From West to East: A deep dive into business, relationships and life in Europe with Kyle Trouble
From the desk of Dennis Demori
Friday, August 24th, 2018
Location: Mexico City
(Kyle here: This interview was originally shared with Dennis’ email list. See the link above to sign up. Take it away, Dennis.)
We’ve got a LOT I want to cover in this interview, from dating in Central/Eastern Europe to building a location independent online business.
But let’s start with your choice to move to Eastern Europe.
You’re originally from California.
And you could’ve gone to Asia or Latin America or anywhere else in the world, so what attracted you to Eastern Europe?
Well, let’s address the other two places first.
I will be the first to tell you, one of the main reasons I moved out here was because I like the look of the girls.
And I wanted to quit my job and build my business. But first, girls and vodka shots.
Ridiculously hot, or
Just no where in the middle.
And I just prefer the European look. Maybe it’s because I’m half Asian (Chinese), and have dark skin and dark here like a Latino. I’ve been to Colombia, and everyone thought I was a local.
Speaking of Colombia:
That one trip to Latin America was enough for me to realize that I am not a crazy-risk taker in all facets of life. Having to think that I can’t take my phone out of my pocket on the way to the gym to answer an email is not the way I wanted to go through my life. Granted, I was in small, seedy place – Barranquilla. You probably don’t have the same problem walking around a place like La Condesa in Mexico City.
But my point stands, just didn’t want to have to worry about it.
Asia just doesn’t interest me much as more than a place to go on vacation and maybe live a month or two.
Europe was just always where I wanted to be.
I’ve done some traveling, but February 2018 was my 1st time living abroad.
One of the reasons I chose Mexico City was because it’s not too far from my family in Arizona.
In your case, what’s it like living so far away from your family?
I know we’re all using Skype or Whatsapp or other tools to keep in touch with our families, but it’s obviously not the same as being in the same room as someone.
Honestly man, it’s not easy, but I take a bit of solace in the fact that when I lived in Southern California, I didn’t see them much anyway. If anything, I see them more, because I actually have a lot more flexibility. Now, when I go home, instead of for 3-5 days, it’s for 3-5 weeks usually.
Overall though, I’ve adjusted to it and accepted that this is just the way life is going to be. I hold out a bit of hope that someday my parents might retire and move closer, but this is the path I chose to walk alone and am prepared to walk alone, without my own family, for the rest of my life.
Your “career path” in online business(es) is interesting.
You started off in the dating niche with coaching and info products, then got heavily into niche sites along with some drop shipping, and now you’re working on your 1st physical product company with Selo Oils.
So you’ve gone through what I consider the full spectrum of main online business models, and you’re still involved in all of them.
I’d like to touch on each of these areas, but I want to start with the Relationships market.
I’ve heard from multiple people, including Christian McQueen, that there’s less money in the dating niche because of online dating.
And I know both you and CMQ have been moving away from the dating niche to focus on the Make Money Online (MMO) niche.
So two questions:
1 – What do you see happening in the dating niche? Are there less monetization opportunities than a few years ago or how are they changing?
2 – If you were starting from scratch today, would you try to start an online business in the dating niche (or sub-niche)? Why or why not?
I definitely think online dating has changed the game both for how it’s played as well as the business side. The barrier to entry for men to get attractive girls is now much lower. And by “get”, I mean being able to talk to.
Now, instead of needing to have the balls to go over and talk to them, they just need to copy and paste a few message to break the ice. Whether they get a response is another story.
(Not that I never did that, I even had some bots to do it for me at some points…heh)
So, to answer your questions:
#1: Yes, it’s getting harder, there’s just more competition.
And, you also reach a point as a writer that you can only cover so much about girls. You begin to realize that many of the interactions you’re having with girls are 90% the same. And that most of the advice you have has also been written out there in one way or another.
Sure, you’ve got your own unique take, but you can only write about so many different things in regards to game.
In this respective, the business niche has many other sub-sets to branch off into.
And yeah, I mean, I’m in a relationship at this point, so I don’t have a lot of “going out” material (and haven’t) for a while. I do try to get other people on the podcast who are currently “in the game”.
#2: If that was the only thing I had expertise on, or what I was going through – yes. And that’s how it was for me at the time.
I had a dull corporate job, I’d just graduated college. I hadn’t done shit with my life yet expect graduate college a bit early and get a good job. Dull.
Girls were what I was worked on, what I was obsessed with, and what I needed to fix at that moment in my life. So it was the natural fit.
But make no mistake, if I was poor and broke instead of just not getting laid, I’d be studying the hell out of marketing and business, and writing about my failings and journey – which is exactly what I did, except mine started as dating.
Let’s keep talking about relationships because you had an excellent thread on Twitter the other day that caught my eye.
It was about Western men dating foreign girls and the question of where to live together and possibly raise a family.
In your situation, you’re from California and your girl is from Ukraine.
But I don’t think your situation is unique.
As more and more men build online businesses that give them the freedom to travel and live anywhere they choose, we’re going to see more of these kinds of relationships.
And it’s going to create a number of challenges.
My family lives in Arizona and I currently live in Mexico City.
If I was to get into a serious relationship with a Mexican girl, I’d immediately ask myself:
- Do we stay in Mexico?
- Do we live in AZ?
- Do we spend half the year in AZ and half the year in CDMX?
- Do we go somewhere else (because I want to maintain the freedom to travel and live anywhere)?
- Then what about kids (personally, I believe in homeschooling)?
And I know you’ve been going through the same kinds of questions in your relationship.
What other considerations do you think Western men should have if they’re planning on having a serious relationship and possibly a family with a non-Western women?
I’ve come to the starting realization lately that it’s a really fucking scary prospect to raise a family where you are both outsiders.
I compare it to being stranded on an island. I just can’t imagine doing it.
I guess it had never crossed my mind that much because it had never been close enough. Not that kids are coming anytime soon, but man. Can you imagine having zero family to help you out?
The other major considerations that men must consider is visas.They are a painful, bureaucratic, and terrible process.
The last point men MUST consider is that living abroad is not all pretty girls in heels, cute waitresses, and cheap shots of vodka or beer.
The reality of living abroad only sets in after at least a few months (or a year) of doing it.
Then you get whacked on the head with the general bureaucracy (you think the US government is slow, try a foreign country), mindsets of a different culture, and everything.
Basically, real “culture shock” takes a bit longer to settle in.
And if you’re the type that goes for a week to a country and has culture shock, then you’re in for a real big surprise down the road.
Western men are waking up to the fact that marriage has become less about love and more like a business transaction:
Women get financial security and legal protection, while men risk losing everything (in the case of divorce).
I see these stories all the time now.
Now that’s the West, but what about where you live in Central Europe?
Obviously, it depends on the country you live in, but do the laws in the Czech Republic, for example, tend to give both spouses equal rights (or give the man more rights)?
And now that you live in the Czech Republic, is marriage an option for you?
Honestly, I have not been close enough to doing this trigger that I’ve truly begun to research into this topic.
With that being said, I have always told my girl flat-out that I will never take her to the US permanently and will never attempt to get her an American citizenship. So that line has been drawn very firmly in the sand.
So, my best advice would probably be:
- Get a prenup in the country you marry in.
- Keep most of your assets in the US.
- Keep some other assets hidden as well.
- Don’t get her citizenship in your home country.
The prenup is the first defense, obviously. Make it a reasonable one. Don’t give her nothing.
Agree to support her and any future children on some level.
I don’t get the guys who go abroad to teach English for $1,200 a month and then want to have a family on that. That’s insanity.
You should be at a level where you are so comfortable, that it shouldn’t be a big deal if you need to support a few people at a local’s salary level.
Then, it would make it difficult to go after your US assets.
She’d have to try to go after you in America, after already collecting the prenup locally.
The way that laws and bureaucracy work out here, I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to get a prenup enforced, much less attempt to do so in a country where she isn’t a citizen.
Some people will say this is “mean”, but if it’s your life at stake, I don’t think you can take any chances.
I’m not a lawyer and this obviously isn’t foolproof, but I’d say it’s a good place to get started.
OK enough relationship talk.
Let’s talk business.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about making money online?
What are they wrong about?
The biggest misconception is that it’s hard.
My corporate engineering job was way harder. I was a SAN (Storage Area Network) engineer. We ran the data systems and networks of major companies.
The biggest US banks would call the division I was in when their systems were down. That was stressful and hard.
The bootcamp I went to for training was 7 weeks long, 8 hours a day, all very technical. From an IQ and smarts perspective, it was far more difficult than any typical “online business”.
But, it’s just how you get started. That’s what gets people.
- Where do I start?
- What is my first step or two?
- How do I make the first dollar?
- How do I actually get my hands on the money?
- How do I make more?
All of those questions are unique to the business you go in to. People just don’t know where to go.
I want to get into niche sites because I’ve started building my 1st site… and I’m already getting stuck.
I’ve spent a couple hours on keyword research and it seems like I can spend weeks just doing this.
I’m sure a lot of niche site beginners have run into the same issue.
What’s your advice to speed up keyword research? Am I overthinking it?The Ultimate Guide to Niche Sites
The biggest thing is competition.
I always tell people to go Google the word “ketchup” (because it’s fun and random). Go look at the results.
You sure as hell aren’t beating out Wikipedia, Heinz, Coney Island Hot Dogs, etc, etc. No matter what you do, you are not ranking for the word ketchup.
Even if you had $10 million to spend, you are not going to hit page 1 for ketchup. Do not even try.
My advice is to think about what you can reasonably write 20-25 articles about. Then think about the solutions you used.
You had back problems – great, what did you do to solve it?
Yoga? Cool, what home yoga programs are out there?
Weight lifting? Pitch a course like P90x.
Something weird? Even better, not many people will talk about it. What was the solution? Sell it.
Once you have that base, it’s easy to find keywords.
There won’t be more than a few hundred to a thousand, then you can look at competition, volume, etc. and easily have a place to start from.
Niches is another area where people seem to get stuck when it comes to niche sites.
I know you have a portfolio of over a half dozen sites, so how do you approach niche selection?
What makes you say, “OK this looks like a profitable idea?”
It’s actually nearly 15 sites and counting 😉
They don’t all hit. There are a few straggling at $100 or less. But generally speaking, I look for niches that have:
- Enough volume to make it worthwhile (ie big money)
- Low competition
- Good affiliate programs (probably the most important)
- Diversity – the more things you can pitch, the better
What I mean is there are multiple things you can talk about.
For example, think about the last idea – you had back problems.
You can talk about yoga courses and how they helped.
You can also sell books. You can sell home gym equipment. You can sell supplements on Amazon. You can sell yoga retreats with high-end coaches (and even include links to hotels and airfare).
Give yourself options is the message.
Finally, be ready to scale.
If your little sites starts getting 1,000 visitors a day, start getting emails and making more out of it (if you have the desire).
So many of my sites have hit this level and to see them become their own mini-businesses is super cool.
I know that specifically with your niche sites, you’ve been focused on scaling them with Virtual Assistants.
Obviously, that’s going to present new challenges.
So what kinds of obstacles have you had to deal with and how have you overcome them?
Secondly, how do you recommend finding a good VA? What’s your vetting process look like?
Honestly, I am super fortunate. My team (D + J) has been so awesome.
D (from Bulgaria) has been working for me for nearly two years now.
J is my full-time VA from the Philippines who has been with me since the start of 2018.
Both these girls are so sharp, I haven’t really had to do much. They handle just about everything now, the only thing I do is pick the domain and do a basic site design. After that, between the two of them, they handle everything. I don’t touch the sites unless I see an article really taking off, then I’ll go and optimize it the best I can.
Probably the biggest obstacle I faced was when to do this. Sometimes in online business, your income fluctuates up and down – so it took a bit of time before I was comfortable hiring someone at a full-time level, knowing that the income they relied on from me was going to be supporting them.The Ultimate Guide to Niche Sites
You’re newest business venture is Selo Oils.
What made you decide to get into the olive oil business?
Right place, right time. My business partner Martin (SeloLiving.com) has the great connections (family) there. He and I lived in the same city for a few months, he’s been reading my stuff for years. While he was here, we worked on a “Trouble” app together – it kept breaking and wasn’t realistic, but we did well together.
When he told me he that he was trying to start this, it checked all my boxes. I’ve been doing some Dropshipping, learning Facebook Ads, etc.—but wanted to sell my own physical product where I knew what the quality was. This checked it off so I just asked if he’d be willing to partner on it, and he was.
And honestly, I just think it’s the coolest product with the coolest story.
I know that most olive oils are actually low-quality blends.
Can you talk a little more about that?
I know the truffle industry has a similar issue where you think you’re getting the real thing, but you’re not.
Honestly, Martin is probably the better person to ask this, but in simple terms:
Most of the stuff you buy in the store is crap anyways. Processed, preserved, you name it. Get the cost down as much as possible and sell it for the highest price while preserving shelf life.
When I first moved out to EE, I was amazed at how quickly food will spoil in the fridge. You buy ground beef from the butcher in Ukraine and you best be cooking it in a day or two. In the states, you could let it sit there for…well, a long time.
Basically, olive oil is no different.
Those green-tinted bottles you see on the shelves in the grocery store? Yeah, they’re darkened for a reason. That oil, sitting on the shelf all day, is low quality to begin with, and it’s stuck sitting in UV light for days on end.
So, to sum up, most olive oil you buy off the shelf is garbage. The goal with Selo Oils is to fix that.
Between all your businesses, you’ve got a lot on your plate.
What does your typical day look like now?
I get up whenever I want, but I find it’s pretty early because I’m often excited with what I’ve got planned for the day. I’m usually up and at the desk by 7:30-8am.
I do the daily podcast, daily email, write some tweets. Maybe publish something to the blog. This all takes me about an hour. And then I work on whatever the big project is (Selo Oils right now and for the foreseeable future).
Around 11 I head to the gym. Come home, eat lunch, work some more. I try to work on the big stuff again, and then take care of the little details like paperwork in the late afternoon when I’m tired.
Usually in the evenings I go for a walk and then have dinner, and I don’t work that much at night anymore. That said, if I’m working on something big, I will do the 14/15/16 hour days. They are necessary, but I also don’t think they’re sustainable forever.
At this point in your life, you’ve got a 6-figure online portfolio that includes info products, niche sites and even an e-commerce brand.
You’ve also been in a serious relationship for a couple years.
So it seems like everything’s going really well for you right now.
But what are you scared of at this point in your life? Why?
No matter how successful we get, there are always things we fear, even if they’re just in the back of our minds.
Sometimes I fear what I will do with my life…forever.
Do I want to be a blogger, podcaster, and “personal brand” (god how I hate that term) for the rest of my life?
I have no idea.
As of now, I love the journey I’ve been on and what I’ve been able to do. But I don’t want to be super-famous.
I would never want to do what Mike Cernovich is doing, for example (though all the respect in the world to him). I remember when he had 1,000 followers on Twitter, now it’s nearly 500k.
But, I also realize that even at that level of fame, he’s still probably able to go out in peace and not be recognized by most people. So maybe I have more than enough room to grow.
So really, I don’t know, and I guess that’s what I fear. I hope to have options.
And plus, do any of us really know?
Building off that last question, do you have any major regrets?
Things you wish you’d done over the past few years since moving abroad?
Honestly, the big ones have just been crappy timing – huge events I’ve missed out on.
A reader with contacts at Ferrari reached out and invited me to the Monaco Grand Prix this year. Offered me tickets to the race and the parties, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. But it just didn’t fit with my schedule.
And then the World Cup, again, I thought about going, would have liked to, but just didn’t (not a case of schedule this time, case of lack of planning).
I’m trying to do right by getting to the olive oil harvest either this year or in 2019 for Selo Oils.
Let’s talk about the future.
You wake up and it’s December 31st, 2019.
What’s happened since our interview?
And what’s your longer term goal?
What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?
What about your relationship? Will you have a family in the city or somewhere in the countryside?
When I first moved abroad in 2016, I was just a few months shy of being 25 years old. I said that the goal was to have a million dollars in assets (didn’t need to be money in the bank, assets) by the time I was 30.
The goal was to make $1,000/month by the end of 2016.
And I would have been happy anywhere from $3,000-$5,000/m by the end of 2017.
And $10,000/m by the end of 2018.
I’ve smashed each of these plateaus by far.
Well, having just turned 27, I’m honestly pretty far ahead of where I’m supposed to be to hit this goal.
That’s allowed me to take on bigger ventures with a bit more risk, like Selo Oils.
So, fast forwarding to December 2019, I’d like to see Selo Oils on it’s second or third batch of shipments by then, and ideally I’d love to have gone and done a harvest myself down in Croatia.
As far as the “Trouble” brand, I just want to continue to grow it and helping men how I can. It has worked for the last 5 years. If I keep going with it (and really, it hardly feels like work), I’ll just see where it ends up.
In terms of my longer goals, I might be unique, but I do not want some complicated business. I’ve worked in the highly-political corporate offices. I do not want the headaches.
Give me a million dollar business that I can run in 40 hours a week with a couple of staff, versus the 5 million dollar business that induces migraines every day and requires 50 people. I don’t even like dealing with clients, even though I get offers all the time now to write daily emails for people.
I know it’s trendy now, people are getting into consulting and marketing agencies, but I highly doubt you’ll ever see me doing stuff like that.
I know and recognize that money without freedom is far worse than a little bit less money and being free.
Ideally, I love the idea of having a physical product and brand that could set me up for “life”, maybe even something any future kids could continue on into the future.
I think my ultimate goal in ten years is to have a business that pulls in enough money to support both my own family, allows my parents to retire, and doesn’t require me to slave away my entire life.
And I’d like a Ferrari in the driveway, and maybe a house on the Amalfi Coast. The financial goals are relatively modest, we’ll see when I hit them if then I get this urge for a yacht or a jet.
I won’t have kids by the end of 2019, but we’ll see how it goes with the girl. She’s been with me since I was making $100/month, and is fantastic (and hot, always helps).
She gets me too, been on the podcast, doesn’t mind talking about girls and game – she’s easy-going. And sometimes, that’s what I need.
As far as family, I love big cities, and she grew up in a big city in Kiev, so can’t say that I see myself retiring to the country anytime soon.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to write these questions out and share them with your followers, Dennis.
I know it’s not even been 3 years since we went out at The Bungalow in Los Angeles, but for me, and I’m sure for you as well, it seems like it has been a lifetime ago.
I hope our paths cross again in CDMX or out here in EE.