Portable Careers, Black Friday Sales and Personal Values

portable writing careerA portable career is more than work, it’s a lifestyle you create for yourself that earns you money and supports your values.

I’d like to talk with you for a minute about the values part of that equation and a decision I’ve just made.

After the financial meltdown in the US I returned to freelancing, and started to put together the pieces of a freelance business. Because I planned to become an expat, I needed something I could take with me anywhere in the world.

This website is one component of my own portable career. I earn a bit from it through affiliate links. Mostly it’s a labor of love, but the affiliate income at least covers the expenses.

The other pieces include freelance writing, another site where I teach people how to create WordPress websites, and I also set up WordPress sites for others.

My personal goals are to gradually decrease the amount of freelance writing I’m doing, and the number of websites I’m building for others, while increasing the passive income from the websites.

That’s because my husband (and most of our friends) are already retired, and I’d like to join them someday!

What does this have to do with values? I’m glad you asked. . .

When it comes to Affiliate Links, I’m very Value Driven.

An affiliate link is a link to a product or service that pays me a sales commission for sending you to them. If I’m an affiliate for Apex Widget Company, and you click a link from my site and end up buying one of their widgets, they pay me something. It doesn’t cost you any more than if you’d gone there directly.

I’m pretty picky about who I affiliate with. If it’s a company I’ve done business with myself, and I trust to offer you excellent value, I’ll sign up. It doesn’t mean I’ve bought and used every single one of their products. It also needs to be related to what we talk about here — the process of becoming an expat, portable careers, and life in Panama.

What Does This Have to Do with Values?

We’ve just finished the whole Thanksgiving-BFCM (Black Friday-Cyber Monday) thing. On Friday I was completely sickened reading accounts of people stabbed, shot, trampled, punched and otherwise attacked because they all wanted cheap merchandise.

Then during my weekend, which I had set aside to be with family and friends, I was overwhelmed with email about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some of it — in fact, most of it — was from the companies I’m affiliated with who all wanted me to promote their stuff.

Had I given in to the Sale! Sale! Sale! frenzy I would have spent my entire weekend behind the computer.

Were the sales worthwhile? Some were. Would the products and services have been helpful to you? Sure. Would I have made more money? Absolutely.

So why didn’t I do it?

One of the reasons I chose to create a portable career was so I could spend time with the important people in my life.

If you’re on my email list, you received one email from me the day before Thanksgiving outlining a few of the BFCM deals — those from companies that were courteous enough to let me know in advance.

Sadly, for every one I was informed about in a timely fashion, there were 10 that announced their deals less than 24 hours — sometimes less than one hour — before the sale started. It was a madhouse, and I decided not to opt in.

Going forward, I would rather not promote BFCM deals. That whole sales frenzy thing just don’t mesh with my values.

Before I decide for sure, let me ask you — as a regular reader of this site, do you want to get a wad of email from me over Thanksgiving weekend? Please let me know in the comments.


  1. I think you made the right decision. Your email, which I am still holding onto about the VPNs, is a helpful piece of information. If I end up using one of these providers, I’m happy to see you get a cut of the action. (I may email you separately about that topic.) I appreciate your thoughtful approach to the whole affiliation links issue. I would not have enjoyed a bombardment of Black Friday specials from you–especially if they were not as targeted on the expat lifestyle as yours tend to be. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

  2. Keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re honest, straightforward and trustworthy – that’s a difficult reputation to achieve and takes one wrong move to lose. If you stay true to your values all your readers know where they stand. I for one certainly didn’t miss any extra email bombardment that weekend. Keep up the great work!

  3. FutureExpat says:

    Thanks, Michael and Aisha. I appreciate your input.

  4. This is my 2nd Thanksgiving out of the country and I cannot believe how many emails and ads flooded my mailbox over the Thanksgiving weekend! And I’ve been informed by a couple of companies that cyber Monday has been extended for my shopping pleasure for another day…Thank you for not adding to the glut of email!

  5. I agree with you somewhat. My son was visiting in Panama during the Thanksgiving holiday and I wanted to spend time with him, not time at the computer. So I had no interest as a “buyer” in any BFCM deals.

    However, I have several online business and my customers EXPECT me to offer deals on BFCM. These are for my own products or services and not affiliate links. So, I got the deals page and emails written weeks in advance. This made it possible for me to spend 5 minutes sending out two emails during the holiday weekend. The result was an additional $12,500 in my bank account.

    Was it worth it? YES!

    • FutureExpat says:

      Absolutely, I agree. What bothered me was the large number of companies I’m affiliated with who did NOT give their affiliates the option to plan ahead. I can’t image they garnered many affiliate sales over the weekend, so it was bad planning for them and for me. The other point I feel strongly about is, I don’t want to barrage my readers over the weekend. I sent out one email, the day before Thanksgiving, which included all the BGCM deals I knew about at that time.

      Next year, if I have my own product to sell, I’m sure I’ll do some sort of BFCM promo, but I don’t like the idea of swamping my readers’ inboxes.

  6. Good on you, Susanna! Life is far too short to waste it making money doing something that doesn’t mesh with your values. I’m very grateful to be able to include you among my friends here in Panama, as I always know that any advice you give comes from a position of solid integrity. Keep up the good work.

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