Escaping the 9 to 5 with Lewis Smith

how to be an independent app developer with Lewis Smith

This month’s interview is with Lewis Smith, another digital nomad whose path crossed with mine in Barcelona in October 2017, at the 7in7 digital nomad conference. Here, he explains why he chose to take smalls steps, instead of big leaps, quitting his job to travel the world with his wife.

Watch the full interview or read on for the highlights of Lewis’ story!

How to be an independent app developer

Lewis SmithLewis Smith was happy in his programming role but chose to leave, with his wife, to explore more of the world – starting with Thailand. Initially managing the stress of a variable freelancing income, Lewis now runs his own app development business. Today, he’s a developer and digital nomad who helps people lose weight with Progress Body Measurements app and stay connected with World Time Widget app.


Lewis travels with his wife, Jen, who quit her job on the same day as him

1. At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?

I actually really liked my job. It was a big corporate and the potential for advancement with the company I was at was really nice; they treated me very well. It came in a couple of stages, but really the seed of it all was planted on my honeymoon in Chiang Mai. At the time, it wasn’t known as a digital nomad spot. We were just walking around the town and thought, “We could live here.” Six months after that, we did!

At that point, I didn’t have my app business, but we were going to just take some time off as we had some savings. I wanted to do the apps, but it took five years to get them to a point where they were my main thing.

Before that, we’d never been outside of Europe. Being in Thailand was a culture shock but in such a good way: life was so different, and we really enjoyed Chiang Mai. There was a lot of the world that we hadn’t seen, and we wanted to do more, and see more – that was a big driver.
My wife, my friend and I all gave our notice on the same day.

2. What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?

The ‘feast-or-famine’ aspect of freelancing was hard. It was four or five years before the apps worked out, and income was a constant thing on my mind: “What should I focus on? Will the apps ever be something that I can do full-time? Should I really focus a lot on that? Or should I just embrace freelancing?” Part of the reason it was feast and famine was that I was never spending any time, or as much time as I should have been, looking for freelance work; all my free time was spent on my other business.

Finding the right balance was a big challenge, and I think the main advice I would give is to try not to worry about it. (I know, that is super easy to say!) I spent so much time being stressed, thinking, “In three months, am I going to have this business?” Really, I was never hungry, and it was never shit. My life was always pretty good, and if I’d spent less time with negative emotions about that, I probably would have moved forward quicker.

Lewis Smith
Lewis ran a session at the 7in7 conference in Barcelona on IT security on the road, and it was both terrifying and reassuring in the solutions that he provided!

3. Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?

I didn’t have as much support as I would have liked! My wife Jen was a huge support, but outside of that… I feel like I’ve been a lot better at finding support as I’ve become more successful.
Conferences like 7in7 are a really great way to meet people and to get support. I also ran a mastermind group in Thailand for a little bit and that was really good. I listen to podcasts, and it’s always useful if you can find one that is in your niche or in the thing that you want to do. I don’t necessarily like the business-type podcasts, but just find something in your sector that gives you a good feeling.

Lewis Smith
This was one of my favourite places to visit too, back in 2014. And, while Lewis was drinking his ale at The Green Dragon, money was still flowing into his bank account.

4. What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?

It sounds mega-corny, but I think it is the freedom. I feel like I have control over all aspects of my life, like how to spend my time wherever we go. Everything is within my influence, so it’s great to be able to travel and to work, and then to have a few days off – I really appreciate that every day.
Then, the day I wake up after I haven’t done any work, money is still coming in. That is a pretty great feeling!

5. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?

I think the best advice is to resist the urge to just throw it all – your corporate 9 to 5 – away. That’s the thing I see often, and disagree with the most. Obviously, the urge to jump completely is strong, and I totally get that. I think if you can find how not to do that, and just think, “How could I not jump?” – take one step – I think that is probably my best advice. And you can apply that at any time, to anything: take one step, instead of jumping.

You can find Lewis online at, on YouTube and on Twitter. If you’re looking for extra support and accountability to lose weight, then be sure to also check out his Progress app.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

Get on the phone with Anna to discuss your unique goals and situation to determine the best programme for you, so you can start taking action towards creating the business and lifestyle you desire.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Looking to grow your expert business?

Download this FREE Business Assessment to identify the gaps that are preventing your growth so that you can take actionable steps towards building a more successful and sustainable business.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Download the brochure

Find out more about our flagship mentoring programme for experienced professionals who want to translate their skills and experience into a profitable business that brings them more freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.


When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics


We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.


We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: For more guidance on opting out you can also consult

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>