Well, I think it’s about time for another extended break from Hobopoet
I feel I’ve done what I set out to do, and have said everything I needed to say. For now, everything is already right here… and on the old archives: my whole journey to financial freedom, self-reliance, travel, simplicity. So, that’s it for a while. Read the old archives, and the archives here, to learn all the strategies I tried and used… and how they turned out.
I may be back after another long stint… or maybe not.
Until then, continue your reading at:
How The World Works
The Journey From Wage Slavery To Freedom:
Continued Travels, Projects, Portable Empire Building, Etc.- Articles at:
My Friend Todd’s Journey To Freedom
Good luck to you! I hope you too will find freedom, self-reliance, voluntary simplicity, and all the rewards of travel and lifelong learning…..
Here are some videos from Pittsburgh, where martial law is in effect for the G20 meeting. Good examples of the “land of the free” and Obama’s “change”:
Protester abducted by police and national guard:
Another arrest by guys who look like sci-fi stormtroopers from a movie:
Watch as they grab and beat a girl near the end of this video… “Hope” and “Change” indeed:
Clearly Obama’s “change” looks a whole lot like Bush’s America: martial law, secret courts, killing Afghans and Iraqis, complete destruction of the constitution, massive cash giveaways to Wall Street (from the pockets of regular Americans through taxes and debt), renewal of the “patriot act”, military bases in Colombia, etc… How people can be so blind to all of this is beyond me– but I suppose it has something to do with being TV drones. The Brave New World is here
I’m full into the planning stage for our upcoming “tour” of Asia this Winter.
This year’s version of the “portable empire” will be focused on CONNECTION. Frankly, I’ve had enough of backpacking and tourism. Seeing the sights just doesn’t hold much interest to me anymore… nor does seeking out the most remote, or most weird, or most pseudo-“authentic” tourist experience.
Since living for 2 years in Thailand, I just don’t get much of a thrill from tourism any more. I prefer the deeper experience of actually participating with and connecting with people…. not as a gawker, but on level ground.
And I have found that my business is a great vehicle for facilitating this. It gives me tremendous opportunities to meet people, contribute something, work/play together with others, have a great time,… and develop long term (and short term) connections.
Last year, I didnt maximize those opportunities. This year I will.
First, I’m planning a series of Workshops in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. My goal is to connect with fun, cool, passionate people… and give them a great learning experience. We’ll also be doing a big 2-Day Seminar in Bangkok… (and maybe one in Seoul too).
In addition to that, I’m planning to host parties for my members in each of the above countries. I already know a lot of them from our online forums,.. and am happy to be able to meet them face to face. This has been one of the great blessings of my business– connections and friends all over the world (truly great people– full of enthusiasm).
This year, I’m finally going to form an official Thai company too…. to make my partial expat life a more convenient and formal reality.
And of course, I’ll be connecting with my Hobopoet tribe too. Kristin and Joe and Wat are all going “on tour” too. And we’ll all be visiting Todd on Koh Phayam to see how his bungalows are going.
I may check out Phuket again too.
Tonight I talked to my friend Wat, and he is thinking of making Phuket his “home base” when in Thailand. I told him of my extremely negative view of Phuket… but he assured me that large parts of it are fantastic… just need to escape the tourist zones. So I MAY give Phuket a second look and let him try to convince me that it’s something other than a tourist hell-hole full of extremely rude tourists and extremely shitty food! (Though Pattaya still claims the honor of being the place I despise most in Thailand)…!
Another part of the tour I’m looking forward to is a return to Seoul. Seoul was the first place I ever lived abroad. In fact, I had a terrible experience because my job was terrible and the school I worked for was sleazy… and I was super stressed the entire time I was there.
So it will be interesting to return 12 years later, under happier circumstances… and see what my experience is like.
The trip will end in Japan… another place that I love and feel quite comfortable in. This year, a visit to an onsen is definitely near the top of my list. Kristin and Joe may be coming to Japan too… and I’m determined that they experience the sublime decadent comfort of a Japanese hot spring spa! Of course we’ll also spend time in Kyoto (I want to explore there more too… I feel I’ve never had a good amount of time to spend there)… and Osaka, where we’ll be based. My wife is from Osaka, so we’ll visit her family and friends too.
An interesting effect of doing this every year is that it’s becoming really hard for me to say where “home” is. As cliche as it sounds, I really am starting to feel like a “citizen of the world”… or at least a “citizen of the Pacific Rim”!! I finally feel at home in San Francisco (the toughest adjustment),… and Thailand is absolutely my second home. But I’m starting to feel quite at home in Singapore, KL, and Osaka too.
This epitomizes the Hobopoet ideal to me… truly feeling at home wherever one is…. knowing that home is within your own body, mind, and emotions… and the connections you have with people everywhere.
It was one thing, in the past, to talk about this and strive for it.
Having reached it, it feels much more peaceful than I imagined.
I like it
One of my favorite quotes comes from Zig Ziglar.
In my opinion, Zig’s quote is the key to success in business, the key to wealth, and the key to great abundance.
Here’s the quote: “You can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough people get what they want”. In other words, the key to successful business is service– true service.
And by service, I’m not talking about “customer service”… though that is nice. Here I am talking about a much deeper meaning of the word.
I mean that the key to your success is to truly help and serve other people, with heart. That is always my goal with Effortless English. My goal is not just to teach English… but to help my members be happier and more successful in their lives. English is part of that… but only part.
This is the mindset you must adopt with your micro-business. This is what I mean when I say “find the pain” in your customers lives and solve it.
You can do this with any kind of business. Whatever it is you do… really think deeply about what causes frustration, difficulty, or pain. Think in your own life… what are the things that are really frustrating you?
Well, why not dedicate all of your energy, intelligence, and resources to solving that frustration? Why not read every book on the subject you can find? Why not try every strategy? Why not find others who have solved this frustration… and find out what they did, how they thought, what beliefs they adopted in order to solve the problem?
Create and find your own combination of solutions… and improve the solutions you find…
…. and there’s your business. Make a book + audio with your story and then your detailed strategy and methods for solving that terrible frustration. Help others. Serve them.
This is what I did as an English teacher. My frustration was my inability to help my students. Their lack of progress, their boredom, and their frustration pained me. So I set out looking for a solution to this pain. I read tons of books and met and watched teachers…. and went back to school… and read the research…. and experimented with countless teaching methods in my class. And eventually I found solutions. I solved my pain and frustration by solving my students pain and frustration… I learned how to help them. I learned how to serve them. I learned how to guide them towards success, confidence, progress, improvement, fluency.
If there’s any ONE key…. that’s it. You’ll eventually learn the rest: marketing, websites, etc…
Your first concern must always be true heartfelt effective service.
In a previous post, I promised to discuss the vital topic of promotions re: your new micro web business.
This area is probably the most neglected aspect of most people’s micro web businesses. A lot of people seem to think that just having a cool website is enough. It’s not.
Hobopoet is the perfect example. Why does Hobopoet get almost no traffic, but my English teaching site gets tons of traffic? The main difference is promotion. I promote my English site like crazy. I have never done any kind of promotion for Hobopoet… and so it toils away in obscurity (sniff… 😉
So, once you have a simple blog website… and a product/service that ads real value and eases the pain or frustration of a group of people… how do you get people to your site and how do you get them to try your wonderful solution to their problem?
Here are some strategies:
1. Social Media
Advantages: Free Disadvantages: Slow and Tricky
The cheapest way to promote your web business is through social media, especially Facebook. I recommend a triangle of sites: Your Blog/Site, Facebook, and Twitter.
With Facebook, first signup for a personal account. Then create a business Fan Page. Fan Pages have no limit to the number of friends (“fans”) they can have.
The tricky part of social media is how to use it. Here’s a very important suggestion: NEVER sell anything on your social media sites. Perry Belcher gives great advice when he says, “Think of Facebook as a barbecue party, not a sales pitch”. Facebook is basically an online scrapbook. So… add photos to your page (trickle them in one by one… only one a day). Make little videos for your Facebook page in which you discuss your daily life. Be friendly and fun, just as you would at a barbecue party at your home. Facebook is about showing people that you are a real person, not some kind of business automaton.
As for Twitter, think of it as a cocktail party (another Perry Belcher suggestion). Your goal at Twitter is to provide little charming, interesting, or useful nuggets… with links to something more in-depth. Again, absolutely NO SELLING. Just link to cool articles, or funny videos, or your Facebook photos.
So, how does all this help your micro web business? Well…. sometimes you will write a really cool and useful article on your blog/site… and you will link to it from Facebook and Twitter. Below this article, you will have an email signup form, so if people like the article they can signup to receive more great information from you You can do the same thing with videos.
2. Results In Advance Videos
The central strategy in all my promotions is what Frank Kern calls “Results In Advance”. To my mind, this is the most honest and open way to promote your website (and also the most powerful).
In a Results In Advance promotion, you do just what that suggests… you deliver some of your best content & solutions for free. You give it away. For example, on my Effortless English site, I constantly give away great audio and video lessons, and also motivational videos and articles.
You must have an abundance mentality to do this.
Why is this effective? Well, you don’t need to do a lot of selling or BS. You just say, here’s a great solution to your problem that I’m going to give you for free. Enjoy it! Later, you give them another great solution to their problem, for free. Because you are doing something valuable, you gain people’s trust and gratitude– by being a great person who is helping them.
One easy way to do this is to make a series of FAQ videos. In each video, you answer one of the frequently asked questions about their problem and you give a short and easy solution.
Then you offer your full and complete package with even more great solutions… and many people are happy to buy it because they already know you and trust you.
You didn’t trick them into trust… you earned it by giving them Results In Advance!
Google adwords sucks… let me say that up front. Google has complete and utter contempt for their advertisers… so you must be careful when starting an adwords campaign.
That said, this is also the fastest and easiest way to get traffic to your site. Before you start a campaign, read lots of books about Adwords.
And then… VERY IMPORTANT… start with a TINY daily budget. I recommend $1 a day.
Send people from your ad to a page where they can sign up for your free video or email course (your Results In Advance course).
Then wait a while and see– are you making more from sales than you are spending on adwords? If yes, increase your daily budget to $2 a day. If no, adjust your ads, adjust your email signup page.
At $2 a day you wait again, until you are sure you are making more from sales than you are spending. Then you increase your daily budget to $3 day.
You get the idea. Increase your daily budget slowly and gradually… and NEVER lose money on adwords. If you start losing money, immediately pause all ads…. change your ads or email signup page or results in advance campaign… drop your budget low again… and start again.
4. Learn From The Masters
Keith Cunningham says, “Your business will never grow faster than your learning”. If you want financial freedom, you must learn. I recommend that you study the best. You can do this for free. On Twitter, follow people like Frank Kern, John Reece, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, and Perry Belcher. Notice how they are using Twitter for their business. Watch their Results In Advance videos. Read their Results In Advance reports. You’ll learn a lot just from their great free content (without ever buying anything from them). Also, get on their email lists… and again notice how they promote their own businesses with Results In Advance campaigns.
By using these strategies, you can build a successful micro web business. And when you combine that with a simple life with reduced expenses… you will very quickly attain financial freedom.
The above is the exact approach I will take with my good friend Todd’s web business. By living in Thailand (especially small town Thailand), he has already massively reduced his living expenses (but still enjoying an amazing quality of life).
Next, he will start blogging and making videos to chronicle his progress as he builds his bungalows. We’ll get him on Facebook and Twitter too… to start building an audience.
When I get to Thailand in December, he and I will then make a product that is valuable and which solves some kind of pain (related to Thai language, or traveling in Thailand,…).
Then we’ll follow the above strategies– and give away some of his best content.
Finally we’ll sell his full package of great solutions to very happy and eager people.
And through this process, Todd will gain financial freedom… and the ability to live and travel as he wants, whenever he wants.
He’ll do it by living his dream and by contributing to people and helping them with a painful or frustrating problem.
You can do this too!
Todd sent an email from Taipei airport– excited to be Koh Phayam bound! More importantly, he’s excited to be living his dream of building bungalows on the beach on Koh Phayam. With a small budget to start with, his initial plans are simple.. build a few very rustic and simple bungalows on the beach. That will be the start of his business and his dream.
As that becomes successful, he wants to continually improve. His ultimate dream is to create a health, detox, cleansing and rejuvenation center on his beach-side land on Koh Phayam. This will be a place people go to escape the complexity, stress, and toxicity of modern life…. a place to be quiet, relaxed and close to nature.
I’m very excited for Todd and his dream. And of course, I’ll be one of his first customers!
Follow Todd’s adventures and progress on his Koh Phayam Bungalows blog at: http://payamthailandbungalows.com
I am now truly wealthy. Does that mean I’m a billionaire like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet? No!
But it does mean that I have abundance in my life. First and foremost, I now have an abundance of health and energy. Since the Life Mastery health seminar (and cleanse) I have felt fantastic… better than I’ve ever felt in my life. I feel like I’m getting younger,… reverse aging. It feels great!
The key to sustaining and building this health and energy is this: since the cleanse and fast, I have been on a 90% raw vegan diet. No more crap: no more processed junk, no more coffee, no more refined sugar. I finally realized that health is not something that responds to half-assed measures. Either you go all the way and get this incredible vitality, or you half-ass it and miss out on an extraordinary life.
Health (and that means vital energy) is the truest measure of wealth. It sounds like a cliche, but now that I’m living it I want to shout from the rooftops in gratitude every day. I feel I have my life back.
When you have health, everything else becomes so much easier.
Which brings me to the other keys to my feeling of great abundance. For the past 3 years, I’ve been fairly obsessed with, and stressed by, my new business. It wasn’t always easy. And this year, as it grew like crazy, I found myself becoming a workaholic… which is contrary to my nature in the extreme! Even more sad, because I have a web business I found myself sitting alone in front of a computer day after day after day… getting stressed out by various nitpicky details and technical glitches.
I broke this pattern as a result of another seminar… a business mastermind group I joined called “Empire Group”. Such an incredible and open-hearted group of people. At our first meeting, I told them of my isolation, stress, and frustration… and they very nicely kicked my ass– and gave me the resources and recommendations I needed to change. Practically the major thing that happened is that I hired two assistants. And suddenly, my life is back! I’m spending lots more time with my friends. And work is now play again because I’m re-focused on the vision and dream and inspiration and fun.
What’s the takeaway message I get from these two transformations? Well, what I notice is that both came about as a result of a strong dedication for continued learning and growth. I could have spent my new extra income on a fast car, or a big mega-mansion. Instead I chose learning.. books, CDs, video courses, and seminars. And these have enriched my life far more than any gadget or status symbol could.
Whatever you have, whenever you can… always invest in your own personal development first. I have found the rewards to be unimaginably huge!
Todd is flying to Thailand, and eventually Koh Phayam, tonight. We said goodbye to him at the airport. You can watch the little video we just made at the airport: watch here.
What’s really cool about all of this is that we will document another Hobopoet success story in real time. My old archives (http://hobopoet.blogspot.com) and this site already provide the fully documented process of my path to freedom and self-reliance (from wage slave, to car and van living, to living abroad in Thailand, do scraping by in San Francisco, to micro-preneur, to successful and free entrepreneur).
Now we’re documenting Todd’s path to freedom… starting now as he flies off to Thailand… and continuing as he builds his bungalows, builds his web presence, and fulfills his dream of living a free, simple, healthy, and happy life on tropical Koh Phayam island in Thailand.
The reason this blog excites me is that YOU can see what’s possible… not in theory but in reality. You get to see the whole process… with all the bumps and warts and challenges…. and the victories. I want you to see that freedom, self-reliance, simplicity, and happiness are possible… without following the mainstream programmed path.
So I hope you’ll follow Todd’s adventures in Thailand, both here at Hobopoet and on his new blog.
And I hope you’ll see that my essays and exhortations are not just grand ideas and theories… but hard-nosed reality-based blueprints for anyone to follow.
Most of all, I hope you’ll find your own path to freedom and abundance!
Good luck to you too!
What do you need to run a very solid micro web business? Here are the basic tools I recommend:
1. A Blog
Free blog services include Blogger and WordPress. Or buy a domain name, host it, and in your CPanel dashboard choose “Fantastico”. Then upload WordPress to your hosted site. This is what runs Hobopoet and my business blog. I recommend HostGator.com for hosting.
2. A Flip Camera
These are beyond cool, and super-simple to use. You can get a standard one for about $129. You’ll use this to shoot your teaching and promotional videos.
3. A YouTube Account
Host all your videos in your YouTube account, for free. Since they own it, Google is friendly to YouTube hosted vids. Just keep your videos under 10 minutes each.
4. An Email Auto Service
When people come to your site, you’ll want to give them the option of joining your email course or newsletter. By using an email auto-service… people who join will automatically get a series of emails from you (in addition to any broadcasts you want to do). I recommend AWeber.com as the best one to start with. 1ShoppingCart also provides this, but is less intuitive in my opinion.
5. A Digital File/Product Delivery System
When you start, I recommend selling a digital product (pdf booklets, audio, &/or video). Yes, there are ways to automate delivery of physical products, but its a more complex (and expensive) process. If you’re new to this, start with digital. I recommend either E-Junkie.com or 1ShoppingCart.com If you’ll be doing audio or video, use E-Junkie, because 1ShoppingCart has a small file size limit.
6. A PayPal Account (or Google Checkout)
You’ll need a way to process credit card orders. The easiest way to start is with PayPal or Google Checkout or both. Both of these will integrate with your Delivery System (number 5. above) to ensure automated processing and delivery to your happy customers
7. A Product That Adds Real Value
Forget the advice of some “internet marketing gurus” about making cheap crappy products. That’s not a sustainable way to live… and it’s bad karma too. Instead, “find the pain” in your customer’s market. In other words, what problems are really causing your prospective customers pain, frustration, and/or difficulty. Solve one of those problems, then create a product (text, audio, and/or video) that TEACHES THEM how to solve the problem. They will LOVE you and you’ll feel good too… knowing you are contributing and helping people.
And you don’t need to be the number 1 super-expert in your field (though that may come with time)… you just need to genuinely solve a real problem that causes frustration and pain… and teach other people how to solve it too.
Tools: Use Audacity (PC) or Garageband (Apple) to record Audio. Adobe Acrobat or Apple Pages can create .pdf files from documents. Use your flip camera to make videos.
8. A Promotion Campaign
This one is vital… and often forgotten. For some reason, a lot of people think that a cool website is all that’s necessary… but as this very Hobopoet website shows… without promotion there is rarely an audience.
How to promote your site? Google Adwords ads are the simplest but also most dangerous method. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can lose money quickly…. so read lots of books about this before doing an Adwords campaign. Also, start with a tiny daily budget until you test and prove that you’re making more than you’re spending.
Another way to promote your site… slowly but sustainably… is through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Open a Facebook Pages account for your business (ie. a “fan page”). Then just chat and add pictures and link to videos and articles on your blog. DO NOT TRY TO SELL ANYTHING ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE (same goes for Twitter). You’ll only annoy people.
I’ll do more posts about promotion in the future, since it’s an important topic.
And that’s it….
Todd The Guinea Pig
The above system is, in fact, exactly what I’m setting up for my good friend Todd.
Todd is absolutely NOT tech savvy. He doesn’t understand any of the technical computer stuff…. and all of the above is new to him.
So I’m helping him slowly build a simple and direct micro web business.
We started yesterday with the first few pieces: a Blog, a Flip Camera, a PayPal account, and a Youtube account.
His first job is to do an ongoing video diary… chronicling his adventures as he builds a small bungalow business on a beach on Koh Phayam island in Thailand.
He’ll shoot short videos, post them to YouTube, then embed them on his blog. His goals now are very simple… become comfortable with the technology and process, have fun, and start building an audience.
Next Steps For Todd
When I arrive in Thailand this Winter, I’ll help Todd with the next steps. We’ll create a simple (but valuable) product. Then we’ll sign him up for the AWeber email service and put an email signup box on his blog.
And then we’ll get him started with a Facebook fan page and Twitter… to increase his audience building potential.
Towards the end of my trip, I’ll teach him more promotional methods…. until his email fan list is large enough to justify a launch of his product.
And then he’ll be on his way to financial (and temporal) freedom… especially because he’ll be living in Thailand where expenses are low.
More on Todd’s case study coming soon…..
I’m thinking of adding videos to Hobopoet.. especially during the upcoming Asia Tour.
I’ve been using video a lot with my business website and my members and fans love it. Of course, that website has ten thousand plus visitors a day, and this one is lucky to get 10!! So putting videos here may be a bit like talking to myself in the dark 😉
Nevertheless,… it might be a fun way to occasionally amuse friends and family who are back in the States… and you few crazy Hobopoets who actually visit this site!
My hope is that the videos would be a way to inspire some of you to travel more.
I know that I’m always inspired when I get photos or video clips from friends who are abroad. My good friend Kenny (Matt Salleh), who lives in Kuala Lumpur, is particularly good at inspiring me. He’s always sending pictures and descriptions of spicy South Asian food, lush jungles, and incredible adventures. Every time I get an email from him, my feet start to itch and I start dreaming of the road.
I hope to inspire the same feeling in you!
In the meantime, you can be inspired by my friend Todd… as he documents his Ko Payam Bungalows project. I’ll certainly be watching… with itchy feet!