In this weeks student success story we talk to Calem who shares how he was able to quit his high paying corporate 9-5 job for the laptop lifestyle.
Like many of our students, Calem wanted to quit his corporate job and work online as a lifestyle choice so he could travel more with his wife Jenn.
How did Calem make that jump from earning a high corporate wage to creating a full time income from online business?
Calem found his “Superpower” online was working with other corporates and building websites for them.
For example, these days he and his wife Jenn now build websites for some of Australia’s well known TV shows
In this interview with Matt and Liz Raad, Calem shares his journey and what he focussed on initially to make the successful leap to replacing his income online.
Calem and his wife Jenn took their corporate experience and moulded it with the digital skills that we teach at the eBusiness Institute to create a full-time income from their own digital agency in Melbourne.
They are now able to operate their business from anywhere in the world, allowing them to make money from their laptop. If you’re finding yourself stuck on the corporate ladder, and wanting to make a change, then you’ll be inspired by Calem and Jenn’s journey!
CLICK ON THE VIDEO BELOW to hear how Calem quit his 9-5 corporate job
Matt Raad: G’day everyone. For today’s Student Success Story we are talking with Calem Koek, one of our Champions Graduates. And we’ve asked Calem to share a bit of his story because it’s an amazing journey that he and his wife Jenn have been on.
Liz: Yes, for Calem and Jenn it’s really interesting how they’ve integrated their new digital skills into the skills that they had from their previous life. They have both made a complete career change and have quit their 9-5 jobs. So, this is a really good example of how you can take these digital skills, and just run with them in all different directions.
And so, Calem to start with – what’s your background, where have you come from?
Changing from a corporate background to owning a digital business
Calem: So, I’ve come from a corporate HR background. Recently I’ve finished up in consulting. Before that I was at one of the big four banks; before that, pharmaceuticals (again, big corporate); and, before that, mining (over in WA). So, in terms of my background, it’s all been around corporate HR.
Matt: Interestingly, that’s a good pay packet to walk away from. What was your motivation to not be in the corporate world anymore?
“I moved online as a lifestyle choice so I can travel more with my wife”
Calem: You’re right, it was a huge pay packet to walk away from! The biggest motivator for us was a lifestyle choice. Even when we were working in corporate, we travelled as much as we could. But unfortunately, it really came down to those four weeks a year that we could do that.
Prior to studying with you, we had an online store that was doing really well. And again, that was allowing us to work on our own time. But every time we wanted to travel, we had to shut the store down, and that meant the money stopped.
So, that’s very much how we came into connecting with you guys and where we are now. It’s very much a lifestyle choice that’s been the common thread through that piece and why we made the decisions we have.
Creating a full time digital agency for the laptop lifestyle
Liz: So, you now do this full time, and you’ve quit your corporate role? And you’re working from home I take it?
Calem: Very much yes, I am working full-time from home. I’ve been doing this for about 4 years all-up. But, full-time, it’s been a year now.
Liz: And, how are you going? You’ve mentioned you came from a big corporate pay packet, what you are doing now, have you been able to replace that income?
Calem: Yes, it’s been three months now where we’ve actually replaced that income. We’ve had a big quarter, and it’s just about keeping that going.
Liz: Yeah, keep on growing! That’s fantastic.
How did you first start earning money at home online after coming from a corporate background?
And so, again, it’s interesting Calem how you have the direction you’ve gone. Not only have you got your portfolio of passive websites, but also in terms of generating that high cash flow, you went with our local business strategies, so building websites for business, or consulting with business.
Given your consulting background, we noticed you went a slightly different direction than a lot of other students who focused on building websites for quite small businesses.
What was your focus when you decided “okay, I’m going to get into this, and actually use digital skills in this arena”?
Focusing on bigger website builds for bigger clients – and meeting their needs
Calem: Sure, it probably was to play at that bigger space as much as I could. I still do a lot of the smaller businesses, just in terms of where I network. But the intent was always to work with bigger business.
But the bigger picture for me was around working with bigger business who engages with other businesses. That starts to create more work in time, which is definitely what’s happened in the last year. Versus, working with a small business, who might go direct to customer, usually even if the customer is really impressed with the site, doesn’t open you to the same doors.
So, I probably always was playing at that bigger space. It’s an area that I’m comfortable with, in terms of working with business owners (or multiple business owners), having more sophisticated needs. And that intention is really starting to pay off now.
It wasn’t easy at first, but by combining the background of the corporate space (which I’m comfortable in) and being able to harness these online skills (which I’ve developed over a few years studying with the eBsiness Institute), it has put me in a pretty good spot. But of course, this is a slightly different direction to some.
Liz: Right, and I remember it was quite quick from the time that you said “okay, I’m going to do this, and build websites for businesses.”
Matt: When Matt urged you to…
Liz: Decision made by Matt! I remember it was reasonably fast, and you landed a pretty cool website build, right?
Calem now builds websites for well known TV shows!
Matt: Yes, tell us about your favourite client (which is my favourite client for your sake), this is just awesome.
Calem: Yeah, you know – I had been out there, talking to the more local businesses where I found that passion [for building websites for larger corporates] and made the decision. So, it definitely was under the encouragement of Matt Raad to make that transition. So, thank you Matt; otherwise we probably wouldn’t be here talking about these cool things!
But I got to meet someone that worked at a TV production company, in a co-share workspace. They mentioned they’ve got a new show coming out on Channel 10, and would probably need a website.
What’s great is they’ve become one of my longest clients, and we’re doing a lot of work basically rolling from show to show – building and re-building websites as the show grows + ongoing website management. It’s been an incredible opportunity.
By “Out-Caring” your competition when building websites, you will win!
Liz: One of the things that we do admire about you and Jenn, is that one of your goals is to “out-care” other web designers, or other people who are competing for those same jobs.
Calem: Absolutely. Even with the TV production company I work with, when the next show comes up, it’s not even a question of “who should we get to build the new website?”. I know that I’m the first person on their email or phone. I’m always there when they’re even thinking about concepts for their TV shows now, which is incredible.
But that also runs through all my other clients too, because even if their friend or their business partner (or someone that they know in their network) wants a website, I seem to be the first one on the end of that phone.
I back myself on what I do technically, so I deliver a good product. But I think the underlying tone is, just having a complete interest and enthusiasm in what they’re doing and what they are trying to achieve online.
And as you know, we’re in an industry (Digital Marketing) that has a lot of cowboys. There’s a lot of people, unfortunately ripping businesses off (big and small) eg. for SEO services. So, I figured, the one thing I can do (which not too many people can beat me on), is listening, caring, paying attention, and doing whatever I can for them.
Liz: Yes, and delivering. I know, you guys deliver an incredible result for your clients and that really counts for a lot. So these days you can now say you are a leading web designer for Melbourne corporates!
Well, speaking of new businesses, the other big goal that you guys had (like you said at the beginning) was that you want to travel, and you want the freedom to be anywhere in the world.
Creating a laptop-lifestyle – working from anywhere in the world
Matt: I’ve seen some of your posts Calem, where you’re “hard at work” from. What parts of the world have you been “hard at work” from?
Calem: So, Thailand’s been our most recent. But we’ve also launched TV shows and websites from places like the Maldives, Singapore and Perth.
These are all obviously holidays. But also, when we’ve had to be with family as well. So, we’ve been able to literally take our life and keep things going even when we’ve had the personal matters to deal with as well.
That was very much an intent of how we’ve built the online business we have. It’s very much around lifestyle, because we didn’t want to have to keep going through that issue of the corporate piece (having to ask for leave), or the online store (having to shut down the store while we travel). So, we’ve been very intent to build the business the way we have to fit our lifestyle.
Built their first big corporate website whilst on a beach in Fiji!
Matt: I remember when you first said to us on the Champions Program, “here’s our first big corporate website build, and here’s where we’re sitting today”, and there’s a laptop, you were on a beach somewhere. Was that in the Maldives?
Calem: Fiji – sorry, I forgot that one!
Liz: I remember that was your first big website build, I think that’s when the lightbulbs went on for you, and “oh, this could work out well”.
Calem: Yes, it almost made it hard to open the e-commerce store when we got back (we still had the online store back then), because this was heaps better.
Finding your Online Superpower – what makes you unique?
Liz: So, I mean obviously there’s a lot of people out there who had a look at this and think “Oh, well maybe you had some experience, or some things that made it possible for you”. What advice would you give to someone (who’s not techy now), who looks at this and says, “hey wow this is a life I’d love to have as well”? What’s the secret? What do you think is the key to getting where you have now?
Calem: I think, firstly – picking up the technical skills that we’ve learned off you.
But also thinking about your background. We all do have different backgrounds, and maybe someone might go “oh but I don’t have that corporate background, I don’t have a consulting background, how can I do that?”. For those people, I would say – even if you come from a Physio background, you’ve got doors you can open more than me. I can’t use my online skills with Physio. If you come from a building background, that’s a language you speak that I can’t talk. If you come from a teaching background, that’s a whole bunch of other doors. I could probably get there, at some point. But those doors are so much more open to you than they are me.
So, rather than emulate other people, think about those skills you already have and say, “what’s my background? What’s my superpower?”, Now combine it with your new online skills and who can I help? That’s probably what I’d say there.
Liz: Yeah perfect. Because the more people you help, the more people you help get what they want, and the more you get what you want. And you get more money, and you get more time and freedom, and you get to create a pretty amazing life where you get to help a lot of people.
And, we can see that in you guys. The genuine nature of you wanting to help people, I think definitely shines through, and will certainly serve you going forward into the future. So thanks so much for being with us today. We really appreciate you sharing this story.
Calem: Thank you guys!
If you want to take the first steps to getting off the corporate ladder and learn how you can retrain in digital and earn money in the online space like Calem and Jenn, then why not take our free digital training course on the smart new way to build an online business.