On paper, my life must look pretty cool.
I'm young, I have frequent sex with Latinas and I live a life of travel.
I receive emails from people wishing they could have a life like mine, or how I've motivated them to do what I do.
One guy even told me that he was trying to motivate his son to take a similar path that I have (I'm not sure I can in good conscience recommend that, but he sounds like a cool dad).
But let me tell you something:
I'm not even close to being successful.
In fact, by any standard measure, I'm pretty much the opposite. Almost all of my friends back home earn more money than I do - more than a few own their own homes.
I know my parents are wondering when I'm going to get my shit together and get a real job. I'm pretty sure they still don't know how I make money (they're really old).
I recently did a podcast with Kyle from This is Trouble (Superb website by the way...check it out here!) where I touched on the subject, and it occurred to me that I haven't told my readers much about my road to location independence.
I've neglected to write about this in the past because I didn't think it aligned with what my blog was about.
Also, I didn't imagine people would be interested.
Actually, that's not quite true.
The real reason I haven't talked about it is because I'm not proud of where I'm at yet.
I hate when people talk about their jobs. I get bored. People who are truly successful let their successes speak for them.
But reader feedback has proved that people are at least somewhat interested in what I do (about 30% of the emails I receive on My Latin Life are questions about how I make a location independent income).
And I understand why.
I'm in my mid-20s and am part of the "4 Hour Work Week" generation. Men my age are dissatisfied. They are are unwilling to be conscripted into the corporate slave trade and an abysmal dating market in the West is making marriage less appealing by the day.
Essentially, a man who feels suffocated by culture norms and expectations he doesn't identify with has three options:
1) Give into the pressure and resign to life in a cubicle
2) Give up and check out of life (MGTOW style)
3) Work for himself
After a dangerous trajectory that was - in all likelihood - leading to option 1, I eventually got my shit together and decided on option 3: working for myself.
Here's my story.
NOTE: What follows is an account of how I've come to make money online, from when I started roughly 4 years ago, until today. I don't suggest trying to emulate my route. What worked for me probably won't work for you.
And I still don't consider to be remotely close to where I'd like to be.
Also, due to a lack of information, I made countless avoidable errors. I've since discovered several indispensable resources that would have made life much easier for me when I was starting out. I'll link to those at the end of my post.
How Do I Make Money Online?
In the Beginning... (A Short Story)
I glanced up to the top right-hand corner of the computer screen.
I clicked 'Shut Down,' packed my notes into my bag and fled the office, lighting a cigarette before I had even crossed the threshold of the door.
"One way or another, tomorrow is my last day in that shit hole," I told myself as I walked to my car.
I was employed at a small marketing firm as a writer. The company was barely keeping its head above water due to the ineptness of an emotionally-unstable and micromanaging boss. We were losing clients by the day, and I had no intention of going down with the ship.
But I had a plan. And tomorrow was the day I'd see it through.
The next day, I knocked on my boss' door.
"Can I speak with you for a few minutes?" I asked.
I closed the door and sat in a chair across from her.
"I'd like to work from home," I began. "There's too much noise in this office and I'm finding it difficult to get my work done."
"Sorry, that's not possible," she said. "I need you in the office to make sure you're doing everything right. Besides, that's not what you agreed to when you signed the contract."
I smiled. I was expecting this.
I pulled both my contract as well as a full copy of the Labour Regulations Code for the Province of British Colombia out of my side bag.
"Actually, it doesn't say anywhere in my contract that I can't work from home. And, as a matter of fact, according to the labour code of this province, as an independent contractor I'm entitled to do just that." I said, signalling the document in my hand.
"I don't care what the labour code says." She responded.
"I'm sure you don't," I said, flippantly.
"Look, Margret," I continued. "Do you really expect me to be able to focus when you insist on sitting ten feet away from me talking on the phone all day? I can do this better from home, without the endless distractions."
She sensed where the conversation was going.
"Perhaps we should part ways, you're clearly not happy here."
"I agree," I said. "It's nothing personal."
We shook hands and I headed for the door.
"Oh and Margret," I said, turning around just short of the doorway. "Writing fake Yelp reviews for fledgling companies is not a sustainable business model. The company will fail in less than a year if you refuse to learn about marketing."
(Hilariously, my prediction turned out to be true).
I left the office feeling happier than I had in a very long time.
Finally, I was free.
The Next Phase: Havana, Cuba
A week later I was sitting on the malecon in Havana, Cuba, drinking rum, smoking a cigar and wondering what the fuck to do with my life. I knew that I didn't want to work in an office, but it was hard to feel bad for myself surrounded by people making $10 USD a month.
I began to question whether or not quitting my job was the right move.
During the next couple weeks, I travelled around the island. I met a lot of good-hearted, humble and happy people. People who were making the best out of life despite being deprived of any chance of economic advancement by their communist government. Every day I was reminded of how lucky I was to have been born in a first-world country; a land of endless opportunity.
Unlike the Cubans, I had the freedom to shape my world and career in the way I wanted. I had access to a global marketplace through the Internet. I was free to engage in a system of private enterprise.
I'd be a goddamn fool not to take advantage of that.
I returned home with a sense of purpose.
I told myself that as soon as I could make $500 a month online, I would commit fully to the cause.
A Rocky Start & My First Location Independent Dollar
I didn't waste any time. When I got back to Canada, I spent everyday applying for work-from-home jobs on Craigslist and whatever other Internet job sites I could find.
The first month I received nothing but rejections.
Fortunately, I had a bit of money saved up from previous jobs and I was debt-free thanks to scholarships throughout university, so I had a bit of a cushion.
But the money wasn't going to last forever.
After failing miserably for two months, I finally had some luck.
In one week, I had landed two contract positions that I'd found on Internet job sites. The first was editing ebooks, and the second was to write the blog for a corporate survey company.
Both jobs were low-paying: $25-$50 to edit 50 page ebooks, and $20 for each 1000 word blog article.
But I was thrilled nonetheless.
"It's possible." I told myself.
Over the next couple months, I landed a few gigs writing essays for students. In 4 months, I had exceeded my modest goal of $500 a month.
Then, I did something rash.
I broke up with my girlfriend and embarked on my first major trip to Latin America, something I'd always wanted to do. I would spend all of my savings and throw myself into the deep end of making money online when I got back.
I didn't want to leave myself another option.
My Return Home
The 9-10 months I spent travelling Latin America were the best times of my life. I had sex with lots of women (at least by my standards), I broke out of my shell and became more social, tried some incredible food and had too many memorable experiences to count.
Unlike previous trips to Mexico where I returned home feeling depressed and directionless, this time I returned home with a purpose. I immediately got to work.
I was soon hired by two editing/proofreading companies that paid much better than content mills, and I managed to get my old job back writing the blog for the corporate survey company.
It took me a year, but I eventually cracked the $1000 mark.
That was all the motivation and money I needed to move down to Mexico.
And that's exactly what I did.
I've been here ever since.
But the hard work was just beginning.
When I arrived to Mexico City, I was high on life. I was thrilled to finally be doing something that I had wanted to do since I was a little kid. I settled into a hostel for the first month to save money and use that as a base for apartment hunting. I was going out, partying, drinking and meeting new people each day.
My work began to suffer.
There were too many distractions at the hostel, so for the second month I settled into an Airbnb with a friend with the intention of getting more work done.
But unfortunately, I had developed a bit of a habit.
I was so spellbound by the city and the different people I was meeting, I was saying yes to everything: bars, clubs, dinners, house parties etc.
I didn't break even for the first two months, and my savings were now in the low three figures.
To make things worse, I had just agreed to sign a lease with my friend for a more expensive apartment in a popular nightlife area of Mexico City (Condesa/Roma).
8 weeks in, my dream of living abroad was already in jeopardy.
One morning, after waking up with another hangover after another night of drinking I couldn't afford, I snapped.
I looked at myself in the mirror - eyes bloodshot, 3 days of beard.
I said "when are you going to grow the fuck up?"
I got to work.
That Brings Us to Today...
Now for the real question: What am I doing NOW to make money online?
In the past year, I've earned money from 4 different income streams (all figures approximate and in USD):
1) Contractor for editing company #1 (approximately $1300/month)
2) Contractor for editing company #2 (approximately $800/month)
3) Personal editing/proofreading website (approximately $250 a month)
4) Personal website in hotel niche (total of about $2000 this year...I know...sad!)
5) My Latin Life ($300 a month +/-) - I've just started, so will hopefully increase.
Basically, up until now, I've been earning about $2500 a month on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less. My best month to date is $4500. My worst since coming here is $600.
I know, I know - it's not great...
And all of that was traded time for money.
But things are looking up this month.
I've began delegating the few projects I receive on my personal editing website and copywriting website to others (I'd provide the links but I have a few valid reasons why I want to keep my identity semi-hidden...at least for now). This looks like it will net me a little over $200 in relatively passive income this month. This is $200 less a month than if I were to do all the work myself ($2500-$200 from contractors' cut= $2300), but the time it saves will allow me to focus on other projects and/or marketing my personal websites to get more clients.
If affiliate sales on My Latin Life keep pace, that will equal a total of $500 in passive income each month ($200 + $300).
($2300 + $300 from My Latin Life = $2600) equals $2100 trading time for money vs. $500 passive income.
If $2600 doesn't sound like much, you're right.
I'm nowhere close to where I want to be in terms of income.
But I currently only work at my 'jobs' (i.e editing/proofreading) for about 25 hours a week.
So... 2300/4 weeks/25 hours = $23 an hour.
Still, not great. But not bad for only having been at this for a couple of years.
The most important thing I've learned about making money online is that it takes a lot of time and effort. It's taken me over two years to earn less than I was earning when I worked in a comfortable office.
But I'm 100 times happier now.
As you may have guessed, I don't want to live like this forever. I'm well aware of the fact that I'm still a wage-slave. Only difference being that now I have a home office, and I've managed to arranged things so that I can work as little as I want.
A location-independent wage slave.
The next step for me is passive income and recurring revenue streams. I have some (albeit, rudimentary) copywriting knowledge and experience, so I've recently begun experimenting with affiliate marketing through niche sites.
I haven't made any money from them yet - I literally started 48 hours ago - but if the niche sites I'm testing prove to be a success, I have plans to either create my own product or a subscription-based platform.
I'm also working hard to grow and scale my small editing and copywriting businesses. Unfortunately, it's not going as smoothly as I'd hoped.
I didn't want to write this post.
It doesn't make me look very successful.
But it serves two main points
1) To explain that people who make money online aren't all rich and living glamorous lives in tropical paradises.
2) To demonstrate that ANYONE can make at least a bit of money online if they want it enough.
I didn't have any real skills.
I didn't have any experience.
I still hardly know how to use the Internet.
But I managed to do it.
Was it glamorous?
I'll tell you a little secret.
Most of these "internet entrepreneurs" that blog online are living on a beach in Asia and making less than $1000 a month.
They think they're free because they don't work in an office, but what kind of freedom is it if you can't relocate anywhere the yearly cost of living exceeds $12,000?
Although I make slightly more than that, I know I still fall into this camp.
I hate to admit that.
I hate to admit that I can't yet afford to live in Western Europe, or a major American city.
But that's the very thing that motivates me to earn more.
Point is, we all have to start somewhere. If you want to embark on the path to location independence, you won't be making 5 figures a month right away unless you're in an extreme minority.
But don't fall into the trap of settling as soon as you make enough to cover beer and rent.
Or else you'll end up being a slave to yourself.
Until next time,