The last time I planned out my future, I left my corporate job, became a yoga teacher and personal trainer, created products that I sell through my website, opened my own training studio, and many other things that I’ve documented on this blog. I detailed exactly how I wanted my future to look, and I went there.
Needless to say, my life has changed drastically since I made the decision to follow through with the changes that would lead me to feeling more fulfilled and satisfied. Today, I like who I am and what I do. I’m relatively happy with my life. So, I have to ask myself “what’s next?” I could easily continue to do what I’m currently doing. After all, aren’t we supposed to find what it is that makes us happy and build a life around that?
There’s a dialogue that I give in my yoga classes when I’m teaching a particularly challenging pose. When I see looks of resignation or frustration, I talk about how the outcome of the pose is not really the point, and not to be too concerned with the final product. Rather it’s the journey that is the heart of the yoga practice. The effort put into achieving the pose is the point, and that effort is relative to each person. That journey on the mat is a metaphor for the journey of your life.
You can spend a lot of time and effort learning to master a pose, and once you do, it’s not like you arrive and say “I know yoga now!” There is always something else. There’s something else to unlock, or a deeper variation of the pose. You never really arrive at a destination. There’s no point in life, at least as far as I’ve experienced, where you sit back and think “This is it!”
It’s time for me to make a new plan because I should, and I must. There is something else for me to do.
My new plan incorporates what I’ve spent the past 5 years becoming, but it’s also going to take me to a place I’ve never been. Just like before, I’m going to set the bar so high that it seems impossible. I want to scare the shit out of myself, and inspire other people. What I’m about to detail here might sound insane to some people, but it’s what I want to do for myself. Only I walk in my shoes, and naysayers and critics be damned. There is no single way that anyone is supposed to live their life. The world is not white and black, but many shades, and our futures are an open canvas waiting to be painted.
This is likely to change my life so drastically, that I’m only planning 2 years into the future, because 5 years out is unfathomable at the moment.
The 2 Year Plan
Within 2 years time, I intend to become a Digital Nomad…
A Digital Nomad.
Huh? What’s a Digital Nomad?
A Digital Nomad is someone who makes enough income online that they are no longer tied to a location by their work. Believe it or not, there are thousands of people who are living as expats around the world whose only requirement for work is that they have access to an internet connection. Bloggers, IT professionals, web developers, eCommerce entrepreneurs, and all types of people are living amazing lifestyles in this way.
Some of these people are absolutely killing it, and making tons of money. However, the best part of being a Digital Nomad is that when you are location independent, you can live where the cost of living is extremely cheap. When you don’t have an office or location of work where you need to be, all kinds of possibilities open up for your lifestyle.
Destination Southeast Asia
I plan to start this adventure in Thailand. Sometime in 2016 I will sell everything that I own, and go to Thailand, which I will use as a “home base” while I travel all over Southeast Asia: Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and The Philippines.
The average monthly salary of a Thai at the time of this post is equivalent to roughly $438. My goal with my online businesses is to earn at least $2,000 per month. That doesn’t sound like enough to live on in the United States, but that is over four times what the average Thai makes.
To put it into perspective, the median income in the US is $4,325 per month, or $51,900 per year. If you were to make four times what the average American makes, you would be pulling in $207,600 per year. Needless to say, you can live very comfortably on that much money. That’s roughly what making $2,000 per month while living in Thailand would be like.
Worst case scenario, I end up living on a very small income much like the majority of people on this planet. Best case scenario, I live a lifestyle that a yoga teacher could never dream of in the US. In case you haven’t noticed, the middle class is disappearing here!
For the past couple of years, I’ve been really intrigued with the thought of living as an expat. I’ve come across a lot of blogs, YouTube videos, and information that show Thailand to be friendly to expats. It’s fairly modernized, and has relatively good internet access. There are currently estimated to be a million foreigners living in Thailand.
I have an interest in having an experience that a 10 day vacation could never deliver. I would like an experience that enables me to view the world from outside the US rat race.
There are plenty of things that I could fault the US as reasons for wanting to live elsewhere. Right now I have no intention of talking about the flaws of my home country. At this time I prefer to use positive reasons for why I would want to move away. The world is small enough that we can be anywhere within 24 hours, but big enough so that different perspective and ways of doing things are valid, and I want to experience that.
I know that some of you are going to suggest that I spend some time there before making such a drastic move. That’s just not possible. Teaching yoga is my main source of income right now, and dropping everything to fly to Thailand for a few weeks is not within my budget. In reality, I don’t believe for a moment that spending a couple of weeks anywhere is enough to get a feel for what living there would be like.
Diving in head first sounds more like an adventure worthy to tell!
I intend to sell everything I own except for one backpack, and one box to be mailed at a later time. I will have a year’s worth of savings in addition to the money that I receive from selling everything. I also have a year between now and then to build my online businesses.
I anticipate that I will be able to live and travel comfortably for an entire year with the money that I’ll have. In addition to that, I have the year between my departure, and the year that I am there to build my online revenue in order to make this permanently sustainable.
I don’t have any children or mortgage (both by design). Those things have never been my American dream, and forgoing them has opened up a level of freedom for myself that I want to take advantage of in a big way.
My Online Income Streams
I’m already making a little bit of money online, but not currently enough to live on, and I’m not close to the minimum that I intend to make as I live abroad. My plan is to build on the multiple revenue streams listed below.
I love writing a blog. Not only is it a creative outlet for me, but it also brings in training clients, new yoga students, and gets my name out there well beyond Portland, where I currently live. I’m still going to be a yoga teacher and personal trainer, so there is more content to be created for JohnnyFit. Additionally, my new adventure deviates from the topic of fitness too much to get folded in here, so I’ll need to start another blog to accommodate this.
I have a lot more to say on the subject of fitness. I also plan on filming a lot more workouts, and continue to grow the membership of JohnnyFit Online Bootcamp & Yoga. One of the things I plan to do while I travel all over Southeast Asia is to film myself working out and doing yoga throughout the region. That should make for some beautiful backdrops for the yoga classes and other workouts that I’ll continue to add.
Fitness is such a huge part of what I do and who I am, that there will always be an angle for additional content on this blog.
I have a new blog called Expat Yogi, where I’m going to document the entire process of leaving my home country, travel, and how I’ll make my living from online income. For the most part, JohnnyFit will keep its current focus on fitness related topics. If you want to stay tuned to how I plan, organize, and ultimately wind up in another country, you should subscribe to the newsletter on my new blog at www.expatyogi.com.
My plan is to use Expat Yogi to provide a roadmap for other people who are interested in living an expat lifestyle. Also, once I arrive in Southeast Asia, I plan on visiting all of the best yoga studios and retreat centers in the region and blogging about them.
It’s sure to be an exciting adventure with lots of intrigue, and “I can’t believe that freaking happened!” stories to tell. You won’t want to miss any of it!
Here are all of the different methods of making money through my blogs that I’m either currently doing, expanding on, or about to do.
Membership Site – More people are joining JohnnyFit Online Bootcamp & Yoga every month. I’m going to continue to add new workouts and classes and grow the community there. This allows me to train people all over the world with the types of exercise that I like to do. I’m excited about the prospect of filming yoga classes, and TRX workouts with the backdrop of Southeast Asian jungles and beaches.
eBooks – I’m half-finished with my first eBook about kettlebell training, but I will also be releasing eBooks about travel, yoga, and quite a few other topics. One of the things I plan on doing once I arrive in Thailand is to find a relatively secluded island and write nonstop for about 3 months. Given the time, and the isolation, I hope to crank out several more eBooks. A typical eBook can sell on Amazon for $8.99.
I can reach my minimum goal of $2,000 per month by selling 222 copies a month. Let’s imagine that my eBooks are successful, and I sell 5,000 copies. That would bring in just under $45,000, and pay for nearly 2 years of my planned budget. I know that lots of people would like a blueprint for doing what I’m about to do. I’m going to write that blueprint and have a very successful book on my hands.
Online Personal Training – I have a 5-week personal training program called 5 Weeks of Strength and Wellness that I’m currently offering to clients around Portland. It’s a unique way of personal training that I can offer because of my specializations and experience. I’m working on turning this 5-week program into an online version that I can offer to anyone, anywhere. Please contact me if you would be interested in beta testing this program as I develop it.
The online version of this 5-week program is probably going to run $250. This is a good deal when you consider that I usually charge $75 per hour for my personal training services in person. I can reach my minimum goal of $2,000 per month by selling only 8 of these 5-week programs per month.
Affiliate Commissions – Most of the time when I link to a product that I’m talking about on this blog, I get a commission if you buy it after clicking on that link. I don’t link to products unless I fully support them. When more visitors come to my blog, the chances of those affiliate links being clicked and something purchased increases. Having a second blog about a popular subject (expat living as a yogi) will increase the total visitors that I receive.
My best month to date in affiliate commissions has only been $450. Some other bloggers do incredibly well with affiliate commissions and bring in tens of thousands of dollars per month. This is something that has a lot of room for growth, and I believe that I can do better.
Google AdSense – Google AdSense is similar to affiliate commissions in the sense that the more visitors you get to your blog, the more chances they click on Google Ads and generate revenue. I removed a lot of Google Ads from my blog once I launched my membership site, because I would rather have visitors consider signing up for that than click away to another product. However, I do still earn $20-$50 per month through Google AdSense, and this number is likely to increase with another blog and increased visits to both blogs and YouTube channels.
Brand Ambassadorship – Brands are always looking for popular bloggers to promote their products. Often times you receive free products for talking about them and promoting them. Depending on the brand, the product, the audience, and the blogger, different terms can be negotiated. I’ve received both products and money in the past by writing about products. I have a feeling that Expat Yogi is going to open up some more doors and create new relationships with brands who want to be exposed to my audience. I’m tremendously interested in growing this aspect of my blogging income. If you’re a brand and think that we might be a good fit, please reach out!
Reviews – I’ve accepted cash for reviews of products written by myself, and for reviews written by brands. I don’t do this very often, and indicate that it is a paid review when I post it. I need to feel that the products will resonate with my readers. I don’t see myself doing tons of these, but they are a way I’ve monetized in the past, and might do again in the future.
Freelance – Over the years that I’ve been writing this blog, and creating videos for my YouTube channel, I’ve become accomplished with video editing, Photoshop, and article writing. If I needed to supplement my other online earnings, then these are all skills that I could use through freelancing websites such as oDesk and Elance.
While any one of these methods above could be a means of earning the $2,000 minimum per month that I want to earn online, there will most likely be a combination of all of these methods. Reaching my minimum threshold is very doable, and it’s quite possible that when I turn to this full time, I can exceed my expectations and previous benchmarks.
In addition to my blogs, I have two other eCommerce websites that I am running using the Shopify and Storenvy platforms. I drive sales to these websites mainly with the use of Google AdWords as opposed to the content marketing I do for my blogs. Therefore, I have to take the costs of advertising into consideration before I can accurately calculate profit margins and determine how to meet my monthly minimum goals. I’m not going to say what the number of sales needs to be, but it’s not an extremely high number.
Downdog Apparel is an eCommerce yoga-inspired clothing website that my partner and I have created the designs for. If you’ve attended any of my yoga classes lately, you may have seen me wearing our designs. The t-shirts are competitively priced, and another great way for us to have a creative outlet that we can make money from. This is a great product because it ties in with both the JohnnyFit website, and Expat Yogi. You may have noticed that I am now advertising Downdog Apparel in my sidebars.
I have another eCommerce drop shipment site that I am building up, but at this time I am not going to disclose what it is. Unlike Downdog Apparel, it is unrelated to the topics of my blogs. I do not wish to disclose it because visitors who go to the website without any intention of buying something can affect my conversion rates, and skew the amount of money that I need to spend on advertising.
Both Downdog Apparel, and this other site are drop shipment websites, where a wholesaler handles all of the merchandise. I only need to use my websites to connect the wholesaler with customers, and all of the shipping, printing, and labor associated are done by them. A successful drop shipment website can bring in tens of thousands of dollars per month.
Other Sources of Income
Outside of the online methods of earning an income, I have the ability to earn money while abroad the good old fashioned way.
I’m really interested in teaching yoga while I am in Southeast Asia. Obtaining a work visa can be complicated, and I’m not yet exactly sure how this will work out. Yet, researching yoga studios in Thailand, I do see that many of the yoga teachers seem to be foreigners. I’ll discover the best way of obtaining this type of employment when I’m actually in country and can talk to these studios face to face.
Lastly, if all of my other methods fail (I don’t expect them to), I can always teach English. There is a large industry around teaching the English language. I have a bachelor’s degree, and I could obtain my English teaching certificate rather easily.
I suspect by combining all of these methods, that I will get by just fine. I’m a resourceful and competent person. In a way, I’ve been heading in the direction of this 2 year plan since I started blogging, and I am looking forward to the challenge, the adventure, and the opportunity to live outside the norm.
There are a lot of additional things such as taxes that I’ll need to look into. I do plan on studying Thai massage while there, and since I’ll be working for myself in a research, travel blog, and online entrepreneur capacity, I’m sure that many of my expenses may even be tax-deductible.
It’s Time For Action
If anything is conveyed by this 2 year plan, I hope that it’s this… If you want to do something amazing, or different from what you’re currently doing, then you need to make a plan and put it into action.
Amazing doesn’t randomly happen very often. More than not, amazing is a destination that is arrived at by many steps, actions, and processes. Within this 2 year plan, I’ve given a lot of thought to where I want to be in 2 years. It combines everything that I’ve been working on, and everything that I’ve become. I have a clear idea of how I can afford it, and know what I need to do for those pieces to fall into place.
In 2 year’s time, I will be location independent, in a tropical paradise on the other side of the planet, and living the life that I am today only dreaming of. Watch it all unfold by signing up to my newsletter over at the Expat Yogi. I hope that it spurs some ideas, and some action on your part! Please tell me about it in the comments below!