SEO In LOS
I have been living in Thailand for 10 months now – I have been coming here since 1998 on and off. I am living here on a 12 month non-immigrant O visa and flying under the radar work wise. I work from home on one of the many islands and wanted to write
an article based on the To Be Legal Stickman weekly column.
I do SEO – search engine optimisation – I get people’s websites to the top of Google using different techniques. I am just a one-man-band really. My turnover (which is always growing, 1 new client last week) currently £55,000 / 2.5 million baht a year and not many expenses. So I can save quite a lot of money even with the poor exchange rate.
I am very careful of who I tell what I do. I normally just say that I have a company in the UK and people run it for me if anyone asks and also I move around every few months. This is true, I have people who work for me part time (freelancers based in Philippines and India – they are very happy with the money I pay them as well), I pay tax and National Insurance in the UK where I have a UK business bank account, website, email address, physical address, clients and also a UK land line phone number (which gets diverted to my Thai mobile or I pick it up on Skype if I am online) – although I don’t get many phone calls from my clients and they all think I am in the UK. I have no reason to meet up with clients anyway and get most of my new business off the internet as I am high up on Google listing for several phrases. Also no face to face meetings needed, my results are good enough.
I would land up in trouble if I was to get found out – I have to send emails now and again to tell my freelancer in the Philippines/India what to do, and I am sure this would be classed as work as well as the other bits of work all online – maybe 4 hours a day in total Monday to Friday. I am not sure how much of a grey area this is though, as I would still have to send these emails and do bits of work even if I was on a 2-week holiday also so would they punish me for this as well?
Also as Stick mentioned in the weekly to never tell a Thai girl what you do for a living if you are not 100% legal, so a girlfriend is out of the question – I had already come to the same conclusion as Stick on this one. So I do have to be a bit secretive about my life. I cannot discuss what I do with people and especially bar girls as they may smell a money making opportunity if they find out I don't have a work visa and know where I live.
I know I could start up a legit business over here doing what I do and get Thai staff to do some of the more mundane work that I pay other people to do but I get bored pretty quick and like to keep on moving around so just me and my freelancers for now (I mean the freelancers in the Philippines and India!).
I have met a few other people doing SEO since I have been here – one with a legit company who wanted me to work with him and offered me a work visa (I told him I used to do SEO for a company in the UK, but not anymore) and one guy with a business visa. Out of these 2 people one was earning good money and the other will earn good money soon as he is only just starting out. I also remember one phone call from another UK SEO company who I knew for a fact was based in Bangkok as I knew somebody working there. This UK company based in Bangkok (although this is not advertised on their website either) called my UK number which was diverted to my Thai number and we chatted about SEO as he wanted to do some free work for one of my clients.
I have already earned enough money through work/investment to purchase a house in the UK outright (I am in my mid 30’s), but I also know that bills in the UK do actually cost more than my rent and bills combined over here, so it does not make sense for me to purchase right now. Also, the girls, weather, swimming pool, beach and all the rest of it maybe something to do with not wanting to work at home in the UK as well – it's minus 8 right now!
One day I hope to sell my business and hopefully make enough to retire on along with my savings (I think I will be able to retire at 50 on savings alone if I can continue to save at this rate, but hopefully selling the business will give me a nice bonus on top of that), but for now, I am just going to see how long it will be before I get bored of this country or get found out and asked to leave or perhaps when Google change the goal posts and stop people from doing SEO in order to make a living.
Oh well, back to work.
Sounds like you're living the life. You've managed it all on your own and living what many would consider the dream – good on you! As things seem to be working well for you, don't change anything, at least in terms of preserving your privacy. Long may your success continue!