Leaving Work Behind

22 Success Stories Reveal The Moment When They Knew They Were Capable Of More

Written by Tom Ewer on May 29, 2012. 53 Comments

22 Success Stories Reveal The Moment When They Knew They Were Capable Of More

Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks in building any successful venture.

~ Lydia M. Child

Success is subjective.

Upon consulting the Oxford English Dictionary, I found two distinct definitions:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  2. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status

It seems to me that most people will refer to the second definition when asked what success means to them. I certainly used to. But more recently, I have come to understand that success can be something else entirely. Something that has no grounding in material wealth or social status.

In my opinion, the root of success is happiness. Nothing more, and nothing less. If in my old age I look back at a life of contentment and fulfillment, I will reflect upon a life well lived.

Achieving Success

If someone asked me what the biggest roadblock to success is, I would say “belief”. In my opinion, belief in one’s own abilities is the key to achieving more than you ever previously thought possible. As human beings we thrive on confidence and achievement – both of which are fuelled by belief.

Which leads me to the 22 people featured below, and what they have to say. Each of the 22 are, in my humble opinion, huge success stories. Some are extremely wealthy and have achieved a high social status in their respective fields, but all are shining examples of how to live a happy and fulfilling life. I consider each and every one of them to be huge successes – regardless of their material wealth.

Which is why I am so excited to present you with their answers to this question:

At which point in life did you start believing in your ability to achieve more than the norm, and why?

To be honest, I was stunned by the incredible variety of answers that I got back – many of which stopped me in my tracks and made me reevaluate my own outlook on life. I honestly believe that the same will happen to you.

So without further ado, I will hand it over to them…

Chris GuillebeauThe Art of Non-Comformity

Chris GuillebeauI’m not sure I ever thought much about the norm to begin with. I was a high-school dropout and juvenile delinquent. Then I found a way to make something positive with my life and I moved overseas to West Africa. Then I started traveling, and then I learned to craft a career as a writer.

The point of these things is not that I am special or anything. I think I have fairly average and ordinary abilities. But the key was in thinking differently about the world, questioning assumptions and motivations, and defining my goals based on what I actually wanted to do instead of what was easily achievable.

Those things probably helped more than anything else. It was also good that I stopped stealing cars, since I wasn’t very good at it.

Sean OgleLocation 180

Sean OgleI’m not sure I actually really believed in my ability to do more than the norm until after I’d quit my job and moved to Asia.

For awhile I thought it might just be an extended vacation from a desk job. Then slowly the work I was putting in began to pay off. Opportunities kept showing up simply because I put myself in a position to capitalize on them. Oftentimes you don’t realize just what’s possible until after you make the leap, and that’s why so many others never get there – they’re too afraid to take the first step.

Colin WrightExile Lifestyle

Colin WrightThere was a moment in college, when I was working toward two degrees and working five jobs. I had the idea to start up my first business. I really thought hard about it and realized that I wasn’t afraid.

“Why are you not afraid?” I said, internally. “This is pretty messed up, and can go completely wrong, and you’re quitting most of your jobs to start a business in an industry you know very little about.” Despite that, though, I went through with it, knowing that even if the worst happened, I would be able to bounce back from it.

That confidence stemmed from all the work I had done previously, and the buildup led to a version of myself who had seen some failure and who no longer took myself quite so seriously as to need to always be right. At that point, I wondered what exactly could stop me? What on earth could keep me from achieving what I wanted to achieve?

When I couldn’t come up with an answer, I know that I was ready to start taking on the world.

Corbett BarrCorbettBarr.com

Corbett BarrI’ve always believed I was capable of achieving more than the norm.

Most people actually think they’re above average (this is known as illusory superiority). Believing you’re capable and actually putting in the work to make above average things happen are two completely different things.

Without the effort, you’ll never be above average.

Scott Dinsmore – Live Your Legend

Scott DinsmoreEverything changed the moment I started hanging around people who were doing the things I thought were impossible. They created a new “normal” and got me operating on a totally different level.

The fastest way to do the things that you don’t think can be done is to spend time around the people already doing them. Simple as that. Brainwash the impossible. Nothing is more powerful than environment.

Alexis GrantThe Traveling Writer

Alexis Grant It took tasting success to realize that I could really make a living on my own terms. In fact, I never dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur or even self-employed; I started doing this simply because it was the only way I could figure out how to create what I wanted to create without waiting for someone else’s approval.

I put my first eBook out into the world without knowing what to expect, and IT SOLD. That was my first taste of what I could accomplish – and it was on the side of my day job. I realized then that if I could put my entire self into what had until then been my “passion projects,” that I could really do something awesome.

Derek SiversSivers.org

Derek SiversWhen I was born.

I never had a turning point.  I’ve always just done my own thing.  Whether music, business, programming, whatever.

“The norm” was never on the menu, ever, from day one.

Chris DuckerVirtual Business Lifestyle

Chris DuckerIt was when I finally employed my 100th team member.

It had been a goal for a long, long time to be able to grow my business as quickly as possible, but it honestly took me a lot longer than I thought it would! Being able to support 100 families at the same time was just the icing on the cake. Now that I have 300+ people working for me I feel even more blessed than ever!

Building a successful business is awesome. But, providing mentorship and giving people the chance to better themselves is a whole different, highly enjoyable, ball game!

Joel RunyonImpossible Things

Joel RunyonThe honest answer is I didn’t know if I could when I started. When I started out, I wanted to change something but everything seemed literally impossible (hence the Blog of Impossible Things and Impossible HQ).

But once I started and finished one thing I thought was impossible, I kept wondering to myself, “If I thought that was impossible and I somehow managed to do it, what other things that I consider impossible are actually doable?” Over time, the circle of limitations kept expanding and pretty soon instead of telling myself that I couldn’t do something, I started asking myself “why not?”

Kristi Hines –  Kikolani

Kristi HinesI’ve always felt that I didn’t belong, especially in the corporate world. I’ve had plenty of different jobs, but they always felt exactly the opposite of what I should be doing with my life.

I was lucky to find my true passion through blogging when my first client contacted me out of the blue and offered me a freelance writing gig. It took a little while before I felt confident enough to leave the comfort zone of steady employment. One year later after that first inquiry, I developed my client base enough to turn a part time income boost into a full time career that I can do at home, on my own time.

With a flexible schedule on my own terms, I have the freedom to mix work and play in whenever I want which is really a dream come true!

Dan JohnsonRight Brain Rockstar

Dan JohnsonI think deep down I have always felt like I had the potential to achieve more – it was just acting on that potential that was the problem.

I always told myself that one day things would all fall into place and I would start living on my own terms. The problem is that things very rarely fall into place – you usually have to work hard to get them into place.

I think eventually it was a combination of dissatisfaction with my job and the realisation that I had achieved very little of real value in the last 10 years or so that finally gave me the motivation to take my life into my own hands towards the end of last year. I started reading a lot of lifestyle design type blogs, and came across The Unconventional Guide to Art & Money by Chris Guillebeau, which helped give me the confidence I needed to embark on a creative career path.

Life is too short to sit around daydreaming about what might happen one day. See what amazing things other people are doing, get inspired, and start living the dream today.

Farnoosh Brock – Prolific Living

Farnoosh BrockI was always blessed (or cursed) with the stubborn idea that my life was more than “this”. The “this” I am referring to was everything that happened to me up until the point that I decided to live on my own terms. This job. This education. This goal. This raise. This trip. This project.

I knew I was meant to do so much more, but the big problem staring me in the face was not the lack of belief but the lack of know-how. How on earth was I to escape or deny everything I’ve known to be a definition of success? And how can I achieve so much more than the norm?

The irony is that is the only way to achieve more than the norm is to go against the tide, to break the rules, to do things your way and follow your heart. It does not mean making foolish decisions; it means making bold and brave ones. And that started happening to me after serving 10 years in the corporate world, and many more in my education program before that.

But it happened and that’s all that matters. It happened because the inside voice, that intuition inside me, got to be so loud that I could no longer ignore it. When the day comes that it happens to you, I wish you enough courage to make the right decision.

Michelle Dale – Virtual Miss Friday

Michelle DaleThe warning signs were always there. There have been various times throughout my life where I have managed to overcome certain hurdles when I was told by many others that I would not. One of the earlier ones that springs to mind is leaving home and school at 16 to become independent without any qualifications. I was told I would be back home within 6 months – I wasn’t. It seems that the more of those hurdles you overcome, the more likely it is that you will start to believe that you are capable of achieving more than what is considered “the norm.”

So, I deliberately began putting myself into more unconventional situations, ones which would need a great deal of commitment, determination and a fair amount of courage to undertake…and the more I did them, the more ‘wins’ (Michelle vs Norm) I got, and the more confident I became in my ability to break away from what was considered as normal.

Everything finally clicked into place when I was 23 and sitting in the living room of my house, which I had just sold, having quit my ‘stable’ but painfully dull job just 3 months before. I had sold everything and bought a plane ticket to Egypt, not knowing what I was going to do when I got there, how I was ever going to earn any money, or even if I was ever coming back. It turned out, I discovered the Internet, created a business and made a whole new life for myself that other people tend to dream about. I never went back.

The fact remains, everyone has a fear of the unknown, but once you come to a point where you realize there’s nothing to lose that really truly matters, you can achieve amazing things.

Onibalusi Bamidele – Young Pre Pro

Onibalusi BamideleI’d like to think that I started believing in my ability to achieve more than the norm from a very young age, when I wanted to make money and build a great career without working for the government or anybody else. I was determined to make it work no matter what, so this was the beginning of me believing in my ability to achieve more than the average.

However, when I really started to believe in myself was just recently. Around a year or so ago, my confidence level soared to its highest when I realized that I could hardly move forward without confidence. Clients were sometimes playing games with me since I hardly ever challenged their decisions, but it got to a level when I could no longer take it. I started charging clients the highest possible (like $200 – $300 for an article when I usually charge around $70 – $100 before) and I started writing my articles and emails like an expert instead of an amateur.

The funny thing was, when I started making these changes (challenging clients that tried to cheat me, writing more authoritatively, etc.), instead of trying to avoid me, people actually started craving for more of me. Clients started paying me what I’m worth for my services, and I started getting feedback and testimonials from people that my tips were helping them.

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income

Pat FlynnIt was when I realized there was something more than normal out there available to me – when I was laid off and was forced onto an abnormal path, which I’m very thankful for.

If only I knew how capable I was before getting laid off, I’d be that much more ahead. I think everyone just needs to try something “off the normal path” and experience it to see how far they can really take themselves.

Conni Biesalski – A Life of Blue

Conni BiesalskiI’m not sure about a first time, but how about every time I go for a dream of mine and make it happen. The last massive one was hopping on a plane with a one-way ticket in 2009 after finishing my Master’s degree. I had wanted to travel without a return date for ages and finally did it – for two years.

After a while, I realized that I have the ability to freestyle life, work and plans and thus design my own dream life far away from the land of average. I am not scared to take risks anymore or to leave everything behind. I can live and make money anywhere, which is what I do now.

You have to do something scary once or until you succeed, and then you have to do it again. That’s the only way to start believing in your own abilities. Achieving more than the norm means taking risks. Otherwise everyone would do it and then it wouldn’t be unconventional anymore. The best way to do that is to stop thinking and rationalizing. It’s only our own fears that keep us from doing amazing stuff.

Marcus Sheridan – The Sales Lion

Marcus SheridanWhen I was 20 years old, I really started to embrace learning in general. The concept of self improvement was incredibly appealing to me and so I read more and more stuff. As I did this, I also started having opportunities, from this early age, to speak to large groups of people. Within a short period of time, I realized speaking and communication were where I felt most at home. For whatever reason, when I’d get in front of a group of 50 or 100 people I felt relaxed, in my element,and at peace. It was then that I knew I was supposed to communicate for a living.

But around age 23 I got into business with two other partners and this took me away from being able to speak to groups of people for about 8 years. During this time though, I really learned about business, marketing, and sales. Eventually, around the age of 32, I put all my knowledge and strength together, and started my communication and writing platform– The Sales Lion. It took some time to get going, but as I continued to push and push and push the speaking opportunities came. I had a story to tell and I told it well. Audiences and businesses responded.

Today, at the age of 34, I speak around the country and get to do what I love. My speaking style is incredibly unique and interactive– but it’s me, through and through.

Even better, I know it’s just beginning.

Steve Scott – Steve Scott Site

Steve ScottSpending a year at a job you hate is the best way to start believing in an extraordinary life. For many years I wanted something more. But it took a boring, 9 to 5 job to give me that final push to start taking action.

What’s funny is that I think most people want to go beyond the norm. The difference is that they’re not willing to push past their comfort zone.

I had many fears when I left my job. There was a chance that things could have gone really wrong.  What got me through this time was stubbornness. I wanted a great life and was willing to do anything to achieve it.  This mindset definitely helped whenever a major obstacle popped up.

Jacob Sokol – Sensophy

Jacob SokolThe journey that we all need to take is inside, not outside. You wanna create an extraordinary life? Become an extraordinary person!

My sense of what was possible with my life shifted when I took time to travel alone though Europe for 5 weeks. Blah blah blah. Yada yada yada. We’ve all heard about someone taking a trip that changed their life in some way. But here’s why it changed mine:

I realized that I wasn’t my thoughts!

Up until then I identified “who I was” by “what I thought.” But being alone in a new environment for that amount of time allowed me to realize that my thoughts are just habits – habits of my mind! And if they’re habits, I can change them!

Whoa! If I could change my thoughts, I could change myself. And if I could change myself, I could change my life.

In my own personal way, I embodied what the father of the Positive Psychology movement, Marin Seligman, calls learned optimism!

Benny Hsu – Get Busy Living

Benny HsuStarting to believe in myself wasn’t an overnight success. It took some time after burying myself under a lot of self-doubt.

It started with an understanding that I am 100% responsible for everything that happens in my life. The situation I put myself in didn’t just happen by accident, but because of the small and big choices I had made. When I realized that I had put myself in that position, I knew that I could use that same power to get myself out of it. That was the first step.

I think it really hit me that I could achieve more than the norm was when I finished my first half marathon. I trained diligently for three months. I completed a goal that I thought wasn’t possible for me and I finished the race leaving everything I had on the course. I felt amazing. I was in the best shape of my life. I felt like this whole new world was ready for me to conquer. Soon after that I started my blog and development on my first iPhone app, which ended up earning me $32,000 in the first 30 days, seven months later.

Therese Schwenkler – The Unlost

Therese SchwenklerI think I knew deep down for a long, long time that I was capable of more than the norm, but it took quite awhile before I could live out that truth and truly believe in myself (and by the way, I am not making a full time living yet since quitting my corporate job – I’m still living off my savings, although I have things in the works).

I wish I could tell you exactly how and when that shifted, but I’m not sure I can. It seemed to happen slowly over time. I don’t think there’s a clear cut, one step to “believing in yourself”; rather, it’s a process.

There are, however, two things that I believe were imperative.

1. Taking Action

I always had a “feeling” that I could achieve more than the norm, but for years I was too scared or uncertain or lazy to take any action. This all began to change once I took one small step forward. After I began writing my blog and putting it out there to the world, my belief in myself and my abilities skyrocketed. It all happened very slowly and gradually – I didn’t begin with any great expectations or even with the intention of quitting my job or doing what I’m doing today, but the important thing is that I started.

Once I realized I could do one little thing, it became easier to do more… and more… and more, one small step at a time, until I found myself where I am today (and I continue to take steps now and have much farther to go! ;))

So my advice to anyone who wants to achieve more than the norm is this: just take one small step forward, and do it now! Nothing happens overnight, but your confidence and your ability will grow with time. Also, you don’t have to see the whole picture when you’re first starting out. Just start somewhere! You can change your course over time; nothing is set in stone.

2. Surrounding Myself with the Right People

There is absolutely no way I would have had the courage and the strength to continue taking steps forward without support and belief from others. The people you surround yourself matter, and they matter a lot. No one can do it alone. Start taking steps forward and then make a conscious effort to seek out, and to surround yourself with, people who believe in you as a person.

Laura Simms – Create As Folk

Laura SimmsI feel very lucky that my parents instilled a sense of independence in me.

“Don’t worry about what other people think, just do what you know is right,” is a message that was repeated many times in many ways. My parents have lived a fairly conventional life; my dad is a lawyer and my stay-at-home mom got more serious about art and design once she had an empty nest.

So for me, it’s not that I had this big moment of “I can do better than the norm.” It’s just been a underlying current of “I can do it my way.” It can reveal itself as stubbornness and definitely work against me. But I’ve always thought that I’d rather make my own mistakes than get someone else’s A+.

Thank You.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who took the time to contribute to the incredible collection of stories above – I am forever in your debt. If you took value from this article, please take a moment to share it amongst your friends via the buttons to the left.

Now it is your turn – I want you to add your answer to my question in the comments section below:

At which point in life did you start believing in your ability to achieve more than the norm, and why?

If you don’t yet have the answer to that question, then tell us – what is holding you back?

As always, I look forward to engaging with you!

Creative Commons photo courtesy of openlibrary.org

Why I’m Getting Naked For You (And No One Else)

Written by Tom Ewer on May 24, 2012. 41 Comments

Why I'm Getting Naked For You (And No One Else)Don’t worry – the headline of this post is not to be taken literally. But it’s not just fluff either. After all, when have I ever been in the business of publishing pointlessly sensationalistic headlines?

This post means a lot to me, a lot to this blog, and I hope it will mean something to you too. If you intend to continue reading Leaving Work Behind for any period of time beyond today, I urge you to read this post in its entirety.

The Situation

I have been blogging mindlessly. Leaving Work Behind has been relatively directionless. It has essentially been about my experiences – a quasi-journal if you will – but it has had no real central focus.

My approach to blogging has been very broad – I’ve basically written about anything that has taken my fancy. I don’t have a problem with what I have done – after all, I was brand new to the blogging scene just 11 months ago. I’d barely even read a blog, let alone produced one of my own. It has been a huge learning curve.

But I now realize that this blog has to become something more meaningful in order for it to evolve further.

On Getting Naked

I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Danny Iny’s Naked Marketing Manifesto. Whilst it is eminently quotable, one of the excerpts that really caught my eye was this:

Just as we each have our unique personal tastes in romantic partners, we also each have a specific type of customer that is an especially good fit for our business. It will never be everyone, though, and that’s a good thing.

Getting naked in your marketing isn’t about showing your goods off to the entire world – it’s about finding the ONE person who will appreciate them the most.

Whilst I certainly don’t think of this blog as a business, the logic is precisely the same. I need to find my one person.

What Does This Mean?

It’s simple really – I need to clearly demonstrate to my visitors what they can expect from this blog, then deliver on my promise. I need to let go of the fear that some people won’t like what I have to offer.

Here’s a simple fact – plenty of people will have absolutely zero interest in what I have to offer – but if I target my “one person” effectively, that won’t matter.

At the center of this is one simple desire – to get an awesome reaction from my ideal reader. As Danny says, “You can’t just get attention by shucking your pants and waggling around, hoping that the right people notice!” If I’m going to be shucking anything, I sure as hell better be doing it in front of the right person.

Who Is My “One Person”?

If you haven’t yet read Danny’s post on finding your one person, I heartily recommend that you do. What I am about to say may not mean a great deal unless you have.

My one person is essentially me. To begin with, this blog was intended to chronicle my journey to quitting my job. That time has come and gone. Now it is about quitting your job and creating a fulfilling and happy life for yourself. It’s about creating a life where you have the power to effectively control your hours worked, your income, and your expenditure. It’s about enjoying the now, whilst also working towards the future. It’s about creating the best possible balance that you can. That’s what I want – and I am hoping it is what you want too.

If you do share my values, if you want the same fundamental things from life that I do, then you can look forward to content that is written specifically for you. I want to help you, and no one else. No diluted messages, no broad brushstroke remedies – I want it to seem like we are sitting down together for a few beers on a warm summer’s day, like old friends, ready to build a life worth living.

It may seem self-centered to build a blog around what I want to achieve from life, but what I could be better qualified to do? If you are like me – if you don’t want to work 12 hour days, if you want the flexibility to take the day off from work, if you want to build a life that isn’t centered on money alone – then this blog will become a goldmine of resources for you over time. Ultimately, I have a great passion for building a better life for myself, and for you. If my passion doesn’t seep through the damn monitor and slap you around the face, I’m not doing a good enough job.

Much More To Come

This is the beginning of something very big for this blog – you’ve just struck the tip of the iceberg today. You’ll see a few changes around here, and I am going to be following this up with what I consider to be a great series of posts, all written with you (and only you) in mind. I have no doubt that you will take great value from them, because I have already done so in writing them. And you are just like me.

What Do You Expect?

I do not want to alienate any of my readers – but I absolutely do want to crystallize my “brand” and “message”. I want my one person to know as soon as they hit this blog that it was written specifically with them in mind.

What I want to know at this stage is, what do you expect from this blog? It’ll be interesting to see how well that aligns with my focus over the coming weeks and months. Open fire in the comments section!

How Writing = More Traffic and Subscribers

Written by Tom Ewer on May 16, 2012. 28 Comments

How Writing = More Traffic and SubscribersYesterday I had a guest post published on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog.

The post has brought in approximately 250 visitors and 60 new email subscribers. In 24 hours. Who knows how much the post will ultimately contribute to my blog in new subscribers – all I do know is that it will have been well worth it.

What blows me away about this is how stupid I have been to not better leverage guest posting already. Whilst it is something I have done before (and written about extensively), I’ve never really committed myself to guest posting wholeheartedly.

But that’s all going to change over the coming weeks, and I have no doubt that it will have a huge impact on the popularity of my blog.

Want to learn the process?

Introducing Danny Iny

You may have heard of Danny. He is the guy behind the Firepole Marketing blog, and a guest posting expert. I think someone who has had over 80 guest posts published is worthy of that title.

Me and subscribers to my email list were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Danny yesterday and learn his system for writing stellar guest posts in a quick and efficient manner. This guy pops out 1,200 – 1,600 word posts in 60 – 90 minutes, and when published on sites all around the blogosphere, they pump in a ton of traffic and subscribers to Firepole Marketing.

Danny was giving this information away for free. Whilst he does ultimately have his Write Like Freddy course to sell, I was gobsmacked at how much training he simply gave away in yesterday’s webinar.

If you want to bring in more traffic and subscribers, you should watch the following video.

More Traffic and Subscribers via Fast, Easy Writing

I hope you enjoyed the video. If you’re keen to get cracking with Danny’s Write Like Freddy course, you can sign up now!

Danny made a great point during the webinar – that learning is easy. It’s the taking part bit after the learning that makes all the difference. So now that you’ve watched the video, you have an opportunity to put Danny’s method into practice.

If you follow the system correctly, more traffic and subscribers is pretty much guaranteed. If you slow down your own blog’s posting schedule and make up the difference with guest posts, it doesn’t even have to take any more time. It’s all down to you.

Are You Going To Take Action?

I didn’t put this video up on a whim, or simply because it was easy “filler” material. I put it up because I believe that Danny is teaching a system that works. The results from my Smart Passive Income guest post are testament to that.

So if you want to grow your blog, you now have a choice – to take action with a proven system, or continue what you are doing. What is your choice going to be? Let me know in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Linda Cronin

10 Reasons Why I Am Going Back To The WordPress Comments System

Written by Tom Ewer on May 10, 2012. 50 Comments

10 Reasons Why I Am Going Back To The WordPress Comments SystemFor those of you who read my rather recent post entitled 10 Reasons I Have Switched To Livefyre, you might consider me rather impulsive. But the fact of the matter is, after having considered my options, I honestly believe that the standard WordPress comments system is the best solution for my blog.

There is no doubting the quality of what Livefyre has to offer. And their customer service is astonishing (almost good enough to make me keep using their system as a matter of principle). But it just doesn’t quite click with me.

I am going to start this post by addressing each of the 10 reasons I originally switched, and explaining the individual reasonings behind my change of heart. Then I’m going to give you an overview as to why I am delighted to be moving back to the standard WordPress comments system.

10 Reasons Livefyre Isn’t For Me

I should make something clear up front – this post isn’t intended to be a damning indictment of Livefyre. Quite the opposite in fact – I would recommend it to people with complimentary requirements, and will happily rave all day about how awesome the guys at Livefyre are. This is just an overview of why it doesn’t suit my needs.

If you haven’t yet read my original Livefyre post, you may want to do so before you proceed, in order to give the following some context.

1. Comments Consolidation

Livefyre has a feature that sounds pretty badass in principle – it can pull related content from your Facebook and Twitter accounts directly into the comments stream. In reality, it wasn’t quite as awesome as I thought.

The algorithm that chooses what tweets and Facebook comments should be included seems rather faulty to me. Check out this comment stream from a recent post:

Comments Consolidation

Not exactly a fascinating exchange, is it?

To be honest, I think this feature is overly ambitious – it would take near-human levels of reasoning to determine what items should and shouldn’t be included, and even then, it would be a subjective decision. Livefyre themselves admitted that integrating only the “correct” items is “a tough nut to crack”. That nut is yet to be cracked, in my opinion.

2. Tagging

This is a great feature, but not one that I will miss. In fact, I haven’t actually used it. You can achieve the same result by simply tweeting someone a link to the post or specific comment location, so it’s not like this feature is performing miracles.

3. Real Time Commenting

Again, I consider this a great feature, but just not something that encourages me to stay with Livefyre. It belongs in the “nice to have, but not game-changing” category.

In my conversation with Jeremy, who works for Livefyre, he was quick to point out that the real time commenting system is not for all blogs:

We think it adds another dimension to conversation that, at any point you could have a static conversation turn into a live chat. Or, you can host live discussions for a second screen experience from everything from award shows to sports events. If you’re using Livefyre as purely a comment catcher, and that’s it, you may not appreciate the real-time nature of it as much as…sites who are always hosting live discussions. It’s vital to their community dynamic.

Fair points, but whilst real time commenting may be vital for some bloggers, it certainly isn’t for me.

4. Notifications

I miss the Comment Reply Notification plugin, and am looking forward to being reunited with it. It just worked, and I didn’t have to second-guess whether or not commenters were being informed of replies. I am still not entirely sure how the notification system works across different login types and so on – it’s all just a bit too complicated.

5. Multiple Sign In Options

I actually see this feature as a big detractor. With the standard WordPress comments system, you enter your name and an email address and you’re on your way. You know exactly what information you are sharing with the blog.

With Livefyre, they want you to hand over access to a social media account, or create a whole new Livefyre account if you are unwilling. I am pretty sure this is considered too onerous by some. I want commenting on my blog to be as easy and straightforward as possible, and I think that the WordPress system is just that.

6. Post Promotion

This is an easy one – you can replicate this feature with a plugin such as Comment Luv. It is not a selling point that is unique to Livefyre, and therefore doesn’t compel me to stay.

7. Comments Sharing

Meh. Just meh.

8. Crawlability

I am still very doubtful as to whether Livefyre’s method of allowing comments to be crawled by search engines is in any way beneficial to rankings, and such a feature is not going to convince me to stay.

9. Spam Protection

Since I implemented Livefyre, a couple of spammy comments have got through, but none have been held back. So whilst this has perhaps been an improvement, it is not compelling enough to convince me to stay.

10. “Awesome” Moderation Features

Well, I was just plain wrong about this. Replying to comments with Livefyre is an absolute nightmare. I made a point of how easy WordPress’ backend comments management feature is to use in a recent ManageWP post – Livefyre by contrast is extremely testing. I can’t wait to get back to my old ways.

In Livefyre’s defense, they are working towards building a better system for full integration with WordPress’ comments management feature, but my understanding is that it is something that is distant on the horizon, rather than just around the corner.

The Grass Is Greener…

As soon as I have hit “Publish” on this post, I am going to get the standard WordPress comments system set up again. Here is what I am looking forward to:

What Do YOU Think?

I’d love to get your feedback on this. If you are a blogger, which comments system do you use? Do you think I am right to leave Livefyre and go back to my commenting roots? Let me know in the comments section!

My Monthly Income & Expenditure Report – April 2012

Written by Tom Ewer on May 7, 2012. 28 Comments

Income ReportI opened up last month’s income report by pointing out that we were already one quarter of the way through 2012. And with the passing of another month, there are but two thirds of the year left.

It’s rather frightening how quickly things are moving for me, but I must say that I am extremely happy with how the year has panned out to date.

My original plans have essentially gone out of the window, but I am getting used to that now. I have to remind myself that back in July of last year, I planned to quit my job at the end of this month by building a full time income with my Modeling For Kids site (remember that?). It’s fair to say that my original plan didn’t come to fruition – but it was replaced with a far better end result. I’m going with the flow, and loving it.

Although I have certainly struggled for motivation at certain points (especially given how unsuccessful my niche site project has been to date), I currently feel more driven than ever in accomplishing my planned future goals.

Looking Back

At the start of the month I was extremely doubtful of attracting 10,000 visitors to this blog again – especially given my new approach. I expected that my freelance income would pick up again after having spent a fair proportion of March on holiday. Finally, I had no idea how well my niche sites would perform.

So in essence, I was expecting a mixed bag of results. Let’s take a look at how things went!

Freelance Writing

Things are still ticking along nicely on this front. The work from my two regular clients continues, and I am getting approached more and more often by people who have found me either through my existing work, or this blog.

Perhaps most importantly, I have set an hourly rate for all future clients that I am happy with. Whilst I am not going to reveal my rate, let’s just say that it would just about hit the six figure mark if I chose to work what would be considered a “normal” number of hours per week (although I don’t see that happening any time soon ;)). That rate has yet to be sniffed at by potential clients, which is of course encouraging.

Niche Sites

Well this isn’t going well at all, to be perfectly frank with you. In retrospect I can clearly recognize that I have thrown away an enormous amount of money on this project without appropriately assessing the potential benefits and risks. It is a mistake that I will try hard not to make again. You live and learn!

This month I will be finishing off link building to the remaining sites, at which point it will simply be a case of sitting back and waiting to see if there are any positive results. To be perfectly honest with you, I will be happy to see the back of this project for a couple of months – it has offered very little in the way of progress.

New Project

Once I have wrapped up my niche site project, I will have time to start work on something new. I have been rolling a few ideas around in my head over the last several weeks, as I am not in a rush to start on anything that I am not completely comfortable with.

I really like two of the ideas, and I think I am ready to move forward with one of them. I will probably be asking for your opinion soon, so stay tuned!

Income & Expenditure – April 2012

I am extremely happy to announce that April was a record month in terms of earnings – and by a rather convincing margin no less. It also marked the first month where Leaving Work Behind turned a profit (not including the equivalent cost of my time input).

  1. Freelance writing:
    • Income: $3,157.05
    • Expenditure: $0
    • Profit: $3,157.05
  2. Niche sites:
    • Income: $18.27
    • Expenditure: $183.46
    • Profit: -$165.19
  3. Leaving Work Behind:
    • Income: $91.30
    • Expenditure: $53.26
    • Profit: $38.04

Total profit for April 2012: $3,029.90

My freelance income wasn’t quite at its February peak, but a huge reduction in my niche site outgoings and a modest contribution from this blog combined to make it a good month for me.

I am now flirting dangerously with breaking even on my total expenses (business and personal). I don’t think it will be long before we see that.

Cash Flow

I’m feeling very comfortable with my cash flow now. If I was feeling any kind of pressure, it has now completely dissapated.

Cash Flow

If you compare this cash flow with last month’s, you will see that my “red zone” has been pushed back slightly. But the key thing to note is my freelance income, which is extremely conservative. In fact, it only accounts for my two regular clients, and none of the extra work that I am doing. As always, I would prefer to err on the size of cautious conservatism, so that I am not presented with any nasty surprises.

There may well be a point in the relatively near future where keeping tabs on cash flow in this manner is no longer strictly necessary. If my income is consistently exceeding my expenses by a comfortable margin, a monthly cash flow projection would essentially become redundant. It would only be required if I were to want to invest a sizable and/or periodical cash sum in a particular project (at which point, I would want to check that I can afford it).

Blog Roundup

As I expected, April has not been a good month for the blog, relative to the previous two months:

Analytics

Although I am not at all surprised, I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt a bit. At least the engagement metrics are holding nicely.

At the end of the day, I have to weigh up input against benefit. And the fact is that Leaving Work Behind wasn’t providing me with the kind of income that justified the enormous amount of time that I was investing. But regardless of that, I love writing for this blog and engaging with you guys, so I will be going nowhere.

Quite the opposite in fact – rather than taking this drop in traffic on the chin, I have been completely reevaluating my efforts. There are ways and means of increasing the quality of your input without increasing the quantity. More on that soon…

April Micro-Goals Roundup

My goals for April were essentially rendered obsolete by my shift in approach. They were focused entirely on my niche site project, and I am now winding that down whilst I analyze the impact of my work to date over the next few months.

My To Do List For May

It’s about time that I set some more effective goals. I feel pretty good about what I have committed to doing for this month – it wraps up my existing niche site project and subsequently represents a better picture of where I am heading.

Niche Sites

Leaving Work Behind

If you are a regular reader then you know that I have struggled with producing a cohesive autoresponder series for this blog. I finally think I have come up with a template that makes sense, and aim to have it up and running this month.

New Project

This goal is deliberately ambiguous. Since the project is very much in the formative stages, I am do not have a specific goal in mind for the month – I just want to get the ball rolling.

What’s In Store For May?

April was a bit bumpy, but ultimately represented a successful month in terms of earnings. I want to take that momentum forward into May – with possibly even higher earnings, a new approach for this blog (perhaps accompanied by a recovery in traffic numbers), and the start of an exciting new project.

All in all, I am looking forward to crushing it in May!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Images_of_Money