d need a side hustle that brings in £2000. To break that figure down even further, you need 2 clients per month, each paying £1000. If you then want to scale that, then you need 5 clients each month, each paying £1000. That’s 5K a month. If you’re into selling products you can do the same breakdown.
You can start earning relatively quickly from your side hustle. For someone whose hobby is dancing, sailing, making pottery or jewellery, you can selling. Those hobbies are leisure for many but a sole income stream for others. Sales is a keyword that you need to adopt even if you don’t like the word or live under the false impression that you’re not a good salesman. I’m telling you, you are. You just haven’t sold anything that you’re truly passionate about. Have you noticed how well you can sell other people’s work? You could easily sell me your partner’s new book or your daughters gorgeous paintings when you talk about it passionately. That’s because you are so proud of them and you want them to succeed. You need to adopt this onto yourself too!
If you love dancing and you want to do that for a living, then start selling classes, beginners and advanced, sign people up for private tuition or find a niche within dancing. For example, a wedding special! Love sailing? How can you make money from that? I know a handful of resourceful sailors and their paid activities range from the following: Writing articles for magazines, sail making, RYA training, chartering, boat delivery, selling marine gadgets or items to other sailors, distribute products for a commission and the list goes on. A handful of jobs can be done online too whilst sailing. I know sailors that write books and artwork and sell them online, others do remote consulting work and submit online. These sort of jobs only require an internet connection periodically and that is what I’ve chosen to do myself. I use amazon, ebay and shopify to sell my products without seeing our touching them, let alone getting them to the customers.
When you’ve done your income generator plan you need to start to focus on the value of what you’re selling. Your content or product is what needs to become impeccable. You can’t sell something for £1000 unless it’s worth that. To craft great value you need to have taken the time to develop it. There’s no difference in selling courses or books, they’ll both need to be worked on for countless hours.
So you see, its simple to get off your arse and start developing your skills. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, you’ll need bravery and perseverance. We all have so much more potential within us, and you owe it to yourself to discover it. It’s been the most valuable gift I’ve given myself.
- Most people from Iceland I have met, have at least two jobs and party really hard. Where does that fantastic work ethic come from?
- Hah! Yes, we take our partying seriously. In Icelandic we call it “Djamm” and that doesn’t mean going out for one drink. The true meaning of that word is simply an intense all-nighter with heavy drinking of strong liquors and dancing til we pass out. Nothing compares to “Djamming” in Iceland especially in the summertime when we have more daylight. We’ll come out of the clubs wasted in the middle of the night and it's somewhat daylight still so we have no clue what time it is so we continue the partying!
I think this intensity also translates into our work ethic, many of us work extremely hard and often in more than one job as you say. Young people start to work at the age of 13, I started working at a farm when I was 11! Many of those jobs are proper manual labour too! Working and playing hard is something of an attitude I think. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything, they say! It’s heritage, I imagine, if your parents worked hard because their parents worked hard, then you also work hard if it’s all you know.
Back in the day in remote Iceland, it was very cold and one simply didn't survive if one didn't work all hours of the day. Only two generations ago, my grandmother was brought up with 6 sisters that all needed feeding and clothing. They lived by the sea which often froze over, on a remote peninsula in the Westfjords of Iceland. They maybe got a visitor every few weeks and everyone must have worked from the day they could walk! You can imagine the amount of clothing that had to be made and mended, the food that had to be produced and preserved in the winter.
If you think sailing a yacht to one place to another, try living there in freezing cold and travel on a horse to the next village! Let’s not forget that this was happening not that long time ago, and is still happening in many places in the world today!
They also had lots of fun to and heavy drinking had certainly been discovered many centuries ago. The vikings boozed hard and the associated word “Dauður” or dead was used to describe someone who was passed out from alcoholic intoxication. This happens in present day too, we all die from time to time!
I remember my grandmother used to speak of “blackouts” which is what happened to her and others during her drinking days. If you ever met my grandmother you’d fall in love, she’s an amazing woman and her stories are simply unbelievable. I often wondered how she came out of it all, alive. Most of her stories involve “djamming, dauður and blackout” in one way or another! But along with all the partying, she also had many jobs, mainly in the entertainment industry but she also did various labour work here and there. So, you see not much has changed.
- We are often told from a very young age to follow our dreams and that we can accomplish anything we want. If you see yourself twenty years from now; where are you and what do you do?
- A great question! I think planning is vital, if you want to go places in life you need to plan it. But I think we should be planning the end result and be fixed on that but be flexible on how to get there. In business, one needs a plan with goals and targets to reach but reaching that might take longer than anticipated and it rarely goes by a plan. When sailing, you certainly need to know what the final destination is but if there’s a storm in the way, one must deviate from the plan. Sometimes waiting for weeks while the weather settles, let alone dealing with all the unexpected occurrences on the way!
Life is very much similar, we should have a goal for the next 5, 10 and 20 years and I know what I will be doing in 20 years time. I’ll be 48 years of age. A lot can be accomplished in 20 years if I start today, or even better, start yesterday. I’ll be involved in business but I’ll want to be more hands off with it and help others by investing and coaching.
I might have sold my own business, I don’t know, at least I know how much work it is to set a business operation up and I don’t know if I’ll be up for it again on my own. I’ll be focusing on growth and expansion of it and leave the day to day work to someone else. I will have reached the stage when I can fully enjoy the fruits of my labour and I’ll be making the decisions for others to implement. Maybe I’ll also buy another business as well in a similar niche and merge with mine. Thinking of what I’ll undertake makes me really excited! Business coaching is something that I do everyday for my students and I’ll continue with that.
Since I’ve already started in business, then that means by the time I´m 48, I’ll have improved every day for 20 years in one field. That's one hell of an expertise to have! Three years ago I decided to stop being a jack of all trades and start focusing on one thing that I can master. So business it is!
Sailing will still be my favourite thing on earth and motor boat sailing is something I want to try out. One day I’ll also sail to Iceland!
Retiring in Portugal is my plan so I´ll have an estate there with donkeys, horses and loud peacocks! I do love many things about the UK as well, so I’ll spend parts of my summers there. Iceland is my top travel destination but I don’t see myself living there until I’m very old. It will depend where or if I have a family there though, I’ll want to live near them in old age. Wherever I’ll be, someone will have to transport me to Iceland to allow me to die and be buried next to my grandmother.
- There is really a growing tech start up scene in the Nordics at the moment and, I guess, in your native Iceland as well. In Norway much of the focus is on future entrepreneurship and sustainability. The movement, if you will, is focusing on how exponential technologies and impact investing can create a thriving future society for all. What are your thoughts on that?
- That’s amazing and Iceland is the same, most of the entrepreneurial gigs are tech based. The scene is very inspiring as well, focusing on solving the big problems of the world. I’m myself not trying to solve problems at such a scale, my movement Sailopreneur is about the personal growth of all and how the individual can get on in life.
When I look at someone like Elon Musk, who’s solving [problems] and defining the future, I think of myself as pretty selfish! But I also think one needs a degree of selfishness to serve oneself first before one can go and serve others.
I spent a long time developing my ecommerce skills before I could teach others how to do the same. All the great thinkers of the world sacrificed time, valuable friendships and relationships to get to prioritise their life's work. Tech is great but I don’t know much about it even though my business is 90% online. I’m not a tech person at all, I’m just someone who spends a lot of time on the internet browsing products to sell online. What I do is pretty old fashioned, actually! I sell physical products across platforms that the greats of the world have invented.
One is Jeff Bezos of Amazon who created something that serves entrepreneurs like myself and my students. He is dedicated to revolutionise the way we buy products online, for example, with the one day delivery option. Most people called him nuts when I first started but here he is, an icon in the world! So yes, tech and entrepreneurship is awesome! No matter what we undertake, if we focus on the value and service to the next person, we will always win.
- The old-timers who went cruising around the world in the 1920s through the 1950s often said they had a skill or learned a craft before setting off to pay their way around the world. It could be a dentist fixing teeth on a remote island in the Pacific or a carpenter repairing roofs in New Zealand. What sort of advice would you give a young person now taking steps towards higher education before setting off sailing around the world? Digital Marketing, Carpenter or perhaps something completely different?
I just finished reading ´Before the wind` the memoir of an American Sea Captain Charles Tyng. It’s an autobiography and the events took place in the 1800s. This book is absolutely hilarious and a jaw-dropping astonishing story of a boy who went to sea and worked his way up to a captain. What’s interesting about him is that he didn’t have a formal higher education at all, he knew no craft and had no skills, it seemed. He knew nothing about sailing either! Throughout the book you get to witness how he developed his craft as a seaman and on each voyage he undertook, he went up the ranks.
Starting from a seasick and useless sailor boy, advancing up the ranks to a captain. He then becomes the most interesting business man and profits immensely from his voyages. He takes cargo, buys vessels, sells vessels, trades and invests in the most bizarre things like a mermaid!
He talks a lot about the profit gained on each purchase, as if he’s writing it for someone who wants to follow in his footsteps. He only did one trade all his life and become an expert as one would. He was someone who decided to make an income from one activity and he gets extremely resourceful when it comes to paying his way around the world. I was deeply touched by this book and I remember thinking: “Wow this guy is just like me! Someone trying to merge entrepreneurship with sailing!”
I’ve met people today that have sold all their belongings and bought a boat and started sailing the world. Some had high paying jobs previously, some don’t and others are able to do some of their work remotely and on the boat. To someone stepping towards higher education to then seek the good job they dream of, I’d say go for it! It won’t solve all your problems but neither does entrepreneurship even though that solves many of my personal problems!
There’s no right and wrong in life but there is a big difference from a person who knows what they want from life and executes accordingly and another one who aimlessly sleepwalks through life and goes from job to job. I don’t regret having gone to Uni at all, I studied interior design, I think it is quite useful to what I’m doing now. If I could go back with the perspective that I now have, I don’t think I would choose any differently. After all it’s not what you do at Uni, it’s who you become after it. Higher education often offers the skillset but not the experience required to get ahead on the job market. It’s often a very protected environment that doesn't teach you industry. The only thing I’d change perhaps is to have have started my amazon business earlier!
I’d want to say to those undertaking higher education and to those at crossroads after graduation: Find your creative spark and don’t be afraid of using it, you’ll expose yourself to the opinions of others but don’t let it to get to you! Once you finish your higher education you’ll have a whole lot of skills that are useful but you’ll also realise you lack many others. Knowing where you’re heading at this stage is important and if you want to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur.
I left my job in Iceland, because I craved sailing too intensely. It left me feeling very uncomfortable without my monthly salary. Funnily enough, the workplace recovered quite quickly and replaced me almost in seconds. No one is irreplaceable, you might as well be enjoying yourself on a beach somewhere!
- Tell us about the boat you sail and what is your role onboard?
- It’s a Tradewind 35 and my role is all around deck hand. I’ve gotten used to the boat and couldn’t imagine sailing anything else. I can do most things on decks but want to learn more about skippering. I observe and ask a lot of questions and generally, I love working with skilful people in the trade that I’m trying to pursue, whether its business or sailing. Respecting my skippers instructions and advice is vital, and I trust him for my life of course! By nature,
I’m slowly working my way up to be the boss. Leadership is a quality that I really admire and this displays itself onboard between a skipper and crew. My technical skills need developing and the only way to do that is to sail more. I learn something new every time I sail and that’s why it never becomes dull!
Life onboard is fun too, in the galley I like to be in charge of where things are put in the small fridge that we have, otherwise nothing gets found and that drives me mad! I´ve had a few episodes of utter frustration and despair as I need food asap when I get hungry. If I’m in doing the meals, I need to be in charge of what is eaten and drunk and I get grumpy if I’m not left to do it on my own. The galley is simply too small for more than one person!
As a ´Sailopreneur´, I get quite obsessed with the phone signal, power sources and the wind turbine! I need to be able to plug in my laptop every now and then. I’m able to work a little on the boat when required so I’ll be the first one to find the internet reception for example. Many will laugh now when there are so many other far more life threatening things to worry about but what can I say, it’s important to me!
I´m the happiest at anchorages when I´m in range and when I have plenty of space to swim and play with the kayak and dinghy. Those spots near the mainland or an island are ideal as there I can plug in and charge my laptop.
I was cruising the River Guadiana this year and it was my first time on the river. It was really cool and lot’s of life everywhere, both amongst the locals and sailors. It´s so different from sailing on the open water for days where you see nothing but the blue and the occasional vomit bowl! I guess when sailing like that one is really just occupied with getting from one place to another, all in one piece. On the river however, there was so much more time to just enjoy the scenery, the local life and other passing boats. Occasionally, I found phone reception and my wifi router sometimes picked up signal. That allowed me to do some work onboard.
- If you could pick a dream destination to go with a sailboat, where would that be and why?
- Recently, I’ve really wanted to to to Cape Verde. I´d love to keep the boat there for a year or two just so I can see all the islands and get to know the local life. But even if I had to fly I´d love that too. It’s Portuguese Africa that I want to experience to the fullest. Caribbean is also a dream of mine, but I guess first I’ll have to conquer the great Atlantic water in between. What a bugger!
Elin, it was a pleasure, very interesting and refreshing to hear your thoughts. Good Luck and Fair Winds to you and all you sail with!
If you are interested in learning more about how you can brake free from everyday chores and go sailing like Elin does, look up her ecommerce masterclass and connect in the list of links under. I am sure she will give you just the right kick in the *** to get going:)