What is your background?
I was born in Galway, but due to a difficult situation with my father, we had to move to County Down in the North when I was still a toddler. I lived in a small fishing town, Kilkeel, until I was 18. Brilliant childhood but we didn’t have much money, on welfare for the majority of it, it was probably the restrictions caused by that that give me the hunger to do something ‘big’ with my life. From there, I headed to England for 4 years for university until I was 22. That was 2006. My last exam was 5pm on a Wednesday, and by 9am on the Thursday I was gone. Initially to the USA to work on a summer camp for disadvantaged kids, but realistically, I never came ‘home’ from that trip, aside from visits and holidays of course. I’ve been on the road, or overseas, ever since!
I spent the first few years on a ridiculously tight budget (like $10 a day or so!), teaching English in Thailand and South Korea everytime I ran out of money, by 2009 I was a little bit worried about where my life was going. I was 27, I was having the time of my life, but being a broke backpacker isn’t so romantic as you hurtle towards your 30s, so what was I going to do next? I was in the Philippines at the time, so used the remaining budget to travel through every country in South East Asia en route to Australia where I got a ‘real’ job on a working holiday visa. Living in a 12 bed dorm, waking up at 6am, putting on shirt and shoes and hitting the office. I couldn’t handle the real world to be honest, I felt like I was wasting my life. Within 9 months or so I had started my travel blog, quit and booked a one-way flight to Zimbabwe. I spent the rest of 2010 in Africa and my blog began to take off, both with the audience growing but also with the money it was making. Once I worked out how much money you could make blogging, I expanded my network of websites, hired a few people and grew from there, up to the point that I was banking about $50k a month by 2013.
I then established my media company, started investing in property, a stock portfolio, start-ups etc, and that’s what I’m doing now. All the while, attempting to visit every country in the world!
Ploughing the fields in Palawan today! ?????? pic.twitter.com/R81z3biwFr
— Johnny Ward (@onestep4ward) September 16, 2016
It’s a nice idea, have you made €1 million or are you going to?
It was my goal to make over $1m yeah, and thankfully I managed somehow to do it. Considering I’m awful with tech, and computers, it still surprises me that I did it, doesn’t really feel real. Especially with all the money being online, so you don’t ever ‘see’ it, it’s not tangible. Get money from clients, numbers floating around in the air, transfer those numbers for property in London, you’ve never seen the property but you ‘own’ it, rent it out etc, it’s weird to be honest. My life isn’t much different, I just a fly a little more, but I live pretty low key anyway.
How? What’s the plan?
Blogging! Simple as that. Clients pay you for adverts on your blog, if you do it well, you can easily make $5k a month from each site, $10k if you hit it hard. Start a few more sites, then a few more and before long you’re income is pretty high.
— Johnny Ward (@onestep4ward) September 15, 2016
How many countries have you been to so far?
194 of the 197, 3 more to go! Saudi Arabia and Yemen are proving tricky visas, but I’m working on it then a big celebration for friends, family, and online followers in Norway.
Which were your favourites / highlights to date?
Oh wow, it’s so tough to say. Thailand, as cliche as it sounds, has been amazing to me. I taught English here back in 2007, so when I started making a decent living online, I bought an apartment in Bangkok, so that’s where I keep all my stuff. It keeps me grounded when I’m on the road 9/10 months per year, getting back home to my Playstation and netflix feels so good!
Also, Iran, Algeria, Ethiopia, Iceland, the Phillipines, China, Argentina are all great memories but to be honest, I’ve kinda loved everywhere, it’s all been a part of this crazy journey to every country in the world, so I have fond memories of every step as I’ve moved closer. I’m so grateful for all the experiences.
Late Lunch at my fav restaurant in Bangkok ???? pic.twitter.com/xi9lXXrm1a
— Johnny Ward (@onestep4ward) September 6, 2016
What’s the time frame, how long have you been on the road so far, how long do you like to spend in each place?
I’ve been on the road essentially since 2006, summer camps in the US, winter English teaching camps in Korea, a year in Thailand teaching and a year in Australia working, other than that I’ve constantly been on the move, aside from a couple of months each year recovering in Thailand. I average 2-3 weeks in each country, ranging from months in India, China, Brazil, South Africa, to a few days in warzones like Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.
— Johnny Ward (@onestep4ward) September 18, 2016
Remote working, what have been your pros and cons?
The pros are the freedom. Not having to wake up in the mornings, no boring meetings, no boss, fly to Vietnam if you’re bored, bring your Mac and you can work from there. The freedom is the best thing without doubt. The cons? Motivation I guess. Staying disciplined enough to keep growing your business, starting new things, because you can easily find yourself on football forums and facebook all day (speaking from brutal experience!).
Tips for others looking to do the same?
For me, the first step is starting a blog. Everyone should do it. It’s only about $60 a year and it gives you a voice, and hopefully a platform to earn money, showcase your abilities etc. If you’re stuck in a rut, draw a line under it and move. Teaching English got me out of Ireland, and blogging brought me to the next level
Just to let others know, why is it great being Irish when you’re overseas?
Haha, it’s great to be Irish anywhere! I know I’m bias but I think we could very possible be the most popular nationality in the world? People love it when you tell them. And the amount of parties you get invited to because they know we love a good time? Uncountable! I love it.
Only three countries left, cool, well done => what’s next ?
So many plans! I’m going to go around the world in 80 days next year, no flights, to raise awareness for Parkinsons, a disease my mum suffers from. Going to LA to launch my start-up for a month, filmed for reality TV during a 30 day incubator, that should be cool! Started a charity called the Give Back Give Away (givebackgiveaway.com) where we work with local NGOs and host a fund-raising, this year I’m building a playground for a underfunded school in Cambodia. I’m also designing a course to show people how I changed from life from broke, to be both time- and financially-free. Also launched a new marketing company focusing on dentists (long story!) so that’s taking a fair bit of time too, and trying to build my blog, onestep4ward.com, into something bigger too 🙂 Quite busy all-in-all!