What I Learned Living in Spain For 8 Years and Other Random Musings

Well, wow!

5 months went by quickly. That was the last time I posted here. I did it as the Pond was taking up a lot of time, and I didn’t want to be going over the same old stuff here as there. You know, Penguin this, Penguin that. How do I get my rankings back? What works now? Blah, blah, blah.

You know what?

No-one has the answer to those questions in any definitive manner.


The best advice I can give you is is to test and see. Peeps are still having success with affiliate sites, I know I am. Peeps are still ranking 5 page emd’s. And peeps are still getting rankings using article directories and any number of other techniques.

But one thing is for sure; none of it is stable.

And the best bit of advice I can give you is to never forget that.

Anyway, I digress.

Reflections On Life

This post is kind of a summing up of a chapter in my life. Actually a chapter in the life of myself and Alexis, my lurverly lady.

Just about 8 years ago we sold our house in the UK and moved to Spain.


As we wanted to live in the countryside and could not afford to do so there. So, we sold up, made a load of profit from developing the 3 houses we had lived in over the previous few years, and bought a half fallen down Spanish Finca, and spent the next few years renovating it to make it livable. Not that we didn’t live in it from day one mind you.

And this is what I think is an important point.

People expect perfection so often, and they miss out on the joy of roughing it. The joy of the journey itself.

We lived without electric, running hot water, in fact any running water at all. We pulled it out of a cisterna with a bucket.

No biggie. We lived without windows, showered outside standing in a bowl, and loved it. Spain is warm, so who cares, right?

After a few years our money ran out. So we did building work for friends. Absolutely knackering. But it kept us in food. Then that dried up, and Alexis went to the UK for 3 months to earn some cash, leaving me alone with the stinky Dogs.

Nightmare. We were apart, and it was horrible.

I decided to ensure it would never happen again. Turned on my laptop, put my gloves and my parka on and delved into the mysterious world of making money on t’internet.

It worked out, after a while.

That was 4 years ago. Just about 4 years ago I began to learn about earning a living online.

Boy, how things have changed.

Not just in terms of what works in SEO, but in life as well.

Moving On: A New Adventure

Now, we have enough money in the bank in the UK to buy ourselves a nice country house. No mortgage, no worries. We are moving back next week on the 12th September.

We have to rent until we find something, and it is a holiday home as the UK landlords are not to keen on renting to 2 people with 3 Dogs in tow for some reason (can’t imagine why!).

This is what I really wanted to talk about……………………. the fact that although our situation sounds special it really isn’t.

If you take what I learned from living in Spain and actually apply it to your life.

Here is what I learned from our Spanish adventure.

The number 1 goal in life is to be happy. And to make those that you love happy as well.

Nothing is more important than that.

We were totally content being poor, as long as we had somewhere to cover our heads from the elements and could be together.

We also learned new skills. From building stone walls, laying floors, roofing, electrics, plumbing, the lot.

Oh yeah, plus blogging too πŸ˜‰

And this is how you need to look at your Internet Marketing career.

Learn as much as you can, and don’t worry if your efforts are not always perfect.

The number one thing is to actually just get busy and do the work. Perfection can wait. If you spend too much time worrying about every minor detail, or what the next algo change may or may not do, then you become paralysed and don’t actually get anything done.

The people who succeed and reach their goals are the people willing to fail. And to learn by it.

You won’t get anywhere unless you simply give things your best shot, with your current abilities, and try to do better next time.

We were motivated. Both about building our house and our IM career.

As soon as you find something that works even slightly well then you simply have to build on that. If you find a way to make money, then scale it. Don’t keep looking for the next shiny object. Stick to the basics and just go all out to make as much money as you can.

Nothing in this game is permanent, if you rely on search engine traffic that is.

If you think it is then you are in for a serious wake-up call, if it hasn’t already happened.

Moving Away From Search

My best advice to you is to not rely solely on search engine traffic. I was a long time getting this wake-up call, and as we worked so hard over the last few years we have plenty of cash in the bank. But I was never under any illusion about long term stability. I just milked techniques for ranking in the serps to the max.

Once I found what worked I did it day in and day out for years, and banked the cash.

Things are very different now.

It is no longer anywhere near as easy to rank mediocre sites as it once was. New algo’s are pretty good at ranking more sites that deserve it than they used to. But SEO is far from dead, and you can still rank well, it just takes more work. And the bottom line is that it takes more of an investment from you. Both in terms of time, love and attention to detail, and, gasp, dare I say it; money invested as well.

Anyway, that is a topic for another day.

This is just my goodbye to Spain blog post and other random musings.

But please, build a business based on something more solid than a dodgy affiliate site or two and a ton of backlinks. IT WILL NOT LAST! I can guarantee you that. 100%

You NEEDΒ  to make investments in more stable sources of income. That means real websites, you know, ones that don’t care if they rank or not. Ones that get talked about.

Build sites based around products under your control, ones you own, ones you made.

And this is exactly what we decided was going to be our focus at the beginning of this year.

So, guess what?

We actually did it!

Crazy eh?

This is what you have to do. You have to actually go out and get things done. No procrastinating. No wondering if you are doing the right thing or not. No thinking about every little detail. Just get on with it and get things done. Perfection can wait until you have some momentum built up.

But be in no doubt that the Google serps are going to be harder to crack, be in no doubt it will become more and more of a platform for Adwords and nothing else.

And be in absolutely no doubt that in a year or two less and less people will even be using Google to search in the first place. Amazon is a real contender to take over. Yeah, people are not searching on Google for products like they used to. They go direct to Amazon.

I KNOW this from first-hand experience. Ranking for products on Google does not give the return it once used to. More and more people are going to stores direct.

And this will only increase.

Half of American Adults now use mobile devices to go online. And they go direct to stores via apps and the like. This will increase daily.

You need to begin to change how you go about your business. Not only will you find it harder to rank in the first place, but less people are searching anyway.

You need to be in control. And this means having a product that gets talked about. A product where you can get other people to be affiliates and they can tell their lists, and do the grunt work for you.

And that is what I have learned over the last 8 years.

If you find something that works then milk it for all that it is worth. I built hundreds and hundreds of websites. Tens and tens of thousands of pages. Wrote millions and millions of words and loved every minute of it. I splashed my affiliate links far and wide dudes, and this simply strategy still works now. But it is getting tougher.

And I will not in a million years, ever do it again if it is for ranking in Google.

It simply isn’t worth the effort any more for me personally. And I am tired of the dross that was often the result of my efforts.

What is a better solution?

  • Your own product
  • A branded Website
  • and writing a shed load of Kindle books while the digital publishing revolution is still in its infancy

In the Pond we are just now revamping the eBook and digital publishing section (EDIT: Alexis has done it, much better organized now) as it has become a large resource. And boy is Kindle publishing a hot topic at the moment.


Because the Amazon algo is just about perfect.Β  Talk about a sales machine. They have nailed it.

So get some books up and let Amazon sell them for you.

Final Thoughts

Well, we are off to the UK to splash in the puddles next week (I bought fancy Aigle Parcours, Alexis went all Le Chemeau), and then I should be able to come back and start blogging here regularly again. But it won’t just be about SEO, it will be more about Internet Marketing in general, and the site tag line has changed to reflect this.

Just being honest with you. I have changed and ranking in the fickle search engines is not my only priority any more. If that sounds cool then I will be glad to have you along. I have been reading a number of SEO blogs lately and to be honest it bores the hell out of me. No-one has much to say, and what is being said has mostly already been covered in detail elsewhere. On top of that anything about Penguin is pure conjecture. All these posts telling you how to beat algo’s are not fact. That is the only fact.

The Pond still takes up a lot of time, and I love it. But we need new members. A few people left, although we are beginning to see a good number of newcomers which is great.

Why are people leaving?

Because they freaked after Penguin and just gave up.

That is basically the feedback we are getting from those that left.

You have to learn to adjust.

I think the Penguin algo is just about the best thing that happened to myself and Alexis. We were already beginning to build a real online business not based around search, and this was the final nail in the coffin.

Please look at it the same way.

It has given you an opportunity to move on, build a more solid foundation, and to realize that relying solely on search engine traffic is suicide long term.

I will continue to try to rank my content, but not like I used to. Paid traffic is more stable, writing an eBook and getting affiliates to sell it for you is more stable, and is what we are currently finishing up at Blogs have been built, social profiles built, LLP’s created, months have been spent writing a 260 page plus book that is actually going to nail it in the niche.

And it has been done with love. And that is the main thing. Work on something to be proud of. Something to put your name and face to and not be ashamed of.

Something that is linked to a G+ profile so if you do show in the serps it has your ugly mug next to it. You may as well take advantage of that feature while it lasts.

Build something real that you can be proud of. That you can attract people to in a multitude of ways. Search, paid traffic, affiliates, email lists, referral taffic, guest posting opportunities, JV’s, media buys etc. etc.

THAT is a lot more stable long term.

But, and some of you will hate it…………………

If you find something that makes you money now, anything at all, in the digital world, then milk it for al it is worth while you can.

It is what we did, and we have hundreds of thousands of dollars to show for it.

And now, just about at the perfect time, most of it is no longer viable.

All gone, whoosh……………

Rankings lost, websites sold, banned from networks, websites deleted, left to expire, or abandoned.

My advice? If you have what you know is a dodgy affiliate or adsense site then sell it and bank while you can.

Or rank it and bank while you can, it won’t be around forever.

And for God’s sake, save your money. Don’t spend it, save it and save it hard until you can buy a house for cash.

Banging Your Head

Don’t just stick to one way of working if it is not profitable for you.

The best work I have done online is to abandon projects that took hundreds of hours of work. And I have done that multiple times.

It is the best thing to do in the world. If you are not getting a good return right now for work you have been doing then dump it and move on.

Don’t waste your time doing things just because you want them to work. Find something that does work, and focus on that. If your site is not earning and you think it should then evaluate properly.

  • Did you really pick the right niche?
  • Can you really rank in this niche?
  • Can you expand it to make you millions?
  • Did you well and truly f++k up with your choices?

Don’t be afraid to be honest, and to move on.

You need to learn to know when you have done the right thing, and when you have done the wrong thing.

Your long term happiness and the happiness of those around you is based on you feeling content with life.

And if that means money in the bank then work hard, make wise choices, or at the very least don’t be afraid to admit you have made bad choices with your online endeavours and to start again on something else.

The money is made by finding something that works and going flat out on it until you feel sick of the sight of it.

Then you get up the next day and do it all over again.

Me, I am just about done caring about making many new sites. I want to learn new things. For me this is PPC and other traffic sources outside of search.

Exciting times.

But, you know what?

I can’t help thinking that it would still be nice to rank for all the keywords in my niches. I may just have to build up a few new mini-networks just to see!

Search eh? You gotta love it.

I mean, who doesn’t love free traffic right?

Just ask yourself, is it really free? Is all that guest posting and all those backlinks made really allowing you to class it as free?

What a game.

And that is what all of this is; a game, and nothing more.

Just virtual motes flying about the Interwebs that most people could care less about.

Righty right, that was that. All pretty random stream of consciousness really.

Just my musings on recent times. I am very much looking forward to moving back to the UK, seeing some green grass for the first time in an age, and having some fish and chips.

And it just so happens that our physical move has pretty much tied in perfectly with our virtual one too.

Funny old world.

It’s good to be back dudes, missed you guys.

29 Responses to “Reflections”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Norm says:

    Am I the first to comment.

    Great Reflection.

    Good luck with your move back to the UK πŸ˜‰


  2. Sudarshan says:

    Happy Journey Dave, I accept everything you have said here and have even taken few things to follow πŸ™‚ Love to see you and Alexis in action at UK πŸ™‚

  3. Dave Starr says:

    Well nothing more important to say to you and Alexis, you reached an important goal, hope you reap the fruit of all that work long and well. I salute you both. Cheers and happiness.

    My only worrisome thought for you both is, I hope returning home works out well for you. As some may know my wife and I have been living in the Philippines for 6 years now. I’m in the US at this moment, sampling life where we used to live, and believe me, no way are Mita and I returning to the US. Taxes alone will kill us. So many of my US brethren are ‘stuck’ becuase their marginal US paycheck, combined with the steadily increasing expenses of life and the rapacious taxes just make it impossible to carve out a niche for yourself.

    My advice? take Dave and Alexis’ advice. make the move while you are young enough to be able to do the work and young enough to enjoy it. Don’t wait until you are older, until the kids are older, whatever. Do it now, see what happens, adjust as necessary and then do it all over again. You do NOT have to remain a wage slave/tax slave until you are old and creaky and gray like me. (I’ll turn 67 on the day Dave and Alexis move). If I had made the move to overseas independence when I was say, 40, instead of holding on like a leech for “safety” until I was past 60, I’d be more than 20 years ahead in the game. Will you sit and waste 20 years also?

    Do it now, guys and gals.

    • Dave says:

      Dave Starr, fantastic advice mate.

      This is it isn’t it. Life is an adventure, let’s get to it.

      Some people think it is some kind of a failure that we are moving back to the UK. I see it as an extreme success. We made a load of money working hard, when some thought we would fail. And now we can do whatever we choose to do with our life. Move to the UK. Spend a few years on a beach somewhere. Whatever.

      As to taxes, yeah, really not looking forward to all that. Out here in Spain we don’t have council tax, and a myriad other costs that there will be in the UK. But hey, at least I can get my fish and chips!

      And have a great birthday Dave, and thanks once again for a great comment.

  4. Terry says:

    Right on. The Internet is still vast and there is still much money to be made from multiple sources. Its just a case of finding what works, then keep on keeping on.

    Good luck with the move back to Blighty!

    • Dave says:

      Terry, exactly. Find something that makes you some money, and scale it hugely. That has always been my best advice to make life changing money.

      And thanks, going to be a little epic. Driving to the port and then overnight to the UK. All with the 3 Dogs too.

  5. Ruth P says:

    Great post Dave, perfect blend of life lessons and IM lessons. I like what you said about the joy of roughing it – it’s so true! The journey is as important as the destination, and even when you have everything you want I’m sure you still look back on those times of struggle with real fondness. This is why I am trying to strike a balance between work and business, and put systems into place so I don’t have to work 24/7. I know I get things done slower because of it, but it’s important to enjoy the small things now as well as later.

    • Dave says:

      Ruth, thanks. Yeah, the journey is all important. You have to enjoy it as you go, and I know that you are involved in a great journey at the moment. Literally! Hope you are loving it.

  6. Bern says:

    Welcome home Dave – Let’s do lunch :). Mortgage free is a great reward for knuckling down the past few years.

    It’s been fun watching your progress – you both have put in some serious work with Lean Ape and it’s got success written all over it…

    Your posts pretty much sums up how a lot of people feel. Panda was a painful wake up call, but one that can make all of us better by thinking more long term and not relying soley on ranking and the whims of G.

    I have taken the summer off from the affiliate game and helped the Boss with her new E-commerce site which is really beginning to take off. Real people, products, online and offline promotion – fun times. I am going to return to affiliate marketing soon, but not on the scale we used to ‘hammer time’ it. My sister also has a craft niche product idea that we are looking at – Patents, different markets, outlets etc and who knows where that could lead, but the internet will definitely be involved.

    Just like you said about your love for Lean Ape, the Boss and my sister wake up each day excited about their work and the opportunities ahead – that’s a great feeling to have. It’s all there for everyone to take with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck.


    • Dave says:

      Bern, thanks dude. Mortgage free is going to make all the difference, we have loved being in that situation out here, and in the UK it will make even more of a difference to our life.

      Sounds like you are involved in some great new business opportunities Bern, let’s hope they take off in a huge way. I still haven’t got into ecommerce, too many flashbacks to having to deal with people when I used to be heavily into ebay!

  7. ChrisCD says:

    Two big take aways I hope people get.

    1) Free Traffic isn’t really free. It takes time and time is money. It may take tools. Tools cost money. However, you generate traffic it takes time and money.

    2) Build something that others will talk about. They will take some of their time and save you some of yours.

    Something else to consider. Ask people to talk about it. I think that is something we have not done well. For a number of years, we did well trading time for “free” traffic. That has for the most part dried up. We have service that people seem satisfied with. But, getting people to share that with others has been tough.

    Congratulations on being able to move back to the UK, mortgage free. That is very impressive and just a testimony to your hard work and dedication. No matter what you do, it takes hard work and dedication.

    cd :O)

    • Dave says:

      Chris, thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it.

      And you are right, if you don’t ask then you don’t get πŸ˜‰

  8. David says:

    Hello my friend!

    Well it’s been a while since I heard from you. I just received your email and I came right over to see your post. Great post! There’s nothing like reading something that you know comes from someone’s heart.

    I’m really happy for you! It’s great to hear that you have finally decided where to hang your hat, and even better knowing you have the resources for the hat peg! It’s never good living somewhere other than where you really want to be.

    Your testimony was inspiring. Like I said earlier, there’s nothing like hearing something that truly comes from the heart. I have studied and tried so many different things online that I almost hate to think about it.

    However, the one thing that rings true to me reading your message, never put all your eggs in one basket. I know you didn’t exactly word it like that, but it stills says the same thing to me. Search traffic is great, its free, and doing SEO actually was fun for me! Really I enjoyed it and I’m sure I wasn’t alone with that.

    Google has far to much leverage, power, influence, whatever you wish to call it, Google can make you or, as many found out, break you! I don’t think anyone should wield that much power. To think of the hours of people’s personal time invested, money invested, sacrifices made, building and maintaining entire website networks, and for what? For Google to come along with one panda or penguin and destroy everything you worked for?

    Yes, we definitely need to step back and rethink things a little, just don’t stop! Don’t let fear or frustration stop you from realizing your dreams!

    For that matter dreams are not the proper word? The bible says that God has a future and hope for us, I like the way that sounds, and I believe that is truth.

    We have a right to our futures, and never give up your hope for that end! Look to your future, and continue to have hope that not only will you have your future, but it will be great!


    • Dave says:

      David, thanks for a great comment!

      You hit the nail on the head with not putting all your eggs in one basket. You have to diversify everything just so that you are never going to get totally beaten down if something happens.

      And currently I think that means a lot of people that have been spending all their time on SEO should branch out into Kindle, ebooks, and looking at ways to generate traffic outside of the search engines. I just hope that is what people are actually doing. Rather than just freaking out after the algo chamges and not doing anything at all.

      Thanks for dropping by David, I appreciate it.

  9. Teatree says:

    You are coming back just in time for winter? Actually it’s sunny at the moment but we had a lot of rain in the summer. I’m actually quite sad your Spanish adventure has ended – you were my idea of a real life “Place in the Sun” type. It would be nice if you did an article on the Spanish situation – there’s very little information coming out apart from from journalists who typically know nothing.

    I totally agree that it is still possible to rank in G, you just need to keep under the radar and cover your tracks a bit so that techniques arn’t ruined by hordes of people doing them and bringing them to G’s attention.

    I hope you keep your Spanish hidey-hole just in case. Britain has changed since the new govt – they love taxes on goods, so VAT is now 20% (from 17.5%) and tax on petrol has been ramped up and everything seems to be more expensive.

    • Dave says:

      Teatree, keeping our Spanish place for sure. It means we can come out for weekends whenever we want, and for a month or so at a time if we need to escape. Hopefully we will still be quite self sufficient in terms of veggies etc in the UK, so that should help with costs. Although shops not closing for a 4 hour lunch may mean more shoes are purchased by someone I know πŸ˜‰

      And yep`, keep it under the radar, chase the longtails, and build killer sites and you can still get them G rankings.

  10. Ion says:

    I love the re-design of the blog, and the forum!

    I love that you guys have made your mind to finally move to UK!

    I love that you are changing positions in everything IM and MMO related!

    I love that you are embracing adversity, change and constantly seeing new opportunities no matter how it turns!

    But what I love most is that you my friend are blogging about what’s really the most important thing in this life, something that is beyond money: Enjoying life, understanding happiness, loving the whole process and helping as many people as possible at the same time.

    I believe that’s absolutely the essence and the “mission” of every human being on this planet Earth.

    Cheers man!

    • Dave says:

      Ion, thanks dude, it really does mean a lot.

      I love the new look too. And am loving the new set of challenges I have set us.

      And I am going to try harder every day to make happiness for me and my family my number 1 goal.

      Appreciate the comment Ion, and all that you have done for the Pond too πŸ˜‰

  11. Chris says:

    Another fantastic post Dave. You really have a great knack of telling it how it is. Good luck with the move back to Blighty!

  12. Bruno says:


    Great input Dave.

    I do agree that life is way more than just plugging away at our keyboards and there is so much more out there for us that is not even funny.

    As we previously talked, I’ve also moved on and I’m now developing something that I’m actually proud of and that I can show to people. To be honest, it almost feel like an extension of my body!

    Great times ahead indeed ..


    • Dave says:

      Bruno, gotta have some adventures dude, it is what life is all about isn’t it?

      Glad that you are loving your new project so much, feels good to be involved in something a bit more substantial doesn’t it?


  13. Gayan says:

    Hello Dave,

    Wow man, nice post that is!. It’s really good to hear from ya :). And you should be in England by now, but nevertheless, good luck!!.

  14. Chris Naish says:

    “As soon as you find something that works even slightly well then you simply have to build on that. If you find a way to make money, then scale it. Don’t keep looking for the next shiny object. Stick to the basics and just go all out to make as much money as you can.”


    And that’s coming from probably the worst shiny object fiend in the galaxy! πŸ˜‰

  15. Richard Owen says:

    Congs! Reading this reminds me of the long journey I had to undertake before finally becoming independent being my own boss working when and where I feel like πŸ™‚ . Happy for you