The Easiest Lifestyle Business to Start Right This Second

Sitting in the middle of a long communal table at Third Place co-working space in Bangkok, I glanced over to the person next to me and saw something so odd, I had to take a second look.

No it wasn’t the elephant I’d previously seen that day walking down the street, or even the stinky horned fruit they call durian.  It wasn’t  dirt cheap 5 star pad thai or a successfully solved rubics cube.

No, I saw something much more strange than that when I glanced over at the screen next to me.

“4 Steps to Buying the Perfect Microwave Oven”

There was a beautiful American girl typing away on her new Macbook Air, and this was what the headline of her document read.

“Microwaves?? What on Earth could an American girl in Bangkok be doing with microwaves?”

It’d been at least three months since I’d even seen one of the contraptions we take for granted back home, so I was more taken aback than you might expect.

My first thought was perhaps she worked for a home appliance conglomerate and was perfecting their latest ad campaign.  However considering she had close to a full page of text written, that didn’t seem to make much sense.

Then I thought, “well what if she’s taking a copywriting course and needed to sell the most obscure product ever?”

More likely, but still a stretch.

Finally, I just had to ask:

“I don’t mean to be the creepy guy eavesdropping on you, but I’ve gotta ask, what on Earth are you doing writing about microwaves in Bangkok?”

“I’m an SEO writer.”

Aaaaaah, an SEOOOOO writer.

And it all made sense.

“I write 10-20 articles a week for an SEO company about whatever random products their clients have.  I spend 5-10 hours working each week, and it’s allowed me to pay for all of my travel.”

“Does it pay well?” I asked.

“This company pays me 10 bucks an article, and I can write each of them in less than 20 minutes, so the hourly rate isn’t bad at all.”


The Easiest Business to Run While Traveling

During my first couple months of living in Thailand I was implementing a lot of different SEO tactics.  I was doing keyword research, competitive analysis and a lot of article marketing.

If you don’t know, article marketing is an SEO strategy where you write a 300-500 word article on a topic related to your website.  You can then post these articles on other blogs, article directories, blog networks etc.

The goal is less about traffic as it is to get a backlink to your site.

To oversimplify it, the more links you have to your site, the higher you rank.

As soon as this girl told me what she was doing it made complete sense, because I’d been doing the exact same thing – just under a slightly different arrangement.

While SEO is evolving and getting harder to game, there’s one thing that is still in very high demand: good content, written by native English speakers.

Marketers have tried just about every scheme-y way imaginable to get links back to their sites, but there’s little substitute for a well written article specifically about the topic of choice.

Why It’s the Perfect Solution

I’ll be blunt: SEO writing is not sexy.

You’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about radio antennas, adult diapers, extension cords, and any number of other random products.

However, it’s the single easiest way to become a location rebel.

Why?  Glad you asked, let me tell you.

Builds Your Confidence

The number one thing most people struggle with when trying to start a small business is making their first few dollars online.  It’s much easier to scale from $100-1,000/month than it is to go from $0-100.

In my experience SEO writing is the easiest work to get.  Almost always within a week of sending some emails and inquiries you’ll have landed  your first paying client.

While most people won’t do SEO writing over the long haul, the confidence they gain early on of knowing that in a pinch they can make money from anywhere is incredibly empowering.

A Thousand Bucks and a Backpack

So many people think you need to have tens of thousands of dollars saved up if you want to go and travel the world.

The reality?

All you need is a thousand bucks and a backpack. <–Thanks for the phrase Dan 🙂

If you can bring in $1,000 a month you can get by in practically anywhere in Asia or South America.

For the person who wants to travel indefinitely without having to worry about money, this is perfect.

I met no less than a dozen people throughout Asia that were doing this very thing.  They’d write the articles whenever they had some free time, send them over at once, and then not worry about it until the next week.

Cheap Charlies

For those of you wondering what Cheap Charlies Is

Bills are paid and you may even have a little extra to hit up Cheap Charlie’s on Friday night!

Improves Core Skills

The work you’re doing as an SEO writer isn’t just helping you make a little money to get by on.  The fundamental structure for the Location Rebel lifestyle starts with skill building, and every article you write is helping.

You’re learning how to be clear and concise with your message, how to weave keywords for SEO into your writing and feature boxes, and hopefully you’ve created a website for your servies, so you’ve gained knowledge there as well.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you’re one of the hundreds of people who has emailed me about not having an idea or not knowing where to start, consider becoming an SEO writer – at least for awhile.

You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to build a location independent income that you can then parlay into something much bigger and sexier down the road.

Photo Credit: Olivander and Teaching Sagittarian

Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 8:18 am

Here’s thing Sean, and where I am really scratching my head now. We all agree it’s about QUALITY content as you wrote in a previous article.

When you see someone typing a 300-500 word article about 4 steps to buying the perfect microwave oven, you know it’s likely not a quality article and spun for SEO. So are you now encouraging people to write such articles to make some money and go travel? Isn’t this exactly what Google DOES NOT want, and what you frown upon?

I get flooded with solicitations for such SEO content every single day, and I won’t post it because the articles are not good. Would you post such articles on your site?

I go back to my point. Google is marginalizing the SEO business because the SEO business isn’t producing quality content. Hence, I would recommend people to not get into the SEO business, especially with the PEnguin/Panda updates. The rules are always changing, and nobody knows what’s going on.

Thoughts everyone?



Jamie Alexander November 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hi Sam,

This is something I actually do. I think when you read some articles these days it becomes clear that lots of bloggers are giving people tips to ‘write a post in 30 minutes’ bla bla bla.

If you’re a decent writer it’s not hard to write something that’s better than most people are putting out there. Obviously you can’t compete with the people who write a blog post over a few days and edit it 10x, but that’s not really what you’re trying to do.

My articles on my own site are done over the week with lots of edits, but when I write for my client I have 3 main goals:

1) Write something that another blogger will accept first time.
2) Write something that a reader will enjoy.
3 Write something that makes them want to click the link at the bottom.

You definitely don’t need to spend hours crafting an article these days to accomplish those goals. At the same time you can’t expect to write something that takes weeks to research.

It doesn’t take me 20 mins to write one, though I probably could if it was about something I knew a lot about. If you write from your head it’s actually pretty easy to craft something that doesn’t take hours. Obviously the person would have to write something pretty decent first time with only minor editing.

That being said, what Sean says is true: it’s a very easy route to a tropical lifestyle.


Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

Jamie, thanks for your perspective! I’ve also always wondered why SEO writers don’t just post tons of content for their own sites and earn income that way? Or, do many SEO writers already do, but we just don’t know their websites.. and if so, why not?

Sean November 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

For one, there is a proper venue for SEO articles. Soliciting you, and other similar blogs is not one of them. I actually get very few if any solicitations like that for my blog.

Article directories and private blog networks are two of the places that have been designed for this type of writing, and are appropriate venues for it.

Just because it took someone 20 minutes to write an article doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have good information. These aren’t being posted to popular personal finance or business blogs.

The fact of the matter is there are thousands of big SEO companies who are still paying really well for this type of content. Content that may not be extremely interesting or personal, but is well-written and generally thoughtful. If they will pay you to write these articles why not do it? It’s easy money, can be done from anywhere, and allows you the freedom to spend time building a business on your own that might be more meaningful or lucrative.


Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi Sean,

Good perspective on who the target is for such articles.

Are article directories and private blog networks for SEO welcome by Google? I had no idea such things existed until Google deindexed Build My Rank.

No doubt it’s great if SEO companies will pay folks to write such articles. The point of contention is on the purpose and efficacy of SEO if quality of content is what matters most and Google is making it their mission to demphasize SEO and focus on finding such content.


Travel & Gamble November 6, 2012 at 6:17 am

Hi Sam,

Even after updates: if you are using white hat to promote your website – you’ll promote it and if you want to trick Google, you can trick it (even though for a short period of time).
To completely marginalize SEO, Google needs to shut down its own algorithms and make the search just a random walk. I think it’s not what they are going to do. Even if they will – websites still need promotion and instead of optimizing for search engines you have to optimize for humans. So that I think SEO and generally Internet Marketing can’t be marginalized so easily.
The marginalization of SEO comes from other direction and it is SEO industry itself. Low quality content, low quality links and of course low prices for SEO make it hard to survive for real SEO professionals.


Sean November 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

I think there’s also an important distinction to make here:

There’s a difference between SEO writers and SEO professionals.

This isn’t a discussion about whether SEO writing works or not – to be honest, these days I’d place my SEO bets elsewhere – namely, on higher quality, higher paid content like some of the comments below suggest.

This article is a way for people who want to travel or work from home, to get work right now.

Regardless of whether it works, people still pay for it, and there’s an opportunity for people who want to go location independent as fast as possible to use this fact as a vehicle for change.

Financial Samurai November 6, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thanks David. And again, it goes back to quality of content. I unfortunately do not believe someone writing a 300-500 article in 20 minutes making $10 is going to write a particularly interesting article. From the way Sean wrote this post, I don’t think he does either, but in the comments, he thinks lots of articles with this price point and time can be good.

As a blogger who receives at least 10 such solicitations of such articles a day, I can say I am 99.9% never going to publish them.

We should take pride in what we do for a living. That is the best way to do it for long and do it well.

Tiffany November 12, 2012 at 2:49 am

I agree, Sam! I am amazed that people are still using these SEO tactics, because Google is still smart enough not to steer me near these sites that have 100 poorly written articles on whatever topic I typed in. I’ve written these articles before myself, but they are generally paid very little for—why write an article for $10 when there are plenty of assignments (that will be read) for well more than that?


Financial Samurai November 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

Imagine if nobody wrote such articles anymore, and everybody wrote more indepth articles in which they were experts on? The web would be MUCH better! I think this is Google’s goal.

Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

BTW, I don’t have an understanding of your Location Rebel course, so I apologize if I don’t have the full insights. As a blogger and reader, I’m just trying to understand the two conflicting points you’ve made about 1) Writing good content and 2) Being an SEO writer.

How good can her article be if she spends just 20 minutes and gets paid $10? Let’s be frank here.

I think it is absolutely fine to be an SEO writer, earn money, and travel the world. But let’s not confuse great content with the large majority of SEO writing that’s getting pushed out there. Bad content hurts sites.

The best would be if SEO writers could get paid way more per article, and the writers could write awesome, meaty articles.


Jamie Alexander November 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

I can’t seem to reply upstairs, so I’ll do it here 🙂

I honestly don’t know, but I do know that writing articles is definitely not a business. Once I’ve written them and sent them the bloggers are then approached by someone else.

If someone wanted to do if for themselves they would have to do everything, plus they would have to learn about the selling part. The part that actually makes you money lol.

The way I write articles for my client is way different to what I would write for my own site. Everything that goes onto my site has a purpose, whereas a single article has a completely different purpose.

So I don’t know whether or not they also do it for themselves, but if they did it would be an entirely different ballgame anyway.


Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

Jamie, you’ve touched upon the exact conflict which I’m describing!

“The way you write articles for your client is different from how you’d write for your own site.” BINGO!

These articles are pushed onto sites like mine, who don’t write this way!

Hence, the solution I ask for all SEO is to write articles in a way that match the existing content of the end client. Then, all is good!

Karen Marston November 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

Hey Sam, SEO writers can write well too, you know! All my clients want well written articles, and most of them actually specify that I don’t need to worry about stuffing the keywords in – because they’re keeping up with the game and they know that well written content is now what SEO writing is all about. If an article’s hand-written, it’s not spun. Simple.

It’s very easy to do if you’re already a good writer. I can easily bang out an article in twenty minutes, and some of my clients pay me £20 for 300 words – precisely because they are well written (which I believe is what Sean means when he’s talking about them being good quality).

The articles don’t necessarily need to be in-depth, they just need to be easy to read and relatively interesting.


Financial Samurai November 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

Hi Karen, thanks for your thoughts. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, and what good writing means.

For bloggers, we want story telling and personality. That’s what sets us apart from major media. As a result, SEO writing is difficult to host b/c of a lack of personality and story telling.

I just want to provide you guys perspective from a blogger’s point of view, b/c I along w/ others in the Yakezie Network get INUNDATED. It’s getting out of hand!

You guys ever wonder how much your client then charges the client to get their commercial link up? Such insights helps bloggers negotiate as well.



Jamie Alexander November 6, 2012 at 5:28 am

This is in reply to your previous comment.

I think it’s easier to think of blogs as being split into two categories. The first one is where you and Sean some in, which is the personality driven blogs. These are different and people wouldn’t except any articles.

Then you have the information blogs which do. I only do guest posts, so I know that of my hundreds of articles they don’t go into directories or blog networks. It’s all proper blogs, but then my articles aren’t what you might call typical SEO article, because I don’t use keywords or base my articles on the clients site. It’s just a regular article within their niche.

I was asked to do an article for a personality driven blog, and when that happens I have to know where I’m posting so I can tailor the content to their needs. I think this is what you’re not seeing when people hit you up.

But generally I just write an article related to a particular niche and my company try to place it on a blog. The main SEO benefit coming from the link rather than keywords.

Financial Samurai November 6, 2012 at 8:27 am

Karen, I’m sure SEO writers can write well no doubt. Unfortunately, the majority of what I see is not good. I hope all SEO writers can raise their standards so the quality of content on the web overall improves. That would be awesome!


Nathan Richer November 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Thanks for the great article Sean and you made me laugh as I could picture you going up to the “beautiful American girl” and trying not to seem creepy.

I have a similar concern as Financial Samurai about becoming an SEO writer. I actually got my start writing SEO articles and getting back-links for business before turning it into a full-fledged Inbound Marketing company.

My concern with writing SEO articles and publishing them to private blogs and article directories is this is going against everything that Google is trying to promote. The search engine giant wants to see valuable content, natural back links that people share on social media. Essentially, they want businesses to focus on building relationships with their readers and worry less about SEO. In fact, technical SEO is just a small portion of the pie now days (the majority of the search engine pie is Content and Social Media). Eventually, I can see the technical side being wiped out completely.

Gone are the days of buying 1000 back links for $5 or publishing articles on poor ranking blog or article directories. The latest Google Updates (i.e. Panda, Penguin and now the Disavow Tool) ensure that those sites used solely for SEO are gone.

Google will now penalize (or at least not credit you) if your links are not on relevant websites. So if you write about microwaves and post it on a blog directory that talk about automotive repair…the link will have less value.

So instead of strictly being an “SEO Writer” we need to be shifting our thinking and create jobs such as Blog Post writers. Purchase Derek Halpern’s Blog that Converts (AWESOME COURSE) and specialize in writing effective blog posts that attract life-long readers. This is something you can sell to many businesses and while it may take more time to write it, you can charge more for it.

My final point in this long ramble is that is it is no longer important if you are number one. Google has implemented personalized results which means everyone has a different first page of search results depending on your searching habits (i.e. social media, ads you have clicked, sites you have visited, etc). What this means is instead of focusing on being the best focus on having the most keywords generating traffic to your website. Writing quality blog posts with long tailed keywords will ensure you get organic traffic from a a wide variety of keywords.

To conclude, I think SEO Writing is just about dead but this doesn’t mean we can’t shift with the times and start writing/selling valuable content to businesses that need high quality content for their websites.


Financial Samurai November 6, 2012 at 8:29 am

I agree with a lot of your thoughts Nathan. I don’t think SEO writing is dead though. I think really crappy SEO writing is soon becoming marginalized because the END CUSTOMER (blog, website, etc) that is being asked to host such content won’t do it.


sam I am December 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

I think one can make an argument for article directories in terms of finding information.
Also size does not matter.

I know I can go to some good directories and search with a keyword and find some really interesting and useful stuff. I don’t care about quantity or relationships, just get my answer and maybe click on some ads etc. and be gone. I could search on Google and get all kinds of other types of info that I may or may not want.

The two branches of discussions above are both right and its a persons choice what they want.


Rasmus @ Retire My Ass November 6, 2012 at 4:27 am

While SEO writing is perhaps not that sexy (and I totally agree with on this point :)), it’s a quick way of gaining some quick cash online. We have numerous SEO writers here in Denmark that are basically just kids wanting to make a little extra on the side.

But if you’re living in – say – Southeast Asia you can basically live like a prince (/princess ;)) on the salary due to the geo arbitrage.

Now the biggest problem has been all the changes from Google lately, while content is still king, a lot of linkbuilding methods that worked in the past have been made useless.

I have ramped my article marketing (for SEO purposes) down and have no longer a writer hired full time.


Travel & Gamble November 6, 2012 at 5:07 am

lol, 400 words article in 20 minutes about ANYTHING – that’s scum 🙂 It’s really difficult to find good SEO writer! In last two months I worked with four writers and only one was fairly good (but not good enough).

Why should someone who wants to buy microwave oven read this article that is written in 20 minutes, from someone who has no idea about microwave ovens? Oh, right that’s just to post on some blog and generate the link…

But who wants to read the blog that posts articles about microwave ovens that are written in 20 minutes, from someone who has no idea about microwave ovens? Probably nobody…

But agreed: there is still a huge market for good content writers! Give EXCELLENT quality content for high price and don’t compete with guys who write 5$ articles about nothing.


Financial Samurai November 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

Now now… what if the microwave article 20 minute writer is as attractive as Sean said she is in the post? Clearly that makes her article better right? 🙂

The “good thing” is… nobody knows who writes the microwave article! The writer doesn’t have to know anything at all!


Nathan Richer November 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Financial Samurai….you made me laugh out loud with your “attractive” comment 🙂

Nathan Richer November 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

In all honesty, with SEO writing it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it or not. The purpose of an SEO article is to get back-links so your website looks more popular in the eyes of Google.

Typically, these articles aren’t going on business websites. They are going on blog networks created simply to post these SEO articles and increase the number of back links. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are a fan of good content) Google is doing everything they can to shut these sites down and render them useless. The Disavow Tool is, in my opinion, the nail in the coffin for these SEO Blog and Article Directories.

From this point moving forward, you need to be focusing on getting natural back links by generating solid content and increasing your readership.


Edgar November 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

Great post! Cleared up some doubts I was having about SEO writing and made me realize it’s much more than worth it! Man, your blog is awesome. Keep up the good work!


Simon November 7, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hi great article, I’m travelling in South Asia now and would love to start doing this, what are some of the best websites that post jobs?


Landon November 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I’m going to have to agree with many commenters here who say that SEO writing is not a great occupation, which ultimately hurts the quality of content on the web. As a result, Google is doing the best they can to weed out SEO writing. Unless SEO writers can write better, the industry is going to continue to get marginalized.

Earning $10-20 bucks per crappy article to go live a location independent article is a bad way to live, especially when the business disappears. Build some real marketable skills instead.


brad November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm


Interesting article. I would love to hear other similar options. I wasn’t a terrible writer through school, but Its like pulling teeth to make myself do it.


Expatana November 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Awesome as always, Sean. There are 2 aspects that put up the biggest challenges to starting an independent living this way. First, just how is your beautiful new acquaintance managing a living on $10 per article? What’d she say, she writes 10-20 articles a week? That’s maybe $100-$120 per week. That wouldn’t get you by even in the cheapest locales.

Second, let’s face it, unless you happen to have off-the-top-of-your-head expertise in the topic, it’s nothing more than fluff without research. You’re getting $10 per article. Mere pennies when research is tacked on. Tell us — realistically — how many writers actually do this for any half-decent living without doing the required research? I don’t care how short the article is, you still have to acquaint yourself with the topic.

It’s tempting … sorely tempting to someone dying to finally get started. But I’d just as soon start out doing quality writing for a bit more. Now, finding those places that will hire me on … that is the challenge.

But thank you again, Sean. Anyone have other ideas for quick ways to get started?


davidd November 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Did I completely miss the point of Sean’s post, or did the discussion veer off from the topic? I didn’t see anything in the article about whether SEO article writing was effective or ineffective, or whether using SEO content was a legitimate or a shady strategy. I didn’t see anything about creating your own business, driving traffic to your own website, or hosting your own content. I thought the point of the post was that if you want to make a few bucks quick, and can type fast, you can sell articles to SEO companies. What those companies do with the articles, or where those articles ultimately end up, was not the point of the post.

Sean’s post specifically indicates that he does not consider this a viable long-term business; it’s more like a way to pick up some quick pocket money. And hey, even if it were to take me a half-hour to research microwave ovens and another half-hour to type up a list of Do’s-and-Don’ts in article format, if I could sell that article for ten bucks, I’d be happy making ten dollars an hour sitting here at my desk! It sounds easier than cleaning out my closet to sell junk on eBay! And I wouldn’t have to wear a paper hat while slinging french fries.

What I wanna know is, who is paying these globe-treking twenty-somethings ten bucks per article? I wouldn’t mind supplementing my income by becoming a hack writer! Sounds kinda fun, actually! And if I could learn to churn out ten-dollar articles in twenty minutes, well, at three-per-hour, I’d be making more than I am at my “real job,” and I’d be tempted to throw in the towel and go with the hack writer gig full time!

The issue I might take with the article has nothing to do with the legitimacy of writing for the SEO market. Rather, I am questioning the somewhat vague way the article implies this is a comparatively easy first-step toward location independence, without providing much in the way of concrete details: how do SEO writers conduct research, sell articles, or get paid? What differentiates a “good” article from a “poor” article? Is it essential to be a “beautiful girl” with a… nice laptop… to succeed in this market?

I guess MY first step will be to hone my research skills by looking more deeply into the specifics of writing and selling SEO content.

Just think, in the time I wasted writing this blog comment, I coulda made ten bucks! In the time I spent reading through the comments and typing a response, maybe I could’ve made enough to buy a tank of gas to drive to work next week!


Financial Samurai November 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

Would love to know what the steps are to find such SEO folks paying $10 an article too. Then we can ask them to start paying $100 to write much better articles!


Expatana November 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I’m with Davidd. Anyone into doing a post listing the actual concrete steps to becoming a writer like this? Someone who’s actually done it or knows people who are doing it now (as opposed to 5 years ago ’cause we all know SEO writing is SO 5 years ago 🙂 … someone who can explain in detail steps like this:

– who your clients will be and how to find them
– how to approach them
– how to put samples together if you’re still unpublished
– how to submit resume/samples
– how to REALLY figure out how much to charge
– how to increase your prices when you’re ready to go high quality

… and any other how-to’s a beginner like me would easily miss.


Sean November 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm


I’ve actually created a whole course about it 🙂


ep March 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

Even with copy-writing skills, this is actually a very competitive industry to break into, and unless you already have the industry connections, your biggest challenge will be to drum up enough business to actually make a decent living.


Joseph Dabon February 14, 2014 at 11:13 pm

So you have been to Cheap Charlie’s too. It was my favorite hangout in Bangkok when we were providing technical assistance to our manufacturing plant there. Truly great place.


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