This short series of articles is related to expats earning a living in the Philippines. I am focusing on sales and marketing, because that is the area of my expertise… It is my trade, and it is where my education focused. I hope to pass on some of that knowledge to readers on this site. Sales, or marketing for that matter, despite what the textbooks might tell you, is not a science, but an art. There are no hard and fast laws or rules, but the influence of marketing is felt throughout the business world. It is my observation that many, if not most, expats who fail in trying to earn a living in the Philippines fail, in part, because they lack an understanding of basic sales and marketing principles. However you decide to earn a living here, you must always remember that without sales, you are not in business.
If you are on the road to self-employment in the Philippines, I highly recommend that you purchase Bob’s book, 49 Ways to Earn a Living in the Philippines. It is full of useful information and ideas to get you started. No other e-book written by so-called expat “experts” even comes close.
One trend that is hard to miss in recent years is the explosion of number of expats blogging on the Internet. It sometimes seems that it is almost a requirement for every expat who lives here to blog about their experience. Some have produced very good, interesting sites, that are highly useful and contain an abundance of good information. Others have created sites that are, quite frankly, a mess.
One thing that they all have in common is that they all struggle to monetize their sites. You put in the time and effort to create the blog (very little money) and then what? Why is that AdSense account not earning? Why am I not yet able to retire?
Live in the Philippines was really the first blog / web magazine that covered the Philippines in any serious depth. Bob was a pioneer, of sorts. In many ways, I seem to get the impression that readers seem to think that he earns an awful lot of money from this site. On the contrary, Bob has told me himself that LiP generates relatively little in income. So, how does he make money?
Without going into specific details in his book, I will give readers a general idea: LiP is a sales tool.
You read that correctly. LiP generates very little money on its’ own. However, think for a minute about the site, the visitors, and what people receive who read the site:
1. LiP has been running since 2006. It currently receives thousands of daily visitors, most of whom do not leave any comments or make any public statements.
2. LiP is highly targeted. Its’ audience is the expat community in the Philippines and those foreigners thinking of moving here. Though there are many Filipino and OFW readers, they are not the target market.
3. LiP provides useful, and generally factual, information. This is what the site is selling. It is what draws people to the site. The longer they stay on the site, the longer that they will see advertisements, links, and other promotions. By keeping the content varied, interesting, and factual, people return to the site again and again. There are several thousand pages of archived information, all free of charge. By keeping the site family friendly, it has developed a reputation as the “go to” source on expats in the Philippines. Indeed, Bob is very frequently interviewed by local media since he has become the “expert” in providing information.
Now, none of this happened overnight. Bob has written that it took a few years for traffic to build to sustainable levels. It took time for his search rankings to place high.
The site, quite simply, attracts potential customers, in a target market, to Bob’s other businesses that DO generate direct income, whether they are products or services. Certainly, he runs some advertisements on the site. Yes, he earns a bit of income from that. However, the serious money comes from using the site to generate direct sales to a highly targeted audience.
You, the reader, by visiting this site, have already told Bob a number of things about you, whether or not you comment:
1. You have an interest in the Philippines.
2. You are thinking of moving here.
3. You are already here.
From your IP address, he knows the general location where you are commenting or visiting from. He can also get a good idea about how technically advanced you are by looking at how you arrived. Are his links / ads working? He can make a guess on that, too. How did you arrive on the site? What did you view on here? What sites did you go to afterwards? How long did you view certain topics? What search terms did you type in to find the site?
All of this information is known, in general terms. For example, if 50 people Google “Find Filipina Babes” every day and end up on LiP, how many visitors are frequently reading the topics? Should Bob place more ads for his WoWPhilippines flower service?
It is by using these metrics and providing useful information to a highly targeted market that he earns money. The blog itself does not do that. Sometimes, Bob or one of the writers is accused of writing about controversial topics in order to generate traffic. That is not necessarily the case, either. Though there may be a spike in traffic, it is temporary.
So, how do you earn money by using a blog? You use it as a tool to sell something else, whether or not that something else is a product, service, or information. Look at what is sold on this site: All three categories. Yet, they all have one thing in common: They all are sold to a targeted audience.
When starting a blog, this should be the first question you ask yourself: “What do I want to accomplish?” Follow this with, “Who am I trying to reach?” and “Why would they visit the site?” Note that these questions precede, “How do I earn money?”
If you start with “How do I earn money?”, then give up now and head over to the online “AdSense” gurus and enjoy your ponzi scheme. Deliver value, and customers will come. There is nothing magic about that. However, it takes time and a lot of work to generate results.
To illustrate, suppose you were a bricklayer, a master mason, in the States. Do you want to lay bricks here at $5 per day? Or, would you perhaps have more luck starting an online masonry school? With customers all over the world? Offering expertise that you already possess. So, you write articles about bricklaying on your blog. Videotape your projects as a “how to”. Sell designs and plans on the site. Sell advertising to home improvement stores or hardware stores. Place links and ads in the blog to your online classes. This could be any profession: Replace bricklayer with pilot, architect, truck driver, accountant. The point is that if you give people bona fide content, they will come, and a certain number / percentage will purchase. You are giving something of value away for free.
Where many expat bloggers seem to fail is that they write a bunch of articles similar to the dozens on other sites, place an AdSense or Amazon box on the page and think that the dollars will start rolling in (and AdSense does nothing to discourage this belief… They want the ads all over the Net). Or, they will write a poorly written e-book loaded with information that is available free elsewhere, and wonder why the money isn’t coming. So, they get discouraged, and the content, the attraction to the site, disappears. No longer any reason to visit. Blogging is work. Those who work at it are the ones who succeeed. Those who use it to sell are those who succeed.
So, you write about what you know, whether that is your profession, hobby… Any topic. The audience can be very narrow, or broad. Who you target is important. Affiliated products or services to that target audience are your revenue stream. It doesn’t need to be a hard sell. LiP is a very soft sell. The ads are there, but they are not obtrusive or obnoxious. The products offered fit within the target market. Of course, you still need to generate value on both ends of the process. Get them in. Get them to buy.
John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.