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How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World

This guest post is by Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.

After all, that’s the dream, right?

Forget the mansions and limousines and other trappings of Hollywood-style wealth. Sure, it would be nice, but for the most part, we bloggers are simpler souls with much kinder dreams.

We want to quit our jobs, spend more time with our families, and finally have time to write. We want the freedom to work when we want, where we want. We want our writing to help people, to inspire them, to change them from the inside out.

It’s a modest dream, a dream that deserves to come true, and yet a part of you might be wondering…

Will it?

Do you really have what it takes to be a professional blogger, or are you just being dumb? Is it realistic to make enough money from this to quit your job, or is that just silly? Can you really expect people to fall in love with what you write, or is that just wishful thinking?

Sure, it’s fun to dream about your blog taking off and changing your life, but sometimes you wonder if it’s just that: a dream. This is the real world, and in the real world, dreams don’t really come true.

Right?

Well, let me tell you a little story…

How I quit my job

Jon's van

My van

In April of 2006, I was hit by a car going 85 miles an hour.

I didn’t see him coming, and I don’t remember much about the accident, but I do remember being pulled out of my minivan with my shirt on fire. The front end of the van was torn off, gasoline was everywhere, and my legs were broken in 14 places.

For the next three months, I had nothing to do but endure the pain and think about my life. I thought about my childhood. I thought about my dreams. I thought about my career.

And overall, I decided I didn’t like the way things were going.

So I quit.

I sold everything I owned. I stopped paying most of my bills. I turned in my letter of resignation, worked my two weeks, and then disappeared without saying goodbye.

Hearing about my insanity, a friend called and asked me, “Well, what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know,” I told him. “Maybe start a blog.”

And so that’s what I did.

For the next three months, I didn’t just tinker around with blogging. I dedicated myself to it. I started work at 8 AM in the morning, and I kept going until 11 PM at night. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t see my friends. From morning till night, I was writing, reading, and connecting with other bloggers. Nothing else.

Within a month, I had On Moneymaking off the ground, and within two months, it was getting 2,000 visitors a day and Performancing nominated it for the best business/money blog of the year. A couple of months after that, Brian Clark asked me to become the Associate Editor of Copyblogger, and so I sold On Moneymaking for five figures and went to work at one of the most popular blogs at the world.

And amazingly, that’s just the beginning of the story.

How I moved to paradise

Have you ever woken up one day and realized you secretly despise everything about where you live?

The weather is horrible. Your neighbors are jerks. You don’t like inviting anyone to your home, because it’s always a wreck, and you’re ashamed of how it looks.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me in January of 2009. I was sitting in my pathetic apartment, wrapped up in blankets to keep warm, trying to get some work done on the computer, when it struck me how monumentally stupid it was.

I was a full-time blogger, for God’s sakes. I could do my work from anywhere in the world. Why on Earth was I living in this hellhole?

The only problem was I had no idea where I wanted to go, but a couple of weeks later, the telephone rang, and it was an old friend who had retired to Mazatlan, Mexico. As usual, he was calling to gloat about the weather and the food and the general superiority of the Mexican lifestyle, but instead of just suffering through it this time, I stopped him and said, “No, don’t tell me any more. I’m moving there.”

Jon's office

My office

“What? When?” he stammered.

“I don’t know exactly when,” I told him, “but I’m starting right now.”

Two months later, I took a one-week trip to scout it out and look for places to live. When I got back, I started selling all of my stuff, packing the rest of it into storage, and saying goodbye to friends. Almost one year to the day after our phone call, I hopped in the car and drove just shy of 3,000 miles to my new beachfront condo in the finest resort in Mazatlan.

As I write this, I’m sitting on my balcony with my laptop, watching (no kidding) dolphins jumping out in the Pacific. It’s a sunny day, there’s a nice breeze, and I’m thinking about ordering a piña colada from the restaurant downstairs.

Lucky me, right?

Well, what might surprise you is I left out a piece of the story. It’s the part where I have a fatal disease, I can’t move from the neck down, and yet I essentially get paid to help people. Let’s talk about that part next.

How I get paid to change the world

You know what’s funny?

Jon

Yours truly

The worst part about having a disease like SMA isn’t how everyone treats you like a charity case. It’s not the frustration, anger, or depression. It’s not even the inability to reach over and pinch a cute girl’s butt when you want to (although that’s pretty bad).

No, the worst part is the freakin’ bills.  The doctors. The medication. The nurses.

I added it all up, and the total cost of keeping me alive in the US was $127,000 a year. That’s not rent. That’s not food. That’s just medical expenses.

Granted, I didn’t actually have to pay all that. I had private insurance, Medicaid, other government aid programs, but all that support comes at a price: they control you. The government allotted me only $700 a month to live on, and I had to spend every single cent above that on medical expenses, or they would cut me off.

So for years, that’s what I did. If I made $5,000 one month, I set aside $700 for living expenses, and I spent the other $4,300 on medical bills. Nothing was left. Ever.

And eventually, I got sick of it.

I wanted to make money without having to worry about losing my healthcare. I wanted to take care of my family, instead of them always having to take care of me. I wanted to actually live somewhere nice, not some ratty little apartment built for folks below the poverty line.

The only problem was, it just wasn’t possible for me in US. No matter how I played with the numbers, I couldn’t make it work. So, I did something crazy:

I quit Medicaid. I moved to Mexico. I stopped worrying about myself at all and started a business based on one simple idea:

Helping people.

I found up-and-coming writers who wanted a mentor, and I trained them. I found businesses who wanted to cash in on social media, and I developed their strategy. I found bloggers who wanted more traffic, and I created a course on how to get it.

In exchange, they paid me what they could. Some folks gave me $50 an hour and others $300 an hour, but I treated them all the same, and I dedicated myself to making their dreams a reality.

The results?

Within two months, I was making so much money so fast PayPal shut down my account under suspicions of fraudulent activity. Today, not only am I making more than enough to take care of myself, but a couple of months ago, I got uppity and bought my father a car.

Do you understand how precious that is? For a guy who can’t move from the neck down to buy his father a car?

And the best part is, I’m not making money doing mindless drudgery. I’m changing people’s lives.

Every day, I get emails from readers who say my posts have changed their thinking. Every day, I get emails from students who say my advice has changed their writing. Every day, I get emails from clients who say my strategies have changed the way they do business.

I can’t really believe it. Normally, a guy like me would be wasting away in a nursing home somewhere, watching television and waiting to die, but here I am speaking into a microphone and essentially getting paid to change the world. If my fingers worked, I’d pinch myself.

And here’s the thing:

I don’t want it for just me. I want it for you too.

The reason I told you this whole story wasn’t just to brag but also to convince you of one incontrovertible point:

YOU CAN DO THIS!

You want to quit your job and become a professional blogger?

You can.

You want to travel around the world, living life to its fullest?

You can.

You want to dedicate your every hour to helping people and making the world a better place?

You can.

Because listen … I know it’s horribly cliché, but if I can quit my job, risk the government carting me off to a nursing home because I can’t afford my own healthcare, convince my poor mother to abandon her career and drive my crippled butt 3,000 miles to a foreign country, and then make enough money to support myself, my mother, my father, and an entire nursing staff using nothing but my voice, then what can you accomplish if you really set your mind to it?

My guess: pretty much anything.

No, it won’t be easy. At some point, I guarantee you’ll want to quit. I guarantee people will treat you like you’re insane. I guarantee you’ll cry yourself to sleep, wondering if you made a horrible mistake.

But never stop believing in yourself. The world is full of naysayers, all of them eager to shout you down at the slightest indication you might transcend mediocrity, but the greatest sin you can commit is to yourself become one of them. Our job isn’t to join that group, but to silence it, to accomplish things so great and unimaginable that its members are too awed to speak.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

So get started.

Right freaking now.

Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to become a popular blogger, check out his free videos on guest blogging.

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Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Wow…very inspiring story Jon, you helped me to be a brave person face my future. Thank you for share this. Goodluck to you :)

  2. ashrith says:

    Wow it’s truely inspirational…

  3. Scott says:

    Dude, you’re amazing.

    ‘Nuff said.

  4. Joe Barlow says:

    This is the greatest thing I’ve ever read in my life. Congratulations to you for having a tremendous attitude and work ethic, and for letting NOTHING stand in the way of your dreams! I am so inspired by your achievements!

  5. Wow Jon, you’re awesome. I’m also a copywriter who quit her job and moved to paradise, but my story is nothing like yours.

    I love this: “If my fingers worked, I’d pinch myself.”

    All I can say is you totally rock and deserve everything you’ve got! Who am I to complain about one little thing like a bad hair day?

    • I´m fortunate enough to have working hands, and working everything else really, maybe except a working attitude, and I CAN pinch myself. So I´m pinching myself for being able to follow a course with Jon Morrow that´s not only very reasonably priced and wholly dedicated to helping writers, but has resuscitated my faith in mentorship. Jon Morrow spreads joy around and I love to imagine him there on his Mexican balcony (I adore Mexico) feeling fulfilled and loved by so many people. Hasta siempre, Jon.

  6. Kendra says:

    You have no idea how bad I needed to read this. I have been discouraged about the “blogging dream” for the past week or so and have wondered many times if I should just give it up. As someone who is faced with a chronic illness, I know how daunting the medical bills and just trying to make it to work everyday can be. That was one of the reasons blogging seemed like it would be such a good fit for me, considering my life and career goals. I love to write and I love to help people, and have been doing both for quite some time. Thanks for providing your very inspiring and encouraging story because it helps me to see that what I have envisioned in my mind can come to reality!

    Thanks, Kendra

  7. Jeane says:

    That is beautiful and so inspiring…just what I needed today as I was feeling less than blog inspired! Thank you…and enjoy your success!

  8. Karen says:

    As a location independent freelancer who runs a blog about changing the world, this title caught my attention. I thought I might have a lot in common with the author. I don’t. This story is more inspiring than I could ever hope to be. I’m having a ‘no excuses’ kind of day today and this post was certainly the icing on the cake!

  9. Scott says:

    Jon,

    Thanks for the inspiration, your “steel will” is amazing! Thanks for all that you do and congrats on the success.

    Scott

  10. Brian Snifft says:

    it’s really great story. now i am trying to raise my own business, after that i will quit my job as a full time employee, then focusing on my own business. thanks for giving me the spirit!

  11. John Groth says:

    Jon:

    The next time I hear someone whinning about their situation they will be referred to
    your story. You are an inspiration to an old guy like me. This morning I was complaining
    to myself that doing 20 minutes on a tread mill was tough. I guess the tough better get
    going.

    Thank you, John

    PS Don’t get sunburned sitting on that balcony!

  12. Craig says:

    My story is not as dramatic nor as inspirational as yours, Jon. I’ve been home for 2.5 years after a 3 month stint in hospitals following a stroke that was essentially Mother nature pushing my reset button. I’m lucky, I survived. And I can do most activities of daily living independently. But I can’t drive (yet) which makes me dependent on my wife to drive me anywhere that I need (or want) to go to. And even though I can take care of myself mostly, I’m not up to living by myself 24×7 (yet) or being able to support myself (yet.) A few weeks ago, I realized that I was not in a place that I liked and that I wasn’t on the path I wanted to be on.

    So if you can find a living situation that works so well for you and the fortitude to achieve it, then I can do the relatively easy things that I need to do to get on the right path to my better life. Jon, thank you for being such a good example and taking the time to share your story. -Craig

  13. Eric says:

    There really aren’t any words. As a writer I’m fairly certain that that’s a bad thing. But, sometimes something comes along that just stands completely on its own. This one of those things.

    Haven’t felt this level of inspiration in quite some time. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  14. Evan says:

    Congrats on the success. There’s really nothing else to say. This is exactly the kind of mindset that everyone should feed off of.

  15. Wow! This is so inspirational! Thank you for sharing your story and being a true inspiration to those of us striving to be where you are in business. I’m a teacher just starting the summer and I feel this article has put that kick in my step. I’m ready to get going! Thank you!

  16. dori says:

    I don’t watch Oprah but you should have been interviewed there

  17. Shajjad says:

    I loved your writing. And get inspiration at just time. In this moment i face so many problems in my real life. The one and only problem is money. I need to maintain everything for my family.
    I am now continuing my daily jobs. But I have plan to quite my day job. Because my income is not good as I need.
    In this moment I won a PR1 blog. I have also 2 brand new niche blog.

    Any suggestion what I can do? How I can build these blog for generating income…

    Shajjad

  18. I’m on my way to tropical paradise, too! You, Jon, are an inspiration.

  19. If you can work from anywhere in the world, why not tropical paradise, right?

    Your story just goes to show, if you pursue your dreams with conviction, the universe will take care of all the details. Our primary purpose is to dream.

  20. CFay says:

    Truly inspirational story, Im trying to build my blog now. Thanks for the advice and inspiring words.
    -www.alternaterevenue.com

  21. Hi Jon,
    Thank you for this amazing story. You have inspired me. I guess we are all in our interesting situations and I find myself wanting to break out of this everyday lunacy. I don’t want to teach my kids it, I don’t want to live it, but I am wondering if I am strong enough. My disease is not terminal, yet having been diagnosed in a foreign country (Germany … and let me tell you, the BS is ten fold here) and trying to decipher the problems, prognosis, etc., I just wish I had a plain english explanation/ plan. So, now that I am trying so hard to go back to the states, I wonder… how do you deal with the medical issues in Mexico? Do you have english speaking doctors/staff? Or .. as my kids would say, do you speak mexican?
    Well, I like your take on life and am thankful for the little things, however, dreams are important, so I envy you…you deserve the big beautiful things you have attained and I hope life continues to go upward for you!
    My thoughts,
    Jenny Koelbel … just an artist out of place!

  22. Dane Findley says:

    I was compelled to share this post with my friends immediately. Your story, and the way you present it, has lit a fire under my @*s! I know I have it within me, to be bolder, to love broader, and to focus more sharply.

    Thank you!

    { twitter = @danenow }

  23. Priit Kallas says:

    Very encouraging, thanks! Your story made me see that there’s “no spoon”…

  24. Jen says:

    Wow, I’m stunned after reading this and in the best way possible. Thank you so much for sharing your story (it is very powerful) and for your inspiring post.

  25. Chris Thomas says:

    You are an inspiration to all people who are struggling to WIN!!! I respect and appreciate your story! You are a true Winner!

  26. Samantha says:

    Hi Jon,

    Many of us bloggers dream of what you have made into a reality. The opportunity to do what you truly love – write – for a living is something that we all can aspire to. I know that it’s something I’d love to do but the fear of failure is always looming in the foreground.

    Your journey and success is an inspiration and one that I will keep close at hand when I am feeling discouraged. Thank-you.

  27. mj mcCoy says:

    Hi Jon!Thankyou So much for sharing your story.You have inspired me more than you will ever know.I need a mentor&/or a teacher…for learning about blogging/writing.I am sick & near homeless…again.I’m hoping to recover&not lose the ground I’ve worked hard to gain.As a result of what all I’ve gone through I have gained some insight,tools,&a little wisdom.I have an idea about a blog that I would like to try writing…but I want to talk to someone about it first.(My blog idea is also one to help others& myself-both at the same time.)I’m mostly computer illiterate,but trying to learn quickly.I’m leaving my email address-if you might consider contacting me.I will try to find your blog again,tho’.Wish me luck!I wish you luck,happiness,&all else that is good in this world,Jon.Thankyou!..no matter what happens here!:-)

  28. Joumana says:

    Utter respect. You cannot be more right: we are only limited by our fear of letting go of what we think of as “security” to embark into the unknown. Life always provides, we just need to trust it and work hand in hand with it.

  29. Amelia Vargo says:

    Hi Jon,

    Your story is really inspirational. I know everyone else has said this, and I’m not saying anything new here, but I am truly inspired by what you’ve written here.

    Personally speaking, I’d love to start a blog – and one of these days I will… I have my suspicions that it won’t be successful enough for me to set up in Mexico, but I’d settle for somewhere nice in the UK!

    Your story has made me realise that although my dream seems out of reach right now, sometime in the future it wont be. I will get the things I want if I work hard (like you) and have something genuine to add to the blogosphere… I guess it’s getting the right balance between reaching out to people and being genuine. I think that’s why you’ve done well – you’re genuine guy. You have the skill and the knowledge to actually help people. And you do.

    Good for you for getting what you want. You deserve it. I for one would never begrudge you for gloating – again that’s a pleasure that you deserve – you’ve done the work to get there. A little gloating here and there is good for you!

    Thanks again for sharing your story – it’s mind blowing that you are prepared to ‘bare all’ in such a public way. Big time respect from me!

    All the best,

    Amelia

  30. Marcus Baker says:

    Often it takes great adversity to lead one to start living. Let’s hope those who read this will find the way to make it happen without having to go down that road. Truly inspirational. Thank you.

    ~Marcus

  31. dee says:

    This is an inspiring message. I bet Mexico is beautiful. Some days I just want to leave everything behind me and try something new. It is just all so scary. But if you can do it then I can to. Thank you for this message.

  32. This is great! Thanks Darren so much for bringing this article online. So many times people think the obstacles are too great to even try, and this is surely an inspiration to anyone that has doubts. Awesome.

  33. John Fawkes says:

    Wait, so did you already have SMA, and THEN get hit by a car? Cause damn. If you can stay upbeat after that, I really need to stop complaining. Thanks for putting things in perspective for me.

  34. Susan Larson says:

    “Have you ever woken up one day and realized you secretly despise everything about where you live?

    The weather is horrible. Your neighbors are jerks. You don’t like inviting anyone to your home, because it’s always a wreck, and you’re ashamed of how it looks.”

    Yes. Everyday. And I’ve been applying for jobs where I want to live (Vermont) for the past 1.5 years. I have received so many rejection letters I’ve lost count. Just this morning I was thinking I should quit my job, move to VT, and . . .

    Then a link to your post showed up in my twitter feed.

    Can I really believe you? Or are you just selling your services?

    Seems to me very “coincidental” that thoughts and tweets and blog posts are all aligning.

    Thanks for the push.

  35. Oh my god, that was inspiring! And it brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  36. dinu says:

    I am touched !!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. I’m not so sure how to classify this post without looking like a fool. Inspirational, Gutsy or Challenging? Two of your previous posts made lasting impact on me:

    1. http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/12/04/twentysomething-why-i-regret-getting-straight-as-in-college/

    2. http://www.copyblogger.com/fight-for-your-ideas/

    Now, with this latest post, http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/05/18/how-to-quit-your-job-move-to-paradise-and-get-paid-to-change-the-world/ , you elevated my admiration for you to a new level beyond words.

    You are one of the few bloggers and internet marketers that I look forward to opening their email. I never delete your email because they are treasured gold for me. I’m happy you emailed this post and I can not tell you how profoundly you’ve touched me.

  38. Thank you for this. It was the bright bit of encouragement I needed today. I’m in the process of reinventing myself after this recession helped kill our family’s small business. Much of the foundational work feels like hamster-wheel exercise. Will anyone care? Will anyone respond? Your tenacity encourages me. Marketing works. Hard work pays off.

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for your authentic voice and caring heart.

  39. Clarabela says:

    Thank you for the encouragement to continue with my dreams of becoming a full time writer and for your inspirational story.

  40. “Because listen … I know it’s horribly cliché, but if I can quit my job, risk the government carting me off to a nursing home because I can’t afford my own healthcare, convince my poor mother to abandon her career and drive my crippled butt 3,000 miles to a foreign country, and then make enough money to support myself, my mother, my father, and an entire nursing staff using nothing but my voice, then what can you accomplish if you really set your mind to it?

    My guess: pretty much anything.” – Jon Morrow

    Pretty, pretty powerful stuff.

    Why?

    It gave me a kick in the butt and made realize that there is every reason to succeed at anything I put my mind to achieving.

  41. Coach Rea says:

    Great story and very inspirational….

  42. jeulyanna says:

    After reading your story, you fired-up my enthusiasm to be (more) like you. You fuel me, enough to use my 24 hours, (ooppss, I’ll leave 3 for sleeping) to read more and apply everything I learn a long the way! I love to write and yes, I’ve been paid to write, but I consider myself still not a pro like you. The strong urge to succeed is already in me, but there is something missing, which until now I still keep on searching. Glad I landed on this page. I am now your regular reader. Like you, I have my own success story. I will share it one day!

  43. Jon,
    I’ve respected your work, your voice, your authenticity since I came across you.
    You’ve added a level of depth and taking responsibility for our potential and taking action.

    What a contribution and a force.

    cate

  44. Jennifer says:

    Your story is so incredibly inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  45. TravisVS says:

    Jon:

    What an inspiring story. After reading this, nobody has any excuses. Thanks for sharing this.

    TravisVS

  46. Atish says:

    Very very inspirational post of yours. I m charged up after reading this. thanks for the inspiration.

  47. WOW! This is the single most inspirational piece that I have ever witnessed. No excuses! Just do it! WOW!

  48. Marc says:

    Wow. I need to really take a close look at where I live and find something with your kind of view. Awesome post!

  49. How inspiring! You’re a phenomenal writer – I couldn’t take my eyes off the page! I’ve been working hard at my blog/website for years knowing there’s so much more that I could do. It’s all about determination and dedication, and reading stories like yours makes me want to go for it even more!

  50. Harsh Rao says:

    Reality check for hi-fliers. Inspiring….