Every three months I sit back and have a look at my business – and myself – and analyse where I’m going and what I’m doing.
I’m in a riverside cafe in Phnom Penh at the moment trying to get a visa for Thailand after being in Bangkok for a few days. This gives me a good excuse to catch up with one of Cambodia’s foremost bloggers and old friend, Santel Phin (above). My visa application was rejected but I’m reliably informed it’ll be OK in Laos, so tomorrow I’m flying to Vientiane.
That’s 4 cities in a few days. All this time, I’m Skyping with freelancers trying to move various projects forward, creating content, making money, etc., whilst I negotiate flights, hotels, taxis, etc. All great fun! But work, diet, meditation and exercise routines tend to fall by the wayside when life gets like this.
It feels funny talking about inheriting money on my blog. This is kind of personal. But, as I’ve always tried to be transparent about my business so it’s appropriate I should say why I’ll be less transparent from now on.
To do this properly, I’ll tell you a story. Over 10 years ago, I started a business and a marriage while I was working in London. The marriage is over but the business is still going strong. The business was doing the same sort of design work at home that I was doing at work.
As the years went by I started making more money from content than I did from design work and I started travelling. I was making $5000+ a month from just one platform alone. (It’s only $2000+ a month from that platform now but still enough to live off). And, of course, there’s been more income coming in from various sources.
Then two years ago my dad died. I always knew there was going to be some money coming however, now it’s here, it seems to have changed everything.
$1000 in a day
I have a friend in Chiang Mai, Christopher Lee, who does short- to medium-term currency trading. He was telling me about the latest trade copying technology which enables automatic trading. Chris keeps currency trading as usual (he’s been doing it for 10+ years), I copy his trades, and sit back and watch my brokerage account grow along with his. It’s 100% automatic and completely passive.
One day I made $1000. The same day I probably made $100 through all my hard work selling video courses, e-books and physical products on Amazon. I’d be stupid to ignore this.
All trading and investment entails the risk of loss. Don’t invest capital you can’t afford to lose.
This is another sudden change of direction of this blog. When I was blogging about content creation and passive income, I was saying: “do this, it’ll be good for your business”. Now I’m saying: “this is what I’m doing: you can follow me or not, it’s up to you!”
Silver, gold, trade copying and crypto-currencies
And, if that wasn’t enough, I have plans to experiment investing in various other ventures. Yes, I know this is a departure. Yes, I know this is irrelevant to many of my readers. And, yes, I know this could be a fantastically stupid thing to do.
Crypto-currencies have interested me for a while now. They are de-centralized digital assets that operate independently of a central bank. The most famous of these is Bitcoin.
As you can see from the graph above, you could have picked up a Bitcoin for next to nothing in early 2014 and sold it for $1000 later in the same year. You can also see some of its extreme price volatility as it lost over 75% of its value that year and then regained it during the following three years.
Despite some disagreement for the way forward for this crypto-currency, I believe it’s a good medium- to long-term investment. In fact, I bought 0.204 of a Bitcoin in September last year for $123.27, which now, six months later, is now worth $236.48.
Once invested into crypto-currencies, it’s incredibly cheap to exchange between them. Another crypto-currency (and the second most famous), Ethereum, is a good place to put your Bitcoin during this period of uncertainty.
Investing in Amazon FBA
I had profits sitting in my business anyway which I was about to invest into more products and brands on Amazon. I hope to speed this up going forward.
After an extremely rocky start to my Amazon FBA project, I suddenly realise my only product is making me a solid $1000/month. My second product is now live and I can hopefully get that to sell without making any of the horrendous errors I made with the first one.
I’m also starting a new product line and brand in a different category on Amazon.
I was trying to avoid getting hit by a car in front of Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh in the above photo.
Merch by Amazon – why MBA could be the new FBA
The latest buzzwords in make money online circles are “Merch” or POD. This is Amazon joining the Print On Demand (POD) / Merchanizing gravy train. At the moment this means you can upload a design and, if someone buys it, Amazon will print your design on a t-shirt and deliver it to the customer, and pay you a royalty.
I was alerted to this opportunity by my friend Lisa Irby of 2createawebsite.com. Because of my experience on the Amazon platform as well as my design background, Lisa thought that Merch would be ideal for me. (Isn’t it amazing to have entrepreneurial buddies like that?) I was delighted that my application at merch.amazon.com was accepted in a matter of days rather than months as it is for some people.
I’ve dived (or do Americans say “dove”?) into this with both feet, uploading designs not only on Amazon but also on Sunfrog, Redbubble, Zazzle, Cafepress, Teespring, Spreadshirt, and Teepuplic. That’s in order of importance. I have also set up a Printful integration with Amazon meaning I can upload multiple designs to more products, not just t-shirts, than my little “Tier 10” Merch account will let me.
Bear in mind this is Amazon, bear in mind they have only started Merch with t-shirts in the US, bear in mind that you have no inventory or transportation costs, and bear in mind that people are already reporting huge profits with this venture … and you can see the potential in this opportunity.
So far there’s no great successes to report. In fact, there’s zero success to report. However I will, as always, keep you posted.
After making videos on my YouTube channel and blogging, making video courses was a natural progression for me.
This year, after I’d cleaned up a horrendous hack on my old membership site, I launched my new self-publishing course to my audience.
I was pleased with the way the launch went. I sent out three emails (you can see them as three spikes in the above graph). I was able to sell the course for $47 as a 50% reduction on the $99 list price. (I love Teachable.)
So I made $2500+ from the launch on my site added to $2000 from the launch on Udemy.
Great. I can make 10 video courses a year and live off that. Only I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be the guy that makes money from video courses. I especially don’t want to be the guy that makes money online from telling people how to make money online. I don’t wanna be that guy.
The end of another business report
So, I began this report in edgy Phnom Penh, I’m now in sleepy Vientiane. Tomorrow, I’ll hopefully be back in Chiang Mai with my passport adorned with a visa that will let me stay in Thailand for another year.
I love this part of the world. And I hope to continue to grow my business and make money while I’m out here so that I can help more people. I’m not going to publish my philanthropic contributions – that’s as dead as my income reports. But I am involved with at least three non-profit organisations working in the region. And I’m looking to set up a mechanism to pass my profits onto them way into the future. If you have any comments or questions about this or any of the above please make them down below.