How I went from $0 to $7,620 per month (my Lifestyle Design experiment)

Just over a year ago (before I started this blog) – I went on a mission to be a digital nomad, to work for myself in a ‘location independent’ fashion. In this post I’ll tell you how I went from earning $0 to $7,620 a month while doing most of my work on the beach.

But first, let me set the scene……..

Ever since I read the Four Hour Work Week – and had my mind opened to the possibilities of ‘Lifestyle Design’ and being a digital nomad, I knew it was something that I wanted to give a try.

I was bored in what I was doing (a funded PhD), so about 18 months ago I quit and later that day I boarded a plane to Australia, via Asia – > determined to give this ‘New Rich’ lifestyle a go.

I had very little relent experience. But I had built a website from scratch during my ‘failed’ startup that I launched in college – so I knew I could learn this shit.

So I spent the first few weeks in Malaysia consuming every recommended book I could get while lying on a beach. I read everything from Lifestyle design texts to books about psychology, marketing and vagabonding. I was hungry to learn.

By the time I hit Sydney about 2 weeks later I was pumped and ready to take action. I flirted with affiliate marketing initially, and while it was cool to learn the principles through the course I took – I didn’t get a sniff of a sale and didn’t really enjoy it. Too mechanical & soulless for my liking.

Then one day, while googling a local business in Sydney I stumbled upon something that would take me on a different path. I noticed that the local business didn’t have a website. A bit more research showed that almost every small business around where I lived didn’t have a website. None! Very different that back home in Ireland where every business has had a website for years!

I smelled an opportunity

So I hit the streets and started walking into businesses to offering doing them websites – the first business I signed up? The Topless Bar that was across the road from our hostel. Rock on!

A New City

Soon after we had to move to Adelaide, a smaller city in Australia (part of our travel schedule). It was bad timing cause I just felt I’d started some momentum.

After I got settled I hit the streets in this new city and went door to door to businesses…. asking people if they wanted a website

Except nothing happened. Even if they did not have a website – they were not interested! I even remember being laughed at one day as they said ‘sure, why do we need a website – we’re on Google’ (?)

My early success with the Topless bar in Sydney wasn’t being replicated – had I just got lucky?

Despite the fact I was getting shot down time and time again – I kept at it. Walking into businesses unannounced asking for business. I HATE rejection, so it was difficult to do time and time again. But before every business I would call into I would read a quote from Zig Ziglar that says something along the lines of:

Every rejection, every failure brings me one step to mastery

So I kept at it. For weeks and weeks. Kept on being rejected, learning and keeping at it. All the while, my savings were running dangerously low as I was not earning anything!

And then one week it started to come together

First: I was getting some business cards printed at a printers, the conversation went onto websites and she said she’d like wanted a website done (note: I did not directly ask her for business). = Deal worth $870

Second: She introduced me to a print client of her’s who also wanted a website. = Deal worth $3,700

Third: A Friend from back home who knew what I was doing, contacted me to request a website Deal worth: $2,500

Fourth: The cheque from the Topless bar arrived in the post = Worth $550

In total I had just made $7,620!!

These events may sound random, even lucky – but looking back there’s some important lessons we can all learn from them:

1) Success comes from taking action. If I had not started my failed startup in college – and then tinkered with Affiliate marketing in Sydney, I would not have learned how to build a website and would not have noticed, or taken advantage of the opportunity

Lesson: Just take action – good things that you can never foresee will come from it

2)  Despite all the cold call walk-ins I did trying to sell websites. Every big sale came from people who I either
knew (friend), was intro’d to (friend of Printer), approached indirectly (printer) or had something in common with (living across from Topless bar). Not one completely cold call turned into a sale.

Lesson 1: People don’t like to be directly sold to – a good salesman will approach it indirectly, establish what the customer wants and ten introduce his solution

Lesson 2: Personal connections is the most important asset you can have

3) I burnt a lot of rubber (cycle tyre rubber) to get those deals. I get rejected and it hurt. But I kept going – I would never hav achieved anything if I stopped

Lesson: Keep believing, keep going. Every rejection, every failure brings you one step to mastery

4) Tell everyone you know what y0u’re offering – you never know who in your network might need your service. Then do a good job

Lesson: Work your network to get your first customer This might sound frustrating as you might want to ‘go big’; quicker than that (I know I did), but remember, even the biggest companies: Ebay, Amazon – even McDonalds – started with 1 customer and grew

5)  Lifestyle design is hard. Selling marketing/websites to local businesses is hard. There are lots of websites out there telling you that this stuff is easy, that you can sit on a beach, take it easy and let the cash roll in. I also see lots of sites that say selling internet marketing and websites to local businesses is a gold mine. 

These are usually sites that are trying to sell you something.

I’ve tried to be as honest in this post as possible without glorifying what I went through. It was hard work and difficult. But I look back on it as an amazing learning experience – and that feeling of success when it all came together, was  amazing.

Lesson: This is all possible – just be prepared that it’s going to be hard work

Your Turn: Have you ever tried anything like this? Or would like to? Want to ask me any questions about how I did it? Write them in the comments below:


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