A Blogger Turns Professional Internet-Awesome-Maker
Sarah Von Bargen has been blogging at Yes and Yes for over four years. She’s turned a seriously personable writing style (warm, knowledgeable, funny) and a knack for content curation into a dream job - most recently launching Solution Sessions, an online-overhaul for big and small business alike. The opening statement on her professional site says it all: “Some people call it ‘content marketing.’ I like to call it ‘making you awesome on the internet.’”
We recently spoke with Sarah about the meandering path that led to her current dream job, her flexible travel/work schedule, and finding your niche. And yes - it was awesome.
Braid: You're an amazing writer. Tell us a little about how you got on the path to creative entrepreneurship.
Sarah: Gosh, thanks so much! My path has been sort of meandering. I've been writing for almost 15 years, starting with a BA in English Lit and internships at a newspaper and an ad agency. I worked in the corporate world for a few years, burned out, became an ESL teacher and then spent seven years traveling the world, teaching and going to graduate school in New Zealand.
In 2009, I started reading blogs and there was a very specific type of blog I wanted to read - I couldn't find it, so I just decided to write it myself! For the first time in my life, I wrote in my own voice about the topics I was interested in - rather than using my journalist/pr/copywriter voice to write about hunting permits/retaining walls/paper towels. I must have lucked out and happened upon a "hole in the market" because a lot of people read my blog and really liked it! I know. I was as surprised as you.
About two years ago, companies and individuals began to approach me about helping them make a name for themselves on the internet via clever copy and fun, engaging blog posts. Eventually, I created an official, professional website shilling my services and the rest is history. Now, I'm completely self-employed and location independent. It's pretty dreamy.
Braid: You have a fantastic blog, Yes and Yes. How has that impacted the success of your business and / or personal growth?
Sarah: I owe 95% of my current career to Yes and Yes. Many of my initial clients and collaborators found me through my blog. I found Kim Lawler (who designed both of my sites) through a comment she left on my blog! I've met great friends and been afforded totally insane, I-would-never-in-my-wildest-dreams-have-imagined-this opportunities because of my blog.
Aside from all the professional benefits, the readers of Yes and Yes are some of the smartest, kindest, coolest people I've ever encountered. I'm regularly amazed and flattered that such great people want to read my writing. They really makes the world seem like a smaller, sweeter place. (I know. Stop puking in your mouth.)
All of the creative entrepreneurs we work with are passionate about
travel. You're quite the world traveler yourself. How does travel impact
your business (maybe even good and bad)? Do you always work while you
travel? Or do you take proper vacations?
Sarah: I am quite the traveler! I spent six weeks in Europe this summer and I'll probably spend six weeks in Georgia and North Carolina this winter. Just like everybody else, travel refreshes me and fills me with tons of new ideas and heaps of energy. It helps me get out of my head and remember why I designed this weirdo lifestyle/career in the first place. It gives me the time and space to be creative in totally different ways and really, actually think outside of the proverbial box.
I pretty much always work when I travel, mostly because I'm a workaholic who genuinely enjoys her job and find self-worth in concrete accomplishments ;) And honestly? I get bored with beaches and museums after a while. But I've traveled and worked enough to have developed a system that works for me: breakfast in a cafe, work till noon, do fun stuff for the rest of the day, check email once before I go to bed. It's not for everyone but it's a balance that works for me.
How do you balance your personal writing projects with the ones that
make you money? Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal?
Sarah: I don't have any sort of official system to balance the two, but I usually try to write two or three personal pieces each week. And luckily, because of the way I've structured my business model (and my dorkily good money management skillz) I rarely have to take on a client or project just because I need the money.
The unofficial title of Yes and Yes (at least inside my mind) is 'things I find interesting' and because I cover such a huge variety of topics, I very rarely get writer's block. I mean, really, I just write about the stuff that I would want to read about. Right now I'm working on three blog posts: '10 Perfect Crumple-able, Mash-able Travel Dresses,' 'Reading/Watching/Writing Outside Of Your Comfort Zone,' and 'Your New Favorite Shot.'
Braid: You just launched an amazing new packaged service called Solution Sessions. Tell us about that!
Sarah: I do a lot of copy writing for clients; helping them sort out their sales pages, about pages, etc. And they all know they need a blog but they don't know what to write about, how to promote their posts, or how to network with other bloggers. After 4.5 years and almost 2,000 blog posts I know all that stuff backwards and forwards! So I put together a one day, one-on-one intensive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them with all of that stuff - in one fell swoop.
After two telephone calls and six hours, I give them a three month blogging editorial plan, a list of 10 unique-to-their niche bloggers to pitch, a blogger engagement plan, 2 pitch templates, a basic social media plan, and a list of suggested improvements to their website. The clients who have completed the session just loooove them and I'm so, so happy to share all that learned-the-hard way internet insight.
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