Wage Freedom is about the mindset you need to improve your life, and the practicalities of seizing the day.
About the good life—as defined by you—and how to get there.
Is it leaving a job you hate for an occupation that fits you better, retiring early on a tropical island, or something else?
What has you stuck?
Is it unreasonable to expect better?
Let’s say it’s not unreasonable, that if you’re dissatisfied it's time to dream bigger.
If you’re willing to help yourself create the life you deserve, Wage Freedom can help you.
As a tech-enabled entrepreneur since 2008, I share actionable strategies you can use to create your own online business.
More importantly, Wage Freedom looks at the attitude liberation demands of you, as the price of making positive change.
Because even the best methods are ineffective if you aren't psychologically ready to wield them.
And because whatever freedom looks like to you, the mindset you need to infuse your life with it is the same.
You wouldn't believe what you can do…but you should.
If you are laboring in the context of unrequited ambition or some pent-up dream, living in Bali can be the perfect way to address The Project, however you define it.
A tropical vacation is fun and rejuvenating, but stay in a place like Bali long enough and it just might trigger a larger sense of perspective in you. Be warned: removing much of the pressing need for income and heavy clothing under which you have been been straining for a lifetime can have ontological ramifications.
Glimpsing a less-constrained you in very different circumstances, even if only for a moment, hints at a larger, fuller life that you might otherwise have lived. It suggests a life that you might–being still alive–still live.
For me years ago, the word ‘expat’ meant being Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, Graham Greene or Hemingway in Cuba, or even Bogart in a Casablanca nightclub. I have my moments but I never feel as distinguished or well-dressed as any of those guys.
But when an old friend came to visit us in Bali recently and mentioned with just a hint of fraternal sarcasm, “Hey you’re an expat now”, it got me thinking. I bought my little base here in 2005 and have been living in Bali nearly continuously since mid-2008. Had I passed some arbitrary time requirement? What does ‘expat’ mean in 2015?
A 21st century expat in Bali or elsewhere in Southeast Asia can enjoy the exoticism of his chosen location without many of the attendant inconveniences, deprivations or even dangers endured by those iconic figures from another time. OK, so call me soft. Still, talking to friends via free Google video chat or flying inexpensively to Singapore for a visa run and authentic masala dosa is something I wouldn’t swap for doing it the way they did 50+ years ago.
Being a Bali expat is an exercise in having it both ways, sometimes almost embarrassingly so. Having said that, the frustrations and negative aspects built into expatriate life in Bali keep me from getting too smug. Today I’ll just tell you about the good stuff, the 19 best things about being a Bali expat, according to me. In no particular order: Continue reading The 19 Best Things About Being A Bali Expat
Over the years I’ve had lots of people ask how to go about staying in Bali for six months or more, or long-term stays in Indonesia generally, with respect to a visa.
Nowadays Bali especially is seeing a huge influx of foreigners looking to save by renting an apartment or house by the month (or by the year!) and work on a project, look into possibilities for making a base in Bali or simply take an extended break. My aim with this article is to remove visa-related question marks as barrier to doing this.
The Sosial Budaya, or Social Visa is an answer, and for many people it’s the best option. Costing approximately US$60 in 2014 depending on where you apply, it allows you an initial stay of 60 days, then is extendable every 30 days for about US$25, up to a maximum stay of six months without having to leave Indonesia. A stipulation with the Sosial Budaya is that you must apply for it while you are physically outside of Indonesia. You also need a letter of invitation from an Indonesian citizen. This is simpler than it might sound. You can Email my friend Sinta at email@example.com for more info on the Social Visa, and monthly extensions.
I’ve applied for quite a few Indonesian Social Visas in several cities around the world, so I might be in a position to elaborate, but I must emphasize that my info is current through 2014. Please check online with the Indonesian embassy through which you’ll apply for current information. Interestingly, different embassies sometimes have different application forms and slightly different requirements.
Bonus Tip #1: Even when the process seems clear on the embassy website, I always call first to confirm that I understand exactly what I’ll currently need. This has saved me time and money in the United States for example, where you’ll find you must apply to the Indonesian embassy closest to your permanent address. Continue reading A Social Visa For Long Stays In Bali, Indonesia: What You Need To Know
Write a popular article on your blog and readers will tell you what they’d like to see next.
My list of favorite things about living in Bali led to a daily stream of emails asking me for advice on making an income to support expat life or early retirement in Southeast Asia. I’m sincerely grateful for the interest.
The best way I know to earn money as an expat or long-term traveler is to match your interests, aptitudes and experience–your domain expertise–with one of 10,000 ways to make money online. I believe using the Internet to make money is easier than it used to be.
And by the way, even if travel is not a priority for you, earning online is a way to take care of less exotic expenses like a car or utility payment, or even the path to quit your job and self-employment.
I wanted to create a comprehensive article to which I could refer you—regardless of you goals, your background, or your existing skills—listing some of the finest experts, blogs and websites for learning about creating income online right now.
This list is for you if you have with no prior knowledge on the topic. I’m assuming only curiosity, some motivation, and Internet access.
These experts represent an huge range of ways to earn online. Please don’t feel overwhelmed. Let me give you a bit of encouragement before we get going, drawn from my own experience, a quick taste of how this process might work for you. Just two approaches.
1) Take a talent you already have (or can develop)– writing, drawing, speaking well, and add some tech know-how to build an internet-based business around it. Or, provide it to individuals or business customers. It will open doors you haven’t yet imagined, to many of which I point in this article.
You’re closer than you think to being able to do this.
2) A slightly different path: As you learn, you’ll begin to notice problems with websites you visit, and marketing that could be done better. These websites and marketing campaigns represent businesses making real money. Businesses with marketing budgets, looking to reach more people and retain existing customers. Businesses that are often looking for help.
Seeing evidence of your newfound analytical ability you will feel empowered, your time spent studying will be validated. Knowing that you can help, selling your services to businesses is much easier than you think. I’ve met clients at restaurants, on airplanes, waiting in line, etc., just by expressing my (real) enthusiasm for marketing improvements they should be making. You get the idea.
Protip: You might regard the shortcomings you notice as indications of what your interests in online marketing are.
How to use this list:
You need information when you’re starting down a new path. I’m giving you the best sources I know of. But here’s the thing, and it’s the most important part of this 9,000-word article:
Reading this post without taking action is worse than never reading it at all.
Why is that?
Doing nothing is one thing. But spending time getting ready to get started is kidding yourself.
There is no end to the reading you can do, and (unlike employment) no boss standing over you telling you to take action. This is dangerous.
Reading case studies and learning about a method someone’s had success with can give you a kind of vicarious stimulation that for many people is a complete substitute for action. Don’t do this.
Treat taking action as the price of reading. Play or do not play. Or in this case, work or do not read.
All the info is in the links below. Please buy a domain (your name if it’s available), get cheap hosting and install WordPress. Maybe buy a small website. Create a (complete) Elance profile if you have a direction for a side gig in mind, if it makes sense for you.
We’re not talking about quitting your job tomorrow. You’re building a knowledge foundation here, further informed by what you teach yourself by acting.
Create social media accounts, starting with LinkedIn and Twitter. Order a gig on fiver. Take action, and don’t worry about optimizing in the ‘right‘ direction too soon. It’s a great way to never get started.
OK, end of speech.
Structurally speaking, I’m not presenting you with ‘the best’ experts in each discipline here, and of course it’s the tip of the iceberg as far as methods you can use. Each person has plenty to teach, and is really good at what he or she does. Also, while most specialize, they exhibit and teach skills in many areas—and yes, there’s a lesson there for you. My criteria was how well they communicate world-class knowledge and value to you, for free.
I understand you might have no idea where to begin. I felt that way when I started making money online in 2008, wanting to spend my enthusiasm and time on quality sources of information only. Google it? What was I supposed to Google?
So, rather than simply giving you a list of authorities, I chose to add sections on definitions and explanations of basic terminology for background.
Because pointing you at experts has limited value if you are not yet familiar with each area of expertise.
This meant more work for me and longer list than it would otherwise be. I think it’s more usable and valuable this way for people with no experience, and that’s who I want to help with this post.
By all means skip these introductory sections if you don’t need them.
I don’t expect anyone to be interested in all of these springboards to online income, but I do hope there’s at least one direction that piques your interest.
Many of these authorities on digital entrepreneurship have paid products systematically presenting their knowledge, but everyone on this list offer lots of excellent free information to get you started. By the way, I have no affiliate links in this article and no paid arrangements of any kind with anyone on this list.
1) Tim Ferriss
Released just before the 2008 economic downturn, the book encouraged readers to look beyond employment for opportunity. It pointed to ‘lifestyle design’ as an option available to anyone willing to embrace new, often Internet-related methods and tools for making money, as well as a can-do brand of personal responsibility we rarely wield as employees.
Call it life hacking, an abundance mindset guide or a hustler’s handbook, the 4HWW invites the outside-the box thinker in all of us to go beyond what we think constrains us.
It’s an invitation to choose yourself for goals perhaps not indicated by your background. It’s a practical foundation on which you can transform the rest of your life.
If you’re serious about a post-employment life, this is an invitation you have to take to heart.
The book has too many practical suggestions and lessons to be a ‘self-help’ book, but you’ll feel empowered and inspired by the micro-entrepreneur case studies and examples drawn from Ferriss’ own life.
Some of the tactics Ferriss talks about are outdated, but it doesn’t matter. The Four Hour Work Week is a book you’ll want to have read, background for conversations you’ll be having with new friends you’ll meet as a tech-enabled entrepreneur.
Ferriss’ attitude is infectious. You might never have met anyone quite like this brilliant guy who believes reality is negotiable. By example he might become a virtual mentor-as-touchstone to fortify you for battles to come.
His site is the perfect introduction to the book’s themes.
2) Dan Andrews/Ian Schoen – Tropical MBA
Dan writes for The Tropical MBA blog and along with business partner Ian produces the highly-rated Tropical MBA Podcast. These digital renaissance men have built multiple successful businesses and have real-world expertise in e-commerce, physical product creation, media, online communities and other ventures.
At some point ‘making money online’ becomes ‘using the Internet for business’. This is Dan and Ian’s focus. This article you’re reading is about getting started, but from the beginning you should be thinking about things like:
• How people around you and online are making money, not to steal ideas but to identify opportunities to use working methods into other markets or products (‘rip, pivot, and jam’)
• Outsourcing and hiring people rather than doing everything yourself
• Getting creative with methods you’re learning, to serve a market you identify as you go. For example, if you’re an illustrator, do you offer logos for business on Fiverr or ‘visual presence upgrade packages’ (just made it up) containing a website header/footer, Twitter background, Facebook Page cover photo, business card designs, and a logo? Oh and you can install your designs in each medium too?….. One is $5 a pop forever, the latter is a business.
I mentioned at the start of this article that the breadth and depth of knowledge of some of the experts on this list are worthy of a deep dive if you’re really ready to (move from methods and mindset of an employee to that of a self-employed person): the Tropical MBA experience certainly is.
Taken as a whole, the content they’ve produced in the last several years resembles a graduate business curriculum, except online business methods and tech tools Dan and Ian discuss are more timely than the two-year-old strategies they’re theorizing over at your local university. Oh, and it’s free.
There’s big opportunity for small enterprise somewhere between startups seeking Silicon Valley VC funding and people happy making a few hundred dollars a month from a part-time online gig. Dan and Ian speak mostly to people looking to enter this broad middle ground. If you’re serious about online income, this means you.
You won’t get instruction on basic topics like installing WordPress or getting started as a freelancer here. You will get a higher-level perspective on current opportunities for entrepreneurs in a changing landscape, which should inform your direction, from the start.
When you’ve created some success for yourself as an entrepreneur and you think you’re ready for the next level, apply for Dynamite Circle membership for truly world-class networking, online entrepreneur/digital nomad lifestyle advice and joint venture opportunities.
Start here, and get on the mailing list:
3) Derek Sivers
It’s hard to know where the business mindset tips end and the hard business advice begins with most of the experts on this list, and Derek Sivers is a good example of this. Founding CD Baby in 1998 and eventually selling it for an 8-figure sum, he’s a true e-commerce pioneer with obvious business chops.
His experience informs his writing on business topics but his tone is always that of an creative, caring artist, perfect for beginners in online business who feel a little overwhelmed. As you learn, you’ll need to make some choices and commit to specific ways to earn online. You’ll need to re-frame early failure as learning, and a hundred other things employees never think about. Derek Sivers will help you with this.
• ‘Start by sharing whatever you’ve got’ http://sivers.org/sharing
• ‘How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen’ http://sivers.org/how2hire
• Understanding ‘scaling’ http://sivers.org/nolimit
What are a few skills online entrepreneurs should have in 2015? As promised, I’ll define a few core concepts you’ll want to know. This background will be helpful in the next section. (Do skim past this if you’re familiar with these concepts)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science (and art) of being found online via search engines. Being found is step one, so anyone doing business online should have a good understanding of it, or access to someone who does.
Creating a website is about more than its look: the site should be optimized for search with good ‘on-page/on-site’ SEO from the beginning. It makes a huge difference in the amount of visitors it will receive from search engines, still the prime source of new visitors for most websites.
Years ago many website owners relied on using search engines—and SEO—as their main source of traffic to their websites. Whole businesses could be built on knowledge of how to drive consistent traffic this way. For many reasons this is more difficult to do today. It is much less common (though not unheard of!) to use SEO as a standalone strategy. Traditional SEO has given way to ‘content marketing’ and site owners or those who advise them also leverage social media, paid traffic and many other marketing methods to funnel visitors to their web site or presence.
Still, good SEO is vital, and it will be as long as visitors come from search engines.
The SEO game changes with every major update of Google’s search algorithm. Misusing SEO or using outdated tactics can really hurt a website’s presence in search, so it’s imperative you get your basic education from a source that’s both reputable and up-to-date. I have you covered, below.
Also, providing SEO services for businesses can be quite lucrative. There is a learning curve, and I wouldn’t call it a money-making method for beginners necessarily, but the fact is that lots of motivated, sharp people have bootstrapped their way into self-employment this way, sometimes very quickly. You’ll know you’re getting close if you’re running experiments on your own sites.
Peruse the web and you’ll still find websites of many established businesses to be appalling SEO-wise. That is opportunity for someone.
Once you understand SEO basics you’ll be equipped to follow experts like Glen, Matthew and Hayden (below) who share SEO experiments they do, and maybe run your own. If that sounds ambitious, well it is. But if you’re looking for a new challenge that can pay very well you might consider it.
…is earning commission by selling products created by other people or companies. An affiliate marketer’s main challenge is to bring people to the his/her unique affiliate link (given by a merchant or affiliate network), then to compel them to click the link and buy. Buying through an affiliate link doesn’t raise the price of the item for the buyer, by the way.
Put your affiliate link on a page of your spectacularly helpful content, especially if that page is on a website regarded as authoritative by people and search engines, and you can be very successful.
There’s nothing shady about it; it’s a legitimate way to be compensated for your effort in helping a person find something they want, and usually reviewing its pros and cons in the process, sometimes extensively.
Affiliate marketing strategies are still one of the the most popular ways to make online income (or to supplement other methods you use), and not only by being the person who makes the commission. At some point you might find yourself creating products of your own and recruiting affiliates to sell for you for a commission.
Protip: Since Google ranks websites differently than it once did, and and because many search results are now dominated by paid ads, affiliate marketing strategies have changed. Affiliate marketing used to have a cozy relationship with SEO as a primary way to generate consistent traffic to websites. Creating small niche websites to target a narrow set of keywords to sell one or a few related products was common, but now it’s less effective than it was…generally.
Therefore, many affiliate marketers now focus on creating trusted, authoritative, branded sites, often an extension of an expertise one might have on a topic, and creating real connections with customers who might buy repeatedly. This brings us to:
Email lists and newsletters
As internet users become more sophisticated, non-spammy ways to reach out to people who have expressed interest in what you do are more relevant than ever. An important method for turning a single visit to your website into the foundation for a customer relationship is by collecting visitor email addresses and sending out regular emails to them.
This favors you if you write well and sincerely on subjects and products you care about. You can also use video to convey your message. The good news is you can focus on building your list and crafting engaging newsletters while automating the process, sending out pre-defined sequences of emails based on how a visitor found you.
Everyone on this list will invite you to sign up for their newsletter and a few offer free content or whole courses to educate you on their area of expertise. You’ll see the sign-up forms and popup windows.
Sign up for these newsletters: it’s a great way to keep up with your online education. (Create an email address for this purpose if you want to) Usually there are worthwhile pieces of ‘VIP’ content offered for you when you sign up.
But also: please pay attention to HOW these experts reach out to you with their newsletter. They are teaching you by example. The content usually–hopefully–contains messages that are relevant to you, and they usually test their methods so that you won’t be turned off and unsubscribe–which you can easily do, at any time. It’s a meta-lesson for you, and who better to learn it from than the very people who will be teaching you?
Most of us have established a social media presence as users. (Please don’t worry if you haven’t, do keep reading!)
You know there’s a lot more to social media than your Facebook status updates and Pinterest pins. Still, you might not feel the need to learn much about the services behind the ‘share’ icons you see near articles you read online.
I’ll say it gently: start slowly, but this needs to change. No matter how you approach the internet as a tool for making an income you’ll need to work social media into your strategy: people you’re trying to reach spend too much time using it to ignore.
Don’t think you have to become an expert in every social media service to be effective. You don’t. And, don’t think you have to spend hours each day interacting on social media— you shouldn’t! Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, EveryPost, BuzzBundle etc. can help you manage your social media presence and save you loads of time.
You should use everyone on this list as an example of how to use social media well, because—as with email lists—it’s part of what’s made them successful. I’ve included a small section on Facebook ads later to sensitize you to the possibilities for paying for traffic, but to be clear: social media is outreach that costs you time only, so you have an incentive to learn to efficiently manage it. Doing so will pay huge rewards over time.
OK, that was a bit of necessary background, let’s continue the list!
MOZ is a major authority on SEO, with something for everyone, even experts. Their archives have endless detailed value sourced from many respected SEOs and the MOZ team. Whatever level of SEO expertise you’re aiming for MOZ wants to be your go-to reference. In 2013 they changed their name to MOZ from SEOmoz, reflecting the increased relevance of other methods of generating traffic.
They now offer a wide range of education and analytical tools (including many terrific free tools) on marketing generally. If you’re just starting out focus on the following links if you’re ready to build a site, or to properly SEO a website someone else builds for you. Web designers don’t always have SEO skills, and SEO is something you can’t leave to chance..
A comprehensive guide to basic SEO
and off-page SEO.
You’ll have a solid foundation if you go through the MOZ basic SEO lessons and before you spend your time and enthusiasm on endless, outdated, often dubious opinions all over the web, please start here.
Also, I referred to ‘misusing SEO’ above, by employing more aggressive methods for ranking well for specific keywords that matter to your business. MOZ will teach you to err on the side of caution if you attempt to do this, and give you plenty of background with which you can view the ongoing debate in the SEO community as to how aggressively one might use these tactics without jeopardizing a site’s position in search results.
5) Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income
Transparency, positivity and integrity are Pat’s modus operandi. He’s been a huge influence on so many people starting out, and if you are you’ll feel like he’s speaking directly to you. If you want proof that nice guys can finish first (or at least, very well!) take a look at the upper right-hand corner of any page on his website. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
Pat’s very prolific, consciously employing a ‘be-everwhere’ strategy in spreading his presence over many different media. It all informs his podcast and blog and gives you the latest on a huge variety of topics, such as the role of social media in your business, using video and podcasts for getting the word out, and most aspects of the path from blogger to entrepreneur. The archive is huge, filled with value.
Pat’s niche site duel in 2010 influenced thousands of people to get into building niche websites to create semi-passive income. The game has changed somewhat, largely due to changes in Google’s ranking algorithm. In this recent article on upgrading two of his well-known sites, Pat shows how his thinking toward niche sites has evolved, and shares specific steps he’s taking to triple his revenue from the sites.
You’ll learn a lot about what’s still possible with narrowly-focused sites, and why ‘authority’ is such a key concept for all sites you build. It’s also a valuable article if you’re interested in buying an existing site, authorities for which I’ll list later in this article.
Affiliate marketing is a big portion of his business and the page at this link will start you off from the very beginning.
Pat has an excellent series of articles and podcast episodes on email lists, newsletters and auto-responders.
Pat’s not afraid to share his business setbacks either, which should serve to put yours into perspective.
6) Social Media Examiner
I had a pretty good idea of who I wanted on this list even before I started— most people here have taught me a lot over the years—but as I researched this article Social Media Examiner kept popping up as an amazing source of social media education.
I wanted a go-to site on the subject I could refer you to, especially since my own education has been piecemeal over the years. Seriously, this is a tsunami of timely info, helpful whether you’re taking your own social media presence to the next level or starting to offer services to clients. Use it as a go-to reference on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Twitter, etc. whenever you need background or help expanding your expertise into a channel you don’t yet use.
Keep current with your social media education. Channels change constantly, which further solidifies your status as an expert as you keep up with it all.
Pro tip: when you’re reading ‘a guide for small business’ do keep reading, even if you don’t feel like one yet. Soon you’ll be thinking like one. Then you’ll be running one.
Get started here:
7) Josh and Jill Stanton – Screw the Nine to Five
For proof that a husband-and-wife team can run a successful online business while traveling and working from exotic places all over the world, take a look at these two pros. Affiliate marketing is Josh and Jill’s expertise, and the free information they share is solid and actionable especially if you’re just getting started.
This first link takes you to a whole series of articles on affiliate marketing, a case study on an actual affiliate website Josh and Jill created. It takes you from the very beginning with niche selection and overall strategy, and covers related topics like SEO and website creation:
There’s plenty to explore in their video and podcasts too. This episode is excellent:
And by the way, if you think being a geek with no personality is a requirement for online income success, Jill and Josh’s unpretentious enthusiasm proves otherwise! Their meta-lesson is that if you have a talent for putting people at ease and genuinely connecting with them, do not hide it and don’t limit it to writing either! Grab the device of your choice, get the video or podcasting going and leverage it right into your marketing.
8) Matthew Woodward
Woodward concentrates mostly on SEO, and on his site you’ll find plenty of SEO-related tutorials, tool reviews etc., but there’s a whole lot more. Matthew is one of the people on this list who focus on their own experiments and hacking shortcuts to success out of existing methods, and I find more creativity and originality with him than almost anyone else whose articles I read regularly.
A lot of his content can probably be termed intermediate-to-advanced level, so don’t be intimidated if you feel over your head, please. If it’s hard it means you’re growing. I’m including him here because sometimes enthusiasm for a topic–which Matthew is good at provoking–can motivate us to learn faster.
The range here is wide: comprehensive instruction on everything from affiliate marketing, social media engagement, Facebook advertising, website monetization, blogging topics, and email marketing.
Most posts feature a method or review of a tool that’s new to me (not always a positive review by the way!) or a tutorial giving away information other businesses might package up and sell. He publishes the monthly income he earns from this site too, and it’s very respectable.
So many solid reviews. A healthy income. Do you suppose the two are related? It’s another of the meta-lessons to which I alluded earlier: his review posts will contain affiliate links.
Again, buying through those links doesn’t raise the buyer’s purchase price. And he gives away so much detailed info—more granular than the creator of the tool gives sometimes!—that I don’t hold it against him one bit.
• Email marketing: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/email-marketing-part-1/
• YouTube Video Optimization: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/youtube-marketing-optimization-part-1-channel-videos/
• Conversion rate optimization: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tips/how-i-increased-profits-by-changing-the-colour-of-a-button/
• This is a review of a rather expensive piece of software, BuzzBundle, to help a marketer engage efficiently using social media. I’m including it because it’s a great tool (especially relevant with recent changes in SEO) and because Matthew’s detailed review of it shows exactly how you’ll want to do affiliate reviews. http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/reviews/buzzbundle-review-how-i-drive-traffic-to-my-blog/
9) Bryan Harris – VideoFruit
Harris bills Videofruit as a place for business owners to learn how to produce video content for their businesses, but he delivers much more. He shares methods he implements with clients as well as original ideas which take advantage of new tech, trends and combinations of strategies. Bryan is here because of his original approach to interesting hybrid methods and overall creativity.
Here is a perfect example: ‘How to make $1,000 in the next 14 days without an idea’ is a empty promise with no substance at all, right? Well take a look at just how Harris suggests you pick an idea for a consultancy business, then how to get started on it, today. Seriously, take a look! Simple and brilliant:
Once you start getting signups to your email list this article will show you that you can be successful launching a product to as few as 25(!) people:
Or, how to get your first $3,000/month client:
I ran across Bryan relatively recently but his approach and work ethic means you want to be on his mailing list.
10) Nick Loper – Side Hustle Nation
The point for Nick is to get ‘side hustles’ going, as a way of testing a range of money-making ideas that could turn out to be profitable winners. You want to be looking to specialize eventually, but if you’re getting started there’s a lot to be said for casting a wide net. Nick has enough energy to diversify into many different ways to make income himself, and his podcast features hustlers using all sorts Internet-enabled money making tactics. If you have a commute you should be listening to Nick’s podcast (also The Tropical MBA podcast!).
Follow Nick on Twitter and you’re tempted by a constant stream of interviews with online entrepreneurs involved with sub-niche business and promotional ideas you might never have imagined:
• the Fiverr seller who earned enough to buy a house (!)
• repurposing your existing content into Amazon books and Udemy courses
• viral Slideshare presentations
• finding productized consulting opportunities via one-page Adsense sites
• how to automate your peer-to-peer lending
• turning your blog into a coaching business
If you don’t know some of those terms, well that’s part of the point. Familiar ways of earning from the Internet are dividing into micro-niches and recombining in interesting ways, driven by creative people like the ones Loper introduces you to. This is another site worthy of a deep dive.
Here’s just a taste of Side Hustle Nation:
11) Hayden Miyamoto/No Hat Digital
Had to be on this list. Visit http://www.nohatdigital.com for a look into the future, among other things.
With a compound in Mexico that sounds equal parts high-tech commune and mad scientists’ club, No Hat Digital isn’t the first or only entrepreneur’s incubator, but I’m impressed by the professionalism and scale of it. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of these collective efforts to combine the best elements of teamwork and entrepreneurship.
You probably aren’t reading this article with an plan to jump on a plane to Mexico so what does this have to do with you?
NHD brings together people with a common desire to
• conduct far-ranging marketing experiments, share the results and scale them if they’re successful
• ‘fire their boss’
• participate in social opportunities for entrepreneurs
NHD offers a choice of two virtual online internships that could accelerate your online career path quickly: 20 hrs/week for five weeks, written and video training, time management techniques and by the end the knowledge that you can create a new business in five weeks.
The free internship will have you working on site NHD owns while being mentored by team members, often scaling methods that have shown promise as NHD experiments. The paid internship lets you work on your own site(s) or projects while being mentored toward growing them into real businesses.
Mentorship opportunities do not come by every day. How serious are you?
Read about it here:
Graduates of both internships have opportunities to partner with NHD on new businesses or maybe as a paid employee. Apparently moving to Valle De Bravo, Mexico is an option too.
To understand the reasons why Hayden has structured his organization as he has, plus why and how his team has pivoted away from SEO as their main source of traffic in 2014 look at this:
Some people work well alone. Others thrive off the sort of camaraderie and teamwork Hayden appears to be constructing in Mexico. Even if you don’t relocate, embrace the networking possibilities you have online. Entrepreneur or freelancer, you’re more likely to find success after leaving your job if you also grow your ability to connect.
12) Glen Allsopp – Viperchill
OK, here’s another person who produces original material that will veer into intermediate-to-advanced level subjects, but his explanations are so lucid and the experiments/research he shares so interesting that he has to be on this list.
AKA Viperchill, Glen started helping large corporate clients increase their search engine traffic when he was in his teens. Now he’s an example of the multi-faceted opportunity you have when you really master a skill that makes money. He also has a ton to teach.
Much of his focus is still on SEO for business, and if you’re analytical, intellectually flexible and like a challenge it might be a path to think about. It won’t be right for everyone, and there’s a learning curve, but if your interest is sparked by Glen’s attitude and the SEO analysis he shares, helping business clients with SEO might be a goal for you.
Remember what I said at the beginning, about marketing problems of business websites being easier to spot as you learn more?
At the same time, many SEO tactics from a few years ago are no longer effective, and lots of people who offered SEO services to businesses using these tactics are no longer around, or offer other services in addition to SEO. Also, SEO is just complicated enough that the prospect of learning current methods well is a barrier to entry for many.
This all means opportunity for you, if you’re competent enough to help clients. Combining SEO knowledge with content marketing ability and social media engagement techniques means you have a very solid foundation for internet marketing, for your own services or products or for those of clients.
We’re not talking about just getting by. If you can sell, or merely excited at the thought of helping businesses fix gaping problems in their marketing of which they might be unaware, you can make much more money than your current boss. And his boss.
It will take more than a couple of weeks, but let me be clear: internalize lessons from people like Glen Allsopp and that is the road you’re heading down.
Balance the foundational SEO knowledge you got from MOZ with Glen’s recently updated article below, and if you really understand it all you’ll know more than many people who sell SEO services. Even if you don’t aim for SEO clients this knowledge will be worth a lot for your own sites! Note that some tactics in this article would be considered controversial by some, but Glen has labeled them as such.
Facebook ads PPC (pay per click) study. You’ll understand a whole lot about paid traffic from this single post. Reads like a detective novel, plenty of data, plenty of return on his investment too, and so well-explained:
Here’s an excellent step-by-step video series that outlines in great detail how affiliate marketing, blogging, email lists and auto responder series should all work together for you no matter what type of business you’re building.
When I get well-written emails from people of obvious intelligence asking for suggestions on how to leave low-wage jobs, I feel their frustration.
There should be a way to participate in today’s economy using higher capacities you spent years developing in school.
I sincerely believe there is, regardless of your skill. It’s a big part of what I’m expressing in this article and throughout WageFreedom.com.
Ironically, a million businesses would pay these Wage Freedom readers— often quite well— to employ the same skill they use to passionately articulate their money and job problems to me!
Marketing has become even more dependent on writing, as illustrated by three new-ish ways businesses reach potential customers and retain existing ones. See Carol Tice below.
13) Carol Tice – Make a Living Writing
I mentioned supercharging skills you already have with tech and marketing know-how to totally change the way your ability is valued.
Please start with this article on the benefits of working on retainer, because it also concisely introduces content marketing, social media account management and e-newsletters/email marketing:
Businesses which don’t use all three of these today risk getting ignored by their customers, and some are as likely to have a person on staff who can competently handle these tasks as they are to have an in-house plumber.
Here’s the thing: As with SEO years ago, marketing departments already knows they need to be doing these things (and by the way for many small businesses this ‘department’ is an owner juggling a dozen balls). They know they aren’t up to speed with the latest marketing methods, and might not be able to invest the time to learn them.
Clients need to be able to trust you, and trust that you can deliver. So learn what you must to deliver. Then get the word out with strategies drawn from Make A Living Writing and Copyblogger (below). Your focus might be on one of these skills, or all three. Tell them what their problems are–everything they know they aren’t doing– and how you’d solve these problems. You might find it’s an easier sell than you think.
Maybe you’re more comfortable trying for freelance jobs at first. That’s great—as you gain confidence look at freelancing as a way to sell clients on your services on retainer. Dig deep into Carol’s site. If you write well and you know it you will feel empowered. Please take that feeling and act.
There is gold in these two articles, for example:
To fortify yourself to get moving you can start here:
14) James Altucher
Writing books used to be what ‘being a writer’ usually meant. Today it’s just one of many ways to use writing ability for online income. But if you’re good—or especially prolific!—you’re going to love Altucher.
Well, every writer has to love James. It’s mandatory. Here’s one big thing he’ll teach you: forget finding a publisher who will allow you to ‘become a writer’. You are a writer if you write, and now you can choose yourself to take the next step of publishing professionally, yourself. You can also market your work better than publishing houses will tend to do for you (unless you sell a lot of books) by directly engaging your audience. Please start here!
‘The distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing.’
I’ll resist superlatives with James, if I can. A brilliant iconoclast (couldn’t do it) and polymath, Altucher might become a virtual mentor-by-example for you as you redefine your career, and not just as a writer.
The next time you’re afraid to leap, let Altucher entertain you with a few (dozen) things that didn’t work out in his life, and how with the right attitude those things led to successes. As James says: choose yourself.
15) Copyblogger – Brian Clark
I’ve mentioned the emphasis on ‘content marketing’ in writing today. It refers to the longer, well-written, researched articles in high demand nowadays, and many other tactics like eNewsletters, social media, Slideshare presentations, video, etc. etc. Many writers who used to churn out low-quality content for businesses looking to be found via SEO don’t do content marketing well. If you can create quality, you have even more of an advantage than you used to.
The game has changed, the bar for writing is higher now, and sites like Copyblogger (and Carol Tice’s site above) will help you participate in the new landscape. I’ve recommended the content marketing career pivot to professional writers in academia and freelance journalists.
• Big-picture look at what’s working: http://www.slideshare.net/CMI/b2b-small-business-content-marketing-2014-benchmarks-budgets-and-trends-north-america
• Content marketing lessons drawn from comedy writing: http://www.copyblogger.com/agile-content-marketing
Writing for money is attractive for many reasons:
• a low barrier to entry
• few attendant expenses
• rather easy-to-learn tech tools/methods
• maybe most of all: an increasing number of ways to use your talent
You don’t have to be a great writer to succeed in making money online per se, but remember: creating written content is a foundational part of sales, branding strategy, and presence. Persuasive copywriting and long-form sales pages can be especially lucrative. Even if you outsource, it still behooves you understand how to use writing to connect with people.
Earning Online with Art Talent
In high school did you spend more time drawing portraits or whole universes in your notebook than you did focusing on the lessons? If you can make original artwork —even if you eventually ‘got serious’ and stopped drawing, illustrating, painting or sketching — you have the basis for an online income stream.
There’s huge opportunity: too often young people might not be encouraged to regard artistic skills as commercially viable, even though both the need and ways to use talent has increased in the Internet age.
Just look at the websites and apps you visit, the logos, illustrations and caricatures businesses use to give their presence a professional flair. Combine your talent with software for illustrators and artists like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter and many others, and you have entered the digital realm.
Am I arguing against formal education in art, design or illustration? Absolutely not. But as with many opportunities on this list I AM arguing against the idea that a lack of formal training is a showstopper, assuming you’re motivated.
Of course, if you do have formal training but haven’t approached your talent as a way to extricate yourself from something else you do for money, please reconsider! There are so many ways to market yourself today which don’t require huge amounts of time, money or technical know-how. New platforms exist to streamline the process so you can focus on making your art.
16) Sarah Steenland
For a perfect example of just how many ways you can help businesses express their purpose and engage better with customers visually, please take a look at the ’social marketing cartoonist’ page from Sarah’s website:
Sarah offers her talent in 20+ ways to clients. If you are a visual artist how many of these methods could you use to help business owners who need to add personality to their presence? Sarah doesn’t teach (yet) how to make a living from art as far as I know, but take a good look at her presence and how she markets herself. Her example is as instructive as a formal course.
Even if you’re currently unfamiliar with the software tools it takes to produce work for the digital realm, isn’t it worth a try? There are many free ways to learn software tools, and many of them offer free trials. Whatever your artistic style, I’ll bet there are potential clients out there waiting to discover you. Help them.
And also, Sarah is another example of someone who’s changed professions to follow a better path while raising two kids, and is working during an epic trip with her family through Asia on their sailboat!
17) Yamile Yemoonyah
If your dreams of making a living from your art seem no match for your own internal obstacles and doubts, Yamile Yemoonyah understands you. She reminds you that your creativity isn’t something that has to be constrained for you to be successful in the art business. On the contrary, it can also infuse the business you start, and as an artist it should. Please start here:
You feel the authenticity and sense it’s an inner battle she herself has won, or is winning as a working artist. Sign up for her free marketing challenge and free monthly hangouts to start to bridge the gap between your creativity and a world that really is waiting to be inspired by your art.
The thing I appreciate about Yamile is that she addresses a barrier which I’m sure holds back many creative people, and shows a way through: commercial success for you as an artist can be about simply adding some marketing knowledge to your talent. You don’t have to somehow beat back your artistic side in the hope that an inner businessperson will present itself.
18) Cory Huff – The Abundant Artist
If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of creating your online presence as an artist, please take a look at this spectacular 2-hr free recorded webinar Huff produced on how best to construct a artist’s website:
You might think selling art means you’ll have to dream up marketing processes and invent a website design and social media presence out of thin air. All this extraneous education and work would be enough to discourage anyone from getting started!
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.
Huff’s webinar is about accelerating the process by not reinventing the wheel. Huff shows exactly how to glean lessons from working artist websites as well as niche- and marketing research using SEO and Facebook Graph Search. Sound over your head? Please watch. It is practical, detailed instruction and by the end you’ll have enough to get you started. There is a long Q & A session at the end involving the webinar attendees.
Huff talking you through the process during the video could be the spark that compels you to getting started online as an artist, and I sincerely hope it does!
The blog section of Huff’s site http://theabundantartist.com/blog/ complements this webinar well. There’s plenty of nuts-and-bolts instruction on enhancing your platform and using social media channels like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Hangouts to get your art seen and to sell it.
Chances are you’re pretty comfortable navigating Facebook as a user, but you may never have thought much about ads you see. If you know what you’re doing Facebook ads can be an economical, effective way to target potential customers and funnel them to your website, or sell to your email list.
They offer detailed targeting options and are surprisingly easy to set up. Facebook has more than a billion users worldwide and it most certainly wants to help you target them, no matter who you’re tying to reach. Chances are that a user base so large will have plenty of people interested in what you have to offer.
Another thing to consider: focusing on getting good at a relatively narrow area of expertise like Facebook ads is one way to gain competence and a learn a sell-able skill relatively quickly.
Remember, Facebook is only one source of visitors you can pay to reach. Google Adwords is another, but some people think Adwords targeting is more complex, and in some applications less effective than Facebook ads. (Please see the Glen Allsopp article above for a single datapoint regarding Facebook ads vs Google Adwords)
At any rate, whether you try a few low-budget experiments or not, I’m including this section because I think it’s important to understand the role paid traffic can play in bringing attention to a website or to your presence, and perhaps nudge you to get involved, inexpensively.
19) Amy Porterfield
Amy also has good info on things like advanced targeting strategies, writing good copy for FB ads and peripheral but vital subjects like outsourcing. Her podcasts feature value-laden interviews with heavy hitters in Internet marketing and social media. Also, Facebook makes frequent changes to its advertising platform, and she (along with Rick below) is a go-to authority for explaining how the latest changes impact how you use it.
20) Rick Mulready
I learned a lot from Rick when I wanted to learn how to run Facebook ads for Teespring campaigns (a story I’ll tell sometime) in a hurry. Super-clear instruction, and he’s very good at conveying best practices far beyond the generic help Facebook supplies you.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of immediately–today–getting targeted traffic to your website but afraid you’ll be over your head with targeting options and have problems controlling your spending, go here for access to Rick’s terrific free webinar on getting started with Facebook ads for as little as $10/day:
Buying and Selling Websites
A guide to making money online in 2015 is incomplete if it doesn’t tell you where you can learn to get started buying websites. The process is analogous to buying real estate fixer-uppers or well-cared-for old cars whose value can be increased with knowledge and elbow grease. (A market certainly exists for apps but I’ll focus on websites here in the interest of brevity and because I have two excellent resources for learning about the website market to point you to)
Even though people spend a lot of time today in mobile apps and walled-off sites like Facebook, websites are still used as income streams or standalone businesses. Affiliate marketing, selling advertising, community/email list building, lead generation, digital or physical product sales and software sales are a few ways to make money with websites in 2015. Buy the site and you can buy the income stream too (make sure you are, in fact, buying it).
Good news: you might be surprised how little money it takes to purchase a site and immediately start earning, and learning about everything from traffic generation and promotion to website monetization, optimizing conversions to building an email list, etc.
Is a site making $30/month worth buying? What if it only cost you $250 and very little further effort? What if putting some work into it turned it into a site making $100/month, or more? What if you had a lot of these sites? Even more valuable in the long run might be the varied lessons you learn as you manage it.
Buy and refurbish it wisely and your site might become an income generator whose return on investment (ROI) makes it well worth you original purchase price. Or, sell it and repeat the process. After creating a process for buying and refurbishing websites, many people have built large portfolios of web properties for both income and equity growth.
21) Pro Guide To Buying Websites by Flippa: Learn as you Earn
It’s outstanding, a few years old but not dated. It is all covered here: determining if a site suits your needs, site selection criteria, ways to gather data independently and analyze a website, dealing with sellers, how website sales transactions work.
Flippa has been a popular place to buy and sell websites and domain names online for many years, and that popularity means you’ll have to work to sift for quality sites once you finish the guide. Flippa’s notification system can email you when sites match a filter you create. There are third-party tools to help you search even faster.
For sheer range of offerings Flippa is very good, but don’t limit your search for sites to buy there. You’ll be rewarded for digging through search results, Ebay and many, many other places online and and offline for neglected websites with potential, and reaching out to site owners.
22) Empire Flippers
If you’re smart enough to know you don’t know enough yet, but do have funds to invest, look here. Site owners Justin and Joe act as full-service brokers for both buyers and sellers and have an excellent reputation built on transparency and helpfulness. (For example, currently they include site migration to your hosting as part of their service) Using Empire Flippers does not replace your own due diligence, but you’ll be provided many of the relevant metrics a smart buyer needs to take into account before you purchase.
There might be less room for negotiation on purchase price for the sort of premium sites listed at Empire Flippers, but having confidence in the site(s) you buy is worth it for many people. Also, prices for premium sites will tend to be higher no matter where you look.
Bonus: Here are a links to info from a couple of entrepreneurs with lots of real-world experience both buying and selling sites:
What you should do now:
Pat Flynn has a piece of great advice for writing blog posts: he talks about giving your reader ‘quick wins’: small, actionable tips that take a few minutes to convey.
I went completely against that idea in this post, and I’ll tell you why.
I aimed wide in terms of subject matter in the hope that more people would find at least one direction which interests them.
I don’t expect anyone to be drawn toward every discipline and expert I mention here, or even to read this entire article necessarily. If you find one blog post or person in this article that sets you on a better path then I’ve succeeded.
I chose each link carefully. I want you to find a spark.
Because I believe that, assuming you are willing to take action, there’s an idea out there— a person with critical bit of info you need right now— which can liberate you if you’re stuck.
I really do.
So, dig to find a direction that suits you. But also, please don’t read for weeks without taking any action. Education is ongoing for all internet entrepreneurs. It never ends. Do not wait to ‘become an expert’ to start. Being an expert is inextricably linked with experience.
Look, making money online is that rare human endeavor in which it’s not scarcity that holds us back. We can’t blame failure on a lack of knowledge, lack of money, or even competition.
The threat is never actually getting started. The difference between learning and taking action is all the difference in the world.
I created this article as a reference, and I expect to add to it. If there’s someone not on this list who’s helped educate you to use the Internet for income please tell me about them in the comments or @mention me on Twitter. @wagefreedom is my handle.
If you found value in this article please share it on social media. I sincerely appreciate every single share.
If you have a friend who is underemployed or dissatisfied with their job, please forward them the link to this article.
And, if ‘underemployed or dissatisfied’ describes you, I sincerely hope you can find the strength to improve your situation, armed with my humble pointers to people and knowledge you might not have had previously.
Start small. Please let me know how it goes. Life is too short not to wage freedom.
Ever been on a holiday in an inexpensive country and found yourself beating back thoughts as to ways you could stay longer?
Me too. Crazy, right? Foolish.
Well this article is for you.
But maybe not for the reasons you’d expect. If you cast those ‘impractical thoughts’ aside before they could make their way into your baggage I’d like to re-introduce you.
Because living in Asia–especially Southeast Asia in my opinion–is more attractive than it’s ever been. Having a base here is more realistic and achievable than ever for Western expats, long-term travelers and digital nomads.
I’ve been living in Bali, Indonesia for over 10 years, but I also remember decades ago when expats in Southeast Asia had a ton of challenges we simply no longer have.
By the way, when I say ‘expat’ I’m not referring to the variety for whom all logistics and costs are handled by a generous expense package/living allowance. If you have such an arrangement I congratulate you unironically. This article though is for the do-it-yourself expat or traveler, for whom being in Asia is an exercise in self-reliance.
I’ll outline seven benefits of moving to Asia which add up to a tipping point which many savvy people have decided they could no longer ignore.
But wait! You’ll have to give up all you’ve worked for, leave family and friends behind, compromise your kids’ future, invite career disaster, and jeopardize your retirement.
These are—each of them—untrue. Except for the last one.
Your current idea of retirement will be totally changed, into something better than you ever dared envision. Into a lifestyle with many elements of ‘retirement’ which you can start living much sooner, while you’re vital enough to make the most of your prime years.
I’m not suggesting having a presence in Asia is for everyone. But I guarantee you it’s been good for many people who felt unsatisfied with their former situations for myriad reasons.
This article is for people who:
* wonder how exactly the apparently ordinary people writing blog posts about faraway places seem to have unlocked a door to double-edged goodness: traveling or living in interesting places AND not having to go to a regular job every day.
* already make some of their income online who should understand how easy it can be to become location independent.
* think having a base in Southeast Asia or somewhere in the developing world means compromise in so many ways that it’s neither realistic or particularly attractive. (Spoiler alert: I disagree!)
If you stay with me until the end of this article I’ll tell you the two biggest misconceptions people have about creating a base in Asia in 2015 (as indicated by emails I get from Wage Freedom readers). Things have changed in the last 10 years or so, and almost anyone who wants to make a new life for themselves in an exotic place can do so, without risking everything.
First, let’s talk about why living in Asia is so attractive these days.
1: The 21st century: Asia’s time
Less-developed places have the most room for transformation, and virtually everywhere in Southeast Asia you can see it happening. Western economies are lucky to grow at 2%-3% per year; many Asian economies are growing between 4%-8%. It might not sound like much but the difference is palpable.
If you come and participate you’ll ride the growth: buy, lease or sub-lease property. Or simply rent. Make business and social connections. Start a business. Make a base, even for part of the year. You have a large range of places from which to choose: urban settings, beach areas and some of the greenest countrysides on Earth.
2: Like minds are here
With both clients and Wage Freedom readers with whom I meet up casually here in Bali there’s a moment that almost always happens. They’ll lean forward and say something like:
“Most people I know would think I was crazy if I talked seriously about (insert one, or more): taking a sabbatical/living in Bali/leaving my job/thinking it’s possible to create an online business.”
“That’s too bad. For them.” What else can I say?
You’ll find no two Asia expats or long-term travelers with the same biography, but an attitude we virtually all must share is a positive feeling toward people willing to work for dreams and visions.
Regardless of age, country of origin, income, IQ or professional background, new friends you’ll make when you stay longer in a faraway place than tourists do are very likely to be interested and supportive of your ideas and endeavors.
You’ve all arrived at a place where you’re more willing to compromise comfort and supposed security than your dreams.
Not that you won’t also be comfortable here.
But that attitude is the price of being here, and daring to stay for a while. It’s a belief in the power of trying.
I’ve benefited from being around this kind of positive attitude, and on a practical level it leads naturally to networking, client work and business partnerships.
Do you have this sort of encouragement from your current peers? I hope you do, and I wouldn’t regard a new set of friends as a straight-up fix for stagnation you might feel in your life.
But I know the attitudes you find in cubicles and on bar stools in the Western world, espoused too frequently by good people huddled over the depths of what’s not realistic rather than celebrating how high you can fly.
And I know I’m biased, but I’ve debated enough with people intent on making their lives monuments to ‘practicality’ to know the other side intimately.
How about you?
3: Improving infrastructure
If physical infrastructure in Southeast Asia is not yet on par with much of the developed world, it’s improving virtually everywhere.
Better roads, hospitals, food hygiene, etc. can never come fast enough and improvements are unevenly distributed geographically, but on balance it’s all improving.
By the way, spend time in China, central Bangkok, Malaysia or Singapore, etc. and you just might question the notion that the West always equals ‘developed world’ or even ‘modern’. Even second-tier cites often have first-rate hubs and big plans for the next 10 years.
In the huge private and public works projects of Asia you’ll find a future vision the sheer audacity of which is found much less often in the West in 2015. Certainly public transportation seems to be built at a far faster rate in Southeast Asia than it is in the United States!
At some point the deficiencies which do exist—fewer every year—aren’t too hard to overlook for newcomers. In many places, for most people, that tipping point has already been reached.
4: The up-to-you budget
You can still live for a fraction of what you spend each month in the developed world (exceptions like housing in Singapore and particularly plush pads like Thai or Bali villas notwithstanding).
More importantly, you have a huge choice as to how much you spend, for practically everything.
Street food for lunch and your favorite Western cuisine for dinner. A house near a city center or at the beach if you can afford it, or a cheap local-style apartment if you’re really on a budget.
It’s a critical point: you’re less likely to feel deprived if you’re on a strict budget in Southeast Asia. You won’t be judged, people still smile as you pass by, and how much do you need in a warm part of the world where most of life is happening outside? (For most people the answer is not too much!)
SE Asia is a great place to be in 2015 because if your circumstances demand it you can spend very little and still have a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. It’s true whether we’re weighing different neighborhoods to live within a city or comparing Chiang Mai to Ho Chi Minh City to Bali to Bangkok or or any of dozens other places you might consider for a base in the region.
I make no secret of advocating online income to support yourself as an expat or long-term traveler. Living well in Asia on what would be a severe budget back home means you have breathing room. If you come with some savings it will buy you more time to develop income-generating skills, and to achieve an income level that matches your much-lower expenses.
With motivation and planning you can participate. It was not always like this.
Compare this to the ‘developed world’, where there’s a non-negotiable baseline income you need to avoid living in real poverty. If you’re on a fixed income you might be on the wrong side of that baseline. I don’t say that flippantly. I say it with sympathy.
A word to retirees and people living on a fixed income: I hope I don’t sound patronizing if I say that during the Northern Hemisphere winter months I sometimes think about retired people living in cold cities, getting little sunshine, eating poorly and hardly going outside to fight the cold, and wish I could give a 747 full of them a few days in Bali or a nice Thai beach to see just how comfortable they could be on a $1000/month pension or Social Security.
Many of these people have a higher net worth than me and many others I know in Bali.
And yes, you can still survive on US$1,000 per month in dozens of livable places around Asia. With some further effort you’ll have income derived from online opportunities of the kind I point to on this site , which represent the potential for earning in a thousand interesting ways.
I think there would be a mass exodus if retired people could see the possibilities for themselves: the low cost of a high quality of life. They are some of the people for whom I’m writing this article.
Closing this knowledge gap for everyone who might benefit is one of the reasons Wage Freedom exists.
5: Personal technology and the Internet
Quality of life today means access to personal technology and the Internet, and in much of Asia in 2015 it’s another way you might feel you’re not really compromising.
Yes, Internet speeds and reliability in rural areas of Southeast Asia vary from hit-and-miss to non-existent, but in populated areas connectivity is quite comprehensive. In addition to cheap local carrier SIM cards and data plans, you’ll find Wi-Fi in most restaurants and cafes, increasingly on public transportation, etc.
For example, my Indonesia carrier data plan: each month I pay 55,000 rupiah (US$4.50 at the moment) to top up my Excel data plan with 1.5 GB of data. With low-latency, 1-to-3 Mbps Internet coverage and the fact that most of my friends and family (worldwide) are on Viber, WhatsApp or Facetime, we have free calls, instant messages, photo messages, etc.
Having traveled for years often feeling isolated it’s still fun to quickly share a Bali sunset photo with friends or tweet a photo of a luscious feast with my phone. Naturally your home Internet connection will be faster and most likely cheaper than a few years ago. Again a Bali example: in 10 years here I’ve gone from maybe 350 Kbps for about US$200/month to just under 3 Mbps for less than US$100. I could certainly spend less. At least one superstar digital nomad I know simply uses his phone as a hotspot.
Naturally it’s all totally changed the game for travelers and expats in Southeast Asia (and everywhere else): using your laptop or phone to avoid so much confusion and wasted time, pointless in-person visits to agents or god-knows-who for in-person payments and god-knows-what, etc..
We can debate whether travel as an activity is diminished by having more control and less of the random discovery and confusion which used to characterize it. Like everybody else who traveled around the world before the Internet I collected lots of crazy stories that wouldn’t happen today.
On the other hand, getting off a bus after midnight with an outdated Lonely Planet guidebook trying to gracefully ask the group of 40 yelling touts the name of their city–for example–wasn’t always a value-added exercise either. I was a pre-digital nomad, but I’m not one who looks down on travel hacking or the efficiency of ‘silent travel‘.
That’s because the personal technology which facilitates ‘the efficiency’ is also your foundational tool to make income to fund your base, or remain traveling for as long as you want to. After 20 years of ending trips for lack of cash even after working crap jobs in hostels, bars, etc., etc. in far away places just to survive, I can tell you: it’s better today.
6: Regional airfares
Deregulation and increased competition between airlines has seen the cost of air travel plunge. (Maybe that’s a bad way to put it)
Getting to destinations all over Asia now means 1-3 hours on an airplane instead of hours or days on a minibus or boat. A little planning and the ticket will cost less than filling your gas tank for a weekend away back home. $20 or $30 for a flight to somewhere exotic on an airplane that is actually maintained? Absolutely.
Whether for business, visa runs or quick trips for fun, this will enrich your experience of living in Southeast Asia, if you’re interested in travel.
7: Get it while you can
The quality of life I’ve described here won’t always be available at its current discount.
Globalism is raising wages, prices and living standards in Asia and the rest of the developing world, sometimes incredibly quickly. Cars are becoming more common, prices for food and consumer goods are rising and in desirable parts of many cities you’ll find property prices approaching (or even exceeding) levels in the developed world.
It can’t be a surprise though. And it seems unfair to begrudge people the opportunity to have the same higher material standard of living so many of us in the West have grown complacent over, doesn’t it?
And here’s the thing: usually–not always–higher prices are accompanied by higher quality. So, value for money is still obtainable.
And again, you can still opt for good value at lower prices for many things too.
I’ll present my humble plate of spaghetti example.
In 2007 at a terrific Italian restaurant (Marzano) near me here in Bali a plate of spaghetti with red sauce cost me about US$2.70. At the current USD/rupiah exchange the same plate is now US$4.10. Still cheap, but a substantial jump in seven years.
Across the street I can still have a very nice plate of food for under $2.00 in the excellent and hygienic Warung Melati, still in the middle of the touristed part of Bali. So, as of today you still have options.
But it’s clear: whether you come to Asia funded by a nest egg you’ve saved for decades, a monthly income deriving from a pension or social security, or income you can create from online enterprises (or any combination of these), leverage from your dollars, euros, etc. going much further in Asia than they do back home is diminishing.
It will get harder over time to find the deals Asia expats and travelers enjoyed when there was a bigger gap between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries.
Personally, I’m happy for my neighbors here in Indonesia.
But it is a reason for you to come sooner rather than later.
If you’re still reading I thank you. I’ll close with a word about you.
I hear two big misconceptions from people interested in moving to Bali, and it applies to anyone thinking about living overseas in 2015.
I alluded to them earlier but they’re worth restating because they might be holding you back unnecessarily.
Misconception 1: Moving means ‘Moving’
(Fact: Moving isn’t what it used to be)
You no longer have to think of ‘moving’–to Asia especially–in black and white terms.
Selling everything, buying a one-way ticket and plowing all your cash into an untested new lifestyle might be an appealing romantic notion, but if you’re going to spend extended periods in Asia don’t think in terms of cutting ties back home which you don’t need to cut.
You can have it both ways, maintaining some presence in multiple countries, and I recommend it.
‘Planting multiple flags’ used to be for the wealthy, or a celebrity you’d read about with homes around the world. It was unrealistic for most people. It cost too much to even consider.
But in our connected world it is much cheaper and easier to do. Follow me here:
You can still rent a clean, comfortable and safe apartment or room in many places in Southeast Asia for a few hundred dollars a month. When you are here you enjoy a huge deceleration in spending.
This is power.
It’s freedom from the tight budget tyranny you feel back home, breathing room for a while. But do not think like a tourist. This is part of a bigger idea.
You could do this as a ‘long holiday’ or sabbatical from a job you’ll return to. If you’re between jobs or fear you might be unemployed soon, know you have an alternative to spending much more money in the Western world stressing over finding the next job you might not really be looking forward to anyway.
But as you take steps toward creating a presence in bustling Ho Chi Minh City, near a beach in Bali, or up in Chiang Mai, Thailand, etc. at the same time–at a very minimum–maintain a bank account in your home country. Moving money will be immeasurably easier this way. Also, for online income generating activities in which you’re likely to engage sooner or later, it is an absolute must.
Everyone’s situation is different, but also look hard at renting a home you own or sub-letting a place you rent rather than simply cutting because you’re ‘moving to Bali’ or Thailand. Look into a home swap with someone living in a place you’d like to be for some months.
Don’t sell your car if you can store it or possibly rent it. Leaving things in a friend’s garage or cheap storage means you avoid spending money on basic items when you return. Having a professional wardrobe for a job opportunity you might return to, or simply cold-weather gear you can slip into if you come for a visit in mid-winter is worth it.
Do it this way, minimizing expenses in both places, and you have options, and more freedom. If it works out in your new Asian location you can slowly shed elements of your life back home based on the the financial and psychic expense they represent. If you decide not to stay you’ve reduced the cost of returning.
You maintain the basic framework of a life in two places, so that the variable–your preferences–can be accommodated no matter what happens.
There is a psychological benefit as well. Proceeding responsibly like this, with less fear and stress, could be the difference between taking concrete steps toward moving to Asia and never allowing yourself to think of it as realistic.
If you can, avoid thinking of moving to Asia (or any move overseas) as a one-way trip where you’ll rebuild everything from the ground up. I did it more than once in the pre-Internet years and even if you make it work, parts of your life will feel like a mess. It’s better to stay flexible, and today you can.
Misconception 2: Supporting yourself means employment
(Fact: Not exactly, nowadays)
(Especially for long-term travelers and expats!)
How to support oneself is the biggest question most people have about moving to Asia, not surprisingly.
Almost every person I talk to or correspond with on the subject launches into questions of finding a job and getting a working visa.
It can be difficult (though not impossible) to find an employer who will sponsor you for a working visa or work permit. And unfortunately the terms of your tourist visa, social visit visa or myriad other kinds of visas offered by different Asian countries rarely allow you to work. However, most countries do not yet explicitly restrict you from attending to business related to your job back home or a business you have established in another country. And it makes sense: you’re servicing overseas markets and not taking a job away from a local. ‘Digital nomads’ as a group also pour money into local economies–often large amounts at that.
Meanwhile, the basic economic proposition has changed in the last 10 years for people doing business online, or those who discover or decide they are capable of doing business online.
Any article listing the benefits of living in Asia in 2015 for Western expats or travelers has to touch on how the Internet has made employment redundant for so many people, because it’s changed the way so many people live overseas.
I believe it’s a major historical watershed of our times: almost anyone can ‘create value’ in the largest sense and sell it via the internet. More people every year are choosing to support themselves and their families via online enterprises more in line with their own interests and values, rather than creating generic value for an employer.
If you add ease of mobility and lower expenses in places like SE Asia you have the recipe for tens of thousands of long-term travelers, ‘digital nomads‘ and ‘digital expats’ no longer finding it necessary to ‘go home’ to awkwardly resume supporting themselves. They can attend to business from their laptop needing only a WiFi connection.
What’s the price of participating in this new economy? Embracing the means to do it. Learning income-producing skills and ways to market them, and yourself.
These methods don’t need to be invented; established methods exist. You’ll need some motivation but you don’t need to be a tech or marketing genius.
Making money online is now a way to stay on the road for the kind of person who was willing to do anything to keep traveling. I was one of those people for about 20 years, and this new reality feels like a gift every day, to be very honest. (I reeeeally hope I don’t sound smug; I’ve cleaned toilets in a lot of countries!)
But do you know what is just as terrific?
Asia has become attractive as a place to live for Westerners who’re able to earn online and don’t really consider themselves ‘travelers’. I meet them frequently in Bali. They’re people who already have the means to earn from anywhere and apply their location independence to seeing the world for a while.
For both groups, bypassing conventional employment has been the key, and it’s easier to do than ever.
My heart is with those who had to fight to create the means to become location independent–I think of it as waging freedom–but whichever group you’re in I hope you’ve learned a few things in this article about why living in Asia is more attractive than it’s ever been.
I often suggest that making money online is something Wage Freedom readers take a look at, as a way to supplement their income or create an entirely new career.
You have 100 reasons to reject the idea out of hand, I know. People unfortunately assume that they need a tech-related college degree, or that they’re too old, not technical enough, or that all the good ideas have been taken, etc. to even get started earning.
I’d like to share five reasons why I think everyone should at least take a look at earning online.
I do this because it’s changed my life and the paths of dozens of people I know, several of whom wouldn’t claim to be particularly ‘technical’. It’s given me opportunities I never saw coming, and never would have had otherwise, like living in Bali. It’s made the future more open-ended, unpredictable, promising.
Participating in tech change implies more opportunity five or ten years from now, something many people do not feel.
Yes I’ve had to work, but I believe building my own online enterprises has been a much higher value activity than any job I have ever had. It let me choose a path that fit me.
Can you say that about your current job?
Why you should learn to use the Internet to make money in 2015
1) Flexibility. Create your own hours, work from anywhere, toward success as you define it. This implies discipline and motivation, and that means that frankly it’s not for everyone. But if flexibility means a liberation you choose to use, self-employment online might suit you.
2) Start up costs can be very low, especially compared to ‘brick and mortar’ businesses with physical infrastructure and employees. Setbacks don’t have to be expensive and experimenting with different methods won’t kill your budget.
3) Education is necessary, but nowadays you absolutely don’t have to be a technical whiz to succeed. Much of the education you do need is free or very cheap. Here are 22 excellent free places to start.
4) The rapid pace of tech change is creating online opportunity, for everyone. With new methods and tools being invented all the time, the landscape is shifting and will continue to do so. This means many of today’s experts won’t have the upper hand unless they keep learning, in order to keep up with the new competition (i.e. you!).
5) Tech literacy is on the rise, for us all. Making money from your online presence is part of this trend, and soon it will be quite common. The barriers to entry are extremely low. The tipping point for the average person with an idea or a desire to work for herself is closer than ever for this reason. I believe it will hugely affect the level of material comfort many people have in retirement. You’ll do well to get started early. Your competition is.
Whether I’ve convinced you or not, why not take a look at my comprehensive guide on how to get started earning online?
There’s nothing to buy, I simply want to give back to Wage Freedom readers.
I’ve listed 22 authorities from across the Internet who I believe offer the best FREE education on a huge range of methods and tactics. I also provide you background where you need it: I wrote it for people with zero experience.
No matter what your background, interests, education or level of technical proficiency, I believe there’s something for everyone in the guide, please click here to dive in!