70 questions with Samantha North, writer and founder of Digital Émigré: From blog monetization, SEO, a writer’s worst enemy, and voice typing to EU citizenship, Brexit, Istanbul, and North Korean border 

By Elham P.Mohammadi

Of all the freedoms I’ve sought and experienced in my life, freedom of movement is the sweetest and has the most special place in my heart. There’s a sense of “dignity” that comes with it, which I think we all inherently crave and value as human beings.

For the same reason, I have great respect for people who help others savor this freedom—either by offering specialized services or simply sharing their knowledge and experience.  

Samantha North is one of them.

When her EU citizenship was “stolen” from her by Brexit, she decided to turn adversity into opportunity. Not only did she set out to get it back via Portugal, but she also started the Digital Émigré blog in 2020 to help investors and remote workers access the best second citizenships in Europe.

After all, she believes a second passport is “the best Plan B”.

What makes Samantha’s mission even more interesting is that she’s drawing on her background as a writer, blogger, and journalist to help others build “sustainable, portable online income” so they can relocate anywhere in the world “with confidence”.

And why is she the right person to give such advice? Well, Samantha has been “blogging her way to global freedom” for years.

She has worked remotely for more than 10 years, lived in eight countries, and traveled to over 40 more. Also, she’s grown the Digital Émigré blog to generate a full-time income and support her life abroad.

Samantha’s living the dream of many people, myself included, and is proof that we can enjoy location freedom, financial freedom, and time freedom all at the same time while doing what we love and is important to us. 

Read on to learn what she has to say about herself, Digital Émigré, how to find the right blog niche, how to monetize a blog, Ezoic vs. Google AdSense, a writer’s worst enemy, the best tools for writing and blogging, a no-no when pitching to editors, artificial intelligence, astroturfing, Istanbul as one of her favorite cities, and LinkedIn, where she posts consistently and always tries to up her game with original, practical advice. Enjoy!

1- How’s life after getting a PhD, Samantha?

I haven’t quite got it yet, still need to defend, but life is much better and less stressed now that I’ve finished writing the thesis!

2- A life lesson you could only learn by doing a PhD?

Academia is tough, badly paid, and not the right career path for me. I wish I’d learned that some other way!

3- A tip for creating a good dissertation title?

Make it clear rather than clever.

4- A life hack every writer or blogger should know?

Voice typing (honestly, try it!)

5- When and why did you decide to “blog your way to global freedom”?

I started the Digital Émigré blog in 2020 and grew it to generate a full-time income and support my life abroad.

6- Why is Digital Émigré’s mission close to your heart?

Because my EU citizenship was stolen from me. I’m determined to get it back, via Portugal, while helping others access these life-changing rights.

7- What can I find on Digital Émigré that I can’t find on similar blogs?

Detailed guidance on how to become an EU citizen. I’ve researched all the best pathways and present this info on the blog for free. I also provide consultations to help people work out which pathway would fit them best.

8- How does blogging fit into relocating and starting a journey toward second citizenship?

It allows people to create portable income so they can easily relocate abroad to start the process of naturalization.

9- Your online writing career began as a freelance journalist in Istanbul. How did that experience influence your life vision?

I learned that I love writing, but the pay of a freelance journalist is not what I want. Entrepreneurship lets me get well paid for my writing.

10- When can a writer or blogger call themselves an “entrepreneur”?

When they’re making money from their blog.

11- How has your journalism background contributed to your career as a writer and blogger?

It’s given me credibility, improved my storytelling skills, and acted as a springboard into the world of digital content marketing. 

12- You recently traveled back to Istanbul for the first time in six years. What was it like to rediscover the city?

Exciting and invigorating. Great to catch up with old friends. Fascinating to see how the city has changed and developed.

13- You recommend writers start their own website on WordPress instead of writing on Medium. Why?

WordPress—I mean the self-hosted version—allows writers to own their site and their content, whereas Medium does not. Also, WordPress is much better for SEO, so you can control the keywords you rank for.

14- What are the three most important points to consider when choosing a monetization strategy for a blog?

  • Is anyone else monetizing a similar topic? If yes, that’s a good sign you can do it too.
  • Does the topic target lucrative U.S. audiences? That’s best for making more money from ads.
  • Are there existing affiliate programs in this niche and could you easily write articles around these products?

15- Your blogging record includes three failed blogs and one successful one. What did you do differently to make the last one successful?

I learned SEO and stayed consistent with publishing, rather than giving up when I didn’t see fast results.

16- Do you have a writing ritual?

Early mornings, pomodoros, and voice typing.

17- As a writer, I know you get tired of writing from time to time. How do you overcome writer’s fatigue?

Taking a walk on the beach, or going to the gym. If I’ve got a deadline and need to keep writing, then changing my environment helps a lot (e.g. going to a café).

18- An unwritten rule of blogging?

Don’t plagiarize.

19- What are you reading right now?

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

20- If you ever write a book, what will you share in it?

I’m not sure yet. Maybe something on Istanbul, one of my favorite cities. Or, an e-book about SEO.

21- How can writers and bloggers make themselves irreplaceable in the rapidly evolving world of AI?

Infusing their own life experiences into their writing and building a personal brand around that. Learning complimentary skills like SEO and high-level research.

22- Why do we procrastinate and how can we avoid it?

Because we’re somehow intimidated by the task at hand. Starting small helps. It tends to get easier once you just start.

23- Is there something you know you should be doing but you’re putting off?

Emailing my growing email list to promote my services.

24- What’s the most rewarding thing about writing and blogging?

You can build an income around your own ideas or a topic you’re interested in. Plus, the opportunity to create something new.

25- A writer’s worst enemy?

Social media notifications. A bad night’s sleep.

26- Long-form vs. short-form content?

Both have their place. Long-form for the blog and for good SEO. Short-form for promotion and engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn.

27- What surprised you most about yourself in 2022?

My high levels of consistency and commitment.

28- Your advice for writers who want to learn not to sell themselves short?

Don’t work for free, ever. Even at the beginning.

29- How do you handle “tough feedback”?

I listen and try to take insights from it.

30- A fun fact about yourself?

I spent a year living on the North Korean border.

31- The key characteristics of a good cover image for a blog post?

Relevant to the content, with a personal touch if possible.

32- What separates “good” content from “great” content?

Deep research, good storytelling, and a touch of personality.

33- What did you learn in the two weeks you posted daily—Monday to Friday—on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is great for engagement, and you meet some really interesting people on there.

34- How do you take care of your mental health?

Sleeping well. Working out. Spending time in nature.

35- The article you’re most proud of?

Still this one: Kurdish bookshop turns page on dark past

36- The first step to creating and growing a money-making blog?

Finding a niche (hint: don’t reinvent the wheel).

37- How can bloggers find the right blog niche for themselves? 

Look for intersections between your interests, skills, life experiences, and things that make money. The latter is key. 

38- A no-no when pitching to editors?

Don’t act desperate, and get to the point in your pitch.

39- How can writers and bloggers best use AI to their advantage?

Tools like Jasper.ai are very useful part of the blogging workflow. I use Jasper regularly. But you need to use it as a supplement to your own writing, rather than a replacement. Make sure to edit and fact-check.

40- Three writing tools you can’t imagine life without?

  • Voice typing feature on Mac
  • Notion for capturing ideas
  • Jasper.ai for getting over writers block

41- The five best tools for blogging?

42- The main differences between a writer and a blogger?

A writer could write anywhere, whereas a blogger writes online.

43- “Write to express, not to impress.” Your opinion?

Neither. I write to solve my audience’s problems in a clear and accessible way.

44- You once wrote a blog post about “astroturfing” on social media? What is it and why does it matter?

Astroturfing is when fake accounts or personas are used to give a false impression of public opinion on the topic. It’s easy to do online, and can be used in harmful ways, for example in politics.

45- Your top four SEO practices?

  • Topic clustering
  • Internal backlinks
  • HARO (Help A Reporter Out) outreach
  • Site speed

46- You recommend bloggers try Ezoic to monetize their blog with ads. Why do you prefer Ezoic to Google AdSense?

It pays a lot more. The people there are nice to work with.

47- What’s the biggest misconception when it comes to running ads on a blog?

That they’ll put off your readers. Ezoic uses machine learning to serve the right type and number of ads to each visitor.

48- How do you manage to run your own blog and write for your clients at the same time?

Good organizational skills. Not taking on too much. Charging what I’m worth so I can afford to do that. 

49- The best way to nail a client’s voice?

Read lots of their past material. Find out their mission, vision, values, and goals.

50- How do you invest in yourself as a writer and blogger?

I buy courses and new tools regularly.

51- A second passport?

The best Plan B.

52- Affiliate marketing?

Good, but only promote the products you’ve actually used and liked.

53- Portugal?

An amazing country that’s been great so far.

54- Your favorite place to write in Lisbon?

Copenhagen Coffee Lab.

55- Canva?

Amazing and worth every cent.

56- A seemingly irrelevant skill that’s helped you a lot with your writing and blogging?

Not really irrelevant, but becoming a PhD researcher has given me a better eye for detail.

57- Writer’s block?

I don’t really get it. And on the rare occasions I do, I use free writing, or a tool like Jasper.ai to help me through it.

58- YouTube for writers and bloggers?

Great addition and can really help your SEO. Remember that YouTube is its own search engine.

59- An eye-opening writing or blogging tip you learned recently?

Using “P.S.” at the end of a LinkedIn post is apparently very good for engagement.

60- The book “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon?

Good boost to help you get over imposter syndrome.

61- Social proof?

Important in many ways, especially when growing your LinkedIn or Twitter.

62- Brexit?

The reason Digital Émigré exists.

63- SEO?

Essential skill for bloggers.

64- Disinformation?


65- LinkedIn?

Post every day for best results!

66- If you weren’t a writer and blogger, what would you be?

Perhaps a spy.

67- The future of blogging?


68- Digital Émigré in 2023?

Making a lot more money, running mainly on autopilot.

69- Samantha North in 2023?

Running two profitable blogs and doing a lot more travel compared to previous COVID years. Learning more about SEO.

70- Is there any question you’d like to be asked but wasn’t asked in this interview?

I think we’ve covered everything. Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions.  

Author bio: Elham P.Mohammadi is a journalist and the founder of ElhamX Media.

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