Finding an Income for Expats

Finding an Income for Expats

Expats frequently worry about money. But the good news is that there’s never been a better time to generate income on your terms – just make sure it’s you running the business and not the other way round.

Here are some tips on how to monetize your talents…

What is the biggest mistake expats make when choosing a business?

Traditional expat ventures - B&B, restaurant, bookshop, boarding kennels, property management – tend to be fairly labour intensive and have low profit margins.

They also require your physical presence, so, eventually, your lifestyle becomes just like the one you left behind – but warmer! These businesses are also subject to local supply and demand, leaving you open to competition from other expats doing the same thing.

What’s the alternative?

Rather than copying what everyone else is doing, the secret is to start from what makes you unique. Work from your strengths and choose something you enjoy doing anyway.

The real value of any work lies not in man hours but in the creative input. As an expert in your field, you offer more value. You get to do what you love, and you will attract like –minded clients, ready to pay for your services. People buy from people they like!

But how? What can I sell?

You can create your own products or sell other people’s products. Whichever model you choose (and you can do both!), you should ask the following two questions:

How do I add more value to people’s lives?

(Money represents an exchange of value. Add more value = make more money.)

How can I make the product or service reproducible?

This is best illustrated by an example. If you teach a First Aid class for one hour, you get paid for one hour of your time and you add value to the lives of a handful of people. If you record that class and sell the video online, you have a product you can sell, and add value to the lives of hundreds or thousands of people.

The potential is only limited by your imagination: think puppy training, hairstyling, motor cycle maintenance, fishing, guitar lessons? You get my drift.

Today you can get your book published on Amazon in a couple of weeks, on your specific area of expertise: rambling routes, history (of anything!), collecting (anything!), photography, investing etc.

If you prefer to sell other people’s products, there are plenty of vendors looking for new affiliates. You only need a piece of text on a website or Facebook page – no need to worry about storing stock, billing, shipping – the vendors take care of all that, and one of the biggest is Amazon!

The highest profit margins are on information products, such as “Cure Diabetes”, “Lose Weight”, “How to Install Solar Panels”.

How does it work?

Build a simple website or Facebook page around your specialist subject and write short information articles or reviews.

For example, your interest is in animals, set up a pet website, such as Pets in Spain or Natural Remedies for Pets. Write an article about a good pet carrier or grooming brush, insert a line of text from the supplier in your article – and they do the rest. The customer clicks on the link and, if they buy the product, the company handles the payment, ships directly to the client, and deposits 20 per cent commission in your bank account.

The possibilities are endless; I haven’t even covered freelance websites.

What message to take away?

Stop thinking about income in terms of selling your time for money. Learn to think in terms of adding value and serving others; your customers are waiting for you! Oh, and make sure your dream property has a good internet connection!

Ruth Sullivan


Originally published in the A Place in the Sun magazine - Issue 126