This is the ultimate question isn’t it? I have come across many business ventures, income opportunities, and money making schemes since I’ve been living outside the US, some legit (or at least show potential) while others are laughable. Let me go through the list of common ideas and my thoughts and/or results I’ve had.
Travel writing. Obviously at this exact moment in time, I am travel writing. Quite often people think that all they need to do is be a great writer, and their dreams of becoming a paid publisher will be realized as soon as they place themselves in a different element. “I am a foreigner… what I write is valuable!”
What you write may very well have value, but so does the writings of dozens, if not hundreds, of other expats and travelers!
Whether you are writing a personal blog about your journeys, a travel log of sorts, or a translated review for local products or services, instructional courses, niche websites, local news, you name it… you must have a profitable means in which to market and ultimately sell your information if you intend on living off of the income. This task is easier said than done. You’re best bet here is to do like I do, and write for fun and to truly help create value in your target audiences daily lives. Doing anything other than that without pre-existing contacts that can “plug you in” to the industry, you’re just spinning your wheels, and you’ll get discouraged very quick.
What you may do, is check the local classifieds or the classifieds on this site even, for short term gigs, or freelance writers needed. There is a need for English speakers in non-english speaking countries, you just have to look and be willing to work hard on the “short, one time” opportunities.
I have often thought about running a small business that is a service to local vendors that have sales literature, or menus, in english, but is translated poorly. We would earn income by re-doing their material properly. This could work in Bucharest, but you would be hard-pressed to drum up enough regular and consistent income stream. You would also need to capture everyone’s printer-ready artwork for whatever you are editing. Think about it though.
Teaching English. This was extremely popular in Buenos Aires, as speaking english was necessary for business people in Argentina (at least the successful ones). However many people to place an importance or a premium on the english certification that the locale provides to ensure that the people speaking english “are actually speaking english”. If anyone can offer me insight as to the “real life” importance of a certification for something other than institutional teaching please enlighten me.
Teaching english can make you an income if you are good at drumming up one-on-one tutoring AND committed to regular routine and consistency.
Here’s how you do it:
Run some ads in the local media. Hand out fliers yourself or pay someone. The attention grabber headline should be in big bold english. Offer personal tutoring in a comfortable public place, where both parties can feel relaxed. Charge per session with a minimum session requirement. Do some research on your competition and place yourself below their pricing at first. You’re building up a reputation first. Dress and present yourself as your customers would like see themselves… successful. Keep your sessions to an hour or less, and book as many as you can throughout the day. The money will be slow, but remember to ask for referrals. This is the future of your business.
You do NOT need to know their native tongue. The majority of your clients wil already understand english, they are now looking to hone their skills and get regular practice. Remember, this is all about teaching the art of “conversational” speaking. No training books necessary here!
Import/Export LOL.. yeah. Wish I’d had thought of this! Takes money, contacts at the border, a great product, and a great profit. Yes it can be done, but I don’t know how and I gave up a long time ago. Taxes and tariffs have risen so high that the barriers of entry are extremely high compared to even five years ago. Your best bet here is to find a niche product that you can buy wholesale, ship here, pay legit and legal fees on, and sell retail, and still make a profit. You’ll need to put together brilliant marketing, and promote and sell your product prior to the purchase on your end. Your problems will be reliable product delivery, variable costs (bribes) at the border, damaged or no-show goods (so logistical issues) customer satisfaction, and last but not least… finding a profitable product after all is said and done.
Remember… shipping costs favor high volume, which unless pre-sold, requires holding inventory and high overhead.
Best bet in import/export is to find a unique product in Romanian, or wherever your living, that would be great in your country of origin. Be a middle man and collect a fee for securely placing the buyer with the seller.
Running and operating your own “brick and mortar ” business. I have heard stories of people going to Asia and opening a successful restaurant, I know of people who run tourist businesses in the Caribbean… In all these cases these people have spent a lot of money to get started, and took on greater risks than starting a business in their native country. More than likely. Your chances of failure are about 8 or 9 out of 10.