I arrived in Medellin, Colombia on November 13th.  Exactly 6 months later, on May 13th, I’m leaving Medellin.  Who knew it would work out like that.  I like sub-headings:

Europe

I’ve learned that Sweden is very much not South America.  People are tall, blond, and speak perfect English.  Everything is insanely expensive.  I don’t feel like I’m going to die when I cross the street.  The sun is up before 4am and sets well after 9pm.  Busses are very quiet and don’t roar by, spewing black smoke.  Someone has actually mistaken me for a local.  That happened zero times in South America.

I’m currently in Uppsala, Sweden visiting my little brother for the end of his study abroad year.  It actually worked out very well because he stays with his girlfriend most nights (who lives WAY closer to the school/town).  So I’ve basically taken over his dorm room.  It feels a little weird to be the random 26-year old guy cooking in the dorm kitchen.

I’m here a few more weeks and then off to Longyearbyen, Norway for a few days, then to Berlin!  I’ve got housing locked down for all of June, and during that time I’ll be looking for something more permanent.  I should be in Germany until it starts getting cold, and then I have no idea where I’m going after that.  There was some talk among friends about renting a killer pad in Bali for a month, and South Africa.  Or I could do my Spanish immersion experiment (see the Spanish sub-heading).

Writing

Over the last month, I have actually been inspired to write more.  The only problem is that the moments when I have lightbulb ideas, I’m never in a place where I can write that idea down and develop it.  (Bus going down a windy road, about to fall asleep, shower, out for a run, getting onto an airplane, out drinking with friends, etc.)  Also, a lot of these ideas are pretty obscure and trying to string them coherently into blog posts, articles, essays or even a novel would be a challenge for a moonlight writer like myself.  Lastly, a lot of these thoughts and ideas are too vague and meaningless without context.  Context that I don’t always wish to share.

I’ve been writing a lot more in my personal journal.  I’ve actually found journaling to be very therapeutic.  It’s very interesting that I’m embarrassed to put stuff in there when I know that I’m the only person who reads it.  Am I hiding stuff from myself?  Maybe I’m just embarrassed when I actually form these thoughts into words.  Strange.  It’s also great to be able to look back several years and see how I was feeling about something.  The brain has an incredible ability to “forget” how we felt about experiences.

I’ve actually had several moments where I’ve been inspired to write a story of some sort.  Every idea I’ve had would be a first-person narrative that parallels my own life with myself as the main character.  I feel like its a little ego-centric, but whatever, nobody is being forced to read it.  And every time I try to start anything, I type a few words out and delete everything.  This is repeated a few times until I re-decide that writing stories is not my thing.  I did spend a lot of time recently with an incredible writer, so maybe its just her rubbing off on me.  Maybe I’ll just start by writing for my private collection only.

Spanish

I burnt out in February and couldn’t shake it until I left South America.  I had a really crappy experience one day in Peru in February and since then, was too frustrated with myself to be excited about Spanish.  I think it was mainly due to the fact that I thought I should have been much better by then, and I was still struggling.  After leaving, I’m realizing that my Spanish isn’t that bad, and I was just being too hard on myself.  Also, I lived and spent most of my time with English speakers, so it’s no wonder that my Spanish didn’t improve much faster.

I’d really like to become fluent in Spanish, but I know that will never happen until I’m forced to use Spanish and only Spanish.  My plan is to live in a Spanish-speaking country for 3 months, but speak zero English.  I’ll be living with Spanish-only speakers and try to get involved in some sort of organization that does everything in Spanish.  It will take a bit of research to set this up.

Business

I’ve been bumming around as a backpacker for over 7 weeks straight now.  This is not conducive to business at all, however I’ve been able to stay afloat.  I’ve been getting more and more ideas and more excited about living in one spot for a significant amount of time so I can buckle down and start taking my business to where I really want it.

I’ve also been realizing which aspects of my business I enjoy.  I’ve found that I don’t enjoy the sales side of things.  I don’t enjoy squeezing every last dollar out of my site.  I much more enjoy the programming/development side of my business.  Setting up systems and creating a more user-friendly resource, etc.  Statistics.  Data.  Etc.  More to come on this in a later post when I can develop what I’m talking about a little further.

Pictures

So I have an awesome camera on my phone (Google Nexus 4) so I’ve been taking a lot more.  However now I’ve found out I’m terrible at organizing these photos after I’ve taken them.  So you just get one picture of Sweden for now (above).

 

Vote for me in the Flippie Awards!

I like winning.  Go to: http://blog.flippa.com/flippies/ – You DON’T have to sign up, register, connect with FB, whatever.  It just takes a few clicks.

Under the first category, my site was WebHamster.com

Under the second-to-last category, my site was StudyGuide.com

Thanks all!

 

One year ago I was dying to settle down somewhere.  I had become exhausted with bouncing around for months at a time with nowhere to call home.  I wanted to live in a house, drive a car, buy a motorcycle, and have hobbies.  I wanted to have a core group of friends, roommates, and was even willing to entertain the idea of possibly being in a relationship.

One year into this stability and I am itching for another adventure.  The only problem is that I didn’t realize how hard it would be to say goodbye to my life in Portland.  The final few weeks were truly an emotional roller coaster.  On one hand, I was excited to break free from my day-to-day and explore the world again.  Also, the rain had finally returned to Portland, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of another wet and dark winter.  On the other hand, it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to everyone who I had spent so much time with in Portland.

It has been less than a week and I still can’t think about everyone I miss in Portland without being overcome with anxiety.  While I’ll probably see everyone I want to see again sometime in the future, its so scary not knowing when that will be or if it will ever happen for sure.  I was in a relationship for several months before leaving.  Saying goodbye to her only added to the heart-wrenching departure.  With all the travelling I’ve done in the last few years, I’ve had to prematurely “pause” several relationships, both romantic and friendly.  Right now, I feel like I’m becoming burnt out from this lifestyle.  I’ll probably feel better once I settle down in Colombia, but at this moment, the goodbye’s are still very fresh in my memory.

On the bright side, the sense of adventure is starting to kick back in.  I just spent the weekend in Miami Beach, and I’m en route to Georgia.  Miami was fun, but that place is really not for me.  It was tolerable for the weekend, but the flashy club-scene of Miami Beach isn’t my style.  I did get to practice plenty of Spanish though!

My road trip will continue with visits to Savannah, South Carolina, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Austin and Dallas.  From there I’m headed straight to Medellin, Colombia to start my new life in Espanol.  Maybe I’ll do all future posts in Spanish from now on.  Who knows.  The adventure continues…

I’ll keep this updated with new stories, pictures and chronicles of my journey.  I’ve loaded up on entirely new gear for this trip, so I’ll be showcasing what items I’ve chosen to bring along this time.

 

Awesome travel backpack I saw at the store.  Complete with a flashlight and stuffed tiger.  Everything you need.  Almost bought it.

It’s been about 5 months since I’ve last posted about my travel plans.  At the time, I was thinking I’d head to South America at the end of September, maybe Bogota or Buenos Aeries, or both: Getting my Travel Mojo Back

I also posted about my 6-month plan for learning Spanish: How I am Going to Learn Spanish in 6 Months

First, I’ll talk about travel plans.

I’m very set on going to South America for 6 months, but I’m thinking of posting up in Medellin, Colombia or Mendoza, Argentina.  I was considering riding a motorcycle down, but that’s not happening.  Too much prep, and takes too long.  Also, my Spanish isn’t where I want it to be for an adventure like that.

I’m not going to leave until the first or second week in November.  I’ve got a tour through the Southern USA with my good friend John (who I traveled in Europe with) set up for the last two weeks in October.  We’re visiting: Miami, Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, (Mobile) and New Orleans.  After, I’m flying down to South America.

Still planning on doing 6 months in South America, but I’d like to do less backpacking, and more living.  My business is still not as automated as I want it, so I can imagine I’ll need a place with reliable internet to continue working on everything.  Of course I’ll still be doing some side trips around South America here and there as well.  My little brother is currently studying in Sweden until June of 2013, so I’m still planning on leaving South America in May and flying up to Sweden to hang out with him, and spend the summer somewhere around there (Europe).

I’ve switched my socks, underwear, workout shorts and workout shirts to wool.  I have nothing but good things to say about wool clothes, especially for traveling.  More about my travel gear in another post.

5-Month Spanish Progress Report

I’m not even close to fluent.  But I guess that was to be expected.  However, I’m much more comfortable in a conversation.  I understand a lot more than when I started, however I’ve still got A LOT to learn.

What I’ve learned through this process is that there is MUCH more to learning a language than just vocab and verb conjugations.  So many phrases don’t translate exactly.  Spanish is such a different way of speaking than English is.  The most helpful things (in order of most helpful) have been:

  1. My 4x/week Skype Spanish tutor.  I’ve found that having conversations with her is the best way to drive in all the vocab, conjugations and grammar that I’ve been learning.  Also, having a real, living tutor that I pre-paid for a bunch of lessons really forces me to follow through and continue having the lessons each and every day.  She holds me accountable!
  2. Weekly Spanish Meet-Ups.  There are two meetup groups that I go to each week here in Portland.  Both have people with varying levels of skill, but there is always someone much more fluent than I to help teach me.  Again, I’ve also found the best way to REALLY learn the language is to practice actually using it.
  3. Spanish flashcards.  I use the program “Memory Lifter” and created a bunch of custom cards.  Its insanely boring, but helps increase my vocab/verb tenses.  I definitely need to use the vocab in conversation to really remember it though.
  4. Watching Spanish TV/Movies.  Its tough because it’s sometimes really hard to follow.  It helps when there are subtitles/CC in Spanish as well.  This is something I do more just for fun and to get a little bit more practice.
  5. I didn’t switch my phone/computer to Spanish because it was too annoying.

I figure that my Spanish comprehension will skyrocket once I arrive in South America, but I’m still trying to cram every last bit I can before leaving.  My plan is to continue taking Spanish lessons while there as well.

What I’ve Been Doing the Last 5 Months

The time seems to have flown by, even though I’ve done a ton.  I took trips to Arizona, California, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Boston and New York.  I went to two awesome music festivals (Sasquatch and Stagecoach), went skydiving again, and went on a lot of smaller adventures up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve definitely enjoyed my time being settled down in one place, but also feeling the itch for something more adventurous.  More about my experiences as a non-nomad in another post.

…Part 4 of the Finding/Buying Aged/Neglected Websites series coming up!

 

After doing the Reddit IAmA, and a guest post on Flippa, I’ve been receiving quite a few emails asking questions about my business.  A few are excellent questions – clearly the person asking the question has researched the topic, read through the posts on my site and would like to get my opinion on it.  However, most fall into the “stupid questions” category.  Your elementary school teacher might have told you that there are no stupid questions, but I can prove them wrong with some of the emails I get.

Most emails do not get a response.  I simply don’t have time to tell each person why their question is stupid, so I simply don’t respond to their email.  If you didn’t get an email back, here are some possibilities as to why:

You are asking a question that has been already answered in my blog.

This makes up approximately 50% of the emails that I get.  ”How do you make money online?”.  ”How can I start my own online business?”.  If you aren’t going to take the 5 minutes to read through my public writing, why would I spend any of my own time to personally respond to your message?

You are asking for personalized help.

“Hey, I just started the website CuteDoggiePictures.com and I’m trying to get more traffic and revenue, will you look at it and give me feedback?”.  No.  Not to sound like a jerk, but I don’t have the time to give personalized feedback on your website.  Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is being able to figure things out on your own.  Also, I’m not a consultant, so I’m not interested in taking your money to look at your website.

You are asking me if you can ask me questions.

“Hey, I’m thinking of building a website because I don’t like my job and want to make money online.  Will you be my mentor?”.  No.  Especially because you haven’t even lifted a finger yourself.  I know way too many people who are always saying they want to start a website.  They talk about it for years and years and simply never take action.  I’ve wasted tons of time coaching friends who are like this, and definitely won’t waste time coaching strangers.

Your question is either way too vague, or the answer is simply “It depends”.

“Do you think that I should advertise on Facebook?”.  How am I supposed to know?  Facebook ads obviously work for some industries/website and not at all for others.  I’m not the all-knowing-Zeus of websites.

You want to do business with me, but have nothing to offer.

My business is extremely niche, so odds are that you really have nothing of value to bring to the table, especially if you explicitly state that you are a complete newbie.  If you want to start a website with me, the answer is no.

Blog comments are MUCH more likely to receive a response.

Again, I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, I’m just being efficient.  I do receive plenty of good questions which I use to help shape some of my informative blog posts.  If you read a post and would like further clarification on something, just post a comment!  I’m much more likely to answer a question publicly where it can help hundreds of individuals rather than privately emailing one individual an answer.

=======

The next post in the series of finding and buying aged/neglected sites is still under development!  There is a lot of info in there and it is taking me a while to compile everything I want to say about the strategy.

 

Due to the recent popularity of some of my Flippa auctions, I’ve had a flood of emails/inquires asking about how I’ve been finding/buying the sites that I have been selling.  I’ve all but been ignoring these requests, seeing them almost as competitors, but realized that I’m NOT buying websites anymore.  I’m free to share the strategy since I won’t be competing in this niche at all anymore.

The strategy is pretty simple: buy aged sites from sellers who built them 10+ years ago and don’t know anything about internet marketing.  However, the specific way I went about doing this was pretty involved.  I’m sure a lot of you guys would want to do this, but doubt that many of you will create a system anywhere similar to mine.

It’s going to take me a few weeks to properly lay out my strategy in a blog post (or series of posts).  It took me nearly a month to develop the system, and I suspect that it could easily be recreated in a week.  Also, don’t worry about other people stealing the idea.  There are MILLIONS of websites out there to go around!

 

2011 In Review – Is the Adventure Over?

Sure as heck feels like it.  Right now, I’m in my 100-year-old house located in a questionable neighborhood here in Reno, NV.  It’s 11:28am, and I’ve only crossed off one item on my daily to-do list.  I’ve been sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen, paralyzed from over-thinking my daunting list of to-do items that need to happen before my next adventure.

2011 started out insanely fun, spending time in San Francisco, then traveling the world.  I learned so much and met so many interesting people during my 5-month tour through 3 new continents.  Things slowed down in the summer when I returned to the US, moved my business from CA to NV, and decided to settle down in Portland for a bit.  While it was my decision to stay put for a while, I’ve had a tough time adjusting to the lack of adventure.

Some of the things I’ve done in 2011 include:

  • Going to Vegas for my first time (twice)
  • Going to the southern hemisphere for the first time
  • Traveling to 3 new continents (Australia, Asia and Europe)
  • Visiting new 16 countries: Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Czech, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Scotland
  • Flying and jumping out of a plane (not at the same time)
  • Buying my first house

This lack of adventure combined with the work of restructuring of my business has really taken a toll on my motivation.  Logic tells me to just start getting things done.  However, I still seem to be paralyzed in my state of overwhelm.

The things that I need to do include the following: (You should probably skip this part.  I just need to bitch about things for a minute.  Seriously, don’t read it.)

  • Get shoulder surgery to repair my torn labrum.  I haven’t been able to lift for all of 2011.  Recovery will include 2-6 weeks in a sling.  I’ll need to get a different car if I want to drive since my M5 is manual.
  • Finish taxes, both personal and business, and for both my CA and NV corporations.  This action involves doing bullshit paperwork, and then writing a check for hundreds to my CPA and a check for thousands to the IRS and CA FTB.
  • Finish selling all my websites except one.  This involves disclosing all I can about every website I own.  Also involves selling several websites for a loss.  So doing extra work to lose money.  Great.
  • Removing the notice of violation from my house in Reno so that I can rent it for much less than I would have if they didn’t make me convert it back to single family.  Dealing with the building department is like eating glass.
  • Move from my house in Reno into a unit in the apartment that I’m currently in contract with.  Just have to wait for the bank to approve the short sale, anytime between now and whenever they feel like it.
  • Fire the current contractor that is supposed to rebuild my main website.  They are already 5 months behind schedule and I’ve already paid them 60% of the contract value.  They have no idea what they are doing, and I’m going to be out thousands of cash, and 9 months of time.  Doing more work to lose even more money and time.
  • Find a new programmer that will be able to re-program my website correctly.  Figure out how to find a quality worker that knows what they are doing and won’t screw me over.
  • Manage my main site, which already feels like a full-time job.

After venting, I’m immediately starting to feel better.  I can already picture the end results if I tackle these problems correctly:

  • My shoulder feels great and I can start lifting again, not to mention do any other activity without any pain or worry.
  • Taxes are done, I’m completely removed from CA, and my accountant knows how to handle everything.  I have minimal interactions with my accountant, and don’t have to worry about any bullshit IRS crap.
  • All my websites are sold.  I just have one website to think about.
  • My house in Reno is fully repaired and in good standing with the city, rented out and managed by my property manager.  I’ve got all my stuff moved to the only one-bedroom unit in my new 8-plex.  The 8-plex is fully occupied, and I’ve got the property manager doing everything, automatically depositing the rents into a bank account, and the mortgage payments are being automatically deducted.  I sit back and enjoy the cash-flow and the essentially free unit.
  • I’ve found an amazing contractor who I can trust and will handle all the programming/design needs of my site.  I can just email him an idea for a new feature and he understands exactly what I want.  Users who find bugs simply submit a ticket with him and he fixes the bugs.  I don’t even have to know it happened.  He is in charge of making sure the site is live and properly functioning at all times.
  • The new version of my site makes managing everything ten times easier.  I’ve got my content manager more involved, and I don’t have to do any work, other than answer a few emails here and there.

Just writing this helps motivate me by painting a picture of the “promised land” in my mind.  I’ve still got an ocean ahead of me, but constantly visualizing and focusing on my goals will help give me reason to move forward.

Back to the visualization:  Boom.  I’ve just freed myself from all these nagging responsibilities.  I go out and buy the best travel gear (instead of using a free Bodybuilding.com gym bag).  I buy a one-way ticket to Vilnius, Lithuania.  Or Seoul, South Korea.  Or Rosario, Argentina.  Or buy a motorcycle and start riding south.  Or north.  I don’t even bring my laptop.  The adventure resumes.

 

Officially a Nevadan

That was much easier than I thought.  Go down to the DMV, give them some paperwork, sit back and watch them punch keys on a computer.  Get a new picture taken and a new set of plates handed to you.  Out the door in less than an hour.

Now I’ll have to tackle the boring task of updating my address with any company that has my address.  That includes car insurance, medical insurance, credit cards, bank accounts, cell phone, payroll, etc.  It will be tedious, but eventually everything will be set up in Nevada.

The move is a little more rough than I had imagined.  There were some unexpected permitting issues regarding the house that I bought, so I’m currently working with the city of Reno to get everything cleared up.  Everything will be up to code in no time flat.

Its great knowing I have a permanent address.  A permanent place to call my own.  A place I can store my stuff without worry.  A space I can use however I please.  Being a homeowner is a great feeling.

With so much bouncing around, its a nice feeling knowing I own a place that is staying put.  I can go wherever I want, and this place will be here waiting for me when I come back.

 

After over 2 months of searching for a suitable multi-family property in Nevada, I’m finally in contract!  Escrow should be short since I’ve already had the inspection and am paying cash.  I’ll be moving up there in a matter of weeks, and can finally move on with my life.

Once I close escrow, I’ll be packing my BMW with the few possessions I have and saying goodbye to California for good.  When I arrive, I’ll pick up the keys from the real estate agent and walk into a vacant, 95% finished triplex.  I’ll have all 3 empty units to myself.  During the few weeks it takes me to complete the minor repairs, I’ll have to pick one unit to call my home.

One is a tiny studio, another is a small 1 bedroom, and the last is a considerably bigger 1 bedroom.  Picking the best unit for myself means collecting less rent, so I’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.  Since I’m paying cash, I won’t have a mortgage, so regardless of which unit I occupy, I should still be cash-flow positive on this thing.  It will be a great feeling knowing that you are actually generating a cash flow from your primary residence.

I’m extremely relieved to have this deal underway.  By 2012, I’ll be 100% cut off from California and all California-based businesses.  Insurance, banking, healthcare, accountant, etc – all moving to Nevada businesses.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, one man moving his business out of California isn’t going to make a difference.  However I hope if enough people do this, it sends a message to California that what they are doing isn’t working.

I feel like I’m selling my stock in CA and buying stock in NV.  CA is falling apart, but NV is somewhat stable.  Eventually, I’d like to sell my stock in USA and go somewhere with a better outlook.  That whole discussion can be saved for another post though.

Once I get settled in Reno, I want to start traveling again.  I’d really love to do a lot of snowboarding…

 

With minutes to go in the Rialta eBay auction, the bid was still $12,000 away from my break-even point.  I’m nervously hitting refresh, getting more and more worried that the final bid won’t be anywhere near what I wanted.

Finally I see a little activity before a very pathetic ending.  I’m out nearly $10k  when all is said and done, not including the countless hours I put into installing all the mods.  I can’t be upset because this is what the market determined the value at.

The experiences I had while traveling the country in this rig were priceless.  It was a huge learning and growing experience, and I have absolutely no regrets that I went through with it.

Restructuring my life

I’ve decided to set up my home-base in Reno, NV.  I’m buying a 4-plex and calling one of the units my home.  I’m excited to be able to answer the question of “where do you live” in one or two words.

I’m still in the process of downsizing my entire portfolio of websites to just one.  Business will be much simpler with just one site to focus on.

I’ve been closing credit cards/bank/savings/investment accounts that I haven’t been actively using.  Trying to again minimize things I have to think about.

I have already set up a new Nevada corporation, and I’m in the process of moving everything under that one: bank accounts, payroll, addresses, accountants, etc.  I’ll be entirely out of California by the end of the year and will have dissolved the CA incorporation I currently own.

Different type of travel

I’d like to be spending more than a month at each location.  I’m thinking 3-6 months at each city, and renting a room with locals rather than staying at hostels or in an RV.

US Destinations I’d like to live in:

  • Denver, CO
  • Austin, TX
  • Portland, OR (again)
  • Somewhere in the south?

Foreign destinations:

  • Summer in Stockholm
  • Long trip through Eastern Europe/Russia
  • Summer in New Zealand
  • Summer in Argentina/Moto tour through South America