How To Travel The World And Fund It With A Simple Low-Stress Publishing Business
Island-Hopping To Financial Freedom
I n Southeast Asia, directly below India, is a collection of over 1,100 beautiful islands known as the Maldives. It’s a place where the clear blue water and off-white beaches are exactly what island dreams are made of.
Three years ago, Christian and Rasmus Mikkelsen (identical twins) would have never guessed they’d be there swimming with an 80-year-old sea turtle and touring the majestic coral reefs.
And yet this wasn’t their first time they were visiting an exotic location.
In fact, every three to six months, they move from one dream location to another. So far, they’ve fully immersed themselves into places like Thailand, Hawaii, Egypt, Santorini, Croatia, Singapore, Denmark, Australia, Japan, and Bali.
Though they’re only 23 years old, they have managed to make plenty of money to fund their travels and do whatever they wanted. While millions of millennials are still figuring things out and draining their savings accounts, these guys were creating a business that ran on automatic pilot. For once, they weren’t being tied down to work they didn’t love.
However, it wasn’t always this great.
“You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”
~ Chris Guillebeau, author of A Brief Guide to World Domination
When the Mikkelsen twins were teenagers, they hated many aspects of their lives. Sure, there is nothing wrong with New Jersey, but it isn’t exactly the Mecca of culture and excitement. And since the twins loathed school, they did not excel in it. To make matters worse, they didn’t have very many friends. All of these forces compounded and it took a toll on their sense of self-worth.
During these times, the days were long, but the weeks and months felt like eternity. They dragged on with no sense of hope or wonderment. Despite having two loving parents behind them, the twins lead lives of incredible emptiness and despair.
It shouldn’t be like this.
In our teens, we’re supposed to be vibrant and inspired. The world is at our feet and endless possibilities continue to unfold. Well, this is how some people view it. It didn’t look like that for the Mikkelsen’s. Even though at times it seems like they just gave up on everything, it wasn’t entirely their fault.
Like many millennials, they were frustrated, confused, and worried about their future. The things they learned in school were not relevant or interesting — so why bother? The people that told them to follow the traditional life script (like parents, counselors, and friends) were deeply misguided.
This time-honored script read: get excellent grades in high school, get into a good college, get hired by a big company, get married, have 1.2 kids, etc. From middle teens to middle adult, our lives have a script to follow that promised the “good life”.
But today, we all know that life script is wrong:
- Student loan debt is now up to 1.6 trillion dollars.
- Most millennials aren’t even thinking about having kids.
- 30% of millennial men don’t have a job despite many having college degrees.
- Though the unemployment rate is low, the underemployment rate is up. (read: overqualified and bad pay)
- Millennials are scrambling to make up for the income loss by working extra jobs in the gig economy.
- The college drop-out rate has been seen as a national crisis. (This leaves people in debt with no degree!)
- Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly pessimistic about their lives and the business world.
The Mikkelsen twins were also frustrated and fully-aware of these facts. At their lowest point, they decided to do something about it. They always believed college was a waste of time, but they knew it would make their parents happy. They had no clue what else to do, so they decided to give it a shot. Potentially making more money and working in a promising career sounded like a much better situation than where they were currently at.
The Tipping Point
The Mikkelsen twins knew they had to make a big change, but the specifics were still fuzzy. They took local college courses, and also dabbled in other things as well. One day they saw people creating businesses online and wondered if they could do the same.
What caught the twin’s attention was that other people just like them were struggling too and were searching for a way out though business. Online gurus took advantage of this need and offered every program under the sun.
Some programs were worthless, and still others were highly effective. Since the twins slaved to earn every dollar, they were frugal with their money. They sniffed out the scams and only paid attention to reputable experts.
They came across a few legitimate business programs that really stoked the entrepreneurial fire that started to burn from within. Others had figured out how to make good money online and become truly happy. Through books, blogs, and online videos the twins quickly figured out that there was a culture of online entrepreneurs like Stefan James that created a blueprint to online success.
But just like most business opportunities, they knew it took money to make money.
To afford these programs, they saved up money. They held several jobs between them and still maintained a 4.0 GPA in college — when everyone else said they’d fail. Like all good entrepreneurial stories, the twins sacrificed a lot in the beginning. They had no social life. They didn’t watch tv or play video games. It was mostly work, school, and strategizing for a better future.
Once the Mikkelsen twins realized that building a business was the answer to their dreams, they switched their major from health science to business. While working their menial jobs, they listened to every podcast they could to learn more about online business.
To save time figuring out the best kind of online business to start, Rasmus experimented with Shopify drop-shipping and Christian was trying out book publishing.
Their real education was about to begin.
Mindset Is Everything
“Your mindset is 95% of the reason why you’re going to be successful. The remaining 5% is actually what you do.” ~Jonny Bradley
For the Mikkelsen twins, countless months would go by before they saw even an inkling of progress in their businesses. Still, they remained positive. This kind of work ethic and discipline would prove to be valuable later on in life too. But delayed gratification doesn’t make it any easier.
One time, they got scammed from a subcontractor. Christian paid a guy that said he would take care of the writing, narration, book cover, and everything else in his book publishing business for a fair fee. A full-stack contractor to do it all sounded perfect. But for days and weeks, he would delay the process. The back-and-forth messages were just enough to inspire hope that the project was finally on track to be done. And then exactly one day after the services refund period was over, the contractor was never heard from again.
Christian was scammed for over $3,000.
It was heartbreaking and frustrating, but despite it all he got back up and moved on. He still believed in the business and took the loss as a lesson. Most people might have turned their back on the business, but this is the kind of mindset the Mikkelsen twins had adopted.
Rasmus had a similar business setback. Despite putting all his money and countless hours into his Shopify drop-shipping business, it was barely making any profit. At times, it was costing him money. Eventually he saw that Christian’s business was less stressful and more profitable, so he sold his business and went all in on audiobook publishing.
As a team, the problems didn’t stop but they pushed through it all. They were ruthless about making the online business lifestyle work. In fact, they kept telling themselves that at all times they must have a “nothing will stop me attitude” to win. They were committed to the process, not the short-term results. Most entrepreneurs that succeed adopt this mindset too.
It’s quite easy to slip back into a destructive mindset. Negative self-talk can send people into a downward spiral. People can talk themselves out of taking action and then they’re back where they started. The stress of mediocrity and having low self-worth was so unbearable for the twins, they would do anything to never feel that way again.
Their mindset was like that of Y-combinator’s co-founder Sam Altman: err on action.
So that’s what they did, day after day. To them, there was no such thing as failure, only feedback from trying.
There is something to be said about being unaffected by what capture’s most peoples’ interests. Being able to endure life’s hardships with grace and acceptance is a virtue these days. There’s no complaining or whining, just understanding and moving on.
But optimism and taking bold action wasn’t their only default. Part of the Mikkelsen success formula had a lot to do with their core philosophy.
People Don’t Want Information, They Want A Transformation
Nānā i ke kumu. “look to your source, find your truth” [Hawaiian]
W e live in a world where all the information we’ll ever need is available online — often for free. Everyone is telling you their empire-building story and why you should follow them. The Mikkelsen’s are the first to say that their business model isn’t for everyone.
They don’t just want you to create a new business. They want you to create a new life.
For that, it takes courage.
In one inspirational video, they talked about the courage it takes to recognize your situation and commit to changing it: even if you don’t have all the answers. The change and learning your truth starts from within.
Online business is a hard space to be in. Lots of people are seen as scammers and many actually are. It’s because of this that the Mikkelsen twins are 100% transparent.
Their goal is to put out honest and useful content so others who were in their same shoes can thrive. If they come across crass because they’re cursing or doing things unconventionally, that’s just how they really are: unvarnished and real.
In a sea of online gurus armed with endless webinar funnels and 2,000-word sales pages, you can see why the twins stand out a bit. They keep it simple and honest. What you see is what you get.
And because of this, their message has resonated with thousands of people all over the world. Their Youtube Channel has been rapidly growing since they started it. In nearly every video, you get a sense of humility of what they’re trying to do. Yes, they sell an online course on how to make money through online book publishing. And yes, they both want to be rich and famous someday. However, making money is only part of their mission.
Through all their travels, internally and externally, they came to a big conclusion:
As you make more money, your life will improve. It’s not because of the money, it’s because of the person you’re becoming who can now make that money.
What they have to teach is not a get-rich-quick scheme. They tell people up front what everything costs and how long it will take (several months, not days or weeks). They’ll tell you to keep your day job until the system starts to work — just like they practiced. And they’ll tell you that you’ll eventually hit a wall, but you need to push on.
A big part of what they teach is about changing your mindset to be a better person. This is what the high-performance coach Todd Herman calls The Alter Ego Effect. It’s when you consciously channel a different identity to become more focused and unstoppable. Bo Jackson, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr and many others have played around with this alter ego tactic. And as we have seen, they obtained remarkable results by doing so.
The Mikkelsen twins teach people how to make a mental transformation. When they do, people start seeing the world and themselves in a different light. Suddenly, what they thought was impossible is very possible. A wave of confidence, self-worth, and certainty washes over them. It won’t matter where they are in life. They can be stressed-out, frustrated, and feeling like a loser — It doesn’t matter. The mind leads the body to a better place.
The mental transformation precedes the physical.
While this does sound like new-age Law Of Attraction stuff (and maybe it is), it makes sense. It’s better to remain hopeful and as reasonable as possible. Even if all the psychology and mindset stuff in the world is pure fluff, given the options of being surrounded by a sunny optimist or a critical grouch who would you pick? Sunny side up please!
A positive mindset is only the beginning.
Everyone Needs An Accountability Twin
Kākou! “we are in this together” [Hawaiian]
The twins were so hell-bent on making the publishing businesses work, they no longer had a plan B — which was college. They secretly dropped out of college with only one semester left! Their audiobook publishing business started to reap a good profit, and they knew the potential was high.
At the time they were living at home with their parents. The last thing they wanted to do was disappoint them, but the Mikkelsen twins were on to something big. They would work on their business in their room and occasionally go to the one college class they kept until they fully dropped out. To buy them time, they told their parents they were taking mostly online classes. Entrepreneurs take risks and this was surely one of them.
It was through holding each other accountable that they finally succeeded in business. In the end, they knew what they were doing and they had proof. In time, they started teaching others how to make money and travel the world too.
The following is their list of five principles to run a successful low-stress business.
- Work as many hours at your job and save as much as you can. Hard work now will pay off later.
- Invest and reinvest your time, energy, and money.
- Focus and become obsessed with achieving your goals.
- Don’t stray from the path. (That is, stick with a proven online program to the end.)
- Learn from your mistakes and implement.
All of this sounds simple in theory, but hard to carry out. To these principles, you need someone to hold you accountable. Though not everyone can have a real identical twin, everyone can have an Accountability Twin who’s on the same path. In the Mikkelsen twin’s private Facebook group for their course, everyone gets a chance to get paired up with an Accountability Twin so they can handle the biggest challenges together.
So by now, you might be asking what this business is that made the twins so successful. That in itself is interesting because they pioneered the niche themselves.
Is This The Ultimate Millennial Business Model?
A s mentioned, the Mikkelsen twins started off as Kindle book publishers. However, it wasn’t what they thought it would be. Lots of people were already doing it and book writing took a long time.
They loved the idea of creating something once and getting paid over and over again without touching it. They figured out how to select the right topics to write about and how the books should be written. When the sales started to die down, they found ways to keep their rankings up like spending money on ads or creating book bundles.
However, it wasn’t until they discovered audiobooks on Amazon and Audible that the income really started to flow. The twins had to experiment with the logistics since they didn’t know anyone else that was doing it their way.
Because of this, the Mikkelsen twins pioneered an entire system for creating, marketing, and managing an audiobook business.
When it got to the point that they could replicate their success with other audiobooks, they knew they were on to a new business model and taught it to others. Soon, dozens of their students started making the same amount of money or more.
Now the term “passive income” is applied liberally, and sometimes it’s not very accurate. Drop-shipping, Amazon FBA, Social Media Marketing Agencies, and other business models have you doing a lot of tasks to stay profitable. None of these are one-and-done passive models.
What Christian and Rasmus created with their course Audiobook Income Academy is truly passive income. The basic process goes like this:
- Do keyword research to find an unsaturated, high-need topic
- Write your book title
- Write the book (or have it written for you)
- Create the book cover (or hire someone to do it for you)
- Proofread, edit and format your book
- Write your book description
- Build your email list for your pen name
- Publish your book
- Run Amazon Ads for your book on Amazon
- Hire a professional to narrate the audiobook
- Make money on all assets every month without working on them
Out of all these things, a true business owner does just a fraction of these tasks. In fact, many successful publishers only do the first and last items. They might have a publishing manager do the rest. Some do none of these things except proofreading the final version.
If you have the money, the entire process can be outsourced. You’re like the CEO in this operation. If you’re strapped for cash, most of this can be done by yourself and almost no startup cash is needed. It will just take more time.
Every book created will be sold in three forms: audiobook, ebook, and paperback. That’s three streams of income for each asset. By far, the Mikkelsen twins have made more money with the audiobooks. Once these items are finished, it’s an asset much like a company stock. Its value is dictated by market demand and your management of it. And like a great stock, every month they make money without you doing a thing.
What makes this passive is that you create it once and you just do little things to keep the audiobook’s rankings up. There are no customers to deal with, no shipping process, no inventory to count, and no accounting. All of the major things are done for you by Amazon. And if you do things right, the money keeps coming in month after month.
The more books you create, the more income you receive. And all you need is a laptop and wi-fi service.
To date, the twins have over 100 kindle books and audiobooks funding their trips and retirement right now. They’ve grown so much, they hired a publishing manager to do most of the heavy-lifting.
This is what really makes it low-stress. Someone else is writing and narrating the books. Someone else is creating the book covers and submitting them to Amazon’s marketplace. Even when they didn’t have a publishing manager, they could go days without the internet and just continue where they left off. The money machine keeps going strong.
So in between island-hopping and experiencing other cultures, the twins spent a few hours a week strategizing, marketing, and learning. That’s it!
Now just think about the typical millennial. A lot of them went to college. But schools did a great disservice by not teaching them commercially valuable skills. Ask any one of them about their job-hunting efforts. There is no quicker way to get on an interviewer’s No list than to divulge that you have no relevant skills or experience. As professor Bryan Caplan wrote in The Case Against Education: Why The Education System Is A Waste Of Time, we’re in the age of “credential inflation”. Everybody has a degree and yet they’re not really useful for many jobs.
But millennials have desirable skill sets for the right business model. What they can do is read complex material quickly, brainstorm, research, edit, collaborate, and manage multiple projects. All of these skills are relevant to a successful audiobook publishing business!
Finding Your Island And Low-Stress Lifestyle
I think the main message of the Mikkelsen twins is that you don’t have to settle for mediocrity no matter how bad things are. You can pen your own life script, be an island unto yourself, create a business to sustain a low-stress lifestyle, and live any way you choose.
It won’t be easy.
It won’t come overnight.
But it is possible whether you use their method or create your own. The key is to be armed with a system to help you transition better from one place in your life to the next. And that system has been the Mikkelsen twin’s life work.
Create A Low-Stress, High-Profit Amazon Audiobook Business
Peyton is an entrepreneur and brand advisor who loves to help people build their brand online through story. He has worked with private clients and iconic brands worldwide. Formerly, Peyton served as the state representative for vocational education. Subscribe and receive more articles like this.