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

digital nomad

Life’s a Beach








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:

About Howard

Howard is a Startup Marketer, Blogger & founder of 3 startups. Currently working with a London based Social Gaming startup.

View all posts by Howard

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

  1. Angela Says:

    Awesome post! I’ve found the same to be true for sales and clients. And well done on persevering!


  2. aditya menon Says:

    Unbelievable – you exactly, perfectly replicated my own experience, including that little quip right there: “Why do we need a website, we are already featured on Google maps!”

    I’ve done a *lot* of cold calling for *years* trying to sell websites to small businesses, and invariably, the resulting projects were either nil or simply too small to mean anything. It is via advertising, or word of mouth publicity that the real money gets made.

    But cold calling can teach you a lot of lessons, it is like a harsh bootcamp with nothing but sweat, tears and despair – plus mile after mile of walking. Later in life, you can easily recognize how blessed you are by comparing what you had to do to get business ‘back in the day’ – you get to brag like a war veteran!

    Finally, I’d like to point out that “my scars are bigger than yours” because I’ve been in the same battles but under the harsh Indian sun and no bicycle – and let out a roar of laughter like a Viking warrior ;)


  3. Stu Says:

    The Topless Bar across the road from your hostel hey!? haha well that’s one place to start! ;) I would of affiliated that link for old times sake!


  4. Hyacinthe Says:

    Hello Howard,

    Great post. It gives me some perspectives. It was great meeting you this weekend at startupweekend London. I hope our path will cross soon.


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