Sarah Morgan may rub some people the wrong way with her dedication to naps, her casual approach to online interaction, and the occasional curse word in an email. But make no mistake: she’s serious, works hard, and has found a way to create a lucrative digital business that keeps her, above all, entertained.
In this 30-minute episode, Sarah and I discuss:
And much more — including my rapid fire questions at the end, in which Sarah shares how Simon Sinek, The Real Housewives, and the opera have influenced her career.
Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, on-going instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce. That s Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.
Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show where digital entrepreneurs share their stories and the lessons they ve learned so that we can all build better digital businesses. I am your host, Jerod Morris, the VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and this is episode number 32.
This episode of The Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. I will tell you more about this complete solution for digital marketing and sales a little bit later, but you can check it out and take a free spin for yourself at Rainmaker.FM/Platform. That s Rainmaker.FM/Platform.
On this week s episode, I am joined by someone who four years ago was working a corporate job that she didn t love anymore. She began growing her blog, building her email list, and expanding her social media following. After nine months of serious hustling, she made her escape and literally ran away with the circus. We re going to have to ask her about that.
Now she spends her days teaching other bloggers, freelancers, and solo business owners how to create a kickass online presence through ebooks, workbooks, and courses so that they can conquer their goals too. She is Sarah Morgan, and she is a digital entrepreneur.
Sarah, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur. How are you?
Sarah Morgan: Thank you for having me. I m good. How are you?
Jerod Morris: I m very good. Very good. Very excited for this chance to talk. Looking forward to it.
Sarah Morgan: Thank you.
Jerod Morris: I have to start out with this. When I was doing some research ahead of time, I read on your website a little bit about your history. I want you to, obviously, get into telling us more about that, but there was one line that I found particularly interesting, and we have to start here. You said, After nine months of serious hustling, she made her escape and literally ran away with the circus. Can you ?
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. My fans were excited about that.
Jerod Morris: Can you unpack that sentence for us a little bit?
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. I guess I can tell you my whole journey and how that fits in, because I did also have a real job as well.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, let s do it.
Sarah Morgan: I m a blog strategist. I started blogging when I was a teenager. I used that to learn web design and development, and then after college I got a corporate job doing web design at a TV station in Detroit. I m originally from Michigan. At some point in there, like most people that end up self-employed, I was not loving my job anymore. Not loving getting up and going to work, the projects, or anything that I was working on. I started a side hustle doing freelance web design. Around the same time, I had a — I call it my side, side hustle. That was as a circus performer. I was performing Cirque du Soleil aerial silks and trapeze, that kind of stuff.
Jerod Morris: Wow.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. So I was performing a lot and I was teaching. I was blogging in the morning and then going to work and blogging. Getting my work done really fast. I was very efficient. Then, editing photos, coding, and doing all of that stuff any time I had a minute at work. And then, after work, I would go and train, or teach, or perform, or go and do more web design client work.
Jerod Morris: Wow. How did you have time for all of this?
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. It was more like, How did you have time for anything else? because I pretty much It was like a year, nine months where I was doing everything all at once, and I didn t do anything else. I wasn t partying. That was in my late 20 s. How long have I been doing this, four years?
I should ve been going to the bar and going out to dinner, doing all kinds of stuff. I was working like a crazy person. I always say I was working 25/8. I was working from the second I got up until the second I went to sleep, and I loved it … 95 percent of the time. The rest of the time, I was super stressed out.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. I don t want to dwell on this too long because it s obviously a show about digital entrepreneurship, but I am interested about the performing part of it, because that seems like this outlier detail about your whole story. Is that something that you had grown up doing, and what are you Are you still doing any of that now?
Sarah Morgan: Yeah, I moved to San Diego a little over two years ago. I still teach. I don t really perform anymore because it takes a really high level of training. I would have to be in the studio training six, seven days a week, and at the moment I m feeling lazy about that. I m really focused on building my online courses. So I m still teaching and I still go in and train every once in a while.
But when I was back home in Detroit before I moved here, I was performing a few times a month. I did outdoor festivals, fairs, and corporate events. I did, actually, a couple of NBA halftime shows. I got to perform with Salt-N-Pepa, which was crazy.
Jerod Morris: Wow. Hey.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. They re like, Do you want to come and do this show? I was like, Yes. Yeah, whatever you want me to do, no problem.
Jerod Morris: Of course. Yeah. When you do your online courses, are you doing a lot of video stuff? Are you on camera for the courses?
Sarah Morgan: Some of them I am. I have one course, my main blogging course about growing blog traffic and your email list.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: I am on camera doing video for every single module.
Jerod Morris: This performance history that you have, does that come out at all in your videos? Are you able to use any of that, or is it more just like sitting in a desk straight into the camera?
Sarah Morgan: I m not sitting at a desk. I m more of a work-on-the-couch kind of person, so it s a little more relaxed probably than most people that make online courses.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah, I m not upside-down or anything, or wearing the clown makeup.
Jerod Morris: Not yet, but for future courses.
Sarah Morgan: Not yet. Yes.
Jerod Morris: Sarah, I ve always believed that the number one benefit of digital entrepreneurship is freedom.
Sarah Morgan: Yes.
Jerod Morris: The freedom to choose your projects. The freedom to chart your course. Ultimately, the freedom to change your life and your family s life for the better. What is the biggest benefit that you have derived from being a digital entrepreneur?
Sarah Morgan: I m going to go with freedom as well. I really am bossy, so I like being in charge and I like deciding what project I work on, who I m working with, who I m collaborating with. I like being able to structure my own days. I like being able to like fly home to see my family whenever I want. Michigan is cold so I don t really do it that often, but I can if I want to. Also, that I can experiment. I can try something, and if doesn t work then it doesn t work and I can try something else. There s nobody going to come down and with a hammer on me or something like that.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: I m able to move a little bit quicker than I would if I was doing this same type of work under someone else at a corporate job or something.
Jerod Morris: Sure, so you described what you were doing before you got to the point where you re at now. When was that moment when you said, Okay, I m pivoting and I m going online. I m doing this full-time with ebooks and with courses, and this is how I m going to make money. What was that decision like?
Sarah Morgan: It started a couple years in. Maybe three years in to the seven years at my corporate job, I had a moment of feeling like I didn t enjoy designing websites anymore, and that was something I had been doing since I was like 13.
I always say I had a mid-20 s crisis. I was like, If I don t design websites anymore, what am I supposed to do? I didn t have any other interests, hobbies, or career path. That was my thing. So I panicked. That s when I started blogging again. I had stopped for a couple of years because I was doing a lot of design work and writing news stories, which is super boring. I was doing that all day at my corporate job, so I stopped blogging.
At that point, I started blogging again. I started getting a little bit more into creative design and blog design, and I realized that I had people coming to me and asking for blog headers or asking questions about how to format their own website. I ended up starting a little bit, and then nine months before I left my job I got very serious. I was really unhappy. I really didn t want to go to work in the morning.
I decided, “In a year, I m leaving my job. Next September, I m leaving. That s it. I think my boyfriend at the time and my parents were a little bit concerned for my mental state of being. I was like, I m leaving my job. I can t do this anymore. This is 40 hours out of my week that I m unhappy.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah. I decided, and from that point on, I worked like a crazy person to make it happen.
Jerod Morris: Sometimes you got to put your own back against the wall and you find out what you re capable of.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah, absolutely.
Jerod Morris: I m looking at your website, and you ve got your tagline on here, The no bullsh*t blog strategy for the daring and driven. I m curious, as you went about developing your brand and putting this all together, did you just follow your own personality, or were you very intentional about adding a little bit of an edge to how you were going to present yourself?
Sarah Morgan: That s my personality. If you talk to me in person I will probably swear at you. I get people that email I used to be on MailChimp, so people could write a comment when they unsubscribe. All the time people would say, You swear too much. I can t take the cursing, and I m like
Jerod Morris: You swear in your emails?
Sarah Morgan: Oh, yeah.
Jerod Morris: Yeah?
Sarah Morgan: I try to not drop the f-bomb too much anymore. I’ve pulled back a teeny-tiny bit, but yeah. I say all the other four-letter words. That s the way I sound.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, I think that s interesting. I think some people shy away a little bit even if that is their natural way. Have you found that it has helped you to attract the kind of people that are going to be your best kind of customers and repel the people who won t?
Sarah Morgan: Yup, absolutely. That s one of the reasons that I ve never been shy about swearing or writing in the way that I speak, or creating videos and not being in a blazer at a desk. I m always sitting on my couch or I m sitting at my kitchen table, and I m dressed the way that I always dress. I think that does attract the right people to me. Because I do a lot of I run online communities for all my courses. I do weekly hangouts for some of my courses, and I don t want to be hanging out with people that aren t on the same vibe that I m on.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, just a very authentic way of doing business.
Sarah Morgan: Yeah, it brings in the right students and I always have fun when I m doing the consulting and coaching.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Tell me about the milestone or moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur so far that you are the most proud of.
Sarah Morgan: Ooh, that s a big one. Okay. It was when I realized I was making more money being self-employed than I had been making at my corporate job.
Jerod Morris: Wow. Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: That was about two and a half, three years in. I just remember standing in my kitchen and being like, Holy sh*t. I make more money doing all of this stuff by myself than I did working for somebody else. It s crazy. I didn t think — I really assumed, “I m going to be making $30,000 a year, and that s fine if I can work from home and build my own business. That s fine. I ll be a starving artist or whatever.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Sarah Morgan: I did not expect that to happen at all. When it did, I was really shocked and really proud of myself.
Jerod Morris: Was it a steady progression to that point, or were there some pretty big jumps that got you there?
Sarah Morgan: It was definitely a whole year of doing webinars and finally growing my email list. Finally taking all of the advice in creating an email list. The couple years before I d been making $25,000 to $30,000 a year, and then yeah, that one year I more than doubled my income.
Jerod Morris: Wow. Congratulations on that, by the way. That s fantastic.
Sarah Morgan: Thank you.
Jerod Morris: Alrighty. Let s take a quick break. When we come back, I m going to ask Sarah about her most humbling moment as a digital entrepreneur.
As you probably know, stitching together a website that truly gives you everything you need to demonstrate your authority, connect with your audience, and earn recurring profit isn t easy. You have to find good hosting plus security and support you can trust, which is a headache. You need a patchwork of plugins that can prove to be a nightmare at the worst possible time. You need the ability to create content types ranging from blog posts, to podcasts, to online courses. What about integrated landing pages, email marketing, and marketing automation to deliver a truly adaptive content experience? These aren t nice to have features anymore for the smart, profitable digital entrepreneur, they are necessities.
You have two choices. One, you can piecemeal it all together, pay more in total, and then cross your fingers and hope everything plays nicely together. Or, number two, you can use the Rainmaker Platform. Rainmaker is a fully hosted, all-in-one online marketing and sales machine that gives you everything out of the box in one dashboard. You can run a successful podcast, host authority-building membership areas, and sell in-depth, module-based, revenue-generating online courses.
You can even use RainMail to host all of your email lists and send broadcast emails and autoresponder sequences right there in your Rainmaker dashboard. Plus, the full email integration with your website platform gives you insight about your audience and content flexibility that you simply cannot get with separate solutions stitched together. Oh, and rather than having to choose from one of a hundred different places for support when...