Joseph Kennedy, author of the must-read: The Stingy Nomad, and I are doing an interview swap.
So if you want to read about him asking me all sorts of stuff, visit his website. But before you do, read his answers to my questions and get the inside story on his tattoo!
Hi Joseph, or should I call you “Stingy Nomad”?
Hey JC! You can call me either, I don’t really mind.
What countries have you visited?
Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Albania and Italy. The best city I’ve visited overall is Lisbon (Portugal), but the best country overall would probably have to be Spain, which is why I spend so much time there!
Which one was the most digital nomad friendly in your opinion, and why?
I’d say it could be the Czech Republic since there seemed to be high-speed wi-fi just about anywhere I went, and the cost of living was pretty low. It’s not too hot in the summer, which makes it easier to work. When it gets too hot, it can be uncomfortable sat for hours at a time on a laptop, which may also be liable to overheating! Rent is quite cheap there, and most people have some level of English.
Do you think there is an age limit to becoming a digital nomad or simply being one?
If you want to become a digital nomad, what are you waiting for? I’d say there’s more likely to be a lower limit than an upper limit. I’d recommend not hitting the road until you are 18, simply because of alcohol laws and difficulties with language and especially maturity. As an upper limit, it would be unwise to be nomadic if you are old and frail, and it’s often the case that elderly people are not in tune with digital technologies. Perhaps 18-60 if I had to say.
As for how long the lifestyle can last, that depends completely on the person. I know there are a lot of digital nomads who travel for most of the year and then spend a few weeks or a couple of months at ‘home’, or wherever most of their friends and family are, just to create a nice balance.
Abre la Puerta…open the door was the first you heard in Spain since entering your new life, that is very symbolic. How many doors have been opened since?
Loads! Here’s an example. My Spanish language ability improves every day, and that allows me to communicate better with new people. Since launching the book, I’ve had friends and contacts come to me and ask me for advice on starting a digital business and creating a digital income because they want to lead a life more similar to mind. I was in the mountains teaching English to a group of 29 kids when I got chatting to their teacher, in Spanish. She told me that her boyfriend was looking to start a digital business but didn’t have the confidence, or clarity, to quit his job and take the plunge. A week later, he drove over an hour to come and meet with me, and we talked (completely in Castilian) through everything, from social media plans and telephone interviews to minimum necessary income and digital growth strategies. He was hugely grateful and left feeling very enthusiastic.
I was just glad to practice my Spanish and share my knowledge with someone willing to learn!
You have a tattoo on your arm? Since you are a storyteller: Is there a story that goes with the tattoo?
There is a story! I was 18, I had just left home and then I received my first chunk of student loan money. I had more disposable cash than ever before and I thought ‘why not?’, so I went and got a tattoo. Five years later, I’m still trying to get it finished. The tattooist became a really good friend of mine and we both move around a lot, so it’s hard to be in the same place to get more work done. It should be finished this July!
I have other tattoos, such as on my thighs, there are a gentleman and a lady, with the words ‘low morals, high society’ because I place much of the blame for the failings of society on the elite class.
I have my family crest on my arm. On my right calf is Neptune, the god of the sea and horses, and on my left calf is Minerva, his wife, goddess of wisdom, trade, arts and strategy.
On my wrist is the words ‘Audere est facere’, which means ‘to dare is to do’, the motto of my football team!
Can you explain a little about the title of the book? Are you really stingy?
I am really stingy! Although, I think that word gets lost in translation somewhat and I use it in a joking way, rather than as a critical term. Stingy translated into Spanish is tacaño, which means more like miserly… imagine Scrooge! I intend the term to be more like ‘thrifty’ or ‘economical’.
Nomad is quite self-explanatory, although I do admit that I’m not the most nomadic. I’m yet to go to Asia or South America, and I keep returning to Spain instead of going further afield. The main reason for repeatedly coming to Spain is to keep on improving my grasp of Castilian Spanish.
‘Quit your job, not your dreams’ is the title of the first chapter of your book, ‘Stingy Nomad’, which is free to access for readers. Now that you live your dream, do you have a new one?
I shan’t say too much, but I have plans for at least 10 more books, and all of them involve a pretty big lifestyle change. I guess you could say that my dream is to be a ‘method writer’, much like actors who change their lifestyle to get into character. I want to be the guinea pig for all of these awesome digital nomad ideas, but I have to be patient and do them one at a time. I do dream of buying a small property here in Spain though, just so I have something to call my own if I ever want to run away and hide from the world!
What does your daily schedule look like now? Can you still work 20 hours per week like you initially planned?
I work less than twenty at the moment, which is awesome! I’m probably doing twelve to fifteen hours a week running my business, although trying to grow and market Stingy Nomad is adding on another twelve to fifteen hours a week too! I had no idea how hard and time consuming it would be to sell an Ebook.
In a nutshell, I wake up, check my emails and build a to-do list. I use an app called ‘Block & Flow’ to do the Pomodoro Technique. I work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break, twice. So I do an hour before breakfast of the most urgent tasks. Then, at the moment, whilst I’m teaching English, I help out for most of the day and get sent on breaks that can be 1-3 hours long when I’m not needed. In this time, I do my work. I try not to do any work at night, as I found it was making my brain too active and I was having difficulties getting to sleep, so I refrain from evening work.
In chapter four of the Stingy Nomad you write about a way of disconnecting from your income source: sell a license, create a beat (background music), sell it.
Have you ever done that yourself?
The idea for creating a beat and selling it is really a metaphor for anything that needs to be made once and can be sold time and time again. Think of software: Microsoft made Windows, and they sold it over and over again to all of the companies who made computers. Then they made an update and sold it again and again. There’s no physical product, just a license.
There are people out there making Udemy courses and Language courses and Groupon courses who only have to make the course once, but have thousands of people who have purchased it. I look at Udemy and see people who have sold 5,000 courses at $30 each and I am hugely impressed. They don’t even need to market the course, it’s so good it sells itself by being at the top of the charts!
What is your favourite music by the way?
I’m a big fan of hip-hop and upcoming UK artists. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot to Mura Masa, Loyle Carner, 808INK, Kendrick Lamar, Kiko Bun, Jamie XX, Ady Suleiman and King Krule. When I want to chill out, I listen to Nick Hakim, SG Lewis, Jamie Woon or Bob Dylan. I like a bit of Rock, but not much; although I actually went all the way to Copenhagen to see Cage The Elephant on the final date of their European Tour, which was insane!
Did you actually disconnect from your income source yourself?
Aha, good question! I’m not that kind of digital nomad really. I was once told this story by my parents, about a rich man with three sons. He gave the eldest son most of his money, and this child did nothing but spend unwisely. He gave the second son a small amount of money, and this son used it to build his own enterprise and find success. He gave the third son nothing, and this son became a beggar and a leech. My parents always said it was best to be the second son, to have enough money to do something instead of nothing. My parents are actually awesome and if I want to go back to the UK I have a short term rent-free option with them, which is nice.
I think if I disconnected from my source of income, I’d be bored. I really like my clients, they’re awesome people and I enjoy the work I do for them. 90% of the time, the tasks are fun, 10% of the time, they are for the purpose of making money. I think it would be great to have a passive income on the side (such as from selling more copies of Stingy Nomad), but I can’t see that I’d ever want to ‘not work’.
I’ve done a three-part series on my website about Freelancers versus Entrepreneurs – Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
I’ve read these posts, and they raise many good points, my favourite of which was
‘I believe a real entrepreneur is not much into titles, he is more busy with turning his money into profit.’
I don’t really know what I consider myself, and I use both titles, freelancer and entrepreneur, whenever it feels most appropriate. I’d say the work that I do, mostly copywriting and digital marketing would put me under the freelancer category. However, having sourced so much business that I need to hire freelancers to help me with research, graphic design and web design, I feel like I fall into the entrepreneur column.
The truth is, a freelancer is their own product/service, whereas an entrepreneur has a product or service to sell. If one day I decided to quit what I’m doing, I couldn’t sell this business, so I guess that makes me a freelancer! There’s also not a great deal of risk in this for me, my startup costs were zero (unless you count the money lost from quitting my job to do this full time) and if I quit tomorrow, I wouldn’t have to pay any money out or refund people.
I do have an idea for a physical business, but I don’t want to overload myself with work, I’d rather be rich with time. We will see what happens with that!
You run a small business, called Content Pathway. Can you share a little bit more about the Content Pathway and its team?
Here it is, simplified.
I have eight clients. Each of the clients has different needs, varying from weekly blogs, to competition submissions, to Twitter scheduling, to Ebook ghostwriting. I work with a team of freelancers who are based all over the world, some of which are digital nomads, some simply work from home. The clients are really varied and spread across a variety of different industries.
I’m not trying to take on any more clients, as the workload and income are perfect for me, I’d rather be rich with time than money. I’m earning more than double all of my predictions each month, so I must be doing something right! Some of my clients have seen sustained success since we began working together, and so as they grow, they give me more work, which is quite nice, but sometimes I do step back and say ‘no, that’s too much for me to take on’.
I took down the Content Pathway website, and don’t think I will put it back up anytime soon. I’m a private freelancer, and won’t accept random requests from strangers. I choose who I work with, they don’t choose me. I want my clients to know that I am there for them, and not there for everybody, so as long as they keep giving me enough work, I won’t look to find new people.
You are a great believer of ‘talent sharing’ can you tell us a little about that?
There are 7 billion talented people on this planet, each with some skill or knowledge that they can share. I’ve been called a socialist in the past, but I just think that means ‘playing fair’ and ‘sharing’. There’s nothing political behind my desire to share, I think it comes from a deep desire to learn, and learn, and keep on learning.
I’m in regular contact with two amazing female entrepreneurs called Yasmine and Erica who are about to launch an app called Tibba. This is all about the cash-free ideal, and trading skills, not bills. It really agrees with my ideology and is going to be an excellent tool for people who want to learn, without the expenses that come with learning.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future you want to share?
I’m moving to Tarifa, near Cadíz, in September, if all goes to plan. This is a buzzing hub of digital nomads in the south of Spain, near Morocco. The truth is, I had no idea it was a buzzing hub until after I’d been offered a job teaching in the local language academy! It’s an amazing coincidence and I’m massively excited. I’m planning a month-long trip to Morocco over Christmas, to camp in the desert with the Bedouin people and visit some of the famous sites from the Rif War fought between the Spanish and Moroccans between 1920-26. I’m a Spanish Civil War geek and love reading up on history.
Next year I’m keen to go to SE Asia for a few months and Argentina for a few months, but nothing is set in stone, as is the way of the digital nomad! I mean, I’m only 23, there’s plenty of time to do everything, so I’m trying my best not to look too far ahead, but at the moment I want to teach English here in Spain, whilst becoming ‘fluent’ in Spanish.
Where can people get their copy of “Stingy Nomad’?
Well, if people think I sound interesting and would like to learn how they too could build this kind of lifestyle, you can find my book at The Amazon Kindle Book Store
I’d like to thank Stingy Nomad for the interview and answering my questions so openly, making working with him very special. I also like to thank him for the photos he allowed me to use in this article.
Are you a writer, a nomad or a travel-blogger and would you like an interview swap? Just drop an email!
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.