Hi, I’m Tom.
When I was at university, I wholeheartedly believed in the idea that if you followed your passion, everything would work out for the best. Then I met real life.
My English degree and deeply held certainty that I had what it took to be the next William Faulkner didn’t count for much when it came time to leave the nest and start paying rent. My first job out of university was in an office trying to sell ad space to businesses over the phone.
I quit that one after three days.
Then I got a kind-of dream job, working part time at a wildlife park. While I was passionate about working with animals, in reality the job was boring and repetitive, the money was awful, and my boss was a dick.
While I was working there, for the first time in my life I began to learn about the practicalities of personal finance. It was then that I picked up the famous Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss – and a whole new world of possibilities blew wide open.
The question that had been plaguing me was: Surely people don’t really spend 40-50 years doing these job things, right? Surely there’s a better way?
Suddenly, the answer was in front of me. I could build an online business and leverage the Internet to sell products while I slept, allowing me to travel and pursue all the important goals I’d always dreamed of.
Over the next six months I built my first website, started generating traffic, and launched an ebook. With 3 sales for around $20 apiece on the launch day, I felt like Bill Gates – and quit my job.
Unfortunately, it turns out that around $600/month of ebook sales is not enough to live your dreams on!
But by that point, I had figured out how to score freelancing gigs writing content for other people’s websites. I was making a full time living for the first time in my life – at age 21, working from home. I thought I was pretty special.
The next two years were an epic struggle between trying to live life on my own terms, not shackled to a desk, and trying to actually make enough money to live my dreams. For the first two years, I managed to stay afloat – but not much more. I watched friends jet off overseas, and wondered if I wasn’t better off just throwing in the towel, getting an office job and saving like everybody else.
Then I figured out where I was going wrong. Instead of trying to do everything myself – marketing, sales, customer service, the actual delivery of the service – I had to build a system and a team, just like Tim Ferriss described in his book. What’s more, I needed recurring business, so I wouldn’t have to constantly be searching for new projects after I’d finished my existing ones (the “feast or famine” effect that all freelances know all too well).
That was when I leveraged what I knew about building and ranking websites to launch an online marketing service for local businesses. I knew the local market was full of cowboys, and I knew I could do something better. And I did.
And at last, I started getting some traction – I had regular monthly clients, and I was saving money and moving towards my travel dreams at last.
It was at this point that I decided it was time to take the leap, move out of my place, and take the business on the road. I had always dreamed of road tripping from one end to the other of New Zealand, my home country. So that was what I did, running the business and saving along the way, and following the road adventure with a four month trip through Southeast Asia and Europe.
The overseas leg of the trip proved to be a learning experience: I had a little too much fun living in hostels, and my business began to fall apart. Lesson: you can work on the road, but you actually have to work on the road.
When I returned home, I became re-energized – not least because I had blown all my cash travelling – and more determined than ever to build a successful business. I ‘turned pro,’ so to speak.
Within four months of returning home, I had a week where I closed two clients, one for $8000/month and one for $4150/month.
Yes, those are MONTHLY retainers. In one week.
Needless to say, I felt like I had arrived.
But after around 18 months of contentedly running the business, I began to get restless. I felt like I could be doing more, and important goals were still sitting on the back burner. Again I turned to the campervan adventure – this time buying a $25000 beast of a motorhome for an 8 month trip around the country.
And that about brings us up to speed. Throughout the trip I decided to switch gears and change focus away from helping corporate clients with their marketing, towards helping other people who are in the same position I was in a few years ago.
Knowing that making a home or location-independent business is possible, but not knowing HOW.
Furthermore, not knowing what it’s REALLY LIKE. There are a like of ‘fake it til you make it’ types out there, parroting content without ever having actually lived the life.
So this blog is launched with a few simple goals. I want you as my reader to:
This is as much a journey for me as it is for my readers – I’m sharing how to do what I’ve already done, while also exploring, with a scientific approach, how to do the important things I still dream of. I’m glad to have you along for the ride.
Digital Nomad Empire is a place to learn and share real-world, tested strategies for earning location independent income. No more BS, no more "selling the dream" - this is the place to find out what really works.