Sinclair: How did you get to where you are now?
Sarah: This is not a particularly inspiring answer, but I got where I am by working incredibly hard and writing, writing, and then writing some more.
When you publish enough blog posts (I have 2,000+ in my archives) and hone your writing skills for 18 years, eventually you’re going to get somewhere!
Honestly, ‘success’ is a numbers game. If you send enough pitches, make enough videos, create enough content, something will stick! People will find you!
And sometimes you win the race because everyone else drops out.
Sinclair: You say you slowly and organically built a list of 13K daily readers and a list of 15k email subscribers. How did you find ways to be patient during this journey?
Sarah: I learned to trust myself, trust my readers, and trust the process.
I put in the work to figure out what topics my readers liked, which freebies appealed to them, which blog posts got favorited and forwarded..
When I figured that out, it was easy to create things that help them and appeal to them. You just look at your analytics – it’s not hard!
Once you know these things, you have all the information you need to create content that will make people click that ‘subscribe’ button.
Sinclair: Who is someone that kept you going along the way to becoming who you are now?
Sarah: My 15-year-old self. I want to stay true to the life path and dreams I had for myself before I cared about ‘viral content, ‘conversion rates,’ and what success ‘should’ look like.
It’s not always easy, of course. And I DO care about conversion rates! But I want to balance that with writing and doing things that make me happy and fill me up, regardless of how cool they look on social media.
Sinclair: What’s one of the best blog entries you’ve ever written?
Sarah: People love ‘How To Figure Out What Makes You Happy (So You Can Add More Of It To Your Life).’ I almost didn’t publish it because it felt too obvious. But clearly, it’s something that people need help with!
Sinclair: What do we often get wrong about budgeting and money?
Sarah: We don’t take the time to consider if our spending aligns with our values or happiness. Soooo many of us say that we value ‘travel’ or ‘time with family.’
But if we take a look at our credit card statements, we’ve spent $0 on travel, $20 on family outings and hundreds of dollars on fast fashion and meals out we didn’t even enjoy.
Most of my work around money is helping people get their spending and happiness to work together. It’s amazing how your life can change when you do this!
Sinclair: What advice do you have for aspiring writers/bloggers?
Sarah: View your blog as an opportunity-maker, not a money maker.
Yes, you can support yourself exclusively from your blog, but it’s hard and incredibly time-consuming.
It is a million times more likely that your blog will create opportunities you couldn’t have imagined: free trips, new friendships, amazing clients, fun experiences.
You’ll enjoy blogging so much more if you take the pressure off yourself (and your blog!) to completely replace your full-time salary.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been bringing you joy lately?
Sarah: Summer time in general! Minnesota has 12,000 lakes and I’ve been swimming in as many as I can! Also: sweetcorn, snap peas, cherries, and eating outside as much as I can.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been pissing you off lately?
Sarah: The entire Trump administration.
Sinclair: What’s something you did for self-care recently?
Sarah: I’ve got a pretty nice post-workday self-care routine. Every day around 5 pm, I make myself a ‘fancy drink’ – usually LaCroix with some frozen fruit in a highball glass. Then I drink it on the deck while reading a novel.
It’s a great way to transition from my workday into my evening!
Sinclair: If often find that people in my circles have no idea of what blogging and social media mean to me and others. Do your friends and family understand what you do?
Sarah: My friends understand, my parents don’t necessarily get it. I usually tell people over 50 that it’s like I’m a magazine editor, but on the internet. Or I just tell them I’m a writer on the internet. That makes more sense!
Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
Sarah: There was a time on the internet (maybe we’re still in this time?) when people shared how much they earned in a given month or from a specific launch.
And, of course, they chose to share these numbers when they were particularly high.
Now, I totally believe that talking about money is a gift to everyone around you. But when I first saw these posts and these insaaaaane monthly income reports, they filled me with self-doubt.
*My* launch didn’t bring in $450,000. *I* wasn’t earning seven figures. Did this mean I wasn’t good enough or that my products weren’t worthwhile?
Eventually, I realized that
a) other people’s business is none of my business
b) everyone who is earning these huge amouns of money is selling B2B products and courses. I don’t.
c) if someone’s blog or social media is making me feel less-than I CAN JUST UNFOLLOW THEM
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?
Sarah: We all need to play an active role in creating the type of world we want to live in.
Honestly, I can’t think of a time I DIDN’T believe this! My parents spent their entire careers working as public school teachers in a low-income school district, so I think I just absorbed this by osmosis.
These days, I try to live these values by being politically involved, voting with my retail dollars, and helping others find small, doable ways to make change every blessed day.
I do, of course, make puh-lenty of mistakes, but I’m trying my hardest!
Sinclair: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with self-doubt and feeling like giving up on their dreams?
So many of us struggle with self-doubt because ‘success’ is taking longer than we think it should or we’re not seeing the immediate results we’ve been hoping for.
Rather than getting hung up on how many people watch your Youtube videos or how many people open your newsletter, track how many videos you make or how many pitches you send.
You can’t control how people will respond to what you create. You can only control yourself.
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you believe to be true. What would you say?
Sarah: You are capable of more than you know. Let go of expectations and trust yourself, your work, and the process.
Sarah Von Bargen is a writer, teacher, and coach who helps people get better at spending their time, money, and energy on things that fill them up.
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