Mike Henry is a location independent entrepreneur who has been living and traveling Asia for more than a decade. He earns his income through several websites and he has experimented with many other online opportunities. Mike shares some details on living in Bali and and offers some lessons in making money online.
Where do you live?
I am currently living in Bali, where I just moved to and I have rented a house for the next six months. I spent most of 2007 just traveling around south east Asia and most of 2008 in China. If I like a place enough I tend to stay a few weeks and make frequent trips back. Before I started traveling full-time I lived in Japan for 10 years.
What are your approximate living costs to have a nomadic life?
My current rent is around US$210 a month for a 2 bedroom house in the north of Bali. The price includes electricity, water and cable television. Internet is a little expensive though at $100 a month for the fastest connection available here.
There aren’t a lot of western goods here, which is good in a way. We have been cooking at home and groceries are pretty cheap. A lot of the fruit and vegetables are grown locally. There are a few bars around where I am currently living, but I haven’t been out much since I moved to the new place.
The other main expense is visas. It costs about $50 a month if you use an agent to get a visa extension and then you need to leave the country after 6 months.
How do you earn an income?
Most of my income is from the websites I run, through Google Adsense, affiliate programs, ebook sales and selling advertising on my sites. I also own some properties, which bring in some income.
Please tell us about your websites and your experiences making money online?
I started building websites around 2005 and quit my job in Japan at the end of 2006. I have tried a lot of different ways to make money, affiliate programs, ebooks, Adsense, niche sites, forums, domains etc.
Like many people I start something and if it doesn’t do so well, I get bored of it. I think it is important to have a passion or at a strong interest in the topic of your website for it to be successful.
I spent a lot of time going from one way of trying to make money to another. I think it is good to study different methods of online marketing, but in the end you have to find your own way. Just because doing xyz works for one person, doesn’t mean you will have the same success.
I wrote a guide on how I make money with travel websites. It is available here as a free download:
My current project is working on a website to help foreigners wanting to move to Bali and have just written a free guide. It can be downloaded from my website: BaliExpat
Do you recommend building niche sites and blogging for others interested in earning money while traveling?
Niche sites are ok, but like any idea you have, I think you have to want to take it from being a small niche site, to a larger site with a lot of content and useful features. I did an experiment once of trying to create a new site everyday for one month. Most of those sites are now no longer online.
Blogging about your experiences both on and offline, is a good way to keep record of how you are progressing. Blogging in itself though, is a hard way to make money. Blogging is a good though for marketing and promotion.
Most niche site owners are afraid to give details on their websites, but you publish the names of many of your blogs, why is that?
I suppose I just like telling people what I am doing. If you create something with a lot of value it’s not easy for anyone to just copy. If you discover a profitable niche with few competitors, you might make some good money in the short term, but often it doesn’t take long for competing sites to spring up. I noticed for example the blog zenhabits.net started to make all of their content availalbe for free to be used on other websites or printed publications.
What do you like and don’t like about your life now?
Of course, I miss my family and it is nice to go home when I can, but as nice as Australia is, it doesn’t take too long for me to get bored there. Some people probably couldn’t stand the hassle of getting new visas every month and worrying about problems with immigration, but for me that is part of the adventure. Everyday is different and everyday I have some kind of new or interesting experience.
Occasionally I feel bored or have doubts about what I am doing, but I only have to think about my life when I was working in my job in Japan, for a boss I didn’t like and not having any time to do the things that I enjoy doing. It’s those times that I go to a place that I haven’t been before like a temple, beach or waterfall and then I realize how great my lifestyle is and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What advice would you offer for others thinking of moving abroad and supporting themselves online?
Try to get some form of regular income going before you quit your job and have some significant savings behind you should you get into trouble. Develop some skills that you can put to use in the event you need to earn some quick cash and don’t just rely on one website or way of making money.
Do you have any plans to settle down and have a more traditional life?
I don’t think I have ever lived a “traditional life”. I do want to make a permanent home somewhere, maybe in Bali. After nearly three years of travel it does get tiring living out of your suitcase! I would like to start some kind of offline business like a guesthouse or restaurant, but every time I look into it, it just seems so much hassle and work, compared with running an internet based business.