Why I love the sweet sound of Korean canaries

We’ve put away our beanies and scarves, enjoyed the brief blossom season and now are loving the warmer, blue-sky days when the air quality is good enough to not need a face mask. It’s hard to believe it was snowing only six weeks ago.

Changing of the seasons in Korea - from winter to spring

You’ve probably seen Korea (or more likely North Korea) on the news, but please don’t buy into the western media hysteria over North Korea. It’s the same rhetoric I dealt with back in the early noughties when I lived here. Nothing has changed.

The South Koreans are like my canary in the coal mine – when the canary stops singing, it’s time to leave in a big fat hurry. But there has been no panic buying, no evacuation from Seoul. It’s business as usual, and they roll their eyes at the west’s hysteria and the antics of their embarrassing northern neighbour. The South Koreans are more concerned with next week’s election to replace their impeached and indicted former president than they are about putting together an emergency ration pack.

My canaries are still singing.

Daily life in Korea

I’m enjoying a slower approach to our life in Korea. Our days unfold at an unhurried pace. I am yet to cook a meal (does switching the rice cooker on count?) and I have washed the dishes only two or three times since we arrived.  #SorryNotSorry

I’m happy to report that our Monsta is thriving here. He loves his kindy. His teacher is amazing, there are only five other kids in his class, and they go on all kinds of fun excursions and do the funnest activities like dressing up as a chef or a bus (he doesn’t look too happy about being a chicken).

Our Monsta enjoying his kindy days

He has started to pick up Korean and will now greet random strangers at bus stops or shops or traffic lights with a little bow and a mispronounced but much appreciated ‘Annyonghasaeyo’.

He’s also started to pick up a lot of bugs that his immune system is not used to. It’s inevitable. I remember what that was like back in the early 2000s when I was teaching English to hundreds of kids each day and I picked up at least one bug every month. For the Monsta, it started with a nasty bout of croup, but thankfully we live only 50 metres from 2 paediatric clinics where they are equipped to help get his breathing rapidly under control. Ah the joy of village living. Everything we need is within 100 metres of our cozy flat. Seriously! And if you want to see a specialist, you don’t need a referral and you don’t need to make an appointment. Just walk in off the street. It’s so different to Australia’s convoluted and poorly staffed system.

My stop/start online adventures

I have enough online content work from paying clients to keep me busy until the end of June and possibly beyond, which is great, but it doesn’t leave much time to create things – even something as simple as this newsletter has taken weeks to put together.  But I’m making the time in the evenings after the littlest member of our household is fast sleep to work on my digital adventures – sorry Suits, we’re on a break. I miss you Harvey!

I am working on a federal government project, the same one since February, which has been stretching me in some unexpected ways as I work my way through a labyrinth of 1000 pages and almost as many stakeholders to try and make it a much better user experience.

In between project milestones, I’ve been working on smaller jobs – some online copywriting work for a bookkeeper, a new eCommerce store selling upmarket gift boxes, and a national tyre brand. That’s quite a mix and I love that I get the chance to work on big and small projects.

I’ve got to make sure I maintain a good balance between client work and my own writing projects. One of the reasons behind the move to Korea was to give ourselves the time and opportunity to build a stable of online businesses to generate passive income without the pressure of financial overheads. I want to finish writing my novel and create more things like templates and eBooks for my business. If I give all of my creative energy to my clients, what’s the point?

I said ‘no’ to a lead that came through my copywriting website last week and handballed it to a colleague. While part of me hates the thought of saying no, it was a relief knowing what’s on my books. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of saying no, or no, not right now. This is a very different situation to where I was this time last year and I’m happy to see my little business growing steadily.

What I mean when I talk about online business and passive income streams

For those of you curious about what I mean when I talk about online businesses and generating passive income online, this is what it is:

  • Creating ‘niche’ websites where we write carefully researched and crafted, in-depth articles about specific topics and monetise it through affiliate or commission sales with programs such as Amazon. We do keyword research to find keywords with a high monthly search volume, low competition, and buyer intent. We review products and encourage people to check out the product on Amazon (for example). If they buy it (or any other product), we make a commission from that sale.
  • Creating ‘drop shipping’ eCommerce stores (like our wallpaper store www.silkinteriors.com.au) where we find physical products to sell, but we don’t hold the stock ourselves. We sell the products on behalf of a wholesaler who takes care of the fulfilment side and ships the product directly to our customer.
  • Using the drop shipping model but for services instead of products. For example, finding translators, website and app developers, and search engine optimisation (SEO) experts in Korea who can provide these services for western companies wanting to grow their export market and develop an online presence in Korea.  TJ’s working on finding the right companies to partner with.
  • Creating eCourses, templates, and eBooks around writing skills and creativity to sell via this website.

Silk Interiors has been TJ’s focus. We sold 17 rolls and a sample this month, which is lot more than we’ve sold in the past six months! It’s not huge money, but this online business made about $500 this month. I don’t expect to replicate that again anytime soon because one transaction alone was 15 rolls.

With our niche sites and Silk Interiors, we’d love to see a ten-fold increase in income within the next 12 months. It’s a stretch goal, but I’d rather fall short and still earn thousands in passive income than not give it a red hot go at all.

Visiting Melbourne

The Monsta and I are travelling solo *gulp* to Melbourne and we arrive on Friday the 26th of May. I am catching up with family and as many friends as possible, though shifting project goal posts means I won’t have as much free time as I had hoped and I’ll probably have to work through. We fly back on Wednesday, June 7th.

I’m also hosting my third ‘The Great Melbourne Blog-in’ on Saturday the 27th of May. I can’t wait. I’ve got a stellar line up of guest speakers willing to share their knowledge with the Melbourne blogging community. I’d love to see this concept take off nationally with others hosting blog-ins in their cities. It’s booked out, but I’m running wait list, so let me know if you’d like to come (it’s free).

The Great Melbourne Blog-in on Saturday May 27 2017

In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on the canaries and hope they continue to sing their sweet song.


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