Leaving Work Behind

Find Freelance Blogging Clients That Will Pay You What You’re Worth [Introducing PtB Jobs]

Written by Tom Ewer on March 31, 2014. 20 Comments

Twenty dollar notesThe beauty about freelance blogging is that you don’t need any qualifications or prior experience to get started.

But this beauty also creates a problem.

Since the barriers to entry are low, there are a lot of writers competing for entry level work. Furthermore, a plethora of cheap writers in the market has led many to undervalue quality writing.

The apparent lack of quality job offerings can be thoroughly disheartening.

But here’s the truth: there are clients that are willing to pay you what you are worth.

I found my first two writing clients via online job boards, and I still work with one of them today on a contract worth in excess of $20,000 per year.

You can do it too; you just need to know where to look and what to look for.

That’s exactly why I have created Paid to Blog Jobs — a unique resource designed to help freelance bloggers identify and secure viable freelance blogging jobs. If you want to find more work, earn what you’re truly worth and even get paid to bolster your blogging portfolio, Paid to Blog Jobs is the solution.

If you’d like to know more, just enter your email address below and click the “Sign Up” button. You’ll get exclusive early access to the beta version of Paid to Blog Jobs before it gets released across the blogosphere.






I’m seriously excited about this resource and I can’t wait to tell you more and ultimately help you succeed as a freelance blogger, so submit your email address above and I’ll be in touch!

Photo Credit: Unhindered by Talent

How I Became the Leaving Work Behind Community Manager

Written by Tom Ewer on March 27, 2014. 30 Comments

EngagementWhen I quit my job last year I had business ideas, but no firm plans (like I should have), of what I would do professionally to help contribute to the household and no entrepreneurial experience.

Five months later, with little more than a willingness to interact and get involved, I was being introduced to you as the Leaving Work Behind Community Manager. The benefits associated with this position are numerous, but some of the prominent ones are: the opportunity to work with and learn from a top influencer, increased exposure to other top influencers, more subscribers/followers/clients and a larger network of friends and contacts to connect with, learn from, and collaborate with (talk about extreme value!).

The benefits I have seen so far only excite me more for the future. Starting with some exciting improvements to the community forum, new features in discussion for Tom’s Paid To Blog course, and venturing into social media and blog management & strategy reports, I am presented with higher profile opportunities much sooner than I could have ever dreamed.

I feel like the possibilities for my business growth are endless, and I am definitely reaching for the stars to provide as much value as possible. Completing some products, higher profile collaborations, and larger, more intense research & analysis projects — which I love by the way — are things I especially see happening in the future.

In this post, I want to share with you the steps that took me to this opportunity so that you can accelerate your own success, all from actively interacting and connecting in communities.

My Story

At the beginning of September 2013 I quit my job as a Fraud Investigator.

For many different reasons, as I’m sure many of you can relate, this was a hard and an easy decision. My one year parental leave after the birth of my third son was coming to an end, and rather than miss out on my boys’ lives at this stage (or pay horrendous child care costs), I quit my job instead.

My first inkling of an entrepreneurial endeavor was to finish some books I had been attempting to write, and this led me to consider freelance writing as a possible income source. Knowing absolutely nothing about how to go about this, I dove into research on the subject — research being my specialty after-all — hunting down people and resources to learn from.

To this day I am honestly not certain exactly what I searched but it led me to Leaving Work Behind and Tom’s ten minute video on how to set-up a blog on WordPress (because apparently, to be a freelance writer I needed one). His resources also led me to Carol Tice’s Freelance Writer’s Den (incidentally, both testimonials you see on its homepage are from members of the LWB community!) and Corbett Barr’s Start a Blog That Matters course (now part of Fizzle).

The more I dug and the more involved I got in each of these communities, the more I realized that although there is tremendous value in the resources and products sold by the aforementioned bloggers, the real gold mine is in the people you meet and interact with. (Plus it’s also the most fun part!)

 I joined Fizzle in October 2013 and it did not take long for me to become addicted (in a productive way, I should add) to connecting with and learning from the people there. I became a part of my first mastermind group through Fizzle, which has been absolutely instrumental in my success so far.

My group is directly responsible for encouraging me and identifying potential business opportunities from my past experiences. Through them my new research wizard identity and direction was born, thereby playing to my strengths, and continues to be nurtured on a weekly basis through our meetings. I am happy to call them good friends.

Connecting in Communities

Because of my involvement with Fizzle, I was excited to explore other communities, so when Tom unveiled the free LWB Community Forums I joined immediately and jumped straight into the conversations (and started some of my own!). Communities are about so much more than just joining, and my results speak for themselves in terms of defining the level of participation you should be aiming for.

My experience with forums is not a passive one. From the first day I joined the LWB Community Forums I made the choice to be an active member, stepping up to the plate and offering advice or value whenever I could. If there is a topic I don’t understand, I will still make an effort to find a resource or person to help. I don’t do this because I feel that it will benefit me (although it does); I do it because I don’t know any other way to be a member of a community.

I am not suggesting that you spend all your time in online communities to the neglect of everything else, but I am suggesting that you should spend more time in them than you probably think. The trick is to spend your time in a valuable and productive manner. Whether you are an expert on the subject being discussed or learning something new, the value comes from the conversations.

Adopt the mindset that each person you are attempting to help is paying for your services and that you want to keep their business. Think ‘ridiculously helpful’ and then aim higher. It’s extremely important to still be transparent and genuine, so if you don’t understand something or know an immediate answer, take the time to figure it out and then get back to them. The appreciation from a considered and thoughtful response is more meaningful and beneficial in the long run than knowing all the answers.

Why join something if you are not going to get involved? You will undoubtedly get out what you put in, so make the choice to be active and not passive in participation, and the opportunities will present themselves.

Creating Opportunities

Tom describes the evolution of our working relationship as him having no idea who I was, to knowing me, to realizing my contributions and value, to wanting to work with me. All of this happened in the space of a few weeks without me ever making a pitch or proposal to him. Put simply, I created a huge opportunity based on my eagerness to provide value to others.

I have since adopted Tom as my mentor, and my enthusiasm for getting involved in his community has resulted in a glowing testimonial for my website, having him as a paying client and guest post opportunities (this officially being my first guest post). Not to mention the increased page views, followers and subscribers for my site based off of his support.

Getting appreciated and ‘singled out’ by an online influencer is an extremely exciting and validating experience, but experiences with Tom aside, I have connected with so many other talented people and benefitted on so many levels. Everything from service swaps, testimonials, exclusive deals, client referrals, guest post requests, increased authority and reach, free services, collaboration requests, appreciation, approaches and introductions by or to top influencers, and who knows what else I am forgetting to mention!

Some notable examples of awesome people I have connected with are Omar Zenhom & Nicole Baldinu of Business Republic, Tom Morkes of Insurgent Publishing, John Corcoran of Smart Business Revolution, and Darlene Hildebrandt of DPS and HerView Photgraphy.

There is a practically unlimited pool of people out there to connect with and you never know how you can help each other out.

Now What?

You know the saying, “everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten?” Well everything I have learned about succeeding online I learned in online communities. I’m still new and I’m still learning, but by joining and actively participating in online communities, I have reduced my learning curve and created opportunities that have accelerated my progress dramatically.

If you go above and beyond in showing yourself how much of an asset you can be, you can get your foot in the door and be exposed to the kind of opportunities that you wouldn’t find on your own. After all, bloggers, influencers and entrepreneurs are almost always looking for good people to work with (ask Tom -– they’re rare!).

So not only will you make friends and connections to carry and support you through your own leaving work behind journey (because let’s face it, it can get lonely!), you probably won’t even be able to anticipate some of the doors that will open up to you. Make the choice to be active (and beyond ridiculously helpful) and you will be on the path to emulating my success.

So what are you waiting for? Come join the conversations in the community forum and let’s see what we can learn from one another!

Image Credit: Alberta Culture

Freelance to Passive: How I Scaled My Writing Business

Written by Tom Ewer on March 24, 2014. 34 Comments

TypewriterOne of the biggest criticisms of freelancing (and more specifically, freelance blogging) is that it is not scalable. By this, people typically mean that you must always be intrinsically involved in your freelancing business. If you’re not present, you don’t make money. It’s a pure hours-for-pay deal.

While freelancing is (by definition) an hours-for-pay business model, assuming that’s all a freelancing business can ever be is naive. I’m proof of that fact.

While freelancing is what enabled me to quit my job, it was never the business model that I had in mind for the long term. Several months ago I put the wheels in motion on a process that would transform my business forever and prove to anyone who cared to notice that freelancing is scalable. It can even achieve that Holy Grail status of “passive.”

In this post I am going to share the story of how I transitioned from freelance blogger to business owner and explain how the change has benefited me enormously.

Freelancing Burnout

It all started in Spring 2013, when I was starting to get a little jaded by freelancing.

I had been writing for clients since September 2011; typically 2-3 hours per day. That doesn’t sound like much (and to many it won’t be), but coupled with my own blogging commitments, it felt like a lot of writing.

I knew that something had to give. I had often remarked upon the notion that freelancing isn’t scalable — that writing for pay would forever limit my earning potential. But at the same time, it had afforded me the opportunity to quit my job and attain a level of freedom I had never enjoyed before.

Freelancing felt like a halfway house to me. It had done great things for me — namely enabling me to quit my job — but it wasn’t going to take me to where I ultimately wanted to be.

Don’t get me wrong — it was a great dilemma to have. I was earning in excess of $150 per hour. But I didn’t want to freelance forever and I had ambitions to earn more. I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. After all, everyone says that freelancing isn’t scalable.

An Accidental Discovery

At times I had considered taking on writers to help me with my freelancing, but I had always discarded the thought on the assumption that people wouldn’t be reliable and/or good enough. To me, working with other people led to the kind of complications that I would rather do without.

But that all changed when I advertised here on LWB for paid writers for a website I was working on at the time, Free Online Dating Advice.

I received a lot of applications. Many weren’t that great, but some were good. And I was really impressed with a handful of the applicants. In short, they did good work for a reasonable price. As long as I was willing to edit each piece to ensure it was up to my own specific standards, the writing was up to scratch.

While I ended up folding that website and moving onto other projects, the process I went through with it taught me a valuable lesson: working with people could be a positive — and even potentially profitable — experience.

Experimenting

At that point I felt I was onto something. Could it be possible to work with other freelance writers to produce work for my clients? I knew there was only one way to find out.

However, I had worries. First of all, would I be able to find writers with the necessary experience and technical abilities to produce articles that I could work with? Secondly, could I actually still make money by subcontracting the work? Finally (and most importantly), would my clients be happy with me working in this way? I decided to address each concern in turn.

The first one was easy to figure out — all I had to do was try someone out. Now I’ll be honest at this point — I can’t remember exactly what I did! I’m pretty sure I just asked one of the writers I had already been working with to write a piece with a view to judging if it would be worthy of submitting to a client as one of my own.

In short, the answer was yes. I had to tickle it into shape a little, to make it my own, but that didn’t take too long; certainly far less time than me having to write it myself! I also discovered that editing is a far less brain-intensive type of work than writing itself (at least it is for me).

The financial aspect seemed to work too. I had no real notion as to what kind of margin would be acceptable, but I was certainly happy with what I ended up with. Although paying a writer might cost me half of what I was being paid for the piece, my time investment would drop from 1-2 hours to perhaps 10-15 minutes. A 50% income drop in exchange for the work taking just 25% or so of the time it used to was a good deal as far as I was concerned!

Finding Writers

One might think that the biggest roadblock I had would be finding writers. You would be right, if it weren’t for the fact that I had a ready-made selection of writers available to me through Leaving Work Behind and my freelance blogging guide (which later became Paid to Blog).

I was really fortunate in this sense — I didn’t have to go trawling the web for writers. I had them at my doorstep. I have little doubt that the transition would have been more difficult (but certainly not impossible) if I didn’t have LWB readers to appeal to.

It really was a case of everything coming together nicely. I was fed up with writing so much, the FODA project demonstrated that good writers were available at a reasonable price, and furthermore, those good writers were on my doorstep. There was no looking back now.

If I hadn’t had this resource available to me, I probably would’ve advertised via the ProBlogger Jobs Board — the destination where I landed my first couple of blogging roles.

Making the Switch

I was excited at the possibilities of this new business model and decided to launch a new business to mark the change: Clear Blogging Solutions. While CBS didn’t last (I quickly reverted back to marketing my services behind my personal brand), the growing team behind it did.

At this stage my only remaining concern was my clients — would they be happy with my new approach? I figured there was only one way to find out. I sent them all an email stating that I would now be working with a team of writers to help me produce my content.

To my pleasant surprise, not one of them had an issue with it. To me, that’s what you get when you work with high quality clients: they don’t have time to worry about specifics of content production. As far as they are concerned, if the content is still up to scratch, they don’t mind. They have bigger fish to fry. And I was of course determined to make sure that the content was as good as ever.

From that point on it was just a case of transitioning from writing myself to using writers for all of my client work. This transition took place over a period of months. I started by reaching out to LWB subscribers and asking them to join a list specifically for freelance writers. I would then email the list with new job opportunities when I was ready to make a change.

Working With Freelancers

Getting new writers set up and writing to a standard that I was happy with did take time, but it was definitely worth it. I went from spending 2-3 hours per day on freelancing to perhaps 20 minutes. Although I was making less, I had a lot more time to dedicate to my other projects and I didn’t feel like I was on the verge of burning out any more.

I’m not going to pretend that the process wasn’t without its teething problems. I had one writer quit on my literally overnight, with no notice. Sometimes writers miss their deadlines. However, for the most part, I have been delighted with how reliable my team members have been. I’ve found that if you extend people a level of autonomy, they will typically follow through for you.

When it comes to working with freelancers, I have three simple rules:

  1. Treat them with respect at all times
  2. Give them flexible due dates (typically, a writer’s due date is two working days prior to when the client is expecting work)
  3. Always pay them quickly and on time

These three rules seem to have worked well for me so far.

What Next?

These days, I spend a few minutes per day editing pieces and communicating with clients (I act as the client liaison — my writers don’t deal with them). My writers take care of the rest.

If I wanted to, I could hire an editor and make the whole thing a truly passive business, but at this point it’s not worth the hassle. I really don’t mind spending twenty minutes per day editing.

What’s really exciting though is where I can take things from here. I’m currently dabbling in social media strategy reporting and ongoing management with Jo (the LWB Community Manager); it’s something I could get really involved in down the line. Then there’s all the other associated areas in which I could offers services: conversion optimization, SEO, design, and so on.

There’s a lot of potential avenues to explore, but I’m in no rush. In reality, the writing side of my business isn’t my favorite part of what I do for a living (although it is currently the most profitable). While I could spend more time on it and probably make a lot more money, it’s not all about making money for me.

I would say that my biggest potential challenge down the line is in transitioning from a personal brand (i.e. me) to a “proper” business brand (like Clear Blogging Solutions attempted to be). It didn’t work for me first time around, but I feel like I should make another attempt at some point. But I suppose that’s a topic for another day…

Photo Credit: JD Hancock

Everything You Need to Make a Living as a Writer (In One Package)

Written by Tom Ewer on March 17, 2014. 2 Comments

The Writer's Bundle ContributorsIn my experience, the majority of the Leaving Work Behind crowd are writers in one way or another. Many of you are bloggers and/or freelance writers, and we’ve even got some authors amongst us.

That is why I am so excited to introduce you to The Writer’s Bundle a collection of nine of the most valuable e-books and courses for writers available right now (in my humble opinion).

The bundle comes courtesy of The Write Life, a blog founded by Alexis Grant — genuinely one of my best online friends. When she asked me if I would be interested in taking part, I said yes immediately. I’m happy to put my name to any project of hers.

You’ll recognize many (or perhaps) all of the names involved:

And let’s not forget yours truly! My Paid to Blog course is included in the bundle. Here’s what else you get:

The combined retail value of all these products is well over $700, but it is available to you right now for just $79.

There’s just one catch: the bundle is available for three days only. This offer expires Wednesday, March 19th at midnight (EST). So if you’re interested, you need to act now!

If you’re a longtime Leaving Work Behind reader you’ll know that I promote other people’s products like this once in a blue moon. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve done it since 2012. So why promote The Writer’s Bundle? Simple: it’s an offer that offers value above and beyond just about anything else I’ve seen over the past two years.

Click here to grab your copy of The Writer’s Bundle before it’s too late!

How I Overcame Indecision and Quit My “Perfect” Job

Written by Guest Author on March 13, 2014. 40 Comments

Tom: Today’s guest post is courtesy of Charlotte Kingston — once of the BBC, now an adventurer winging her way to India. You can follow her exotic wanderings and wonderings at chakakant.com. Charlotte’s story is utterly compelling and I am sure it will strike home with many of you, which is why I was so keen to publish it here on Leaving Work Behind. Enjoy!

Charlotte KingstonLast week, I left my job at the most venerable of institutions: the British Broadcasting Corporation. In some ways the hardest thing about leaving was the perception of othersI’d love to work there, why would you want to leave?

When working for a large organisation with such a haloed reputation, it can be great to revel in the connection people have to the brand. Contributing to making something that people love can be kudos-tastic and tough to take an objective view on.

I had a brilliant job in theory, but the day-to-day feeling of working there didn’t reflect the dream. Working on live events and broadcasting was extraordinarily stressful — the never-ending hamster wheel of production kept turning, with me powerlessly scrabbling within it, trying to keep up.

I wasn’t getting anywhere fast and felt frazzled all the time. Something had to give, but indecision held me back. In this article I will describe how I eventually overcame my decision and gained the courage to take the leap into the unknown.

Experiencing Indecision

I had invested five years of my life in the BBC and had so many brilliant experiences, and as such, found myself asking questions like:

Throughout this time I spoke to many people about the situation and my colleagues and friends were so supportive. I had such a variety of responses — from yes, you must leave! and no, you’re silly, what are you doing? It was especially tough when you knew there were plenty of people out there who would love to have my job. Feelings of confusion and guilt mingled in with everything.

I was so busy worrying about what people thought. Would I be letting people down? Am I throwing away a huge opportunity forever? I’d gone to the big city with such high hopes — would I be sheepishly crawling back home with my tail between my legs, having tried and not quite made it?

Usually I find talking things through helps everything, but in this case, more talking meant more indecision. Why? Because I was waiting for someone to give me answer, to tell me what to do. But ultimately only one person could make a decision — me.

At times the pressure of indecision got too much. I had to take a step back and think.

Overcoming Indecision

Why Zebras Don't Get UlcersSwitching off from it all, I was flicking round Netflix and caught a National Geographic documentary about stress which led me to the wonderfully titled Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by primatologist Robert M Sapolsky.

Animals — including us humanoids — are not meant to live in a constant state of stress. Our body’s fight or flight mechanism is made for three minutes on the savannah escaping a lion, not forever worrying about a sent email or deadline or whether a spreadsheet was filled in. Sapolsky’s research also revealed that even within primate hierarchies, those in lower ranking positions were prone to stress and depression — in fact, it was inevitable.

This book provided the pivot point I needed to change my mindset. So used to ceding autonomy to the organisation, I felt powerless, like Sam Lowry in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. My years of working within such a hierarchical structure made me consider only my limitations (what I couldn’t do) rather than the limitless opportunities available to me (what I could do).

Thinking about the impact my job was having on my body and mind was a real eye-opener. I realised that it didn’t have to be like it was. If I wanted to and was willing to make a change, I could feel more in control — better.

Taking Action

Instead of seeing my amazing past experiences at the organisation as a reason to stay, I realised that they were a reason for me to have the confidence that I could leave and would be alright. I realised that I could achieve such great things and have other equally or even more spectacular experiences again.

Once I made that key mental shift, the decision was easy. It took a combination of four factors:

  1. Rejecting constant stress as an acceptable way of life
  2. Ceasing to worry about others
  3. Taking control of my own decisions
  4. Reminding myself of what I am capable of achieving

It all came down to choice. As Morrissey sang, “It’s my life to ruin, my own way.” Whether good or bad, I had to make a decision. My decision.

Take a risk; or as my friend elegantly put it, “throw the deck up in the air and see how the cards land.”

That’s what I did, and I can’t wait to discover what adventures await.

Tom: My thanks go out to Charlotte for sharing her wonderful story! We’d both love to know what you think of her decision and whether you think her story will help you overcome your own indecision. Share with us in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Emma Davenport, Big Bouquet Photography