Christian Morisak on starting his 6-figure digital nomad lifestyle [Interview 16]
I had a major full circle moment a few months ago here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during a catch up with my friend Christian Morisak (or Moreyh as he's known by friends).
We met back when I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the fall of 2015, on a hike with a social meetup group. I remember Moreyh and I talking about what brought us both to Thailand. He was taking time off from his 9-5 in Austria to do the online business and travel the world stuff. At the time, he'd just launched an ebook website, and it was only making him a few bucks if I recall correctly. (He's come a long way since then).
Moreyh was the first person to tell me about a city called 'KL.' I thought he was saying "Kale," and I actually Googled where is Kale in Southeast Asia? Judge me if you must.
A few months later, Moreyh and I were both visiting KL (Kuala Lumpur) at the same time — it was my first time here and I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, friends of a friend of a friend invited me out, and let's just say they gave me a warm (wine-filled) welcome to their country. I was straight up, mouth-wide-open knocked out in my Uber after that night's shenanigans, but Moreyh made sure I made it back to my hostel safe and sound. For that, I'll forever appreciate him.
A year and some change after that introduction to KL, this city became my new home! (Wild, because it still feels like yesterday that this 'Kale' place wasn't even a blip on my radar.) And Moreyh, who went on to continue hopping all over the globe, made his way back here as well. I met up with him and his lovely girlfriend for dinner, where we caught up on everything we've been up to since that December '15 night.
Morey's come up is definitely inspiring — how do 4 hour work weeks and impromptu holidays to Greece sound to you? ... Like goals, right? Yeahhhh. So let's get into how this lifestyle came about; below, Moreyh shares about finding his sweet spot in online entrepreneurship, becoming a world traveling digital nomad, and why he's actually ready to stop traveling so much:
KW: In 1 minute or less, what’s your story? How long have you been a location-independent entrepreneur, what kind of business do you run, and why’d you start?
CM: Ever since finishing my apprenticeship when I was 19, I wanted to start my own business, but I could never pull it off properly. July 2015, I decided to take a sabbatical year from my old job in SEO (search engine optimization) and go travel to Asia.
During this year, I mostly worked and travelled a bit on the side. I went all-in, worked my ass off, and met lots of people who already made a good living with their online businesses. By meeting those people I really got inspired and this making-money-online thing became more real to me.
During this first year I tried a couple things, like affiliate and Google Adsense websites, doing SEO consultation. Started some cooperations with other people I met and so on. It took me about 1 year to be able to make a living with about $1,500/month, and it felt real good.
My main business right now is Vapospy, which I started for the German market and expanded afterwards to a few more countries. It's a basic price comparison and reviews website for vaporizer products. I started it in the beginning of 2016 and have since grown it to a 6-figure-business, monetised mainly via affiliate commissions.
Chiang Mai is where you got started, right? What’d you like about living and working there?
Not exactly, the first destination abroad was Canggu, Bali. About 2 months later I ended up in Chiang Mai, and I really enjoyed my time there. What I like is, all you need is only a few minutes scooter ride away and the community of digital nomads there is huge. Chiang Mai for me was the most inspiring one, because I was fortunate to meet many people who did affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing always sounded like the perfect way of making money to me. And to be honest, Chiang Mai was also the spot where I partied the most. :D
We talked about how far you’ve come in just 2 years. It’s so dope to see the risk you took and the work you put in start to pay off! What was the process like for you to reach this point?
Trial and error, a bit of luck and lots of work.
During the first year I had a couple moments, where I put in tons of work into something and thought, 'that is it, that's gonna work.' Every time I got disappointed, and it did not work out as expected. The key is to not give up and try the next thing.
I mentioned luck in the beginning, because I got a bit lucky. I met someone who used a typical e-cigarette, which I've never seen before in my life. So I opened Google Trends, put in "vaporizer," filtered for Germany and there was huge spike.
Vapospy was born, at least in my mind. In the beginning I did not believe too much in it, and I thought I had something else that had more potential. But after a while it grew very nicely. I started to hire writers through Upwork.com, automated more processes, improved internal processes to make maintenance easier, and now I'm in the process of expanding to more countries.
Where all have you traveled over the last few years and how long do you typically spend in each place?
I've been only to Asia and Europe in the last 2.5 years. Nothing too crazy. Some of my favorite places are Santorini (Greece), Budapest (Hungary), Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Bali. Typically I spend 1-3 months in a place if possible. The longest stay I had was in Bali for 6 months, which was also one of the best times, mainly because of all the great people I've met and everything is simply super relaxed.
What’s the most rewarding part about running an online business that allows you to be a digital nomad? Is there anything that makes it more challenging than a typical job?
I would say meeting other people and being able to slow-travel. With a typical non-remote job it's unusual to go to places for let's say 1-3 months and really deeply enjoy a place. I've been doing this digital nomad style living now for more than 2.5 years, and I am kind of done with it, to be honest. What I'm missing is a place where I can always go back, like a real home where I have friends and people I know.
Being in a new place every month or every couple months got kind of exhausting to me. Finding places to stay and work, finding proper food and most importantly making new friends... when you figure all that out, you're on the way to the airport again. And the process starts again. That's why I am going to settle for some time now in Tallinn, Estonia.
It always depends what each person wants, for me it's building a bigger business and that works better I think when I settle somewhere, but still knowing I'm able to go on holiday whenever and how long I want.