Well, it’s official. Tickets are booked, and Tess, Luke and I are selling our stuff (again) and heading off into the wild blue yonder. Much to the dismay of our families of course, as we are taking their only grandson away from them with no return ticket in sight.
The reality is, Tess and I have been going a bit insane living in the “burbs” back in Australia. Often rated as the country with the highest cost of living in the world, the value for dollar here is terrible when compared with just about every other country. It’s not that we don’t like Australia, but it’s a big world out there. We believe that by moving, we can not get back to living our dream, but also get more inspired to advance our businesses. It’s also far easier to get our time back overseas than in Australia. When we lived in Bangkok, we didn’t have to grocery shop, cook or clean, and coming back to Oz has shown us just how much time those things take out of your week. When your income doesn’t require you to be in any particular country, why would you stay somewhere that is holding you back in every possible way? I’d rather have my cake and eat it too thanks very much.
Good question! We have to go to Hong Kong initially to finish opening up a company and bank account there, but that is the only “required” part of our travels. We’re going to duck over to Macau as well to check it out (I’m a sucker for Portuguese egg tarts…). After that, we’re going to head to Chiang Mai. We have had not one but two lots of good friends convince us to go there as they are headed there at the same time. To be honest, we didn’t take too much convincing, and we’ll probably hang out there for a few months. After that, who knows? Maybe Japan? Maybe Taiwan? Tess just found out that they are opening a new Disneyland in Shanghai this year, so she’s pretty excited about the prospect of going there (Toy Story Hotel anyone?).
From a business perspective, we’re very excited about the idea of getting back on the move. Our best ever leaps forward in our businesses happened while we were overseas. There’s just so many benefits. You get more time back, and have less cashflow pressure (especially if you are in the early days of growing your business). Our biggest challenge is more likely to come from a rather strong willed one year old boy. We are very glad our business has grown without us over the past year, as he has been a handful! Travelling with him will no doubt present more challenges than if we continued to live back in Australia, but we want him to grow up around the world, so it’s a challenge we’re determined to take on.
Back In Business
Not having much sleep over the last year or so has definitely affected our business goals. While we’re very happy about our business growing without us being actively involved, we have missed building businesses, and do want to take ours to the next level. For a couple of months we’ll be more involved in selling up and getting into the groove of being “locationally flexible” again, but once we’re in Chiang Mai, we want to get back into business.
What Will That Look Like?
We’ve been getting a lot more into social media this year with ROI at the top of our list. Our white-hat SEO is 99% automated now, so we’ve started running some Facebook Ads with a wide variety of different copy, images, demographics and interests. As per usual, most of them have been an utter fail – except for one. Much like our SEO experiments of 2013, this seems to be the way business has worked best for us. Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall until something clicks, then try to analyze that (with imperfect information), and try to replicate it.
Tess has also been going mad with Instagram, and while we’re starting to see some conversions, we think (like all social media) it’s gong to be a slow burn. SEO is such “hot” traffic, it’s time for us to learn how to deal with “warm” traffic, connect with them, and then convert them later (sometimes MUCH later) down the track.
It’s also becoming clearer which of our niches have the ability to truly scale to another level, and which ones will just tick along as little earners on the side. This has led us to start prioritising our marketing a lot more. For example, if we get a post on a high DA blog somewhere that is only happy to give us one backlink, we naturally give it to our highest priority site. If they’re happy to give us five links however, then we are happy to give each of our top five sites a link. This results in our highest earning sites getting stronger and stronger, while our “lesser” sites still get the occasional bit of love.
Tess tends to fall in love with all of our niches, but our top site had a record week earlier this year, and when I told her that our top site made as much in one week than what some of our other sites make in a year, that helped me push my case a little further.
We are definitely getting back to thinking on a more international level with our top two niches. There are a large number of challenges that are associated with doing this, but from our perspective, it makes the most sense. Instagram for example is sending us traffic from all over the world, and when we get an article posted somewhere for SEO purposes, we usually (100% so far) find that they’re happy to link to our international sites as well. This means that ranking our international sites is not costing us any extra money.
Because we operate with high profit margin products, we are still able to offer fairly fast shipping internationally without charging the customer exorbitantly. We’ll still have a tougher time of it to convert than local competitors (we can’t offer overnight shipping or fast, local returns/exchanges yet for example), but if we can get enough traction with traffic (either SEO or social), then that will give us more reason to setup warehousing overseas. Hopefully we’ll be able to find more flexible fulfillment centres by then, but that’s a challenge for another day.