Thank you for taking time to answer some questions from me today.
We first met a few months ago at a networking event I ran in Penang and immediately clicked. Both of us have been in a similar position in terms of enjoying a “retirement” break whilst searching for new challenges.
On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur we met up and I thought it was a great opportunity to have a quick interview. You can see from the picture below we were on a heavy night out drinking our tea and mineral water!
So, let’s jump into some questions.
1. Can you give an introduction to yourself with some background on where you’re from (although your last name gives us a hint!).
Before we go into details about me, I just quickly want to thank you for interviewing me. It’s always been a dream of me to be featured on “LifeHackerGuy.com” and to be interviewed by the one and only Adam! [This paragraph only just made it in the final edit ;)]
All jokes aside, as you could have guessed from my name, I’m from the Netherlands. Having said that, I’ve pretty much spent the majority of my life abroad. From the age of 11 onwards I’ve basically lived in several different countries ranging from – the US, the UK, Malaysia, Ireland, and Singapore.
Most are surprised when I tell them I’m actually Dutch. However, I’m still pretty patriotic when it comes to the football team and other sports.
I do feel that living in so many countries has opened my eyes in terms of not only appreciating other cultures, but also realizing the most important thing in life is just to spend as much possible time with those most important to you.
2. You have been working online for a few years, how did you get started and what do you primarily focus on?
After around 7 years of being in the corporate world working for a large Food Ingredients company, there was one thing that I always missed – which was to have control over my time. Even though I learnt a tremendous amount about business in those years, I felt I was always accountable to someone else.
If I wanted to go on vacation, for example, I had to make sure I had enough days left and had to ask for permission. That feeling didn’t sit well with me as I wanted control what I did with my time, how I did it, and when I did it.
There was only one constraint – money. I realised that if I wanted to have control over my time, I’d need to find a way of making money outside of having a job. This lead me literally typing “how to make money” in Google, and through many twists and turns, ending up in the deep and dark world of affiliate marketing – mostly being impressed by a guy named Pat Flynn (from Smart Passive Income) at the time.
In late 2014, I embarked on the creation of my first site about weddings which ended up being a major flop – however, after numerous of other attempts, one of my sites about wine finally started getting some traffic and seeing a trickle of affiliate income coming through towards the middle of 2015.
Earlier that year I had also discovered eCommerce and particularly the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) business model. I launched a couple of products in the same niche as my affiliate site (under the brand Vinomaster) and things started to take off very quickly at that point. I was using my site to drive traffic to my product listings, which Amazon liked, giving me more search visibility on Amazon as well.
This business grew so quickly that I was at a point towards the end of 2015 where I was starting to earn more through this business than I did through my day job, and me and my wife ended up quitting our jobs in early 2016 (we used to work at the same company) and embark on life as digital nomads.
How fulfilment by Amazon (Amazon FBA) works
3. Recently you have sold a successful online business that promoted fishing hooks. How did you come across this idea and what made you wish to sell?
Quickly going back to the Amazon FBA business that I was talking about earlier – this was business was growing rapidly. Anyone that is familiar with FBA, or any physical products business for that matter, to keep the growth going, you need a lot of capital for inventory sustain the growth. We basically pumped large amounts of our monthly profits back into the business to keep the business growing.
Unfortunately, out of the blue, two of our best-selling products on Amazon (which represented 80% of our sales) ended up getting blocked. I won’t go into the exact details why, but basically when you’re using a platform where another party has full control (like Amazon in this case), you’re basically at their mercy.
This meant that we had tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory of these products sitting in Amazon warehouses and essentially no channel through which to sell them. Long story short is that we had to eventually write most of this inventory off as we couldn’t sell it.
At that point I vowed never to be 100% reliant on a 3rd party when it comes to building my businesses – and I started learning about drop-shipping and selling physical products online using Facebook advertising.
For those of you that don’t know – drop-shipping is a model where as soon as you make a sale to a customer, you order that product from a 3rd party supplier and simply have it shipped directly to your customer. As such, you never have money invested in inventory.
Tim is a member of the Clickfunnels 2 Comma Club is a club for those who have generated at least 1 million dollars in revenue through the use of Clickfunnels.
This is where the fishing lure business comes into play. Although I’d love to say that we had some master marketing plan with regard to the fishing lures, unfortunately it’s not as exciting as that. We simply tested a bunch of different products in different niches, and this is the one that we saw early success with so we decided to pursue it in 2017.
The beauty of driving paid traffic is that, since our sales funnel with this product was converting very well, we were able to scale very quickly by simply “buying more traffic”. As such, we were able to grow the business very quickly to multiple 7 figures in sales in a time span of only 8-10 months.
At this point we noticed that the business started to slowly taper off, as tends to be the case with “fad products” that do well on Facebook, and we decided to sell the business in 2018. We felt that we had taken it as far as we could.
4. We have spoken a little about diversification of assets and I know you have a few income streams. What do you primarily invest in and why?
As we both know, businesses that you build online, come and go. You can make a lot of money very quickly one year, but suddenly the business can be gone in a day. I’ve experienced this personally multiple times now.
This is why I like to take the money I make online and put them into asset which I consider more stable – mostly real estate. I see this as our “financial safety net”. In case all our online assets crash & burn tomorrow, we should still have enough funds coming in on a monthly basis to live a decent life.
As a result, we spent some time in 2018 traveling around the US looking at where and how we could start putting some money into rental properties. We chose the US because the yields you can generate there are much harder to come by in places like Europe and Asia.
Through some networking there, I was able to meet a trustworthy agent, contractor, and property manager, that manage all the day-to-day of the properties.
We now buy properties (without ever setting foot into them – as its all managed by our contacts on the ground) that are in need of some love and tender care, fix them up, and then rent them out with the intention of just holding onto them forever to create cash flow. Our goal is to slowly keep adding a couple of properties per year and grow our passive income that way.
5. I have been reading your new blog and am enjoying the content. I know writing is new for you, what gave you the idea of going this?
Great to hear I’ve got one loyal reader at least!
As you know, I’m probably one of LifeHackerGuy’s biggest fans as well. [Indeed, the restraining order has been submitted!]
Having said that, we spoke about this a little bit in the past, but my main goal is to just stay occupied and work towards a goal. I’ve spent the last year spending way too much time watching Netflix, without a real purpose or something that excites me.
It’s funny that when your immediate needs are met (ie. having enough cash for the foreseable future), you very quickly lose that drive that made you successful and passionate in the first place. I hope that through starting this blog I’m able to find that passion again.
6. Most interesting is the follow along case study you have started with Pinterest. Can you outline what you’re looking to do and what readers can expect?
In the case study you mention, I’ll be starting a brand new site and growing it to $10,000 per month within 12 month – using Pinterest as a primary traffic source.
Unlike others out there, who may share a half-assed case study after the fact, I’ll be detailing everything I do to grow this site, live. I’ll even be revealing the domain name and everything.
My hope is that others get motivated by this and it becomes a realistic portrayal of what is needed to grow a site to a level of income where you may be able to quit your job.
The reason that I’ve selected Pinterest to drive traffic is that I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers do well with Pinterest, and it’s something that I personally haven’t explored yet (I’ve always focussed on Google). As such, it’s a learning process for, and I see it as an interesting challenge to succeed with a completely new traffic source.
7. Lastly, you have a pretty comfortable life, so where do you see yourself in the next year, 5 years?
Where did you get these questions from?! Tips on how do conduct an effective job interview?
To be honest, I find it difficult to look so far ahead. Many will tell you that they hope to cure world hunger and change the world, but I’m just a simple man who is happy enough being able to work from home in his underwear.
I suppose I hope to get inspired again by having started my own blog, and we’ll have to see to where that eventually leads. Putting yourself out there tends to open doors somehow, so only time will tell.
On the diversification front, I’ll continue investing in properties and will build out that portfolio to where money will no longer be a worry in my life.
And last, and perhaps most importantly, I hope that myself, and my loved ones, will all be happy and in good health for many years to come!