Location Independence Medellin

What’s the point of location independence?

Location Independence Medellin

What’s the point of location independence… if you don’t change locations?

When you think about location independence, what location do you think of? A good majority of the bloggers and other ‘experts’ in this industry fall into 1 of 2 categories: Those that choose a location based mainly on the low cost of living, and those that don’t bother to change locations at all..

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#digitalnomad #hustle”]Achieving location independence is just the beginning.[/tweetthis]

Initially, I fell into the 2nd category, and then almost fell victim to the 1st category. Fortunately, I struck out on a better path..

Choosing the location

plane wingWhen I decided to become a digital nomad, I divided my time between setting up online income streams and choosing an ideal location to start my journey. Initially, I thought Chiang Mai might be a good spot, as it is an extremely popular ‘digital nomad hub’.

Due to a few logistical concerns, we eventually settled on another location; Medellin, Colombia. Luckily, I stayed true to my philosophy of finding the best solution for me, not what the majority seems to have chosen.

I’ll give a full review of Medellin as a digital nomad destination in an upcoming post. 

With that decision made, everything else fell into place. Well, mostly.


slip on banana peelHaving a plan is essential, but rarely does that plan hold up once the action starts. This was no different. Even though everything had been planned for, there were a few hiccups.

First, our flight arrived just as the airport was closing, which meant no chance at getting a little local currency, and practically no cabs available. The airport was also lacking WiFi, so we were on our own.

On top of this, there was some additional paperwork needed to ‘import’ our cats (basically another small shakedown), and there were no English speakers to be found. Luckily, the official and I both spoke enough French to get things squared away.

At this point, it was after midnight, and the few ‘cabs’ available appeared to be opportunists looking to deprive us of our luggage. I managed to find an ‘off duty’ cab driver who happened to be at the airport to pick up his girlfriend, and offered him a bit extra, roughly triple the normal fare (but still less than 1/2 of what it would cost in the US), to take us across the city.


Aside from the chaos of arriving in a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t know your way around, and don’t know anybody, we figured things out pretty fast.

In my experience, most people will help you out when you need it. We did need to make some lifestyle changes, but most of them were minor. Once we’d finished a few Spanish lessons, went out shopping, and learned our way around the city, we developed a nice routine.

Note: I think it’s important to learn the local customs and try to fit in a bit. This is in direct contrast to the boisterous tourist that expects the locals to go out of their way to accommodate him.

So What’s Next?

We’ve decided to finish up here, staying up to the 3 month mark, and then head back to a different part of the US for a little while, and then decide what to do and where to go next.

The Road Ahead

I should have plenty to talk about for the next Progress Report post at the end of April. Next week, I’m going to touch on a strategy I’ve written about before, but go much more in-depth.

See you next week,


Micro Jobs Featured Image

How to Learn or Improve Skills with Micro Jobs

Micro Jobs Featured Image

This post is a more in-depth look at the way I’ve been using Micro Jobs to both learn & improve my skills, and earn extra income.

What is a Micro Job?

In case you’re not too familiar with this term, here is a simple explanation:

Micro jobs are tasks that typically take 15 minutes or less to complete (but can also be up to a couple hours in length). These are mostly online jobs, so think of them as a task that is too small to outsource conventionally (setting up a job posting on Upwork, then hiring the best applicant).

Some examples might be: having a 500 word article written, getting a voice over for either your voicemail greeting or a short video, having header images created for your social media sites, etc.

Most of the time, these tasks are packaged more as a commodity. You’ll find a few types of sites available. On some sites, sellers list their services, and you choose one that is the best match based on price, ratings, and turnaround time. The second site you’ll likely encounter is one that you post your task on, and freelancers will submit their bids to you.

There are pros and cons of each, but for today, I’ll be sticking to the first type of site. This type of site will usually get your work finished quicker, without having to sift through dozens of bids, and in most cases, you don’t pay (or can be refunded) if you’re not satisfied with the work.

Micro Job StrategiesMicro Job Strategies

I’ve found there to be 2 main ways that micro jobs are used.

  1. as a buyer outsourcing/delegating small tasks
  2. as a seller to earn extra income

For this post, I will be focusing on a variation of strategy #2.

As you may have already read in my Journey Toward Location Independence, I have been in the middle of a huge shift in my personal & professional life. As my business was changing, I realized that I needed to learn new skills, and replace my offline income with online sources.

I started on this journey back in March 2014, and in this time have sifted through many ‘opportunities’ (which mostly ended up being dead ends, scams, etc.), and was able to eventually find some legitimate online jobs.

After much trial & error, I settled on these elements to make up my micro jobs strategy:

  1. I must be learning skills that serve a dual purpose.
  2. These skills must build on each other.

By serving a dual purpose, I mean that my primary reason for working on micro jobs platforms is to learn skills that I can apply in multiple areas of my life.

Writing or marketing, for instance, can both be applied in a variety of areas, while whistling or juggling, on the other hand, have limited applicability in life (for most people).

By having the skills build on each other, I mean that I prefer them to be related and in the same field, rather than scattered all over the place.

Learning Skills

Earning extra income is another factor to consider, but it only plays a minor role. What the income does, is provide motivation and accountability.

A ‘Real World’ Example

For a real world (non-micro) example, I spent a few years working as the Editor in Chief for a community organization and later as the Executive Director for the same group, mainly to learn and improve my skills.

Some of the skills I learned include: design & layout, copy editing, proofreading, desktop publishing, print & email marketing, and payment processing. While those skills came in handy for my offline business, they also help in running an online business and blogging.

Why Micro Jobs for Learning Skills?

Online Platforms ImageThe reason I’m emphasizing Micro Jobs for this purpose, is that the work is in bite sized chunks, and doesn’t require an ongoing commitment. It is also easy to change directions, if need be.

It also has another added benefit. When you become a seller on a Micro Job platform, you will learn how to communicate effectively with your buyers, a skill that will be useful should you become a buyer when outsourcing and delegating tasks.

So that’s a summary of why I feel that working as a seller on a Micro Job platform is a very effective way to learn or improve your skills.

My Journey

Now I’m going to share which skills I want to learn and improve, which platforms I’m working on, and how all of this fits into my overall online business strategy.

First, let’s start with a list of the platforms I’m currently working on, and a few more that I’ve tested out. I’ll also mention which skills I’m learning or improving. Afterward, I’ll cover their importance in the long run..

Which Platforms Am I On?


Fiverr ImageI started on Fiverr in April of 2014, and within 4 months I had turned it into a low 4-figure monthly income. When I initially started, it was entirely for the income, but I quickly saw that this was a big opportunity to learn something new.

I started out by learning customer service, and then added “gigs” in areas where I felt I needed some work. So far, I’ve learned how to sell a service, communicate with buyers, and create & streamline systems for order delivery, communications, etc.

I’ve even gone so far as to write a book, Double Your Fiverr Income, detailing my methods for success.

Fiverr Clones

Micro Jobs Platforms

I started expanding onto a few new ‘Fiverr like’ platforms once I become successful on Fiverr itself. I basically just cloned my Fiverr account onto many of these sites.

They don’t get nearly as much traffic as Fiverr (even combined), but I didn’t think it could hurt to cast a wider net. I still get some sales from them, usually whenever the site owners do a big marketing push, but they almost aren’t worth the time. This next site, however, has been a great addition..

People Per Hour

people per hourI actually came across People Per Hour by accident. This platform didn’t show up in my searches for ‘Fiverr clones’, but I found it through Udemy when I was looking for courses about Fiverr.

What I like about it is that is combines the ‘bid on jobs’ type of freelancing site with the ‘one and done’ gigs from Fiverr (which are called ‘hourlies’). The site feels a bit more professional, and jobs go for a much higher price than you can get on Fiverr, although it is a smaller site.

What I like most about these platforms, is that there is a definite beginning and end to each order. From start to finish, it usually only takes between 2-10 minutes to complete an order.

There’s no hunting for (and then bidding on) jobs, haggling on price, etc. You simply put your service out there, and fill orders as they come it.


iWriter Once I took on the mindset of using these platforms to learn or improve my skills, I realized that my writing could use improving. Although I’ve had good results from the web & email copy I’ve written, it would take me a long time to complete. What better way to improve, than by writing on various topics, with money and positive ratings at stake.

I got started on iWriter, which has this probationary period where you need to write 30 articles and maintain good ratings before you can actually start making decent money. This put positive pressure on me to write faster, otherwise I would practically be working for free.

Once you make it past the first 30 articles, you can actually start making decent money, but at that point I began to put that effort into the blog instead. (This was a case where I was mainly looking to improve skills, and the money was a distant second.)

This Blog is also a Platform

While we’re still talking about writing, I should mention this blog as another platform I’m working on. I’m looking to further improve my writing, and also learn WordPress, SEO, and everything else that goes along with running a blog.

It also helps me to gather my thoughts for future books & courses, and lets me connect with other like-minded people online.

Digital Sharecropper Blog

How They Tie Together

As I mentioned earlier, these skills need to build on one other. Still being somewhat new to the world of online business, there is so much to learn. These platforms provide me with motivation, income, and the skills I’ll need to continue to grow as a Digital Nomad.

In the short term, I’m finishing up my second book, and in the usual fashion, writing this book is another avenue to learn some new skills. My eBook can also be turned into audio book, and maybe even video courses on Udemy.

So there again, building on what I’ve already learned. I’m sure you can see the pattern. Everything I do has a long term focus, and I highly recommend you take this approach too. To the outside world, you’ll eventually look like an “overnight success”, but you will know the truth.

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#freelance #hustle”]An overnight success is really built one step at a time, one day at a time.[/tweetthis]

Thanks for stopping by, all the best.


DS 65 25 10 Featured Image

The 65-25-10 Formula

DS 65 25 10 Featured Image65-25-10 = Results-based Action Allocation

In this post, I’m going to share a strategy that has helped me become more productive, and keeps me motivated week after week to continue my work.

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 80/20 Principle (or Pareto Principle) before; the concept that 80% of your results are coming from just 20% of your actions. What I’m about to share is a formula that picks up where the 80/20 Principle leaves off.

The Birth of “65-25-10” asset allocation

Similar to many entrepreneurs, I’ve been a huge fan of 80/20 for years, and I also attribute much of my success to its use. It is quite rewarding to find that vital 20% and put more of your focus there.

As powerful as that concept is, there always seemed to be something missing.. While it shows you what you should be focusing on, it does leave something important out. Motivation.

Shifting the Focus to Results

As important as it is to work on the 20% of your business that is crucial to your success, I’ve found it equally important that you stay motivated to continue on.

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#goals” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]Results-based action allocation is about hitting milestones consistently. Think: relay race, NOT a marathon.[/tweetthis]

What good does it do you to focus on the 20%, if the results from that work will take months or years to be seen? Not much.

It was this realization that helped me begin to develop this formula. But what exactly needed to be allocated, and at what percentages?


After much trial and error, I’ve settled into a split of 65%, 25%, and 10%. This is how I divide my working hours. Check out this infographic for an overview, and I’ll explain it in detail below..

65 25 10 Formula Infographic
Click to Enlarge

65% – Results within 30 Days

I usually refer to this block of time as my short term focus. Spending nearly two-thirds of my time on the actions that will yield results within a month’s time seems to be the sweet spot.

This allows me to hit a few milestones each month, which really helps with maintaining focus & consistency with my work schedule.

25% – Results within 30-90 Days

This next block of time is the mid or medium term focus. This block is important for keeping a bit of focus on the future. (I’ve often fallen into the trap of putting too much of my focus on the future, and not enough on the present.)

This block helps keep you looking ahead, rather than just whatever happens to be right in front of you. It also helps build up the habit of delayed gratification.

10% – Results Expected in 90+ Days

While it is important to focus on the short and medium term time frames, it is also good to look a bit further out. This 10% is for time frames that range from 90 Days to 1 Year.

This smaller piece gives enough focus on the longer term without sacrificing the here and now. This can also be seen as your ‘speculative’ time block.

Things often change drastically in a year’s time, so putting too much focus on an objective too far out there can be detrimental. This is especially true if the situation changes before you get there.

How They Work Together

rocks balancingWhat I’ve experienced since allocating my time this way has been nothing short of life-altering. In the past, I would jump around from a mostly short-term focus to a mostly long-term focus, and everything in between. This led to inconsistencies in when I would achieve results and hit milestones.

A short-term focus meant that I was achieving lots of results, but they weren’t actually moving me forward very much. A long-term focus meant that I was ultimately moving forward, but not able to stay motivated long enough to reach my objectives.

It’s easy to stay focused & motivated when you have something to show for your efforts; small wins & milestones being hit week after week, month after month.

Implementing the 65-25-10 formula has brought my life back into balance.

I’ve also found several other areas of my life where this ‘action allocation’ model can be used.

Applications beyond Results-based Action Allocation

In the same way that the 80/20 Principle can be applied to different areas of you life and work, The 65-25-10 Formula has multiple applications.

Income Sources

coins stackedThere has been a lot of value received from applying this formula to my different income sources. Currently, 65% of my focus is on Active Income, 25% is on Passive Income, and 10% is focused on what I call “Experimental Income”.

The Active Income is pretty straight-forward. Anything that I need to do “on-demand” is active income. This could be any freelance work, or any other work that needs my direct input & involvement.

For Passive Income, the focus is on anything that can be created once, and sold more than once with little involvement after its creation. This is mostly Kindle books & email courses at the moment.

The Experimental category is for my more speculative ventures. Maybe I’ll end up getting paid for my efforts, and maybe not. It also usually has a much longer time horizon for receiving any benefits. Since the likelihood of a payoff is slim, it’s vital I limit this slice to 10%.

Investment Portfolio

Most people probably think of investing when they hear “allocation”. The categories here are as follows:

1. Investing for Growth

The majority of my investing is for growth. For me, these are ‘hand’s on’ investments that I have direct control over, and have near complete influence on the outcome. Mainly buying low, adding value, and then selling high; all done with a short-term turn around.

2. Investing for Safety

My second largest category is the ‘safer’ investments. These are slightly more passive, without as much of a ‘hand’s on’ approach. The main focus here is guaranteed returns, backed by hard assets.

3. Speculation

Speculation is simply that, speculation. These are long shots – high risk & high reward. I expect to fail 9 out of 10 times, with that 10th time covering the losses of the other 9, while still bringing in a nice return. These investments are complex & creative, and are full of excitement.


Individual Projects

Another area I’ve been testing this formula on is for individual projects. Not all projects move in a strictly linear manner, so for those that don’t, it’s a good formula to experiment with it.

For me, the 65% portion is typically the part of the project that takes the most time, or is the most straightforward. The 25% is for the parts that have waiting time, or have some back & forth between with a 3rd party. They are more deadline driven. Lastly, the 10% section is usually the finalizing of the project & tying all the loose ends up.

It’s different for each individual project, but it’s been helpful looking in projects this way..

Work, Growth, and RecreationLiesure on Boat

It’s also a good idea to have balance in life; work, growth, and recreation are all important, and life can begin to lose meaning if time isn’t being spent in one or more of these categories.

For most people, their work takes up the biggest portion of their time. I’ve been fortunate to have found a way to make a good living without sacrificing personal growth & recreation, but it’s still been important for me to spend some time in each category.

I currently spend more time with Growth than Recreation, but it could just as easily be the other way around. If you find yourself frustrated, depressed, or feeling a little ‘off’, it’s a good sign that Work has edged out at least one of the other two categories.

This Formula is Just a Guide

I’m still tweaking this formula the more I put it into practice, but just think of it as a guide. The main theme here is that almost everything we do can be broken down into smaller parts, and those parts can be sorted. By being aware of this, we can plan our actions and execute them better, leading to more effective results.

Putting it into Practice

I encourage you to take a look at the way you spend your waking hours. What areas do you find yourself excelling at? Which ones need work?

Pick an area that could use some improvement, and then look at the way you’re currently allocating your actions. Often, a small shift can lead to a huge improvement over time.

That’s it for now, see you next week.



DS Essentialism Review Featured Image

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Book Review

DS Essentialism Review Featured Image

This month I’m talking about a book that has been very important on my Journey Toward Location Independence. The book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

For a long time, I was at either end of the spectrum.

First, having way too many possessions: over a dozen vehicles, 2 homes, and multiple storage units (the consequences of running multiple businesses and owning dozens of rental properties).

Then a few years later, I took a different direction with my work, and became intrigued with the idea of minimalism. After a while though, this too seemed unfulfilling.

What’s wrong with minimalism?Essentialism

For all the high points, minimalism has plenty of lows too. It puts so much of the focus on simply having fewer possessions, and often I found myself making compromises.

It seems like with minimalism, the bragging rights come with owning practically nothing – even if it makes your life more difficult.

This is where essentialism comes in.

What’s different about Essentialism?

The main catchphrase of essentialism is Less, but better; singling out the vital few from the trivial many.

It’s not so much about having fewer things as it is about being conscious of what you do have, and striving to have the best for your specific situation. It even goes way beyond possessions; it influences how you spend your time and helps prioritize your life in general.

Start with what matters.

What matters most to you? The best electronic devices, plenty of free time, choosing more healthy groceries than junk food? You can start by choosing one area of your life you want to improve.

keep it simple

Decide what’s important to you, understand that there are trade-offs, and then you can begin eliminating things that don’t fit. It’s kind of like this post I read on a concept called The Conscious Consumer.

The Impact

Where this book had the most impact with me was when I was first planning to live abroad for a while. Being limited on the amount of things we could bring with us on the trip, it became important to make sure we were bringing the right items, and that they were high quality.

I started with all of the standard travel items (packing cubes, silicone bottles, luggage scale, etc.), most of which I was able to get for FREE (more about this in an upcoming post). After that, I started whittling down what I though were the important things until I could fit them in a single checked bag.

Travel Items: Essentialist vs Minimalist

Here are a few specific examples of items I decided to bring that a minimalist would have rejected:suitcase

  • Monitor stand – I often stand while I’m working, and can use this item to convert a kitchen table, counter, etc., into a ‘standing desk’.
  • Multiple bags (messenger bag, backpack, duffel bag, sling shoulder bag) – I prefer using the right bag for the right reason. Things like being out all day vs only out for a couple hours, traveling light (water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, etc.) vs taking my laptop, camera, Kindle, thermos, umbrella, snacks, etc.
  • Shoes – Most packing lists recommend 1, maybe 2 pair, but I brought 4 pair along. I wanted to have something for casual walking, gym shoes, slide sandals for the pool, and a good pair of hiking boots.
  • Music Gear – bass guitar and recording equipment.

That last example was a hard decision to make (since I had to use up an entire checked bag for it), but I’ve seen too many musicians let ‘life’ get in the way of their hobbies & interests..

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#minimalism #hustle” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]The Essentialist beats The Minimalist every time, because they have the right tools for the job.[/tweetthis]

Beyond Possessions

Aside from simply decreasing the amount of ‘stuff’ you have, I’ve found the principle of Essentialism helpful in many other areas of my life. From time management, to the different groups I’ve been involved with, to what activities I do in my free time, it’s had quite the impact.

I encourage you to check it out, it’s definitely worth the read. You can find it HERE.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll build on this post and last week’s ‘goals’ post by showing you the exact formula I use to manage my time. (Think: 80/20 2.0)




2016 Goals Post

New goals for 2016? Nope.

2016 Goals Post

As the new year begins to get underway, I thought it might be fitting to write the ‘customary New Year’s post’. While in one sense, I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon by writing about goals & resolutions, in another sense, it’s nice to harness some of the collective energy out there to start building (or maintaining) your momentum.

This is also the time that you typically see a swarm of Income Reports or Goals & Motivation for the New Year posted on blogs of all types, and I didn’t want to disappoint. But since this blog has only just begun, I don’t have much to report on those fronts.

Instead, I want to focus on the mechanics of how I set and achieve my goals. First, let me clear the air..

I Don’t Believe in New Year’s Resolutions

As I hinted at in the title, I strongly dislike the concept that we should begin moving toward new objectives on January 1st. It should be an ongoing process.

In the same way you usually don’t feel older/wiser on your birthday, but that new insights and instances of personal growth are felt at random intervals based on your experiences & revelations within certain situations.

Why I still make “New Year’s Resolutions” notepad and coffee

Not to contradict everything I’ve just stated, but I do make some plans & set new goals around the new year. It’s one of those rare times that you can tell those around you about your goals, and have them be encouraging & supportive.

Also, since I regularly set goals and evaluate my progress, I’ll use just about any excuse to pause and re-evaluate my situation.

What’s WAY better than resolutions?

In my opinion, resolutions are typically made in the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” fashion. In reality, the majority of them aren’t kept through the month of January, let alone the entire year.

To make things worse, I often hear people mention new goals in October & November, but say that they’ll wait until January to get started on them.

So What’s My System? set and reach goals

I’m currently using a system that is ongoing, and doesn’t rely on a single date on the calendar to start & stop. It is a combination of a long-term plan (updated annually), coupled with shorter sprints, which are then broken down even further into daily actions.

Long-Term (5-years)

This might seem a bit complicated, but it’s really quite simple once you get into it. It starts with a 1,3, & 5 year plan. This covers different areas of your life – Income, Lifestyle, Accomplishments, etc.

Something important to remember:

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#goals” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]People often overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year & underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years.[/tweetthis]

It isn’t too in depth. Just a sentence or two for each area of life, and 1-2 specific accomplishments I’d like to see in those areas.

Short-Term (90-days)

So once you have this big bird’s eye view of your ideal 1/3/5 year vision, you can break it down into smaller, actionable tasks. This is the part where we break it down into 90 day sprints.

This is a technique I learned from Jack Canfield’s Success Principles (Principle #8: Chunk It Down).

Now it’s time for a 90-day sheet where I list the smaller objectives & benchmarks that will help me accomplish the long term goals. These are broken down into: Active & Passive Income, Personal Development, Leisure, and Life Events/Milestones.

Again, this is just a brief outline. 2-3 objectives in each area is sufficient.

Weeklycomputer and journal

So now that our lofty 5-year goals have been broken down into what we intend to accomplish in the next 90 days, we can begin to break those down into weekly objectives.

I’ve found that having 3 important objectives of the week is more than enough to accomplish most/all of your goals. All it takes is 15 minutes before each week starts.

Once this has been done, you can get to work on your daily action plans.


Now it’s time to break them down even further. Each evening before I go to sleep, I choose the 3 tasks for the next day that will best move me forward. These tasks move me towards my weekly objectives, which in turn move me towards the 90 day and beyond time frames.

[tweetthis remove_url=”true”]A successful life is created 1 day at a time. Make each day a success, and you can’t help but create a successful life.[/tweetthis]

I realize that this system may seem a bit complex and time consuming, but it’s rather easy to implement. Here’s about how long I spend at each step:

  • 1/3/5 Year Planning – about an hour
  • 90-day sprints – another hour
  • Weekly – 15 minutes to plan it out, and another 15 minutes midweek to check on my progress
  • Daily – usually only 5 minutes

If that seems like a bit much, consider this: If you won’t take a few hours to plan for success, you won’t put it the time & focus needed to be successful. Period.

What Now?The 65 25 10 Formula

With all of this planning & goal setting, I’m sure you’re wondering how I these plans into action. I use something called The 65-25-10 Formula. In two weeks, I’ll be dedicating an entire post to that topic.

Until then, set some goals, and I’ll see you in the next post.