Starting over again with nothing at 37 (the continuing saga of a minimalist, nomadic lifestyle)

5 years ago I wrote a post about “starting over with nothing at 32.”

Since for some reason it’s still getting traffic, I thought I better post an updated version.

Now I’m 37. And I still have nothing.

No house, no car, I’m not even renting an apartment right now – just AirBNBs.

Only now I’m a lot closer to 40, and that’s kind of terrifying.

Recently I’ve been in Oregon looking for land to buy and turn into a writer’s colony.

My wife and I have been semi-nomadic for the past 5 years, spending about 4 months on the road (all over Europe and other places), only now that I’ve finished my PhD, we’re getting rid of our apartment in Taiwan as well.

It’s a little bit heartbreaking to have to throw out all the shit you don’t need (which you bought years before, and will probably have to buy again someday when you settle down).

But we couldn’t justify paying rent on an apartment we’re never in.

So now, we’re free – we’ll head to Columbia for the next few months, to catch up with some friends we met on the Nomad Cruise (a boat full of digital nomads that went from the Canary Islands to the Dominican Republic). Then Austin and Houston for some spring writing conferences… then Portugal and maybe Malta in the fall.

But we’re not kids anymore. We’re not really into partying, or exploring, or having adventures. Most days I just want to be in a nice coffee shop with a nice view doing some work (my own work, like writing novels).

Fortunately, I’m also much less stressed than I was 5 years ago because, even though I still don’t have any savings, my income has gone up quite a bit, and I’ve transitioned a lot of my ‘active’ income to passive revenue streams. It’s still pretty early in 2017, but I’ve made over $12,000 this month on a variety of online projects, including nearly $4000 with my fiction. Most of that is going towards my online businesses, new websites, my assistant, and all the bills I need to pay to keep things running (mailchimp, clickfunnels, teachable, online membership fees, etc).

But the fact that I can make that much money is inspirational.

My big aim in 2017 is to figure out how to fix all my funnels and platforms to make more money, and to reduce all my monthly costs and expenses so I can start saving some of it. I also plan to go big in 2017 by expanding my businesses and with ads and launching some online courses.

I feel like I’ve got things figured out now, and can finally start offering the value and vision at the root of my brand, Creativindie, and delivering on some of the promises I’ve made to support authors and artists (*I should point out that, while I personally have nothing, an argument could be made that my influence has value and merit – my resources have helped thousands of authors publish in the last few years. I’m gifting, not collecting.)

That said… I’m going to spend the next few years focusing on scaling up, saving more, and building some permanence and stability into our lifestyle.

I don’t expect I’ll have a regular retirement, but I do need to be prepared for any emergencies or health problems.

The 5 year update

Oh crap – so I did write this initial post 5 years ago but never published it. It feels a little whiny. And while I still have ALL the confidence that I can definitely make this online business stuff work, a pandemic, inflation and a quasi-recession, not to mention a huge dip in traffic (because I spent years writing fiction instead of blogging or maintaining my websites) means I’m still not in a great place.

I did manage to *save* some extra income:
1. some in stocks, which grew and have now gone down (30% loss)
2. some in crypto, which grew big and then crashed (90% loss)

3. some in buying new online business, tools and websites (some of them might pan out, but most of it was foolish and desperate).

I still feel moderately OK with where I’m at, but I’ve let some big opportunities pass me by, the costs of running my businesses is increasing out of control, and I’m still trying to finish the goals and projects I start 5 or 10 years ago.

I still feel like I’ve gained useful experiences, and understand that failing always provides insight and means you’ve taken action; I’m OK failing upwards and forwards… but I’ve also been failing long enough that I’m a bit resentful things haven’t gotten easier, and I’ve never seen *more* success than those earlier successes I had a decade ago, so it feels a lot like standing still.

I meant to write a post just on becoming a digital nomad – which I have done but misplaced, it’s around somewhere I’ll find it – and all the ways to make money online, because I’m going to broaden this site a little away from writing and publishing, and towards helping artists and authors start profitable freelance businesses. I enjoy the process of blogging and seo, and I’m a little jealous of some friends (or random clueless *marketers*) who have been hired by some big company to do a content marketing strategy and content writing; I’m also intrigued by premium ghostwriting, but mostly I want to disappear into a cabin in the woods which unfortunately, all seem to cost at least half a million bucks (in Oregon or Washington), and so for the moment (going on 3 years? I lost track of the months somewhere in 2021) we live in Taiwan, where rent is about $600/month, until I can rebuild my faltering digital empire.

Being a digital nomad is pretty awesome, but it can be lonely (even for couples!) and gets tedious – after we saw all the best places in the world more than once, the wanderlust was noticeably absent and we’ve downsized for comfort and “routine” – which, since we don’t have real jobs, means waking up whenever and sleeping whenever (usually until the sun goes down like vampires).

While traveling, I made a bunch of videos for my online courses, and those are kind of fun (shot in Bali, Spain, Montenegro, Japan) – my favorite digital nomad hotspots of the top of my head, places I’d like to go back: Malta, Italy, Portugal, Vietnam, Argentina (one of the few places I haven’t revisited, but it’s tricky getting my wife a visa).

I feel like, everybody is having a pretty tough time with everything right now, so I’m pretty grateful I’ve made it work and *still* don’t have a real job, a boss or any reason to use an alarm clock ever – but I’m also on maintenance mode trying to bootstrap myself into the elusive success I’ve been chasing for years.

If you’re also a creative person building stuff online and trying to get traffic, views or shares – I hope you’ll stick around! I’ve got a free “manifesto” to making shit that matters. It’s decent, though a sliver of the opus I have planned. I’ve been commiserating with ADHD memes and accepting that some of my devious quirks (absolute refusal to do The Thing for any reason at all besides personal enjoyment) are common symptoms of a neurodivergent brain – which is also a core feature of creativity and inspiration in general (read: the 2 types of creative fear).

That’s it for me – publishing this post 5 years after writing it is on par with most of my creative progress – but sometimes you can savor small victories like publishing a short and long overdue blog post. It’s easier to do all the things poorly than one thing really well, and sometimes posting raw unpolished content has its own inherent benefits that are overlooked by perfectionists.

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