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Freelancer Spotlight: Sarah AKA Sillygrrl

I first stumbled upon Sarah’s website XOSarah when looking for freelance inspiration for my own baby business. I was looking for different ways of selling my services and was intrigued by Sarah’s pre-made blogger designs on Etsy. I connected with Sarah and loved how open she was about her business and that she is also on a mission to help others build freelancing businesses and escape their ho hum jobs.

Sarah is a freelance designer/blogger/code-wrangler/circus performer from just outside Detroit. Yes- circus performer! How cool is that.

Sarah Morgan Quote

I’m super excited to introduce Sarah in this week’s Freelancer Spotlight:

Sarah Morgan CircusWhat kind of freelancing do you do and how did you get started? Tell us your story.

I’m a web designing circus performer. I design and build websites for bloggers and small businesses, run a pre-made blog template shop on Etsy, and teach and perform aerial arts.

I’ve been designing websites since I was a teen. I went to school for journalism and ended up working as a web designer for a TV news station for seven years. I found corporate media to be incredibly draining and had just gotten back into blogging, so I decided to offer my services to bloggers. To my surprise people were interested, a lot of people.

Around that time I also began performing with my aerial troupe, The Weird Sisters Circus. We were booking so many shows and rehearsing so much I didn’t have time to be in an office 40 hours a week anymore. After a few months of taking on clients, booking shows, teaching classes and working three jobs at once I knew it was time to make the escape. Luckily my corporate job made it easy for me to leave by asking me to change my schedule and work weekends. HA!

Are you freelancing full-time or on the side? Tell us a little bit about it.

I freelance full-time. I spend my days blogging and designing or teaching and rehearsing or all or none. I have a fairly set teaching schedule so I fit my design work around my classes and rehearsals. It’s nice to be able to spend some days on the couch with my computer and other days working out. I find it’s a good balance and keeps me from getting bored or stagnant.

How long did you freelance on the side before you made the jump?

I began my business as a side hustle for about 9 months as I prepared to leave my corporate job. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done – somehow keeping three practically full-time jobs going at once while not losing my sanity.

What is your favorite part of working for yourself?

The flexibility. I can sleep in if I want, take days off when I need to, work nights and weekends because I love my job, not because I have to. I decide who I want to work with, I set my rates and decide who many clients to take on, which means I have full control over my income. I can work from my couch in my pjs or co-work with friends. And it allows me to teach and perform without having to schedule things around a 9 to 5 job.

Sarah Morgan SillygrrlWhat is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in working for yourself?

Keeping up with all the accounting, emails, invoices, and mundane daily tasks. I generally take 30 mins to an hour each day and get through as much as I can, but that’s not always terribly effective.

Walk us through your typical workday.

There’s no typical work day 🙂 It depends on if I’m teaching or have rehearsals and how many clients I’m working for. Some days I wake up around 11am and work until my to-do list is complete – could be 6pm, could be 1am. Some days I get up at 9am, teach, come home to go through email/write blog posts/design or code, then go back and teach again around 6pm. Some days I teach, have rehearsal and then take the rest of the day off to meet up with my boyfriend and his kids. And some days I teach, rehearse, work, teach, rehearse and work again until I feel like my brain has melted slightly.

Every week I go through what needs to be done blogging and business wise and roughly schedule it around teaching and rehearsals. My main priority is to keep myself sane so I can do all the things without getting to the end of the week feeling like I’ve overworked myself.

What advice would you give to someone a few steps behind you in their freelancing entrepreneurial journey?

Try to figure out how many projects you can take on at once (how many per year to pay the bills) from the very beginning. If you’re cramming your schedule so full that you’re working 12 hour days every day then raise your prices (and possibly the quality of your work) so you can get through the week with your sanity intact.

Automate everything you possibly can (bills, tweets, accounting, production, etc), hire people to do small things that annoy you (hello lawn service!), download inbox pause, create passive income streams (ebooks, downloads, sponsorships).

It’s all too easy to be so focused on getting ahead (on projects, with your bank account, in comparison to others) that your health falls to the wayside. You’ve seen all the comic strips about frazzled-looking freelancers. You can absolutely do this job without being crazy busy all the time. Work smarter, not harder!

Thanks Sarah!

Nerd Party EbookCheck out her work here and be sure to visit her blog where she has a ton of useful articles for freelancers just starting out.

Plus- she’s written an ebook “Nerd Party– Clever coding & design tips for busy bloggers”! Follow her on twitter, @sillygrrl or facebook.

Like hearing Sarah’s story and the Freelancer Spotlight series? Let us know in the comments!


Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Awesome!
    It’s always interesting to see someone multifaceted working.
    Thanks, ladies!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yeah, she’s got a very inspiring combination!

  • Sarah’s story is so inspiring and I really love her blog 🙂 Great interview! Looking forward to reading more about your own journey too!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, it sure is! Thank you for hangin’ out here!

  • Great story! I’ve been following Sarah for a while now and love how open she is about making that transition. Lisa xo

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, we all have that transition period and it helps so much to see that other people go through it too! Thanks for you comment Lisa

  • Stefani

    Great story! I also teach classes (yoga and fitness) and spend all my non-teaching time freelancing as a web and graphic designer. I love enjoying two completely different skills/jobs, as it surely keeps it interesting! Way to go Sarah… You’re an inspiration!

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