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NomadX live Interview with Mike Holp from Thailand

Mike Holp Thailand is an international travel photographer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur from Austin, Texas.

Mike is one of the most friendly and down-to-earth people you will meet and truly embodies the business tagline, “Follow Your Passion!” 💜👊🏼

Mike is very passionate about adventure travel! His curiosity and wanderlust have already taken him across the country multiple times, and he has made it a priority in his life to visit many of the most beautiful national parks in the world. In 2017, he had the unique opportunity of filming tours in Costa Rica for a few months, all expenses paid. Afterward, he traveled through Central America by himself for over a month — staying at hostels, riding buses, and meeting new friends from around the world. In January 2108, he bought a one-way plane ticket to Panama City with the dream of reaching his destination of Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Southern Chile. The dream became a reality after traveling for over 10 months!💥💣

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Interview Transcription

– Hello, Nomadx community. We are going live today with Mike Hope. You’ve probably seen Mike he’s been active in our Nomadx Community here for, especially he’s been active quite a bit recently since he’s been in Koh Samui. Mike yeah, he’s based in Thailand at the moment. He’s a photographer. He runs a website called thailandshots.com. He also runs a site called hopephotography.com. So if you wanna check out some of his artwork I suggest going checking out those two websites. He also runs a business called Digital Nomad Ventures which you can find as a Facebook group. You can also find it as a YouTube channel. Through his Digital Nomad Ventures, he teaches Nomads how to generate passive income, travel on a budget, become a social media influencer and stay at luxury hotels for free. And also to help you be your own boss. Mike, he’s been staying at five star resorts now for like six resorts in a row. He told me he’s been shooting photography, He’s been shooting video from his hotels. He’s been posting it through to his YouTube channel and able to stay for free at five star resorts. It’s really, really amazing. Mike has also helped to source Airbnb, he’s been a volunteer at South by Southwest. He loves adventure travel. He is an amazing story from when he only had $500 in his pocket, flew to Panama city, and made it all the way down to Torres del Paine. He’s got an amazing story. He’s a super nice guy. He’s very, very well known in the community. So without further ado, we are going to invite Mike in here. He’s waiting for us. thailandshots.com and hopephotography.com. Check him out, here he is. Hey Mike, how are you doing?

– Hey, how are you doing? That was a great introduction. So much.

– Yeah, sure thing, man. I wanted to make sure I did you right here. Maybe I missed a few things, but yeah for the community out there we’re super excited to have Mike Mike’s been live in the group before. You’ve probably seen some of the five star resorts that he’s staying at. He’s been a Nomad now for like four years. So he’s been a part of this community for quite some time, so I’m sure you’ve met him. He has a girlfriend also who I think he met on his adventures. So he’s living quite the Nomad life. So , hey Mike. We’d love to hear a little bit about your background, how you got started in this whole Nomadx Adventure and yeah, what have you been up to man?

– Yeah. So thanks so much for having me on Facebook live, I really appreciate it. And so I guess I started becoming a Nomadx in 2016. I was actually taking a leadership training program at Keller Williams, which is a big real estate company in Austin, based in Austin. And they sort of like. I’d never left the United States before, and they sort of lit a fire under my butt, convinced me to buy a one way ticket to Costa Rica. So I just bought that ticket. I was traveling around Costa Rica for about 10 days, and then probably like eight months later, I was back again, shooting on assignment for costarica.com. So basically I went back to Austin, I saved up a little bit of money and then I started putting together some promo videos and emailing tourism companies over there. So that’s, and then after that, I really just got hooked on traveling and picked up a laptop and my camera equipment and just decided, okay, let’s screw it. Let’s do it, basically. And then about a year later I bought another one way plane ticket to Panama city, because this is just a place I’d always wanted to visit. I’d already been through Central America at this point. And so then I decided, okay, I want to go to Panama now. And so I left with, I think it was about $500 in my bank account. That’s it. It’s all the money I had. And I didn’t really know how I was going to make this sustainable. How was I going to find clients? How was I gonna pay my way to travel all through South America? But I just figured I’d make it work.

– Wow. That’s crazy, man. So how, how did that work exactly? Like what was the journey like, maybe give us a little, we don’t need the whole thing, but give us the highlights.

– Yeah. I mean, it was stressful in the beginning, right. But my landlord from Austin sent me a message and he said, Hey, you know you could probably make money by making some extra income doing the Airbnb referral program. So I thought, so I looked into it a little bit more and I thought this probably isn’t going to work, but I started, I just decided to do it anyway. And I started basically blasting out emails to everyone in my contact list. And convincing them to sign up to become a host on Airbnb. And then I would get paid a commission every time. So essentially I didn’t have any clients to speak of. I was just getting new hosts to sign up and that was paying my way. So while I was traveling through South America for about a year. All the way to Southern Chile.

– Wow. That’s amazing, man.

– Passive income.

– That’s great. How long had it been? I was looking because you spent about 10 months traveling. Is that right? Or how, how long was that trip for?

– Yeah, that was so I did get I was in Peru for about three months and that’s a long story that I won’t go into. Essentially, I didn’t get my passport stamp when I went from Ecuador to Peru. So I got stuck in Peru for about three months. which is fine, it’s a beautiful country. But yeah, it took me about 10 months to get all the way down to Torres del Paine. And of course I’m a travel photographer. So that’s a place I’ve always wanted to go. Absolutely beautiful. So it took me 10 months and then I reached my destination. And then I went into Argentina, and lived with my then girlfriend for about six months. And then flew back to Austin. And then once I was back in Austin, I was there for a few months, and went to Bali. I bought a ticket to Bali. And then flew to Thailand. And then that’s right around the time the pandemic happened. So I’ve just decided to stay here the whole time.

– Okay. So you’ve been in Thailand the whole pandemic in Koh Samui, or in different places around Thailand?

– Many places I’ve been all over Thailand. I went on a motorbike tour. Is about 3000 kilometers, all over Thailand. I was living in Chiang Mai for about a month. That’s a very popular spot for digital Nomads. And. But I decided to come to Koh Samui because in the like for a few months, it’s very polluted there. A lot of people just pack up and leave, come to the Islands. That’s what I decided to do. So I’ve been in Koh Samui just over a month.

– Awesome, man. We have seen some of your videos. I think you went live on our channel. So yeah. Tell me about the journey in Thailand and Koh Samui. I’m saying Koh Samui, maybe I’m saying it wrong, but,

– No that’s fine okay , Yeah, I think. Yes You’ve been hanging out in these five star resorts, shooting videos and photography. I’m a bit jealous here in Portugal, I was up and watching your adventures. That was one of the reasons I had to invite you on the show because I was, after watching the videos I had to meet the man behind the, all this content.

– Yeah. I know you’ve been wanting to do an interview with me for a few months now, so I’m glad we finally made it happen. But this is one I’m staying at right now. It’s actually traditional like bolognese style, here in Thailand. This is called the Tango Luxe Villas. So this is just one, I think it’s normally about 5,000 baht per night. Which is roughly $150.

– Uhm But I’ve been able to stay at these places for free. I essentially, it’s the same thing I was doing when I was traveling in South America. I have a script, like an email script, and I get a list of all the emails, to like either the manager. Get in touch with the manager and then essentially arrange the free accommodation, in exchange for different things. Like photography, YouTube, post on the Facebook group. These types of things. And of course, right now the hotels don’t have customers. They’re really struggling. Uhm So that’s, that’s where I come. And it’s, there’s a big opportunity here.

– Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, with some of those with the location that you have there, it’s like a super five star. Like villas with swimming pools. And I was looking at some of the food getting delivered to your pool for dinner and stuff. It’s quite the life. Yeah, yesterday I ate dinner.

– So Yeah. You’re living in the five-star lifestyle.

– Yeah, no, it’s great. Yesterday I ate dinner, watched the sunset. There’s this Buddha statue, which is pretty iconic in Koh Samui. So you can just look out during sunset. And the planes fly right in, um the airport very close. So you can watch planes flying in.

– That’s awesome.

– Yeah. Yeah.

– How does it work with photography? Photography is your main business, right? So you’re a traveling photographer. You shoot the photos, you sell them online through your website and through third-party sites. What’s the business model?

– Yeah. Good question. That is the goal. I mean I just launched this website about a month ago. And I have been promoting it. Like if I make, I make a lot of posts in this one Facebook group for the islands here. And they get a lot of engagement. So sometimes just put a link to my website there. uhm So I’m getting a lot of traffic to the website but no sales, for whatever reason. So I’m not entirely sure. But it’s only been live for one month so far.

– Okay, cool. Yeah. These new, like I guess you can tokenize your artwork these days. Probably going to butcher the name of it but it’s like

– Really?

– NFTs or I’m probably ,I’ll send it to you afterwards. But yeah, one of my buddies has been doing this, he’s based out in LA. He calls himself the most famous artist. So if you look him up on the internet he’s there with Picasso, the rest of them. But he said it within like three days, he said he made like $200,000 through these tokenized assets he’s been selling online. So I think that may be something for you to look into Mike. I just don’t know enough about it.

– Is it bitcoin?

– Because it’s all pretty new to me.

– No it’s not Bitcoin but actually where you can. It’s interesting because artists, you know, like if you have a piece of artwork and you sell it, and then someone else sells it, not only do you make money on it the first time. But with this technology, you can encode your name and you can sell like a digital version of the asset. And then anytime the assets sold, going forward, you make the commissions on future sales as well.

– Oh that’s great. I’ve been looking for something like that actually.

– I think it’s called NFTs. I’m probably totally butchering this whole thing, but I’ll do a little bit of research for you after the interview. So yeah, we’re up, we’re here. Just for anyone who just joined us if you guys have any questions, if you have any comments, definitely let us know. Mike will answer them after the show or we can answer them now if you’d like. We’ve had some people that have joined us. So yeah, Mike Hope, you can check out his website, thailandshots.com, hopephotography.com. And then also his Facebook group is digital Nomad Ventures. And YouTube channel, Digital Nomad Ventures. That’s where he does a lot of the promotion of the five star resorts that he’s hanging out at. Huh?

– You probably noticed that one of the times I’ll just make my, take a picture of my laptop in front of a beautiful landscape.

– I See that

– The sunset or put it in different places and show. To inspire people to, not just work from home, I mean, there’s a lot of people in San Francisco working from their small studio apartment. And they wish they could be in Thailand. But it’s tough right now because you got to sit quarantined for two weeks. To come to the islands. So I want to inspire them to come here. Once this whole thing is over.

– Definitely, like one of my really good friends from the States, he was over in Singapore for a bit. And then he just recently moved to Phuket. He really loves it. It’s like, yeah, he’s like in heaven at Phuket. And he loves the warm weather.

– Yeah, it’s great. I was there for two months. I had a job at a startup, which unfortunately I lost my job because I couldn’t get a work permit. But right now it’s, almost all the touristy areas are dead. They’re just ghost towns, which is unfortunate. It’s still beautiful. I mean, it’s a beautiful place. Have the whole, all the beaches to yourself.

– Awesome, man. So tell us the business model. So just being an entrepreneur myself I’m always curious how Nomads make their money, so you’ve got the photography you’ve got Digital Nomad Ventures. Like what is the, what are your income streams? or what is your business model that you’re working on here?

– Sure I got to say it’s not easy, because I do have few clients that I found through LinkedIn. Those are just remote clients. They’re back in the US, so I do a few hours of work every day for those clients. And then mostly the rest of it comes through unemployment, to be honest, like unemployment from the US. So I’ve been receiving benefits while in Thailand.

– Well that’s a good deal.

– Yeah.

– So everyone, that’s our biggest hack of the day. So if you’re from the US, although we have to pay US taxes you can also benefit from the unemployment.

– Maybe I shouldn’t say that in public, you know.

– It’s a private community.

– I was getting $3,000 a month which over here in Thailand goes a long way. Especially if you’re staying in places for free. Cutting costs down.

– You’ve really figured it out, man. That’s awesome. Let’s see here. So yeah, I think I was looking, I’ve been to South by Southwest. I went there back in 2011, 2012. But I was noticing you were a volunteer photographer at South by Southwest. How was that, that show is pretty crazy, right? You have a pretty good time.

– Yeah. Its pretty crazy, I mean cause, you know recently they canceled the whole thing. So who knows if it’s gonna, hopefully it will come back. But yeah, I mean I’ve seen that Hugh Forrester is the organizer. He’s the one who started the event many years ago. And, it’s great. I mean, you get to just go to all sorts of panels, see keynote speakers, hundreds and hundreds of bands come in and it takes over sixth street. That’s pretty crazy. It’s wild.

– Well, yeah, I had a great time there. It’s, everyone’s a VIP at South by Southwest I realized. Look, if you try and go to the parties and you get your VIP pass, but everyone has the VIP pass. Yeah.

– Great for networking and meeting people. That’s for sure.

– Yeah. It’s really good. Yeah. If you want to kind of, I think when I was down there Uber was first getting started and they were launching Uber with that. And I think that was like the first time that I ever used Uber was back, It was like 2010 or 2011. But yeah, as we’re kind of going through stuff here. Yeah. I just wanted to get any sort of tips or tricks or any sort of like, maybe they would be interested in, since you’ve been a Nomadx for a while maybe just share with us your vision for this Nomadic industry. Like where are things heading, you’re in Thailand at the moment, shooting photography and helping other Nomads, Like what does this movement look like? When looking out another 5 to 10 years?

– Well, gosh, that’s a good question. I mean, I think most of them, Digital Nomads, have already returned home, Right. They’ve gone back to their country. But I just decided to stay here rather than go back to the US which I think was a smart decision in a lot of ways. But yeah, we’re just, I think Chiang Mai in particular is a very popular spot for Nomads. So who knows, I mean who knows when this pandemic is going to be over and then we could start traveling freely again. But it’s looking like now they’re probably gonna require the vaccine, right. To travel between countries. Perhaps. But I think it’s great what you’re doing at the startup Madera. Are you involved with that project?

– Yeah. We have like, you know, we’re kind of tagging along a bit with, um, this guy Gonzalo Paul who’s based here in Portugal. He runs remote Portugal and he runs remote Europe. So he’s the one who coordinated this effort in Madera. We’re helping out on the technology perspective. I’m actually flying out on Wednesday. I’m only gonna be there for the week. So I’m going to just be meeting up with all the accommodation providers. It’s my first time out there. So I just want to check it out. Do some hiking, maybe take some photos, not as good as your photos, but I’ll be taking some photos. And I think I’m gonna bring my wetsuits, maybe try a little surfing over there.

– If you have an iPhone 11, the camera on the new iPhone is probably better than what I’m using.

– That’s good news.

– Yeah.

– Nice man. Well, listen, I just wanted to catch up with you today.

– Yeah.

– We’re kind of narrowing down on the end of the interview here. I just wanted to see, is there anything you’d like to say or leave with the audience here before we bring it to a close?

– Yeah, I will say that. I think I think this pandemic has woken us up to the new world of work, right? So once this is kind of behind us, the get Digital Nomad movement is just going to gain more and more momentum. Because people are going to see like, okay I could be working from this small studio apartment, paying thousands of dollars of rent in San Francisco. Or I could go to Thailand and work on a beautiful beach, and live in a bungalow or something. It just, so I think it’s just gonna it’s just gonna keep getting more and more momentum. It’s going to be a blessing in certain ways.

– Yeah. I think it’ll be really cool. I think, especially for the younger people. They don’t have kids and they have the flexibility. It’s like a phenomenal way, it’s like what the hippies did like 50 years ago, but with technology.

– Yeah, great.

– It’s like the modern day hippies.

– But yeah, it’s been awesome catching up with you Mike.

– Yeah. Thanks. I’m really excited about everything that you’re doing. And for all those who are with us here on the show definitely check out Mike at thailandshots.com, hopephotography.com. Digital Nomad Ventures is a Facebook group and YouTube channel. And you’ll probably see more of Mike on here. Cause he’s shooting some awesome five-star videos. If you’re looking for places to stay, and you’re thinking about going to Thailand, definitely connect with Mike because he’s got all the inside connections at these awesome places to stay. Plus he’s traveled the world and he’s very good at traveling on a budget. So, definitely.

– You made me moderator on the group so, I’ll share some more live videos soon.

– Okay, cool, man. If you find some really nice spots or some great locations for everyone, definitely let us know.

– Will do. And we just wanted to thank you for catching up with us today. And wish you all the best. Good luck in your ventures. We’re looking forward to seeing all your new photos and videography, and everything that you’re up to going forward.

– Excellent. There’s also another group you should join, if you’re interested in Koh Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Taen, those are the islands in this area. It’s just that name. So I also post a lot of videos and photos on that group. Koh Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Taen.

– Okay. That’s very good.

– Its like 40,000 members in there.

– Oh cool man, if you don’t mind posting it as a comment in the group, because I think for people like me, my short term memory is not so good.

– That’s how I’m able to build a reputation and influence you, because people post in that group a lot. So I’ll include a link in that, in the live video.

– Oh, that’s great. Awesome Mike. Well, Hey man. Thank you so much for everything. Have a great evening there. I know it’s late.

– You too.

– So thanks for joining us.

– Lā k̀xn

– All right. Cheers man. Thank you so much.

ABOUT NOMADX

NomadX is a European accommodation marketplace for remote work travelers and digital nomads with over 11k listings across 18 countries with stays for 2 weeks to 12 months and average stays of 3 months. The business was started to meet the needs of the rapidly growing global community of location-independent remote workers, or “Digital Nomads”.
As Digital Nomads ourselves, we know what the market is looking for: trusted, affordable accommodations in highly-attractive locations worldwide at 50% less than AirBNB. We also run the popular NomadX Private Travel Community  where we share hacks, tips & special offers to our community members which can be found @ https://m.facebook.com/groups/nomadx/

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