Making money online for expats (or any other niche?)

Woman on a beach with a laptop

The expat lifestyle myth. Have you any idea how hard it actually is to read a laptop screen on a beach?

I would have thought that most expats would be interested in making money online. It would be ideal for low-paid teachers, trailing spouses, and anyone generally interested in making some extra cash. I’ve tried our expat audience on the subject a few times but they’ve never shown much interest.

Maybe I had the wrong approach. Mostly, I was trying to present it in terms of portable careers, earn a bit of extra money by writing, and stuff like that. I didn’t hype it up or make any wild claims or promises. And I didn’t even try to sell them anything in the earliest days. Later I had eBooks for sale on a couple of subjects relevant to the audience.

And recently someone tried to spam my expat forum. (He didn’t last long.) It was a lengthy piece with his lifestyle, his interests, blah, and eventually he made his point. His mate had suggested he should try [MMO product for expats] and he’s doing their video training course. It’s so easy that anyone can do it, you don’t need any experience or special skills, you don’t need much money to get started. You know, the usual.

It’s an MMO product about how to set up a drop shipping business. The product itself isn’t in the least bit interesting, but their approach might be worth a closer look.

Instead of trying to sell MMO products to a general audience, why not go very niche and dress it up as though it’s specially designed for a specific group of people? In this case, expats. You could also target hobbyists where people could always use a few extra bob to feed their passion.

Then you find communities with a large concentration of your target audience, and try to get them to buy your training course. It’s free links and advertising all the way because most specialist communities aren’t run by very Internet-savvy people. (He picked the wrong expat community. LOL!) It’s relatively easy to post ads on them if they’re disguised as chatty messages or requests for advice. Most of these admins/mods haven’t learned to smell a spammer from 100 yards away.

You could even build up your reputation in this way, and create a small following of people who would buy your next works. “Drop shipping didn’t work out for you? Never mind. Try my course about making money from blogging instead!” Plus you could get them on the upsells etc.

It sounds tempting to give it a go, doesn’t it? Create a product—no hype, no BS, just tell them how to do it. Ah, there’s a big flaw in that idea—ie, I’ve already tried it and failed. OK, so maybe I went about it the wrong way. Should I try again and do things differently? Any advice?

Actually, don’t bother writing in. I think I may have identified the problem already. These four words—”no hype, no BS”.

Perry Marshall seems to think so too:

…it’s much, much easier to sell pixie dust and unicorns and fairy tales than to sell things that actually work.

However, he also says that selling fresh air can only be used in the short term, and I don’t agree with that. We can all name plenty of gurus who’ve been successfully selling fresh air for years. And what’s to stop people from churning out lots of short-term products one after the other?

It’s interesting to read that Perry Marshall charges $363 for a half-hour consultation. I wonder what you get for your money? I read his “80/20 Sales and Marketing” book and wasn’t particularly impressed, although I didn’t ask for a refund.
Read my review here

Man sitting on a breakwater bollard on a dull day

Expat reality can sometimes be more like this—grey and rather bleak.

But I still think he’s hit the nail on the head about it being much easier to sell smoke and mirrors than methods that actually work. People don’t seem to be interested at all in knowing any facts, or in facing reality. Even when the evidence of their own experience suggests that it’s the product that’s flawed, not their own shortcomings or lack of effort, they’d rather just buy another product and keep believing the dream.

And in the case of expats, you don’t have to look very far to find plenty of people reinforcing that dream by continuing to preach rubbish about how easy it all is just to pack a suitcase and a laptop and fly off into the sun, whilst glossing over the realities. What about visas, work permits and all the various other complex tangles of legal red tape? To say nothing of medical insurance, exchange rate collapses, pension scheme sharks and all the financial nasties—or of the fact that you won’t make any money online unless you’re prepared to knuckle down and do a lot more work for it than they’re suggesting you’ll need to do.

Maybe this article should have been entitled “Making money online from expats” rather than “for expats”. Because for these MMO opportunists, that’s where it starts and ends.


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