What does it take to leave work behind?

Tom Ewer is the founder of Leaving Work Behind.

His writings have been featured on Mashable, Lifehacker, Smashing Magazine, and SitePoint.

Tom wrote over 1000 blog posts on over 100 blogs.

Through his writing, Tom shares, in detail, his own stories and experiences. He shares his successes and his failures with his community.

On his blog, Tom wrote, “I firmly believe that there is no reason why almost anyone can’t follow the same path as me.”

The following interview will shed some light on what it took Tom to create his highly influential blog.

To succeed as a blogger, you have to start the right way. If you want to start a blog, check out our “How to Start a Blog” post for details.

Success Harbor: Since you have quit your property management job at the end of 2011, you have managed to build a successful brand, Leaving Work Behind. If someone tried to replicate your success achieved in only a few years, what would they need to do to get there?

Tom Ewer: Well I suppose the simple answer is that they would need to do what I did 😉 Seriously though, it’s all there on my site – my journey from day one. The original idea with Leaving Work Behind was that if I became successful, people would be able to see how I did it by going back through the archives and reading my content. I think that is the case.

So I think it’s more about what they need to have rather than what they need to do. And the answer to that is simple: determination. That’s just about the biggest weapon in your arsenal when it comes to succeeding, in my opinion.

Success Harbor: What strategies have you used to drive traffic to your sites? What tactics are the most effective today?

Tom Ewer: To be honest, I don’t really focus on driving traffic; probably to my detriment, but it just doesn’t interest me that much.

I suppose my “strategy” is very simple: create content that I like to write and that I think people will like to read. That really is it. If people want to know how to “go viral,” you’re probably talking to the wrong person!

Having said that, my LWB 100 series is arguably what “put me on the map” in the first place, and I’d recommend that any blogger tries something similar.

Success Harbor: What are the best strategies to promote your content?

Tom Ewer: Email outreach, by a mile. But then, when doing that, the quality and relevance of your content is just as important as how you promote it. In a nutshell, you want to create content that influencers will be compelled to share, then let them know about it. Far easier said than done.

Success Harbor: Your LWB 100 list was a huge success. How did it help you grow awareness? How did you promote it? Did the list members help you promote it?

Tom Ewer: My approach to that was very simple: create a resource that people would find valuable and that promoted a huge number of influencers, then let influencers know that I had featured them. That really was it. I published the post, sent individual emails out to all 100 people on the list, then sat back and let the web do its magic 😉

Success Harbor: Networking with the right people is a recurring theme among successful marketers. What advice do you have on building the right network for our businesses? How many people should we have in our network? How should we identify them? How should we reach out to them?

Tom Ewer: Trial and error. There is no formula – just get out there and start talking to people. You’ll soon learn who you should be dealing with and who isn’t worth your time; who you are truly interested in and vice versa.

Success Harbor: You mentioned on your blog that you “wanted passive referrals” for your business. What tactics can we use to build our business on passive referrals?

Tom Ewer: I built my writing business on the back of the popularity of Leaving Work Behind, and the bylines I am featured in on client’s sites. It’s really about putting yourself out there – in places where people who might want to work with you and find you. Again, easier said than done, but that is the code you need to crack.

Success Harbor: You have been published in some A-list publications. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs on getting this type of publicity? What kind of content should we strive for to get noticed, and how should we promote it?

Tom Ewer: I think that the more you write, the better a chance you get of writing for, the bigger publications. But that’s not all – you do need to approach them too. I certainly wasn’t approached by the Mashables and the SitePoints of this world – I ultimately had to pitch them. It’s tough, but perhaps not as tough as you might think.

Success Harbor: How do you generate revenue, and at what point should bloggers start monetizing their sites?

Tom Ewer: Leaving Work Behind generates revenue through affiliate sales (largely web hosting) and product sales (Paid to Blog and, soon, Paid to Blog Jobs). Although I didn’t monetize my site for a long time after I launched it, I’m now of a mind that you should monetize from day one. Although I wouldn’t recommend you launch a product – just put your services out there, and see what the response is. The great thing about offering a service (i.e., your time and expertise) is that it requires no up-front costs.

Success Harbor: What is the biggest mistake that you have made in business?

Tom Ewer: I used to struggle to answer that question, but now I know: I didn’t treat my business like a business. Although I’ve been relatively successful and certainly make enough to pay the bills, in the past, I almost treated what I did as a hobby. I would engage in “passion projects” rather than focusing on the things that really make money. Switching my focus to being entirely business-driven has revolutionized my approach to my work.

Success Harbor: How to deal with the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship?

Tom Ewer: Strap in and hold on tight 😉

Success Harbor: How do you differentiate your LWB from other blogs with similar topics?

Tom Ewer: Honesty and transparency. That’s what people tell me, at least – that they follow me because they see a level of transparency that is all too rare.

In short, when I screw up, I admit it and explain in detail what happened. That, coupled with features on my successes, seems to resonate with people.

Success Harbor: What is the greatest high you had owning your own business?

Tom Ewer: Probably the launch day of my first product, Paid to Blog. While it wasn’t a huge success in comparison to the launch days that many other internet marketers boast of, sales performed way above my expectation, and I was on cloud nine.

Success Harbor: What do you think is the biggest time-waster for entrepreneurs, especially early on?

Tom Ewer: Focusing on anything that won’t directly lead to increasing your revenue. I’ve learned that you’ve got to be clinical about what you focus on.

Success Harbor: If you would start all over again, what would you do differently?

Tom Ewer: Of course! However, who’s to say that it would have ended up better? There’s no point guessing…

Success Harbor: Are you inspired by anyone in business? If you had to chose a couple of people to emulate who would they be and why them?

Tom Ewer: I don’t like the idea of emulating people. In fact, I think that’s a lot of people’s downfall – they try to be someone else when their real value is in being themselves. I think we all have value to offer this world, but it’s about finding what your value is, not looking for cues from someone else.

Success Harbor: What are some of your favorite apps for running your business?

Tom Ewer: Gmail, Boomerang for Gmail, Reminders (Mac), Evernote, and Google Drive. That pretty much does it for me!

Success Harbor: What are some of your favorite books that have helped your business?

Tom Ewer: The 80/20 Principle is a great one, and of course, The 4-Hour Workweek is a great one for inspiration. I also think that The Millionaire Fastlane is great, despite its name and the author’s propensity for arrogance.

Success Harbor: If you could train someone to be a successful entrepreneur, what would be the first thing you’d teach them?

Tom Ewer: It’s far more about hard graft than it is coming up with a million-dollar idea.

Success Harbor: How can people connect with you?

Tom Ewer: The best place to get in touch with me is via Leaving Work Behind – either email me through my contact form or get involved in the community forums!

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.