I’m joined today by Jason Moore, the founder of this Zero to Travel Podcast. I’m really excited to have you and dive into what your background is, what life is like living as an expat in Norway, and your entrepreneurial journey there.

The Zero to Travel Podcast, I will say, is really about helping people travel the world on their terms, no matter what their situation or experience. So, if you are into travel, we talk about all the topics from entrepreneurship, digital nomad to travel jobs and just interesting stories and how people made a transition from a sort of a regular, let’s say, nine to five, status quo type lifestyle to a life built around travel. 

How to build a successful podcast

How do you build a successful brand?

There are some general entrepreneurial tips that will come out of this. I think there’s a really helpful question that I sometimes ask myself in a moment of crisis or a moment when I have a decision to make (and you’re making decisions all the time with your own business). So, when I get stuck, I’ll ask myself the question: What would a professional do here? And then the answer becomes quite evident. So that’s why, early on, even though I hadn’t made any money from the podcast, I was going to commit to doing it on a regular basis. In the beginning, it was every other week and then it went to every week not long afterward. I saw it is getting traction and there’s no other show like this and this is resonating. So you want to double down on the things that are working. But I brought an editor early on. I have somebody who does that professionally for a living and he’s been with me for 10 years now. It wasn’t long after that, I brought somebody on to do all of the posting of the show notes and the sort of back-end stuff because a professional would focus on creating the best content possible for the audience and curating the guests, and that’s what I see my role as a podcaster. I think that translates to many other businesses, of course, too.

So don’t be afraid to, even if you’ve never done it before, treat it like a professional would treat it. And that goes for anything you’re launching. I think that makes you level up your game too. It doesn’t mean being a perfectionist, because then you’ll get stuck and you won’t put anything out there. Do the best you can with the resources you have and don’t go into it halfway. For example, if you’re going to start a podcast or a blog or a giant community for digital nomads like you have done, just go in and start it and figure out what your MVP is and then go in and do it. Try to do it in a professional way and treat it like your profession, because it is, even if it’s a side hustle, even if you’re working full time. You should have the mindset of that. Whether it’s writing, making videos, or maybe you’re a coder or whatever the case is the idea of working on the craft for the pleasure of that and paying attention to the craft of it. For me, it’s interviewing people. So it means that if I’m working on my craft. If I’m listening to other podcasts, I’m listening to it for enjoyment, but I’m also listening to the interview style and the questions asked, and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take the enjoyment out of it. For me, it’s just like a meta view of the thing that you’re making. So it’s about taking inspiration from other people and constantly figuring out new ways to do it. I think that’s an important part of this process.

What is a good launch strategy?

You also have to use tactical strategies. So if you’re going to launch a book on Kindle, or anything else, it’s worth spending a little time researching how to launch something because launches are a huge part of businesses. Sometimes it’s just easier to hide behind the keyboard. But when you’re going to put something out there, figure out a launch strategy.

Let me preface this with the fact that I didn’t have an email list when I started. Everybody starts at zero, so when I started the Zero to Travel Podcast, I had about 100 people on my list. But I knew some people that had email lists and I knew all of the things you could do to give yourself the best chance of being featured by iTunes. If they didn’t feature me, it’s out of my hands, but I could at least do all the things that were under my control to have a chance to do that. So that’s what I recommend to somebody. Take some time to do the research to figure out what the things that you can do are. We actually published a book about house sitting and I did all that research to figure out how we launch something in a way where it can get to number one in the category. Thankfully, the podcast got featured on iTunes, and the book went to number one in the category.

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And that wasn’t because I’m some genius. It’s because I did all the things that I could do under my control and it worked. But it might not have worked, and that would be okay too, because then I could rest at night saying we had a good launch strategy, we tried it. It didn’t work, okay, let’s move on. So if you’re launching a software product and you’re looking at Product Hunt or these places where you want to get featured, do some research and how do people get featured? What gives you the best chance of doing that? And make the launch of your thing part of your core strategy.

How do you know what to outsource?

See what you like and what you don’t like. If those things you don’t like are so strong and you dislike them so much that they’re actually going to prevent you from continuing on, then you should probably get some help with them. 

Monetizing Your Brand

As a business owner or somebody that’s starting something, your ultimate responsibility is to figure out how to bring revenue in. 

How did the Zero to Travel Podcast start?

When I launched the podcast it was very much a passion project. I was nomadic for 10 years plus. I traveled all over the world for many, many years and I always loved helping people figure out how to do that for themselves if they wanted to do it. I was just really passionate about helping people travel. So I basically created the thing that I wish I had when I was starting out with $20,000 of college debt and no clue about how to see the world. I love conversations. I love when I can go to the hostel and talk to the other travelers. I love to learn from other people. 

I met this gal in a bar one night in Brooklyn when I was on tour (I was the tour manager for a band). And it turns out she was the producer for Alice Cooper’s radio show and she wrote a whole book on metal. So she interviewed all these artists and I said: You know what I want? To interview people. That sounds really cool.

It was the next day or the day after, I dragged my sound guy out to the pier in New York City and interviewed him on my iPhone. And then I just fell in love with this idea of interviewing people. So combining these two things I get to have my own personal pleasure of interviewing people and learning from them, but I also get to share it and then provide value to other people – that just seemed like a really beautiful mix for me.

How do you monetize a podcast?

The podcast started getting downloads pretty fast. I remember thinking something’s happening here and we’ll figure out the monetization part. If you have some kind of platform, you can always build other things, even if that thing isn’t the thing that you make money from. I think a lot of people get into podcasting and they think, well, I’m just going to start a podcast and I’m going to make all this money from sponsorships.

Thankfully, I can pay myself from my sponsorships now – that’s where my salary comes from. I do this full-time. But that was only the last couple of years that it’s been enough to do that. I did make sponsorship money before, but I had other businesses. I always looked at the podcast sponsorship as the icing on the cake. If I get 20-30 grand from that this year, it’s bonus money. But I never wanted to count on it as my sole source of income. And you know, surprisingly travel is a small category in the podcast world even though it’s a huge industry. So I still don’t feel comfortable counting on it as my sole source of income, which is why I’m still looking at building other things. But I can build other things of value for that same audience that can be paid subscriptions or there’s a lot of types of businesses you can offer.

Why start a podcast?

Why should I start a podcast if I can’t monetize it right away? There are ways we can talk about ways you can monetize it right away, but there’s no guarantee it’s going to like take off right away and it takes time to build something. Or you can look at it as the long-term game. If you’re starting it as a business and you already have a business you want to promote and you have a podcast associated with it, you don’t want to think of your podcast as another revenue stream. You want to think of it more as a marketing arm for the business that I have.It can bring in new potential leads and customers.

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What is it like to be an entrepreneur in Norway? 

It sucks is one version of it, but the good news is there are more tools than ever in the history of mankind to do this, so don’t let the challenges dissuade you from pursuing this path. 

Even though I was traveling, my business was based in the States and you can travel around and still run a business from your home country at least. 

When I permanently moved to Norway, then a whole set of questions came up. And those are questions that are really hard to deal with. You could research all that stuff now if you know where you’re moving. But I had to tackle all those one by one in real time. It was a kind of a messy situation. At one point I had a phone call between a tax attorney in the US with a tax attorney here. That really sucked because those guys each charged multiple hundreds of dollars an hour. So that one-hour call probably cost me like six or seven hundred bucks.

Long story short, I eventually opened a company here in Norway and closed my US company. I use Wise.com for banking. I can bill clients and have them wire transfer money to my Norwegian business bank account, or I can have them send USD to my Wise account where I pay all of my business. A lot of the software companies are based in the States, so I use my Wise USD account to run all of the business expenses, and then because this exchange rate has been so favorable, I try to get the wire transfer to come directly to my Norwegian business account. Even though that fluctuates, it is what it is. It’s like the cost of doing business overseas. You have to just be at peace with it. Exchange rates are going to fluctuate and things are going to happen.

But, try to use it to your advantage. If people pay me in USD, then I have control over when I transfer it, and now, on this day, the exchange rate is very favorable. So if I wanted to take a chunk of money from my wise account in USD and move it to my Norwegian bank, it would be a good time to do it because of the exchange rate. So you can think about it strategically in ways. As you know, a lot of this is moving money around. 

And then I work with freelancers that are based in the States but they like to travel too. I pay them through WISE, and that’s just how it all works.

When you go into business for yourself, you have to tackle problems and figure things out, and that’s part of the deal.

When does a digital nomad settle down? 

I traveled all over many places and I handpicked Colorado to live. After my nomad days, I lived in Boulder. I loved it. I just loved the lifestyle there. I love the people and the mountains. The day that we found out my wife was pregnant, we were thrilled and it was an emotional ride, but also it was kind of like a mourning period for me because I realized very quickly it’s clearly a better option to raise kids in Norway. 

What are the benefits of living in Norway with your family?

It’s a safer society. the benefits of when you have a child here are a year of maternity/paternity leave paid. And then the daycare is all subsidized here. So we usually pay between $300 to $350 a month for full daycare with meals. You know that costs three grand in the States.

It’s funny because on the surface people think Norway is so expensive and it is. But then you start to think about your daily life. We have universal health care here, so everything’s covered. So if I went back to the States now, I’m paying $3,000 a month for daycare for one kid (and we have two), I’m paying for insurance, probably for myself and my kids or maybe my whole family. It’s probably a thousand or two thousand bucks a month. We’re already at four or five grand a month and I haven’t even done anything yet. And there’s the other stuff like I’ll have to prepare my daughter for what an active shooter drill is when she goes to school there. I know there’s no perfect society. I love Colorado and I would probably move there tomorrow if I could, but when you have children, you make the decision that’s the best for the children. But I still love my life here and I’m a citizen now and there’s so many things I love about Norway. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss the States or don’t miss Colorado, but it’s also easy to romanticize a place and a period in your life. Surely, Boulder has moved on, it’s a different place. A lot of my friends have moved on. If I went back, it’s not just like I would be dropped into the same kind of life, it will be a different kind of life.

You have to make the best of where you are. This is a beautiful country, with beautiful people and a really, really nice place to live. We live right next to a beautiful forest and near a lake. Summertime is so wonderful here. I am just grateful.

What is there to see in Scandinavia?

There’s nice nature spots all over Scandinavia. There’s a lot of countryside and forests and really, really charming places. But if you were looking for epic nature, Norway is spectacular. You turn on one side, and you’re looking at a fjord and you turn around you’re looking at a glacier. And then there’s the Friluftsliv, which is the Norwegian concept of life in the outdoors. It’s this social, cultural thing of being outside a lot and being in nature and that being a core value. And therefore even in a snowstorm and I’ll see my neighbors with goggles on and a snowsuit, pedaling their bikes to work. Even at the daycare, there are strollers outside in the winter. 

What is the Scandinavian culture and life like?

There’s something with trust, but the trust is not just among the people, it’s the trust of the people in the government, and so that adds another dynamic too. Generally, it seems like maybe they trust the government too much. But that’s just the American and me talking. But it seems like both parties generally, to the best of their ability, try to do the right things for each other and people try to do the right things for each other. People believe the government’s doing the best they can and a lot of it’s based on the honor system. I don’t want to paint this perfect picture. There’s crime here too. Things happen; it’s like anywhere else. But it is pretty safe, I’d say, and there’s that trust factor that does make a difference in the culture, and in the day-to-day life.

When you see the political debates on TV, it’s so weird because they’re just talking to each other. It doesn’t mean that people don’t get heated, but it’s constructive and open. They are listening to each other. It’s just different. On TV, they always have ongoing debates on various issues, which is nice. It’s not just when elections are happening. There are debates about things going on and things to do in the city. 

To tie this back to entrepreneurship and again not getting political here, but it’s kind of funny when I see Americans arguing about universal health care, taking away their freedom or something. When you have a system where somebody has to get a second job to have insurance or they have to keep their corporate job because insurance is too expensive, it’s like indentured servitude. And so like this idea of taking away freedom is, in my opinion, ridiculous. When I come to live in a place like this, I don’t have to worry about my health care. I’m not saying the system is perfect, but I’m not going to lose everything if I quit my job or something crazy happens. Most people know somebody in their family that has cancer, for example. We’re humans, things can happen. Do you know how much freedom that gives me to create and to take chances and be an entrepreneur? And I think it’s funny because I don’t think Norwegians actually realize this. You’re working a stable job and they’re a great job market. People can keep their jobs. It’s very hard to get fired from a job here. They’ll hold your job. If you go on maternity leave for a year or if you have sick leave or something happens, and you’re gone for three months, you can come back and have your job. It’s all very secure.

How to Deal with Uncertainty

What is Norway like for entrepreneurs?

Dealing with uncertainty is one of those things that it’s like a muscle you grow as an entrepreneur. Some people are born with it, and they’ll live on the edge. Being a traveler, first, helps me deal with uncertainty. And then on the entrepreneur side, there’s the uncertainty of how you are going to get paid, if you are going to make enough money, and if it’s going to work. This society in some ways is really built for entrepreneurs too, if you look at it the right way. There’s so much of a safety net. There’s the social safety net with health care. For example, if you got hurt, you would keep making your salary, if you weren’t at your job, or a portion of it. So if you fail, as an entrepreneur here, I think you can still get support from them. There’s an entrepreneurial community here. I feel like I have a lot more freedom here because I don’t have the stress of having to pay for these unsubsidized childcare things, and just for my life. I have a lot of freedom to create and try different things. I still have to run a business and earn revenue, but it’s just a great feeling.

What do entrepreneurs need to consider when moving abroad?

When you’re moving abroad, or if you’re going to base somewhere, think about those freedoms that might change the dynamic for you and how you run your business. Tim Leffel wrote a book called A Better Life for Half the Price about living abroad with the geo arbitrage idea. Look at your expenses. If you’re spending five grand a month and you move to Thailand and you’re now spending 1500 a month, what’s that going to do for your lifestyle? What’s it going to do for your business? Is it going to free you up to create more? You have the answers to these questions, not me. I’m just posing the hypothetical here. It’s a good thought experiment to place your mind in different places and think about. You could use a tool like Numbeo. You can pick the city you live in now, and then you can type in the city that you want to move to, like Mexico City or whatever, and it’ll give you a list of how much the average apartment is, how much groceries are, and then it’ll tell you the percentage – either more expensive or cheaper. Just pick a place and go. 

Once you’ve decided that place, you can use Citizen Remote to get a visa to go work there remotely.

What’s the best way to make decisions about your business (and life)?

Whether you’re just starting something or you’re in the middle of a business or you run a successful business, there are always decisions to make and make and pivots to consider, and new products to develop or first products to develop.

I always believe that if you look at the lifestyle first and let that inform some of your decisions, you’ll be much happier and healthier overall. Something might be a great business idea, but maybe it’s not so great for your health, or maybe it’s not great for your daily lifestyle because it’s going to require too much travel or whatever the case is. To me that’s a great way to filter out ideas for products or for businesses. Take a look at your ideal lifestyle, and reassess it every few months. Is it going in the right direction? What do you want to change? What do you want to pair it down with? What do you want to let go of?

You can try it out too. There are these nomad visas and all these things happening. What’s the worst that happens if you pick up a nomad visa? Let’s say it gives you six months in a country. Let me just go into this and have this experience and see what it’s like. I can do this for six months and even if you’re miserable after two months, you can just take a flight home. It sounds complicated. But the reality is there are a lot of people out there waiting to take your money. You can come home to the States, for example, and within a week have an apartment, and buy a car. They’ll be there ready to sell you the car. The insurance company will be there ready to sell you the car insurance. Somebody will be there ready to rent you the apartment. It’s not that hard to get your life set up again. It takes a bit of work but go try it out. 

What is one piece of advice based on those experiences you’d give?

Don’t be afraid to explore new paths. Be open.

How can people get in touch with you?

They can visit my website. I send out a weekly newsletter with all kinds of cool links, travel tips, and things like that. I just sent one about how to get cheaper flights this summer, with one great travel hack. It’s totally free. So you can sign up for that and keep in touch and would love to welcome you to the listening audience over on the Zero to Travel Podcast. And yes, Remote Norway is part of a bigger thing that we’re working on to help give people and companies more access to some of these retreat areas, co-working spots, and things around the world. 

Jason, I appreciate the time.