July 2018

By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Updated: 
July 31, 2018

Thanks for joining me on my journey into passive income entrepreneurship!

I've decided to write monthly (rather than weekly) reviews going forward. In these reviews, I'll provide an update on my business, evaluate my progress, and make plans for the future.

But first, I want to express my sadness regarding the recent shootings in Toronto (where I live).

Random acts of violence in this city seem to be rising, such as the van attack a few months ago. 

After a tragic event, especially one right at home, I find myself asking:

"How should I live my life in a world where tomorrow might very well be my last?"

As a young person, I think we believe we're going to live a long and fruitful life, especially with better medicine and technology in the future.

But I don't believe this anymore, not when children, as young as 10 years old, are killed by gun violence in a country like Canada.

So for me, the only answer is:

"Live today like it's going to be your last. Don't wait until "someday" to do the things you dream about."

Coming to terms with mortality isn't easy.

But reminding myself that I am mortal and that I could die tomorrow, has only strengthened my resolve to pursue the path that I'm on, a path that I decided not to wait any longer to pursue, because I might not live until "someday".

What I Did This Month

WordPress: Taming the Beast?

This month, I began poking my head into the beast that is WordPress.

A few hours and several tutorials later, I emerged from the beast's lair and confidently proclaimed, "The beast has been tamed, I got this."

Then I spent 3 hours trying to change the font on my blog (while keeping the other formatting) and realized I would need to learn HTML and CSS (the programming language used for websites) if I wanted to do it myself.

To me, this feels like fixing the engine of your car (not that I have a car or that I've ever fixed one). You can probably do it and it might work, but there's always a chance that your car blows up, with you inside it.

So instead, I just pray I'll never have any technical issues with my blog, which is probably unlikely, but when I do, I'm calling the mechanic and not fixing the car myself.

Research Process: Crawling Down Rabbit Holes

I then jumped straight into the research process for my niche website on acne scars with gusto.

After a few weeks of reading dry textbooks on dermatology and hours just googling what every third word meant, I crawled out of the rabbit holes I dug myself into and realized I was approaching this the wrong way.

You see, I assumed most people wanted to know the details of the skin and how all the different cells functioned - I myself found it quite fascinating.

But I realized no one was going to read this because it's not what they're looking for. Instead of my "build it, and they will come" approach, I had to adopt the "build it, if they want it" approach.

I had to better understand what my audience was searching for on the Internet and tailor my content to serve their needs. This led me to do more work on keyword research, which I'll touch on in the "What I Learned" section.

Personal Life: Trying New Things and Revisiting Old Ones

On a personal note, I started making some positive changes to my lifestyle and nutrition.

I clearly defined my fitness goals and began measuring my progress at the gym and dinner table.

I began drinking milk again after more than 5 years of voluntary abstinence over misguided fears that it was contributing to my acne.

I slept on the floor for a week and discovered that it released almost all the tension and soreness in my lower and middle back from sleeping on mattresses that were too soft and didn't offer the support needed to keep my spine aligned in its natural position.

Finally, I began eating real food like fresh vegetables and fruits, chicken, lean beef, and fish, and stopped eating the fast food and take-out that I used to indulge in a few times each week at my old job and during most of college.

What I Learned This Month

Keyword Research

Keywords are the words that you type into Google to find whatever it is you're looking for.

We do this every day without much thought, but there is an entire industry built upon this seemingly simple task. That industry is called "Search Engine Optimization" or SEO for short.

SEO companies, software, and consultants help businesses and websites rank higher in Google for their target keywords.

The goal is to rank on the first page of Google when someone looks up a certain keyword, such as "Chinese restaurants in Toronto" or "best ergonomic keyboard", etc.

Keyword research is all about finding the best keywords to rank for - ideally ones with high search volume (demand) and low competition (supply).

I would compare it to panning a river for gold - there is a lot of sand and gravel but if you're lucky and persistent, you may find those small nuggets of gold, the keywords with high search volume and low competition.

Here are a few of the SEO tools that I've used so far:

  • Ubersuggest: a decent tool that shows monthly search volume, the cost per click (CPC), and level of competition (from 0 to 1, with 1 being very competitive)
  • Keywords Everywhere: a Chrome extension that shows monthly search volume, CPC, and competition within searches you do on Google. This means you might stumble upon interesting keyword ideas while searching Google, Amazon, or YouTube.
  • KW Finder: provides monthly search volume, CPC, and a proprietary competition score, plus more details about the top competitors in Google. Unfortunately, this is a paid tool but you can get 5 free searches per day with a limit on the number of keywords shown.

The Value of A Dollar

I used to think I was a thrifty consumer but this first month of "no paycheque every second Friday" has really pushed me to find opportunities to save money.

I also started to question why I had been spending money on things that didn't matter in the first place. Did I really need more fancy electronics? Or another pair of running shoes?

I discovered that by planning my grocery trips using Flipp (an online flyer app), which took less than 5 minutes to do each week, I could cut down my grocery bill and skip all the unnecessary purchases like sugary snacks, baked goods, and processed foods.

And by walking a few minutes extra from my apartment, I could find cheaper groceries at the discount store (NoFrills in Canada) compared to high end grocery stores.

I also began putting items I didn't need for sale with the hopes of purging most of what I don't regularly use. I donated clothing that I hadn't touched for months.

I've learned that less is more and that simplicity is a form of freedom.

Next Steps

  • I am completing a series of blog posts about the skin which I expect to finish next month
  • I need to create and distribute a survey to potential visitors of my website to understand their needs better
  • I need to begin my literature review and map out medical studies to each chapter of my ebook
  • I am starting Jim Rohn's 1 Year Success Plan, a series of weekly lessons, exercises, and audio recordings. I first came across Mr. Rohn's work in senior year after listening to his audiobook "The Art of Exceptional Living". His philosophy and teachings have influenced me considerably and I only wish I had found him sooner. If anyone else is interested in starting his 1 year success plan, please message me and we can trade notes along the way!
  • On a personal note, I'll be visiting Yellowstone National Park for two weeks in August! I'll make sure to upload photos of Old Faithful to this blog.

To Flexibility and Freedom,

Tom

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