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Finding your niche and filling it yourself

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I have lived in the Philippines for almost 7 years now.  When I came here, I had a wad of money that I had saved up in order to be able to make the move and have a comfortable life.  I didn’t have enough for a lifetime, but I had enough that my plan was that I could start up a business here with my money, and also live comfortably for about 3 to 4 years without worrying.  It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I learned.

I have been lucky.  I guess it’s mostly not just luck, though, it’s a lot of hard work.  When I saw that my plan would not work out the way that I expected, I was able to make adjustments and find new ways to make money.  Instead of my original plan to have a chain of Internet Cafes and earn my money in the local economy, I realized after about 2 years that I needed to find a way to earn my money abroad while living here in the Philippines.  Luckily, I had a little experience in earning some money off of the Internet.  In the States, I sold on eBay and supplemented my income there.  So, I started selling on eBay from here, then I branched out into online sales from my own e-commerce sites.  In the past year to year and a half I started blogging, where I could write and earn money from the advertising on my site.  I enjoy writing, I feel that I have something to write about, and the extra income is a nice side benefit.

Get Relocation Consulting and Coaching from Live in the Philippines

I no longer sell on eBay, but I still do the e-Commerce sites and the blogging.  I use a combination of these two things to earn my living and be able to live anywhere in the world that I want to live in.

As an ex-pat, you find that you come in contact with a lot of other ex-pats where you live.  You get into e-mail correspondence with other ex-pats who live in other parts of the country, you meet other ex-pats who live in the same city where you live, etc.  In my case, word tends to get around that I have been able to earn a living here.  Most ex-pats tend to have a hard time earning money.  They either have to bring the money with them when they move here, or they have to periodically go abroad to earn another pile of cash so they can go live their ex-pat life a little longer.  When people hear that I have a “formula” for being able to earn a living here, I get e-mails or visits from them.  I hear sad stories on how they have been unable to make it financially.  I hear about how they lost all their money to dishonest businessmen who they got into business with.  Whatever story you can think of, I hear it from ex-pats here.

I am pretty free with sharing ideas and information.  I usually tell people that I can help them understand how to make money here, but that I will only show them how I do it if they will agree and promise me that they won’t just copy me outright on what I am doing.  Everybody can look at what a person is doing, make adjustments and sort of copy the formula, yet apply it to their own niche.  For example, on this blog, I blog about how to Live in the Philippines.  I can show somebody how to set up a blog, how to monetize it with advertising, how to write and generally how blogging works.  With this information, and their promise to not copy what I am doing, they should be able to come up with a niche topic of their own, and do it.  Instead of blogging about how to Live in the Philippines, maybe they want to blog about bird watching in Marinduque, maybe about their favorite football team, maybe about hurricanes…. whatever they have expertise on and an interest in can make for an interesting blog, and one that can earn them some extra money.  Wouldn’t you agree?  And, I don’t just teach people about blogging, I teach people about e-Commerce and basically anything else I am doing to earn money on the Internet.

All this is great, I enjoy helping people, and it builds some friendship between us.  It is all great, that is, until they break their promise to not copy exactly what I am doing.  So far, almost every person that I have tutored on earning cash on the Internet has made the decision to copy me.  For example, I have an online store called “WowPhilippines” where I sell gift items.  Three different people have made outright copies of that after learning from me how to do it.  Is that right?  I finally decided to stop teaching people how to do the e-Commerce.  The good thing for me is that on these cases, their stores never did catch on, and they did not persevere long enough to make that happen.  They tried it for a few months and abandoned it when the riches did not come immediately.

This morning, I got an e-mail from a guy that I taught about blogging a few months ago.  He is a nice guy, I genuinely like him.  When he started blogging, after my tutoring, he chose a topic to blog about that is somewhat similar to this blog.  I blew it off, though, because I figured that it was not exact, and there were plenty of things for each of us to write about anyway, without stepping on each other’s toes.  When he e-mailed me, he asked me if I could send him a list of all my blogs (I have over 100 blogs, and a staff of bloggers to post on many of them) so that he could start reading them.  Before e-mailing him back, I decided to go have a look at his blog.  Hmm… one of the titles of a post was almost identical to a post that I made on this blog last week.  That’s a little strange, but probably just a coincidence, I thought.  I went to look at the post, and it was an exact copy of my post, almost word for word!  A few words were changed, but it was clear where the text came from before being changed here and there!  So, not only did he use my idea for a general blog topic, now he was cutting and pasting my posts into his blog?  Well, that just doesn’t seem right to me.  If he had cited my blog as the originator of the post, that would be different, but he didn’t even mention my post, he just stole it from me.

So, basically, when you decide to move to the Philippines, or any other country, if you are planning to do something to help you keep some money coming in, you have to be careful.  My advice, based on my experience would be to keep a low profile.  Don’t share much information on how to do what you are doing.  Leave it as a mystery.  True, it is not very helpful toward your friends and fellow ex-pats, but at least you can keep your ideas for yourself, and not be copied.

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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macky p
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i kind of wondered about that, bob. seeing that you share a nice amount of tips. but i didn't think it was a big deal. i also put my work out (on a slightly different medium) and do not hesitate giving advise to startups in my field. i also hoping they dont plagiarize or use my work without consent because it affects me too. so i understand. hope you dont edit your insights too much. you are a hell of a read. oh, about your feathered neigbor, take it easy on the rooster. be happy it isn't a guy with… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi Macky – I have been sort of fighting this kind of problem for a number of years, but I still share ideas pretty freely. I guess that I feel that when I share ideas, it helps with my own thought pattern and allows me some thinking that often leads to even newer ideas that I can capitalize on. It also makes me feel that I have been helpful to others, which is something that means a lot to me. Believe it or not, when I wrote this post, you came to mind because of the nature of your work.… Read more »

macky p
Guest

Hi Bob, Thanks for the thought. you are right. I get emails regularly from visitors, professionals & hobbyists asking for tips or advise. I always make a point to help. It feels good. besides, I dont want to be a scrooge about it. But putting our work out on the web (or other mediums) exposes us to negative aspects. It might bite me in the back someday but I dont want to change my nature. I just need to exercise good judgement. There are enough selfish people out there already. i dont want to be one of them. i guess… Read more »

Alan
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Alan

I heard a lot about making money in the internet but do not know to the extend of how this can be done because I was scare to find out. A reason I did not borther is because there are lots of warnings about scams. make me worry. In teaching someone to do a business, we can also think of how one can benefit from it. It can be a win win situation for certain businesses. Bob i had been in the internet for many years but can you think of something that you can help me so that you… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi Macky and Alan – Thanks for you comments. Macky, I agree with you fully about wanting to help people out and such. That is how I am too, and I enjoy being that way. Alan – because I have gotten a lot of requests, I am going to start up a blog about how to do business online. Keep watching, I will announce it here soon with a link.

JJ
Guest
JJ

Bob, Please check out my blog.
I hope such entries, past, present and future, will meat with your approval.
Immitation, not intended, is the finest form of flattery!!
Happy New Years
Thanks again for the ideas and past assistance!!
JJ

Bob
Guest
Bob

JJ – thanks for leaving your comment. I see that you did re-format your post so that it isn't a total carbon copy of mine. That's a good thing. Don't take me wrong, I have never said, or thought, that you need to meet my approval on your blog posts! That being said, it is not really right to simply copy other people's work and claim it as your own. The common practice in the blogging world is that if you see a post that inspires work on a post you write, you are sort of obliged to link back… Read more »

JJ
Guest
JJ

Bob,
Please give me the link to your liviingin thephilippines blog.
I am still learning this computer thing. We have not charges a nickle for or gotten a nicke from any writing as of yet. I do hope to start a e-business with recipes that we have used over the last four years. We have saved over 50,000 of them and feel the recipes will make an nice encyclopedia for cooking. What are your thoughts on marketing recipes by e commerce?
JJ Houston

Peter Bennett
Guest

Bob, you are of course quite right, its good to help fellow expats out, I know you have me tremendously with my blog, and my heartfelt appreciation has been shown to you privately, I have one or two ideas of my own for the time when I arrive in Philippines, I think e commerce is the way, I think many of us want to find something that will keep us in the style that we would want, we all should stick together and network, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Bob, looking forward to meeting up with you as… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi Peter – I enjoy helping people learn how to become financially dependent only on themselves. Being able to use the web to highlight your talents and make money that way is really a blessing, and one that many people can take advantage of. Funny thing is that we can all do it without even stepping on each other's toes.

See you later this year!

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