Making Videos for a Living

Posted by – March 10, 2013

I thought I’d just post a quick update to my “journal”. More than a year ago now, I started making YouTube videos about computer programming to try to sell 1-to-1 Skype lessons. Then about six months ago, someone told me that I can sell video tutorials on I started doing that, and was very quickly making around $3000 a month.

Now my life consists in doing whatever I feel like doing, and making some videos for, on average, about an hour a day.

I’m much happier than I’ve ever been before. The things I struggle with now are, the lack of company during the day, since I no longer work anywhere but home (let me emphasise that I’m not complaining about not going into the office though — I love the freedom), and motivating myself to make videos. That’s the downside, and it’s a very small downside to what I consider to be a pretty sweet lifestyle. I could now be very wealthy if I worked harder on making money, but that’s always been both my strength and my failing; that I’m not motivated much by money.

The upside, apart from the money and being able to work anywhere at any time, and having to work very little, is that I’ve realised that you can make a living doing almost anything on the Internet if you know how to go about it. So I’m currently creating all kinds of other projects that I anticipate will make me good money in two years, or at least those projects that I persist with hopefully will.

My new projects are things that I really want to do rather than stuff that I believe will particularly rake in the cash. As far as I can see, and I don’t like to jinx it by speaking out of turn, but my programming videos will bring me a living wage far into the future, especially if I keep doing a bit of work on them. Right now I can save a bit of money every month, and in general I make more money every month than the last month. It’s a great situation. But a great situation can always be greater, and the thing I’m working on changing now is developing more interesting areas to work in, and I’m thinking about how to eventually work more with other people.

I’ve written a bunch of posts now about making money on the Internet, so I won’t cover it again here.

I’m grateful now that I was in this situation for a while where I had to understand the Internet in order to pay my rent! It was very stressful for about a year, but now I can see a golden future for myself — if I can only keep myself motivated and deal with the fact that I spend my working days largely alone. There are pros and cons in everything, but I do not regret a single thing and I’m so happy that things have worked out. Wild horses won’t get me back into the office now. I’m right at the start of living the dream as far as I can see!

Realising Your Dreams: It’s Easier Than You Think

Posted by – March 9, 2013

First let me say that there are two kinds of dreams; impossible dreams and possible ones. Usually the impossible dreams are only impossible because of the way you frame them. For example, you say that you want to dance for the Royal Ballet, but you’re forty and have never had any ballet lessons. That’s probably not going to happen. But what is it you really want? Does your dream have to be so specific? If you want to earn a living by dancing, then your dream is still attainable; it’s just that you’re going to have to be creative about it. If you want to be associated with a highly prestigious organisation, then you can find ways of making that happen. You can be on stage, you can give performances, you can make your dream happen — but only if you’re prepared to drop the specifics and think about what you really want.

Once you’ve looked into your heart and determined what you really want, freed from the specifics of how you want it, you can set about making it happen. The second major problem with most people’s dreams, is that they take a passive form. For instance, let’s say you want to be a great singer. Nothing wrong with that. What do you do about it? What many people would do, is to basically do very little except to perhaps record a few songs and hope that a talent scout from a huge music publishing company will spot them and make them famous. They imagine that once spotted by the talent scout, everything will be easy. Their lives will be transformed into glitter and happiness.

In reality, it rarely works like this. Very few people are elevated from ordinary lives into greatness. On the rare occasions when this does happen, people often find that their lives are still difficult — and in some ways even more difficult than before. Fame isn’t what it appeared to be, as seen through the media, from a safe distance.

Here’s what you need to do. Forget the great man (or woman) discovering your amazing talent. Forget the idea that the general public will abruptly acclaim your work as genius. Instead of expecting to be magically, passively lifted from your current situation to your ideal situation, figure out how to actively lift yourself step by step from your current situation to where you want to be.

The Internet is Your Ticket to Success

The Internet gives us unprecedented opportunity to realise our dreams. The key to using the Internet successfully is to realise that the Internet repays the creation of regular, quality content — whether the content is your manga illustrations, your latest recipes, videos of yourself singing or telling jokes or whatever. If you create regular, interesting content and put it somewhere, very few people will look at your stuff at first, but as time goes by you’ll pick up fans (and probably detractors too) and eventually you’ll be able to make a living by selling them your product in some form or other. Your own website or YouTube or iTunes or Facebook or some combination thereof are some especially great places to put stuff.

Yeah I know, that word “product” is unnerving. But if you want to be paid for your work, think of it as a product, whether that product is your stand-up comedy or your songs or whatever it is.

Let’s talk about the word “professional”. You want to be a professional, right? You want to be a professional dancer, singer, writer, artist or whatever. A “professional” is not someone who has a magical status in society that guarantees them adoration and fame. A professional is someone who makes their living by doing the thing that they are professional at. A professional writer is someone who makes their money by writing. It’s that simple. Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me. Society has a way of making us feel that professionals in creative areas are leagues above us somehow, but if you read their actual biographies, usually you find that they struggled at first; they eventually reached a point where they could scrape a living doing what they love to do, and only later did they become famous due to the quality of their work and the extent of their output.

If you want widespread recognition, first accept that you have to start by doing what you do for very little monetary reward. In something like two years (or less, if you’re very productive) you can make a living doing it. From then on, it’s a question of getting better and better at what you do, and keeping on doing it.

If you want to write books, you no longer need a publishing company. You can publish an e-book yourself and potentially make millions with it (but you’re not focused on money, right? If you are — better to stay away from anything creative and go into something more mundane). If you’re a singer, you can sing on YouTube and eventually attract enough of a following to make money from YouTube advertising or from selling your songs by telling people where to buy them in your YouTube videos, or offering yourself for hire to sing at events.

Whatever you do, you can use the Internet to get there step by step.

Fun or Prestige?

One objection that a lot of people have to the Internet route to being a professional x, y or z, is that it isn’t prestigious. People will ask you stuff like, don’t want you a normal publishing deal? Don’t you want to work for a normal company doing what you’re doing? If you teach, they’ll ask you if you wouldn’t like to teach in a university. If you film your own drama series, they’ll ask if you wouldn’t like to be on TV.

You have to ask yourself why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Do you want and need prestige, or do you want to do the thing that you’ve always dreamed of for a living? If the answer is that you want the prestige, you may never succeed anyway — due to your lack of interest in the thing itself. A true actor will act whether on YouTube or on TV. Sure, a true actor desires the most prestigious option, but he or she knows that being able to make a living acting is the first and foremost greatest thing to reach for — not the ultimate goal of being on TV.

An Internet career may or may not segue into a conventional career, and you may or may not want it to. What it almost certainly will give you, at least if you’re at all dedicated, is the opportunity to make a living doing what you love.


Whatever it is that you want to do with your life, the Internet may give you the chance to do it. Things are changing, and careers are becoming stranger and less conventional. That’s a good thing. Embrace the change. The key to using the Internet is to create material and put it somewhere regularly. Think about where that place is going to be. Think about having a website. You don’t need to get mega technical; just have a place on the Net where people can find you. You won’t garner much interest at first; interest comes with time and persistence. It’s going to be probably a couple of years of regularly creating stuff before you can hope to make a living off it. You must first get people to look at your stuff, build a fanbase and start thinking about how to sell your talents to them.

On the other hand, the great thing about the Internet is that you won’t work in a vacuum for long. You will start getting feedback from people after a month or two if you work at creating interesting stuff. People will leave you comments and tell you what they think. You can start making money pretty quickly too; it’s just that it won’t be a lot at first. Meanwhile you’ll get better and better at your art, as you continue to publicly practise it.

Think practically, always think of new ways to get exposure and to make a living from what you do, and above all keep creating new material. I can’t emphasise the importance of this enough. The reason why everyone isn’t making a living on the Internet is partly because many people actually like their office jobs, and because most people who start creating stuff on the Internet just don’t love what they are doing enough to keep creating material week in, week out for a couple of years. If you can be one of those who have what it takes to keep going, you too can make a living doing whatever it is that you love doing.

You can eventually find ways to work with other people, but unless you’re very lucky with your choice of friends, initially you’re probably going to have to go solo. Your friends are unlikely to share your passion. If you do have friends who share your passion and are willing to work hard on it with you on a regular basis, then you’re probably destined for the big time! Check out Christopher Nolan’s biography and see how he got started making films if you want an example of the power of a dedicated circle of friends. Unless you’ve got Nolan’s charisma, leadership skills and/or dedicated circle of friends, you need to get together the courage and guts to do what you want by yourself initially.

Oh yeah, and one last thing. Make sure you know what it is that you’re doing. Don’t create a random blog like this one! I write on this blog for fun, not for profit. I put my experiments here. To succeed financially, your website or YouTube channel or whatever needs a clear theme. It can’t just be a mixture of random stuff. Make sure you know what you’re about, and keep doing it till you succeed!

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How to Sell Stuff on the Internet

Posted by – March 6, 2013

This website has become a random ragbag of my various experiments. So now I think I may as well just use it as a place where I can write down stuff I want to get off my chest. One of these things is the subject of how to sell stuff on the Internet.

I make a living from selling computer programming videos via my current main website, Cave of Programming. I don’t want to brag (or maybe I do), but at the moment I’m making a quite OK living from about an hour of work a day, on average, on this video stuff. But it took me a long time to figure out how to make a living doing very little work. It was my ambition to do this right from when I was a small child, since I really wanted to spend my time thinking about things and doing things that I knew wouldn’t pay any money. It took me till the age of 38 to figure out how to do it. Hopefully if I share the secret with you, you’ll be a bit quicker off the mark than me.

What to Sell

You can sell all kinds of things on the Internet; e-books, recordings (podcasts), footage taken with your video camera, photographs of household objects, videos explaining how to do stuff, other people’s products as an affiliate; the list is practically endless. I read of some woman who makes a living blogging about Jesus. She puts adverts on her site (or maybe asks for donations, I’m not sure), and makes a living from that.

None of this is at all technically involved. Selling as an affiliate, for example, just involves signing up to a site like ClickBank and finding a product you want to sell. There are websites that will handle all payment and downloads for you. All you have to worry about is, what are you going to sell and why.

My Anti-Sales Pitch

The reason I’m really writing this post is to say this: you know all that stuff that people do to sell stuff on the Internet? Hype, squeeze pages, popups soliciting emails, SEO, correct keyword density, promoting yourself as a world-leading genius etc, etc? Forget it. You don’t need it. You don’t need any of it. Look at my own computer site (listed above). I don’t do any of this stuff. I’m also very lazy, except when I happen to get enthusiastic about something — and I don’t get enthusiastic about money or sales. And I make a fine living, getting better all the time.

But there must be a reason why people do all this SEO hype stuff, right? If you don’t do it, what should you do instead?

The Secret

To successfully sell a product, you need to have a website that prominently offers that product for sale, and you need to have good traffic to the website. Only something like 1% of the people who visit your site will buy the product. So the key to selling something successfully is to get traffic to your website. That’s true even if you aspire to make money solely from putting Google ads on your site (difficult, but do-able) or by soliciting donations or selling a service.

Here’s the key to building long-term high traffic to a website: post interesting and/or useful stuff regularly on it.

That’s it. That’s the secret. You can post articles, or if you don’t like writing (and I actually don’t write much about programming), you can embed media into pages that have only a few sentences of explanation and a good title. For example, make YouTube videos at least once a week, or record audio files, or take photographs if that’s part of what you do, or whatever. Just make sure you are putting regular quality content on your site.

Other Important Stuff

There is other stuff that I should mention. It’s not quite that simple, but the above concept IS a powerful recipe for long-term success. It might take you two years to be able to fully support yourself from your website. You need to create good content, of course. The content you’re posting needs to be strongly connected to whatever you’re selling. You’re going to have to be quite enthusiastic to keep going, even when you’re only seeing an occasional sale initially. It will really help if you’re giving people information that they’re looking for. Use the Google keyword tool to find out what people are actually searching for; these keywords should be in your titles and pages, because that’s what people are looking for — and how else will they find your stuff? You can also bookmark your posts on places like StumbleUpon.

For me, YouTube has been a huge driver of traffic to my site. I give away “how to” videos for free regularly on YouTube; I mention the url of my site in the videos (which is a memorable url), and I paste it in the description of the video on YouTube too. The key is to do stuff like this regularly, and not expect too much for the first few months.

You can’t do everything at once; but if you do what I did — google for information about how to create and promote websites, and just keep going — you’ll get there in the end. What you don’t need to do, is engage in high-pressure sales tactics, SEO or weird psychological techniques. The best thing you can possibly do is treat your visitors like human beings and don’t be afraid to show who you really are. Don’t ever try to pull the wool over their eyes.

Don’t Focus on Sales

If you really want to build your own web-based business that will bring you money even while you sleep, don’t focus on making sales. Put sales into a corner of your mind, and make your primary focus your actual product. Make your website and whatever you create as good as you can. Focus on helping people and getting your message across. If you focus on sales and money, you’ll waste effort that you could have expended making your product or your website better. Forget it. Sales is a function of traffic, and traffic is a function of posting quality material frequently.

Don’t be afraid to give stuff away for free. Get your head around the fact that if someone is helped, somewhere, that’s a good thing. It improves the state of the world, whether or not the person you helped ends up buying stuff from you.

Your Dreams, Now (Well OK, Soon)

The Web gives us unprecedented opportunity to really make a living doing almost whatever we want. All it asks in returns is that you find a way to communicate what you’re doing effectively. You have to be patient, because it does take time to build traffic to a website or blog to the point where you can make a living off it. If you’re desperate to make a living independently immediately, go and teach your language somewhere or something like that. Initially you need to value every website visitor; one day you’ll get your first sale and it’ll be great. Then you’ll get another sale and another; it’ll build into a good source of “extra” income, and finally you’ll be making a living off it. You can make a living doing almost anything. Whether you’re into origami, Jesus, wilderness survival tactics, cat photography, cookery or whatever, you can probably make a living doing it within roughly two years, if you get your act together. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

YouTube and Other Such Tools

One of the easiest things you can do is actually to make YouTube videos explaining how to do something. Ideally, make it something you know about, preferably that interests you. You can alternatively learn your subject as you go along if necessary, and be honest about learning it. People may well be interested in your learning experience. Connect with people. You can appear on your videos, or just talk and show slides or something. Use software like BB Flashback Express to record your screen if that’s appropriate. Post videos regularly and see how much traffic you’re getting after three months. Then ask yourself how many more videos you’d need to create if 1% of your YouTube traffic were buying your product.

If you’re creating videos, making sure you watch your own videos. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tones of voice and ways of speaking. Aim to create a pleasing product; leave your ego out of it and ask yourself what’s going to be pleasant and interesting for the user to experience in your videos.

There are people out there who are building substantial traffic to websites without even recording or writing anything! There are illustrators, photographers, people who paste recipes or code examples …. believe me, if you’re able to read this, you’re almost certainly able to make a good living for yourself via the Internet. Just be genuine, be yourself, and let people see who you really are and what you’re about.

Deciding What to Teach: Make a Living Teaching Online, Part 1

Posted by – December 31, 2012

A tutorial on how to make a living teaching online. In this first part we’ll look at how to decide what to teach.

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Podcast 1: Introducing the Fascinating Experiments Podcast

Posted by – December 19, 2012

Welcome to the very first Fascinating Experiments podcast! This podcast is all about changing your life. In the Fascinating Experiments podcast I’ll be giving you some practical ideas about how you can radically alter your life … if you want to.

In this episode we’ll discuss the kind of stuff that’s going to be in future podcasts, and I’ll tell you about some of the crazy things I’ve done over the years to try to escape from my accidental unwanted office-based career before I finally succeeded.

Fascinating Experiments

Watch on YouTube


This Week’s Featured Track

Illumination (feat. Emmalyne Braswell) (Action Davis) / CC BY-NC 3.0

Video Credits

St. Petersburg by Delouvre

City Street Time Lapse Stock Video by YouTubeEditor

night sky timelapse by cyuan

High Falls Time Lapse Stock Video in HD by Beachfront

Datura milky way time lapse by Mike Lewinski

sunset timelapse by Alexandr G.

Stormy Sunset by No real name given

Sunset nature Time Lapse by YoyoSquirrel

Traffic At Dusk Time Lapse Stock Video in HD by YouTubeEditor

Free Stadium and Clouds Time Lapse Stock Video in HD by Beachfront

1 Clip has a Silver Lining by Beachfront B-Roll

1 Clip is Watching the Tide Roll Away by Beachfront B-Roll

Beachfront B-Roll: Power Lines (Free to Use HD Stock Footage Time Lapse) by Beachfrontprod

Free Lombard Street Stock Video in HD by YouTubeEditor

Beach Rocks At Dusk Stock Video in HD by YouTubeEditor

Violet Flowers by YouTubeEditor

Beachfront B-Roll: Lake and River HDR Time Lapse (Royalty Free HD Stock Video) by gnaccola2

Birds On The Post Stock Video in HD by Beachfront

40 Seconds Clouds Timelapse Stock Video by Jordeey

Scary Halloween Walk Through the Woods by virtual-studio-set

Free Video Clip – Time lapse sunset by gnaccola2

Time Lapse of Everglades Camping by nate bolt

Night time-lapse 240x by Maxime Guilbot

Winter time lapse from the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Alaska by Paxson Woelber

The Secret Life Of Cilantro, Sun Worshipper by Scott Schiller

Fog Time Lapse by No real name given

fourth and madison 3-4 PM by steve lodefink

Free HD stock video – time lapse clouds with sun rays by Johann Mynhardt

Sunrise by Mike Lewinski

Meteors galore by Mike Lewinski

Ladder to the Pleiades by Mike Lewinski

09-09-2012 time lapse by Mike Lewinski

September 29, 2012 Moonrise by Mike Lewinski

Sunrise by Mike Lewinski

October 2, 2012 cabin in the woods by Mike Lewinski

Full Moon and Clouds Time Lapse 2 by Beachfront


Posted by – December 7, 2011

I’ve become a bit lax about posting to this site. What’s even worse is, when I look at the front page, it’s become entirely about my random endeavours in Budapest, instead of being about more generally applicable things. Anyway, I want to post an update about what I’ve been doing just for the moment, then maybe I can get back to writing whatever crazy articles spring to mind.

A little while ago I posted something about an “experimental travel site” that I was working on. I’ve sort of already lost interest in that idea, and I’m thinking of using the site to sell software from . But, my mysterious friend “LP” did mention that indeed her friend is apparently able to set up travel sites and to already make something like 1000 euros a month from them after only a couple of months. But he works all day on them and is an expert on SEO. I’m still learning about SEO, and if I knew the trick to this I’d share it with you, but I don’t. Pretty amazing though — it really seems to contradict what we all hear, that it takes two years to make a blog successful.

As for myself, now finally I’m making a living by teaching software development online using Skype and other free software (my site is Cave of Programming). It happened quite quickly for me; my first student was through and came to me via pure luck. Someone advertised on there for someone to teach them Java, and I applied. That gave me confidence that there is a demand for this kind of thing, and I put my photo on my other site together with some more balanced, less over-the-top advertising information. Clients began to appear at the rate of about one every two or three weeks.

I also teach private English lessons here in Budapest. I advertised through the local newspapers and ended up with four or five clients. If you speak English you could definitely make a living like that, but I’ve decided to concentrate on teaching software online, since for me this pays more and is easier.

I definitely think that non-English speakers could teach their own language online via Skype too, especially if you speak at least some English (which you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this page). Set up an Internet site and regularly post little articles to it. Bookmark your own articles on social bookmarking sites, using titles with keywords that people are searching for (although this maybe isn’t as important as making sure your articles are useful), and consider making YouTube videos too. I make YouTube videos using Flashback Express (free) to capture my desktop. It’s really good, and every day or two someone subscribes to my YouTube channel. I take payments using PayPal, which charges a hefty percentage, but only of the money that you actually make — there are no upfront payments. It’s really, really easy to use; just log into their site and click. You can find more information about SEO (the art of writing pages that will get hits in Google) elsewhere on this website.

Basically, if you can think of something that some people are interested in learning and that you can teach, you can probably find people who want to learn it through the Internet. You just need to be patient, and do a little something every day to promote your website. Don’t give up the day job till you’ve got clients, at least not unless you have savings. OR, disregard my advice completely, quit your job, pay your rent with your credit card and try to get clients like crazy. You might succeed, but don’t blame me if you don’t :)

Budapest is quite a good place to live if you’re doing this kind of thing, since it’s cheap (for people from Western Europe or USA — although I don’t know how permits and visas work for US residents) and you can get a good Internet connection here. But of course anywhere with cheap rent and a good Internet connection works. If you’ve got your own house, even better! Right now it’s chilly in Budapest and everyone’s complaining about the cold. Except me — I love it. I seem to be permanently adjusted to English weather, so I feel right at home now.

Often Skype has a few problems while I’m teaching people, but we just work through it together and no-one minds too much.

The next step for me is to work on my language software, while continuing to take on more clients for programming training. I actually finished some language-learning software, but I am pretty unhappy with it — it’s very unexciting and tends not to install properly. What I’ve learnt from this is, if you’re writing software, think about how it will install before you even start, and use any helpful libraries or frameworks that you possibly can. Try to find a framework that does most of the work for you.

Talking of language software, recently I’ve been meeting people in Budapest from language-exchange sites to practice Hungarian. One guy G. happened to have taken English lessons with a man who wrote some of the Hungarian-learning books I’ve got. G. told me that this man was looking for people to write software for him, and for native English speakers to record stuff for his software. I arranged to meet this man, who turned out to be a grey-haired Russian. I couldn’t help him with his software since he write for Macs, which I don’t, but I recorded some text for him. He got me to sit in a little makeshift recording studio while I read out text for his latest software project. For this I asked for, and got, 4000 forint for an hour. For me it was an interesting experience, although I sensed he was skittish about my Derbyshire accent. But it was interesting to meet someone who had built a business around mainly teaching English.

This might be my last “journal” or Budapest-related post for a while. Since I started writing this journal, I’ve gone from desperately hoping that I could make a living away from offices, to actually doing it and (fingers crossed) succeeding. I’ve leveraged my software skills, but I could equally well have concentrated on teaching English. I think that making a living for yourself is not as hard as it can seem, provided you are patient and you take the trouble to promote your services or product. It used to seem like a black art to me, and for year after year I felt that office slavery was inevitable, when all along if I had just picked one sensible idea and stuck at it for a while and had not been afraid to promote myself, probably I could have avoided many years of frustration!

The best thing about working for myself is that I get to work with a diverse assortment of interesting and likeable people, and I often get really nice comments on my blogs — or people tell me they’re really grateful for my help. The worst thing is that sometimes I worry that my clients will all disappear and no new ones will come in. But that looks less and less likely with each passing month, as I acquire new clients. All in all, I can’t recommend this kind of life highly enough. I finally feel like I’m in control of my destiny. I get out of bed when I’ve had enough sleep; I stroll around when I feel like it, and no-one tells me what to do. Bliss.

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Experimental Travel Site

Posted by – November 9, 2011

This is just a quick post to announce my new blog, Fascinating Journeys.

It uses cheap hosting from AccuWebHosting (as does this site), along with the free WordPress content manager, and a paid-for premium theme called Lifestyle, which is part of the Genesis Framework.

My plan for this blog is to write about travel-related themes, to make money from advertising on the blog (this is its entire purpose really) and initially to try to pick up visitors by targeting “long tail” key phrases in Google.

I’ve noticed that my most popular posts on my blogs so far are often ones targeting key phrases that only get as little as 7000 global searches monthly. For these key phrases I can easily get onto the first or second results page in Google and pick up 100 hits a month. So these are the phrases I’ll use in my titles; also I’ll be looking for key phrases with high Cost Per Click (CPC).

Making Money Via Blogging, Attempt No. 3

Posted by – October 30, 2011

Before launching into telling you about my latest project, a little history of my previous attempts at making money through the Internet is in order.

Early this year, around about March, I was working for a massive American telecomms company and searching for ways to make money under my own steam, without having to spend all day implementing the random idle wishes of random bosses. One way that sprung to mind was setting up a blog and making money from placing advertising on the blog, through a service such as Google ads or CJ.

I immediately set up a blog, this one, and waited for thousands of people to flock to my site and click on my adverts. Then I realised that I had made a number of critical mistakes. Firstly, I had not written my articles around key phrases that people are actually searching for, nor had I placed such key phrases prominently in my articles, as is the idea behind SEO.

I had also started a blog that had no really clear focus. Inasmuch as it did have a focus, the focus was largely about making money online, an extremely competitive field.

Blog Number 2

I set to work to correct these mistakes with another blog. My second blog overcomes several of the deficiencies that this blog suffers from, as far as making money goes. Firstly, it is tightly focused on computer programming. This means that the people who go to my second blog are interested in computer programming, and might click on computer programming-related adverts. Secondly, I wrote nearly all of the articles around popular key phrases with low competition and good monthly search volume (as found by the procedure described in my article on the Google keyword tool).

The number of users visiting my second blog increased far more rapidly than was the case with this blog. After a few months I was starting to get about 200 per day. Then I basically gave up on it and stopped posting.

Why? Well, partly because I ditched my job, moved to Hungary and lapsed into a state of exhaustion from which it took me four months to recover. But mainly because I realised I’d made another crucial mistake even with my second blog. I had ensure that I was tightly focused on one topic, my articles were written around key phrases with good search volume and low competition; all well and good. But I had forgotten about ensuring that the niche was a profitable one (as judged for instance by looking at the cost per click or CPC of advertising for these key phrases in Google keyword tool).

I fell to just using my second blog to advertise my own services as a computer programming tutor. Actually I now have one student (alongside teaching English lessons in Budapest), but I found him through! Nevertheless occasional enquiries come to me via my blog, so maybe it will pay off for me in the long run. In fact I can now see that it is perfectly possible to make a living teaching computer programming online, a fact which has inspired me to start posting to my programming blog again. Regular posting should build the number of blog visitors up gradually, eventually to the point where I can easily solely make a living from teaching programming if I chose to do so.

Blog Number 3

So that brings us to my third project (leaving aside an aborted mathematics blog that I quickly ditched). Now that I’m fairly settled in Hungary, earning some money from giving lessons in English and programming but not enough to quite live on, I’m ready to explore blogging further. Actually I’ve been inspired by my friend LP, who tells me that a friend of hers makes quite a lot of money precisely by selling advertising space on his blogs.

My new project will be a travel blog, carefully written around profitable key phrases, and written frankly more with the idea of making money than being a vehicle of self-expression. I’d love to eventually be able to making a living literally by visiting places and writing about them, but for the moment I’m content to research things that people want to know about, using the Internet of course, and write short articles based on that. A possible spanner in the works here could be my lack of actual knowledge about tourist destinations, but we’ll see. I’ve lived in four or five countries depending on how you count them, but I’ve never really made a bee line for the tourist hotspots.

At the moment I’m in the process of changing the URL of my aborted mathematics blog and wiping the data. My plan is to purchase a premium WordPress theme (a year ago I didn’t know what WordPress was but now I do, and believe me it’s very useful if you want to create a website), such as this one. Then I want to document the whole process of how the blog does financially and in terms of visitors.

Based on my programming blog, I think that if I post a short article more or less every day, I should be attracting 200 visitors a day after a few months. If I can earn even 30% of the CPC listed in the Google keyword tool for my proposed key phrases, and 5% of my visitors click the ads (which may be over-optimistic), I should then be earning at least 60 euros a month. This seems somehow frankly unbelievable considering that this would be 60 euros per month every month (with minimal further posting) for an indefinite period of time.

Where is the flaw in this reasoning? Perhaps no-one will click on my ads, or perhaps my programming blog achieved a certain degree of minor popularity quickly because I was providing niche information in an area where I know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure. But I plan to document how it goes right here.

More Teaching English in Budapest

Posted by – October 19, 2011


1. England, and Why I Never Write Anymore

It’s been about fifty years since I last posted anything to this site. That’s mainly because I started to think my whole project here was ultimately a fathomless abyss of impossibility and was thinking of running back to England (see photograph) with my tail between my legs. However, as you can see, a quick visit to England confirmed what I thought I vaguely remembered from my childhood, viz. that the country consists mainly of sheep and ducks, with nearly constant rainfall, thus rendering the place uninhabitable.

2. How to Teach English in Budapest

Following this I decided to become homeless in Budapest rather than face working in an office again. The temperature in summer here is ideal for sleeping on park benches, and in winter I’m told one can sleep in the subways. It was at this point that I had something of a breakthrough. Someone actually replied to one of the adverts I had placed in a newspaper advertising my services as an English teacher.

I’m not actually an English teacher and have no qualifications in teaching English, but I do speak the language having lived in England till the age of 33, so I thought I ought to be able to manage to teach it. In fact it has turned out that some people specifically look for people who aren’t teachers to teach English to them or their children. Bad memories of school, maybe.

If you want to teach English in Budapest, I recommend putting adverts in the district newspapers (try to get a Hungarian to help you if possible). It will help if you also know a few Hungarian words when you go into the newspaper offices to place the ads — things like “advert”, “address” and “name” are useful. Districts II and XXII are particularly wealthy, but I also got a response from an ad. I placed in the district I newspaper.

September and January are apparently the best time to place ads. In summer, don’t bother — no-one wants to learn anything in summer. It’s too hot.

I also found someone to teach computer programming to via Skype and Team Viewer by combing daily. Teaching programming via Skype is more lucrative than teaching English, so I’m thinking of advertising my services via Google too — although you can pay 2 dollars a click for keywords like “online Java tutor”, so it’s a bit like going down the casino.

Now I’ve acquired, in total, in a very short space of time, five students, who so far are stumping up cash on a regular basis, bless them! Together they cover my rent (since I’ve just rented a flat for 70,000 forints in downtown Pest); a few more and I can also afford to buy food and clothes, which will be nice. My new landlady believes in reincarnation and has filled my flat full of Hare Krisna iconography, which is also nice.

So the sum total of my experience so far suggests that if you want to teach English privately in Budapest, come here in September (or better August so you have time to settle in) and put ads in the district newspapers.

You can try students too — you’ll get lots of enquiries if you put up flyers at the universities, but students are usually strapped for cash and so far I haven’t ever actually hooked any of them. If I wasn’t also simultaneously studying and trying to finish software to sell (no doubt I’ll post more on that later since I intend to sell it on this site), I’d consider offering a radically-discounted student package. But meanwhile I’m content to search for relatively wealthy Hungarians who don’t mind paying for someone who comes from the place that invented English.

3. Why I Started this Blog in the First Place, Notes on Weird Subcultures and the Hard Sell

I don’t want to jinx myself by speaking too soon, but it looks like I’m well on the way to fulfilling the original promise of this blog (find a way to change your life radically that anyone — or at least lots of people — could make use of), even though at one point I had almost given up on the idea completely.

Of course I’m aware that not everyone speaks English and so not everyone could teach English. How would, for instance, a French person get on trying to live by teaching French in, say, Latvia? This is a very interesting question, and I’m not sure what the answer is at the moment. Or more to the point, a Latvian living in France? Is there demand for tutors of the Latvian language in France?

I’m also vaguely wondering what else can be taught via newspaper ads. It struck me yesterday morning that I could learn astrology and teach that. Or give readings. I don’t believe in astrology, but I don’t see that as a problem. Funnily enough, yesterday evening, by sheer coincidence, I was teaching an English lesson in a shopping centre (shopping centres are surprisingly good places for holding lessons) when what appeared to be an astrologer with a client sat down at the table next to us. The client had even been looking our way before the apparent teacher showed up, perhaps wondering if one of us was the astrologer she was meeting or not. Fascinating. It’s like there’s a whole subculture of people teaching weird things and offering peculiar services.

That’s enough for the moment — needless to say, if you’re looking for English or computer programming lessons either online or in Budapest, be sure to get in touch. After some dithering I’ve figured out that I can now offer you lessons in the following things: English, Java, C#, Perl and C++ (the last four are programming languages). I suppose I could stretch to maths and physics too at a pinch. Or if you want someone to show you around Budapest (in exchange for hard currency of course), I sort of vaguely know the place (this isn’t sarcasm — I really do only vaguely know the place) …..

PS. A friend of mine has a blog reviewing concerts; check it out if you speak Italian: FOTOVIAGGIANDO.

Teaching English II

Posted by – July 18, 2011

Eger - A Very Hot Day

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on Fascinating Experiments. I’ve decided to try to separate out my journal from general articles about Budapest a bit. So although I want to write about some other towns in Hungary when I get round to it, in this post I’m just going to talk about my latest idea for making money in Budapest.

It’s been two and a half months since I arrived here. A while ago I stuck up notices advertising English lessons for 3000 huf (about 11 euros) per hour. 11 euros isn’t a lot, but I thought I could live on it if I could find an absolute shed load of students. I nearly signed up for a CELTA (teaching English as a foreign language course) before concluding that most actual jobs involved teaching children (perhaps this isn’t actually true, I don’t know!) which I’d rather not do. Teaching English to a classful of children who aren’t interested in English? No thanks :)

Since then I’ve talked to some people about teaching English in Budapest in general. I have the impression that it’s actually quite easy to get students to teach English to, but you have to go about it the right way. Demand seems to be high. Native English speakers charge as much as 5000 to 8000 huf per 90 minute lesson by the sounds of it, which together with the high demand could easily translate into a very liveable wage.

The best place to advertise is …. well, but hang on, if I tell you, maybe you’ll advertise there and out-compete me! :)

OK, so I’ll fill in this bit of information after I’ve got some students! Recently I advertised in a block of flats and already I’ve had one enquiry and three contact detail strips have been torn off in only a couple of days. I didn’t put a price on the advert (I think it’s best not to), and the advert was in English.

So this whole teaching English idea seems very promising, and I hope to report more on it in the future, when I’ve got some experience of actually doing it. Hopefully I can also report on where and how to find cheap flats in a few months, since I need to move off the main road in Buda and find somewhere cheaper myself.

If you want to move to Budapest and teach English, you’ll definitely need some savings though!

I’m also applying to take a year-long MA at the Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) university here. I figure that if I could make a living teaching English, I could go on to do a Ph.D. at the university. If this plan works out, I’ll really have fulfilled this blog’s original promise of figuring out a way that a person can practically step into a new lifestyle …. OK, with the help of some savings. You can study an MA at the university for 750 euros per semester (1500 per year). Courses are in English, strangely. I believe you can find somewhere to live in Budapest for as little as 200 euros per month, but more on that later ….

As far as making money online goes, another idea behind this blog, I actually stuck an ad on my other website advertising computer programming lessons via Skype. I got a couple of enquiries but no-one has signed up for lessons yet. One enquiry was about lessons in C#, which I hadn’t used. But because of this enquiry I started looking at it (you can download it free from Microsoft); it’s actually very easy to learn (although OK, I’m an experienced programmer) and comes with tutorials “built in”. So I’ve been developing a simple language-learning game using C#, alongside a language-learning game I’m creating using Flash. The Flash game is making slow progress, but the C# one actually already looks half-complete. Well, this is partly because my Flash game has an ambitious design behind it, whereas the C# game is just something I’m slinging together very quickly with the idea of selling one of those cheap language-learning programmes online that you can find on various other websites. So if you’re interested in learning programming and selling software, I’d say C# is the way to go ….