Why I No Longer Give Free Advice about Croatia

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It all started with a laptop and a pint.

A new career, the latest in a string of new careers – being self-employed in a foreign land is not without its challenges. 


I remember how nervous I was when I started the Total Hvar blog way back in October 2011. Did I have anything interesting to say? Would anyone actually read my words?

There have been many milestones over the last 12 years, which live long in the memory, but none more so than the moment that Sinisa Matkovic-Mikulcic of Secret Hvar became the first person to share one of my articles. 

It got EIGHT likes on Facebook.

I felt like JK Rowling, as though the whole world was reading. 

And then came the first comment, and then the first email asking for information. I was more than happy to oblige. Engagement grows the beast, but also I could see how the birth of a community would help the site grow. 

And grow it did.

At one crazy point, the TCN project had no less than 11 writers on the payroll. It was pretty chaotic.

And just as the number of writers and articles increased, so too did the incoming emails to the inbox, most of them looking for information or wanting to meet for a coffee. 

I was always happy to oblige, but then the floodgates opened. I currently get about 400 messages a day, mostly from people I don’t know. They are looking for information, thinking about moving to Croatia, and wanting to meet and buy me a beer. 

It is flattering to get so much attention, but there comes a point when if I answered every email and drank every beer, that would be my full-time job. Which would not bring in a lot of cash to feed the kids. 

And of course, there are those who expect you to be at their beck and call, and if you don’t reply instantly, you are arrogant. When I lived in Varazdin, there was a chap in Zagreb who wanted to buy me a coffee. I was only going to Zagreb one day a week at the time, and my diary was full of business meetings from 10am to 10pm each week when I got the bus back home. I apologised, said I was busy and to try again in a month if he still wanted to meet. He gave me a piece of his mind and unfriended me.  

Each to their own. At least one less message, I suppose. 


And then there are those such as former Top Fan Andrea, who sent me a bizarre request for help regarding her partner’s inability to get an Irish passport notarised, and what could I do to help. Having no knowledge about the situation, as well as being the 30th enquiry I had answered that hour, I suggested she check with the Irish Embassy. 

For which my public reward was above. 


Maybe I have an arrogant streak in my messages to people with the surname of Woods (or perhaps it is the same person), but here are some of the comments to my announcement of my new talk show on 24Sata, which aired on Sunday. 

Another commentator asked dear Elizabeth to explain what question she had asked me. I did too, also wondering also why she follows TCN if she finds my face so abhorrent. 

As with many trolls, when confronted, the comment was deleted, and so we will never know. 

Such is life. 

So lots of effort for little reward, with the probable bonus of receiving abuse for your efforts. It sounds a little like promoting tourism and getting lawsuits in compensation. 

Back in 2011, I was a lonely blogger with no peers to talk to, but these days, of course, there are many more freelancers and copywriters in the remote work space. 

We began to talk and share experiences. 

We were both shocked, I at how much better they handled all this, they that I was doing so much for free.

“Rule number one, Paul, NEVER  do anything for free once you are established. You have built a brand, have a website full of articles, an excellent book. If people still want to talk to you, then they should pay.”

Would anyone really pay to learn something from me?

I decided to test it recently.  The first person was thinking of moving to Croatia and wanted to schedule a call to pick my brain. I politely suggested he buy our recent book, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, and if he still wanted to talk, then I could send him my rates for 30 and 60 minutes.  The reply was swift – thanks but he had no intention of paying. It seems it is fine to expect me to give things for free.

I spoke to more people in the field, and they were all adamant. Start charging.

And so, somewhat with reluctance (but necessity), that is what  I have decided to do. And incredibly, a little like Sinisa being the first to share one of my articles all those years ago, someone is prepared to pay for my time to help him move to Croatia.


So if you want to book my time for a chat, I charge 70 euro plus VAT for 30 mins, 100 euro plus VAT for 60.

Having said all that, I am going to try one new approach to making myself available to answer people’s questions, in the form of a YouTube live AMA (Ask Me Anything) one hour a month. I am still figuring out the format and will announce the time shortly for a 1-hour live chat. If you have a question you would like answered, please contact [email protected] Subject Live chat.  


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning – Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.





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