Thoughts Travel Fulltime

Interview with Sharon Gourlay on Being a Digital Nomad

After having started this travel blog with Heesun, I’ve been more and more interested in speaking with members of the travel community, particularly those who live around the world with the ability to work remotely for a living.  I’ve been growing our Twitter following for mewanttravel, and as I was engaging with users and followers, I came across a Twitter page that led me to wheressharon.com. The owner of the site is Sharon Gourlay, married with 2 kids, traveling the world with her family, living the dream. The fact that her first name was the same as mine already had me intrigued. On the page, I was linked to her other website, Digital Nomad Wannabe. She defines a digital nomad as someone who travels while working online, living in a bunch of different locations. On the site, Sharon Gourlay documents her journey to becoming a digital nomad, providing income reports, tips, and showing how we all can travel and work online for a living if we try. Through her husband’s freelancing endeavors and ads and affiliate marketing through her blog and niche sites, Gourlay has been able to make a living for her and her family.

This year I’m attempting to actively network and leave my comfort zone. So I e-mailed Sharon Gourlay with genuine interest in her life, how she got to where she did, and any advice I could get. Check out our conversation below!

Sharon Gourlay Interview Digital Nomad

My Interview with Sharon Gourlay on Being a Digital Nomad:

Hi Sharon! I came across your 2 sites (wheressharon.com and digitalnomadwannabe.com) through someone’s share of your webpage on Twitter. I think what you have accomplished is so amazing.

Gourlay: “Always nice to meet another Sharon 🙂 As you can see from my blog, it is very possible to do what you want to do.”

Q: It’s so great to talk to someone who’s successfully become a digital nomad! Sometimes I wonder if my longing to leave the routine and work remotely stems from being lazy. What are your thoughts on that?

Gourlay: “Working online is definitely not the lazy option – I work far harder than I did in the corporate world. In time, I hope this will not be the case as my passive income grows, but at the moment, I work every chance I get. It is also more stressful since income isn’t reliable and there are many things that could happen to upset things. It would be far easier and less stressful  if I didn’t have kids relying on me though. I do find it incredibly rewarding – I am so proud of myself. I did this! Whereas more traditional paths are so much easier.”

Q: What motivated you to start taking this digital nomad path? Do you feel like it’s a more gratifying route than the office life?

Gourlay: “The kids are my biggest motivation. My main motivation was a better lifestyle for my family. At home in Australia, hubby was at work all the time and there was constant money and time stress. We never seemed to have enough time to just enjoy life and that’s what I wanted to change. I also love travel and since it is so much cheaper to be traveling than live in Australia, being a digital nomad made perfect sense 🙂 ”

Sharon Gourlay Kids
Q: I noticed that you have many niche sites. How many sites do you have, and do you earn more money through smaller niche sites or through your larger digital nomad and travel sites?  

Gourlay: “I have two niche sites based on keyword research then about 25 PBN sites. It is quite a headache and I wouldn’t do it that way again. There is a lot of information online recommending this approach but many of them are old – a lot has changed in the last year and it now takes a lot longer to rank. Given they could be deindexed by Google at any moment and I’ve only started earning reasonable money in the last few months from them, I am not sure it is worth the effort.




I think it is far smarter to build an authority site – like it sounds like you plan to do with your travel blog. What I mean by this is that it can still be built on keyword research but be a real site (like wheressharon) and one that you can whitehat link build to with things like guest posting. This should stay around a lot longer and could earn a lot more money in the long run. It is more work to set up though.”

Side note: I didn’t know what a PBN site was when Gourlay told me about this. A PBN is a private blog network of a set of domains that you own. Typically these are made up of expired domains, and if you know a thing or two about SEO, these domains may have some authority and pass good link juice. You can either revive and make money from these expired domains or use them to link to your niche sites, to get them more backlinks and pass link juice.

Q: Do you have advice for people (including me) who want to earn money while blogging?
Gourlay: “My advice with your blog is to be clear how you plan to monetize from the beginning (which it sounds like you are), work out who your target audience is and do what you can to get them to your site rather than just random people.”
Sharon Gourlay Family

I was so fortunate to be able to get in touch with Sharon Gourlay, and I want to thank her for speaking with me! I hope you all gain some knowledge from our conversation, and let us know below if you have any questions or comments!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Ringo
    July 31, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    surprised!

    didn’t know that working online can be harder work than real life work
    and wow at traveling being cheaper than living in Australia

    such a helpful and interesting post!

    • Sharon
      Reply
      Sharon
      August 13, 2015 at 2:51 am

      Glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    Interview with Sharon Gourlay on Being a Digita...
    August 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    […] I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with Sharon Gourlay on being a digital nomad. Check out her tips on how you can blog for a living!  […]

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