Why My Lifestyle Business Has Been So Successful

If you haven’t noticed I’ve been talking a lot more about business building lately than I have in the past.

Why? Because the site is evolving. I am evolving.

Two years ago I was unhappy, clueless, and didn’t know how to get the things I wanted in life.

Now? I’ve traveled the world, built a business around things I actually like doing, and have the freedom to pretty much do whatever I want.

This post is one that many of you have been hounding me on for awhile (see comments).  This is the post where I will actually reveal some of the financial details surrounding my income.

I realize that if I’m going to launch Location Rebel and essentially tell you exactly how to build a business you can run from anywhere, I better be able to back it up with some real numbers.

That said, this isn’t easy for me.  Revealing personal financial information is something most would never do, but I see it as having to key benefits for me:

  1. It helps build my credibility.  You guys saw me when I was making ZERO at the end of 2009.  To get where I am now feels pretty good.  Still a long way to go, but I’m making progress.
  2. Holds me accountable.  I have some big goals.  I think next year (or who knows maybe even this year) I have the potential to make a six figure income.  The problem, is that if that goal stays in my head, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

When I left my job, my goal was to make my income from as many different sources as possible.  I didn’t want to rely on a single paycheck for security, but more importantly, I wanted the freedom to be able to explore multiple business ideas and opportunities to stave off boredom.

However, before I go into the details, let’s actually share the secret to why I consider my lifestyle business so successful.

I’ll say this right now, I don’t make a ton of money. Yet.  There are bloggers and good friends of mine that are making well into 6 figures this year – I’m not quite there.  Yet.

That said, I consider myself just as successful as any of them. Why? Because the quality of my life is just as good.

I’ve achieved a balance of paid work and passive income (forgive my use of that term) that allows me to adjust my time input on various projects from month to month and week to week depending on my current goals.

As most of you know, I spent 6 months in Thailand building up my SEO skills working with the Tropical MBA (big things going on over there btw). I’ve continued to partner with them, as well as do some of my own SEO consulting on the side.  However the key is, I’ve only done as much as I’ve needed to.

I’m at a point where I don’t want to work 60 hours a week doing SEO – because the fact is, I don’t need to.

If I’m having a slow month, I can pick up more SEO work if I need it.  I’ve got enough contacts now that finding small (or large) projects really isn’t that difficult.

So for instance this month I’m scaling down my consulting work in order to release Location Rebel out into the world.  Earlier this year the majority of my income was coming from SEO.  In 3 months? Who knows, I’ll allocate my time towards my business in the area where it seems to make the most sense at the time.

The best part of having a lifestyle business is the lifestyle. I travel. I golf. I spend time with friends and family. I work on cool projects.  I don’t need to be a millionaire next week.  Because aside from a little more financial certainty, not a whole lot would change.

So that said, for those of you who have been clamoring for me to release some of the details of my business. Here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m breaking out all of my income for the month of May piece by piece, so you can get an idea of where everything came from.  I’ll also go into detail about some of my expenses.  I will then also give you the mean income for the last 6 months.

I’m not going to do the Adam Baker thing and release every single financial detail of my life on a monthly basis, because I’m not writing a personal finance blog, and frankly it isn’t necessary.  If after this you still don’t think that you should take my business advice, then by all means, feel free to move along.

So here you go, earned income for May 2011:

Consulting Work

  • Tropical MBA Consulting: $1000.00
  • Other SEO Consulting: $500.00
  • General Business Consulting: $99.00
  • Unconventional Guides Affiliate Management: $200.00

Total: $1,799.00

Affiliate Income

Total: $3,798.89

Gross Income for May 2011: $5,597.89

So while this may not be mind-blowing to many of you, it is in fact more than I was making in my real job as an analyst, and double what I was making in the same month the year prior.  I’m happy with it.

So what about expenses?  My expenses on the business side of things are relatively limited, as I’m generally extremely frugal when it comes to my spending (usually).  Probably too much so.  Last year around this time I wrote a post called “Would You Rather Have a Beer or a Business“.  Unfortunately I’m still in the mode where I have no problem spending money on the beer, but the business is always more of a struggle.

May 2011 Business Expenses:

  • Aweber: $29.00
  • Hosting Renewal: $99.00
  • Domain Purchases: $34.86
  • Affiliate Payments: $45.84
  • E-Junkie: $5.00
  • Submit Edge: $115

Total Business Expenses for May 2011: $328.70

Net Income for May 2011: $5,269.19

There are plenty more expenses related to travel and entertainment and such, but those are more discretionary so I’m not going to include them here.

Income for the Last Six Months:

  • December: $4,103.22
  • January: $2,782.65
  • February: $4,041.82
  • March: $3,581.02
  • April: $3,521.01
  • May: $5,597.89

Six Month Mean: $3,937.94

Annualized 2011 Projected Income: $47,255.22

Now that projection is strictly based off the last 6 months.  If you factor in new consulting work, Location Rebel, and other projects, I see that number being considerably higher than that come next January.  I’ll follow up then to see how I did.

My business is successful because I don’t get bogged down on one project.  If I’m struggling in one area, I’ll go do something else and come back to it when I’m ready.  I put quality of life, the things I like doing, and the people I like being around on the forefront of everything I do.

Personally, I’d have it no other way.

Are you ready to start taking your life seriously? Ready to start making your friends jealous and living the life you’ve always wanted? Come join dozens of others who are already doing just that in Location Rebel.

Alan June 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

Yes! That’s all I’ve got. This is great.

Benny June 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

Thanks for sharing Sean. Those are great numbers. Numbers I’d love to have cause it would give me freedom as well like you mentioned. No doubt it’ll go up. I look forward to watching that progress and looking forward to more Location Rebel stuff.

Financial Samurai June 13, 2011 at 10:16 am

Nice work Sean and thanks for sharing! Those are impressive figures in my opinion, and really helps provide a balanced viewpoint to your followers as to whether they should considering taking the leap and quitting their jobs to do a lifestyle business or not. It’s important to have the figures and let people decide on their own afterward. Each person has a different definition of success, monetary or otherwise.

It’s very eye-opening to see how much one can make from doing affiliate sales.

Keep up the good work!


Matthew Karsten June 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

Pretty brave of you to share the hard numbers! Congrats. 🙂

Jeffrey Trull June 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

Hey Sean,

Those numbers are awesome! It’s cool to see how the different sources break down for you. I think all the readers on here realize that your numbers are only going to increase from here, too.

The thing that sticks out to me as that you’re making a great income AND living an awesome life at the same time. I think a lot of people think that to go out on a limb and do what you’ve done might mean living on a shoestring budget. I think your story is proof that’s not the case.

Ryan @ EatSaveTravel.com June 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

Wow, big numbers you’ve got there. May not be super impressive to some people out there but certainly impressive to me. Keep up the good work!

Deborah Fike June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for sharing this kind of information. I would call you a great success. 🙂 I’d love to have those kind of numbers not attached to a 9-to-5 job, and it’s clear you love what you’re doing and how you manage your time. Cheers!

Sophia June 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I love the transparency. Thanks for sharing this. My favorite line from the piece “… I consider myself just as successful as any of them. Why? Because the quality of my life is just as good.”

Wishing you continued success.

Alex June 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Killing it, boss! Love it!

Cherie @Technomadia June 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

In all honesty, my numbers aren’t all the different. And I feel absolutely abundant. I have the life I want, I can be wherever I want to be, I can work the hours I want and I’m doing stuff I’m extremely proud of.

I’ve been self employed and location independent in my software development business since 1994, and I know that ‘on the market’ I could make a heck of a lot more with my skillsets and experience. So why don’t I hold out for more? The freedom I have to pick and choose my clients based on the good they bring to the world and how I can help them all while doing it on my terms) … priceless.

I don’t need more to live on and be extremely happy, and putting away savings and having everything I want. When you have no debts and limited expenses and can choose where you live, making ~$50k / yr is far more abundant that what others making twice or thrice that are with expenses of mortgages, cars, debts, putting kids through college, etc.

And it seems you’ve discovered this secret too 🙂

Sure.. I won’t complain if more money comes in. But I’m not driven to expand it beyond what I actually need to be happy.

Dave June 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Kudos for sharing your income, your credibility just shot through the roof. And frankly, they could’ve been lower and that’d still be the case.

You don’t have to make the most money in the world (in blogging…in day trading….or any activity) to teach others. As long as you can share what you’ve learned, the next generation who wants to get started will be willing to invest. We have to remember not to let ourselves fall into the trap of judging how well we’re doing by comparing ourselves to others. Someone will always be making more $$$

I started this year with the goal of making 6 figures (triple 2010’s earnings), however I’m realizing how fast time is flying by, and I haven’t been focused enough on getting new sites (ebooks, whatever) in the pipeline. That’s my goal in the next few months, otherwise my earnings aren’t going to increase this year nearly as much as I know they can.

Keep up the good work, most people would love to be in our position!

Red June 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post. The more people I hear who are being successful doing what they want, how they want…the more I push myself towards those goals as well. Something to strive for.

Caleb Wojcik June 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I know it is a big step to be financially honest online as I just recently started doing net worth reports on my site. By showing your audience that you are in fact making a reasonable living online though, you will continue to gain readers.

Thanks for sharing Sean and I look forward to tracking your progress.

Untemplater June 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Fantastic work Sean! That’s so awesome your business is doing well and evolving. Evolving is a good thing! I’m really looking forward to Location Rebel!!

Rasheed Hooda June 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Way to go, Sean.

I am sure people who were worried about you not being able to retire in 40 years will find comfort in these numbers.

You are an inspiration to all. Great numbers.

Jacob Sokol June 14, 2011 at 12:29 am

Dope homey.

Vivek Mayasandra June 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

Hey Sean,

Excellent post here! I think sharing hard details, particularly numbers, enables a lot of people to get some sort of idea of what’s possible with a “lifestyle” business. And for that, kudos to you!

I, as well as a ton of others on here, clearly appreciate the unapologetic honesty of your posts, particularly this one. Thanks and continue kicking ass – you know you’ve been one of my big inspirations straight up!


Tim June 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

Hey man! The best way to think about it all is how much you have grown it since last year. Good work and keep it going, look forward to seeing more growth.

Dara June 14, 2011 at 3:48 am

Awesome. Making a living “wage” so to speak on you own terms! And the most valuable thing you have is the skill to keep doing this. Knowing you can make money without being dependent on a job is the ultimate freedom.

Richard June 14, 2011 at 4:32 am

Wow! That’s great, Sean. I see you hitting six-figures sooner then later! Good work, bro. 🙂

Yamile Yemoonyah June 14, 2011 at 6:43 am

Thanks for sharing. To me these are impressive numbers. I’m not quite there yet but by the end of the year I will! It’s also very interesting to see that most of your income comes from affiliate sales.

Steph June 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thanks for sharing this info. It’s always nice to get specific details from someone who’s in the trenches. It makes my goals seem much more realistic. Can’t wait to read to read Location Rebel!

Nathan Agin June 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

thanks so much for sharing this Sean – another piece that helps us all gain clarity on the larger pie… mmmmm…pie….

Jenny Blake June 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

LOVE THIS!! Thank you for sharing, and major kudos for taking the risk to put your numbers out there.

By the way — I almost did a fist pump for you when I read this line:
“If after this you still don’t think that you should take my business advice, then by all means, feel free to move along.”

Rock on!

Micamyx|Senyorita June 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

It’s my first time here and i’m impressed! I’ll be reading some of your past articles to pick up inspiration. 😀

Omar Elbaga June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I don’t know why people are so scared of publishing numbers and being genuine. I think we’re living in a time where trust and authenticity is one of your BIGGEST assets online since there are so many quacks and phonies out there.

If you can’t look me in the eye and be genuine over the web like you would sitting at a coffee shop with me, the back button is MUCH safer.

Bloggers, just be honest.

Love Sean’s blog.

Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things June 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Balla Balla. So cool of you to post this Sean. Crazy to see how things have changed in the last 2 years. Congrats man. You deserve it!

Rebekah June 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

That is fascinating! I’m a new reader and I’m already a little addicted to your life. I’m reading Chris’ book now and hope to be free by the end of the year. Will it happen? who knows. But I’m so ready cant wait to get location rebel. Thanks for the GREAT post.

Moon Hussain June 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Hey Sean,

This is some serious full-time income. When I was getting paid (close to this amount) at my old job, I know I had more than enough for a nice apartment, car, trips, etc.

Add that with free time to do whatever you want, whenever you want.. there’s nothing better.

Go you! No doubt you’ll double this income in another year or so 😉

Peggy McPartland June 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Wow, sweet! You are really inspiring, Sean. I think I’m about where you were two years ago and hope I’m able to develop a business (or businesses) that are as successful and provide the kind of lifestyle you’ve found. Congratulations!

Ollie Rattue June 15, 2011 at 5:51 am

Hey Sean, thanks for posting this. Must of been an interesting exercise for yourself as well to analysise where your money is coming from.

For me money earned in relationship to the number of hours worked per week is more relevant than the total income (assuming you are making an income that covers your monthly costs). A huge income is great, but not if it comes with a bundle of stress and a lack of leisure time.

To put your income in perspective how many hours do you typically work per week?


Rob Bloggeries June 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Props, you’re killing it. My boss used to make 4K a month after tax. Now all you have to do is relocate to another nation where you don’t get taxed on income outside the country and you’re balling…

Tips hat,

Chas June 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thank you for breaking it down, Sean. It is a matter of perspective- I would love to have a story like yours to tell, and hope to. The time-freedom factor is something that can’t be placed in a quantitative equation. Thank you for your motivation and inspiration.

Jen Gresham June 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

First off, hats off to you on being brave enough to detail your financial info. I appreciate the courage it took to do that, and it’s truly helpful for someone building an online business to see how the numbers work out and where the money comes from.

But a big second CONGRATS on making your business so successful!! I don’t think success is determined by the money you make, but how your work makes you feel. Sounds like you feel pretty good.

Great post!

Ed June 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

Thanks for sharing this. A lot of people don’t post their financial information online and it has taken you awhile before you were able to post this. Now I have a better idea on how lucrative a business this is.

Really appreciate this!

Michael Finney June 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I know I sent you an email on this, but I wanted to respond to the post as well. There are a number of “get rich quick” articles about blogging. Most are scams. I appreciate that you posted a more realistic image of blogging and how to make a living at it. Rarely do you see such transparency. Great work and definitely keep it up as it really helps.

Liz | Two Weeks to Travel June 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Wow, that’s great, congratulations! I’d love to be right in that wheelhouse, and posts like this inspire me to keep growing and diversifying my possible income streams. I don’t want to be a millionaire (ok, well that’s sort of a lie), but I just want the freedom, so $50k to do what I want, and enjoy it sounds perfect to me. Inspiring as always, thanks, Sean.

Jude Boudreaux July 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

Wow, this is great stuff. I’m so glad I ran across your blog. I wonder if it is possible to do traditional face to face consulting, but with extended periods of time for travel abroad with kids? I’ve got a 9.5 month old and I really want to have her grow up knowing the world and travel, not just dreaming about it. Good inspiration!

Diggy July 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Hey Sean,
How are you doing buddy?

Fantastic to see you’re doing so well with your own business, and how you’ve been able to travel the world and live as you please:) You’re an inspiration to many. Keep it up and keep inspiring others to achieve the same!


Jeff - Digital Nomad Journey August 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm

If the work /life balance is there, then these are really perfect numbers. Enough to live in many places comfortably both in the US, and out. You have a good diverse stream of income sources too, which is great. Good job!

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