A detailed look at what’s working for us behind the scenes at PassingThru. Consistent effort, no complaints and lots of fun keep us focused beyond the fray.
Clusters of blog posts cycle to the forefront from time to time about the difficult realities of life as a digital nomad. A recent spate went on from this to cover what a “real” blogger who writes about travel should or should not be doing. All rather predictable, and best taken with a grain or two of salt. A look behind the scenes at PassingThru will show you the approach we’re taking.
Nobody appreciates great advice more than we do. We look up to a goodly number of individuals who are successful at location independence and travel blogging. But one size doesn’t fit all; you have to cobble together a business strategy that fits your circumstances in conjunction with your objectives and overall goal.
After all this time (we’ve been at this online thing since 2008) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people go into business without a plan. I did so myself in a brick and mortar business with a partner back in 1999 (“Hey, that sounds like fun!” seriously, that was all it took to get us going). But we soon realized then that organization and structure was a necessity in order to remain viable. And we also learned that sometimes you need to pivot when an initial strategy isn’t or stops working. Fortunately, learning from former experience makes PassingThru Enterprises a better company today.
Each November or December, Pete and I hold a review and draw up a strategic plan as part of the annual meeting requirement for our LLC. This year the meeting was held in Toowoomba, Australia where we were house sitting. Other years, we’ve rented a conference room at a local hotel (and collected points and hotel status for doing so), sat by the pool with umbrella drinks on Kaua’i, or simply took a break and cleared our home office desks.
The value of an annual meeting is that we can be honest with ourselves. Plus, since we each work on separate areas within the business, it’s a great opportunity to bring each other up to speed. All good business requires is that we do more of what’s working and stop doing what isn’t.
Right now what’s working for us is a combination of activities that bring in diverse revenue:
- Online stores with Print on Demand partners
- Self-publishing – electronic and hard copy books
- Affiliate sales
- Small business consulting
- Analysis and strategy drafting
- Social media and website assistance
- POD development to supplement product or existing merchandise sales
- Client mailing list maintenance and oversight
- In-kind compensation from travel partners in exchange for social media exposure and reviews
While it may seem as though life as a location independent is all travel to fun places, sightseeing, eating and drinking out (and there’s quite a bit of all that! yay!), we do work hard behind the scenes. It was amusing to hear someone we’d recently met declare in surprise, “You work so much!” Um, well, yeah. Misconceptions about a travel-based lifestyle, particularly with respect to those of us who do need to work for a living, are pretty common. Since the beginning of the year, for example, we’ve:
- Published a new self-help title
- Launched a new niche website
- Collected affiliate revenue from niche e-newsletter marketing and reviews
- Collected monthly commissions and referral fees from three POD partners
- Collected monthly revenue from two publishing sources on five different titles
- Performed consulting work for billable hours
We’re probably working more hours than we ever did at traditional jobs behind the scenes here at PassingThru. Honestly? It doesn’t feel like that much. The difference is we do the work when we want to, and we like doing it. If we want a break, we take one. If there’s a need for downtime for a health issue, as there recently was for me, we’ve got the flexibility. And we’re learning not to plan too strictly, too far in advance. We know where we’ll be in the next couple of months but beyond that, there’s an open book awaiting.
So what about these posts about difficult realities of online work and what you should and shouldn’t be doing? Well, some of them, the ones who are disappointed about working so hard and achieving unacceptable results, can be dismissed outright. Unfortunately, whether due to naiveté and lack of proper planning, these folks are in painful dues-paying mode and some are giving up way too soon. Most are taking a very short term view of what is a long-term proposition. We wrote about this eons ago in “Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare.”
Some holier than thou critics are paying too much attention, frankly, to what others are doing altogether in an effort to negate. Appointing yourself the hall monitor of a community and rapping knuckles indiscriminately is something that should have gone out in high school. Unfortunately, it lives on replete with self-righteous justification online. This is just a common hazard as old as the internet itself. If you’ve got the time and energy to do that sort of thing, wouldn’t it be better spent in a positive direction?
There’s more than one way to skin the cat, particularly in niches as huge as travel and making money online. We’re going to keep our noses to the grindstone here behind the scenes at PassingThru, continue with what’s working, avail ourselves of constructive opportunities and information, and lend a hand to others as best we can. What’s happening behind the scenes with you?