We are Ryan & Alex, two 26-year-old Art Directors who decided to take life in an unexpected direction. We are full-time professional digital nomads who live and work out of a converted sprinter van, and are co-founders of our branding agency www.creativesinavan.com (@creativesinavan).
Our entrepreneurial #vanlife journey began on this one, single day. We were watching Into the Wild. When it finished we grabbed a beer, sat on Ryan’s father’s patio, and began talking about life. We chatted about what we wanted out of it; what REALLY meant something to us. We both desired to live creative, happy, wild and free. We wanted to grow old and look back at our lives and say “Damn, we really did something right.” And that’s when we decided to buy a van, convert it, start a business, and travel the world together.
Instead of looking at our dreams as something that could never be done, we looked at it as the only option. We worked every single day to accomplish our goals of starting our own business and travel. If becoming an entrepreneur and living in a van is your dream, we’re here now to show you that it’s possible. Below are some pieces of advice to help you get to the place you’ve always wanted to be.
1. Be passionate about what you do
Don’t start your business unless you’re 100% committed. You need to be deeply passionate about what you do, otherwise you will be beat out by those who love it more. Be mindful that you’re getting yourself involved in a marathon, not a sprint. This is a journey that will take years of your life, so be confident in the direction you take. Your main focus should be perfecting your craft, whatever that is.
2. Don’t start your business JUST so you can live in a van & travel
It’s no secret that the majority of people would rather travel than work in a corporate office. Many see Van Life as an affordable escape from their everyday reality, but often they don’t understand the sacrifices which take place behind the scenes. If this is your next “get rich quick” scheme, forget about it. There needs to be a bigger purpose behind your travel because that is what will push you through the bad days. We work more in Walmart parking lots than relax on the beach in Key West. Instagram will make you believe we have an abundance of free time, but this is not so. Even when we appear to be “relaxing,” we are working. The line between work and life is extremely blurred to the point where we often feel over stimulated. The constant need to produce cinematic content is relentless. This is why you must be passionate (and quite frankly, obsessed) with what you do.
3. Treat failure as if it’s not an option
Van Life is a true pass or fail kind of test. It’s impossible to have one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock. You really need to commit and throw yourself at the world. This can be the most exciting yet terrifying part of the whole experience. Building a successful business out of a van gives you a lot of confidence, if you succeed. It’s truly gratifying to build something from the ground up, literally. You will feel more self sufficient than you ever have before, and that confidence you earned will translate into other areas of your life.
4. Sacrifice in the beginning to win in the end
Starting a new business and completely changing your lifestyle isn’t easy. In fact, it’s the hardest right when you start because you have zero clients and zero idea what you’re doing. Liberating, right? We took it as a challenge and worked really freaking hard, and most of the time we worked for free. To get a creative business off the ground you have to show people what you’re capable of before they’ll pay you for your services. Our strategy was to do as much work as we could, for little to know pay, for the brands and businesses we wanted to work for. We used influencers in different categories to get clients, and always utilized a referral program. Because we sacrificed in the beginning of our journey, we are now doing exactly the work we want to be doing, for the brands & people we want to work with, while making the money we deserve. Today, most of our clients come from referrals and social media. It took a lot of work to get here, though, but we’re confident most of our success is due to one thing: working hard(er) every day.
5. Work hard(er)…always
With this lifestyle there are no guarantees and no sense of security. Because of this, we never find ourselves in need of motivation. Our performance in business directly affects our lifestyle. The fear of failure has propelled us to work harder than we ever thought possible. The constant anxiety to succeed has become one of our best friends. The large workload and long hours have made us better professionals and have shown us ways to become more efficient with each new project. We believe that progress is an important factor in an individual’s overall satisfaction in life. The work that once seemed tedious has now become play, and for that we are thankful.
6. Diversify your income
Even masters in their craft can experience a dry spell. Therefore, it always pays to be prepared. Diversifying your income may be the best move you make this year. Our anxiety has been cut in half because we have a smart business model which doesn’t rely too heavily on one individual income stream. We want a life of options and a life of stability. Many people think you can’t have this type of lifestyle while living in a van, but we obviously disagree. We feel that #vanlife has blessed us with the strongest foundation new business owners could ever hope to have. We are setup for success. As long as we are truly passionate about what we do, work our asses off and always improve our businesses practices…we are on the road to greatness.