If there is one question I hear asked a lot in the narrowboat community, it is ‘how do I make money whilst cruising the canals?’ A lot of people are loving the idea of living a life of freedom and natural beauty on the cut but have no idea how to support themselves. In this article, I want to share some of the ways I think you could make money whilst being a continuous cruiser on a narrowboat or canal boat.
Method 1: Blogging
This is one of the main ways I am able to support myself, by using the power of online blogging. Just be warned that it can take a few years to build up a blog to a level where it can fully support a canal life. And you need to have a focused approach, writing articles that you know your community want to read.
I currently operate a small portfolio of websites, and I am the main writer on most of them. I love nothing more than sitting down in the afternoon and writing a good article (as I am hopefully doing now!) For this reason, if you want to take this approach, make sure your blog is about a subject you are passionate about. There is nothing worse than forcing yourself to write on a dry subject matter you don’t enjoy!
Below is a screenshot of one stream of income I get from blogging. All you need to build is a couple of these to make a decent living for yourself on the canals.
Blogging is a real way to make money. You just need to know what you are doing to make sure you don’t spend years on a project that is doomed from the start.
I want to recommend two resources if you are interested in trying to follow this route. The first is a book called’ From Nothing’ that is available over at Amazon (click the image below to view it over there). I find that this is an inexpensive but good entry point into blogging.
I have personally read this book several times, as even as an experienced blogger, I got a lot from it.
If you want to go ‘all in’ on the idea of making money from blogging, I would recommend another resource. This is a course called ‘Project 24’ that gives you all the tips and advice you need to hopefully have a successful blog with 24 months (hence the name). This is the approach I personally followed and can wholeheartedly recommend. You can find the course by clicking HERE.
Method 2: Online Jobs
As long as you have regular and reliable access to decent internet on the cut, there are many online jobs available that you could use to make a living wage each month. The internet has been a wonderful development for people that want to be ‘digital nomads’. You no longer are forced to work from the confines of an office. You just need to know where to look.
Click HERE to go to FreeUp and signup as a freelancer. They hire all kinds of freelancers to do anything from web development to customer service. If you are willing to work remotely, I am sure you can find a role for you over at FreeUp.
Method 3: Become a Writer
Want to be the next Stephen King? 🙂 If you feel that you are half decent at writing, there is a world of opportunity to write articles, books and blog posts. There is so much content being written on the web these days, and someone has to write it. More and more, writers are freelance ‘work from home’ writers, even in some of the world’s big publications.
For example, I have contact with Relay Publishing, a well-known book publisher that is always on the look out for writers, editors and even graphic designers. If you think you fit the bill, pass your details (including relevant skills) to me and I will happily refer you to Relay. Use my contact form to get in touch.
Freelance writing has the flexibility needed when living on a narrowboat. And when you get good at it, you could work for yourself by setting up a writing gig on a platform such as Fiverr. Then you could effectively be your own boss.
There are even platforms such as Publish Drive that help you self publish ebooks in multiple locations all at once. If you fancy yourself as a self-published eBook star, a tool like that would help a lot.
Method 4: Teach English
There are many children and adults in countries such as China that want to learn English with a passion. The old way was to go and live in one of those countries and become an English Teacher. However, these days the wonders of the internet mean that you can be an English teacher from the comfort of your own narrowboat. Just be aware that you will need a laptop, good internet and a place to set up whilst you teach. Oh, and a microphone that makes you sound smooth like a radio DJ 🙂 The awesome Chugging Along YouTube channel has a perfect video to highlight how they do this.
Well known companies such as ESLStarter now offer work from home jobs that you can apply for HERE.
Method 5: Trade
There are a growing number of roving traders that roam the canal networks, setting up stalls on the busy sections of towpath to sell wares or offer services. Some people sell art, some people offer jewellery, others set up coffee shops. You can put any skills or passions that you have to good use here.
Below is a video from a narrowboating YouTuber that has a pirate themed trading boat. This is a perfect example of what you could do. It’s important that you choose something that fits your skills and would be of interest to anyone wondering down a towpath. In her case, she has both a pirate themed trading stall and sells badges on her website.
Method 6: Sell Art
There are a lot of talented boaters out there that are already selling their art online whilst cruising the cut. If you want to do this too, you will need a plan. After all, customers won’t just start buying your art out of nowhere 🙂
You could take the towpath trader approach explained above, and set up an art trading stall. Some people also sell their art by building up a following of some kind through YouTube or Instagram, and selling to them.
My preferred route would be to sell online, as it is the most scalable when you get the ball rolling. These days its pretty easy to setup an ecommerce store with services such as Shopify. Then its just a matter of promoting your art online to get some traction. It might be tough at the start, but if you do this right, it should be able to grow like a snowball over time 🙂 Shopify has a guide that you can read to get started.
Method 7: Become a Boating Handyman
The narrow and canal boating community has been growing rapidly over recent years, and this means there are an increasing number of boats on the water. A lot of these narrowboaters have no idea how to service, fix or do any DIY jobs on their boat. If you do have an idea about this, you could charge a good amount to do these jobs for others.
For example, every man and his dog wants to fit solar panels on the roof of their narrowboat but most have no clue how. If you know how to do this to a professional standard, you could build up a tidy business along the towpaths.
The best thing about this is the fact that you don’t really need to do any advertising or marketing. Just talk to others in the canal boating community and make it known that you are available for jobs. Word will start to get around after a while, especially as your number of happy customers grows.
Go Forth and Make Money!
There you have it, 7 awesome ways you can make money as a live-aboard narrowboater. It is totally possible to make your living in these ways, it just requires a little creativity and thought at the start. And these are not the only ways, I am sure if you think hard enough, you can come up with many other ways to make money on the cut!