Some people are just not ready to retire when they arrive in Panama. Or, they get a bit stir crazy, and just want to be creative. Many people in the first retirement years, may find that they have all this time now, and with more time, they seem to spend more money than when they are working, so they are looking for ways to increase their bottom line every month.
In the article I will discuss both the offline gig work and online gig work, affiliate marketing, drop shipping, making and selling your own product and sourcing products and selling with the largest retailer online.
I can tell you I have a lot of experience in this area, as I move to Panama in my late 40’s, and when I did, I owned an online marketing company, where I was earning good money, and the plan was that I was just going to be doing that the rest of my life. Online like I do affiliate marketing, drop shipping, I have created some of my own products that I sell, so I have created myself several sources of income, some of them becoming passive income. I will explain all these method in more details later.
Now remember, if you plan on working in Panama, where you sell a service or product to people residing in Panama, you need a work permit, and you need to file taxes. This is an important thing when selecting the residency Visa that you come in on, and the Pensionado Visa will never lead to a work permit. The Friendly nations Visa currently get you a 3 year work visa when you can renew after that.
Don’t be scare about the “taxes: thing, Panama taxes are fair, and in most countries once you become a permanent resident of Panama, you will not have o pay taxes at home. Except, of course, the good old USA, who taxes world wide income no matter where you live but there is currently a $100,000 foreign earned tax exemption that you can take advantage of.
However, you can work in Panama, without a work visa or paying taxes, if you are selling product or services to people that do not live in Panama, for example an online business that sells products in the United States. Panama has a territorial tax system, meaning you only pay income tax on Panamanian sourced income, not world wide income. Learn more about the tax systems of the world here.
Lets start off with some example for those of you that have no idea how to build a web site, and have no intention learning how.
Offline Gig Work
Gig work has become very popular in North America over the last few years. According for Forbes, almost 1/3 of the US workforce are doing Gig Work, either part time or full time. Gig work is basically trading either hours or a service for dollars as a contractor. Things like Uber, pet sitter/dog walker, house sitting, tutoring English students, music lessons and more. Uber is probably not an option yet in Panama, as it is only in Panama City, as as of the last time I looked, they did not offer Uber English service yet.
Online Gig Work
This is the one that excites me, and there are so many opportunities for expats in this particular Gig economy. You have to know how to use a computer, and have reliable and fast internet which is not a problem in most areas of Panama. I personally know some retired English teachers that do proofreading, editing and article creation for foreign companies, and make enough money monthly to either supplement or sustain their life in Panama. They use online services like Upwork, Fiverr or iWriter to look for opportunities to earn extra money doing something they already know how to do.
You will find categories with work from web design, graphic artist, writing, editing, proofing reading, sales & marketing, admin support and customer service. You would work for companies around the world, from the comfort of your home on a contact bases. And you have a great advantage on theses sites if English is your native language. How it works is that you see a job that you like, you send a proposal, they company accepts, and a contact is generated thru the platform. The company deposits the money to the platform, you do the work, it is accepted and the platform releases the money to you.
If you love to write I suggest iWriter, as in the beginning you can make $5 a 500 word article, to up to $30 as you move up the ranks based on the feedback that is left for you. If you are a native North American witter you can do very well here. Companies list their requirements and skill levels for the what they want their article written about, in every genre possible, and you look at the requests, and select what you want to write about. You have 2 days to complete the work, you submit, it gets accepted and you get paid by iWriter.
The more you write and get good reviews, the more you increase in rank as a writer, and the ore you make on the article. If you can write a 500 word article in 1 hours, you can start by earning $5/hour, which really is not bad in Panama for extra money, but if you are patient, and continue writing, as you feedback grows, you become and “elite plus” writer you will get paid up to $30 for that article.
The first thing I will say about this method, is that there is absolutely no method of getting rich quick in online marketing, or called internet marketing. There are many types of internet marketing business, like affiliate marketing, drop shipping, selling your own products online or using Amazon fulfillment services, online courses, online coaching and more. The possibilities here are endless, but you are going to have to learn some things, like building websites, which is actually quite easy, to learning some search engine optimization, to paid advertising.
If you decide on an online marketing business, do not expect to make money quickly, it will take time. Back in 2005 when I started internet marketing it took me one year to make my first $1,000, but remember, that online marketing can be very rewarding, as a good percentage of your income can becomes passive over time. I have products that I have sold online, for years, that I currently spend very little time on, but still make money from them every month.
Let me explain online marketing a bit more. You find a niche that usually you like yourself, and know a lot about, or learn about, and find some products to sell. Then you build a website around this niche and drive traffic to your website to sell the product. If you went with the affiliate model, then when someone clicks the buy now button on your product, they will be redirect to the affiliate program you joined. These are like Amazon, BestBuy, Rakuten, virtually every major seller online has an affiliate program you can join and will pay you 4% – 10% of the sale if you bring it to them. In some niches, like digital products, that affiliate commission can be up to 75%.
To me affiliate marketing is the cleanest online business, as you have no customers, no logistics, no returns and can be run by one person, even when it gets big. Another model is drop shipping, when you enter into agreements with companies that when you sell a product on your web site, and collect the money, you go to your drop shipper website, and order the product, at a wholesale price, and have them ship it “white labeled” to your customer, thus you make a profit from the wholesale price to the retail price you charged on your web site.
There is also the Amazon Fulfillment model, of you sourcing out products, ship them to Amazon’s warehouse and create an Amazon listing for your product, and sell your product with the largest retailer in the world. Amazon does all the work, charges you a percentage for doing it, and you keep the difference.
There are also digital products you can sell online, whether it is something you made yourself, or from a company like Clickbank. This is also an easy business to operate with no logistics, but requires some skills that you will have to learn like, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and be prepared to pay for traffic from place like Google Ads or Facebook to generate sales. Once the person pays you on your website, they download your product, so there is no shipping or fulfillment involved, usually just an ebook download.
The online marketing business can not be fully explained in this article, that would take a book, but if you want to learn it the right way, I can certainly recommend some good places, just use the contact page on this website to ask. The internet is full of scammy operators teaching internet marketing, so you need to be careful where you spend your money on education.
Making a Product and Selling it Locally
I see a lot of expats doing this in Panama. Product from handcrafts, wood furniture, herbal products, metal art, gluten free baking and more. Every Tuesday in my town, there is a Tuesday market, where people set up and sell their stuff. Most communities have these. But, do remember, if you plan on making an additional income like this in Panama, please chose the correct Visa, like the Friendlt nations Visa, that will give you a work permit, so you are legal here.
Below I will give you some examples of online business, that I have and links to great Gig Work companies.
Online Gig Work
Here is an online marketing with a digital download product. I created this product in the public speaking niche, and sell it online for $14.97. If someone buys it, I get $14.97 to my PayPal account. To bring traffic to the site, I write articles for SEO purposes to help bring organic traffic, and I use Google Ads to drive specific keyword google search to the site. Now my only cost of goods for the product was my time to create it, and hiring a copyrighted to write the sales page. The product is fairly new, about 6 months old, so I do not get a lot of traffic from organic searches yet, but for every $10 I spend on google ads, I make one $15 sale, so it’s kind of a no brainier.
The next website I will show you is a drop shipping website I created. It is in the niche of lower priced drones. I set up a wholesale relationship with the company Alibaba, which anyone can do, built the web site, and people order and check out on my website, and pay me with PayPal. Every morning I check my orders, then go to the Alibaba website and order the same product from the vendor at a wholesale price. Say for example the product ordered was $100, my wholesale price would be $50. The vendor ships it to the customer, without disclosing their company name, so it looks like they shipped directly from me. I ship worldwide and I can ship from warehouses in China, USA or eastern Europe depending on where the customer live.
The next website example is an affiliate website fro the product reversible umbrellas. I am using Amazon as the affiliate. Now I used basic SEO to promote this niche, with writing a lot of content for the site. If you visit the site, you sell see Amazon ads through out the blog posts and on the side bar. When someone clicks on one of those ads, they get directed to Amazon, and for what every they buy I receive a 4% – 8% commissions. Now, I will never get rich on of this site, but it does bring in $100 – $200 a month, every month. Competing in non-competitive markets is a good strategy in affiliate marketing, but you have to be ready to build 10 or more sites like this to earn a full time living. On a side note, I currently hold #1 organic position on Google for this keyword.
So, there is my earn extra money while living in Panama information, as you can see you have many options, and if you want to learn more, come on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, and you will meet people who are doing this in Panama, and I would be happy to discuss any of this in full detail with you.