Leaving Work Behind

How To Succeed

Written by Tom Ewer on July 6, 2011. 16 Comments

How To SucceedEveryone aspires to greater things. Maybe you want to be a millionaire. Maybe you want to spend the rest of your life doing what you love. Or perhaps you want both, and more (that’s me – sorry for being greedy).

If you have ambitious aspirations, considering how to achieve them can be overwhelming. After all, how on earth do you actually become a millionaire? Despite what many of the snake oil salesmen out there would like you to think, no one has yet written an instruction manual.

In order to make sense of your aspirations, you need to map out a clearly defined path. That path will change as your journey develops, but the vital thing is to know at any point, in which direction you are heading, and why.

Success Is Like Learning To Play Guitar

Have you ever tried to learn to play the guitar? At first, it seems impossible. There seems to be no possible way to contort your fingers in the appropriate manner in order to produce a pleasant noise. However, you persist, knowing that many others have done it before you. If they can play guitar, why can’t you?

At some point, after a great deal of persistence, it begins to click. You can string together a few basic chords. Whilst it previously seemed to be nothing more than a chore, practice starts to become rewarding. With momentum on your side, you practice more and more, and your skills improve exponentially.

Over time, you might settle into a groove, happy with your ability. Perhaps you are perfectly content to just be able to bash out simple three chord songs. To maintain that level of skill is now easy.

Alternatively, you might decide to up your skill set. At this point, a new journey begins – you may be great at your three chord songs, but the “Stairway To Heaven” solo seems a long way off. But again, you know it can be done, and understand that all it takes is practice, time, and application.

Learning to play guitar provides a great analogy for the path to success.

How To Understand The Path To Success

If you are going to try to succeed at anything, you need to be aware of some key realisations:

  1. It can be done
  2. You can do it
  3. It is a process

If you understand and execute these three realisations in the correct fashion, you will succeed.

Accepting the first two realisations is based on having the correct mental attitude, and I am not going to discuss them in this article. What I am focusing on in this article is the process.

Make Sure The Cracks Aren’t Chasms

If you want to be successful (by whatever standard you hold yourself to), then it is vital to be able to visualise how you are going to get there. Many people fail in their aspirations because there is too far a gap between one progressive step and the next.

Visualise your success as a series of cracks in the ground. If they are just small cracks, then you can step over them and in time you will reach your target. However, if those cracks grow into chasms, you can no longer move forwards. One of the keys to success is to eradicate the impassable chasms, so you can step over the cracks with relative ease.

The Process

So how do we translate these analogies into practical advice? There is a rather simple process you can follow. It provides the framework for success. I will apply the process to my aspirations, in order to provide you with a practical example.

Step 1 – Define Your Endgame

An Endgame is something which makes a major positive impact on your life. To discover what your Endgame is, see my article “What Do You Want?” You may feel that you already know what your Endgame is – be sure to check the article out anyway – you may surprise yourself.

Your Endgame represents a long-term aspiration. It should be clearly defined and serve as a motivator. Here are some examples:

Endgames should be what drive you. If there is no Endgame, then you either need to check your pulse, or you need to realise that you already have everything you want from life (in which case, congratulations). Progressing will be awfully difficult if you don’t know what are trying to progress towards.

So what is my Endgame? Simple – as explained in “What Do You Want?”, my Endgame is to serve a letter of resignation no later than 23rd May 2012.

Step 2 – Define Your Target

Once you have defined your Endgame, you can define your Target. Your target is typically what is required to ultimately facilitate your Endgame.

Therefore, my Target is to grow an online income that is sufficient enough to support my quality of life. That will allow me to quit my job.

Now a path is starting to take shape. I know what I want, and I know (in broad terms) what I need to do in order to get there.

Step 3 – Decide How To Hit Your Target

This is a little more difficult to work out, but far from impossible. In fact, your strategy might be quite implausible, but that is okay. At this stage you are setting nothing in stone – the key is to be aiming for something. If you realise at some stage that your aim is unrealistic, then you know that you need to adjust accordingly. It is this kind of objective thinking that will keep you on the right path. It is very easy to criticise those who chase their dreams, whilst you chase nothing.

So, how am I going to hit my Target? Well I have around 11 months left, so it is likely that I will start other projects, but my only active project at this time is my niche site (Modeling For Kids). As such, that project needs to allow me to hit my Target.

Therefore, I need Modeling For Kids to generate an income sufficient enough to support my quality of living.

I should bring up a caveat at this stage. Relying on one source of income is very risky, and is not something I would recommend. In fact, in the back of my mind, I know that I would not be likely to stake my livelihood on one niche site. However, it can be very easy to overcomplicate your Targets, so I am keeping it simple. If I got to the position whereby my niche site was generating a sufficient income, I would then need to decide whether or not that was enough to consider having reached my Endgame, or whether I needed to adjust my Target. As stated above, don’t worry too much if your aim isn’t perfectly practical or realistic, so long as it is a movement in the right direction.

Step 4 – Define Actionable Goals

Saying that you need to achieve “x” is one thing, but figuring out how is something else altogether.

However, if you have a fundamental understanding of your undertaking, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

So let’s use my niche site as an example. I need it to generate an income. Therefore I need traffic (who will buy), and a product (to sell to them).

Traffic will bring newsletter subscriptions. I can then develop a product that my subscribers want, and sell it to them. It sounds simple, and it is, in principle. The difficulty is in the execution.

So, actionable goals are as follows:

  1. Produce quality content on a consistent basis
  2. Reach 1st spot on Google for my key phrase
  3. Build a subscriber base
  4. Produce and sell a product

You would likely develop these goals so that they are more specific. For example, I will need a large enough traffic and subscriber base (x thousand) with which to sell enough copies of my product in order to produce a sufficient income.

Step 5 – Consider Your Actionable Goals And Execute

We’re now down to the lowest common denominator – what can you do on a daily basis in order to achieve your actionable goals?

Well, I am already carrying out step 1, by producing three quality articles per week.

I am working towards step 2 by building backlinks, submitting articles, and ensuring that my site is well optimised (amongst other tactics).

Steps 3 and 4 are on the backburner, as they rely upon the results of steps 1 and 2.

The key is, when I set my tasks for the day, I am doing it with my Goals, Target, and Endgame in mind.

Your Path To Success Is Definable

By now you should be able to, in principle, see a clear path to success. It is highly motivating to know that the steps you are taking on a daily basis bring you closer to your Endgame.

Now it is almost inevitable that you will hit stumbling blocks and will have to reconfigure your steps to success, but as mentioned previously (and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it), the vital thing is to know at any point in which direction you are heading, and why.

Knowing that every positive action you take, on a daily basis, is taking you one step closer to your Endgame, is extraordinarily empowering. Harness that energy.

How to Figure Out What You Want From Life (And Get It)

Written by Tom Ewer on July 4, 2011. 11 Comments

What Do You Want?One of the keys to success is to decide what you are aiming for, then figure out how to get there. It sounds simple in principle, doesn’t it?

You may not have a clear enough idea of what you are aiming for, even if you think that you do. If you do not, then you will ultimately lack the motivation and drive necessary for success.

And the key to motivation, in simple terms, is knowing what you want.

An initial desire to “be successful” will only take you so far. At some point, you are going to need to justify all the hard work you are putting in. If at that stage you lack any clear direction, your motivation is likely to hit the floor.

So, what is it that you want from life? Keep Reading

A Call To Arms

Written by Tom Ewer on July 1, 2011. 18 Comments

A Call To ArmsBrace yourself for a flow of consciousness. This is not a ‘traditional’ blog post, with lots of carefully thought out subtitles and the like. I am here to disclose my core beliefs as to how we can ultimately achieve success. Not with ‘The Best Article Marketing Method’, or ‘The Ultimate SEO Guide’, but with real and meaningful ideas as to how we can progress as a group. If you have the patience to read this complete article, then I know you’re with me.

I want to get to know you. And if I can, I want to help you.

If you’ve been around the block then you will have heard those lines many times before. They’re very easy to type, but to actually mean it is rare. I have lost count of the amount of newsletter subscriptions that promised so much, but delivered only hard sells. I am fed up of it.

So I want to try something quite unique. I’m not going to pretend like I am re-inventing the wheel – it just seems to me that most people are driving around on octagons. There are some out there who are genuine people, with genuine intentions. But not many.

I don’t know how best to word this, but for want of a better expression, I am open for business. However, if you have read my article “Why I Am NOT Trying To Make Money From This Blog”, you will know that I am not selling anything. So what is my business?

I’m in the business of community. My trade is getting to know people. I want to know what you’re having difficulty with. Now I’m no expert (and 99% of those who claim to be aren’t either), so if I can’t help you, then I will refer you to someone who can. I don’t mind if you head off to their blog and never look back – I just want to help.

A Call To ArmsSo what’s up with this? Where is the angle? I don’t even believe in karma, so my approach may not be making a great deal of sense to you.

There is no angle as such; I simply believe in the power of community.

Of course I have my own financial goals and I am certainly not trying to hide that from you. But when it comes to Leaving Work Behind, those goals are not my priority. I am thinking of brand, reputation, and community. Establish a reason to be worthwhile to people, and the rest will fall into place. Forget money, forget living the rest of your days on a beachfront condo in South America – that will come if you focus on helping others and providing value.

So where do you come in? Well, quite frankly, wherever you want to. If you have a problem, I will try to help you. You may see yourself as above me in terms of expertise, and that is absolutely great – more power to you – I’d love to see you hang around though. Doubters are welcome too – constructive criticism based upon differing opinions can be eye-opening.

So who are you? Well, you’re absolutely anyone. Discrimination romps around in bed with negativity and I want nothing to do with either.

There is strength in numbers. The internet is a very big place – I wouldn’t get too worried about competition. I would be worried about doing what you do right, knowing that a whole load of people have got your back. I can rave all day long about accountability, sharing, mutual partnerships, and sharing advice – all of these things come with community.

A Call To ArmsSo, consider this blog an open house. This isn’t my blog – this is our blog – and if you see me referring to it as my blog, I want you to give me a (virtual) kick up the arse. This isn’t about my journey – it’s about our journey.

I want to be sat in front of my computer screen in a year’s time and see our community having achieved. I want us to all allow ourselves a satisfied chuckle at what is possible with the power of community. I want us all to look back at this post and know this is where it started.

Who’s with me?

Photos courtesy of …Vincent…, dmdzine, ~Zoe~ and Willemvdk

How To Work Hard And Fail

Written by Tom Ewer on June 29, 2011. 4 Comments

How To Work Hard And FailHello! My name is Tom (“Hello Tom”) and I am working towards making a full time online income. In brief, my aim is to quit my day job and have the freedom to choose what I do and when I do it.

This is not going to happen without healthy doses of determination and endeavour, amongst other things. The question is; how do you apply yourself effectively?

It is far too easy to work hard and fail – many have done it before me, and many will after. Ensuring that my hard work is chanelled effectively is a huge priority, especially when your available time is limited by a full time job.

So What Are You Doing?

I have just two projects that I am working on at the moment, of which only one is potentially income-generating. They are my niche site, Modeling For Kids, and this blog.

Modeling For Kids is my first real attempt, beyond eBay and the like, to generate an online income.

Meanwhile, Leaving Work Behind is my attempt to build a likeminded community so that we can galvanise each other to greater things. I have no plans to monetize it at this time, as I explained in my article, “Why I Am NOT Trying To Make Money From This Blog”.

Between the two projects, I am researching and writing six articles a week. I also spend a considerable amount of time marketing both. I am expanding my social network and trying to establish mutually beneficial relationships with peers.

In short, I am getting stuck in. And it is taking up an awful lot of my free time. About 90% of it at the moment, I would estimate.

How Are You Making Money?

Well, in short, I’m not. At the time of writing I have made a gross income of £3.66 ($5.85) from my internet endeavours. That does not concern me, as I only set up Modeling For Kids about a month ago, and it is the only project I have running that aims to generate an income.

Why Not Try Something Else Too?

How To Work Hard And Fail

At times like this, impatience is an evil mistress I have to keep in check. It is of course tempting to explore other income-generating avenues.

So why not surrender to impatience? Why not concentrate the tightly wound spring of energy that exists in me into as many projects as I can possibly manage?

Because I can’t manage. At least, not to the level of quality that I am prepared to accept.

Spread Your Butter Thickly

I believe that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in life, let alone business or even internet marketing, is to spread yourself too thin. This applies to all situations.

If you have too many friends then you will end up neglecting all of them. If you work long hours you’ll never spend quality time with your kids. If you butter your toast too thin then it’ll just taste like dry toast (with an ever so gentle hint of dairy). I could go on.

Obligatory Fishing Analogy

So what would happen if I started planning and executing more income-generating projects at this point? My efforts would be horribly diluted, and I would almost be just as well off doing nothing at all.

If you sail 50 yards from the shore and cast your net wide, who knows what kind of fish you will catch, if any. However, if you know where to fish and sail over to that spot and wait patiently, you will have a fine catch by the end of the day. Even if it turns out that you were fishing in the wrong spot, you probably learnt a lot more from your failed venture than if you’d spent all day sailing around in circles. I’m sure you can tell that I am not much of a fisherman, but the point of the analogy rings true.

Don’t Give Up Without A Fight

Analogies aside, I need to know that I have beaten a project to death before I can give in and move onto the next idea. As long as I am hitting my short term goals, everything else will fall into place. If you have your fingers in many pies, those short term goals will be awfully difficult to achieve.

If you want to work hard and fail, then try everything. If you want to work hard and succeed, pick a venture you think will be profitable, and pour your heart and soul into it.

My First Niche Site: Update #1 – One Month In

Written by Tom Ewer on June 21, 2011. 36 Comments

My First Niche Site

This is Part #1 of a series. A list of all the other updates can be found at the bottom of this post.

Please note that Modeling For Kids is no longer an active site. If you’d like to know why I shut down the site and started up a new one, click here.

I was first introduced to the concept of niche sites by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He ran a “niche site duel” with Tyrone Shum. It was hugely successful, both in terms of the popularity of the competition and the results. Pat’s May 2011 income report shows his niche site, Security Guard Training HQ, bringing in $1,077.72. Pat’s only meaningful source of income from the site at present is Adsense. Not a bad effort – it certainly caught my eye!

Let’s Cut To The Chase

I am not going to waste your time explaining what a niche site is, as it has already been covered in great detail by many others. If you are completely new to niche sites then be sure to check out Pat’s Niche Site Duel Hub. I am skipping all of the preliminaries because I want to get down to the interesting stuff.

In this first article, I am going to reveal what niche I chose and why. In future instalments I will further reveal my strategies, and of course, their benefits (or lack thereof!).

My Niche Site’s Key Statistics

Choosing A Niche

This was a toughy. Most of the successful exponents of niche marketing consider key phrase research to be the most important part of the whole endeavour. With that in mind, I read all sorts of guidance on (a) how to come up with niche ideas, and (b) what criteria to apply to chosen key phrases to calculate their viability.

I quickly found out that there is a lot of information out there. Unfortunately, the information is often conflicting. In the end, I decided to take a leap, knowing that my knowledge base was far from wholly developed. Yes, there was (and is) a risk that I would get it all wrong, but as far as I am concerned, the best learning is in doing. I am a big fan of trial by fire. You can read about niche site development all day, but that won’t get the niche site built!

Even if this site fails I feel I will have progressed, as long as I can then dive into the next one with far more knowledge as to how to succeed. I am definitely looking long-term with this venture, so a failure say three months in isn’t going to halt my momentum. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in life, let alone business, is to not persist. Persistence is so often the key to success.

Niche Site Research Resources

I recommend two guys when it comes to advice on researching your niche site key phrase (and for any other advice on niche sites, for that matter): Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Glen Allsopp of ViperChill. You can check out Pat’s Niche Site Duel Hub as I mentioned above. With impeccable timing, Glen has just published an in-depth article on keyword research, and I strongly recommend that you check it out: “The Ultimate Guide To Keyword Research”. Be sure to brew yourself a cup of tea before you sit down to read it!

But I digress – back to my story. After a couple of hours of research, considering key phrases as wide ranging as “shin splints” to “property investment” (my day job), I settled on my choice…

Modeling For Kids

A bit out of left field, I know. The journey to this key phrase wasn’t particularly linear – I believe you should explore all angles when it comes to keyword research, as you never know what might pop up. I started by looking at “teacher training”, which led to “training to model”, which led to “child modeling”. A less competitive variant of “child modeling” was “modeling for kids”.

As a quick aside, most of the screenshots you will see on this article are from Market Samurai (not an affiliate link – why?), which I strongly recommend if you are getting into niche sites. The screenshot below reveals my key phrase’s vital statistics:

My First Niche Site

Those are results based upon an exact match. A broad match returns 40,500 monthly searches. My gut tells me that there is a lot of potential in this niche if you can rank for various associated key phrases. For instance, if I can rank well for “modeling for kids” and “child modeling” as well as various long tail keywords, the potential search traffic could be considerable.


I was relatively pleased with the level of competition for my chosen key phrase, shown below:

My First Niche Site

I won’t delve into the intricacies of Market Samurai here (as they have a great resource over at the Noble Samurai Dojo that does a much better job than I could), but I will point out the few key elements that I considered:

Overall, I think that I have a decent chance of toppling these guys. Only time will tell!

Four Simple Steps To Niche Site Success

Okay, I am being facetious. The steps may be simple to discuss, but they are far from easy to implement.

1. Research

As mentioned above, this is the most important part of the whole process. Unfortunately, I am a bit concerned that I may have made a couple of mistakes in my research. I am concerned about (a) the competitiveness of the top 10 and (b) the value of the key phrase (i.e. is the Adwords cost per click high, and do people with commercial intent search for that key phrase?). Those are essentially the two key factors when it comes to key phrase research (although there are others).  Nonetheless I will soldier on, because even if I do fail, the process followed in failing will have taught me a great deal.

2. Content

When it comes to content, I plan to follow two very simple principles – quantity and quality. There are many different niche site strategies out there – you will probably read a lot about “set it and forget it” sites. I am not a fan of this method. I would much prefer to create a loyal community by offering quality content, and plenty of it. I think that this can potentially lead to greater long-term benefits.

29 days ago, I knew absolutely nothing about child modeling. It is not a topic that interested me in the slightest. Having now written 18 articles on the topic, I am pleased to say that it has not actually been that painful at all.

I don’t fully agree with the argument that you must be passionate about your niche in order to succeed. Perhaps that is more down to my character; I enjoy researching and writing articles in general, which obviously helps a great deal.

In terms of research, I bought a couple of books and scoured the internet for all things child modeling. One thing that became clear is that there is absolutely no competition out there in terms of a hub website offering quality guidance on child modeling. I will definitely look to exploit this.

3. Marketing

I have tried a few strategies so far. I have closely followed Pat Flynn’s backlinking strategy (see “THE Backlinking Strategy That Works”), which appears to have got me plenty of backlinks (around 750 as of today). I have commented on blogs. I have introduced myself at a couple of child modeling forums, which has attracted decent traffic, but nothing that will ever set the world alight. The key is definitely in my Google ranking, which has been stuck in the high teens for a couple of weeks now.

I am quite pleased with my ranking at this stage, as my site is well optimised for my chosen key phrase and the quality and depth of content is increasing week by week. Although my ranking has not moved considerably for a couple of weeks, I am not concerned. I fired off a quick email to Pat Flynn a while ago, and he assured me that he had exactly the same experience with his niche site. I think my patience will pay off.

I also have a couple of additional strategies that I am either planning to employ or am currently experimenting with, which I will report back on in a later article.

4. Monetization

Perhaps confusingly, monetization is the least of my worries right now. I think too many would-be entrepreneurs are too concerned with earning a quick buck. At this point, income is not the most important factor – traffic is. If you have traffic, the income will follow, as long as you carry out an effective monetization strategy.

So for the time being, I am not paying much attention to monetization. Yes, I have Adsense on my website, but I have put little thought into placement. Once I start to attract a decent amount of traffic, I will look to develop my monetization strategy. I already have a few ideas, which I will reveal in a later article.

It doesn’t hurt to say this twice: don’t get too caught up in trying to monetize your site in the early days. The level of traffic won’t warrant the effort; you should be focusing your efforts on content and marketing.

What Next?

Simply put, rinse and repeat. I will continue to add three new articles every week and work on my marketing strategies. At this point I am not putting countless hours into the project – perhaps an hour a day. The start-up time taken was considerably more involved, but I think I am over that hill now.

As I have already stated, I am not concerned about my positioning at this stage. I am happy to bide my time, whilst remaining focused on the task at hand.

Now be sure to sign up to my newsletter below so you can get exclusive updates on my progress every week!

Read The Whole Series