Pay It Forward Freebie from Sarah Von Bargen


Pay It Forward Freebie Series

Pay It Forward Freebie Sarah Von Bargen

One of the most difficult things to do when trying to escape from your cubicle and start your own business is figuring out two things: 1) What should I pay for up front to jump start my business?

2) How much do I need to spend to jump start my business.

If you are like most working class citizens you are working to make ends meet and simply keep your head slightly above “financial waters”. Trust me I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one! As a consultant, it’s in my nature to look for ways to make things better. I wanted to create an easy outlet for cubicle convicts just like you to receive beneficial business tips at little to no cost, discover ways to make it your own and save a dollar or hundred here and there while you focus on growing your business. Hence, Pay It Forward w/Freebies was birth!

To kick off the first Pay It Forward Freebie series is Sarah Von Bargen. Not only does she give you amazing and valuable business tips but you can tell her personally just jumps off the screen while your reading! After I read a few of her blog articles, I really started to feel like I had a connection with her. Like “Wow!” she really gets me!


Sarah Von Vargen Pay It Forward Freebie with a awesome BONUS

Sarah Von Vargen Pay It Forward Freebie with a awesome BONUS


Although her extremely informative blogs are helpful enough, Sarah also offers not 1, not 2, but THREE amazing Freebies when you sign up!

So let’s get to it!

I tend to stumble across many blogs that look “cute” but are hard to read and when I mean by hard to read, I mean super cluttered with stuff; stuff like affiliate links, banner ads popping up everywhere and content that takes FOREVERRRR to get to the point! I’m mean seriously…get to the point already so I can do the other 7 things on my “to-do” list.

I didn’t get any of those blog surfing nightmares while reading Sarah’s blog site. She had a really cool opt-in where you would receive three (3) website recommendations after signing up for her newsletter. This was perfect timing because I was in the process of revamping my website and getting tips from THEE Sarah von Bargen was like a heaven sent! Can you say “winnnnnning“!!

Of the three tips, the most valuable for me was Sarah’s feedback on my “About Me” page (ok wait.. I don’t want to dismiss the other two suggestions because they too were extremely helpful)!

The previous state of my “About Me” page was not the direction I wanted to go during my website revamp stages and Sarah could sense that! (Yuuuup, she’s that good!) She recommended I add more meat to this specific page as this is the page most visited. Aaaaand she paid it forward by providing an awesome resource link to help with re-writing my “About Me” page and I strongly (hands down) recommend this link if you are struggling with the right words or the right layout or the right content. This link is not just filled with bullet points filled with mumbo jumbo Alexandra Franzen actually takes you through a complete brainstorming exercise to pull the best of yourself out!

As if this wasn’t enough, once you sign up to be apart of her email community you will also receive her 12 page EBook helping you pimp out your online presents! Take this opportunity to obtain these business tips and tools and use them as inspiration to rock your budget even if you are on Shoestring-Biz-A-Nista Budget!

Thanks for your amazing freebies and triple thanks for paying it forward it Sarah!

Get website recommendations + 12 page online productivity EBook here

Get these 5 tips to perfect your About Me page here

How did you like this Friday Freebie? How will you utilize these Friday Freebies?  Do you know someone who could benefit from these tips? I encourage you to share this post using your favorite social media outlet below


Let’s keep paying it forward….. Drop me a love note and tell me one way you can utilize these freebies in your business? 

Do you know someone who could benefit from this #PayItForwardFreebie? Share this using your favorite social media outlet below!


CB Spotlight Feature: Vernetta R. Freeney

CBS Vernetta R_opt

I had a ball of fun interviewing the beautiful Vernetta R. Freeney! I seriously could have talked to her for hours!

What has been the most challenging for you as a Cubicle Buster?

The most challenging thing when I started was not knowing what to do. When you get on Google you get overwhelmed with all the information that’s there from all these experts. Just knowing what is the first step I need to take for MY business because everybody’s first step will be a little bit different! So that was the most challenging in the beginning. Now the most challenge thing is getting women to understand that “Fusion Tour” is not a networking event, its an intimidate business conversation!

When did you know you were at your breaking point? 

Well I’ll give you a timeline so you can get the jest of it:

  • March 2011, I turned in resignation letter to the school district
  • May 2011, I graduated with my Master’s in Education
  • June 30, 2011 Was my last day working for the school district
  • July 1, 2011 was my birthday! So essentially I was unemployed on my birthday!

So during that time from March to October I keep applying to hundreds of jobs, jobs outside of education. I kept getting the same thing “Oh you’ve been education non-profit for X amount of years” and they wouldn’t let my management skills transfer over. So then, I would go to education because I had the Masters’ degree; they said “Oh you wouldn’t be comfortable in a classroom, you would want to move”. So it was a double edge sword! Because of my experience and degrees I was either over-qualified or under-qualified.

When did you realize the blogging industry was going to be your passion business?

I didn’t! I had a blog in 2009 and I had a friend who told me I should get back into blogging! My friend said blogging would be a great way to past time until I found a job! I got an offer to cover a big hair expo and one month after that I got my first pad client! I like to write that’s how I express myself!

How long and what’s step did you take to lay out your plan?

I didn’t have a plan until almost a year in! I just keep doing “things” to figure it out! I just keep doing this until I figured it out. I was still taking contract work. My first client worked in the Small Business Dept.,  so I understood that when you get paid as an entrepreneur you had to pay taxes. Six months after I started blogging, I filed for an  LLC so that was the first step to saying “ok it’s time to get serious this is business!” I started taking business classes at Prairie View A&M funded by the government. My sister told me about another free business resource with mentors is Score!   – funded by the government! So taking the classes was the first step!

Click here for assistance with your business: SCORE

Did you have a financial cushion when you left? If no, how did you position yourself to be financially stable?

When I left I still had some money. So for the first few months I was okay! I had to fine tune my budget and start cutting expenses. Eventually I let my condo go, in the Houston area, condos are not cheap! Over the last three years I had to make decisions. I was ok the first 6 months! The contract work was steady but it wasn’t the full paycheck I was receiving from the school district.

So I started making some cuts, not going out as much, cutting things that I would normally do. Just trying to make sure I kept the bare minimum.

I started talking to other people who have done both and eventually transitioned to full-time [business owners], they made a plan, they sat there families down and started planning out months before they were going to leave![They went over important] family factors like:

We may cut this out”, “We may not do this”, “This is eventually my goal, are you on board to support it?”

Being a blogger, what did you do first to build your clientele?

My mom said you are suppose to go out and network! But I’m an introvert! So it was really hard for me to start conversations with people especially when they keep pushing cards in my face!  This is one of the main reasons why I started Fusion.  When I would do social media at conferences [or do social media management for them] people would come up after the conference and ask “Would you help me with mine”? So it wasn’t hard for me to get clients in that way!

What type of business advice should their first investment be?

I would say the first investment should be knowing who you are at your core! You have to know who you are or you’re not going to know how to attract people.

What would you say to the person who is broken, confused and just don’t know what steps to take?

First let me say, I suffered from depression for about 15 years. So I know what its like not wanting to get out of bed, where your body aches but you’re not sick! I would say it begins where you are. If you’re ready to accept you may say “Ok, I’ll just read this book!”, or say “Ok, I’m ready to start working on myself, I’m ready for someone to give me the tools and strategies I need to work on who I am”. First they have to invest in acknowledging the fact that they have that toxic energy inside of them. [Secondly they have to ask themselves] “what can I afford?” can I afford a life coach, can I afford counseling. There are so many books out and so many life coaches who offer things for free!

Who do you have in your support system and why?

Well first my mom! She’s invested in the company and when I say invested she’s not only supported the company but she’s given money to the company! I would say she’s a silent partner! My aunts and cousins [even tough they may not understand fully what the company is] they still may text, call, email, or send something saying “I’m proud of you!”. Friends – one morning I hope woke up and was just having a really bad week and she just the most encouraging text that I needed!

What were you most afraid of when you first started your business?

I didn’t have a fear because I didn’t know what I was doing! I just kept trying to do stuff! You already have a job so just start! You never know what’s going to happen unless you just do it!

What is your biggest fear NOW?

That I’m not going to live up to my potential. There’s so much that I’m called to do and having that responsibility of impacting so many women’s lives

What’s your favorite quote and why?

“Make it happen”! Devote yourself to an idea and make it happen! This is the quote I use on the site. I like that quote because ideas is what brought the world to where it is now.

How we have cars, internet, create business, fly, etc.

What is your must have business tool for social media marketing and content marketing?

Hootsuite! I…love..Hootsuite! Its not only great for scheduling but when I’m hosting chats, its also great for keeping strings up [on your screen]. It just really makes life easier.

For content marketing, I use Mail Chimp for my newsletters but to get the content, I also have Google alerts and Twitter! I have Twitter because it helps to find information that I can easily share. I have Google Alerts because it helps me to curate my content that I want to share with my audience!

Are there any last tips you would like to give our reader’s who’s stuck in their cubicle and want to move their business from boring to booming?

Yes! A couple of things:

  1. Do you really want to be an entrepreneur or are you attracted to it because it seems glamourous?  – That’s a question you really need to ask yourself
  2. Do you see yourself at that job for the next five years? Not even 50 years [lol] but the next five years? – because you can take the skills and the job even, and turn that into a business!

Vernetta, you are such an inspiration to all women not just women in business, how do we find you?

My business is Women Are Gamechangers LLC on this site we share stories of EVERYDAY women and we also share about grants. Grants is how the Fusion Tour was funded! And then you have this is where you will learn more information about the tour! The Fusion Tour is about having the conversation, not everyone wants to talk in the open.


Celeb #LifeAfterEscapes Week#1

I’ve made the conscience decision to put a different spin on my blog site and posts [By the way.... I'm doing a blog site make over without shutting it down! I just got waay to much to say!]. I wanted to encompass more of the every day me and you just might come to realize how much my brain never shuts off! Now this Sunday is bittersweet  because a few of my Sunday tv favs (RHOA and Revenge) are not airing due to the Superbowl however I completely get it buuuuut on the flip side even though the football game is pimping out the airwaves one of my TV fav is back in the line up for my Sunday rotation and that’s Blacklist on ABC which is STILL airing tonight!

#LifeAfter Weekly Escapes

Kicking off this past week in review for me was that darn Kenya on Celebrity Apprentice. Now keep in mind this is a two hour long episode so this is one I definitely DVR! It’s painful enough to watch this semi-tongue-tied babbling baboon on RHOA as she lurks under every nick and cranny to try and find her next big relevant story. Now I have to watch Miss Twirl brown nose (No pun intended) up to Mr. Trump as she back stabs and throw her team members under the bus every change she gets uuuggghhh she’s so pathetic!

Sorry you are fired!

Photo Credit: Rob Cesternino

Anyway……Here are 3 lessons I took away from last week’s episode

  1. The big goal has to remain at forefront of everyone’s mind and not their ego.
  2. Create a plan B and plan C!  A good entrepreneur has a good contingency plan. There’s no way Kate should have been there all night by herself finishing the decorations even if she was the project manager.
  3. Listen more, talk less! It’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth! And when it’s your time to speak, clearly communicate your vision whole-heartedly no one likes to hear meaningless gibberish *coughs “Kenya”*.

If by chance you missed last week’s episode and do not have the OnDemand cable feature, Rob has the full show for you click here to watch or here to listen!

Speaking of Kenya and Celebrity Apprentice what’s up with Kenya fighting with Vivica Fox hasn’t she seen Set It Off??? IJS!!

Well hello again……………….. Boo-Boo Kitty!

OMG, you won’t believe who favorited  and retweeted one of my tweets! Aaaand yup he’s smart, handsome, and one of my favorite hollywood characters! Oh hell I can’t even holding it any longer:

My little groupie moment!

My little groupie moment!



Melissa Locker wrote 8  Business Lessons from Fox’s Empire which I could not agree with more! I absolutely agree with all of these lessons! Lesson #1 for me is becoming more disciplined in this area and #5 I would add “Know how”and “Don’t fear” also…

If you didn’t see last week’s show you missed a hell of week! Catch the recap here by  Mekeisha Madden Toby 

Run Liv Run  or should I say Run with the gun Liv!

Now I would probably get my gladiator card revoked if I did not mention my all time favorite show that has come out of winter hibernation and that’s Scandal. Oh so yeah, I mentioned above that I DVR most of my shows but when it comes to Scandal and #HTGAWM yup those of must watch real time tv! I probably gave more updates on my FB page than I’m giving here but my Lord that dog gone Shonda Rhimes almost gave me a heart attack in the first four minutes! Trying to figure out how to escape from a hole in a wall in an unknown country half way around the world (wink!, wink!) was just too much for me to handle. She didn’t have her fellow gladiators with her nor did she have her muscle power POTUS and Jake to wiggle her out of this! As sad as it is this episode really displayed the reality for a lot of our US military soldiers and people in political power! For the longest time I could not figure out why Abby kept referring to the damn clamp! But then Olivia connected the dots and it was on and poppin until she made “the run”! Amanda Mull takes you through your scandalicious play by play for last week’s heart attack episode!

Other Celeb Escapes:

LifeAfter Nick Cannon: Mariah Carey tanks performance in Jamaica I just feel really bad for Mariah. It just comes a time even in a diva’s life when you must look in the mirror and say “This just isn’t working anymore”! Thanks for sharing this video Tamara Tattles

Send me a love note below or your thoughts of the shows. Are any of these your favorite?

LifeAfter Weekly RoundUps Week#1




I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown by! Looking back it’s seems like it went pretty quickly but each individual day felt like an eternity! Not to mention the kick-off begun with me waking up to this lovely site: wpid-img_20150201_230338.jpg wpid-photogrid_1422825419721.jpg

Of course this resulted in several businesses and organizations to close including our morning church services. Which was a little discerning because I went to bed super early (like 9 a.m. and yuup that’s waaay early for me) and I woke up at 5 a.m. just so I could give myself time to prepare for my Sunday school lesson; and not to mention how much I was looking forward to receiving my spiritual fix for the week… but unfortunately Old Man Winter squashed all of that!

Every week I seem to connect with more and more AMAZING digital divas. These are relationships that I’ve formed online through my social media platforms but never seen them in person (Unless I saw one of their videos!).

One digital diva I just can not wait until she makes her official digital debut on April 1, 2015 (ummm mark your calendars please!) is Latrisha Jacobs, the owner and creator of The Bombshell Techie Chic! She has a very “in yo face” no fluff-stuff style to her business strategies that are completely relatable! I’m looking forward to my digital diva making her comeback!

Another digital diva (and cubicle buster) I’ve grown to love is Siedah Mitchum! I felt a need to connect with her and we ended up talking for an hour on the phone. Among realizing some common ground, we both explained the direction we look forward to taking our businesses this year! Oh and did I mention that she’s a kick-ass website designer! She put her website expertise to work when I reached out to her for a performance issue I was having on my site and she gave me great suggestions! …. And they said there’s little substance in social media networking…..”Tuh”! I don’t care how many followers I have I care more about the connections I make! I’ll take quality over quantity any day!

Not that she needs an introduction but I had the opportunity and great pleasure to interview the lovely Mallie Rydzik last week on my Cubicle Escape Podcast (Airing February 19, 2015) you don’t wanna miss it!

Twitter Praise Every aspect of her interview was amazing but then she topped it off with leaving the listeners with a priceless tip for organizing your social media content. You seriously don’t want to miss it (and I started using this tip already)! (Psssst.. click the iTunes button on your left and bookmark my podcast so you don’t miss out!)

Speaking of podcast excitements,  after my WordPress upgrade debacle (yeah spending two months recovering data files is noooooot fun especially when you gotta decipher CSS and HTML gibberish but that’s a whole nutha story). I was finally able to retrieve the audio files and finish the mixes for my next Cubicle Buster spotlight feature Vernetta R Freeney! Without doing the whole “spoiler alert” thing, I gotta say Vernetta blended the concept of business conversations and inspiring women into what has been birth into a successful nation wide tour called Fusion! Not to toot my own horn but Vernetta had a ball during this interview!

Website revamp update ** A lot of updates have been taking place both in front of and behind the scenes during this makeover** I changed my all dark purple background and just splashed a hint of dark purple on my side and top menu bars*** I’m sooo proud of my progress and I finally got my “Home” menu option back! This week I’ll be working on my profile and services content! #Funners My purple passion for this week…. ummm… YEEES PLEASE blending my two favorite things… the color purple and my fashion husband Michael Kors  = A gorgeous and girlie girl purple watch with just the right amount of gold accented throughout the face!!!

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Other Escapes I was digging this week: It made me feel just a little bit better about my unforgettable teenage years after reading this! How your teenage years can predict your entrepreneurial success! Well this reeeeally explains a lot! ;) ;)  and Steve Jobs was #Turnt up Ha!! #Rebels!!

In honor of the almighty tax season - another cubicle escape route! You definitely would have to be a people person, a numbers person, and a know your IRS -ish kinda person!

Thanks so much for reading ! So tell me what did you think of my first roundup! Send me a love note below and if you write amazing blogs that would be of interest to my readers (HINT: check out the categories to your left!) and you’re interesting in getting a S/O for your blog! Send an email to I’d love to mention you!

Until next week… wishing you #LifeAfter9to5 success  ♥Erica♥

Word Escape of the Day! Why!

what's your Why?

what’s your Why?

Sometimes we get so fed up with our current situations that we’re often led by our emotions rather than the reality of our situation!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blasted the words “I QUIT!”, “I’m Outta Here!”, “The H#!! with this!” etc… but once I’ve calmed my little hot-headed self down, the rational side of me kicked in and I realized I didn’t have a clue what my next move was going to be!

If you are going to be full throttle in the this business of being self-employed, entrepreneur, self-made, boss chick or whatever jazzy name you come up with; ask yourself “Why do I really want to leave this situation?”. Your answer to this question  must be bigger than you!

Take-Away: Don’t let your temporary circumstance cause you to make irrational decisions that would negatively impact your future! Make sure your WHY is bigger than your WHY NOT!

Escape Action: Write down three (3) reasons why you want to change your current situation. Think long and hard. Remove your emotion and resentment completely out of this process.

Do you have them written down? … Don’t cheat!… Now ask yourself, “Is my NEXT plan of action BIGGER than my CURRENT situation?”

Thanks for checking today’s “Word Escape of the Day!”

Let’s keep this party going… Tell me one reason why you’d want to leave your current circumstance! Drop me a love note below and I’ll share mine as well!

Do you know someone who could benefit from this #WordoftheDay? Share this using your favorite social media outlet below!


Word Escape of the Day! Sacrifice

#InstaQuote #InstaInspirations #LifeAfter9to5 #HustleHarder #SmallBiz #Entrepreneur #EscapeRoutes

A photo posted by Erica (@lifeafter9to5_coach) on

After so many coaching sessions and networking with like-minded Cubicle convicts, it was really put on my heart last night to drop little nuggets of what I like to call #InspirationEscapes to help you get over the Corporate hump! (And it’s “Hump Day Wednesday HA!) Follow me on Instagram @lifeafter9to5_coach

#WordOfTheDay #Sacrifice – This word should be in the CENTER of your mental shift! To fully build your passion business who must take a strong hard look at your current situation, BE HONEST (or this will NOT work), and make CEO decisions of what you MUST sacrifice in your current lifestyle in order to bring your entrepreneurial vision to fruition. It could be frequent salon visits, shopping, frequent entertainment, non-profitable memberships, all the way down to certain friends and family in your current circle!


#EscapeAction – Write down three(3) things you know you must give up in order to build/grow your passion business? Leave a comment below and share your 3 sacrifices so we can take this journey with you!


Do you know someone who could benefit from this #WordoftheDay? Share this using your favorite social media outlet below!


#InstaQuote #InstaInspirations #LifeAfter9to5 #HustleHarder #SmallBiz #Entrepreneur #EscapeRoutes



Day 2 Challenge Getting Crystal Clear!

Day 2 Challenge Getting Crystal Clear

Day 2 Challenge Getting Crystal Clear

Ok so here we are on Day 2 and I really have to hit the ground running! Through all of this planning I’ve learned that people with clear and WRITTEN goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without clearly defined goals written down!

What I want to achieve over the next 21 days is consistency! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I get bored super-duper easily. If I’m not doing something that peaks my interest you probably got about 10 seconds before I pull a Vicki Gunvalson on you!

Continue reading

Helping You Break~Free From Your Cubicle Jail Cell