Five Years of Gainful Unemployment: lessons learned
It’ll soon be 5 years since I quit my final job and went full-time as a blogger.
And what a ride it’s been!
Recently, working online has become fashionable.
Almost everyone’s working from home, or wants to.
Global virus lockdowns will do that, I guess.
Suddenly, all kinds of people are asking me for advice on how to make money from the comfort of home.
So I figured I’d give y’all a bit of advice – mostly in the form of links to other posts I’ve written. But I’ve got a couple of original points as well.
Let me tell you: not having a job is the gift that keeps on giving.
Now that we’re allowed outside again, my daily routine is approximately the following:
- Get up at 7-ish.
- Drink coffee next to the seaport, here in Barcelona.
- Walk around all morning.
- Drink beer at one of our many sidewalk cafés.
- Have lunch.
- Wake up, repeat walking / beer drinking routine until dinner time.
- Have dinner.
In case it wasn’t obvious, work is barely a part of the routine – if at all. And I count myself as very lucky.
I can spend my days celebrating freedom from shitty jobs – and shitty governments prohibiting everything I enjoy.
But don’t get the wrong idea. I worked my ass off to get here.
Not so long ago, in fact, I was schlepping all over Madrid for 10 bucks an hour, giving English classes to boring people in suits.
It was the fateful year of 2014, and I’d recently broken up with my long-term girlfriend Mariglia.
Back in those days, my routine was much different. I’d be up at 6:30 and on the bus at 7:15 in the morning, and I’d spend all day going from office to office.
I had a couple of free hours in mid-morning, and that’s when I’d go to a café on La Castellana to sit my ass down and work on my plan B.
Basically, I’d sit there and write. 1000 or 2000 words a day. Books, blog posts, whatever. Whatever it took to be able to fire my boss and live the laptop lifestyle.
What free time I had, in those days, was spent going on Tinder dates, and doing pushups on the tile floor in my kitchen while cooking my lunch.
In other words, I spent years working 12-hour days, to get to the point where I could have 4-hour weeks.
And I couldn’t have been happier.
But if you see some teenager on Instagram, lounging on the hood of a Lamborghini and talking about he became a 6-figure consultant in just a couple of hours, please take his promises of “mucho dinero by the end of the week” with a grain of salt.
I know some successful people at this point, and literally none of them got there without a lot of hard work.
(I’m not sure who said it, but I once saw a quote saying that most people toil in obscurity for at least a decade before becoming an “overnight success”. Sounds true from my experience.)
All of which brings us to my first big point of the day…
Royalties: work once, get paid forever
This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last several years.
If there’s any way you can get paid multiple times for doing the work once, you’ll be much happier – and end up working much less in the long run.
When I was giving English classes, I’d go and give the same lesson about the pronunciation of beach vs bitch to 6 different groups of people in a day.
Eventually, I realized I could just make a video explaining the same thing, and reach thousands of people… usually in less time than it took me to give a single group class.
In fact, my beach vs bitch video now has more than 26,000 views. That’s more than I could have done in several lifetimes as a “real teacher”. And it’s not even one of my more popular videos.
And don’t get me wrong, YouTube sucks as a business model – at least for us in the bottom 99% of content creators.
But I also started publishing Kindle books in 2011, and I’m still getting paid for stuff I did back then.
Writing books about grammar sucks. Just believe me. But getting paid on the 28th of every month for something you did 9 years ago is pretty awesome.
So if you can figure out a way to earn royalties, go for it.
Just imagine all those musicians out there, still earning money for some shitty song they wrote in 1982. They’re real people just like you and me.
They might suck – like John-Mellencamp-level suck – but they’re still cashing checks from some awful lyrics they wrote while taking a dump… almost 40 years ago.
So go get paid, y’all.
Just do the fucking work!
I spent the first few days of the Covid-19 lockdown feeling a mix of emotions…
From crying-into-my-pillow despair to uproarious laughter in the space of minutes.
The despair had a good explanation: the world was (is) being run by idiots, the cult of laziness and mediocrity was taking over everything, and the most useless of shitheads were virtue-signalling so hard on social media that I could barely breathe.
The uproarious laughter came from the posts by people who’d been working at home for a total of 36 non-consecutive hours and were suddenly giving sage advice, as well as showing off pics of their curated workspaces to all and sundry.
As a seasoned pro who’s 5 years into the game, lemme tell you: your desk doesn’t matter.
I’ve written 12 books and 2000 blog posts without ever “owning” a desk – I mostly work on the sofa, on my kitchen table, or in some café or hotel bar. In the early days I did a lot of writing in bed, with a cheap pillow between my back and the wall.
So if you find yourself in a spiral of mental masturbation about chairs or desk lamps or whatever, my advice is…
Just shut up and do the fucking work!
Don’t make excuses.
If you have a job (or side hustle) that you can do while sitting down, you’re already doing fine in life. ‘Cause right now, as you’re reading this, there’s some 10-year-old kid in India who’s carrying loads of bricks around for $1 a day.
Ask him about his curated workspace and his reclaimed wood tables. Ask him about his lumbar support.
C’mon. I dare ya.
Curated wisdom from my reclaimed wood blog posts of past years…
I’ve already written plenty of blog posts about making money online, being a better writer, getting blog traffic, etc.
So let’s just do a review of some of my better articles, rather than rewriting everything here.
- Here’s how to start a blog.
- Also, how to get traffic to your blog or website.
- Then there’s this one, about 5 ways to monetize your blog (or other online presence).
- My 5 favorite books about how to be a better writer.
- Some advice about how to deal with failure.
- My ultimate guide to financial independence.
- And finally, one of my all-time favorite articles: Why your life plan is bullshit – and what to do instead.
I’m sure I’ve written more useful stuff on here in the past several years… just click around on some links and you’ll find it.
The main lesson from all of this Covid-19 bullshit
It’s been a tough couple of months, but Barcelona is getting back to normal – finally.
And I’ve learned a couple of things in the meantime.
Most of it would probably lose me the majority of my (3 or 4) friends if I talked about it online.
But one thing I can talk about is: be prepared.
I’ve just been lucky in all of this. And I’m fine. Online education is still a thing, despite the virus.
But looking around, I’ve realized you’ve gotta be prepared for anything.
A lot of people, when they start a business, write a business plan.
And personally, I feel like business plans are an unnecessary waste of time, in most cases.
But even if you had a business plan, I can pretty much guarantee it didn’t have a part about what to do when the government tells you that you can’t open for 3 months. Those people who owned hotels in beach towns probably thought they were geniuses on March 8th. And they were. Because nobody expects these once-in-a-century events, until they happen.
So if you’re going to start a business – and you definitely should – you’ve got to be ready to adapt when things go wrong… and savings in the bank in case adapting is impossible.
I’ve had platforms I worked hard on change their pricing models overnight, robbing me of 70% of my income.
I’ve had my web host delete my site overnight because Spanish bureaucracy something something. (Pro tip: use Siteground.)
I’ve had projects that succeeded unexpectedly, and even more projects that completely failed.
What I’ve learned is, to quote Ryan Holiday, the obstacle is the way. Shit’s gonna happen. If you’re not prepared, you’d better be ready to change things.
‘Cause shit’s ALWAYS gonna happen.
One way or another, life is unpredictable and ever-changing.
So prepare yourself.
That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you’re doing great, wherever you are.
Keep it real, y’all.
And have fun,
Mr Chorizo (AKA Mr Daniel).
P.S. Since we’re doing links here, I’ve also got some articles about the story of my life. It might be educational. And even if it isn’t, it could be fun. Here’s my origin story. Then you’ve got parts one, two, three and four. Enjoy. And don’t forget to comment!