In fact, it’s been longer than just a while. It’s been almost 2 years since we were regularly posting here on the blog. 2 YEARS!
We’ve been the worst ‘travel bloggers’ as of late as we’ve been firmly out of travel mode and in full-on work mode.
That said; the past 2 years have been pretty quiet in terms of ticking new countries off the list but we still got to visit Spain for my twin sister’s wedding and we spent a lot of time in some of our favourite places in the world including home (good old Boyle!), Budapest, Las Vegas and Chiang Mai.
We’ve spent the last 24 months travelling between all of these spots, mostly spending 3-month stints in each place, and it’s been so good to be able to unpack our bags for more than just a few nights and have routine.
As much as I always disliked ‘routine’ when the alarm clock woke me up every morning for work when we lived at home, there’s nothing that I crave more than having consistency in our days when trying to achieve work and fitness related goals.
Budapest, Chiang Mai and Vegas are all amazing places to set up shop in for different reasons. We will blog more about each place and why we’d recommend these destinations to those that are looking for a place to settle down and have routine and a good work/life balance for a couple of months.
So, what have we been up to?
So while fast travel and exploring new places has definitely taken a back seat during the past 2 years, we’ve mainly been busy working on our online content business, trying out new ventures and learning as much as we could by doing different courses (some of which were great and some of which were a waste of time and money!).
The reason for this post is just to give those that are interested an update on where we are, what we’re doing and what our plans are for the next couple of months.
It’s so funny because we’ve a follower on Snapchat called ‘FCK you’ and he/she regularly snaps us saying “What are you guys doing?” “Are ye alive?” so if you’re reading ‘FCK you’, thanks for your concern and this is especially for you!
How Business Is Going
With more and more people wanting to make money by working online, our business is something that we get asked about all the time.
And while lots of people back home think that we make every cent from this travel blog, the truth is that we make virtually nothing from it.
I guess this is the main reason why we’ve neglected it over the past two years and put all our focus into the areas that do make us money…
We started writing content for different marketing companies back in 2013 when we first left Ireland and, almost 5 years later, thankfully our content writing business is still going strong.
Great quality content is something that will always be in demand considering the media-rich world that we live in so we still feel that freelance writing is one of the easiest and best options for someone who’s just starting out and wants to make money online.
We started out writing all of the content ourselves and, in early 2014, we transitioned into a business model that involved us outsourcing all writing and we fell into the roles of project managers.
On paper, we thought that making this kind of transition would equate to more free time for us but, in reality, it led to us spending a lot more time hunched in front of our laptops.
The reason being is that we took on a lot more clients and hired a full team of freelance writers.
And while doing this did, essentially, give us what we wanted – which was a higher monthly income – we felt like we were chained to our laptops.
The whole reason why we set out to build an online business in the first place was freedom and the freedom that we had created was starting to become compromised at the cost of running the business.
Catch 22, right?
Also, after learning a lot from mingling with our friends in Chiang Mai, we knew that putting all of our eggs in the one basket in terms of income stream was a really bad idea.
So while we were making enough to live comfortably in Thailand, we knew that diversifying our income had to become a priority.
So two years ago we decided to take a little step back and re-evaluate our content business. We planned to cut back on the amount of clients that we worked with so that we’d be able to branch out into other areas of online marketing.
Making that move was a little bit scary but it did open up lots of new doors for us and allowed us to stumble into the world of lead generation…
We’d first heard of the concept of lead generation when we were in Vegas in summer 2016 and it instantly intrigued us.
So, what’s lead generation?
I won’t dwell on this too much, as I know not everyone would be interested in it but lead generation is basically…
“…the action or process of identifying and cultivating potential customers for a business’s products or services.”
After months of learning the tricks of the lead generation trade (i.e. choosing a niche, building a website, doing onsite SEO, perfecting the art of off-site SEO, and prospecting to local business owners), we decided to jump right in and try to get some clients on board.
So we spent more time than we should have building our very own agency website (www.nextstopmarketing.com) and we got the ball rolling with building other niche sites and offering our SEO services to local business owners in Ireland and the States.
A year and a half later and we’ve got a couple of clients who pay us a monthly retainer in return for a steady flow of exclusive leads.
This business model is so clever and, once we can prove to a business owner that we can bring them in leads, it’s a very easy sell as, let’s face it, what business owner doesn’t want more customers?
Our plan is to keep learning, keep evolving and keep grinding away at the content and lead generation biz with the overall goal of increasing our monthly income, having more freedom and exploring some investment opportunities with the cash that we’ll make.
And whilst I’m on the subject of investments, we recently dabbled in the world of cryptocurrency…
Ahhhhh…crypto. It’s a scary but exciting world.
Our friend Will from The Broke Backpacker text Carlo back in January 2017 and told him that we should invest in Bitcoin. He had holdings in it and he knew his stuff.
Prices were around $900 per coin and he was basically telling us to get in or we’d regret it.
We looked into it, considered investing 5k, looked into it some more and, in the end, the volatility of it scared the living daylights out of us…
And that’s hardly surprising considering bitcoin is just a snippet of code that represents ownership of a digital concept that was created by an unknown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto!
So we ignored Will’s advice and, like most people do, we did the ‘sensible’ thing and left that money to do nothing in the bank instead.
Fast-forward to October 2017 and bitcoin hit around $4,700. We did the math and figured that if we’d invested that 5k, our initial investment would now be worth $26,085.
We kicked ourselves, blamed one another for being too scared to invest back in January, and decided we had to get in.
And so we did.
Carlo set up an account on Coinbase and we bought some bitcoin, litecoin, ripple, power and a few more coins back in October, which was just before the price of bitcoin and many other coins skyrocketed.
It was the perfect time for us to get in…
Our portfolio was up 110% before we knew it and we were over the moon. We weren’t making any trades as the numbers were rising and all we had to do was sit and watch the market…
January happened! The price of bitcoin and most other coins plummeted…hard.
Fast-forward to today and we’re a little wounded after our portfolio took a knocking from being up 156% to being up just 25%. Yep, that’s a decline of 131%!
The positive is that we’re still up and have holdings in lots of different coins so we’re just going to sit tight and hope that the market recovers so we can, eventually, buy some property with our profits…gotta dream and have an exit plan, right!?
So with all of that going on, we didn’t have the time or the interest in travelling and blogging to be totally honest.
But now that it’s almost 2 years since we visited a new country, our feet are starting to get a little itchy…
Our Plans for Next Few Months
Right now we’re in Bucharest, which is the capital city of Romania.
We’re going to be here until February 19th and the plan is to then fly home where we’ll stay for 6 weeks.
Our time at home will be spent enjoying time with family, friends and our dogs, and we’ll also get some learning in as we’ve enrolled to do a course that will teach us how to trade the financial markets.
It’s only on one day per week and I’m kind of nervous as there’s so much to learn about graphs, trends and lots of techy stuff but getting into learning mode is always super exciting at the same time.
And the fact that we can apply the principles we learn to the crypto market to try and get back that 131% is motivation enough to do it. :p
That will keep us busy right up until we fly to Brussels in early May. We plan to travel overland by train taking in Belgium – Luxembourg – Lichtenstein – Switzerland – France and then we’re flying from Paris to Faro, Portugal to meet Carlo’s family for 10 days in the sun.
Not only am I excited at the prospect of getting to relax by the beach for a few days (spending winter in Eastern Europe has been a challenge!) but our trip to Portugal will be special because…finally…after years of always having one up on me…I’ll finally be on level pegging with Carlo as Portugal is the only country that he’s been to without me.
We’ll both have been to 51 countries come June and…much to his annoyance…his bragging rights will be gone!
And once Portugal is ticked off the list, we are thinking of maybe doing a 3-month stint in Vegas from Aug-Oct followed by a couple of days in Mexico city and go onto Cuba from there.
And sure while we’re that far, it would be a shame not to nip into Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama for a couple of months too!
But the trip is a maybe as of now as we’re a little worried about the lack of Wi-Fi in Cuba and some of the other countries. We really don’t want to go off the grid and have the last 2 years of living a hermit lifestyle go down the swanny.
The joys of NEEDING Wi-Fi, eh?
And that’s pretty much where we’re at guys…
Would love to hear your thoughts on Central America if you’ve been and, as always, thanks for taking the time to check in with us.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog and, at just over 2,000 words, I kind of got a little carried away so I appreciate you making it all the way to the end.
Over the next few months, we look forward to getting the blog redesigned, travelling some more, taking up Snapchat again, doing Instagram Stories and making more of an effort to check in here on the blog much more often than we have been.
Ciao for now!
Carlo & Florence