Chatbots aren’t all blocks and flows and plugins. A bot is a tool with unlimited potential to connect people across the world. It’s a powerful new communication method that’s changing the way people work, interact, and live. To illustrate how chatbots are impacting lives around the globe, Chatfuel user Robert Taylor is sharing the details of his amazing lifestyle with us. Robert and his family have been traveling the world full-time for the last three years, and they fund their nomadic explorations through the work Robert does with bots. Here’s his story.
What were you doing before you discovered bots?
Before bots, I spent 14 years working in sales and marketing for a large, multinational corporation in South Africa. When I left that job, I decided to set out on my own, and I founded a marketing firm in the real estate industry. I had a small but loyal client base, and business was going well. However, things changed dramatically in 2008. The market crashed, and we lost everything. Like many others at the time, I began to search for new ways to rebuild my business and regain stability.
I started investigating how I could sell property via email, and my interest in automated sales began to take shape. At the time, all I had to work with was sales funnels, landing pages, and automated emails, so I used them on behalf of my clients.
The next major development in my life was a personal one. My wife and I had a son in 2014, and our goals and perspective shifted. We decided to try and find a way to travel the world as a family, long term. We wanted to take our son on an adventure around the world, to show him the places that most people only get to read about—and we gave ourselves one year to figure out how to do it.
We wanted to take our son on an adventure around the world, to show him the places that most people only get to read about.
I continued to do sales and marketing work for my clients, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough to fund my family’s dream travel lifestyle indefinitely. I started looking for something even more effective, more automated, and more scalable—and I found it.
How did you get into bot-building?
An article about AI technology was what set my interest in Facebook Messenger bots in motion. I wanted to know more, and I dove into research on the topic. From there, I tried toying with Dialogflow and the basics of node.js, but found the learning curve to be steep. I began looking for an easier system that I could use to build bots myself.
I set out to test a few different platforms, and I came across Chatfuel. After taking the Udemy course to learn the basics, I knew I’d found the perfect fit. I now had the right tool—all I needed was my first client so I could try it out. The ideal situation actually found me, as my family and I began to explore the local cuisine while traveling in Vietnam.
This is where I saw my first opportunity to test the power of chatbots. Ordering food off a menu was a difficult task for us in Vietnam due to the language barrier—but our struggles gave me an idea. I chose a restaurant there that was frequented by tourists and expats, and built a demo of a multilingual Messenger bot to take reservations and show their menu in English and Vietnamese. I pitched it to the owner, got the green light, and made my first $100 from a Facebook bot this way. That was when I saw the power of Chatfuel, and I added Messenger chatbots to the list of services I offered to my clients soon after.
The rest is history. After my successful test, I began building chatbots for Facebook to use for all kinds of different applications. First, I created one to automate marketing and sales for my own business, an online course. I integrated the bot into my website and linked it to my Facebook page, and it still exists in both places to answer all prospect questions and sell courses. I haven’t had to personally answer an inquiry in two years, which is just one way bots have helped automate my income stream.
I haven’t had to personally answer an inquiry in two years, which is just one way bots have helped automate my income stream.
I also still do remote work for sales and marketing clients across industries with Facebook Messenger chatbots. I’m currently building one for Emmy-nominated actress Amy Gibson, and another one to automate the onboarding for a US-based company, for example. In addition, a partner and I have started to build a lead-nurturing business for the automotive industry, which will run on bots. My diverse projects allow me to fund my family’s nomadic lifestyle; we’ve expanded our travel budget by a huge amount thanks to Chatfuel. As a result, I’ve become passionate about teaching others how to harness the power of bots, too.
We’ve added thousands of dollars to our travel budget thanks to Chatfuel.
A core part of my mission is to teach people we meet in our travels how to become chatbot developers themselves. Chatfuel is easy enough to teach in an afternoon, and can be implemented quickly. Whenever the opportunity arises, I’m happy to show others how to use the platform so they can make a living or some extra cash with remote work worldwide, like I do. Chatfuel gives anybody the ability to earn an income, no matter their skillset. Any time I meet someone who wants a chatbot freelance job or any kind of online job with chatbots, I'm always excited to share my knowledge.
Chatfuel gives anybody the ability to earn an income, no matter their skillset.
Why did you choose Chatfuel?
Because we’re completely location-independent, I needed a bot-building platform that doesn’t require specialized equipment or power to use. That’s Chatfuel. With a browser and a reliable Wi-Fi connection, I can do my remote work anywhere in the world. We’re currently tent camping on the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey, and I’m building Messenger chatbots on a makeshift table out in the open with zero problems. I chose Chatfuel because this is exactly the kind of remote work flexibility I was looking for.
We’re currently tent camping on the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey, and I’m building bots on a makeshift table out in the open with zero problems.
I tried many different chatbot developer platforms before I found Chatfuel. I use it exclusively now. What first appealed to me was the intuitive and user-friendly interface. Now that bots are an integral part of all my projects, I also appreciate that it’s powerful enough to offer the functionalities I need. The near-endless options for third-party integrations like Integromat, Trello, MailChimp, Bookly, and Google Alerts mean I can build bots for so many different clients and use cases. Chatfuel allows me to roll out easy-to-use yet sophisticated automation systems in a matter of hours. There’s nothing quite like a Facebook Messenger bot for the business goals I want to achieve for my clients, and there’s no platform as robust and simple to use as Chatfuel.
I’ve been able to achieve some incredible results for my clients with Chatfuel bots. One recent success story involves a Messenger chatbot I built for a small business. Their Facebook page was only three weeks old, and they had no website or landing page. I created a simple chatbot that asks qualifying questions in a quiz format, using redirect blocks and instant replies. If the prospect qualifies, the bot sends them more information. If not, they’re redirected to a Facebook post. The data the bot gathers is captured in Google Sheets for the client to use. Finally, I downloaded the users from the People Tab in Chatfuel and used them to make Lookalike Audiences in Facebook.
I was able to grow them a highly targeted, relevant audience at a low cost. The client was previously paying $3-5 per lead using Facebook ads. With the bot I built them, that cost went down to $0.92 per lead. It’s just one example of many I’ve had where my Chatfuel bot completely revolutionized a company’s sales and marketing results.
Despite the fact that I’ve been able to achieve great cost-savings for clients, the biggest win for me is of a different type. Time is the currency I focus on, and Chatfuel has saved me weeks of time in building and testing my ideas and services. Not only does that let me scale my business and serve more clients, but it also allows me to create a well-balanced lifestyle where I have plenty of time to enjoy new places with my wife and son.
Time is the currency I focus on, and Chatfuel has saved me weeks of time in building and testing my ideas and services.
Every bot I design is a little bit different, but they all share about 80% of the same blocks. This consistency allows me to deploy new bots in less time and scale my work easily. When I do have a project for a new type of bot I’ve never done before, I’ll sometimes find a template to help me create one more quickly. To save time, don’t be afraid to collaborate or have someone assist you.
My other piece of advice for others building chatbots for Facebook out there is to keep it simple. The real power of Chatfuel bots lies in the option to capture user data and store it, and then interact seamlessly with those users in the future. In fact, the ability to create highly targeted audiences with the People tab is one of the most impactful features in Chatfuel. Everything else, in my opinion, is a bonus.
What's next for your family?
My wife and I always knew we wanted to raise our son as a citizen of the world. We wished to help him develop a broad perspective through a patchwork of international experiences in his formative years. The lifestyle of long-term, nomadic travel we desired requires a steady income stream from remote work around the world, and I was able to build that for us with Chatfuel.
In the last three years, we've spent time in nine different countries, taking advantage of the opportunity to go at our own pace and take in all kinds of experiences. Traveling across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway and swimming in the crystal-blue waters of the Mediterranean in Turkey have been just a few of our favorites so far. The ability to work remote and travel the world has allowed my family and I to create incredible memories across continents—and we’ve still got so much left to explore!
Want to use Chatfuel to achieve your dreams of working remote jobs worldwide, like Robert did? There’s no credit card or special knowledge required to get started with our platform. Have questions, or need advice? Check out our intro video, browse our how-to articles, or join our active Facebook support community. Now’s the time to start exploring the power of chatbots and discovering what they can do for you or your business!