As much as I hate the term “digital nomad” it gets the point across relatively quickly.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, a digital nomad is someone who works and makes a living online via their laptop, generally while traveling at the same time.
When I quit my job 3 years ago, this was my dream all along. I wanted so badly to have the freedom to work and travel but what transpired was a little different.
It’s been an interesting journey full of ups and downs but I’ve finally left China for good and am on the road, currently writing this from a coffee shop in Bangkok, Thailand.
I also made a video as to why I left China that you can watch below, but this article will be about what it’s like to work and travel, specifically relying on an Amazon FBA business as a sole source of income.
Is Amazon FBA Really Passive Income?
You often see YouTube videos of Amazon gurus ballin’ out with nice cars, huge houses, or living the lavish lifestyle. I’m not saying that it’s impossible but it’s also not realistic.
Like any product based business, Amazon takes an immense amount cash to keep it up and running. With the payouts you get from Amazon, no matter how large, you’re NOT spending them on material things. You are reordering inventory, hiring staff, or investing into your business one way or the other.
So how does this factor into a digital nomad lifestyle?
Well, since cash always feels tight, I generally always feel stressed out.
When I have to place a large order of inventory I am often using a credit card to cover the initial upfront cost that will later be paid off in the next cycle after I receive the payout from Amazon.
For someone who has always paid off all my credit cards in full every month, this obviously makes me nervous.
I feel that I am constantly taking on a large amount of risk and if the slightest thing goes wrong, I am f*cked!
What Is A Typical Day Like?
I went to an entrepreneur meet up here in Bangkok a few weeks back and was talking about what I do.
Some people asked what a typical day looks like in terms of workload.
And this really is the great thing about Amazon FBA. As much as it can suck to feel like you have no cash in the bank, there isn’t a TON of work to do on a day to day basis once the business is up and running.
I typically wake up and after stretching, working out, or whatever morning routine I’m doing for the day, I’ll login to my seller account and see how sales look.
From there I see if I have any customer enquiries or questions—typically only a few a week.
Then I’ll take a look at my advertising campaigns and see how those are performing based on the last 7 and 30 day time intervals and make any bid adjustments accordingly.
And, that’s about it.
The most time intensive things for me at the moment are when I have to reorder stock, working with the supplier and coordinating with my freight forwarder to make sure that labels are put on correctly for new shipments going into FBA.
Then again, this is limited to a few messages back and forth.
What Do I Like About This Lifestyle
Freedom of course!
I don’t have to answer to anyone and can pretty much do what I want with my time. I can sleep in until the afternoon, go out on a Monday night as late as I want or wakeup as early as 5am and take a nap at 2pm.
My time belongs to me.
Also, living this lifestyle while traveling is a unique experience because there is hardly any monotony and you don’t get bored very easily. You can take a break and go explore some part of the city or chill out at a cafe and read a book whenever you want.
What Do I Dislike About This Lifestyle?
Being on the road or hopping from Airbnb to Airbnb is not conducive to a routine. For someone who likes to maintain a workout regiment and try to eat healthy, this is one of the downsides.
Sure, it’s great going out, eating new foods, and experiencing new places, but it can also hurt productivity. Furthermore, after you have launched multiple successful products and kind of “get it” there isn’t a whole lot of new learning to be done.
Of course, it’s important to continue to keep up to date on new things that are happening in the industry, but my point is that the tasks of keeping the business going are no longer new and exciting as they once used to be.
So, What’s Next?
During my three years in China I became good friends with lots of guys who have all built their own physical product businesses from scratch.
I’m talking multi-million dollar watch companies, men’s luxury clothing brands, and everything in between.
These aren’t simply private label products sourced from Alibaba and slapped with a logo and sold on Amazon. These are products that are built on heavy research, identifying problems in a market and creating a unique and appealing solution.
These are original products built from the ground up, sometimes taking the better part of a year or several years, for that matter.
For me, this is the next logical step.
I already did the dropshipping business and had a little success.
I then started FBA and figured that out, learning more advanced skills and know-how around manufacturing, logistics, and marketing.
And now it’s time to put it all together and create something truly different straight from the ground up.
From Zero to Brand
Over the course of the next few months I will spend considerable time on product idea generation. The idea is to brainstorm as many product categories as possible while cross referencing with things I love doing (i.e. hobbies/passions) and looking for an overlap.
The thing that differentiates this route from Amazon FBA is that building up a real brand from scratch should, in theory, feel more meaningful than selling private label (Alibaba) products that I could care less about. This is obviously much more difficult but also much more rewarding.
I’m excited about the prospect of starting this new journey and excited to document and share with you all. One thing I’m sure you’ve noticed about the Amazon FBA world is that everyone is SO secretive. You can never share your products or talk about anything for fear of being hijacked or ripped off!
From my experience so far, everyone who I’ve met who has started their own brand or passion product is eager to share their idea with the world and for good reason.
Feedback, feedback, feedback!
And, well… Marketing 🙂
So, as I go through this I will be sharing everything in detail including the actual product that I will be (attempting) to bring to market over the course of the next 1-2 years.
Stay tuned and if you haven’t already, subscribe for irregular blog posts from your neighborhood friendly e-commerce/travel guy 😉