How I Went From 30k in Debt and Zero eSkills… to Replacing My 9-5 with Passive Income

My name is Richard and here is why I started this website.

This is not one of those stories about a born entrepreneur selling Snickers bars at school… or the guy who launched a multinational in his dorm room. Nope, this is something that felt deeply uncomfortable and had to be learned from scratch. Going alone wasn’t even brave – I just had to do something before I burned out or went crazy at work.

I was hitting 50. Despite earning a decent income, I had no savings and nothing left at the end of every paycheck. I kept thinking, “Is this really it?” I still had big dreams, but I knew the road I was on would never even get close to those dreams. And I felt tired, overworked and undervalued. Something had to change.

I knew nothing about how to make a living online. Nothing. Everyone said I was too old to start again. And I’m a shy and private introvert, so I am not a hustler. But I was determined to quit the 9 – 5 and instead work when and where I wanted. After two years and A LOT of mistakes, I had created a website and managed to exceed my previous salary. I really wanted to share my journey and show that if I could do this, anyone could.

Most ‘About Me’ pages seem to focus on people’s achievements and how well they’re doing. But I think the failures are far more interesting because that’s when you learn. And how you come back from them reveals who you are. So, here’s my story.

How I got here

I was born in London in 1973.

Happy childhood, good education, etc. – and then straight to failure #1. Screwing up my final exams. That was not part of the plan, and it meant that I wouldn’t go to university – also not part of the plan. But I already knew what I wanted to do. Radio.

I fell in love with it and wanted to be on the radio. Although it meant sitting alone in a small room, this sat entirely at odds with my quiet and introverted character. Luckily, the audience agreed. And so, after a few years of playing records for a living, I got fired and swapped working behind the mic for working behind a desk in the backroom.

Getting a proper job

I missed playing music but enjoyed the work. However, radio became corporate. The hours grew really long, and I hated being just another faceless number at a big company. By 30, I was burnt out. I didn’t want to work for ‘someone else’. I wanted to set my own hours. So, I left to start a business with a friend. But, it bombed. Badly. And so, three years later, I was back working for… You guessed it, ‘someone else’.

Moving to America

The rest of my 30s was great: I met someone amazing, got married, and we travelled every chance we got. I was also doing plenty of thinking. I worked really hard but had no savings or money left at the end of the month. Was I really going to live like this until I retired? This wasn’t living, anyway. And it all seemed like such a gamble: work hard now and hope that you make it to retirement age to start enjoying life? So, at 40, I threw in the towel. It was time for a change – and we were ready for a new adventure.

We managed to get a visa and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to live in the U.S. We sold our home in London and used all the money to build and open a mom-and-pop store in Florida. Unfortunately, the only thing that popped was our bubble. We worked so hard but nothing we tried could turn around this store. So, four years after landing, we were on a plane home with nothing but one suitcase and tens of thousands in debt. We had lost everything – our store, belongings, life in the U.S., and every penny we had. We were feeling at our lowest. (Though, as I realised later, you never really lose – you either win or you learn.)

I quit!

England felt like a foreign country after so long away, and we missed America, but I got a job in London, and we lived very frugally to clear our debts. Staying at home was pretty boring, but after five years, we had paid it all off. But I still thought, “There has to be more to life than this”. Being paid per hour for your time felt like the least efficient way of earning a living. Passive income had to be a smarter way. I kept reading about people who created something once and then got paid over and over for it while they slept. But I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.

After a lot of research and extra work to save money for the next chapter, at age 48, I quit my job and began building an e-commerce website. I had no idea what I was doing and made so many mistakes. I took some night courses, lived my days learning on YouTube, and eventually managed to forge something out of nothing. I also learned more in six months on my own than in a decade of office jobs. (I realised that during this time, I had almost stopped learning new things – and, therefore, stopped growing.)

The big five…oh!

And then the money ran out.

I hadn’t saved enough. We had rent to pay, but I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream yet. So, I got a job working minimum wage part-time and on my website every spare moment I got.

I had so much self-doubt. I had quit a good career and a good job that took me years to achieve and paid well. What on earth was I doing with my life? It seemed ridiculous to expect this to work out, having started with zero online knowledge. I mean, I could barely work my iPad. And surely I was too old to change careers completely? Everything said this was going to be a disaster, and I would have to go crawling back to my old job. Again. And anyway, how long would this take? Or, more accurately, how long was I prepared to stick it out? So many doubts. But… eventually, the income came. Very slow at first, but then more quickly.

Fast forward another year, and I actually exceeded my previous salary. My hunch had paid off. And it totally changed my life.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen easily: I grafted incredibly hard for those two years, from knowing nothing to building something. And I didn’t do it on my own – my wife helped me in so many ways. But now, I’m finally in control of the most important thing in anyone’s life: not money, but time. If I want to earn more, I can work longer hours. I’m not a millionaire – just an average middle-aged Joe who was determined, despite my age, to change my situation and live a different life… actually, to start living! Yes, it took some learning and some effort. But now I get to decide when I work, for how long and from where. You can imagine how much happiness that kind of freedom can bring.

I passionately believe that everyone can start something new for themselves – whether that’s to have a Plan B just in case, to earn extra money, or to get back time in your life.

And now I want to help other midlifers like me do the same: to escape the 9-5 and start living life on their own terms.

Thank you

I just wanted to take a moment to say that I’m really grateful you took the time to read this far.

I’d like this blog to be a community for people who want something different, who want to change their life. So, please feel free to get in touch because we’re all on the same journey, and if we can help each other out, we all grow.

Thank you again for reading.


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