Why I’m Trading Thailand For London
Time Management And The Million Dollar Mistake
Going Straight For The Sale On Facebook

Why I’m Trading Thailand For London

Last year I wrote what turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts when I announced why I was trading London for Thailand. It’s time for Part 2, the part where I explain why I’m heading back home in July.

Now, there are many reasons why I could be looking to leave Thailand, aren’t there? I know what you want me to say. The supply of ladyboys could never last forever. Shockingly enough, it goes deeper than that.

The last seven months have been a hugely fun and unforgettable learning experience for me. I’ve had to embrace a culture that I have about as much in common with as a fish out of water. For anybody who has dabbled with the idea of visiting Thailand, I say do it. It’s a friendly and vibrant country, with some of the best damn beaches you’re ever going to see in your lifetime.

One of the reasons I left London was to chase full value for my money. When you’ve spent your entire life in the Greater London suburbs, it’s not difficult to put a high price on a tropical climate and a diet of fresh coconuts. These were things that appealed to me immensely, and they still do. But in leaving London, I’m sure I underestimated all the comforts and relationships I’d be leaving behind.

When I ask myself whether I could spend six months holidaying in Thailand every year, the answer is a resounding “show me the booking form“. But it’s difficult to settle here, and it feels like a temporary home.

Traveling alone is much different to traveling as a couple. My girlfriend works in fashion and if you know anything about the fashion world, you’ll be aware that it revolves around the major cities of New York, London, Paris and Milan. Her work almost demands that she be in the thick of her industry, and as much as we both love Thailand, Bangkok Fashion Week left a little to be desired in the prestige stakes.

We also have two puppies. I’d like to point this out to anybody who gets suckered in to the cute fluffy pet markets of Bangkok. Do not buy pets unless you’ve researched the quarantine regulations in your country. I wouldn’t give up my dogs for the world, but getting stiffed with a quarantine import bill for £5000 ($8000) was a major shock when I made their travel arrangements back to England.

There’s a misconception that Thailand is cheap. I guess it is, for certain commodities. But you have to understand that the tourist economy is vastly different to the local economy. And unless you know more than Hello and Goodbye in Thai, you’re going to find it pretty difficult to escape the tourist traps. My outgoings in London were roughly £1000/month ($1600). After noting down my expenses last week, I worked out that I’m spending on average £4200/month ($6700) in Thailand.

Those costs are inflated by living on the cusp of Downtown Bangkok, in one of the city’s prime locations, with an expansive 4 bedroom apartment. It also hits the wallet when you have to renew your visa every 60 days. I’ve already ticked off trips to Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia with other adventures planned for my last two months here.

So in response to those who say Thailand is a cheap recluse for oddballs who can’t survive in the west, I would have to say try it for yourself. Going by the prices I’ve experienced on my travels, America is one of the cheapest places I’ve ever visited. And Singapore is definitely the most expensive, although luxurious from coast to coast.

It could be as luxurious as my balls, I’m still going to refuse to pay $5 for a small pack of Oreos.

The weather here is hot and humid all year round. I don’t recommend heading to Thailand in April or May, unless you’re prepared to get down and dirty in your own sweat. I would also advice you not to make the schoolboy error of venturing in to a Bangkok thunderstorm under the assumption of “Eh, fuck it, I’m used to London showers, what’s the worst that could happen?” The worst that could happen is a monsoon in your face.

I’m definitely going to miss having a wardrobe full of shorts and summer shirts when I head back to London. Yet there are changes I’m looking forward to that have made the move a necessity. Seeing friends and family is obviously uplifting. Just being able to communicate freely, in my own language, is something I’ve learnt to appreciate. I find it quite difficult to express myself in broken Thai, and expression is a fundamental quality in all of our lives.

Looking further ahead, I’ve definitely caught the travel bug. I could never be one of the single state gremlins who knows little about what’s outside his city, let alone what goes on in a different country. By the end of 2012, I aim to have visited every continent (including Antarctica!). Until then, I think I’m going to enjoy the sun for a little while longer.

Seven months in Thailand and I’ve almost turned a shade of “slightly brownish white”!

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Time Management And The Million Dollar Mistake

If a business is centered around your individual talents, the need for good time management should be as obvious as a slap in the face. Running a business as the solo brains can be a grueling ordeal at the best of times. It becomes a nightmare if you are guilty of mismanaging time.

How often do you use time as an excuse for failing to meet the targets you set for yourself? Anybody who uses the phrase “there simply aren’t enough hours in the day” needs to realise that time is always at their disposal, and the only thing lacking is personal drive. Yes, even for those with four kids, demanding wives and multiple jobs. Good time management backed by decisive action is an unstoppable recipe for success.

I have dozens of websites in my portfolio. Some are fully realised and highly successful, others are half baked, while the rest resemble hilariously ill-conceived brainfarts that never should have seen the light of a GoDaddy domain checkout cart.

Finding time for so many projects can be an enormous headache, particularly when your attention is divided even further by a hyperactive affiliate marketing career.

It’s very easy to label the successful projects as the best ideas, but in the purest sense, they’re simply the areas you chose to spend your most valuable time. If you’re spending all your time on websites that have reached their peak and still don’t provide the monetary return you need to run a successful business, you’re stumping your own growth.

I only started making money online when I established that the correlation between websites I enjoyed building, and websites I made money from, wasn’t as strong as I first imagined. While you should always pursue your passions and aim for something genuine (it gives you a competitive advantage over the majority of Internet Marketers), you have to balance your time accordingly and work where the money is.

The biggest time management mistake, in my opinion, is the tendency to overestimate how long a task will require through to completion.

Before I grasped the error of my ways, I would assign myself task lists that looked like this:

1 hour: Write a new blog post on…
30 mins: Bookmark, update on Twitter, post on Facebook etc…

Now, what is wrong with that schedule? It’s always so tempting to divide our goals in to neat hourly chunks, but it would be foolish to do so. I would typically spend longer than an hour writing the blog post. But my “social bookmarking” spree would spiral in to 25 minutes of bitching on Twitter over nothing in particular. My schedule suggested that 30 minutes was necessary, and my attitude made it so.

You will naturally increase how long each task takes if you assign a longer time frame than is necessary. Doing so invites the draining twin sisters of procrastination and indecision in to your day. Work to a tighter deadline and you will often get a job done to the same quality in shorter time.

Deadlines are often seen in a negative light. They loom on the horizon as threatening confirmations of failure. But enormous power goes to the entrepreneur who can use the power of deadlines to control all he needs to be. I believe deadlines should be worshipped as the necessary milestones for turning our best kept ideas in to something physical.

In those calm moments where we sit down and sketch the steps required to reach our goals, we are using perfect logic. You can often find a great sense of clarity and expectation by scribbling what it is that you have to do. Your brain never betrays you. The steps you write are typically accurate blueprint plans for creating the success you desire. It’s the refusal to set a deadline that stops the plan from coming to fruition.

If your office storage is anything like mine, you already have a notepad tucked away somewhere with a foolproof idea worth millions of dollars. The moment you confined it to the back of your memory by refusing to set a deadline, you said goodbye to those riches. For your best planned ideas to be worth more than the paper they’re written on, they need to be set in to action with a definitive deadline.

Surely deep down, you understand that great achievers are never found guilty of underestimating what they can achieve in an hour’s work. If you spend day after day sending your brain in to a stupor while setting time aside for chores like linkbuilding and commenting on articles, how do you expect it to develop a winning mentality that aspires to be more than just a slave labourer?

But, I hear you say, those small stupor-inducing tasks add up. We need to build backlinks for our websites, and we need to share updates over Twitter. And I can’t deny that it’s often necessary, but it should never be the backbone of your working day. Making it so is time management gone severely wrong.

People forget how the skill of managing time encompasses more than simply assigning scheduling tasks. It also means delegating or outsourcing the simple work. Anything that distracts you from being the creative and innovative brains at the helm of your business is a burden you should do without.

Likewise, cluttered to-do lists are a sign of poorly planned scheduling and short term thinking. A stressed looking businessman with seventeen items on his to-do list usually only has himself to blame. Half of those items should have been done yesterday, and the other half could be done tomorrow. Assigning too many meaningless tasks is the best way to ensure you’re left feeling unsatisfied at the end of the day, and unmotivated throughout it.

When allowed to degenerate, poor time management becomes a vicious cycle. We create new problems and then burden ourselves with enormous stress by losing the clarity of our original plans.

Many entrepreneurs persistently undervalue their time and by doing so, fail to realise the true potential of their businesses. It may start with a notepad scribble, but all achievement has to be nursed through deadlines and bouts of self-discipline.

Being too busy for a moment of inspiration could turn in to your million dollar mistake.

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Going Straight For The Sale On Facebook

Many people assume there can be only two groups of advertisers on Facebook. Suited brand bidders and scandalous affiliate scumbags like you and I.

It’s definitely easy to spot the work of an affiliate on Facebook. For one, our ads are obliged to follow the miscreant guidelines that Facebook happily throws out the window if you’re a respected company that doesn’t have time for their bullshit scrutiny. An affiliate ad looks disheveled with an aura of “edited for the 46th time” before it ever goes public.

There’s a false belief that affiliates can only profit by slinging leads and submits on Facebook. No doubt, this is the road with the easiest learning curve. But when was the last time you opened your mind to the possibility of selling more than just leads? There are thousands of products you could sell if you simply threw the net further than your CPA network’s Hottest Offers chart.

I’m sure you knew this already. Most affiliates dismiss the idea of going straight for a sale as too bold and too much to ask of a famously fickle community like Facebook. I’ve seen that it’s possible, and the rewards can be very high. Is it easy? The words easy and affiliate marketing are so 2007. I’m sorry to break it to you.

You will need a very firm grasp over your product’s target market, and more importantly, the ability to drill down and cyphon these eyeballs from the rest. Facebook is the ultimate congregation of procrastinating minds, and procrastination isn’t often a quality you’d associate with your next customer.

One of my most successful Facebook sales campaigns came through selling language learning packs to English speaking citizens based in foreign countries. I knew this was a buying market. How did I know? When you’ve been given a 360 degree tour of Bangkok for not being able to direct your taxi driver with the right grunted syllables, you just know. Misunderstood tourists will resort to desperate measures when their English speaking life support runs out.

I could also guarantee that almost everybody speaking only English in these foreign countries would have – at some point or another – given due thought to the idea of learning the language of their adopted home’s tongue.

Even this level of targeting was not enough to get the campaigns profitable. That’s where most affiliates run back to what they see as safe havens in the dating and gaming verticals.

I often talk about the importance of having a good sales funnel, and more often than not I’m talking in the context of scoring a registration or a lead. If you’re going straight for the sale, you need to be hawking that sales funnel like your affiliate bacon depends on it.

I realised pretty quickly that to sell a product, I couldn’t get away with the same broadly themed dating ads I was so used to grappling with interns’ devil horns over. I divided my ad groups in to three baseline markets.

1. Those who were abroad and wanting to learn the language.
2. Those who were abroad and already learning the language.
3. Those who were abroad and didn’t realise what they could gain by learning the language.

My theory was that a user from one group couldn’t convert with the sales pitch of another. And that was proven with my initial tests where I simply lost too many clicks on traffic that wasn’t primed to convert. So for each ad group, I designed a landing page variation to directly funnel that particular user through to the desired sale.

For those already learning the language – and you have to call them out with headlines like “Already Struggling To Learn X?” to be able to group them – I addressed the problems with taking formal classes, and every other language learning solution. You want to use more of a comparison landing page for these individuals. Show them your way is better.

For those who didn’t realise what they could gain by learning the new language, I turned my attention to the other desires these individuals were likely to harbour. Qualities like a good social life, the ability to haggle for better prices and even attracting sexy strangers from a foreign land who desired them but “just couldn’t show it in English”. So in came the ad texts like “Still Don’t Think You Need To Learn X?” and “Want to get a date in Country X? 86% of [your nationality here] find it easier by learning these core phrases…

A good salesman should know that selling a product is rarely about matching a solution to a problem. But all too often about creating a problem to solve.

This is a core principle behind any successful CPS campaign on Facebook. It’s damn near impossible to generate high value sales via a time spunking vehicle like Facebook, without laser targeting the exact mindset of your customer and thinking in his own shoes.

You don’t have the search platform’s advantage of being able to interpret a user’s train of thoughts by his search terms. With demographic platforms, you need to create baseline ad markets and even tighter sales funnels. You simply need to learn more about who you’re marketing to, by seeking more with the tools at your disposal. In my case, those targeting tools were profile keywords, spoken languages and places of residence.

Going straight for the sales jugular can require much finer planning than basic lead generation, however it’s balanced out by the benefits.

Dating offers, which still dominate affiliate output on Facebook, blow hot and cold like the seasons. It’s no secret their profit margins are disappearing steadily as bid prices rise and payouts stay the same. Working with sales gives you much greater flex. The payouts are usually better, and the performance more reliable over the long term. Merchants will happily resist the urge to fuck over an affiliate who constantly brings them new credit card digits.

Being able to stay profitable while delivering sales also gives you the holding rights to demand a sizeable consultation fee with the very company you’re working with. On more than one occasion, I’ve sold companies my most lucrative ads for their own products. To them, it’s like a lesson in social media. For me, it’s money in the bank that I would have struggled to earn against the tide of banner blindness and tighter margins.

If you’re wondering what the best products to sell would be, there’s a seat waiting for you in a gigantic crowd of fellow marketers who are just as lost as you. None of us can speak with any confidence until the profit is sitting in our bank accounts. I would, however, suggest you stick to products that can be matched to consumer problems that are difficult to sweep under the carpet and forget about.

Whatever you’re selling has to be high up on the priority list of what your baseline markets are going to be willing to invest in. Selling cute fluffy toys to expecting mothers probably isn’t going to be as high on the list as a must-read handbook titled “How To Not Kill Your Spawn On The First Night“. One is a nice idea, the other is a pressing matter. This often distinguishes the products that sell, and thereby leave you feeling like a manipulative filthbeast, from the cute ideas that tank.

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  • If you’re not already registered on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine. Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny – BTW, I have a limited number of coupon codes giving new members $10 off their monthly subscription. Email me for a code.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter Love you long time. Thanks for reading.

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