Feb 2017 Passive Income Report: Digital Nomad in Chiang Mai

It's been another wild month and it started with the Nomad Summit conference which I organized in Chiang Mai at the start. Honestly I haven't worked very much after the event as I've been exhausted. One thing that definitely isn't passive income is running a conference as I was putting in 12-14 hour workdays on the week prior to the event and the weekend of. But thank goodness for  my actual passive income sources for carrying me through this month even without my focus on them this month.

This is also my last month in Chiang Mai for a while as I'm escaping the burning season here and headed to Bali today. In this month's income report I'm giving everyone an update on all of my travel plans as well as my income streams. I realized that I've now been posting monthly income reports for over 2 1/2 years now but I'm really starting to wonder how many people actually read them and how many people just scroll down to see the big number or to see if I messed up. Leave a comment before if you actually read these things, as one of my plans for 2017 is to spend less time on things that aren't appreciated to focus on bigger projects that can help more people.

Places I've Traveled

This month has been fun. My buddy David Vu came to speak at the Nomad Summit and decided to stay an extra week to hang out. Along with our friends Bauke, Camille and the crew we rented motorcycles and drove up to the highest point in Thailand, the mountain of Doi Inthanon where we camped out for the weekend. It was my first time riding a Ninja but I've actually dreamed about it since I was in college the first time I saw a bright green motorcycle ride past me.

It's super cool being able to just rent these bikes in anysize from the 110cc scooters up to 1,000cc bikes and everything in between. The best and most trustworthy shops I've found are Tony's Big Bikes and CP Big Bike. Tony's has more selection of bikes starting at 250cc but CP is better for 650cc - 1000cc big, multi-day touring or adventure bikes. One of the best trips you can do while out in Chiang Mai is the Mae Hong Song loop which is a 4-5 day motorcycle ride through the mountains, jungles and towns of northern Thailand.

Riding a Ninja up Doi Inthanon Mountain

After getting back to Chiang Mai and working again for the week, my cousin Larry and friend Sarah came to visit me from the U.S. so I got to play tourist and tour guide the following weekend showing them around the night markets and even taking them to the women's prison to get a massage.

As a travel tip, the daily night bazaar is the worst ones as it's just crap for tourists, but they do have a cool little food market called Ploen Rudee inside of it that is worth going to. My favorite is the Saturday market as there are food stalls every twenty feet making it easy to walk around and slowly munch of food while looking around.

But by far the biggest and most popular night market in Chiang Mai is the Sunday Walking Street which is the best night market I've been to anywhere in the world with the exception of Taiwan's night markets which have better food. Here's a video I made of us walking around the Sunday night market in Chiang Mai so you can get an idea of what it's like!

Locations this Month: Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon 

*Last month I was in Chiang Mai, Taiwan, and Bangkok.

Having drinks in Chiang Mai after the Night Market

Income from Books

I know this screenshot is from Feb 27th so I may be missing a day or two of sales for the month, but i'll be flying to Bali on the 1st of the month so I decided to take my last day in Chiang Mai to starting writing my accounting and monthly income report while i'm in town.

1st Book: 12 Weeks in Thailand
2nd Book: Life Changes Quick

Amazon Kindle: $148.00+/-
PDF Sales: $35.96
Paperback: $5.03

Profit from Books: $188.99

*decrease from $206.89 last month 

Income from Udemy

After a great month in January due to the new year specials and coupons, my Udemy sales have slumped again for Feb, but it's fine as it's a truly passive income source that I don't promote or pay attention to much.

What I continue to love about Udemy is the fact that they always match the students I bring them with organic, affiliate and ad signups. So even though $239 isn't a ton of money, it's more than double $106 which is what I personally actually sold through places like my landing page Dropship Lab which simply brings people to the Udemy course page.

Profit from Udemy: $239.63

*decrease from $663.80 last month

Income from Dropshipping

It's fun to see a bit of income coming in from some of the partner stores now. I don't think it'll become a big new income stream as I was hoping for but I've learned a ton of lessons from this beta round to implement if I do another round next year. This year was only open to people who already had a successful dropshipping store, so even though all 10 of the partners have at least one store that is profitable and we tried to automate them as much as possible, they didn't all have the time, energy or dedication to make our new partner store a priority, which honestly, I understand and don't blame anyone for.

Even though dropshipping can be semi-passive, it's still a real business that you need to manage and put out the occasional fire in. So the good news is, even though I would still require people to be experienced or at least have dropship training I think that if I was going to do it again it would actually be a requirement for people not to have another business so they would have 100% of their time dedicated on this. That being said, I think we're going to be flipping some of the stores sooner for a small profit than trying to build them up over the next 12 months for a big potential payout. We've already flipped one starter store for $1,300 which after expenses my 25% share was $242.50.

Getting into dropshipping yourself? Here's my Dropshipping Discounts PDF with everything I use currently including the tools and courses I used to build my first dropshipping store that I later sold for $60,000 in profit.

Total Sales: $18,737.00
Costs of Goods: +/-
Shipping Costs: +/-
Total Ad Spend: $396.81
Net Profit: $4,062.12
Store Flip: $242.50

Total Profit: $4,304.62

*increase from $2,017.28 last month. Store #2 is split 50/50 with Larissa

Sales from Dropshipping Store #2

Income from Investments

I've getting really into investing this past year ever since I sold my main dropshipping store and had the capital to start putting a of money into financial products that can potentially make me more more passively. If you haven't yet, take a listen to the Invest Like a Boss Podcast where my co-host Sam Marks and I interview financial experts every week and ask them the novice questions that others might be too embarrassed to ask a CEO.

It's crazy that just two years ago, I knew nothing about investing and almost made huge rookie mistakes when buying a bunch of facebook stock. Luckily a few friends and even a random reader gave me the best advice of my life. After that, I got into reading books like Tony Robbins Money: Master the Game which lead to buying index funds through Vanguard and learning more about dollar cost averaging, holding long term, and not gambling with individual stocks even though I got super lucky with my FB Shares. Even though this month I technically made over $4,654.84 from my investments, I'm not counting the gains on paper until I sell them someday as it fluctuates up and down and would be unfair to include in my income reports.

Vanguard: $4,475.96 in gains (holding)
PeerStreet: $178.88 (interest paid)

Profit from Investments: $178.88

*increase from $233.30 last month.

How my Vanguard ETF portfolio is doing for the year

Income from Youtube

In the last 30 days I've gained 488 subscribers to my channel which is incredible. I know I keep saying this, but one of my 2017 goals is to really grow my Youtube channel with more content, subscribers and have it become a much bigger stream of income for me.

I also really enjoy making videos and it's a fun part of traveling and looking back on things I've done in the past few years and the places I've gone. 

Profit from Youtube: $85.28

*decrease from $109.93 last month

My Youtube Revenue for the short month so far

Income from Conferences

Even though it's technically been 4 months of work and it's definitely not passive income as it literally required hundreds of hours of my time, I wanted to include the revenue and profit from the 2017 Nomad Summit here in this month's income report as the actual event took place on February 4th. This is my third year in a row putting on the annual digital nomad conference and it was the biggest yet with 367 attendees.

In 2015 I founded the conference, and with massive help of my co-organizer that year, Kathrin Folkendt whom I sincerely thank and appercaite. That year was a break even year but we're just happy we didn't lose money. Thanks Buffer for the sponsorship! Then last year, I brought on Cody McKibben to be my co-organizer for the year and he was an incredible help to make the 2016 event a massive success, this time leaving us with $1,231.11 in profit as well!

This year's event was even bigger and better, but also came with a ton more work and an unthinkable amount of stress that i'm still dealing with today. But even with the massive expenses of renting a 5-star hotel's convention center and having them cater coffee, hor'dourves, desserts and lunch, plus the costs of promotion, filming, editing, and photography we still managed to turn a decent profit this year. It's not technically profitable as since I'm putting down a non-refundable $10,000 deposit to secure the venue again for next year I'm actually at $3,591 net loss, but I'm going to count it as if I wasn't going to reinvest into next year's event, it would have been take home profit.

Total Revenue: $33,943.00
Profit from 2017: $8,834.22
Deposit for 2018 Venue: $10,000
Temporary Net Loss: -$1,165.78

Profit from the Conference:  $8,834.22

*increase from $1,231.11 last year. Profit doesn't include deposit for next year. *Updated due to accounting error.

Income from Courses

It's been a fun year for Earnest Affiliate and I'm super happy to see that some of our students are now consistently making over $1,000 a month by monetizing their blogs and audience through earnest recommendations and honest affiliate partnerships. 

A lot of people online hate me for making as much as I do from my affiliate income, but what's crazy is that not only am genuinely helpful and only recommending things that I personally use and that genuinely work but I'm also super transparent about it, and I even teach people how they can do it themselves! As soon as I get around to doing so, I'm going to refresh the course, add new content and raise the price, and I'm willing to bet people are going to get mad that it's no longer $197 for lifetime membership when I do. But they've had their chance as I've been putting it off for months now. So congrats to the people who joined this month as you've grandfathered yourself into a great deal. 

I also earned $90.61 for a signup on my ecommerce conversions optimization course, Optimize Like a Boss which is something I made a few years back to help people increase their store's conversion rates.

Profit from Courses: $1,576.00

*Increase as last month at $1,379.00

Income from Podcasts

Woohoo! Travel Like a Boss is now officially profitable after 2+ years and 150+ episodes! It's crazy that I've never taken any advertising or sponsorships for the podcast after all of this time, even though I've been offered it a bunch. 

Two reasons why I didn't take any ads until now. The first being that I didn't want to endorse something that I don't believe in or wouldn't use myself as I think unless the product or service adds value to my listeners, it's just annoying. But then TripStreak reached out to me and I thought, wow this is perfect. Listeners of the Travel Like a Boss podcast would love to hear about a new flight search tool that lets you search based on criteria like only having truly lie flat seats so I told them sure, let's do it! 

Also advertising isn't the only way to monetize a podcast, I've been making money through affiliate linking to anything we talk about or recomend on the show, whether it's a book, travel backpack, gear, software or course.

Profit from Podcasts: $1,000

*increase from $0 since inception 

Downloads of Travel Like a Boss Podcast

Affiliate/Other Income

I've decided to rename this category to include "other" as it's confusing thinking it all comes from one source when it's actually just a mixture of my email lists, youtube channels, ebooks, blogs, podcasts, and other web traffic. If I ever wanted to change my monetization strategy, I would simply change from affiliate relationships to either selling my own products, accepting more advertisements, or even install things like google adsense and make money from that.

But the reason why I love the Earnest Affiliate model of monetizing my web traffic is because I get to first vouch what products are displayed and advertised on my sites unlike ad networks including google's adsense which randomly displays whatever they want. I also like being able to stand behind things I recomend and help people through their journeys using that product or service whatever that may be.  In my EA course above I break down exactly how much I make each from from each of my 15+ affiliate partnerships, show where the traffic comes from, and explain in detail how it all works.

If I ever wanted to, I could simply promote a different product, course, or method all together, and probably make a lot more money getting people to buy the latest, greatest thing, but the reason why I've been very consistent over the past 3 years is because I only promote things I personally use, have bought with my own money, and/or otherwise know it genuinely is the best thing available.

Profit from Affiliate: $8,683.42

*decrease from $12,388.78 last month. 

Products sold as an Amazon Affiliate

As an example of the type of product review I make on my Muay Thai blog, travel channel, this blog, my podcasts, email lists, etc, I wrote a review of what travel backpack I personally use and even though I wrote it in October 2015, it still makes me $15.60 a month in passive affiliate commissions without me ever having to buy any inventory, or even deal with the checkout, shipping or anything else normally involved in selling a product.

The USB Microphones including the Blue Yeti, Samson Go, and Audio Technica is another example of something I wrote about in November 2015 that continues to make me $16.42 a month in referral commissions. If you were a member of Earnest Affiliate, you'd know that these relatively small numbers multiply into huge passive income totals and are just an example of the type of things I monetize with affiliate links as they truly are a win/win for everyone involved.

February 2017 Expenses

With all businesses we have expenses, but what's nice about the digital nomad type lifestyle businesses is that most of them don't cost very much to startup or run. Here are my business, travel and living expenses for the month.


Podcast Editing Expenses: $600
Coworking Membership: $100
PDF hosting with e-junkie: $5
Web hosting with SiteGround: $14.95
Payment Gateway with SamCart: $99
Email Marketing with Aweber: $50
Email Optins with OptinMonster: $16.59
Email Accounts with GoogleApps: $8


Apartment in Chiang Mai: $342
Utilities/Internet: $48
Mobile Phone: $11.50
Food/Drinks: $400
Uber/Transport: $30
Gym Membership: $34
Flight to Bali: $300

Donation to Muay Thai Isaan (monthly recurring for children)
Monthly Check to Parents (To my Mom $1,000.00)
Donation to Warm Heart Worldwide $270 (biochar project)

*I've been matching other people's donations to Warm Heart's Fund raising campaign to give them incentive to donate.  Even though we digital nomads can leave Chiang Mai during the burning season, over 1,000 children and elderly die each year from respiratory problems related to the crop burning season. The biochar project is an actual solution which is why I'm in such support of it.

Going away dinner with my Chiang Mai friends! 

Monthly Wrap Up

It's been an interesting month, from the high and stress related to putting together the 2017 Nomad Summit then packing everything I've accumulated for the past three years to continue the journey out of Chiang Mai. I've really loved it there and built not only great friendships, relationships, but also my business while living there. I'll definitely be back but I'm looking forward to traveling around Europe and maybe even South America and really opening up as a digital nomad and not being stuck to a single place no matter how comfortable it is.

My original plan was to check out Bali as a potential digital nomad destination, but after dealing with overpaying for a SIM card at the airport, getting harassed by hundreds of shady taxi drivers, and then even having my Uber driver insist on canceling the ride and paying him double in cash, then having the internet and transportation in Bali suck everywhere, I really doubt I'm going to make this a homebase. The best thing about having a location independent business is the freedom that comes with being able to work from anywhere in the world, and moving to the places that treat us best. Keep following this blog, my travel podcast, and see where I end up next month.

Until then, I wish everyone the best of luck with their businesses and sincerely hope everyone well.

Watch the Video for More in Depth Analysis: 

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. Come to malaysia Johnny. One of the island like redanng or langkawi might suit you

    1. Hey thanks for the invite. I've spend a lot of time in Malaysian Borneo and loved it.

  2. Hi Johnny I just wanted to say that I do read your monthly income reports from start to finish.I find them very inspirational and motivating and it encourages me to get my own passive income stream started. So I really appreciate your reports and I want to thank you so much for posting them.

  3. I read the reports. They are very motivating. I like seeing the big picture of how you make your money. I will miss them if they are gone.

    1. When are you going to increase the price of Earnest Affiliate?

      I want to buy the program, but I get serious cases of shiny object syndrome and then don't finish my other projects. So I told myself I wouldn't buy your program until I finish a few of my other projects first.

    2. Hey Austin, that's a good strategy to finish one thing before starting the next. I won't raise the price until I actually get around to updating the videos which hopefully will be in the next 1-3 months. I'll be sure to announce it on my email list once I do.

  4. Johnny, another great month! I love reading your monthly blog posts. You always keep it interesting & refreshing. Thank you for being so transparent, ignoring the haters, and caring about your readers. Looking forward to next month!

  5. I read these, so if you have time, keep them going as inspiring for those on the journey.

  6. Yep following these thread. Also rented a 150cc scooter and rode all the way to Pai and then to Ang Khang near the border. Pai is pretty fun with the twisties and makes me want to get a bigger bike next time.

  7. Hi Johnny. I wanted you to know I do read your entire income report. I appreciate all of the details and work your put into the report. It's inspiring and helps me keep working at my goal to become a digital nomad.
    Chanté Wolf

  8. Awesome Income report Johnny, read all the way down... its really encouraging and helps a lot. Keep it up! May you know God's love for your thru Jesus Christ! God bless you!

  9. I ready most of them, and if I open them I read it completely. Your journey is always an inspiration to keep trying and find what works.

  10. Hey Johnny, I read all of your month income reports from top to bottom as soon as I get your email about them. They provide me with SO much motivation I can't tell you, so please keep them up!

    Also, that food market looks awesome! I'll definitely look to check it out when I get out there next year...

    Oh and I have one question, I've been wanting to get Anton's course for quite a while now, but due to having very little money in my bank account and basically no money coming in, I haven't plucked up the courage to go for it yet... I if did get it, how much realistically do you think I'd need in the bank to get me started? ie. to cover Shopify for say 3 months, some money for ads and so on...

    1. In a previous post or others, Johnny has mentioned that if you are low on funds, Drop-shipping may not be the best immediate option for you. Read through some of his posts as he offers advice on some recommendations. I was going to begin a drop-shipping store, but I'm focusing on becoming an affiliate web marketer first. There's not much overhead (Website and ad costs) and could be less complicated than navigating issues with shipping to so many different areas. Find something you are passionate about and plug in! The way I see it, Johnny has generously opened up and made it possible for me to create a fun life that has more meaning. He's "spreadin' the love"! haha.

    2. Thanks for answering that Jax.

      Henry, Since you're low on funds, I'd start with something else instead like here:

      But for those that are curious, this is how much we spent:

  11. Johnny, I look forward to reading your monthly income posts, and I do read every word. You were the first person to inspire me to start drop shipping and eventually I hope to lean about affiliate marketing from you. Thanks for being so candid about the pros and cons of each income source. Your honesty is really appreciated!

    1. Hey thanks so much WC! I feel like I've always been super honest and candid about the pros and cons of each business model, but the haters don't seem to think that's enough sometimes!

  12. Thanks for sharing, it is inspirational and very a great lighthouse for us to look for as we travel our road.

  13. Hello Johnny,
    Thank you for sharing everything with us! Thank you for taking the time to write it out and show the public! =]

  14. I read every monthly income report from start to finish! They're my favourite part of the month for sure and super inspirational to see how everything happens instead of just seeing the big number at the end.

  15. Keep on posting Johnny, I read all your reports!! By the way, you are more than welcome to come visit Guatemala.

  16. Hi Johnny,

    I read them every month but perhaps you should try a more corporate strategy and post quarterly earnings reports. You only have to write 4 instead of 12.

    I have referred many people to your blog so either way I enjoy your insights and passion. Thanks!

  17. Hi, Johnny, I read your financial reports, subscribe to your podcasts and am fascinated with your travel stories. Please keep it up! Thanks!

  18. Your report is good for us and I would think good for you. It keeps your energy and direction on course. It also allows us to see behind the curtain on how different income streams build up at different rates, Roy

  19. Hey Johnny! I don't normally comment on your blogs as I mainly read your emails. So I just wanted to drop you a note that I do read these reports and it's helped me see what works. I love how transparent you are in your business and I look forward to reading more from you!



    1. Hey Mai, i super appreciate you taking the time to let me know that! I appercaite it!

  20. Hey dude, to hell with the people who bust your balls about your income report. I know it sucks when you put in hard work only to be shit on, but they do it because you're living the life they with that they had. Even if you do everything perfect, there will be some entitled lazy ass back packer or a bitter old fucking farang who criticize you for something stupid.

    It's the silent majority who definitely appreciate what you do. Keep pissing off people with your success. :)

    1. It really is insane that some people have a mentality that if I'm successful, it somehow is the reason why they're not. But you're right, a lot of it comes down to bitterness or entitlement.

      I'm super grateful for the silent majority, I just wish they weren't so silent!

  21. I started reading your monthly income reports in June 2016 (and I've probably read more than that). I look forward to the end of the month for your email to pop in my inbox so I have something to read and distract me from working my 9-5 that morning. Sad to hear you're leaving Chiang Mai as I was hoping to one day meet you there after I've become a digital nomad. My boyfriend and I have decided to take the jump and start a store (DSL already purchased), after busy season as I'm a tax accountant currently (brutal). I know you preach to not wait for anything, so while I'm working 12-13 hour days during the week, on the weekends I've been working on ebay dropshipping with David Vu's course, just to get my feet wet. You're such an inspiration and I want to finally thank you for all the content you've provided me. I finally finished listening to all your Travel Like a Boss podcasts yesterday! They have accompanied me on many long drives to work into Irvine (you know the traffic). Again, thank you for showing me and others there's another way to live a life that is more fulfilling. Good luck on your next adventure. <3 Bianca

    1. Hi Bianca, wow, with that hustle, drive and mentality I have a feeling you're going to be hugely successful! That's a super smart move to do something like David's ebay method on weekends just to get a taste of it while you're busy right now with the brutal tax season!

      Enjoy the podcast, make sure you review it on the iTunes store when you get a chance, and hopefully I'll meet you and your BF out in CM or somewhere in the world one day!

  22. I read your entire income reports every month and look forward to getting them. I have been reading them for the last year and do enjoy them and like to see your success and fantasize about my own. haha That being said, I also understand as you grow you need to really focus on your larger goals and increasing your income. I encourage you to stay true to yourself and do what you think is best to grow your business. You are young and have an awesome life and I enjoy watching you live it to the fullest! Forever forward!

    1. Hey Donna, thanks so much for your comment, i'm really glad you enjoy them and I think you're right about needing to stay true to myself as well =)

  23. Hey Johnny, I wait with anticipation for these, read them from top to bottom, and get majorly inspired to get my A into G and become that DN I so desperately want to be. I have my websites I work on everyday (as well as my day job) and was going to add drop-shipping to it.

    Of late tho' this plan has changed and I now want to start working on an affiliate marketing strategy and so real pleased to see your income from that stream. Very encouraging.

    And hopefully get to see you again (introduced myself in Sept when I was there on a fact finding mission) in CM one day to thank you in person for your help, guidance, and motivation. You are one of a kind.

    Sincerely Appreciate it!

    1. Hey happy to have helped inspired you to put your ass into gear! =)

      Let me know how your journey goes!

  24. nice dear your income is increasing great

  25. The monthly income report is one of my favorite things to read, I'm always looking in my inbox come the 1st to see if it's arrived yet. I want this to be the month that I take the plunge and start a dropshipping store and that is because you've done so much from that starting point. Rock on!

    1. Hey really glad you enjoy them and look forward to them every month! Good luck with your dropshipping journey! Here are some discounts to help get you started: in this PDF

  26. Hey Johnny, I guess you could say I earn passive income. I earn royalties from TV music, quarterly income. Pretty good, but we'd like to have other streams. What kind of time commitment are we likely talking for your favorite bang-for-the-buck system?
    Thanks! Todd

    1. Hey Todd, big congrats on the royalties from TV and Music! That's awesome to have! The easiest passive income stream I have are investments, but the best bang for the buck were my ecommerce stores, courses, or affiliate sources.

  27. Great to see such a level of income Johnny! I read your retirement post and it's great to see that you're officially "retired" now, although obviously you still want to keep working on things you want to enjoy.

    I'm 16 years behind you so I hope and plan on reaching a similar level of income and savings as you at this point. :)


  28. Hey Johnny! Your monthly income reports have always been motivating. They really inspire me to work as hard as you are and earn as much as you can. Keep updating these reports every month. Love you, mate.


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