Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Monk Mode: The Best Way To Supercharge Your Productivity And Drive

I was recently reading Victor Pride’s excellent article on Monk Mode, and it got me thinking about my own experience with this even though that’s not what I called initially.

As an entrepreneur, productivity was something that I always struggled with. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the times when I was productive or even incredibly productive. Since you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck and telling you what to do, you must become your own boss which isn’t particularly easy.

One of those times of extreme productivity occurred when I spent six months in New York City last year. For me, New York City is mostly a place to relax, see family and just catch up with some old friends.

It’s not a place where I have fun and particularly live life to the fullest. 

Last year, the five or six months that I spent in NYC were probably one of the most productive months of my life. I focused 100% on the goal and removed all the distractions.

This was my version of the deep monk mode.

During that period of time, I didn’t go out. I didn’t drink any alcohol. I didn’t chase women. I didn’t even have sex. I didn’t do anything that generated short term gratification.

Instead, I worked. Feverishly. Hard. I built new sites. I perfected my SEO skills. I learned and mastered Facebook Ads. I built a couple of ecommerce stores. 

And within several months of starting this intense work mode, I was making several thousand dollars of profit per month.

Interesting things happen when you become obsessed with something to the point where nothing else in the world matters (or even exists). During the entire six months, the only thing I was focused on was cracking the business: making that sale and then scaling everything to make even more sales.

I developed tunnel vision where nothing else mattered.

Come to think of it, looking back on the experience, it’s impossible to even fathom anyway I could’ve failed. I couldn’t fail. Given the dedication and effort that I put forth, there’s just no way I could’ve failed.

I’ve gone through such periods many times in my life, of varying intensity, but this one was definitely one of the most productive periods of my life.

The anatomy of monk mode

There were several factors that all but guaranteed my success. First, NYC is relatively expensive. Going out to even regular, mid-level restaurant is a ripoff. Enjoying $8 cocktails in some hipster bar is a ripoff. Drinking a $5 Starbucks cappuccino is a ripoff. Riding the subway back and forth is also a ripoff. 

While it may not seem a ripoff to you, for someone like me who’s lived in much cheaper locations such as South America or Eastern Europe, NYC definitely feels like a ripoff because I know I can get access to a much better value for money elsewhere.

As a result, instead of spending $50 a day on various crap, locking yourself in Starbucks and focusing on your business just makes sense.

Second, NYC is one of the only cities in the world where seemingly everyone is hustling. It seems like almost every coffee shop that I stepped my foot in was packed with people working on their laptops and phones, making deals, pitching their services, designing websites and running various marketing campaigns.

Unlike Eastern Europe or Latin America, I didn’t see many people just sitting around, walking around and “pondering the meaning of life.” If NYC has a religion, it’s making money.

This was an incredible motivator because, unlike when I lived in other cities (e.g., Rio de Janeiro or Kiev) I never felt like I was missing out on something else when all I was doing was hustling and building a business; everyone else was also doing the same thing.

Last but not least—and this directly applies to monk mode—while I have friends in NYC, most of them are too busy working and building their own businesses to hang out with me and pontificate the meaning of life. 

As for dating and meeting women, NYC is probably the last place where I’d want to do that for reasons that I’ve already covered before.

This meant that I was never burdened by bored friends or feminine women who wanted to hang out.

Combined all of the above and you have the perfect recipe for a very productive environment with which you can all but conquer the world.

Lessons learned

I learned several things during the six months of monk mode. First, regardless of what you’re working on or what you’re trying to accomplish, you will be able to build something successful during this period of the time. 

Not only will you have razor-sharp focus, but you will also have time on your side since six months is plenty of time to get something profitable out the door.

This gave me an immense amount of confidence, confidence that I sometimes lacked during my less productive periods in my life when I wasn’t as focused not as determined to get something done.

Now, that I was able to build a new business from scratch, I’m absolutely certain that I can do it again.

The other thing I learned is that focus begets focus, obsession begets obsession. In the beginning, I wasn’t focused on anything, and I wasn’t really obsessed with anything. 

That’s a big problem. When you don’t have focus, your attention is diffused and scattered everywhere. 

Why monk mode is so hard

Monk mode is extremely hard. There’s no doubt about that. While my productivity was sky high, it came at the expense of pretty much everything else in my life.

I limited myself to three things: eating, sleeping, and working.

That’s why as soon as I left NYC and landed in Kiev in May or June, my productivity immediately nosedived. Not only were there so many new distractions: cheap living, aesthetic streets, beautiful women, etc., but I couldn’t simply shut all of these distractions down; I was now embedded in the environment.

The first thing I did when I landed in Kiev was to visit my favorite rooftop bar. Having a nice glass of cold beer never felt so good.

In order to enter monk mode, you need a high level of motivation. Not everyone can suddenly decide they want to achieve something and begin feverishly working in that direction.

When I was in New York, it’s not like I purposely wanted to remove every single distraction from my life. Like anyone else, I happen to enjoy distractions, it’s just that I wanted the business to succeed much more. I wanted to make money more. I wanted to create new streams of passive income more.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the drive to create a passive income stream, whether it’s an extra $500 or $5,000 per month, then why would you voluntarily subject yourself to such extreme conditions? You won’t.

It’s crucial to have an end goal in mind and focus on it as strongly as you can. 

If your disease is laziness and lack of results, then obsession plus tunnel vision (monk mode) is the medicine that gets you results.

For all its advantages, monk mode does come with a heavy price. The main problem is that it’s not only difficult to lock yourself out of the world for six months, but, many times, it’s undesirable as well.

Although I blocked out the world for six months, I certainly don’t look forward to doing that on a regular basis. I want to actually live my life, develop relationships with people, travel around the world, have new experiences, etc. 

You only live once and locking yourself up for six months isn’t something that I plan doing it consistently.

Can you achieve anything of monumental value without going into monk mode? If you’re trying to build a business from scratch, you will need to make some serious changes in the way you spend your time and allocating few hours per day into your existing schedule just won’t cut it.

Work sprints

If monk mode seems too rough to you, there’s an alternative. A good compromise between the extreme 6-month monk mode and merely working few hours per day on new business are something I call ”work sprints.” 

This is where you tell yourself that for the next several weeks or even months you will focus on getting something completed. During this period, you cut out all unnecessary activities and distractions: stop going out as often, stop seeing friends that add little or no value, etc. 

Nevertheless, you’re interacting with the world (eating out from time to time, having a drink here and there), it’s just that now you’re actively working hard towards a particular outcome instead of just “going with the flow” while working on few tasks per day.

Final thoughts

My deep six-month monk mode was as much of an exercise in productivity as an exercise in self-control. The fact that I didn’t go out, didn’t drink, didn’t socialize and pretty much focused on one thing for six months seems crazy now, but at the time it was absolutely necessary.

Moreover, knowing that I simply can’t fail whenever I’m in a deep monk mode and will have a profit generating business at the end is definitely confidence-inspiring.

I know realize that monk mode is an important tool for any entrepreneur’s arsenal. Those with a 9-5 can simply show up to work and have their paycheck deposited into their account, but entrepreneurs who work on their own terms need an extra push where they alternate periods of hard work while bootstrapping a new business and easy work during the maintenance phase of the business.

In many ways, a monk mode is the backbone of any successful entrepreneur. Whether you’re planning to go deep and cut out every single distraction or embark on a quick work sprint with a clear milestone, there is simply no other way to build anything substantial that will generate profit down the road. At least I haven’t found any other way.

As I write this now, I’m getting mentally prepared to do a work sprint that will last me about eight weeks during which I will be focusing on getting a couple of serious projects wrapped up.

Announcing The Empire Building Toolkit: The Easiest Way To Build A Passive Income Factory

2018 has been a very fulfilling and productive year, so it’s been nice to have had a little bit of a break the past week or two with Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.

But then even more holidays came: here in Ukraine—being in Eastern Europe—the first week or so of the year is devoted to Eastern Orthodox holidays. That meant things were slow that week too.

But I wasn’t resting and doing nothing. The entire time, I was putting finishing touches on my training that I believe is my best yet.

Today, I’m super excited to announce the release of my most ambitious training yet: The Empire Building Toolkit.

This training encompasses everything that I’ve learned about building passive income businesses, especially in the last couple of years when I really went deep into Internet marketing and SEO.

Additionally, this training is based on my years and years of experience mentoring hundreds of guys on building their very own Internet empires. 

When you actually talk to real people for months at a time, you learn powerful insights into the things that people are struggling with. This has allowed me to pinpoint the exact problems that new entrepreneurs are struggling with, exact problems that I’ve addressed in this training.

The program is divided into different modules that teach you everything from coming up with a solid idea to creating the proper authoritative side, to getting others to promote your product (affiliate marketing) and also covering one of the most underrated marketing channels out there: email marketing. There’s tons of other stuff there, too.

All in all, there are tons of new information, things that I didn’t cover in previous trainings nor talked in depth on the blog.

But that’s not all. You’ll also receive three special bonuses: 

1) Copyrighting Master Class: See me strategize, design and build a landing page for a hypothetical product/service from scratch. I didn’t prep for this, so here’s your chance to get inside my head and see how it’s done.

(In all honesty, this alone is probably worth the price of admission because you get to see how copyrighting is really done without all the MBA, theory jargon BS that doesn’t help you sell anything.)

2) The Effective Entrepreneur: See me explain how I build an empire from complete scratch and work my way through different challenges. It’s just like having your own seat at my company’s boardroom.

3) The Million Dollar Mindset: Here, you’ll learn how I approach finances and budgets. Think you can’t afford to live in Rio de Janeiro, Chiang Mai or Moscow? Think again. With my unique budgeting system you’ll learn exactly how to structure your finances along with new projects, and motivate yourself so you’re making more money each month.

4) Access to my private Facebook Group where I personally answer all questions and email mentoring directly from me (just don’t go overboard with emails).

5) The Maverick “Boots on the Ground” Premium Podcast. Browse through all the episodes of my premium podcast where I discuss all sorts of business mindsets, ideas, dilemmas, techniques and tactics to making the most money possible.

In short, you aren’t just getting access to some training and that’s it—you’re getting access to an exclusive club with support, forever. That’s my way of saying thanks.

I can keep talking about this, but you can learn more as well as join the program here:

https://empirebuildingtoolkit.com/

See you inside!

NOTE: The special launch sale lasts until Sunday, January 13th 12:00 EST only. After that, the price shoots up and the bonuses disappear forever.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity.

PS: If you have any questions/issues joining, please shoot me an email – [email protected] (I’ll be around all weekend)

The Absolute Best Part About Travel

I once heard a friend say that travel is the best healthy drug out there. I thought about it for a moment but then nodded my head in agreement. After all, we’re all people; the world is made up of people, and traveling lets you come in contact with other people.

More specifically though, there are loads of benefits to traveling and they vary from one person to the next; just ask 100 different travelers and you will get 100 different answers.

Words like exotic, special, breathtaking, interesting and unforgettable certainly come into play; words that otherwise wouldn’t enter your lexicon if all your life was a daily commute to some job you absolutely hate.

While all of those reasons as to why travel is awesome are absolutely true, I have a special thing that I love about travel that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.

Allow me to illustrate my point with a quick story.

Back in 2017, I spent most of the year living in Ukraine and then several months at the end of the year in New York City tying up some loose ends. By that point, I had spent about 3 years living in Ukraine with a few random trips even before that.

As a result, I gradually built a decent social circle with a couple of good friends with whom I kept in touch regularly. 

Not bad for a lone wolf like myself who mostly does everything alone and fails to make friends in most countries except befriending few guys via Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.

One fine day, I was sitting in my friend’s NYC apartment having some breakfast and browsing Russian news sites or watching random YouTube videos — my daily breakfast ritual while I devour a big plate of buckwheat.

Moments later, I received a text message from a girl that I used to date. She was in Kiev. She wanted to know whether I would be interested in seeing a movie with her later that evening.

She had absolutely no idea that I had already been to New York City for several months. She had no idea that I was basically living (temporarily, of course) in a place far, far away from Ukraine.

I grabbed the phone and paused before replying. 

Finally, I replied, “I can’t. I’ve been in New York City for several months now.” 

She had no idea that she just asked someone who was on the other side of the planet to hang out.

I found that rather amusing. What was more amusing, however, was the fact that I was due back in Ukraine the following week.

The next week I caught a red-eye flight to Ukraine, landed, cleared passport control and customs, caught an Uber and in less than 45 minutes was waiting for her near the famous movie theater in Kiev.

We watched the movie and then had a couple of drinks later.

The entire time I couldn’t help to think that just a week ago, I received an invitation from a person to do something, but couldn’t do it because I was on the opposite side of the world, in a completely different country.

Now, that I was back, all it took me was a mere 45 mins to descent to the movie theater from the plane and meet my friend.

This is why travel—and especially extensive living abroad—is so special. Even if you leave the country and your social circle temporarily, all it takes is a quick flight and you’re back in your old environment with your social circle as if absolutely nothing had happened.

Just recently, I decided to spend my New Year’s in Lithuania. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, Lithuania is only one hour flight from Kiev, where I’m based. Second, I had already lived in Vilnius from 2013-2015, so I knew the small city fairly well.

And, last but not least, as a result of living in the city for several years, I had amassed several good friends that I kept in touch throughout the years. 

Vilnius may not be the best destination for New Year’s, but it sure had a lot going for itself when compared to other cities.

So, I contacted my friend and told him that I would be coming back to LT for New Year’s. I told him to make sure to also stay in the city and not go anywhere.

He not only agreed but also invited my girlfriend and me to his place for dinner and drinks on New Year’s Eve.

And, so, the result was an analogous situation like the one I explained earlier with seeing the movie.

I boarded the plane, spent about an hour in the air, landed, cleared immigration and customs, caught an Uber, checked into an Airbnb in the center, and a few hours later was shopping for nice wine at my old shopping supermarket. Then, 30 mins later were enjoying delicious lamb at a friend’s house whom I haven’t seen for three years.

I figured four days in Lithuania should be enough, but, in fact, when I returned back to Kiev after a quick 1-hour flight and got back to my apartment, I still felt as though I was still back in Lithuania.

It was a surreal feeling, to say the least.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the very best part about travel or even long-term living. It’s the fact that when you’ve traveled and lived long enough in different countries, you tend to have not only good friends and acquaintances in all of these places but the ability to recreate your past life and continue where you left off as though you haven’t gone anywhere.

Even though I haven’t been to Vilnius for over 3 years, the fact that I can simply catch a flight and relieve my old life—along with friends and experiences—is simply amazing.

It’s beyond amazing; it even feels unreal sometimes.

I have a couple of good friends in both Mexico and Brazil, two countries where I lived extensively. And in both cases, I can simply catch a flight and instantly relieve my experience from years ago—as though I had never left.

Of course, the longer that I had been away from the country, the weaker the experience I will be relieving: people change, they even move to different parts of the world, so when you finally return after many years, what you experience is a weak representation of the original.

But, still, knowing that I can fly to Kiev, and in 45 mins from the time when the plane touches down in Boryspil International airport, I can be enjoying dinner, drinks or a movie with a good friend is nothing short of amazing.

And knowing that I can fly to another country and be invited a friend’s home for dinner and drinks, a friend whom you haven’t seen for ages, is also nothing but magical.

Of course, there’s the part about absorbing the country’s culture and language. When I lived in Mexico, I learned Spanish. When I lived in Brazil, I mastered Portuguese. When I lived in Lithuania, I picked up basic Lithuanian, enough to get me out of trouble should something like this arise.

Since language is the gateway to culture, all of this awesome too. When I was in Lithuania, I was amazed that I could still remember various Lithuanian words and even expressions, even though I hadn’t used them in three years.

And this is Lithuanian language we’re talking about, one of the hardest languages in Europe, and one that bears no other resemblance to any other language (except maybe Latvian).

Nevertheless, nothing eclipses the ability to “transcend” countries and cultures when you essentially “transport” yourself from one place to another while still having the luxury of the familiar environment that was once your home.

And, as far as I’m concerned, this is the absolute pinnacle of travel. And nothing else even comes close.

For some people, traveling is a two-week break from their dreary lives. For others, like myself, it’s a lifestyle that has been part of my life for the last ten years. 

Tomorrow, I will be releasing my long-awaited training about building an Internet empire. It outlines the exact same techniques and methods that I employ to create a passive income business that fuels my travels and my overall lifestyle. Launch day will include special bonuses as well as special pricing.

2019, Lithuania, and Empire Building

I just got back from spending New Year’s holidays in Vilnius, Lithuania. While I’ve lived all over the world in lots of different cities, I have a very special connection to that city and country: I spent around two years living in Vilnius several years ago.

It’s always a pleasure to visit Lithuania because, although, it was part of the Soviet Union, it shares nothing in common with countries like Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. In fact, it reminds me more of Denmark than Ukraine—even more so on this particular trip than when I lived there several years ago.

As a result of having lived there, I have several good friends in the city that I mostly met via BJJ training.

(As I wrote previously, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been my “secret” method of meeting lots of different people in the countries where I don’t know anyone.)

One of these friends, Jonas, invited me and my girl to his house for New Year’s eve. The plan was to relax for few hours, enjoy a bunch of home-cooked meals paired with good wine, and then, somewhere around 11pm head towards the center where we would enjoy some live music and a bit of dancing and, of course, usher in the New Year.

My Lithuanian friend, Jonas, isn’t a regular guy. While he has worked at all kinds of jobs for many years—in many countries—he gave all of that up to focus on his own thing or “hustling” as he calls it. 

His approach to business is simple: create different income streams from anything that can be monetized. In other words, go where the money is.

This has allowed him to not only work from the comfort of his own home, but also escape the dreary Lithuanian winter weather for the sunny and mild weather of Madeira, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic. It has also allowed him to spend three months backpacking through both Burma and Thailand last winter.

This type of freedom just isn’t accessible to the majority of the population. For example, Americans toil all year just to enjoy a measly two week vacation.

In short, he’s a lot like myself. Like myself, he’s building an Internet empire and, slowly but surely, diversifying into different markets while patiently watching as his business grows.

Making money is more of an art than a science. Thus, there are different ways to express yourself and many different ways to paint a portrait of an object you see. Nevertheless, one of the most effective ways of doing that is to diversify your efforts and income by building an Internet empire.

Not only are you diversifying your efforts and income, but you’re also smartly diversifying risk and all the pain that comes with it.

This is precisely what I’ve done and what has allowed me to live all over the world while making money on my terms

This Monday, Jan 7th, I will be releasing my hotly anticipating training on building your empire. This training encompasses everything that I learned, especially in the past couple of years while I’ve been scaling various aspects of my existing businesses as well as jumpstarting new ones.

The launch period will last several days during which I’ll sweeten the pie with some awesome bonuses plus a special launch-only price that will quadruple after the release date.

I can’t think of anything more ambitious on getting the right start in 2019 than by building an Internet empire.

Happy New Year’s everyone. I have a hunch than 2019 will be an amazing year.

Ukrainian Culture Is The Complete Antidote Of Western Entitlement, Fakeness, and Feminization Of The Modern Society

Ukrainian culture and mentality are truly special. I’ve lived all over the world and, while a few countries stand apart as very memorable (e.g., Brazil), there was always something that drew me to Eastern Europe, and specifically Ukraine.

Something about the beautiful cities, the rough winters, and the super stoic people.

Now, of course, it can be something deep in my psyche. After all, I grew up here. My relatives are all hardcore Eastern Europeans.

And, so for the longest time, I spent time thinking about what exactly it was that drew me to this part of the world. Why is that, that the longer I live here, the better and stronger I become—both physically, emotionally and mentally?

Why is it that the longer I live here, the calmer and relaxed I become with myself, other people and life in general?

Why is it that every time I visit my family in New York, I can’t wait to catch a flight back after just a couple of weeks?

I spent the summer this year living in 2nd-tier city of Dnipro, Ukraine. It was my first time there, and I finally took an invitation from a good friend who wanted to show me around.

Dnipro is what I call a “hard” Eastern European city. In this respect, it’s a bit rough around the edges.

While people are relatively friendly, it’s a far cry from Kiev where people are mostly courteous and at least greet each other; in Dnipro that doesn’t happen very often.

It was during my time living in Dnipro that I better understood my attraction to this region as a whole.

The first time this happened was when I was walking alone one of the semi-main streets. I walked along this street regularly to buy groceries and work at a cool coffee shop. In front of me was walking rather big and well-built guy. He looked to be rather important.

In front of him, there were walking several women, there were also several people walking behind me.

About 15 mins into my walk, the guy in front of me approached one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It was an Italian restaurant that I used as my first-date spot and enjoyed wine with countless women.

For some reason, the owner of the Italian restaurant decided to block off the entire part of the sidewalk facing the restaurant. They didn’t seem to be fixing anything, they just blocked it off.

As a result, everyone had to take a detour and walk along the road in order to keep walking to the destination.

What’s interesting about this is that not a single person made a fuss about it. Everyone just kept busily walking to the destination as though absolutely nothing had happened.

I found that rather interesting.

My first thought was to imagine what would happen if something like occurred in a big American city like San Francisco or New York.

Imagine the reactions of the people walking, say, along some street in Manhattan when some restaurant decided to block it off—without permits or anything.

People would be upset. They would feel this is unjust. They would alert the media. They would alert the city department. They would want the restaurant to be punished. They would want something to be done.

Not in Ukraine. 

People kept walking because they didn’t care and because, most importantly, they had somewhere else to be.

A few weeks later, the city decided to raze down the sidewalks on both sides of the same street in order to build new ones.

The result: people had no choice but to walk along the road, sharing the road with other cars and hoping they wouldn’t get by passing cars.

I must admit that was definitely poorly planned and executed from the city’s side. No Western city in their right mind would simply raze down the sidewalks and begin construction without at least creating a safe passageway for the city’s inhabitants.

But this isn’t Copenhagen or Oslo; this is Eastern Europe. And, in this region of the world, people do what must be done without being too concerned about the “proper” way of doing it.

This reminds me what happened when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria a few years ago. I was having a late dinner with my Airbnb host when we noticed a German girl sitting alone at one of the tables in front.

She couldn’t understand the menu so my friend volunteered to help her out and translate.

She eventually joined our table, and one of the first things she asked was why there were so many stray dogs roaming around Sofia. She wanted to know why aren’t there various shelters that would take in the dogs and offer them for adoption.

“Because this is Bulgaria and we have much greater problems than helping stray dogs,” instantly answered my Bulgarian host.

Most importantly though, this came from a German girl; Bulgarians don’t really care about stray dogs. None of them (except for maybe a few hipsters who are studying in Western schools) are making a fuss and demanding a revolution because dogs aren’t being treated better or because a city decided to raze down the asphalt on a busy street.

This is Eastern European mentality. 

And I absolutely love it.

People don’t concern themselves with petty matters. People don’t get offended easily. People don’t get triggered. People only care about things that directly affect them or their loved ones.

This mindset influences everything – from how people deal with all kinds of issues, to how they deal with each other, including the people they know and don’t know.

There’s one rule that I learned while living here: Eastern Europeans would typically never start shit with someone they don’t already know. 

Of course, exceptions do apply and people have been known to be beaten up in the middle of the night, but those are mostly exceptions to the rule. You’re much more likely to get in a fight with a random person on an F train in Brooklyn than in some Soviet-looking neighborhood in Kiev or Moscow.

It’s breathtakingly refreshing that people just keep to themselves and worry about their own problems than trying to change the world through Western-sponsored revolutions that nobody needs.

In fact, that’s one enormous benefit of living in a foreign country: the country where you used to live gradually becomes foreign. As a result of living in Ukraine for about 3-4 years, seeing all of these feminists, white knights, and other righteous assholes loaded to the brim with entitlement behave the way they do seem puzzling and confusing.

Returning to America and seeing people make a fuss over something mundane that has even less to do with their actual livelihood defies any kind of common sense and purpose.

It’s almost like every person is fighting something else for some confusing belief and everyone else is caught in the crossfire. 

When one of my articles went viral a few days ago (it happens often), a barrage of people left me angry comments both on the article and my Facebook page.

At the peak, there were over 350 people viewing the content at the same time. 

Understandably, almost all of the comments were from women upset over something I had written (when I’ve never written anything remotely sexist in my life).

Naturally, most of these visitors hailed from Western countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, and Scandinavia.

Can you guess how many angry women were from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia or Belarus?

Zero.

None. 

I know and understand these women. They’re too busy worrying about things that concern them personally: work, finding a great husband and starting a suitable family—not what some random guy wrote on the Internet.

When I lived in the USA, I was used to people leaving angry comments on some of the things I’ve written.

But, now that I’ve fully disconnected myself from the Western culture, seeing people leave such comments is a complete joke. And the joke is on them because it’s not their own beliefs that are responsible for their behavior; it’s someone else’s beliefs that hijacked what they truly believe in and directed them against people like me.

They have no idea what kind of fools they’re making of themselves.

The whole thing lasted about two days and the entire army of angry people has now vanished (as predicted), probably having moved to a new target.

Now, you may be thinking that the fact that I like Eastern European culture means that’s just my opinion and that every culture comes with its pros and cons.

And, while, that’s certainly a valid point, there are plenty of things that are broken here in Eastern Europe, but the fact that people don’t get caught up in random ideologies—at least normal, everyday people—I would argue is actually a pretty awesome thing.

Why should another man attack me for my political beliefs (or lack of them)?

Why should a woman attack me for something that I’ve written even though nothing I’ve ever written has ever been even remotely sexist?

This is why I like Eastern Europe so much. Talking to people is so refreshing because what they express are, for the most part, their own beliefs—not a mouthpiece for another greater agenda that’s working hard on dividing people instead of uniting them.

And this is why I find it so refreshing watching people walk straight to the destination ahead instead of being distracted with the things happening around them. The rest of the world can learn quite a bit from the Ukrainian culture and mentality.

The Dirty Truth About Passive Income

The other day I was having lunch with a good friend in a restaurant here in Kiev, Ukraine. After catching up on the usual stuff, we switched to business topics. I told him some of the things I’m working on. He shrugged his head and asked if this stuff was truly passive. I explained, that, yes, it’s definitely truly passive. 

While he was still somewhat confused and unconvinced, I knew that it is something I must accept because most people are somewhat skeptical of this.

If there’s one term out there that creates as much confusion in the entire “location-independent” and “make money online” topics, it would be “passive income.”

These two words have been thrown around so much that, over time, they’ve taken a new meeting all onto itself. In other words, “passive income” no longer means what it originally supposed to have meant; it now means things like freedom and the chance to live in beautiful Rio de Janeiro while dating gorgeous Brazilian women.

It’s hard to fault the Internet for this. In many ways, guys like me are partly responsible. After all, it was guys like me who helped popularize this term many years ago and continue to do so today.

Additionally, lots of people have also been politicizing this term because, well, it’s a good way to rally people to your cause or get them to buy whatever you’re selling.

For instance, these days it has become popular to either say that passive income is “complete bullshit” or take the complete opposite side and claim that passive income is closer to God and is the answer to everyone’s problems.

This is a testament to how polarizing this term has become.

Does passive income exist?

Still, the question remains, does passive income really exist? Can you make money passively—that is, without actively working on it?

Of course, without all the bullshit and the snake oil shit. 

Just the raw the truth.

The raw truth is that, yes, passive income does exist. But it’s a lot different than what most people think.

Everyone knows that famous big company in Redmond, Washington. It’s called Microsoft. As of this writing, Microsoft just passed Apple as the world’s most valuable company. 

The co-founder of that company, Bill Gates, no longer works there. But he’s still getting richer every day.

Why? Because he still owns stock in the company. When the stock increases in value, he makes more money.

That’s passive income.

Though, that’s probably a rather extreme example. After all, not everyone is a co-founder of a multi-billion (almost trillion) dollar company.

Let’s say you start a business. It becomes successful. It grows to a point where it’s making decent money and everyone is getting paid. 

The business is generating revenue from selling quality products to other businesses.

At this point, you’re still working on the business, so you’re not technically making money passively. Later on, you hire someone to run the company. At this point, although you’re no longer actively involved in the business, you’re still earning money.

What just happened?

Now, you’re earning passive income.

The purest example of passive income is a business. The entire point of starting a business is to have passive income.

When guys like me talk about passive income, we’re specifically referring to starting an Internet business. An Internet business can be any size and of any complexity.

It can be as simple as a one-page website that sells a certain product or service to a complex e-commerce store that either drop-ships products or fulfills them out of its own warehouse.

It doesn’t really matter.

The point is that there’s a store out there, on the Internet, “in the cloud” and it actively converts products and services into cash.

Of course, for this store to be successful, different skills must be employed such as marketing, writing, copywriting, design, programming, and sales just to name a few.

These skills correspond to specific departments in some big corporation.

It takes a while to get going

While passive income may seem the golden goose that forever lays golden eggs, there’s a caveat: it takes a time investment to reach this phase.

Unlike a regular 9-5 job, where you get paid a set salary from day one, with passive income, you need an initial time investment before you’re able to make money painlessly.

That time investment varies from several weeks to several years, depending on what you’re trying to do.

At the one extreme, you have the startup culture. I spent over ten years of my life in Silicon Valley working for all kinds of startups as well as huge companies. So, I know a thing or two when it comes to startups.

The purpose of a startup is to compress future wealth into a very short amount of time. So, you hustle for 3-4 years like crazy, expecting to make a good amount of money when the dust settles.

Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones who happens to actually build a successful startup (95% of startups fail), you can hopefully go public in few years and become a millionaire/billionaire.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Internet passive income. You pick a topic, build a website in this area to address a particular need, monetize the website using some products or services, let it organically grow and then reap the rewards.

Unlike the startup scenario above, where you’re expending the maximum effort for the maximum reward, the website can easily generate anywhere from $500-$2,000 per month (usually much more) without breaking a sweat.

Regardless of how you slice and dice it, proper time must be invested before you’re able to wake up and have $100-$1000 deposited into your bank account.

If you ask me, however, I believe the initial time investment is very well worth it.

Of course, not everyone agrees. That’s perfectly fine as the world does need gravediggers, too.

The greatest force in the world

The ability to work on something for a set amount of time, unleash it onto the world and let it grow on its own is one of the most powerful forces in the entire universe.

It’s almost like you’re creating a unique organism from scratch that absorbs energy from its environment and grows on its own, all while spitting out passive income in the process.

That’s a hell of a lot different from the 9-5 system where you’re getting paid a fixed salary for continuous low-level work that results in you building zero capital and assets.

While I’ve had my struggles and failures, there few things in life that I detest more than sitting in some fluorescent office and engaging in continuous low-level work all while receiving a fixed salary regardless of my efforts.

But for people who live this life, things like “passive income” is a concept shrouded in mystery and fear. Whereas for most businessmen, it’s a natural outcome of their labor, for most 9-5’ers the fact that money can create more money is as a foreign concept as speaking Swahili.

But if freedom is what you want, mastering passive income is what you must do.

That’s because without passively making money, you don’t have freedom; you either toil for money (and not have freedom) or enjoy freedom while money passively gets deposited into your bank account.

That’s also why I work with a very limited number of people as part of the Maverick Mentorship program. The mentoring just isn’t as scalable as my other more passive-income businesses.

Episode #49 – Starting A New Life In Medellin, Colombia

Few days ago, I had a chance to connect with Andrew over at MedellinBuzz.com and chat about different topics. We talked about travel, living in Colombia and making money online.

I found Andrew’s experience and perspective refreshing because, just like myself, he was born and partly raised in one country, then he moved to America, and then he returned back to his homeland. I did the exact same thing: I was born in Ukraine, grew up in America and now moved permanently to Kiev, Ukraine.

So, it’s a bit different than your run of the mill backpacker who’s traveling around the world or an expat who decided to permanently move to another country.

In this hour-long interview, we covered a ton of great stuff.

In fact, there’s something here for just about anyone.

Here are some highlights:

  • What’s life really like in Medellin, Colombia (without the BS)
  • The challenges of integrating into Colombia’s society (even if you’re originally from there and speak fluent Spanish)
  • What are Colombian women really like. Do they prefer gringos or Colombians?
  • Why Andrew has no plans to return back to America.
  • Making money online: what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Andrew’s advice to younger people who want to do the same or anyone who’re starting from zero.
  • And much, much more…

Enjoy!

Episode #49 – Starting A New Life In Medellin, Colombia

 
 

00:00 / 58:20
 

1X

Digital Nomad No More

The other day, one of my good friends described his future travel plans. He had been working really hard the past year or so and haven’t taken a vacation in ages.

He is Australian and his plan was to fly to London, spend a few days there and then fly to Spain. After spending a week in Spain (traveling to different cities), he would fly to Italy and spend a week there. Then, he’d fly into Croatia where he would spend a couple of days before wrapping up his trip to Serbia and flying back home.

Ten years ago, such a trip would evoke nothing but pleasant emotions and even make me a bit envious—especially if I was stuck in some place and couldn’t travel at the moment.

But now?

His travel itinerary made me dizzy and nauseous. 

While I covered over 25 European countries in around 2-3 months back in 2011, doing that today would be the absolute last thing I’d want to do.

In fact, you’d really need to force me to leave my comfortable life in Ukraine and take a random flight somewhere only to stay there for a couple of days, pack up and go somewhere new.

My first reaction is that my productivity would take an immediate hit.

Yeah, I know the Internet is plastered with endless stories of people roaming the world and making millions of dollars a long way.

But, after roaming the world for over a decade, I still don’t know how they do it.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing destroys productivity better than constantly switching locations.

Even merely switching apartments in the same city to a different neighborhood is enough to destroy 3-5 solid days of productivity while you search around for a new coffee shop, a nearby supermarket and even simply getting the feel of a new neighborhood.

In my experience, there’s a strong correlation between productivity, making money and sitting in the same place for months at a time. It’s irrefutable.

Late last year, when I sat down and began working on my first ecommerce store as well as trying to figure out how to scale sales using the ever-elusive Facebook Ads, I literally locked myself into my room in NYC, and didn’t leave until I had something working.

About two months later, I discovered my first winning product that, in a span of several months, went on to generate enough money to buy a small apartment in a provincial Eastern European city.

That would have never been possible had I roamed around the Guatemala and Honduras in chicken buses while sleeping in $1/night hostels (as I did back in 2005).

Of course, I wasn’t trying to build a business empire at that time. In fact, I didn’t even bring my laptop with me on the trip.

That’s also why I’m always super productive in New York, and less productive in places like Kiev (my base), Chiang Mai (where I lived for several months) and Rio de Janeiro (where I lived for several years).

In New York, all I do is work. I don’t go out, I don’t drink, I don’t go to fancy restaurants, I don’t have sex, I don’t do anything but work. That and meet up with super successful entrepreneur friends who’re making five figures per month in various businesses.

When I go abroad, I naturally want to go out, meet people and just generally wander around scenic old towns and ponder the meaning of life.

While this clears my head, it does have a negative effect on my productivity and everything suffers.

For a long time, I thought that what I really wanted was to travel around the world instead of rotting in a cubicle making someone else rich.

I’ve achieved this. While it wasn’t easy, it was certainly worth it. The fact that I can live wherever I want and not where there are  lucrative software engineer jobs (ie, Silicon Valley) is more than worth it in my book.

But then I realized that what I really wanted was freedom. Freedom to live anywhere I wanted, freedom to wake up anytime I wanted, freedom to work on whatever projects excited me, freedom to channel my energy into whatever the fuck I wanted instead of whatever my boss thought was politically beneficial for him and his allies.

And it wasn’t so much for the ability to wake up today and grab a random ticket to Bucharest, Bangkok, Bahia or Bruges.

Sure, the ability to pack up your bag and move to a neighboring country or a country on the opposite side of the globe is alluring, but there’s only so many times you can do that before it loses its luster and its magic. 

I remember I was living in Romania a few years ago. One day, I got sick and tired of Bucharest’s decaying and boring communist feel, so I hopped on Sky Scanner and grabbed a ticket to Barcelona. The next day, I was having tacos and wine with a good friend in one of my Barcelona’s quaint little squares.

Or the time when I was spending the summer in St. Petersburg, Russia a few years ago. Few places on the planet are as awesome to spend the summer at St. Petersburg. The white nights, the awesome weather, the restaurants, the cafes, the people enjoying themselves.

But then September started, and a week later, temperatures dropped 15 degrees Celsius. The summer was over. It was now windy and cloudy, most likely to last until May of next year.

So, what did I do?

I went online and booked a one-way flight to Belgrade, Serbia. The very next day, I landed in sunny paradise. It was a balmy 29C degrees and cold weather wouldn’t start for the next two months.

As an added bonus, my apartment had access to a nice and sunny backyard where I enjoyed my breakfast every morning.

If there’s one thing both of these events have in common is that I was able to shake off a negative feeling (ugly communist buildings in Bucharest and crappy weather in St. Petersburg) and replace it with more inviting and beautiful surroundings—and, as a result, a much more pleasant feeling.

But like everything else, every action has a hidden cost to it. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly the most productive during those times and didn’t crush any revenue records like the time when I stayed in New York and did nothing but experimented with Facebook Ads, day and night, for several months straight.

Roots

The biggest cost, however, with endless moving around is less obvious. When you’re always moving around, you can’t build anything meaningful and substantial in any one place.

When I lived in Rio de Janeiro, I was able to assemble a good circle of close friends and not just expats and foreigners like myself, but actual Brazilians born and bred in Rio de Janeiro.

Although Brazilians are fairly easy to get along with, you need a bit of time to form closer connections, something that’s not possible when you’re in Rio on a two-week vacation.

Here in Ukraine, I was able to form close contacts—both personal and business—simply as a side effect of staying here for several years. After you see the same person over and over again, you can’t help but build something deeper and more meaningful.

It’s like seeing a cute girl at your favorite coffee shop. If you come there long enough, unless you’re completely clueless, at some point, you will leave with her number.

This, in turn, has lead to all kinds of new and interesting projects, like helping to scale a relatively large ecommerce store using FB Ads as well as launching a marketing campaign to bring customers to a new venue.

But, more importantly, this has given me access to interesting and influential people who are working on exciting projects.

None of this would’ve even be possible if I was just mindlessly bouncing around the globe.

Stay put, make lots of money

What really crystallized my thinking was the fact that pretty much all my adult life I’ve been surrounded by ambitious go-getters who worked long and hard and barely traveled anywhere.

They all ran online businesses. They all made a ton of money (5-6 figures per month), but bouncing around the world was never at the top of their priorities.

Their main focus was always on business. Making money. Hustling. Marketing. Selling. Making deals.

And, sure, while their lifestyle allowed them to take a random trip to Cannes, Cancun or Miami Beach, that was nothing more than the icing on the cake. They worked so hard that they barely took those trips anyway.

Most of these guys are in New York, which is another reason why my productivity skyrockets when I’m there.

But a couple of them are here in Ukraine after I lured some of them here to keep me company throughout the cold winter months. 

They came, set up shop, and we regularly keep in touch.

When you have such a sweet setup, why would you trade it for some nomadic backpacking trip through Guatemala?

Nothing against Guatemala (loved my time there), but I ain’t going anywhere.

There’s a myth out there that traveling around somehow “enables” you to start a business and make a ton of money passively.

The reality, however, is all you’re really doing is changing the location of your office. If you’re in NYC, your office is in NYC. If you’re in Chiang Mai, your office is in Chiang Mai. If you’re in Moscow, your office is in Moscow. And if you’re in Bali, you guessed it: your office is in Bali.

Right now my office is in Eastern Europe. This gives me a nice base to explore neighboring destinations. The difference is that I always have a return ticket. There’s always a home to come back to. There’s a familiar environment to return to.

Most importantly, there’s the all important separation between work and play; and production and consumption. 

The latter is a popular trap that many people can’t help but fall into.

Office. I used to hate that word because it conjured images of grey-haired middle-aged men toiling on something super boring because they didn’t know any better… Like working on some beach somewhere.

But now an office seems indispensable. I need an office. I need a room in my apartment solely dedicated to strategizing and working.

I need a place where I can go and focus, a place where no one will bother me. A place that will serve as a refuge from the craziness and uncertainty of the world around me.

I’ve had various “offices” throughout my life. In addition to the NYC office that I talked about earlier, where I launched my first of several ecommerce stores, there was also a Lithuanian office where I finished my first book. The Barcelona office where I finished another book. And it will be the Ukrainian office where I will launch a brand new course later this month.

And, hopefully, this Ukrainian office will be responsible for some new amazing projects in 2019 and beyond.

Build and they will come

I remember when I started to get serious about some of my work, my mentor told me that he would be surprised if I wasn’t making good money in six months if I worked on it every day.

He was right.

I stayed in one place, worked every day, 7 days a week, and was making money long before the six months he predicted.

Over time, those wise words became a part of my life philosophy. Even if you start from nothing (we all did), if you sit down, pick one thing to work on, stick to it, build it, and you will be seeing results sooner or later.

In other words, hustling will set you free.

There’s a catch, of course: provided you have an established and predictable routine that guarantees the maximum level of productivity without an array of useless and unnecessary distractions.

How To Live Abroad And Make Money Online Without Becoming An English Teacher And Losing Your Dignity

I get tons of emails per day and around 75% of them are questions about making money online.

Most of these come from people who decided to quit their jobs and travel the world. Some have even started blogs. 

But when it becomes apparent that writing about their experiences on some blog can barely fund a cable bill back home, some have resorted to teaching English or even freelancing for some sites in order to make ends meet.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want you to become an English teacher abroad. I want you to make good money selling awesome products and services so that you’re happy where you are and aren’t forced to cut your trip short by returning to the USA (or some other country) and begging your old boss for a job.

The biggest problem these people face is the same problem I faced when I began my online money-making journey: I had no idea what I was doing.

I once believed that I can start a blog, write a few articles and money would mysteriously fall from the sky.

That’s not quite how it works.

There are a lot of gurus out there who’ll tell you that the way to make money is to start a blog.

The truth is that they’re probably trying to sell you something.

First of all, a blog is a terrible way to make money. 

You can’t make money writing about your experiences in Mexico, Lithuania or Cambodia.

Actually, let me back up a minute. It is possible to make money doing just that, but you need a well-devised and well-executed strategy and plan.

I can certainly tell you that 99% of bloggers are not making more than $50 per month (if that) from their blogs.

The reason: they don’t have a strategy in place that comes along with treating it as a business and not a hobby.

This brings me to the first lesson: you must treat your making-money goals as a business.

Most people are super casual about it: they treat it as a hobby. 

Their blogs are hobbies.

Their websites are hobbies.

Their online stores are hobbies.

Everything in their life is a hobby.

It doesn’t work like that.

Anything that you build for the purpose of making money should be treated as a business.

You have to be super serious about it.

My ecommerce stores are businesses.

My affiliate sites are businesses.

I don’t do many niche sites, but the few which I do have are definitely businesses.

The blog you’re reading now? That’s more of a hobby and a way for me to connect with the audience, and help people anyway I can.

The important point I want to drive is that there’s a Chinese Wall that separates my businesses and my hobbies.

That means that my businesses all have super high priority because they pay the bills and fund my life.

I don’t fuck around with the businesses. 

I live in spreadsheets. I analyze every cent of the revenue, sales and profits. Everything needs to add up.

If I’m losing money somewhere, I need to find out why.

If I’m making more money than normal, I must find out way.

You will never be this serious if you just treat it as a hobby.

Look, I get it. You escaped the 9-5 job, you’re traveling around the world, you’re living in some exotic place like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Medellin, Colombia, so why do you need to work?

Lapa, Rio de Janeiro: One of my favorite places in the world

That’s especially true if you’re living in a country with a low cost of living.

Well, that rent for your bachelor pad in Ipanema and money for your hot Carioca girlfriend isn’t going to magically appear out of nowhere. 

You still have to earn it.

The second lesson: don’t only focus on things that you’re super passionate about

This is something I notice all the time: people only choose to concentrate on things they’re extremely passionate about.

That blog you’re writing from your Rio de Janeiro apartment is your passion. After all, you love Brazil and can’t wait to tell people about the women, the beaches, the BJJ training, or how everything is just awesome 24-7.

I get it.

I’ve been there.

I love Brazil and still fondly remember my multi-year sojourn there.

There’s nothing in my life that I’m more passionate about than traveling and living abroad. 

Right now, I’m having the time of my life living in Ukraine, and I want to tell others about it.

The problem is that just because you care about it, doesn’t mean that others do as well.

And if you’re not solving other people’s problems, then you don’t really have a business.

I’ve struggled with this for a long time. That is, until I figured out that helping other people is the easiest way to put cash in your pocket.

So, I started to diversify.

Now, I run various websites that have absolutely nothing to do with this blog.

Don’t get me wrong, this blog is my passion and I will probably continue to run it forever, but it doesn’t exactly solve the most pressing problems that people have.

As it happens, there are more pressing problems in the world than figuring out how to get a Brazilian girl to like you.

Imagine that.

This blog is mostly a way for me to philosophize and connect with like-minded individuals.

For instance, here are some earnings for a site which I started fairly recently.

Those aren’t exactly life-changing numbers, but that’s just one site of many that solves very specific problems for a laser-targeted audience.

This is not a site about a subject I’m passionate about at all. In fact, I knew nothing about the subject as little as two months ago. 

But there are many people that do care about this subject, so I needed to figure out how I can help them.

I quickly learned that when there’s a problem to solve and money to be made, one can be passionate in just about any area. Over time, I even developed interest in this particular subject area.

My e-commerce stores are pure businesses as well. I built my first one back in February of this year, and gradually added more over the year.

Some of the products we sell are loosely connected to one of my passions, but many others I have zero interest in. They just sell really well. I like money, so I roll with it.

Empathizing with other people’s problems is the difference between making enough per month to cover dinner at a sushi restaurant in Manhattan versus making enough to have a luxurious life anywhere on the planet.

The third lesson: you must work really, really hard

Let me ask you something: when was the last time you worked 16 hours per day—all week? Or two weeks? Or an entire month?

Because that’s exactly what you’ll have to do if you want your business to succeed.

I’m not afraid to admit it: I can be pretty lazy. Especially when I spend the summers in Ukraine in my awesome centrally-located apartment. I can’t get any work done.

There’s something about being surrounded by beautiful women and amazing architecture that turns off my hustling mind.

Coincidentally, it’s during those periods that I don’t make much progress and increase my income very much.

But I can also be very hungry and determined. I want to grow my businesses and build new ones.

The major reason that I’m so hungry is because I treat these activities as businesses.

I don’t know many people who spend 12-16 hours per day working on their hobbies. Maybe they exist, but I haven’t met one personally.

On the other hand, a business is different. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been putting in 14 hour days building a brand new business. In about three months, I expect it to easily generate several grand per month, and, if things go well, I expect it to bring in low 5-figures soon after.

There are times when you rest and times when you work. 

Right now, I need to hustle hard to make that happen. I need to work harder than I ever worked at my old 9-5 job in Silicon Valley.

I need to be obsessed with completing as much work in a single day that most people complete in one or two weeks.

All my friends who make a killing online basically live in either FB Ads dashboard, Google Ads dashboard, some SEO keyword research tool or some fancy landing page builder.

They’re obsessed with creating new products, new sites, new landing pages, new pitches, new funnels, etc.

They’re obsessed with always testing, always experimenting, always seeing what works and what doesn’t.

They all work long hours because they want to create more and make more money.

They love it.

Of course, they take vacations here and there; a good friend of mine flies to Miami from NYC every month.

It’s the work hard, play hard philosophize that I absolutely love.

So, if you’re lazy, succeeding as an entrepreneur will be an uphill battle. It requires lots of work and dedication. Much more than you ever did at your 9-5.

I honestly don’t know a single person who makes a killing but is also lazy. Never met one. I don’t know if they exist.

Remember, you make money by starting a business and by treating it like a business.

Imagine you opened a convenience store. What would happen if you show up one day on time, but then show up at 1pm the next day? 

What would happen if you don’t show up for an entire week?

You think you’re going to make money?

Of course not.

Once you begin treating something as a business, the next thing you’ll realize is that you’ve just traded one boss for another; you traded your annoying 9-5 boss for millions of perspective customers whose business you need to keep the lights on.

Some people will relish in this new environment; others will suffer and complain.

Personally, I love building and selling my own products. I couldn’t have it any other way.

I also don’t mind working 16 hour days if that means substantially increasing my income and making serious progress.

When I was a software engineer, I was fairly shy and introspective.

Building my own businesses forced me to go out and become more aggressive, breaking down some of that shyness and insecurities.

That is something you’ll have to learn to love as well.

In the end, it was a lot easier than I thought.

If not, you can always return back home and beg your old boss for a job.

How To Make Your First $1,000 Online

Earning the first $1 is infinitely harder than earning $100. After that, it gets infinitely easier to earn more money; it’s easier to go from $100 to $1,000 and even easier to go from $1,000 to $10,000.

At the start, it’s important to clarify that in order to make money, you have to sell something, either a product or a service, for which you will receive a payment in exchange. You must have something that another party deems valuable enough to give you money.

Let’s say you have no experience with making money online and are looking to make your first $1,000.

What would you do?

Well, the first step is to figure out what exactly do you want to sell.

What’s your pitch? What’s your product? What’s your hustle?

That could be something physical; for instance, a physical product that solves a particular problem to a specific audience.

That can also be an informational product that provides certain guidance or instructions for getting something done, whether it’s moving to another country or building a specific business.

As they say, information is power. Useful information that comes by way of experience can help others save enormous amounts of time and money, allowing them to accomplish something much quicker and easier as compared to if they lacked this information.

When it comes to actually building something, there are two primary ways of doing so: build an online store that sells products directly or create an information-based site that helps visitors in some way shape or form.

An example of the former is an online store that sells something like mattresses or accessories. An example of the latter is a country portal about Colombia where people can learn about the country and then pay for further assistance in specific areas (e.g., help to find apartments or get a residence visa).

Obviously, it would be a lot faster to generate a profit by selling an actual physical product that people are already searching for and can’t wait to purchase. You simply show the product and people buy it.

On the other hand, when you’re creating a custom service, the prospective customer needs time to learn more about you and trust you before partying with their money for the service you’re offering.

Should you follow your passion?

During my many years of mentoring tons and tons of people, the first question that inevitably comes up is whether they should choose an area that’s closely connected with their passion.

So, if a certain person is passionate about a topic such as dog-training, they should build a site about dog training and then figure out ways of making money from it later.

My answer is that it depends. You definitely want to work on something you have some kind of interest in—at least be somewhat interested in.

Most importantly, however, you must pick an area that already has a sizable demand of people who’re looking for a particular solution to their problem.

For instance, fitness is an area with lots of demand. Same for building a business. Lots of people want to make money online and dump the 9-5.

Even if I’m very passionate about teaching my Yorkie Terrier various tricks (I don’t have one), it’s probably not an area I would choose to pursue and build a business because it’s just too small and constricting in size and scope.

On the other hand, let’s say I’m living in Argentina, and I’m super passionate about helping others move and get settled in properly in the country. In that case, that’s something I might pursue doing because of 1) I’m super passionate about Argentina and 2) I realize there’s a sizable demand of people who are trying to do the same.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people give up because they lost interest in the topic they chose to work in. As time went on, they realized it they weren’t interested in cat knitting or building a site about a little city in Nepal as much as they thought.

Now that you decided what is it you want to work on, the next thing is to figure how to get customers to visit your site so they learn about your products and services and hopefully purchase them as well.

Getting customers to your site

The first thing you need in order to make money is people who’re willing to give you money: customers.

Generally, there are two ways to get traffic: free and paid. Free traffic comes to you via places like Google searches (organic traffic), links from other websites and things like word of mouth.

Paid traffic is traffic that you “purchase” via advertisements. Popular advertising platforms are Google Ads (Adwords), Facebook Ads, and tons of others.

I typically employ both strategies depending on my goals.

If you’re tight with money, then free traffic is ideal.

On the other hand, if you know exactly how much you’re making and how much you need to spend on traffic to either break even or turn in a profit, then paid traffic can work really well.

Monetizing customers

Once you’ve discovered ways of getting people to your door, the next step is getting them to buy something from you. This process is called monetization.

Compared to finding a steady traffic source for your products and services, monetization isn’t very difficult. If you there are people who come to your site because they’re looking for a specific solution to their problem, and you have this solution to their problem, selling it to them won’t be very difficult.

After all, they’re on your site because you promised to help them, right?

While there are tons of different offers you can create, there are two primary ways to make money: sell your own products/services or become an affiliate for someone else’s products/services.

When you sell someone else’s product, you get a cut of the transaction (commission). That’s called affiliate marketing because you’re an affiliate for the seller instead of being a seller yourself.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing one of my first huge online successes back in 2003. I was one of the largest affiliates for a particular site. If I referred someone and they signed up for the service, I received a commission. As I referred more and more people, I received bigger and bigger commissions (higher tier). As time went on, I ended up making an absolute killing in commissions.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to build and support the actual product. That means no need to hire web developers and no need to handle customer support. All you really need to do is promote a marketing product or service while letting the vendor handle everything else.

One of the largest marketplaces to find products to promote is ClickBank. There, you can find all kinds of products to promote all kinds of different niches (markets for different audiences). You can also sort each product by how much money is making ensuring that you’re only promoting products that are selling and not some duds that no customer would ever purchase.

For instance, let’s say you’re promoting a product and they pay you a commission of $50 whenever anyone signs up through your link. That means you need to refer 20 users who signup for the service in order to make $1,000. If you’re referring just one paying user a day, you’ll be earning $50 per day. That’s $1,500 per month, a pretty comfortable sum for living anywhere outside the West.

Of course, you also need to provide the traffic. That can be done either via free sources (Google SEO) or paid sources (Google Ads, Facebook Ads).

Dropshipping

While dropshipping is all the rage these days, I have been doing dropshipping back in 2005, so I have quite a bit of experience in this area.

Dropshipping is attributed to ecommerce. You set up a store that sells physical products. A customer visits your store and places an order. But instead of going to your own warehouse, picking out the item and shipping it, you’re asking another supplier to fulfill the order by shipping it directly to your customer.

This way you never even see and touch the product.

Dropshipping is very similar to affiliate marketing. Whereas in affiliate marketing, you’re a middleman for an informational product or service, with dropshipping you’re a middleman for a physical product.

There’s a lot of negativity about dropshipping, but these people don’t understand what dropshipping is. Dropshipping isn’t “positive” or “negative”; it’s simply a logistics model of product fulfillment. So, instead of you fulfilling your orders, someone else does it on your behave. There’s nothing inherently negative about that.

Selling physical products online (ecommerce) is one of the fastest ways to make money. The main reason is that you don’t need to sell the customer very hard on the product. The customer sees the product and they know right away whether they need this particular product or not. They know whether this product can solve their problem or not. This is different from an informational product where the customer needs to be persuaded that this particular product will solve their problems.

The business model with ecommerce is slightly different from affiliate marketing. First of all, you have the cost of the product. So, if you’re buying a product for $25 and selling it for $50, your profit is not $50: it’s $25.

There are other expenses such as the cost of ads (if you’re buying traffic and not getting free organic traffic).

Still, even with all the expenses and overhead, it’s easy to become profitable very quickly if you find a good quality product that solves a problem. And when you experiment with various products, you develop a “sixth sense” for knowing when a product will sell or not.

For instance, let’s say you’re selling a product that you can source for only $5 (you get volume discounts because you’re a high volume seller). It costs you another $5 to ship the product to your customer. Then another $10 for ads. You then sell the product for $30. That means your expenses are $20, so your profit is $10.

In ecommerce, it’s very common to have profit margins of around 15-30% as opposed to 100% when you’re selling an information product that doesn’t cost you an additional amount to produce (e.g., selling another license of software or access to a course).

So, if you can sell 100 of these per month, you will make $1,000 in profit. That’s only 3 items per day, not an impossible feat by any measure.

Building and selling your own product

When you’re an affiliate, you’re getting a cut of the commission (typically 25-75%), but when you’re selling your own product, you keep the entire profit for yourself.

If you already have a certain website up and running and a steady supply of traffic that comes to your website and loves the content, then the next step is creating your own product and service. When you do that, you won’t need to split the profit with anyone else; you pocket 100% of the profit.

The disadvantage is that not only do you need to spend ample amount of time creating this product, but you’re also responsible for all kinds of customer support issues.

If someone signed up and they’re having problems, you must deal with the customer. If your server is down, you must fix it. If your product isn’t being displayed properly, you must fix it.

Unlike someone who’s a mere affiliate who sends the customer over to a third party site, as someone who owns the product, you have a lot of responsibility to handle everything.

I have tried both approaches and there are pros and cons to being an affiliate for certain products, but also creating your own products as well.

The decision comes down to expertise. If you run a website that you’re very knowledgeable about, it shouldn’t be much of a challenge to create products and services that your audience would crave. On the other hand, if you somehow have access to traffic of an audience you have nothing in common with, then it might be wiser to become an affiliate for a third party product instead of creating your own from scratch.

For instance, I have no problems building products in areas I’m an expert in such as digital marketing, making money online, dropshipping and learning foreign languages, but I would never build products in areas I know nothing about like knitting or woodworking.

The right mindset to start

The most challenging part of making your first $1000 is believing that $1000 is somehow a lot of money and making that much money would be difficult if not outright impossible. That’s the wrong mindset to have.

The right approach is to ask yourself the following question, “What can I do right now that will allow to me sell one thing to one person?”

Is it selling a physical product?

Is it helping someone obtain a second passport in Brazil?

Is it teaching someone how to bench press 2.5X their body weight or helping them lose 30 lbs before Christmas?

Is it becoming an authority in a specific area and then consulting companies via your knowledge and expertise?

Now, combine the above question with a group of people who need this problem solved. Congrats: now you have a product, an audience, and a business model.

Final thoughts

I still remember that fateful day when I made my first dollar online. That was over 15 years ago. Of course, the Internet was very different back then. Facebook Ads didn’t exist. Google was an up-coming niche search company.

Nevertheless, the principles are still the same. What worked back in 2003 still works in 2018 and will work in 2033 and beyond.

At the core, any business is really about people. It’s about forming connections. And when a useful connection occurs, money is usually exchanged.

When I think about entering a specific market, usually my first question is, “How can I add value?” or “What can I do to help a particular person or group of people” or “How can I make their lives better?”

This answer to this question usually becomes a product or service that, when combined with an enticing offer, is then presented to the prospective customer. They purchase it.

After all, people all over the world are hungry for various solutions to their problems. And, as a person who happens to have answers and solutions because of an extensive experience and knowledge, it’s your duty to solve these problems for them.

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