October 27, 2009 at 7:04 am | Posted in Special Guests | 13 Comments
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nolimitsI’d like to welcome author Sara Morgan to Annette’s Paper Trail. Sara is on a blog tour for her recently released motivational business book, No Limits: How I Escaped the Clutches of Corporate America to Live the Self-Employed Life of My Dreams.

Refreshingly candid and honest, this career-minded guide helps professionals determine if self-employment is their ticket to a better life. Written by a successful, independent software developer, rather than a career coach or consultant, this straight-to-the-point book offers readers practical and useful advice for how to get started on their path to self-employment. It also informs the reader what the major benefits to self-employment are, along with identifying who is best suited for self-employment and what things these people will need to consider.

As someone who is highly allergic to cubicles, office politics, pantyhose, and sensible shoes, oh yeah, and has an incurable aversion to being told what to do, I knew I’d be able to relate to Sara’s book. This slim volume is a quick read and a perfect primer for office dwellers who dream of making a break for it and running out the corporate door. Sara shares her story and practical tips for taking that first step toward self-employment freedom.

I asked Sara some questions specifically for my writer-readers, so grab a cup of tea and read on…

What would you say are the top five traits a writer must have to be successfully self-employed?

Good question. I would have to say the number one trait is optimism. You have to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. You have to be able to take the inevitable rejections that occur to even the best writers, turn them around, and make them into opportunities. You can not do that if you are a pessimist and I really doubt anyone who is a chronic pessimist could succeed as a writer.

Beyond that, I would list the other traits as being passionate, creative, disciplined, and a finisher. If you are the type of person who always starts writing projects, but never finishes them, you will likely not succeed. Be honest with yourself on this one.

In No Limits, you mention an interesting study that was done about trusting instincts vs. rational thought. The study showed better, more accurate, decisions were made when participants relied on their instincts instead of using higher-level cognitive functions. Please tell us how you feel it relates to knowing when to launch into a fulltime writing career.

I think it especially relates to being a writer. Good writers who get recognized do not just follow blindly along with the flock, always taking the safe road. At times, you may have to write something that logically makes no sense, but that your instincts tell you is right. Listen to your instincts. That is the voice that truly knows best.

In the Good Advice chapter, you say: “Don’t be afraid to do something that has no immediate financial payback.” What do you mean by that?

In writing, this is especially true. Many well known writers spent years writing manuscripts that were never published or articles that were hardly read. These days a lot of writers spend time writing things that are posted for free, just to get exposure. That is ok, as long as you are refining your writing skills and getting your writing out in front of more people.

I’ve belonged to writing critique groups for years and I think they serve as a wonderful testing ground for new material. In No Limits, you talk about becoming a feedback machine. How can writers implement your concept?

It is natural to reject criticism. It is kind of a self-protective feature we are all equipped with. Sometimes this is good, but very often people offer criticism with the best of intentions. You need to develop a thick skin and not see the criticism as an attack, but rather an opportunity for improvement.

I know I struggle with finding a work/life balance. What tips do you have for other work-a-holic writers who find it hard to push away from the computer?

Remember that you are not doing anyone any favors by working too hard. In fact, you are probably just hurting yourself and your writing by stressing yourself out. It is not worth it. Work smarter, not harder.

You suggest to the newly self-employed: “Surround yourself with things that inspire you.” What inspires you?

Lots of things. Music is a big thing, but I also find inspiration from other people who have succeeded, despite big odds. I also love inspirational quotes and have them posted all around my house. You need to keep yourself energized any way you can.

I agree completely with a section in your book where you talk about how persistence pays off. I heard a quote once: “The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is persistence.” Why do you think persistence is so important?

Because rejection is inevitable. There are just too many writers in the world for it not to be the case. The ones who become famous are ALWAYS the ones who kept writing, even when no one thought they should. Believe in yourself and eventually others will too.

Please share any final words of self-employment wisdom you feel writers should take to heart.

Just keep doing it, especially if you love it. What you need most in life is passion. Without passion, there is no purpose and without purpose, there is no hope. Hang in there. Stay strong and focused and strive to make each day the best of your life.


Readers: Post your questions for Sara in the comments section and share your thoughts. Have you taken the plunge to full-time writing? If not, are you making plans for your great escape?


Sara1Sara Morgan is a former web developer who escaped Corporate America four years ago and has never looked back. To inspire others, she recently wrote No Limits: How I Escaped the Clutches of Corporate America to Live the Self-Employed Life of My Dreams. You can find out more about Sara and her book by going to www.nolimitsthebook.com, or join her online community of like-minded people looking for a more balanced work life at http://nolimitsthebook.ning.com.

You can also register for a free upcoming teleseminar she is hosting. The teleseminar will offer freelancers and small business owners advice on what to watch out for when establishing a web presence. You can register for the event at http://www.nolimitsthebook.com/nolimits/teleseminar.aspx.


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  1. Yep, I know what you mean about it being easier said then done. It has taken me years to get to this point and I still struggle with it daily. I have found the key for me is the happiness test I told you about earlier. I really do ask myself “out loud” (good thing, I do work alone), whether I am having fun. If the answer is no, then I change what I am doing. I don’t make as much money as I probably should because I am always leaving money on the table (as my ex used to say), but I am sooooooo much happier. I would rather be dead broke and happy, then very rich and miserable.

    Good luck on the move to Miami. I hope it is everything you want. The best thing in your favor is your desire to be happy. For some people that is the hardest step.

    Take care.

  2. Thanks, Sara. I know I should. But knowing and doing are sometimes worlds apart. Especially because my hubby is a work-a-holic too. I usually treat exercise and leisure things like that as a reward if I get everything done (though the work never seems to all get done, there’s always more to do), and I feel guilty if he’s working and I’m off relaxing. Hopefully our move to Miami and subsequent lifestyle change will get us back on the life-balance track that we had when we first met.

  3. Annette,

    I hear you, but you just have to do it. I just got back from a 1 hour run. I did it because I was feeling a little stressed and needed a release. You have got to keep telling yourself that you are mome important than anything you are doing and if you are not happy, then nothing you do will be worth the effort. It takes practice to think like this all the time, but you can do it. I know because I used to be a negative, pessimistic, cynical, work-a-holic. I actually had a boss that brought me into the office to talk about how I made everyone else uncomfortable by working too much. But, I have completeley changed and you can too. Just stay focused on yourself and remember you are worth it.


  4. Margo,
    You’re singing my song, sister. I HAVE become a hermit. Sometimes I don’t leave the house for days and sometimes a week at a time. And I mean, I don’t even walk outside! Sometimes when I get invitations to go somewhere, I decide it’s too much hassle to get dressed (out of pjs), get into the car, and drive somewhere. LOL If anyone has any tips about working smarter, so I can have more time (and be more inclined) to actively live my life, let me know. How is it that computers are supposed to save time? But ever since I got my first computer in 1996, I’ve had less time to do the things I used to do. It’s realities like that that make me think the Amish have got the right idea. But then again, I’m not really the butter-churning type…

  5. Hi Margo,

    I like to make it a game – to try to find new ways to do more in less time. I actually get a kick out of finding ways to do this. I also ask myself several times a day if I am having fun. If the answer is no, then I stop what I am doing and do something else. The whole point of life is to have fun and if you aren’t, then it ain’t worth it.


  6. Hi Sara:
    I like the five traits you describe. I think I have them all. Although last night my husband asked me if I was becoming a hermit. That’s one problem I run into as a writer–when do we turn off the computer (and our brains) and go out into the world. I actually have to schedule time to clean my house and be with my family ON MY CALENDAR or I think I would work to death. 🙂 Any tips on how you manage this? How do you WORK SMARTER?


  7. Haha! I meant “peek,” Sara! Though I wouldn’t mind a tip to reaching the peak of web presence 🙂

    • I am sorry Cathy. I should not have directed you to the ning site and instead answered your question directly. Please accept my apologies.

      As to your question, the teleseminar will cover the following areas:

      1.) Determine what domain names are available before naming your business
      2.) Do not go too cheap, but also do not spend too much
      3.) Do not let anyone not familiar with your business write the content for your web site.
      4.) Make sure you spend time evaluating the competition online
      5.) Ensure that you can update the content yourself, whenever and wherever you need to.
      6.) Consider incorporating a video or free offer on the web site.
      7.) Take advantage and learn about social networking
      8.) Keep the site fresh and change content on a regular and consistent basis.
      9.) Measure your progress and adapt accordingly
      10.) Less is sometimes best

      Hope that helps you decide if the information would be relevant for you.

  8. Hi Sara,

    Saw where you’re hosting a teleseminar discussing web presence. Can you give a sneak peak, like what’s on the top of your list when it comes to developing a web presence?

    • Absolutley. In fact, I am in the process of posting one topic everyday which will be included in the teleseminar. I encourage you to go to http://nolimitsthebook.ning.com and check out the posts there. They will give you a perfect idea of what will be covered. Hope to have you call in next Monday.

  9. Great advice about believing in yourself and to keep writing. Sara, were there any writing books or inspirational books that you found helpful as you were starting out?

    • Hi Krysten,

      I am a reading freak. Always have been. I read books like most people read magazine articles. If I find a book I really like I read it over and over. I have a pile of books next to my bed and I usually read more than one at a time, but for the past 7 months, I have been focusing on reading one book in particular to keep me inspired. It is a book titled, “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.” It is the BEST book I have ever read. I finish reading it, and just start all over. I am on my seventh read.

      7 months ago the man I considered the love of my life left me. At first, I was devastated, but after reading that book, I decided to turn my tragedy into the best thing that ever happened to me. That is what I am trying to do with this book and my online social site http://nolimitsthebook.ning.com. By helping other people like yourself, I am actually helping myself more.

      Best of luck and hang in there, because anything is possible if you just believe in yourself no matter what.

  10. Hi Annette,

    Just to let you know, I will be checking back throughout the day, in case anyone has any questions for me.


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