Ancient History

How the hell did you get started?

…well, no one likes being told what to do.

It was 2014 and I was working for a mildly insane South African antique dealer. I managed the store for $10 per hour and I basically made enough to buy dog food and gas. My boss was having an affair with his Russian mistress, and consequently panicking about losing his green card. (His actual wife was a Puerto Rican New Yorker. Feisty woman, definitely would have left him if she knew about the Russian.) So I additionally had this unspoken side job as his therapist and it didn’t pay extra. I was beginning to lose my mind, my patience, and some of my hair.

I was also driving a Pontiac Sunfire. Have you ever driven one of those? Tin can piece of sh*t. Now Taos is a pretty magical place in the summer months, but during the winter it’s a snow-covered crappy frozen tundra, and driving a front-wheel-drive vehicle is frigging scary. I had saved every penny to my name for 5 years and finally had enough to get myself a car that wasn’t going to try to kill me. So I quit my job, drove to Colorado, and bought a car. Finally rid of the Pontiac death trap, I drove back to Taos really broke and really jobless.

I needed to work somewhere that wasn’t going to shorten my lifespan. I wanted something with a chill environment, friendly people, and no nervous breakdowns. I thought the local hydroponic store would be a good bet. I like plants… plants are nice. 

They had already finished hiring for the season, but they needed someone to help out with their social media… I figured why the hell not, I’m already on Facebook all day anyway… I wondered how many other people I could do this for? Working for myself would be sweet! Turned out my little town was full of business owners who didn’t know how, or just didn’t have the time to put the effort into their business profiles online, and were eager for some help. 

I started picking up clients hand over fist – work poured in faster than I could keep up with. Even my mom needed help. She was employed by a private high school in Santa Fe, and their needs were a little more complex than just Social Media. Their website was in shambles and in serious need of streamlining. I guess my mom figured my new work in digital media meant web design wasn’t out of the question. I didn’t know a damn thing about it, but I thought I might as well give it a shot…

I spent 6 solid days watching WordPress youtube tutorials. My eyes were practically falling out of my head, but I had the basics down. I made the decision to keep learning as quickly as possible and start working as a web designer. I discovered the CodeAcademy and crashed the CSS course. The universe dropped photoshop in my lap and I started learning that too. I made a pact with myself: As long as I’m still learning, I’ll charge a fraction of the going rate. I won’t charge for the time it takes to learn new information, and I’ll be honest with my clients about being a beginner. I knew I was sticking my neck out, but it was better than working for the man.

I still spend at least a couple of hours a week on youtube learning new tricks. At this point, it’s my Alma Mater. I still regard myself as a novice, but I learn quickly. I’m fast as hell at what I do know, and can solidly say that I’ve landed myself a career, not just a job. I value my freedom first above everything else, and I figured out how to structure my life in a way that maximizes it. Being self-employed, I work All. The. Time… but I do it on my own terms, and that’s worth everything.

I’ve also discovered that I really dig helping people. I poured blood, sweat, and tears into building a business for myself, (I know all you young entrepreneurs out there feel me) and I have become painfully aware of the sheer amount of work and dedication it takes to do such a thing. We all (well, most of us at least) work our asses off on the daily to make it all work, and I really like that what I do makes a difference in your success. I take immense joy out of working to help other people’s businesses – and dreams – grow, flourish, and thrive…

…and I can’t wait to help you.

Sarah Livingston
Founder, HMFIC at YogiProductions

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