Power of One: Sarah Cauble

Sarah Cauble is a sweetheart. And a stunning designer.

I found Sarah because... I'm a stalker.

I'm a fan of Sally Hope's Wildhearted Revolution & thought her website was (and is!) so damn  s e x y. And so I scrolled down to the bottom of the page to see who designed it. And that designer was Sarah.

We became Skype buddies not long after that.

Even better, she's as gorgeous on the inside as she is on the outside. We live on opposite sides of the world, but I know she's my kind of lady.

I'll let you find that out for yourself in the interview below.

sarah cauble graphic designer

Tell us about your path to entrepreneurship.

My journey to becoming an entrepreneur started as an intern fresh out of college. I was working (as an unpaid) video editor and production assistant at a small commercial production house for the summer, in hopes that they’d want to hire me after my internship.

During this time, I was also designing my personal website as a portfolio of my work. I had started it during a college web design course, but had a ton more to learn and to do to complete it.

While I was working on my site, my boyfriend (now husband) asked me to design a website for his photography. And then my aunt, a children’s book author, asked me to design her a website. So I dove in head first and learned as much as I could. In the process, I fell in love with this digital medium, and thought, "hey, this is something I could potentially do for other people too; and maybe even get paid for it."

All the while at my internship, (though I did enjoy much of the work I was doing) I didn’t get to pick and choose my projects, I had to be managed by a creative director, I had to be at the office on their schedule, among other things that didn’t quite mesh with me. I just thought to myself, "I can’t do this." It doesn’t feel right and I don’t like this lifestyle. I want to be a designer and I want to make my own hours & create a life for myself that feels genuine to me. I don’t want to feel stuck.

And so, after they offered me a job and after much contemplation, I declined it.

Regardless of my initial certainty, it was a very difficult decision for me to make. I initially thought I was interning at my dream job. I was under the impression that now that I was a college grad & a part of the adult world, I should have a “real job.” How could I take such a risk and start freelancing? It would require me to also work part-time while I got started, that didn’t sound “grown-up.”

Ultimately, I pushed aside my hesitations and went with my gut. I started working as a freelance graphic and web designer (as well as a part-time nanny while I got on my feet).

This path started just a few months after graduating from college and I’ve never yet had a “real job” & hope to keep it that way.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

I’ll admit, five years in and I’m STILL learning what it means to be an entrepreneur. But when I was starting out, I didn’t know the first thing about running my own business.

Here’s a few things I quickly learned:

  1. You’re not going to get 8 “billable” hours in a day. (billable meaning: hours spent designing things, or doing what you do).

    In addition to designing, you’re also going to be answering emails, drafting proposals and contracts, invoicing, tracking expenses, creating profit and loss statements, and marketing. You’re going to wear MANY hats.
  2. When you start hiring subcontractors, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Don’t just hire the first person that comes along. Make sure they’re legit, ask the right questions and do diligent research.
  3. For U.S. biz owners: Become an LLC, this is supposed to help protect your personal assets should any legal action be taken against you. Don’t hand out your social security number, get an EIN. Open a bank account strictly for business and budget your biz. funds every month.
  4. Find or create a support system of other entrepreneurs. They don’t have to be in your field to understand the struggle or to celebrate the wins of entrepreneurship. They can also be a great resource of information.

    And you’ll even find that you know a thing or two about being a business owner & have great things to offer and to contribute to the conversation.

What’s the Big Why behind your business?

I know how important it is as a business owner to have a beautiful yet professional online identity. Users judge a website within the blink of an eye, so I work to help creative entrepreneurs design a unique and engaging web presence that converts users into their customers.

I absolutely love bringing my client’s vision to life, it’s incredibly gratifying. I want nothing more than to see them succeed and for their website to work to sell to their dream customers.

Many of my clients are like me, creative people of service. And in the service industry, there’s nothing more important than attracting clients that are a good fit for us so that we can work one-on-one in a manner that’s conducive to fulfilling our client’s needs in the best way possible.

How important is being yourself & showing your personality for you as an entrepreneur?

Being myself, showing who I am, and allowing my personality to be seen is oh-so-important to me as an entrepreneur. I’m a one-woman show and I think it’s imperative that my clients know who I am personally, because it’s no different than who I am professionally.

I love getting to know my clients and I want them to get to know me. A couple ways I do that is through Instagram and my blog, which is a mix or my life and my work, because those two things define who I am.

Part of the reason my clients hire me is not only because they like my work, but also because they’re drawn to who I am and value our relationship.

Do you have any habits that help you to embrace the uncertainty & risk of being an entrepreneur?

Saving and budgeting my money allows me to embrace the risk of being an entrepreneur. It’s a difficult subject for most to talk about, but it’s a conversation that needs to be had. (My editors note: Sarah, I love that you said this! Hallelujah. Couldn't agree more.)

Before I started freelancing full time, I made sure I had an emergency fund should I ever come up short at any time.

It’s also crucial for me to create separate monthly budgets for both my household and for my business. I use mint.com for budgeting software (it’s free!), and have also been recently trying out everydollar.com as an alternative.

I’ve also found it’s a lot less stressful to have one or two clients on retainer. That way I know at the very minimum, I’ll at least have that income for the month.

In the future, I’d also like to create passive income. I just haven’t quite figured out how I’d like to do that yet!

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?

I’m currently prepping a new offering that I’m quietly sharing, with the goal in mind to officially launch on my website sometime this year.

To give you a little clue into what I’ll be offering: it’s a web design package for tech-savvy bloggers and biz owners on a budget who want design expertise.

Want to find out more about Sarah & her work? Head this way, my friend.

Alyssa Martin