Case Study | The Birth Of A Freelance Blogger – Chapter 1 Part 2: Challenges Are Part Of Things

We May Encounter Many Challenges On Our Journey To Success

This is the second week after the launch of with the first post called Case Study | The Birth Of A Freelance Blogger – Chapter 1 Part 1: “Fertilization” that was released that very same day. This was indeed the start of my journey of becoming and living the life of a successful freelance blogger. The following post after that was a bit more about myself and my background as well as the motivation and inspiration behind starting this site while finding what I am passionate about, which of course is turned out to be blogging. I have decided to turn that passion into reality and since then have been working on pursuing my career as a freelance blogger.

If you have been following my journey from the very start you probably know that evolved from an idea to a fully designed site with three blog posts, an ‘About Me’, ‘Start Here!’, ‘Toolbox’, ‘Hire Me’, ‘Blog’ and ‘Contact’ page, numerous custom widgets, plugins and a bit here and there – all within one week.

I have always designed my own sites as I am very particular and choosy when it comes to design and functionality so I guess being fairly well skilled in HTML and CSS with a good understanding of WordPress customization puts me at a slight advantage to the average user out there.

The biggest motivation behind starting this journey probably was my huge frustration with being stuck not being able to live the life I want to be living and maintaining the lifestyle I want to be maintaining. I still have that strong burning desire inside me that wants to achieve a certain level of freedom that enables me to decide where, when and how I want to be spending my time, without having to report to anyone else or justify every single single decision I make.

.The second biggest motivation behind getting started with this journey was due to inspiration I got from a guy called Tom Ewer who is the founder and author of Leaving Work Behind. Tom showed me in a guest post and an interview Bamidele Onibalusi did with him on YoungPrePro that earning a decent living with freelance blogging is in fact quite possible. He showed me what I needed to see on order to believe enough to take action. He encouraged me with actionable steps what you need to get started, how to get started and then what you need to keep on doing on a regular basis to become successful at this. All that was left for me to do was to take action and actually get started.

First it was getting my “home” built which is the actual site, then it was getting the foundation and groundwork done in order to be equipped to accommodate freelance blogging clients. I am grateful for the fact that I have been blogging for a while already at the start of this journey with numerous posts already published in a number of places online. this not only helped me being comfortable within my working environment but it also helped me being confident in what I do and my capabilities around the many aspects that freelance blogging consists of.

Sure there are things to be learnt. I have never been paid for a blog post in my life. I had to work out what my preferred hourly rate is at which I am prepared to work at. I had to do thorough research on a number of starting aspects as a new freelance blogger. This all took an amazing amount of hours, dedication and I can assure you, quite a number of sacrifices along this very short period of time that I have been on this journey for.

Dedication is certainly part of the game

I think it’s safe to add that I am very dedicated to this project and I am putting in a lot of work behind things with the trust that at some stage my efforts will start to pay off and I will reap the rewards. this project is extremely important to me. I am 110% committed sine the day I made the decision to partake on this journey.

Then unexpected ‘disaster’ struck…

From day one I have made it no secret that I got 90% of my inspiration from Tom Ewer, the guy doing exactly what I am pursuing. That guest post he write and also the interview Bamidele Onibalusi did with him pushed me over the final edge and gave me the fuel I needed to change things for the better.

As soon as I got everything set up and running, I remember it was somewhere during the early hours of Saturday morning the 2nd of December 2012, I was working through the night to get things done and when I was finally done and satisfied with what I had accomplished, I went over to Leaving Work Behind and read another of Tom’s inspiring posts I haven’t gotten to yet. I was so excited as I was done setting things up which took me only a week, I commented on his posts telling him I am done launching and I am ready to attract my first freelance blogging client. Heck, I even asked his advice on pitching and how he’d suggest I approach it as it was something that I had never done before as a freelance blogger.

He replied to my comment and again, when I saw the subject line in my email notification and I realized I got a reply from Tom, I was on cloud #9 all over again…that was until I read his reply anyway…

Congratulations on the blog launch! I see you’ve taken some slight inspiration (to say the least) from the LWB logo ;)

I’ve got a whole section in my freelance blogging guide dedicated to pitches, but in a nutshell I would recommend that you keep it short and sweet. Introduce yourself, explain how you can benefit the prospective client, include your pitches, and that’s about it.



I immediately knew he could not have been very happy as my logo did get a lot of inspiration from his, although I can highlight quiet a number of unique differences. But the difficult and uncomfortable part of the matter was, I realized I might have made an enemy of someone whom I looked up to, someone whom I definitely intended to learn much much more from in future and possibly ask for a lot of advise in future as well.

As if matters couldn’t get any worse…

On second thoughts, having looked a little closer, replace ‘logo’ with ‘logo, blog and content strategy’!

I was totally blown away. ALL my enthusiasm of the past two weeks felt like it was gone within a split second. I could see myself having to take down my site immediately or have huge fights with a lot of people I don’t want to get into fights with (Tom is a well respected guy being admired by a lot of mutual friends and fellow online mentors). Up until this point I was quite satisfied with my online reputation that I have been building for the last couple of months but I could see all that go down the drain within an instant.

Damage Control

I knew I had to do something and reply to Tom. Clearly this guy was thinking I am trying to copy him and ‘steal’ his idea or concept. I knew this wasn’t the case. I knew that although a huge part of my inspiration came from him, pretty much everything inside me was being resembled through that site and the content I already had out there. But Tom didn’t, and I knew I had to at least try and make him see that.

You are correct! I even wrote it in one of the posts, Tom. All my inspiration came from you; from an idea when reading your interview and the guest post you did on YoungPrePro to the complete site design and content I wrote.

I sincerely hope you don’t feel offended by so much resemblance between my site and yours. The idea was not to copy you in any way. For me it was acting on inspiration I got from someone that inspired me to become successful in something we both have a huge passion for, which is making a decent living doing what we love.

I simply took what you teach and implemented it. However, learning more from you, possibly helping you in future and keeping peace between us are much more important to me so if you feel what I have done is hurting you or your business in any way, please let me know! :)

Thanks for the advice on pitching; that makes perfect sense and I will implement that (if that’s okay with you) right away! I certainly plan on getting my copy of your book as well after I listened to your interview with Sophie Lizard.and you mentioned that you wanted this to be the ultimate guide on freelance blogging. A guide a beginner can take and implement right away with no sequel planned as you’ve mentioned.

Loved it!

After posting that comment I felt a little better and hoped for the best. Then came his reply…

Hi Ruan,

I don’t feel like you’re hurting my business but I have to say that your site really does seem like a mini-LWB. It’d be great if you could perhaps put something of your own identity in it in terms of the design and your approach.



To be honest, that part on bold hit me right between the eyes. Although I did at the time, I couldn’t really blame Tom for saying that as he didn’t know my heart at that point in time. I realized that he just saw this guy trying to do exactly what he was doing and then used a similar approach AND even a similar design approach. I really couldn’t blame him for reacting that way and to be honest, I probably would have felt exactly the same although I might have tried to get behind things first. Nevertheless, I felt hurt because I knew how many 18 – 22-hour working days went into that site and everything else involved. I understood how important this project is to me and how sincere I am with my objectives and intentions.

Again, Tom didn’t and it was my job trying to make him see my heart…

“if you could perhaps put something of your own identity in it”

That stung a bit Tom but I am going to email you instead to try and resolve this as less painful as possible for the both of us.

I understand why you feel the way that you do; please let me explain in the email and hear me out.


And so I did email him…

Hi Tom,

I would like us to resolve this matter as the last thing I want to do is create enemies online nor do I want to have you feeling like I am trying to be you or imitate you in any way. I sincerely and honestly learnt a great deal from you within a week as you inspired me tremendously.

I have immediately removed the background of the earth on my site; I have to agree that was probably not a good idea using it. I love it but I can clearly see where the inspiration for that came from.

As for the rest; I honestly don’t feel like the logos look anything alike. The colors are different, the texture on the letters are different, the word arrangement differs, the fonts differ. Yes the inspiration for it did come from you but there is a LOT of me inside that logo.

The sidebars; Having an “About Me” section within the sidebar is not uncommon and can be found on various people’s sites, people we happen to both follow. Bamidele Onibalusi and Pat Flynn being just two of them. The same goes for the Facebook plugin; I even went an extra miles and got rid of the dark, ugly border it has by standard. The plugin can be found on, again, sites we both follow, ViperChill being one of them.

Nothing can be said about the footer.

As for the pages, “About Me”, “Start Here”, “Resources”, “Hire Me” – those are also becoming kind of standardized although I also don’t like the sound of that. Again, Pat Flynn, Bamidele, Kristi Hines, Carol Tice to name a few.

Honestly Tom, I think the only two people that will see where I got my inspiration from for this site and the design, are you and me.

But I do want to keep things at peace between us and rather make friends than enemies so I need you to please tell me exactly what parts, in detail you are not happy with. I do feel that a LOT of my own personality and “personal touch” went into and is in that site. It’s something I am very proud of as I think it’s my best design to date. The emotion and story that it tells and I’m sure will tell in future – I would love for it to inspire someone else, even if it’s just ONE person, the way you inspired me.

I know this was a lengthy email but I think it deserved it. This matter is THAT important to me; that it gets resolved.

Please let me in on your thoughts.

I didn’t know what to expect. I was not sure how he’d react and how far this will go but after giving things much thought I had decided that if he was to insist that I back off and either change my approach or take down my site completely; I would have considered giving it up. I am not a person that likes to make enemies anywhere. To me the potential friendship and certain learning journey from Tom in future was much more worth to me than a website I spent a good number of hours on developing.

Then came his reply and I have to admit, it was in my inbox for quite a number of hours before I had the courage to open it up…

Hi Ruan,

Thanks for getting in touch.

It’s really not a big deal — yes I was a bit shocked to see how similar your site is to mine, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s clear that your intentions are pure and you’ve certainly not made an enemy! I wish you all the best.



I couldn’t believe my eyes. Again, I was completely blown away as I certainly did not expect this reply. I am the kind of guy that will always try and see the good in any situation before I even get a chance to get discouraged by the overwhelming negative sides of things but I have to admit in this situation I didn’t see how this could end positive at all. I expected the worst, honestly.

When I finally got my breath back I could feel mountains disappear off of my shoulders and it didn’t take long for all that “small-child” excitement to come back in its full glory. I got my spark back just as quickly as I lost it all a couple of days earlier. I immediately wrote back to Tom and thanked him for his understanding. His reply meant the world to me and I really needed to hear those words “t’s clear that your intentions are pure and you’ve certainly not made an enemy!” in order to move on with peace in my heart.

If anything, this unpleasant experience taught me something very important and reminded me of a valuable thing to keep in mind…

No matter what the journey is that you are on or what it is that you are trying to accomplish, challenges are certainly going to be part of things. They are going to show up at the times when you least expect them to and there’s nothing really that you can do about it. Having said that, now I believe that the sooner you accept that challenges and possible failures are always going to accompany you on your journeys, the better for you in the long run and the sooner you can overcome those challenges in the least disruptive manner.

Remember the following:

failing at something is merely a chance to learn something and improve on what was your reality before the experience.” – click to tweet

The important lesson this experience has taught me will be with me forever wherever I go. I will not get discouraged the moment I suddenly face an unexpected challenge as those may pop up at any given moment. I am quite confident that nothing good ever came from something that haven’t failed at least a few times before it worked. I will keep my head high, pick up any pieces and move forward.

Your 2 cents

Have you started an exciting journey in which you have put a tremendous amount of work and energy into and then out of the blue, totally unexpected disaster nearly struck that nearly took things down faster than how they started?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! Share your story with us!

In the meantime, I will keep on keeping on, with finding writing gigs at the highest of my priority list right now.

Until we meet again, all of my best to you!

Ruan Oosthuizen | Freelance Writer | Professioanl Blogger

photo by: dicktay2000
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3 Responses to “Case Study | The Birth Of A Freelance Blogger – Chapter 1 Part 2: Challenges Are Part Of Things”

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  1. Shahzad says:

    Very Nice Blog, Very informative. I would love to be here again and again. Thanks for sharing.
    Shahzad recently posted…Job Opportunity for Article Writers ! Join for freelance Article writing jobs!My Profile

    • Ruan Oosthuizen says:

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!

      Looking forward to see you around! You are welcome to stay updated through my newsletter as well – I’ll remind you of new posts and other things happening around here ;)

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