(RIP a Lifestyle Design Effort)
I want anybody reading this to take note. I found a very important case study that relates to independent income and your overall happiness in life. (Note, David Cain himself kindly offered some addendums to this post to clarify what’s really going on from his side. Please see the comments section).
I recently discovered a great site for people interested in the topic of lifestyle design, exploring humanity, and just enjoying life: Raptitude by blogger David Cain (also check out his book on Amazon). I love this guy’s work, and one particular post on this site is now drawing viral (to put it mildly) traffic, despite that it was written back in 2010. It’s called Your Life Has Already Been Designed. The article has been picked up by major media outlets, and could become a fundamental read among those of us rebelling against the 9-5.
In essence, Cain discusses how the 9-5 work philosophy exists to keep a consumerist system in place. After a 9-month journey abroad, Cain describes his return to the working world at an engineering firm with spot-on condemnation of a work philosophy that is designed to promote our modern-day spending habits. An unhealthy, unhappy society is the cornerstone of the economic systems that keep big business in power, Cain argues.
If you had perfect self-esteem and a happy lifestyle, you wouldn’t come home and watch TV. Media would go out of business, pharmaceutical companies would lose profits, and the machine would effectively stop.
While I agree with everything Cain writes, when I read between the lines, I see something very alarming about the nature of his story, at least at first. You see, I would perfectly understand Cain going to work at an engineering firm if it were something that he felt inspired to do. As I discuss in my book Freedom, you can experience liberty in your life by ensuring the work that you do is congruent with the sense of purpose you have in life.
But, as I read this article, it becomes apparent that Cain did not give up his 9-month backpacking stint out of a passion and higher-calling to become a great engineer. I think he did it more because he was broke and needed stability. And, if that’s the case, it’s an example of a guy with every opportunity to be a permanent lifestyle designer who decided to retreat.
Of course, as one reads his blog, it becomes clear that this was just the start of a journey that eventually led to him waking up out of the matrix. But for this argument, let’s look back at where he was at in 2010. If I had discovered that article back then, I’d have been hopping mad. Here’s a guy with every opportunity to make money online, with a blog massively growing in popularity, who decided to abandon a lifestyle as a backpacker that he thought was awesome–to go join up with some company that he hates. WTF??
Based on the glib tone of that article, including the title “How Your Lifestyle is Designed For You”, I assume that this post was a reflection of David Cain’s brief period of lifestyle design failure, and it’s a really important lesson that you can learn from.
Today, Cain has 15,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of monthly visits. But in 2010, it was still a popular blog with plenty of opportunities to turn it into an income powerhouse
Where this post might be terrifying to a prospective lifestyle designer is that it would seem to indicate that to get even the barely-sustainable figures of $500+ a month, Cain had to become a top-blogger, beating out the 98% of other similar blogs to secure vibrant social media popularity. And then, despite blogging success, Cain was still forced to retreat–abandon his life abroad, and abandon the idea of maintaining sustainable income on his own terms. And, tragically, he instead imprisoned himself into an engineering job that that he obviously disdained.
Of course, the happy epilogue is that Cain’s site massively expanded, a few months ago he finally quit his job, and now I assume he’s quite comfortable through his income streams.
But this story is such a great lesson for you. The moral is that if a situation you’re in stinks, don’t just trudge through it longing for skies that will eventually turn bluer as you go on, or you’ll become so adapted to the misery that it won’t suck anymore. In retrospect, Cain could have probably called it quits much sooner.
Big Myths About Blogging
Cain’s post is an example that you can hit it big as a blogger, but not be monetized enough to escape the corporate world. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that it’s possible to be a no name blogger who still lives comfortably and independently, which is maybe something Cain didn’t realize when he wrote his 2010 post.
I have several blogs. None of them approach a fraction of Cain’s traffic, even back in 2010. This blog gets a couple of hundred hits a day (hi, guys!), but it’s not some type of phenomenon. My men’s interest site gets 300-400 hits a day. That’s a fun site to run, but its traffic and growth is totally average.
This month, my mostly passive income is approaching $1,200. This is from: book sales, Adsense from tons of Infobarrel and Hubpage posts, and affiliate products on micro-blogs that usually earn me a solid sale every day or two.
So that’s $1,200 passively. Non-passively, my income this month is going well past $2,000 from enjoyable projects I’ve been working on with clients (including a novel I am editing), and some fun paid jobs I do in Los Angeles in the field of marketing and being a promotional model.
Am I filthy rich? No, but just doing independent stuff, with primarily passive income as my bread-and-butter, I assume i am making several times more than Cain was making when he felt he needed to give up his days as a backpacker and return to the corporate world. But this is all without having a single very popular blog. All it took was about a year and a half of part-time work, designing income strategies. This is something he could have done, as well–and perhaps he wouldn’t have had to give up the traveling that he expressed so much passion about.
Another big lesson from this story is how going abroad without a plan to make money is a big mistake. If you do that, you’ll accrue credit card debt and return to your home-city in an even weaker position than before, which may explain why Cain felt he had to return home and get back to work so quickly. I’ve seen this pattern repeat itself many times.
If you’re going to travel, take it seriously, and try to return with less debt versus when you left.
So, if I could go back in time and talk to the owner of Raptitude after he wrote that post, it would be this: Stop wasting time. It’s inevitable that you’re going to quit, anyway. So develop more products. Get on Clickbank and get more affiliate links up. Become a consultant or offer different services to people via Skype or in person. Brand yourself more as a professional.
And quit that job now instead of later. Seriously, walk the fuck away. You don’t have to be part of the 9-5 system that you admit is designed to benefit our corporate overlords. If you don’t like the forty-hour work week thing, then just get out of it. While I do agree that there’s a system in place that keeps people as unhappy little consumers, it’s not a conspiracy that it’s impossible to escape from.
If you’re in Cain’s position from 2010 and you’re still shy of reasonable income, then check out my book How to Make Money While Traveling and supplement the money from your blog by designing other services like a Fiverr business. You’ll still be working every-day, but you can scale it down to a 10-3 or 10-2 schedule, with hours more free time every-day to enjoy and explore–without ever going broke.
And finally, never be allured by the temptation of higher salaries at the expense of your lifestyle. The temptation of “stability” is high, and the pressure we feel from peers, friends and family are also powerful, but to those passionate about living life on your own terms, it’s a simple matter of sticking true to what you believe in.