Sorry, but I’ve been busy


I apologize to my readers for the lack of posts recently – but I’ve been pretty busy, and not because I’ve been traveling. You see, I actually have a business to run.

For those of you who do not know, I’ve been in Batam, Indonesia, for 2 years and 10 months. The first 2 1/2 years of that time was spent working for Smiling Hill and Goodies Restaurant as a marketing person. It was a great gig and allowed for me to save some money that was used primarily on some travel in the region – Malaysia, Bali, Yogyakarta.

That job ended in July, however, when I flew off to the small Caribbean nation of St. Kitts-Nevis for a job at a weekly. As I’ve chronicled here, that job was just plain terrible, and the island I was on was almost totally devoid of the social life I had in Batam, or anywhere, really. It was fine for tourists at the resorts but not so much for me. So I returned to Batam.

What my job at Smiling Hill also afforded me was the chance to show my capabilities to the large audience of expatriots living and working in Batam, many holding management positions at Western companies with manufacturing operations on Batam. These have become valuable contacts for my new marketing consulting here in Batam.

While there are hundreds of Western-owned companies operating on Batam, mostly in the oil and gas and shipbuilding industries, very few local offices have any sort of marketing capabilities. The expats in charge are generally operational people, mostly engineers, who usually rely on headquarters in some other part of the world for their marketing needs.

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However, these companies often need local marketing support and prefer to work with Westerners who understand their needs better than a local Indonesian would. A company I am working with now, for example, needed writing, photography and brochure development for its 5th anniversary. Others are asking for help with their websites, or photography, or Web marketing on a new website I’ve just developed.

In short, there is a built-in need for my services that seemingly no one else on this island of 1.3 million people can offer. So, I’ve been busy.

When I returned from my Caribbean hiatus (call it a vacation where I could clear my mind), I also moved from my cozy quarters in Smiling Hill to a small studio apartment in the middle of Nagoya. Here, I hear the sounds of the city 24/7, walk to the local fresh market for meats, fish, vegetables and fruit, shop at local stores for other needs, hike to the ferry terminal every 60 days for a Visa run to Singapore, and carry out my new business plan.

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An important part of that plan was the creation of a news resource for the Batam expat community – BatamExpat.com. I frankly was surprised the URL was still available, but it was, and now it’s mine.

I think of BatamExpat.com as the “next generation” of what I was doing with the Smiling Hill weekly newsletter, which was mailed to about 1,200 people who either lived on Batam or had visited Smiling Hill over the years. BatamExpat.com aggregates news about Batam or the industries predominantly represented on the island, as well as provides information about the activities and interests of Batam’s expat community – contracts, weddings, anniversaries, classifieds, travel, dining, etc. And it does this on a daily basis.

My time the past few weeks, therefore, has been used for three main tasks – marketing my marketing services to Batam’s expat managers, working with my current client on its large anniversary celebration needs, and creating BatamExpat.com. I recently added a fourth – doing some revisions on a new client’s website.

The latter is a work in progress, with changes made almost daily to the site. To this day, I am still exploring different themes for the site, a time-consuming process. The way the site looks now may be how it ends up but there are several interesting options I may try. The beauty of the blog/website format is that I can change the look and feel of the site, ask for subscriber comment, and adjust as necessary.

BatamExpat.com has only been live for two weeks but is generating a great deal of interest from potential advertisers. In fact, we should soon be announcing our first banner advertiser, even as I continue to market the site to build the subscriber base. That’s one of the advantages of the site vs. mailing out a newsletter or creating a static website – people sign up and receive the daily updates via email. They have opted in and should be expected to be more involved in the information presented there.

I doubt that my new ventures will make me rich; I will be happy just with enough extra income to be able to travel in Asia some more, and for maybe another trip back to the U.S. But it keeps me busy and the potential is there for bigger opportunities.

So, if I’m not contributing as much to 2bagsandapack.com as in the past, you now know why. I’m just busy with my new life.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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