Change Maker: Sarah Morgan of XO Sarah

Ashley Hockney

| Mar 25, 2016

You probably know Sarah Morgan as XOSarah. She's an extremely successful solopreneur who quit her day job, ran away with the circus (not kidding) and has built a business off of her web design and blog consulting skills.   

As someone who reads hundreds of blogs a week, she's one of my absolute favorites. With striking designs, rock solid advice and having launched 5 products in the last year alone, she's someone we could all look up to. 

Here's what she has to say... 

1. Tell us what you do in 2 sentences: 

I teach bloggers and creative business owners to build a badass online presence and make money online. Plus I have a side gig as a circus performer and aerial instructor. 

2. At what point did you decide to quit the proverbial 9-5 and what made you ready to do so? 

After working in a newsroom for seven years I became the living embodiment of the movie Office Space. I was coming in late and only doing enough work to say I’d completed the task. I had zero passion for the projects I was given, I wasn’t feeling challenged, I was totally bored. I had started teaching and performing aerial on a regular basis by then so I added freelance web design to the mix and made a plan to quit. 

3. It's a big question - but can you give me a quick overview of how you built xoSarah into the business that it is today? 

I did the freelance + circus side-hustle for about 9 months before leaving my job (you can read all about that here) and then spent the first two years of self-employment solely focused freelance design. From there my blog began to grow and I began selling pre-made blog themes to bring in passive income. I then wrote and launched two ebooks before jumping into creating courses for my audience. Now I’ve transitioned fully into making a living from selling infoproducts online. Sounds like a simple process, but it was five years of constant writing, planning, experimenting and lots of late nights and weekends. 

4. You have several books, courses, and workshops. Why courses? 

Courses allow me to provide a TON of information in a really structured way as well as offer a private community so I can get to know my students and make sure they’re getting through the content. It’s a huge source of pride that I’ve had multiple students tell me “this is the only course I’ve gotten all the way through.” Ebooks are helpful to get people started, but courses are what will bring them significant change.

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5. What has been the best part of running your own business? 

Freeeedommmm! Being the boss means can work whenever I want, wherever I want, with whomever I want. Tomorrow I can start building something new or spend the entire day writing or drive to Mexico (I live in San Diego - it’s not that far!) or wake up at 10am and head straight to the beach with a book. Plus I get to work directly with my audience to help them make changes and see results, which is like getting 20 high fives every day for just doing what I already enjoy. 

6. How do you balance training, teaching aerial, and running your business? 

Circus arts is actually the perfect compliment to sitting in front of my computer all day. I generally take a class in the morning which allows me to completely separate myself from work for a couple hours. Holding myself upside down in the air requires 100% focus so there’s no room for running through my to-do list or worrying about a launch. In order to fit training and teaching into my schedule I’ve gotten very good at planning my month in advance, getting serious about what’s really a priority, and saying no to things that don’t make the cut. 

7. When I checked out your website, I was struck by how clean, organized and beautiful it is. How did you do that? 

20 years of trial and error :) I’ve been building websites since I was 13 (many of them intensely terrible) so I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what makes a website eye-catching, easy to use, and actionable. People don’t need to know everything about you and see everything you offer all at once. Guiding users through specific pages and posts makes it much more likely they’ll follow, subscribe, make a purchase or hire you, which is the whole point, right? 

8. What are your plans for the future? 

I’ve launched five new products over the past year, so (solopreneur honesty) I’m gonna take a damn break and grow what I’ve already got going on! 

9. What are you struggling with right now and how are you trying to overcome it? 

One of the most important parts of being the boss is that I am able to design my life. So running launches that include 14 hour days, endless to-do lists, and working through the weekend just isn’t cutting it any more. One of my tasks for this summer is to create a strategy for building and launching products that doesn’t involve so much stress. 

10. What advice do you have for people just starting out and starting their own businesses? 

Build an email list from the start (even if you don’t think you need one). Send email often and put time into using it as a means to get to know your audience. Invest early instead of hacking together multiple apps or strategies to create a workable solution. Don’t worry about what other people are doing - it’s not your niche that will build your audience it’s YOU. People will be attracted to your personality, your story, your delivery, your experience, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, quirks, flaws and all. 

And experiment, a lot. Building a business should be fun - yes it’s anxiety-inducing, overwhelming, non-stop work at the start - but YOU get to make all the choices, so don’t forget to try new things, be playful, and focus not only on your business goals but also on how you want your day-to-day life to look as well. 

Sarah Morgan of XO Sarah shares what it's like to quit your day job, join the circus and build a successful business with blogs, courses and ebooks.

Ashley Hockney is a Content Marketer & Writer. Her background is in food & beverage PR i.e. she wants to talk to you about single malts.