This is an interview with Jo Barnes of Your Lifestyle Business.
Hey, Jo. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hey there! My name is Jo and I’m probably best described as a nomadic lifestyle entrepreneur. I’ve been traveling the world for the last 13 years while building online remote based 6 & 7 figure businesses on the go.
I now educate and inspire the 50+ crowd on how to start and grow a location independent business they can run from anywhere in the world.
When and why did you decide to start traveling the world?
13 years ago, my then partner (now husband), and I, depressed in the gloomy UK post recession atmosphere, decided we wanted a huge change and to live an extraordinary life. On visiting a friend who was an ‘internet marketer’ living in Cyprus, we sold everything we owned, scooped up our 4 year old and jumped on a plane. We haven’t looked back since!
How did you afford to travel full-time in the first years?
We had a couple of credit cards and minimal savings which sustained us for the first few months. We traveled extremely cheaply and even stayed in the basement of my husband’s parents house in Australia for a couple of months while I was hosting webinars and building my email list.
Luckily I started to make money within 8 months of growing my online business and within a year ran my first 6 figure launch.
When did you build your first lifestyle business and how did it go?
My very first product was a PDF about building email lists on Aweber. I sold it for $4 and sold 4 copies from memory. My first $27 online!
I then created a video course called 2000 Fans in 27 Days, which sold for around $40 and generated around $30k in a few months.
My first big break happened in April 2011, when I launched my membership site The Social Networking Academy and generated $117k in a week! This generated recurring monthly revenues for years to come.
What other businesses have you tried and how did they go?
To be honest, there’s not much I haven’t tried over the years. From the membership site to stand alone video courses, ebooks, email marketing, affiliate marketing, ecommerce, Amazon FBA, blogging, coaching. You name it!
Some did better than others, for example we did 7 figures in our Amazon business in the first year of sales and I’ve generated well over 7 figures in online course sales over the years, but one to one coaching is not my jam at all!
Whether they failed or succeeded however, every one has been a learning experience.
Read also: How Jessica Runs a Full-Time Family Business with Amazon FBA
Where is your income currently coming from? What’s your main focus?
For the last 3 years I’ve been growing my Your Lifestyle Business Blog and my main income is coming from that and personal investments.
We also just launched our first 90 Day Goal Setting Planner. (It’s always been a dream of mine to start a planner business). And along with the planner a new video course called ‘The Solopreneur Success Formula’, which is a culmination of my 13 years experience in the business.
I’ve also just launched my new newsletter ‘Unretirement‘ aimed at 50+ solopreneurs who want to build a location independent business. That’s my main focus moving forward.
When did you start your blog and who is it for?
I started YLB in late 2019 initially just as a hobby blog writing about what I’ve learned along my journey, but as I got more immersed in SEO strategies & learning how to rank posts etc, it gradually turned into a commercial enterprise.
It started as a general informational site for lifestyle entrepreneurs wanting to know how to start an online lifestyle business. However, after turning 50 last year I’ve recently decided to direct my content to 50+ solopreneurs who want to start a location independent business, travel the world & live their best life!
How did you grow the traffic in the beginning?
It’s all been organic google traffic to date. I watched every SEO video under the sun, learned about keyword research, link strategies, content creation, topical authority etc. I’ve also attended a couple of SEO conferences along the way.
I’m now ranking in positions 1-3 for over 1300 keywords and am getting over 100k pageviews a month.
How long did it take you to successfully monetize it?
Probably about 2 years. For the first year I wasn’t really taking it very seriously. But then in 2021 I began learning about SEO & in Nov 2021 I earned my first $400. It’s now generating around $0.09/view.
How do you decide what content to create, and do you optimize every blog post?
I have specific categories for my site covering all the topics my target audience wants to know more about. Then I research keywords within each of the categories using ahrefs and create a schedule to write at least 100 posts in each specific category to get some topical authority.
I then have a complex internal linking strategy to help boost some of the posts & if they start to rank I use Surfer SEO to update them.
In what ways have you monetized the blog?
My blog is mainly monetised by affiliate income and some sponsored posts & links. I’ve now added the planner & my video course and at some point I’ll display ads.
I did play with Ezoic earlier this year but it slowed my site down so much it affected my traffic, so it wasn’t worth the extra few hundred dollars it generated each month. I’ll try again at some point with Mediavine or Raptive.
Read also: How to Earn $1000/Month from Your Blog with Ads
How did you get into the online course industry?
My online adventure started way back in 2010. I started by building an email list via valuable content published on social media. Then following feedback from my audience, I developed online courses to solve their challenges.
It’s exactly how I would start again today by the way.
What digital product has been your biggest success?
Probably my Amazon FBA course. We were teaching how to grow an Amazon business as we grew ours, so it was a warts and all over the shoulder live course.
Starting an Amazon business was huge at the time. The Amazing company was doing massive launches every few months, so a lot of the marketing and education on the business model was done for us. We just tagged onto a popular trend.
Do you do evergreen or live launches?
I don’t really do launches anymore. Back in the day I did mainly live launches and followed Jeff Walker’s launch formula, with 3 or 4 introductory videos accompanied by a mass of emails and a final sales webinar.
It’s an exhausting process though. Nowadays I offer my courses and products evergreen. Conversions aren’t as high, but it’s more of a steady income stream with less stress!
Tell us about the Amazon business you run with your partner.
We started our first Amazon business in 2015 selling kitchen products. We sourced the products in China, branded them with our colors and logos etc and shipped them to Amazon factories in the US.
We then leveraged the Amazon platform to sell via FBA (fulfillment by Amazon), which means they handle the storage, shipping to customers, returns etc.
We sold that business in 2020 and have recently launched a new planner brand, which we’re excited to grow.
How much does it bring in revenue and how long did that take?
With our kitchen brand we generated 7 figures in our first year with a simple cooking thermometer.
The planners have only just launched so I’ll let you know!
What are your best tips for growing an Amazon business?
Too many to list. But these days I’d recommend growing a community first.
Trying to rank a product on Amazon requires consistent sales velocity. To get started, if you have a community of buyers ready to go, you can take advantage of the honeymoon period when you first launch, getting lots of early sales & reviews.
You’ll also need a budget to invest in PPC.
How do you manage your time when running multiple businesses?
The only way to run multiple businesses is with a team. My recommendation, if you’re bootstrapping, is to grow one business until it’s generating a profit and can be systemised and run without you.
Then you can start another business, get a team in place faster with investment from your first business and so on.
How do you stay productive while traveling full-time?
Systems, people and plenty of sleep! And the YLB 90 Day Planner! 😉
Where are you currently staying and how long are you there for?
We’re in Phuket, Thailand. Our daughter is in her last year of International School and as of May 2024, we’ll be strapping on the backpacks and heading off to explore the globe again.
What’s your all-time favorite place in the world, and will you be going back there?
That’s a tough one! I loved Yosemite and hiking to the waterfalls. I loved backpacking around India, and one of my favorite things to do is to sail around Phang Nga Bay here in Thailand. So yes I plan on doing them all again!
If you were to start a business all over again, what would you do?
I would choose all the business models I currently run. I’d have a website, start a newsletter, build a community and sell products based on feedback and need.
My first steps would be to pick a popular niche I was passionate or curious about, create valuable assets such as toolkits, on demand videos, ebooks etc, and use these to build an engaged email list.
I’d post like crazy on the social media network my audience frequents, send out a regular newsletter, and grow my subscriber base.
Then based on feedback, I’d create products my audience is asking for, whether it’s physical products, video courses, coaching etc.
What’s next for you and your business?
We’ll be starting our travels again in May next year so I’ll be growing my business on the go. My goal is to help and inspire 50+ Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to start a location independent business, travel the world and live their best life.
I’ll do this via my ‘Unretirement‘ newsletter, social media content, website and video courses.
I’ll also be looking to grow my planner brand over the coming years with a selection of goal setting planners, monthly planners, travel journals and more.
Then when I’m ready and my new community is big enough, I’ll launch live conferences and events around the world for adventurous ‘Unretirees’!
So much fun! 🙂