Leaving Work Behind

The 100 Blogs You Need in Your Life (LWB 100 — 3rd Edition)

Written by Tom Ewer on February 25, 2013. 93 Comments

Every artist was first an amateur ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (tweet this)

A painter painting.The vast majority of us are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Proof of this is all around us — there are people who have achieved more than me in their lives with less opportunity, education and experience. But this doesn’t get me down. Quite the opposite in fact — it acts as inspiration. It provides me with great motivation to achieve more with my own life.

And when it comes to achieving more it comes down to one simple concept: making the most of your available time. We all only have 24 hours available to us every day so it is those amongst us that use time wisely that prosper (in every sense of the word). And in the same way that every artist was first an amateur, every successful, happy and fulfilled business owner was once a shadow of his or her former self. No matter the position you’re in now, you’re capable of being so much more.

In this, the third edition of my LWB 100 series, I aim to provide you with the material that will enable you to make the most of your time. In doing so you can transform yourself from the proverbial amateur into a true artist of your chosen craft.

What Makes this Different

For those of you who don’t know, the LWB 100 is a list of my hundred favorite blogs that can help you leave work behind — quit your job, build your own successful online business and (most importantly) live a fulfilled and enjoyable life. It is the result of countless hours of research and reading — each and every blog on the list has been personally scrutinised and handpicked.

With this being the third edition of the LWB you may be wondering what it has to offer over previous editions. Well for starters, the list features 23 brand new blogs — nearly a quarter of the list is brand new. But that’s not all. This edition of the LWB features my personal picks per category, which you will find directly below the list. If you are rather overwhelmed at the prospect of browsing through 100 blogs then you’ll be better served by starting with my personal favorites.

Before You Start

There are a few things you should take note of before starting with the list:

With that said, let’s get to it!

The Leaving Work Behind 100 [3rd Edition]

#NameCategory
1SEOmoz BlogSEO
2CopybloggerWeb Content
3ProBloggerBlogging
4Social Media ExaminerOnline Marketing
5Four Hour Work Week BlogLeaving Work Behind
6Daily Blog TipsBlogging
7Seth GodinOnline Marketing
8Freelance SwitchFreelancing
9Zen HabitsPersonal Development
10QuicksproutInternet Marketing
11Get Rich SlowlyPersonal Finance
12Occam's RazorSEO
13Smart Passive IncomeInternet Marketing
14The Unbounce BlogOnline Marketing
15Brian GardnerInternet Marketing
16Steve PavlinaPersonal Development
17Chris BroganOnline Marketing
18Shoe MoneyInternet Marketing
19Entrepreneur's JourneyInternet Marketing
20Michael HyattEntrepreneurship
21Basic Blog TipsBlogging
22Social TriggersOnline Marketing
23KISSMetricsOnline Marketing
24MixergyEntrepreneurship
25KikolaniOnline Marketing
26Duct Tape MarketingOnline Marketing
27Famous BloggersBlogging
28Buffer BlogOnline Marketing
29Marie ForleoLeaving Work Behind
30Freelance FolderFreelancing
31ViperchillInternet Marketing
32Dumb Little ManPersonal Development
33Think TrafficOnline Marketing
34Traffic Generation CaféOnline Marketing
35Income DiaryInternet Marketing
36The Art of Non-ConformityLeaving Work Behind
37Smart Blog on Social MediaOnline Marketing
38Derek SiversEntrepreneurship
39Write To DoneFreelancing
40Young Pre ProFreelancing
41Nerd FitnessPersonal Development
42Rise To The TopEntrepreneurship
43Point Blank SEOSEO
44The Sales LionOnline Marketing
45Kaiser the SageSEO
46White Hot TruthLeaving Work Behind
47Men With PensWeb Content
48Startup Lessons LearnedEntrepreneurship
49Man vs. DebtPersonal Finance
50Firepole MarketingOnline Marketing
51chrisg.comOnline Marketing
52ConversionXLOnline Marketing
53Niche PursuitsNiche Sites
54Location 180Leaving Work Behind
55Danny BrownOnline Marketing
56Jonathan FieldsEntrepreneurship
57Blog Marketing AcademyBlogging
58Paid to ExistLeaving Work Behind
59Change Your Thoughts - Change Your LifePersonal Development
60Live Your LegendLeaving Work Behind
61My Wife Quit Her JobeCommerce
62Make A Living WritingFreelancing
63Adrienne SmithBlogging
64AdSense FlippersNiche Sites
65Retire @ 21Entrepreneurship
66Sparring MindOnline Marketing
67Pushing SocialOnline Marketing
68Success WorksSEO
69Passive PandaEntrepreneurship
70Online Income TeacherInternet Marketing
71Escape From Cubicle NationLeaving Work Behind
72The Suitcase EntrepreneurLeaving Work Behind
73Chris DuckerOnline Marketing
74PotPieGirlSEO
75Steve Scott SiteInternet Marketing
76Jeff KorhanOnline Marketing
77Tropical MBAInternet Marketing
78eCommerce FueleCommerce
79Make Money On The InternetInternet Marketing
80Eventual MillionaireEntrepreneurship
81Exile LifestyleLeaving Work Behind
82Content VerveWeb Content
83Alexis GrantLeaving Work Behind
84Mike From MaineInternet Marketing
85Prolific LivingLeaving Work Behind
86Motivational MemoPersonal Development
87Reviews 'n' TipsBlogging
88Get Busy LivingLeaving Work Behind
89Grad Meets WorldLeaving Work Behind
90Income PressInternet Marketing
91Dollars and RosesInternet Marketing
92The Word ChefOnline Marketing
93Foolish AdventureInternet Marketing
94Build A Little BizEntrepreneurship
95Virtual Miss FridayOnline Marketing
96Create As FolkEntrepreneurship
97Marketing WiseOnline Marketing
98Forever JoblessEntrepreneurship
99Life StokedPersonal Development
100A Life On Your TermsLeaving Work Behind

The Best of the LWB 100

I’m not going to lie — that’s a lot to get through! And while I know from past experience that plenty of people will enthusiastically dig into the list and start consuming content, in this edition of the LWB 100 I want to give you alternative means of checking out my favorite blogs. Below you will find my personal picks from the LWB 100 by category.

Blogging

Picking a favorite here is a toughie, especially considering that there are plenty of “blogging blogs” that didn’t even make it onto the list (generally because they’re a little too technical and far removed from the whole Leaving Work Behind mindset). Having said that, my pick has to be ProBlogger. I’m pretty sure it was the first blog I actually came across when I started my journey and also happened to be the catalyst for the launch of my freelance writing business (via the ProBlogger Job Board).

There loads more to love here though — I’d like to mention Daily Blog Tips and Famous Bloggers in particular which both offer a tonne of great advice relating to the art of blogging.

eCommerce

There are only two blogs to pick from this category but I’ve got to go with My Wife Quit Her Job. You could accuse me of nepotism on the basis that I write for the blog but that’s not really the reason.

The fact is that Steve Chou (the blog’s owner) and his wife are a living, breathing case study of how to successfully launch a successful eCommerce store. Steve offers up the kind of candid view of his experiences in a way that really resonates with me and I have no hesitation in recommending his site to anyone that is considering launching an eCommerce store.

Entrepreneurship

Many of us are looking for actionable advice when in fact we would be far better served by understanding the fundamentals of business — that is what these blogs are all about. While this is the category I consider most important in terms of helping people to leave work behind, it is probably also the most neglected.

There are some truly great thinkers amongst the entrepreneurship blogs listed on the LWB 100 but I have to pick Mixergy on the basis that it offers an enormous breadth of knowledge and experience in the hundreds of interviews available on the site (Rise to the Top is also a notable mention for the same reason).

Beyond that I have to mention Derek Sivers’ blog (an extremely gifted man) and also Forever Jobless — although this blog has endured a bit of a stuttering start, Billy Murphy’s entrepreneurial insights are priceless.

Freelancing

Freelance writing has essentially gifted me the life I have today so I’ll always take every opportunity encourage people to follow in my path (that is the primary reason I created my freelance writing guide). If you’d like to discover more about what I consider to be the easiest path to leaving work behind for anyone who has a remote talent for writing then check out the blogs in this category.

My top pick has to be Make a Living Writing — the hugely experienced Carol Tice has a great deal of value to offer on the topic of freelance writing. A notable mention also goes to Young Pre Pro — I love Oni’s site. Finally, Freelance Switch is an enormous resource with some truly great content and also happens to feature the likes of Carol and myself as guest posters.

Internet Marketing

It comes as no surprise that this is the second most heavily populated category in the LWB 100. You would be forgiven for thinking that selecting a favorite would therefore be difficult but I have no hesitation in naming Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income as my top pick. Pat’s site has been a true inspiration to me over the last couple of years and I don’t know where I would be right now without it.

There are a couple of newcomers in this category that I would also like to mention specifically: Mike From Maine and Dollars and Roses. Check them out and you’ll see why!

Leaving Work Behind

This category features blogs that can help you in terms of your mindset and approach to quitting your job and establishing a successful online business. They may not always major on actionable advice but they offer you something far more valuable — the tools with which you can take action in your own unique way.

There’s a lot to love here — as much in the people behind the blogs than the blogs themselves. Picking one favorite is pretty much impossible, I have to say. These are the guys (and girl) that I think really make an impact: Chris Guillebeau, Scott Dinsmore and Marie Forleo. Having said that I’ve not even mentioned superstars like Tim Ferriss and awesome up-and-comers like Liz Seda. Get exploring!

Niche Sites

Just like eCommerce there are only two sites to pick from in this category and to be honest I couldn’t single one out. Spencer Haws’ Niche Pursuits is a great one-man case study of how to launch a successful and diversified business with its roots firmly set in niche sites while AdSense Flippers is run by a two-man team of born entrepreneurs who have an enormous amount to teach in terms of creating efficient systems and building huge numbers of websites. You should check them both out!

Online Marketing

There are more online marketing blogs out there than you can shake a stick at so you wouldn’t be blamed for being overwhelmed by the huge number available named in the LWB 100 (23 to be precise). These blogs cover a broad spectrum — from B2B and B2P marketing to blog marketing and beyond.

Having said that my top pick has to be Think Traffic. As far as I am concerned Corbett Barr is on top of the world at the moment with the redesign of his site last year and the launch of Fizzle not too long ago. He has a great deal to offer to anyone who is interested in online marketing.

Beyond that there are loads of other blogs I absolutely love: Social Triggers, Firepole Marketing, Sparring Mind and even more (I have to stop somewhere!).

Personal Development

This is a much-neglected area when it comes to leaving work behind — I think a lot of us could do with expanding our horizons and focusing more about what goes on in our head as opposed to what we are trying to achieve in external, materialistic terms.

The standout blog here is Steve Pavlina’s — his site has been around for about a decade and the amount of awesome content he has available is nothing short of staggering. I also have to mention Nerd Fitness because it is simply awesome — check it out.

Personal Finance

This is yet another two-site category but my pick is definitely Man vs. Debt. I always love a blog that’s from the heart, so to speak, and Adam Baker’s journey is one worth reading about.

SEO

There are some great SEO blogs out there but SEOmoz is the king. I would however also heartily recommend Point Blank SEO — while Jon’s blog is a relative newcomer he has already established himself as someone whose opinion is worth listening to.

Web Content

Finally we have something that should be important to just about everyone reading this — the art of writing content for the web. While my first recommendation to anyone will always be to grab a copy of the Yahoo! Style Guide there is also a huge amount of free advice available across the blogosphere.

With that in mind, I consider Copyblogger to be top dog when it comes to learning about effective web content writing. If you own an online business in just about any shape or form you should be subscribed.

Please Take a Moment to Spread the Word

The LWB 100 took me a staggering amount of time to put together — in fact, this 3rd edition may well have taken me more time than the 1st and 2nd put together. I would be extremely appreciative if you would take a moment to share it with your friends and followers.

If you would like to feature the list on your own blog, you are more than welcome to do so, but please link back to Leaving Work Behind. Thank you!

Photo Credit: pedrosimoes7

My Authority Site’s Content Marketing Strategy Revealed

Written by Tom Ewer on February 21, 2013. 25 Comments

The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!

Dice.Back in January I revealed my authority site’s plans for organic search engine optimization. Since then I have commented on related sites, had a few articles published on article marketing sites and have also created a couple of unique web 2.0 properties.

My work to date has had no discernable effect so far. While I don’t necessarily think this is an issue with the strategy — I’ve hardly been doing the process intensively enough to draw solid conclusions — my mind has been drawn to the efficiency of my efforts.

I have come to the conclusion that I could get better results in the same amount of time with an adjusted approach. In this post I am going to reveal the content marketing strategy for my authority site that I will be proceeding with immediately.

The Evolution of My Authority Site

For those of you who are new to the One Hour Authority Site Project, the overall aim is simple: to attract a consistent flow of traffic to an authority site with as little upfront and ongoing effort as possible. In effect I want to create passive traffic streams — quite different to the blogging medium, which requires ongoing input.

My approach to this project has been relaxed to date as I have used it as an experiment of sorts. First I wanted to see if I could rank pages in Google by targeting extremely low competition keywords using a brand new site with no backlinks. The answer was a resounding no. Stage two was to implement a conservative link building strategy based upon article marketing and web 2.0 sites, which is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. As I have already said, this strategy has had no discernable impact to date.

Stage three is “blog conversion.” This stage requires a lot of effort, including a complete redesign of the site and an ongoing commitment through social media and content production. As far as I am concerned, once you start blogging you can’t go back — the moment you cross that threshold, you are making a commitment to stick with the site. As I said in my post on the three stages of my authority site’s development:

…once you have a blog on the go, people will take note if you don’t post for a month. The same issue does not really arise when I’m still in stage 1 or 2.

I really don’t want to move to stage three unless it is absolutely necessary, as the whole idea of the project is to not have to commit too fully.

Finding a Compromise

In the past few days I think I have formulated a compromise in which I can get many of the benefits of committing to a blog format without actually diving in at the deep end. Most importantly, it will not require the establishment of social media profiles or involve a complete redesign.

My strategy is based upon a concentrated burst of activity followed by a period of observation in which I can gauge the results of my effort. Based upon those results I can then decide what to do next. The desired aim, quite simply, is to establish a base of consistent referrals via search engines and relevant websites.

There are seven steps to my strategy which I go through below.

Step 1: Tweak the Site’s Design

My site’s design is functional and intuitive. If you read the post on my site’s search engine optimized setup then you will know that it is a lightly modified version of the default WordPress Twenty Eleven theme. It is clean and simple, albeit not particularly eye-catching. In short — it’ll do for now.

However, I have decided to make one key change by adding a sidebar to the single post page. This means that people will be able to sign up to my email list and select categories from any post page.

I certainly could spend a lot more time working on the design, but in keeping with the theory of using my time efficiently, my logic is to start attracting the traffic first then react if engagement metrics are poor.

Step 2: Add “Bloggy” Content

As you will know if you read my post on my site’s search engine optimized content, my focus is on writing high-quality articles that are not overly optimized for search engines. In short, I want people to read and enjoy them.

However, the site is lacking a personal touch — you don’t really see any of “me” in it. As you will understand when you read through the rest of my strategy, this won’t work to my benefit. My site’s content needs to have a bit of personality — especially when you take into account the rather stark design.

Therefore, over the next few weeks I will be creating more “bloggy” content — stories, case studies and a biography of sorts as well. In doing this people who might consider linking to my site will see a much more “human” presence and theoretically be more inclined to send traffic my way.

Step 3: Build a List of Target Blogs

While creating my “bloggy” content I can start work on a list of blogs that I would like to attract links from. These will be blogs that are either directly or indirectly related to my niche. Each one will need to be active and regularly updated. Size won’t be so much of a concern as a healthy variety of links will certainly do no harm.

I’ll find these blogs in the good old-fashioned way: Google. I’ll start with simple search queries like “[my niche] blogs”, “best [my niche] blogs,” and so on. I’ll also search for related keywords from sites that Google would see as contextually related to my own.

Ideally I’ll have a list of at least ten top quality relevant blogs before I move onto the next step.

Step 4: Comment on the Top 10 Blogs in My List

This is the first step on getting on the radar of the bloggers that I plan to network with in the coming weeks. By leaving comments they’re not only more likely to recognize my name in the future and possibly even check out my site, I’ll get a free backlink to my site. Even if the link is no-follow, it does no harm in terms of diversity.

Each comment I leave will be thoughtful and insightful and I’ll comment with my name — not a keyword-loaded pseudonym.

Step 5: Guest Post on Each Blog

Once I have got my foot in the door, so to speak, my next step will be to submit guest posts to each of the blogs. I’ll do this even on blogs that don’t typically accept guest posts, as I can always re-use the article elsewhere if it isn’t accepted first time around.

I’ll take my usual approach of going straight in with a completed article rather than pitching something, in the hope that they will be more inclined to accept on the basis that I have already done the work.

Each guest post will result in a link back to an authoritative and contextually relevant my site. I’ll be careful to vary the anchor text accordingly and not always link back to my home page.

If you want to know more about guest posting then download my Kindle eBook on the subject.

Step 6: Create and Share an Infographic

Once I have had around ten guest posts published I should have established a decent relationship with a number of bloggers. I will seek to capitalize on this by publishing an infographic on my site and asking my new friends to share it and link to it from their own site. I hope that this will result in a number of fresh links and nice social signals (despite me having no social media presence).

The key will be to create something that is compelling and informative. I will probably spend a bit of money on getting a really nice design (something that I am terrible at).

What I Plan to Achieve

I estimate that the whole strategy will take me in the region of 20 hours over the next 4-6 weeks — a time commitment I can stomach for what is a highly speculative project. My hope is that the links from the guest posts, social sharing and so on will be enough to give my site a big of a kick up the backside in terms of Google rankings. At the moment my rankings are terrible:

Keyword rankings.

To be honest I am amazed that my rankings are so low despite the fact that my site has so few backlinks because the keywords I am targeting are extremely uncompetitive. Here’s an example (screenshot from Market Samurai):

Keyword competition.

I can’t help but think that with a few contextually relevant links to the homepage and other pages on the site that Google will sit up, take note and start moving me up the rankings. Whether or not this happens of course remains to be seen.

I’d love to know what you think about my adjusted approach and would especially like to read comments and criticisms — please let me know what you think in the comments section!

Photo Credit: darkmatter

How to Create an Online Business While You’re in a Full Time Job

Written by Tom Ewer on February 18, 2013. 37 Comments

Graffiti on a wall that says, "Live, Work, Create."

The only way around is through ~ Robert Frost (tweet this)

From May to December 2011 I worked fulltime as a property manager and parttime on my key to freedom (otherwise known as my fledgling online business). When I quit my job at the end of that year and was able to dedicate all of my time to my business, it was a truly liberating (and frightening) experience.

But I still remember how difficult it was to find time to apply myself effectively when I was still in a job. It often felt like I simply didn’t have enough time to achieve what I had planned. I also didn’t have a clue what I was doing — my ideas kept failing and at times I felt like I was getting nowhere.

However, it all came good in the end and I attribute my success to the steps below. Without them I don’t know if I would have succeeded.

Step 1: Believe

So many people find excuses to abandon their dreams. It can be a lack of available time, not having a good idea, or any other number of reasons. But in actuality you have no excuse — I am 99.9% sure that there is no reason why you cannot establish a successful online business in your particular unique circumstances.

How I can I say that with such confidence? Quite easily, because I know that all human beings are capable of extraordinary things. To put it bluntly, the barriers you face pale in comparison to the kind of hardships that other people have overcome throughout the course of history.

I was reminded of this just the other day when I watched Lincoln — a story of men seeking to achieve something extraordinary in the face of incredible adversity:

Please understand that I do not intend to belittle the challenges you face or make you feel downhearted — quite the opposite. I want you to believe in yourself and your innate human capabilities. I want you to use the fact that people have overcome worse than what you face as a galvanizing force — a shining beacon for you to follow. Be inspired and motivated by what you know you are capable of achieving.

If you are going to succeed then there needs to be a voice in your head that believes you will. There may be other dissenting voices in there too (as there was for me) but that belief will carry you.

Step 2: Commit

It is all too easy to be paralyzed into inaction by the scale of what you plan to do. I remember only too well the doubt that I grappled with — the voice in my head that told me what I was trying to achieve was nothing more than a pipe dream.

However, if you understand that any major accomplishment is merely a series of smaller steps when broken down, handling the scale of your plans is far easier. My point is this: in order to succeed you must commit. I don’t care if you don’t even have what you consider to be a good idea. Don’t wait for that great idea to pop into your head — start with something. Anything.

It took me nearly half a year of complete failure (which was incidentally accompanied by valuable lessons) before I made a penny from my efforts. It was my belief that I would eventually hit upon a profitable venture — my belief that I was following a process that couldn’t fail if I persisted — that kept me going.

Mark this moment down as the point at which you committed wholeheartedly to your online business. From this point onwards success is determined only by your commitment. If you stick with it you will succeed — whether it takes a month, a year, or longer. Your destiny is in your own hands.

Step 3: Set Goals

Now you need to figure out two things:

  1. What you’re going to do
  2. Why you’re going to do it

At this stage you may not know what you’re going to do. You may feel that you are bereft of good ideas. My response to that quandary is to do something. Apply yourself to an endeavor that will bring you closer to achieving your goals — even if your steps are only minute.

Create a blog. Launch an eCommerce store. Submit some pitches for freelance writing jobs. Start your own web design business. Consult. Design a premium WordPress plugin. Find graphic design work. The list is endless.

I don’t want to hear that you have nothing to offer; that you have no skills. I don’t want to hear, “Well it’s easy for so-and-so because they’re a programmer/graphic designer/photographer/writer/etc.” You have skills. You have abilities that people will pay for (either directly or indirectly). Unless you have been unemployed your entire life there is already proof of that. Stop making excuses and start making goals.

To learn how to set goals effectively, read the following two posts:

Step 4: Find Time

Based upon the emails I receive from LWB readers, this is probably the biggest issue that people run into when still in fulltime employment and seeking to create a profitable online business. A lot of people will make things really easy for themselves and simply claim that they don’t have enough time. So they never try. People with a little more presence of mind will be aware that they could make time, but that they need a little push in the right direction.

Either way, I have a number of recommendations as to how you can make extra time — seventeen of them in fact. My number one recommendation is essentially to extend your working day by an hour or two. This may seem like a tough call but tell me this — if your boss demanded it of you would you say no? Perhaps it’s time to discipline yourself in the same way that an employer would.

If you can’t face up to the prospect of working into the evening then I would suggest going to sleep an hour or two earlier and getting up with enough time before you punch in to get some work done on your business. Personally speaking, I am most productive in the morning (come the afternoon I tend to get a little restless).

Above all else remember this: everyone has time — it’s just a case of how desperately you want to succeed. Sacrifices may be necessary but no one said this was going to be easy. You do not have some unique set of circumstances which means that you cannot create an online business while you’re in a full time job. Your circumstances will make your task easier or harder than the next person’s, but either way, it is still possible.

Step 5: Hold Yourself Accountable

This final step is a direct extension to the previous one — once you have determined that you have time available, you must commit to your set times and hold yourself accountable to them.

I do this by creating a spreadsheet in which I have a number of “blocks” available. Each block represents a period of time (90 minutes in my case) and is filled with a particular task. In this way I can effectively plan out an entire week of work, figure out exactly what I can achieve in the available time, and hold myself entirely accountable if for some reason I do not manage to achieve what I set out to do.

The key to this system is to write it down in advance. You have the available time, so make sure that there is a very clear connection between that time and what you set out to achieve. Here’s a screenshot of my coming week:

A screenshot of my task management spreadsheet.

Each number represents a particular task. As you can see I currently have two available slots on Thursday and Friday that I can fill them with whatever task I deem most suitable. Your spreadsheet might only have one block of time per day but make sure that you have written down what you plan to do in that time.

This method of planning makes it easy to carefully consider the most potentially lucrative tasks for you to work on. The scant availability of time being made so clear is a great motivator for respecting the hours you have to work on your business.

The Time is Now

Let’s recap my process for building a successful online business while you are still in your job:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Commit to your endeavour
  3. Set goals that help you to establish a profitable online business
  4. Find time to meet those goals
  5. Hold yourself accountable to ensure that you do meet those goals

Most things in life — even the most extraordinary of accomplishments — are achieved by following a process. And in the grand scheme of things (and with the greatest of respect for your efforts) we’re not discussing a monumental achievement; we’re looking for to establish a relatively successful online business. There is nothing to stop you from doing just that — at least, nothing that exists in reality. You just need to follow the process until it gets you to where you need to be.

Photo Credit: onesevenone

Your Chance to Contribute to the Ultimate “Quit Your Job” Resource

Written by Tom Ewer on February 14, 2013. 28 Comments

Be inspired.Most longtime readers of Leaving Work Behind will be familiar with the LWB 100a list of 100 top quality blogs that can aid you in quitting your job and building a sustainable online business. The two editions I published last year were both great successes and introduced people to a huge number of informative and actionable blogs.

After the publication of the second edition last June I resolved to not publish a third edition until I was absolutely sure that I could offer a great deal more value beyond the lists that I had already curated. I wasn’t interested in creating yet another edition in a contrived attempt to boost traffic. So it is only now, almost a year to the day after I published the first edition, that I return once more to the LWB 100.

A Complete Resource for Success

You may be wondering why I compile these lists. Well, while I try my hardest to create the best content that I can here on LWB, I cannot possible hope to cover everything that you might want to know about the process of quitting your job — I simply don’t have the resources nor the breadth of experience. That is why I am always happy to point you to other blogs when it is relevant to do so. The LWB 100 is the perfect embodiment of my, “If I can’t help you I’ll find someone who can” attitude — I honestly believe that with all the LWB 100 blogs at your fingertips, you have everything you need.

When I launched the first list I was familiar with many of the blogs but also completely new to others. But now, being a year older (and hopefully a year wiser!), I am far better placed to offer up a list that is extremely well tailored to you — the archetypical LWB reader. You want to build a successful online business and quit your job (if you haven’t already) and I find it easy to relate to you because I am just like you in so many ways.

Your Opportunity to Contribute

The third edition of the LWB 100 will be published on Monday 25th February. The hard work for me begins now as I start trawling through the huge number of blogs that will be considered for inclusion — nothing gets through without it first receiving a great deal of scrutiny. In the same way that the second edition was markedly different from the first, this latest edition will be another breath of fresh air and represent a new way to discover the blogs that are right for you.

I am really excited about what I have to offer in the third edition of the LWB, but at the same time I want to make sure that I don’t miss anything out. That’s where you come in — if you have any recommendation whatsoever regarding a blog or blogs that should be included, now is the time to make your voice heard!

Submit any suggestions you have via the comments section below and I promise to give them my full consideration. This list is for you, so it only makes sense that you should play a part in contributing. Thank you!

How to Launch a Six Figure Blogging Business (with $89.59)

Written by Tom Ewer on February 11, 2013. 71 Comments

Dollar SignIn my experience, the assumption amongst people who want to make money online is that they will be able to do it without spending a great deal of money.

That was certainly my attitude – in fact, when I first decided that I wanted to leave work behind, I was loathe to spend anything. For instance, back in May 2011 I remember spending quite a while deliberating whether or not I should buy the excellent Market Samurai app.

This attitude can be pretty damaging, as I have discussed before. Generally speaking, you do need to spend money to make money. However, when it comes to establishing a successful freelance blogging business, the amount required is very little indeed.

In fact, I believe that you can establish a six-figure income from freelance writing without having to spend any more than $40.49 up front. In this post I am going to explain why, and show you how.

Money Isn’t a Necessity

The inspiration for this post actually came from an article I read recently over at Make a Living WritingThe Essential Item You Need for Freelance Success That No One Dares Name. The item in question is of course money.

I read Carol’s post with a great deal of interest and was compelled to leave a comment (something I rarely do these days):

I think you can launch a successful freelance career without spending a penny. Don’t get me wrong — it would be tough as hell and you’d have to hustle like mad, working harder than you might if you invested some money in key areas (e.g. hiring a web designer), and you might not advance as quickly as you would otherwise, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is possible. I pretty much did it myself.

You may be left temporarily puzzled by the fact that my comment runs contrary to the purpose of this post, but while I believe that you can launch a viable freelance business without spending a penny, I believe that spending a little can help you a great deal. And if I’m honest with you, if you can’t bring yourself to invest $40.49 in your fledgling business then you may want to reassess your priorities – I’m sure that 95% of the people reading this (if not more) can afford the cost.

Why Freelance Writing is a Low Overheads Business

Let’s consider the two very simple steps involved in getting paid to write:

  1. you write something, and
  2. you get paid for it.

On the assumption that you already own a computer and have access to the Internet, those two steps don’t require any further financial investment. Whilst you can invest in any number of items that will help your business grow more quickly and effectively, they are not entirely necessary. By the time you need to invest money in certain things (such as an accountant), you’ll be making enough money to recoup the costs.

And you can make enough money – trust me. To prove it, let’s do a bit of quick and simple math.

If we assume that you will write for six hours per day for 50 weeks of the year, you will need to earn $67 per hour to earn $100,000 per year. In December 2012, after twelve months of fulltime freelance writing, my equivalent hourly rate was $92. I don’t say that to boast – I say it to make absolutely clear what is possible in the freelance blogging business.

When it comes to making a start with freelance blogging, your required financial investment is merely a function of spending a very modest amount on the right things. And that’s where this post comes in.

Your First Investment: A Domain Name and Hosting ($71.40)

Freelance writers don’t need a blog, but if you want to be a successful freelance writer, you should have one. If you want to know why, read this.

While you can create a blog for free with the likes of WordPress.com, yourfreelancesite.wordpress.com doesn’t project a particularly professional image. Ideally you should have an identifiable and branded standalone domain – something that you can hang your hat on and refer to with pride. yourfreelancesite.com is much better than the free alternative.

BluehostSo, you should invest in a domain name and a hosting account. For that purpose, I have held accounts with many of the major hosting providers and have just one effusive recommendation: Bluehost. In my personal experience, the quality of their service and support is far better than the alternatives and their prices are comparable or even cheaper than the competition. Read more here on why Leaving Work Behind (and all of my sites) run on Bluehost.

To start off you will need no more than their most basic package, which at the time of writing will cost you just $3.49 per month for hosting (charged up front over a 36 month period). The domain name is free.

Let’s say you go with the 12 month option at $5.95 per month. That’ll set you back $71.40. Bluehost offer a 30 day, no quibbles money back guarantee, and pro rata refunds after that time, so there’s no risk.

You’ll then need a copy of WordPress (which if you don’t know is a really easy-to-use content management system), which is completely free and can be installed in a couple of clicks. If you’re a complete WordPress newbie then I would recommend that you begin your education here.

Your Second Investment: The Yahoo! Style Guide ($23.99)

Yahoo! Style GuideThere is no such thing as a perfect writer – there are those that just write, and those that strive to be better. You need to be in that second category to grow your income, and as such, you need to learn as much as possible about writing for the web.

While you could (and should) trawl blogs in an attempt to learn more about the art of writing for the web, the Yahoo! Style Guide is too good a resource to ignore. It is a complete guide to writing for the web, and when I say complete, I truly mean it. It is my bible – I learned more from reading it than I did from all of the “how to write for the web” blog posts I have read in the past 18 months.

Please note that I have stated the retail price above – at the time of writing the Yahoo! Style Guide is available for just $18.19 on Amazon. Grab it while it’s cheap!

Your Third Investment: Freshbooks ($0)

FreshbooksWhile you could track your time with a spreadsheet and raise invoices manually, you’d be better off putting that wasted time to better use (i.e. by using it to make more money). That’s where Freshbooks comes in – it’s a complete solution for time tracking and invoicing.

You may be wondering why this requires a financial investment given that I’ve put a big fat zero up in the header, but that is because Freshbooks offers a free 30 day trial. You get a month to figure out how awesome it is, at which point you do have to start paying $19.95 per month.

To put that in perspective, you should expect to be earning that much (or more) per hour within your first month of operation as a freelance blogger. And let me tell you – Freshbooks will save you a great deal more than an hour per month in the long run.

That’s All Folks

That’s it folks – above is the sum total of the investment that I recommend.

Paid to BlogI am however going to mention one more thing. Regular LWB readers will know that I am not the salesman type, which is why I have deliberately neglected to mention Paid to Blog up until this point. However, it would be odd of me not to mention it, since I consider it a complete A-Z guide to launching a successful freelance blogging business. I would of course heartily recommend that you grab yourself a membership, and with it costing from just $29, you’re hardly breaking the bank.

With the above tools in your back pocket, you’ll have everything (and more) that is necessary to start a successful freelance blogging business. You’ll be able to:

  1. Create a blog and start writing posts to use as samples
  2. Submit guest posts to blogs to use as samples
  3. Scout potential jobs (both on job boards and elsewhere)
  4. Submit pitches and land your first set of clients
  5. Track your time and invoice your clients

I’ll sign off with a caveat, which brings me back to Carol’s argument that the essential item you need for freelance success is money. You already know that I disagree, so the question therefore is, what do I think is the essential item for freelance success?

The answer, in one word, is hustle. You need a solid work ethic, courage, and a willingness to fail (and subsequently learn from your failures). No amount of financial investment will be enough if you do not have a strong will to succeed – always keep that in mind.

I appreciate that what I have outlined above is a blueprint – not a complete guide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask them via the comments section below!

Photo Credit: mag3737