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Third World countries and potential earnings from the web



8:27 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not sure if this is the right category but here goes anyway.

Has it occured to anyone else that if you live in South America, India, China or anywhere that earnings are low then setting up a site and earning money from adsense, aff marketing etc is very lucrative and not too hard to achieve?

For instance I have a site that does n't earn much more than US$100 a month as it is quite new but if I was in India or Bolivia that would equate to a decent salary!

I know many would not have the access to technology but not so in the case of India / China where they are very much at the cutting edge in some respects and have a well established I.T. infrastructure.

Just wondered if anyone else had considered this and thought about the impact it could have on their market? Maybe competition will become hot as these countries develop?

Maybe they are the competition? Maybe my handle should be Indian_Webber?


8:49 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hold your horses, uk_webber! Not so fast.

I recently had to spend several months in South America and thought it would be a great opportunity to test "your theory". That is, I thought I could keep running my online operation, cashing in american dollars and basically become a wealthy individual by virtue of living in a place where my earning power would be 3 times what normally is here in the US, where I operate most of the time.

Well... it's not so simple. I can't speak of India or other countries you mentioned but what I can tell you is that there are numerous considerations one often overlooks when dealing with this subject.

My personal experience was far from what I had envisioned. Yes, I could afford more things down there and yes, I felt a little wealthier too but the headaches I had to go through just to make things work were abso-freaking-lutely unbelievable. After two months, I couldn't care less I could pay everybody's dinner and drinks every night I went out. All I cared about, was coming back here where I could live in an organized way.

The bottom line: in the US I can normally do the work of 3 people, if I push myself. Down there, with equivalent technology, I struggled to make the work of half a person putting in 4 more hours a day than normal. In the end, I felt that had I remained there, my business would have gotten hurt.

[edited by: robertito62 at 8:53 am (utc) on Aug. 19, 2004]


8:52 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Another language kills them.
The second problem is a distance. They cannot send merchandizes by small quantity.
The third reason is their laws. Some of countries have plenty restrictions for the Internet and money transfers abroad. When you want to buy a domain you just take your credit card and... but Kazakhstan's guys do not have credit cards.
There is a field where foreigner can work. It's sites for adult. There is no merchandizes, which can be stealing by custom. High level of language is not necessary.
There is the fourth thing. A lot of them cover that they are foreigners.

[edited by: Tsuren at 9:05 am (utc) on Aug. 19, 2004]

[edited by: stuntdubl at 8:20 pm (utc) on Aug. 19, 2004]
[edit reason] No site specifics please [/edit]


9:02 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes and No!

I live in Cambodia - about the only more dysfunctional country in SE Asia is Burma, so I guess you could say it's third world.

Cost of living is low as is cost of labour and there is despite what some say, quite a good talent pool here. Some costs are far higher - I pay in excess of 400USD for a single 256ADSL line - and thats in a good month, We still have power failures etc, so all that is a bit of a pain. But as I was planning on living here anyway, I can't complain.

The big question is work. There is ZERO local work - I found one local company that I could have done some consulting for, but they could only afford to pay me in food vouchers - I kid you not - food vouchers.

So most of my work is outside the country - I spend a lot of time in Thailand, and last year built an entire website for a client in Sydney, Australia from a bamboo beachside bungalow (100B - 1.75quid a night) with nothing more than a mobile phone, my laptop and a rather patient nature... (though I did have to charge the laptop in the guesthouse kitchen - they charged me $1 a day to do theat). Do you think I charged the Sydney client Sydney rates or Bamboo bungalow rates ;-) - that was a great holiday!

So, if you've got a reliable set of o/s jobs/contracts (which I do - am trying to get rid of some of them by another post on this board!) and you can put up with some technological mayhem, it can work very well - certainly financially and I love the lifestyle out here.



10:09 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess there is nothing stopping me going aborad - say (Indonesia for the sun and surf!) and running my web sites from there. That way I could minimise my living costs and still keep the same income.

Obviously there are visa issues but in most countries you can re-enter or just move on.

Does anyone else do this? Must be loads of people in West dreaming about this way of life?

Laptops on the beach and all that...


7:23 pm on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had to work abroad and it was very tedious. I was helping a US based company get off the ground...luckily, things were slow enough and my dial-up was good enough. Luckliy too, I moved back to the US and was able to go cable....WOW! I would have never survived with the dial-up as the work load increased. I was having to upload and download alot and ISDN (the fastest I could get reasonably) was well, unreasonable.

If I go back, I will pool my resources with others and set up a join office space where we can share a ludicrously expensive high(er) speed connection.

In the long run, like a few folks mentioned, there are credit card issues, even address and postal issues, electricity, language, etc. However, the resourceful ones can easily succeed as do many of the Indian programmers, Indonesian designers, etc

But it is VERY difficult for foreigners (even in the more advanced nations) to join alot of the US affiliate programs. Its tough but it can be done.


10:16 pm on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

With adsense, you don't necessarily have many of the problems some people have mentionned: aff sign-up restrictions, credit card issues, etc... If you have an Adsense site(s), going down south a few months at a time sounds like a decent plan.

Things I would be bringing along would include solar panels for recharging the laptop (flexible, thin, light panels), as well as wireless internet equipment. Then as long as you can find an uplink somewhere in your vicinity, you should be doing ok :)


11:47 pm on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

danieljean brings up an awesome point...I wouldn't have thought about the solar panels...but I think your point about going south for a few months at a time is a good idea if you are based in the US. However, people residing abroad tend to have a much harder time.

There are many countries with very poor postal systems and mail doesn't neceassirily come to your doorstep...you have to go "the city" to get your mail from the po box if it has arrived that is. Then you get your US dollar check and take it to your bank...and they charge you a huge processing fee (even more for wires). So, these thing can pile up for the foreign webmaster.

If you are US/UK based and you go abroad, that tends to be easier - because you can justify spending a couple hundred dollars on the latest gizmos that will make life easier...however, those making $100,$200 or $500 a month off their websites may not be able to justify the same costs. Fedexing an application or something to the US becomes cost prohibitive.


12:56 am on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well I guess depending on the country individual mileage will vary.

Solar panels to recharge my laptop - more info please!


4:33 am on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

stuart: I can't recommend anyone for solar panels, as I don't know enough about the field.

A search for "solar laptop charger" however did bring up a number of interesting results, including some panels specifically designed for the task. Since panels typically last for about 20 years, it might be worth it.


10:26 am on Aug 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

For instance I have a site that does n't earn much more than US$100 a month as it is quite new but if I was in India or Bolivia that would equate to a decent salary!

Yes US $ 100 can be entry level salary for few industries. Not a decent salary though (certainly not for IT industry).

I know many would not have the access to technology but not so in the case of India / China where they are very much at the cutting edge in some respects and have a well established I.T. infrastructure.

Speaking of India, the biggest bottleneck is the ISP bandwidth. I personally use 4 different ISPs and am satisfied with only one of them. Our monthly downloads are limited to only 5 GB which is extremely less IMHO. The cost of ISP and bandwidth is a big roadblock.

Maybe they are the competition?

I know quite a few indian firms which compete with each other on a global level.

However having said that, I dont think its easy to adjust to another country (as robertito62 explains).

You can think along the lines of getting technical work done from the outsourced country, whereas you handle the Marketing. And always be invloved in client interactions.

Hope this helps :)


11:26 am on Aug 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would recommend to anyone who is looking to go abroud to look for a country 'from the second word'.
For example i live in Bulgaria and here you won't see too much of the troubles you may have in India, Cambodjia etc.
Well, i had a very hard time 2 years ago when was looking for reasonable internet connection. But the things here go very fast and nowadays you can get unlimited cable connection for about 15$/month. Ok, its unlimited, but slow. You may need something faster and you will get it for less than 50$/month. Althought for doing business its good to have 2 ISPs, because they are still quite unstable and the connection is often down when there is a storm or so.
You won't be rich with 100$ per month thought. In such a country the living style goes somewhere in the middle between USA and the thrid world. The salaries are arround 300$, up to 1000$-1500$ in IT (just to get a sense how much would you need).
I believe its worth looking for such a place. East Europe or North Africa are good points to start.


10:18 am on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you are a US citizen you have to pay tax on your worlwide income , so if you are a high income guy (say >200k) it dont matter much to move out because taxes and not living is your biggest expense and you have to pay that anyway!

Also many of you assume that you can just like that go to a country and start working/doing business! ....
Ya , if you are a US citizen you can go to most countries without a visa , but you are limited as a visitor as such and most probably limited by a few months stay! ...I guess for doing business you may have to commit a big investment in many cases and immigration dept of most countries will be a big red tape taking too much time to process!

For example i am a forigner in USA (originally from india ) , living more than 5 years but still i dont even got a GreenCard (guess have to wait 1 more year) , just have a temporary work permit ( EAD) and it affect me and my business in untold ways! (for ex i cannot own a S-corp) ... mind you i pay so much to uncle sam that 4-5 families can live on in US :)


11:43 am on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just wondered if anyone else had considered this and thought about the impact it could have on their market? Maybe competition will become hot as these countries develop?

Maybe they are the competition? Maybe my handle should be Indian_Webber?

Barriers to entry are easily overcome. Even someone from the remotest part of Mongolia, if he truly has the burning desire, will find Google & make a million with AdSense. There will be no stopping this person as he will find his way around problems, no matter how big.

On the other hand, consider someone from the developed countries with all the tools available but who is just not "hungry" enough, barriers will pop up everywhere!

Small Website Guy

2:35 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is a really interesting topic because I have been thinking the EXACT SAME THOUGHTS during the last month and then this topic pops up!

I was thinking that in the future, all solo-webmastering will move to third world countries because of the cost of living differential.

A guy in China can make some spammy SEOed websites that make him $1000 a month and he can LIVE off that, while the same amount of money in the U.S. is what a McDonald's worker makes.

So I figure that if people are making six figures a year from running their own websites, the gravy train will soon dry up due to competition from third world countries.

UNLESS there is something unique about Americans (or Europeans or other first-worlders) that makes us so much better at webmastering.


3:40 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There was a thread about this recently.

[webmasterworld.com ]


6:23 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Webmasters are like any other worker. The more skilled you are, the better you can do barring other factors. However, the issues tha seem to be popping up in this thread are two seperate issues:

a) Taxation/living expenses: If you are in the US and you go abroad to work, you are still responsible for taxes. Although I believe you only have to pay taxes on anything over $78k (if you are a family man). I'm not sure what that figur eis for the individual. But lest say its $45,000. Well, that $45k will be HUGE if you live in a third world...and lets not forget that some of the most beautiful places to live in this small world are in the 3rd world areas. You just have to know what you want out of life...stuartmcdonald had the right idea :o))

b) Competition from webmasters in 3rd world countries: We have concluded that there is a threat, but there are barriers to these peoples' success such as language, ability to network, ability to join profesisonal associations, banking, connectivity, reputation of webmasters in those countries, etc. The list goes on and on.

Harbs hit the nail on the head wehn he said its all about hunger (literally as well). Although I have to disagree somewhat with that...the barriers can be tough. Someone who has the potential to earn $500/m in a country where he only is earning $100/m may find it difficult to buy a computer, pay for expensive connections, and possibly get a US based address for mail forwarding. The initial start-up is very difficult and they do not have the luxury of 100s of credit card offers pouring in the mail.

Great thread guys!

Small Website Guy

1:04 am on Aug 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Barriers to entry

freshfish mentions some barriers to entry, some I agree with and some I don't.

I don't think being physically located in the U.S. or another first world country is required for most solo-webmastering type operations. My website that pulls in $500 profit/month doesn't require my physical location in the U.S.

I checked Commission Junciton and see that you can sign up from most countries in the world. I don't know about Adsense. You need both Adsense and Commission Junction to make money.

But are there other barries to entry?

ENGLISH: Your website has to be in English to get business from the lucrative USA, Canada, UK, Australia markets. Most Europeans also speak enough English to visit English language sites. A lot of people in third world countries have pretty bad English. If your website copy is written with poor English, it will look very unprofessional and it will be hard to get other webmasters to link to you.

There are people around the world who speak English, but most of the good English speakers in third world countries may be from the upper class and have better job oppoturnities than running spammy SEOed websites. A lot of poor countries have an upperclass that makes salaries comparable to what Americans make.

For the truly poor, the cost of a computer and an internet connection my be so much as to discourage people from learning how to create websites.

I got into this by creating two ASP.NET websites and they were costing me $25/month each for hosting. I probably spent $600 in hosting before I started seeing any money come in. This might scare away someone who is making $5000 a year at their regular job. And the cost of computer books can run you a a few hundred dollars also.

I remember some wiseguy at work laughing at me because I was "wasting" $60 a month on hosting fees (the two $25/month website and a $10/month website) and making zero profits. This is much tougher for a poor person in a third world country to deal with.

Well, perhaps this explains why webmastering remains a phenomenon of the developed countries.


7:38 pm on Aug 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great replies and some very thought provoking stuff.

Just going back to my current monthly earnings from my sites, I would not give up my day job until my aff earnings exceeds what I can earn contracting for a business. Even then I would need my income to come from a number of schemes. I suppose that is a different thread altogether!

Getting back to this I think the biggest hurdle for those in the Third World is start-up costs. Also knowledge of the local market is key and locals have a huge advantage if they know how to present the theme of their site to the audience. As spammy sites become less the norm I guess this knowledge will be increasingly crucial.

But the thing with the Internet is that it will continue to break down barriers and truly open up opportunities for people worldwide. It will also pave the way for people to learn English easier.

I still have the vision that I will be living near an ocean in a year round warm climate happily working away on the net and being my own boss.


1:06 am on Aug 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Another cost - I've heard a lot of foreign banks charge ridiculous sums to cash a US dollar cheque. Here in Canada it isn't a problem, but I've heard in the UK and I'd imagine many other countries too this can be a costly problem.

I'm in a position now where my girlfriend isn't Canadian, and when she's done university here we may move to Europe (probably eastern part, Prague, Budapest) and I'm trying to plan for migrating my sites for that. It'll take longer for me to get the cheques, and while the money will go farther there, it won't for much longer..especially with all the new EU stuff going on, you can bet those eastern europe countries won't be a bargain for long.

Just my 2 cents.


1:34 am on Aug 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As is coming out across the messages, the most important thing is doing your research before you pack your bags and head to the airport. Every country has it's own pros and cons

Our bandwidth now costs more than our rental (for the house and the office combined), though I'll employ another good designer probably this month and he/she won't cost more than maybe $100-$150 a month - things average out and in our experience all things considered, we're way ahead than if we had stayed in Sydney, Australia, but that feeling of being ahead is also influenced by the fact we wanted to live in the third world. If we missed Hollywood movies, Starbucks, bad traffic and the latest varieties of vodka we probably wouldn't be quite so lyrical about it, but as we don't we will!

It's very difficult to put a price/budget for quality of life and that's why so often this kind of thing comes down to personal preference.


7:05 am on Aug 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, I sort of landed on my feet in that sense. Met my GF in the UK, she's a lecturer in this country but was there to brush up her qualifications.

Well, cut a long story short, have moved out here with her, been here just under one year now.

My 300k net connection costs me just over $10 a month, the rent on my 3 bedroom large apartment is $120 a month, with eating out so cheap I rarely bother to cook.

I still have my UK bank account and a friend happy to pay my cheques (checks) into it, so I can draw them from an ATM here.

Yes, solo-webmastering is what I intend doing, am still building 2 different sites, one a passionate site about books, one more of a money maker but still orginal content.

Both should be online by the end of September.

Saw on another thread something about paying $25 for a 600 word article as being too cheap - maybe but hey, sticky me, let me know the keyword density and other stuff, see if we can work something out :o)

Yes, I have PayPal :oD

Seems to me then, what you need is to marry a local and live in the capital of a suitable country. I could happily live on $50 a month outside the city but I like fast food, running a little car etc.

My actual target is $200 a month, to some of you guys that's peanuts but it would be a significant income for me. Right now I'm living on 100 UKP a month from a car sale; that ends in December.

I'd say the barriers are not so much the computer or connection, lanquage or whatever but the cost of promotion. I hear you guys talking of dumping $400 on a keyword and deciding at $500 the return was not worthwhile - in the 3rd world $400 just to experiment with a keyword on Adwords is out of the question.

To start with anyway ;o)

So it's promotion, marketing, that costs money on the English speaking internet regardless of where you live.

I'm serious about the articles by the way, one of my sites is only not online due to me saving up for a cheap hosting account.

Since we can't mention urls I wont mention what country I'm in!



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