In this interview, location independent entrepreneur Phil Byrne talks about Kindle publishing, the importance of diversifying online income and why he loves Buenos Aires, Argentina. There is some great advice here for aspiring location independents and online entrepreneurs.
Please tell us about your background?
I am originally from a small, sea side town in North West England. There, I fell in love with bands like The Smiths, The Cure and many others. I left home wanting to create a record label and ended up instead running gigs and club nights in the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire and it was through these things that I first learnt the benefits of good marketing. I grew up into ‘proper’ marketing when I discovered the internet in the late 1990’s, around the time we all used dial up access! Since then, many things have happened to both the internet and me! After working on a range of on-line marketing campaigns for a variety of clients, I began to create my own on-line businesses around 2007. Around the same time, I began to work remotely regularly. In 2010, I left the UK and have worked remotely 100% of the time ever since. I split my time between consultancy with clients and developing my own on-line ventures.
Please tell us about your travels?
We left the UK in 2010 for Buenos Aires in Argentina. We chose this destination as my wife (then fiancée) was studying the tango for her PhD. We stayed there for three months, living on the borders of Montserrat and San Telmo, two historic barrios in the city. We left Argentina and went back to the UK for a short trip, before leaving for New Mexico followed by Portugal, Spain and now Ireland.
How was Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires is a wonderful city. I miss the spirit of the city greatly. I’ve never been anywhere quite so alive. Hugely rich in places, unsettlingly poor in others, BA is a city of contrasts. It’s a very European feeling city, often pretentious and always noisy! I loved the architecture and the love of all kinds of culture within the city. The lack of huge worldwide chains was also refreshing. You had to be careful though, BA is a city with a lot of crime due to the huge differences between rich and poor. We were held up at gunpoint and robbed after stupidly taking a short cut home instead of sticking to the main routes.
How much were your living costs in Argentina?
Buenos Aires wasn’t cheap to live in compared to other lesser known places we have lived. However, it is cost effective when compared to other capital cities. Our rent was $500 per month including heating/internet etc. and our weekly shopping bill around $60 – although with inflation at a huge 25% when we were there prices rose sharply even within the 90 days we spent there!
What advice can you offer for others interested spending more time in South America?
I think Buenos Aires is a must, it really is such an amazing city. It’s a good place to start in South America as the city is fun, buzzing and full of people from across the world. Just don’t take any short cuts home at night! We we’re also intrigued by Uruguay, which is a lovely, more relaxed country and is only a short boat trip from Argentina. Chile was also recommended by many people too, but we’ll have to go back to try that one out ourselves.
How do you earn an income now?
I have two sides of my working life. I am a shareholder in a UK web marketing agency and around half of my income comes from this source. The other half is made up from a suite or travel related sites that earn wee commissions from people searching for hotel deals, flights and travel insurance. My most successful travel site is www.cheaphotelchains.com. Like all on-line businesses, I’ve had my ups and downs – the latter often around the same time that Google makes a big algorithm change! I’ve learnt how important it is to not ever be dependent on one internet marketing method or one on-line brand for your on-line traffic. Everything changes on-line regularly, so the more able you are to spread your web traffic sources, and income sources for that matter, the better. eBooks are part of my strategy to spread my income sources, they are a very new venture for me so I’ll have to let you know how it goes! At the time of interview, I’ve sold around 125 copies of Head In The Clouds since launch 3 and a half weeks ago.
Please tell us about your Head in the Clouds ebook?
Head In The Clouds is about how to take your business, or job, and turn it into a profession you operate solely on-line. I discuss all of the software, applications and techniques I personally use to make my life 100% location independent. It covers many lessons learnt from direct experience of things going wrong, as much as things going right. Practice makes perfect and, after nearly 4 years of remote working, I’m happy to say I have most aspects of my work life operating well. It is a big learning curve, and I’m hoping the eBook helps people make the transition easier and quicker than they might otherwise. You can find more information on my remote working eBook here.
Why did you choose to sell the book on Amazon, rather than sell it directly from your site?
I believe the Kindle has revolutionised publishing and they are the only truly international eBook store. The KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) scheme also allows people to borrow your eBooks, and this clever idea offers another source of income to the Kindle publisher. In order to qualify for this scheme you have to exclusively tie your eBook with Amazon for 90 days. I chose to do that and give it a go.
What advice can you offer for others selling ebooks for the Kindle?
It wasn’t too hard to get an eBook onto Amazon. They offer a comprehensive guide to formatting your eBook. Everything can be done within Word and hence you don’t need any 3rd party software. Amazon also have a free Kindle previewer software for download, this is useful in final formatting tweaks before you go live.
It’s important to choose a niche where people buy eBooks. There are loads of categories on Amazon, but not everyone of these sees regular sales. Like every on-line venture, you need a marketing plan. There are many ‘Kindle’ courses that claim the platform is a path to certain riches! However, nothing worth achieving is easy, so any Kindle eBook (any on-line venture in fact) needs a good marketing plan to give it the best possible chance of being successful. There are a number of websites that promote new Kindle books, especially if you launch the eBook at a very low price, or even free for the first few days. This initial promo helps you get a few downloads and more importantly one or two reviews. In the Kindle algorithm, reviews are like backlinks, they help you rank higher for your target keywords and categories.
Can you offer some advice for aspiring digital nomads?
Start making your work-life remote long before you leave. This will give you the opportunity to work through any problems you find. Aim to get all of your clients, customers, colleagues communicating with you on-line before you go. This will give everyone more confidence in your new lifestyle before you leave.
Once you do go, try different places, different climates, different cultures. Discover new things about yourself, travel will introduce you to loves you didn’t know you had, tastes you didn’t know you enjoyed,and much more. Don’t try to find your home country within another’s borders, it doesn’t exist. Living abroad is both wonderful and challenging, there will be things you miss but overall the experience will inspire you to grow. Ultimately, you’ll become a better human, a true world citizen.