Working in Cambodia

Note: this is a draft copy of the introduction to my new book-in-progress, Working in Cambodia

Bob Dylan's definition of successAs I sit here in my home office, comfortably sheltered from the storm raging outside, I can’t help but gloat a little. By the standards of my home country, the United States, I’ve been a loser since 1969 when I dropped out of college and traveled overland to India. My most burning ambition throughout my life has been to live as self-sufficiently as I could and to avoid a 9 to 5 life as much as possible. With some hiccoughs along the way, I have pretty much succeeded in my endeavors.

My life unraveled in 2004 when, after returning from an emergency trip to the U.S. to look after my dying father, my wife of 20 years announced she wanted a divorce. After two years of going through that and living with my daughter while she finished high school, I cast my fate to the winds and started looking for a new place to call home.

Sihanoukville was just beginning to blossom when I arrived here. Property prices were soaring and even as I was in the midst of building our home, someone offered to buy it for twice what it had cost me so far. I laughingly declined, believing the offer was far too low. By the time I finished my house, though, I desperately wished I had sold it. That was in early 2008. The crash of the American housing market led to a corresponding fall in the value of an expat’s home in Cambodia. While the 50 grand I spent on my house and land had seemed cheap in comparison to U.S. prices before, it wasn’t such a deal after the crash.

I had been counting on the sale of the house for our income after my money ran out, thinking I would build another one and sell that. My backup plan was to teach English as a second language as I had done for a time in Australia, but when I went job hunting, I learned that the best I could do was get $3 an hour and a one day work week – if I was lucky. One of the worst days and best days of my life was when I had to sell our car just in order to feed my family. It was the worst day for the obvious reason. It was the best day because I actually found a buyer. The $1500 I got for the car gave me the breathing space I needed to come up with another plan and restored my faith in the good intentions of the universe.

“So why are you gloating?” I hear you ask. Good question. It’s because, in the three years since that day, I’ve managed to carve out a reasonably comfortable living for myself and my Cambodian family of eight and I am doing what I have wanted to do all my life – write. I can’t take all the credit since serendipity has played a big part in my “success” and I should also point out that by 20th century American standards, my success is no success at all. But by today’s American standards I seem to be wildly successful, with regular gigs at a Western rate of pay, a fully paid off home and even enough left over to be contemplating my first visit back to Australia in five years. Not bad for a lifetime loser, if I do say so myself.

Working in Cambodia tells you how I did it. With a few asides for slices of Cambodian life, some of which you won’t believe, it is a how-to manual for budding freelancers. If you’re the kind of person who falls for those MAKE A SIX FIGURE INCOME ONLINE claims, don’t waste your money on this book: it’s more of a HOW TO MAKE ENOUGH TO SURVIVE ONLINE guide.

Throughout the book I’ll be teaching some of the tricks of the trade and offering  some free tools, such as:

> Where to find gigs

> How to bid for jobs

> How to write copy your clients will love

> SEO secrets

> Writing shortcuts

> FREE software applications

> FREE article submission services that work as well as the paid ones

What I won’t do is give you writing lessons, but don’t worry; if writing isn’t your thing, most of what’s in there is applicable to any online freelance work. Whatever your talents may be, you can make them work for you online. I make my living writing for website owners and SEO gurus and have learned a great deal from them. Over the course of my new career, I’ve learned what makes a few of them successful and, more importantly, why so many fail. I may not be able to teach you how to MAKE A SIX FIGURE INCOME online, but I CAN teach you how not to go broke in the process of trying.

I’ll be keeping you posted with my progress, so stick with me. It may take awhile to finish, because I’m a very busy writer, I’m happy to say.