Today’s interview is with Joseph Archibald. He’s a writer and internet marketer from the UK who now works completely online, from his home in the Phillippines.
As you’ll see, although there’s a lot to like about living overseas and running your own business online, there are a lot of pitfalls as well. It’s not all the glamour that you might expect.
I’ll let Joseph explain it all…
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Joseph, you’ve been in the internet marketing space for several years now. I first came to know you through Smart Passive Income, where Pat Flynn modeled a very popular and powerful (at the time) backlink strategy after one that you shared on the Warrior Forum.
I know you work full-time online, and blog about various SEO and internet marketing topics at JosephArchibald.com, but tell us a bit more about yourself and your business – How did you get started in the internet marketing industry, and where is your business at today? We’d love to hear about what you’re currently focused on.
I started out with a dream about ‘working at home in my pajamas.
That escalated when I began working in MLM which was really difficult – conducting door-to-door sales trying to get folks to buy mobile phones and land line packages. One of my uplines worked online. He never did any door-to-door, and I figured he was getting the sales model right, where I was not.
But it was not until early 2009 that I really got involved with online marketing when I started to learn how to create websites (horrible looking websites, but websites all the same). And then I was finally fortunate enough to piece the stuff that I’d learned together in order to start ranking webpages in Google search. That’s when I began to make my first online income – from Amazon affiliation.
These days, although I don’t do too much in the way of SEO and Google rankings, I still dabble in it and try to figure out what’s working. And I have a few eBay-affiliated sites that continue to make a reasonable sales volume (I do still SEO for those).
I’ve written a few books for Kindle, mostly under pen names, and mainly for the fiction genre, and the sales tick over pretty well for my Kindle publications. And yes, for some of my Kindle books, I use SEO to gain Google rankings.
However, some of the books I’ve written are in niches which are emmm… how to put it… ‘forbidden fruit’. What do I mean by that? You know… the sort of niches that are frowned upon even though they are massively popular… 🙂
Plus, I write content for private clients in the mid- to higher-end market range.
Looking at your journey, what are you most proud of? What has been your greatest success (or successes) so far?
My greatest achievement would have to be the success of the 40 Days Warrior Challenge. It can be argued that it was a purely lucky move on my part. I was in two minds as to whether to go ahead and do it, or work on my ‘normal’ business.
I was a bit fed up doing the same old stuff day-in and day-out, and needed a challenge of some sort. My girlfriend at the time said I was a fool and I couldn’t possibly hope to make any income from it.
But that was not my intention.
I had no intention other than to let people become aware of how to rank webpages in Google search. The only reason I created the eBook about it was because there was a large demand for it.
If I could provide you with specific stats and what have you, Eric, I would. But as mentioned in the first instance, I had no wish to focus on income generation or anything of that nature. It was sort of like a set and forget philosophy. If I could turn back time on that line of thinking I most certainly would do so.
That’s great, and it’s interesting that you didn’t focus on income generation with the 40 Day Warrior Challenge. For those who are less familiar with this challenge, what specifically was it about the challenge (or results of that challenge) that leads you to believe this was your greatest achievement?
At the outset of the Warrior Challenge, I thought I may gain a small following, a little bit of interest, a few comments on occasion. But that’s not what occurred.
Each day that passed, more and more people were sending me emails of thanks and asking me if I was going to write an eBook covering the subject matter. I even received about 12 job offers ranging from SEO’ing for individuals to companies. I turned them all down, but nevertheless, it was nice to be asked.
And the fact that the techniques are still reasonably popular to this day, even almost 4 years since I first started the write-up on the Warrior Forum. All these points add up to make it my largest achievement to date.
We’ve all struggled at one time or another. Which failure was most significant for you, and what did you learn from it?
Two things come to mind here really. First, do try to build a list and monetize that list with care. Sure, I have a small list (about 2,000 in all) for my 40 Days eBook (which I now give away freely), but I really dislike the hard sales techniques that so many online marketers use – sending out email after email trying to sell products that they themselves have never used. As such, I rarely email that list, although I could do a whole lot better there. I also am list-building in other niches.
And secondly, if you are desperate to get to grips with making an income online, I’d advise against writing low-end content for clients. That’s a trap unto itself.
You can end up spending all hours of the day writing and you never find the energy or the time to actually create a decent business model for yourself. I’ve made that mistake a couple of times in the past few years and it’s wise to avoid channeling your energies in this respect.
This is a bit of a loaded topic, but let’s dig into it a little. No doubt the SEO landscape has changed a bit since you wrote The 40 Day Challenge (although many of the same principles still apply today), so I’m curious to know: What are some SEO strategies that seem to work well for you today?
It’s no secret that high PageRank (PR) networks are popular these days as a way to rank webpages in Google search. The problem for most people is that they can’t afford to buy many high PR domains.
I do have one small high PR network that I use, but otherwise, I use some of the tools that I used back in the day for the 40 Days stuff. I find that those still work in terms of gaining Google ‘space’ in the upper echelons.
There are different ways in which to get the best from those tools than in the past, and again, this is fairly common knowledge really. Anchor text variation being one of the keys to achieving the rankings in Google search.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at blogging or working online. I know you have a lot of great advice to share, but If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
DON’T GIVE UP. [Click here to tweet this]
It’s easy to throw the towel in because making an online income is, for most people – almost all people – far from an easy route to wealth.
But I suggest, even if you’re putting in say 5 hours each week, and you keep at it, you’ll be doing yourself what potentially could be a HUGE favor.
Furthermore, working online can be a great way to make real and true long term friends. That’s especially important when you are working so much at home and you don’t make much time for a decent social life. Or, if you are living abroad and you feel isolated because of it.
What are your favorite online resources?
Dropbox for free cloud storage is excellent.
I like using Google Docs quite a lot these days for PowerPoint presentations as well as general Word-type documents. The power goes off here very regularly in the Philippines and Google Docs is good from that perspective because it auto-saves your work very regularly.
For someone who is just starting out creating a blog or trying to make money online, what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Blogging can be fun, provided you are passionate about your subject matter. However, simply doing blogging for blogging’s sake can be a huge time waste.
You need to plan on how you are going to get the traffic to your site. It’s all well and good to write fantastic content and sit back on your laurels believing that ‘if you build it, they will come.’ That philosophy tends not to work. You need to have a solid strategy in place prior to writing the very first piece of content for your site as to how you are going to attract your early visitors.
Previously, my only traffic-gaining strategy was to rely on SEO and Google rankings. These days, if I decide to create a website, I tend to carve a multi-pronged strategy rather than relying on Google rankings alone.
So I would say, if you are just starting out, and you are intent on SEO’ing your webpages, try to also have a secondary traffic-pulling strategy in place and do not rely solely on SEO and the good graces of Google.
What’s it like living the internet marketing dream abroad?
I’ve had a whale of a time over the past almost 5 years since I left the shores of the UK.
However, there are definitely downsides. Visa runs for example, where you have to get out of the country every few months or so, depending on the country, can be a pain in the rear end.
On the other hand, you can use these visa runs as an excuse for a holiday. Merely having to extend your tourist visa can also be a real pain, and can also be costly. So if you are not making too much online income, that can turn out to be a large financial pressure in itself.
Further, again, depending on the country, you may suffer regular power outages and internet downtime, and this can be particularly frustrating. The Philippines – or much of the Philippines, is really terrible for both these factors.
Malaysia however is far, far better. Also, the people. There’s so much good to be found in ‘foreign’ people and ‘foreign’ culture, but it surely does not take long before you start to see the negatives. The habits here in the Phils are so different to that in the west.
Sure, if you don’t mind a dog howling all night long when you’re trying to gain some much needed rest, or you don’t mind people regularly singing karaoke until 3 in the morning, then you’ll be fine. But for me, this is definitely a nuisance factor, which occasionally simply serves to irritate no-end.
Oh, and as mentioned, the regular brown-outs and the crappy internet connection. If you work online, those can really serve to dampen your spirits rather vastly. There’s no getting away from it, the power supply and internet connectivity in the western world is vastly superior to what it is here in S.E. Asia, other than in Singapore where it’s very good.
Finally, where can people find you online?
To be honest Eric, although I do have product websites alive and kicking, I rarely do serve up fresh content to my blog.
Nevertheless, should anyone wish to check the blog out or get in touch, the blog is at josepharchibald.com. And I very rarely use Twitter or Facebook. Sometimes on Facebook I have a rant about the Philippines in general because there’s plenty to rant about and it helps me to vent my frustrations, even more so when other Filipinos agree wholeheartedly with my sentiments about the downsides of living here.
Currently, my service focus is on writing for clients. SEO and internet marketing are my specialities, but I can cover pretty much any base when it comes to content creation. And yeah, sure, the income is not passive as such, but it’s an extremely good way to proffer those extra greenbacks, and generally have fun at the same time.
After all, working for online clients still affords you the ability to reside almost anywhere you like, and you can still work your own hours. It’s an exceptionally flexible way to make a good living.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Joseph! It’s great to learn about your experience working online, abroad.
What do you think of this interview? Do you have any thoughts on what Joseph talked about? Leave a comment below!