It’s been two years since I first came to China and a lot has changed. I want to share with you what I have been up to as I’m sure a lot of you might have been wondering:
“What the f*ck is Harrison doing in Asia?”
I jumped ship back in December 2015 and bought a one way ticket to Hong Kong China.
The feeling was overwhelming as I was flooded with new sights, smells and sounds. I quickly linked up with an old time college friend Carl and his buddy Gary. These two showed me the ropes a bit and brought me into Mainland China.
Thanks to them, the transition from life in the States to life abroad was as smooth as could be and I couldn’t have had a better experience getting situated.
I lived in a cheap little hostel for several weeks before jumping on a plane to Vietnam. I met my roommate, Taylor, from when I was living in New York City. Together we explored this new foreign place, hiking through wet rice paddies in Sapa and having a blast for New Years in Saigon in the south.
In early 2016 I made my way back to Guangzhou and began to get serious about how I was going to make a living while living in China. I quickly got into the teaching circles and found some work tutoring students one-on-one.
This was enough work to cover my basic expenses and give me the freedom to still have a good time. Meanwhile I was meeting with my two good friends Gary and Carl and constantly looking for new ways to make business and generate income.
At the time we had all determined that freelance work was the best option for extra income online. We scoured the web for information on copywriting and any other resources that would help us.
Eventually I started to get some work, writing website copy, blog articles, and Amazon product descriptions.
By February Chinese New Year had arrived and we took off to the Philippines. I mean come on. When you’re a 2 hour flight away from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, why wouldn’t you go?
From the pristine white sand beaches of Boracay to the bustling streets of Manila, we got a good taste of the Philippines, the food, the people, and their culture.
Back in Guangzhou.
Still teaching and making money.
Fast forward two months and it’s April. You know what? I feel like another trip. Being so close to all of Southeast Asia makes it very easy to hop on a plane and go anywhere on a short notice. I met up with an old friend traveling through and we got to explore some of Taiwan and eat their delicious foods.
I was secretly scouting to see if I wanted to live there. After a quick week and another meet up with a fellow Youtuber, I headed back to GZ.
Now I’m getting to the point where teaching is no longer something that I want to continue with. I need more income and I want the freedom as well.
Luckily I stumbled on, dropshipping.
Now what is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is where you sell products on the internet without holding physical inventory. I setup a website, contacted suppliers and started running Facebook ads.
Now it’s June and I’m off to Hong Kong
I meet up with old time friends and we party a little too hard for 7 days…
I jump on a plane to California.
It’s now been 7 months since I’ve been away and the reverse culture shock is surreal. People are bigger here and English sounds so odd to me.
It’s great to come back to the states and visit my family but I secretly crave the craziness that lies on the other side of the world.
I have a pow-wow with the trio—Carl, Gary and I—and we agree to move to Taiwan together come end of August.
So we enjoy our remaining weeks in Guangzhou and say farewell.
Hostels, Street food, Music Festivals
Taiwan is blast, I’m studying Mandarin and enjoying the slower paced lifestyle that Taiwan offers. People are friendly and their coffee is delicious and plentiful.
Unfortunately, my sales on my store are taking a dive and my friends can’t find work… Our plan quickly turns sour and we realize maybe the move was too quick. You live and you learn.
Gary takes off back to the states and after a quick 7 weeks in Taiwan, Carl and I head back to Guangzhou.
The income from my store is so volatile that I don’t feel comfortable relying on it as my only source of income.
I go back to the training center where I tutor. The money is good and the work is easy, if not enjoyable some days.
Thanksgiving comes and goes as well as my birthday. Now a year older, but not sure if a year wiser… In fact, most people would think I’m still crazy for being out here this long. I don’t listen to those people 😉 Life abroad has been just alright so far.
I get a firsthand taste of what holiday sales feel like running a physical product store. I start hitting record days, $500, $600, $700 in one day!
I can’t believe my own eyes. The excitement is unreal.
Before I know it I’m back in the states for Christmas.
Family time is always nice. I appreciate what I have and what I’ve been able to do.
Back to Guangzhou to Celebrate New Years with My Girlfriend!
A New Year means new goals. I break $1,000 in sales in a single day on my store.
By now, I just keep going. I try not to get too excited. January ends up being my best month, I do over $12k on my store and feeling pretty good about myself.
Sales tank and I go into a minor depression. Not having a clue as to what to do, I just keep moving forward.
A music festival in Hong Kong lifts my spirits.
I’m still teaching but toying with the idea of creating a custom lifestyle brand. I meet with a friend of mine who has experience starting a watch business. He explains his own trials and tribulations starting a brand and how difficult it can be.
He tells me he eventually sold his company on a website auction place and a light bulb goes off.
You can sell these things!?
As this idea comes up my store begins to pick up again. I break $10k in sales for March and I am on track to do it again in April.
My store is on the upswing and I decide this is a good time to list it for sale just to see what price I can get.
After two weeks of an auction the final bidder hits my reserve price and I sell.
Bam! I just sold my first business! Now I’m rich!
I feel excited and relieved. I have a chunk of money to play with and can focus on what I want to do next.
With my new found freedom I take the opportunity to do some extensive traveling through the West of the United States with my girlfriend.
I visit my brother in Washington, check out Seattle for a couple days then shoot down to Park City to explore my hometown. I finally get to meet my adorable niece, drank some beer and head off to California.
Gotta love the warm weather and chill beach vibes 🙂
We head to Vegas—we win some, we lose some, but overall we have a good time.
Back to California and our vacation is done. GZ here we come.
Reality sets in. I no longer have anything to work on and have no income sources to sustain myself. I quickly jump on the Amazon FBA train and source my first product.
Within weeks, I have a fully customized and branded product in production and ready to be shipped to a warehouse in the US.
The shipment arrives end of August and it’s slow moving.
My lack of patience caused me to jump into a product niche that was just coming out of season. I didn’t take the necessary time to evaluate the market enough. I feel as if I committed my first mistake selling on Amazon…
By mid-September I’m making a few sales a day and take a quick two day trip to Hong Kong for a Music Festival. If you can’t tell already, I really enjoy going to music festivals.
Through my Amazon research I was able to connect with sellers all over the world and found a savvy guy in the United States who wanted to go in on a new product. He didn’t have enough money to do it himself so I proposed we go in 50/50.
Afterall, me being in China and him being in the US definitely has it’s advantages. I can get samples shipped to my apartment here in Guangzhou in two days while he can monitor advertising campaigns as they happen live in the US.
Meanwhile I switched apartments for what feels like the 10th time and moved in with my girlfriend in a different part of town.
Canton Fair takes place and I meet multiple 7 figure sellers. Over a couple of beers, I pick their brains and learn some new insights and strategies.
With my newfound enthusiasm I test out some new pricing on my product and sales start to increase.
My product isn’t a dud after all. I’m making money now and feel more focused than ever. I know what to look for and what to discard.
The problem with Amazon FBA comes down to capital. With so many ideas for new products but limited money, it really makes it difficult to scale quickly.
That brings us here today. I’ve learned so much in the last two years being out here in China. I’ve had some incredible life changing experiences, have met some amazing people and I’m ready for more!
What’s the next step?
With Amazon FBA, a lot of the work is put in upfront but it’s really smooth sailing from there. I’m actually surprised how automated it really is.
With this freed up time when I’m not searching for new products to launch I can sometimes get bored and feel unproductive.
I reflect on why I came out here in the first place and it was to build a passive source of income that would allow me to make my YouTube videos and travel freely when I please.
So going forward, that’s what I plan to do.
I want to make more content for people who were once like me—someone stuck in a place and in need of some serious change. I hope that my content will inspire, motivate, and encourage people to take a leap of faith that will change their lives for the better.
My videos and content will be a mix of entertainment travel documentaries as well as business insights and tips and strategies that I personally use to build my passive income streams.
You can expect anything from videos of daily life abroad to sit down talks about how I research products on Amazon.
If you’re here now, reading, thank you. The feedback and comments I get are what motivate me to keep making content. I love interacting with my audience and seeing others get inspired.
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Stay tuned for more!