How Two Strippers Changed My Life: My First 6 Months Self-Employed

God am I ever thankful for the positive tone and silver linings in this post. This is the story of how strippers changed my life and my first six months as an entrepreneur.

How Two Strippers Changed My Life / TheNoker.com / The story of my first six months as an entrepreneur and business owner, moving to El Paso, learning to be self-employed, going really broke, getting rescued by strippers, and finally finding my voice as a creator. Oh, and January 2017 income report.

Where do I even start?

If you’ve been following along with my journey for a while, ignore the next paragraph. Six months ago, I quit my job, moved to El Paso, and went into business for myself. I’d been blogging and making YouTube videos for less than a year. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing (you still don’t says every subscriber reading this). And I definitely didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

I just knew that I wanted to make things and put them on the internet. And I wanted to do it for a living. Without waiting any damn longer.

Moving was an irresponsible choice

No shit, right? Take a leap of faith, rely on the internet to make you rich, move to a market with no contacts, no savings, no job lined up, and no plan?

Yeah. It was irresponsible.

Into the Fire: My First Six Months as an Entrepreneur / TheNoker.com / Sometimes you take a leap of faith and dive into a scary situation head first because it's less scary than your present reality.

Basically I jumped into this hole to get away from the rabid dog that was chasing me.

But here’s something I haven’t bothered to explain on this blog so far: my life in Albuquerque fucking sucked.

Don’t get me wrong: I miss Albuquerque.

(I never thought I’d say that, either.)

I miss my friends, my bar, my coworkers, my roommates, my house, and the guy I was seeing for the last couple months.

But Albuquerque was a shitty situation

Especially when you look at my finances. I was working two jobs, but one was only a couple days a month and the other came with a decent hourly rate and no actual hours. Yeah, $12.75 is a pretty good wage (Note: No, it’s really not. But let’s pretend for the sake of argument). But when you only work 4 days a week and two of those days are 6-hour shifts, you’re not taking home a lot of money.

You are, however, losing a lot of time. Say what you will about it only being 6 hours long: a shift in the middle of the daytime still sucks an entire day out of you, somehow.

Add to this my many, many nights out. I don’t drink much, but $10 a day adds up quickly when it’s your sole source of entertainment. And also that I ate out pretty much constantly because cooking is for chumps. Oh, and I was still shopping (albeit occasionally) and seeing movies fairly frequently because that’s how you fill the void within yourself.

I was going broke. Like, my debt increased every single month by a few hundred dollars. And for the most part, my days were spent waiting to escape my miserable customers so that I could go out and indulge my whimsy.

Not a great existence. So I decided to move to El Paso, where I’d be living with my best friend, getting away from my shitty routine, and escaping my shitty job. Plus, it seemed like there were more opportunities here. It was like a reboot.

Hope springs misguided

Remember how I felt like I had no time left at the end of the day, even on short, non-paying shifts? I felt like that was affecting my ability to find success with YouTube, too.

For whatever reason, I had convinced myself that if I could only have more time to work on videos I’d get successful so much quicker.

(Don’t smack me. But I know you want to.)

Basically, in my defense, the choice wasn’t that irresponsible when you consider that my life in Albuquerque seemed together on the surface, but was truly just me falling apart and hoping that some big break (ironic phrase, no?) would come and save me.

I’ve never written any of that out before and it honestly kind of sucks to see it exist in the universe. I’ve been too stubborn to admit that I was doing really badly because it meant that I had done the wrong thing when I quit my awesomely-paying (Note: not actually that awesome, but it seemed awesome) salaried role in Ruidoso and moved to Albuquerque in the first place.

Now that brings us to the last six months.

My First Six Months in Business

Oh, fuck. Now I have to actually write this part. 

How’s it been going?

In a word,

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :/

In another word, improving.

I’ve had some truly low moments. September and October were particularly rough for me. Things didn’t really start to look up until… well, now. I’ve cried in the shower, in my car, at the bottom of my closet, and once in a Taco Bell (It was out of town and empty, and the crying was unrelated to this post).

Merry Christmas, Loser

One of the lowest moments of my life was in December. My mom wanted me to visit her for the holidays. January 5th was also my dad’s 50th birthday, so I naturally would have loved to see them.

But I couldn’t afford to go.

My mom offered to pay for new tires (they were due for a blow-out any day), but I couldn’t afford to take the time off. Skipping four or five nights with Uber meant not being able to pay rent at the end of the month.

My parents were obviously hurt and said some stuff that I basically took as a kick in the ribs.

Brain: Hey, Loser McPoorbroke, just in case you didn’t feel shitty enough being broke, now your parents are going to feel like you don’t love them because you can’t visit them for the holidays. 

Then I met up with a guy from Denver who kept pressuring me to take a few days off to go visit him.

“I’ll pay for the plane ticket,” he said.

“Yeah? Who’s gonna pay rent for me after I’ve taken an entire weekend off?” I said.

We had this argument three times before it sank in for him that I am completely fucked and he stopped pressuring me. My parents stopped around the same time. This was around the same day that Jessica took off to Washington to go visit her family for a week.

Then I was left in the quiet with nothing but my thoughts of inadequacy, failure, and absolute fear to keep me company over the holidays.

Breakthrough

And then I met the stripper who’d change my life forever.

(Or, you know, just kind of… help me not be absolutely fucking fucked for a month.)

Taking selfies at a mall. I feel so basic.

A post shared by Michael Noker (@michaelnoker) on

Just before the new year, I picked up a passenger for Uber. She was friendly, seemed sane, and it turned out she both lived and worked right around the corner from me. Because she was looking for a new driver (her previous one was unreliable at best), we established a long-term thing.

She offered me decent pay, consistent work, and a lot of entertainment. I thought I was a heathen.

There’s been some ups and downs throughout the past month, but overall, this is the best thing that’s happened to me in the last couple years. She also started referring additional business to me, which has been an added bonus. One referral, in particular, lasted for about a week and pretty much paid my car and gas – and fed me several times.

(And then she took off to California for a while. I’m gonna miss her.)

RELATED: My Morning Routine as a Solopreneur

On the downside, driving around strippers every night means I have the world’s strangest sleep schedule. I sleep a few hours overnight while she works and then catch the rest of my sleep in the morning. Because it’s winter, waking up at 2 PM means having very little daylight to record videos. YouTube has proved challenging, although I’m getting better about filming ahead of time when I can.

(And because the dark circles under my eyes made me look scary. I don’t want you guys to be concerned for me.)

How January 2017 Went

On the plus side, I paid all of my bills this month with ease. In fact, as of January 31, I had my bills paid for February as well. I can breathe.

I had to pay car insurance, which was put on a credit card. And I paid rent on a credit card so I could have the cash on hand to pay my car loan for the end of the month. When you’re broke and used to being broke, sometimes you do weird things because it makes you feel safer to pay your minimums a month in advance rather than pay your existing balances down.

I chose this for emotional reasons. Since February is a short month (and historically the worst month ever), I was dreading it and worried about how it would go. I’m now feeling optimistic because I don’t have any bills due until March 8. Do I need to make a lot of money between now and then? Yes. But if I get hit by a car and go into a coma for a couple weeks, I won’t wake up to bankruptcy and eviction.

Add in some other wins and a couple other new opportunities and you have a really good January.

How much did this come out to?

January 2017 Income Report

Driving for Uber: $76.92
Tips from Uber: $2.00
Herbalife: $75.00
Royalties from Anthrapologist: $58.14
Sales on Constant Content: $13.00
Sponsored content: $9.31
Driving for regular clients: $1,247.00

Total: $1,481.37 

Remember how I was talking about my jobs in Albuquerque?

Yeah. I’m officially earning as much now as I was after taxes then.

Plans for February

I’m doing much, much better than I have been. Amazing how one good month can kind of… make your entire life that much easier, isn’t it?

For February, I plan to use any income toward paying March’s bills first, and then use any extra to pay down my credit cards. I should actually be able to pay off one this month – within the next couple days, if things go according to plan. Super thrilled about that.

Note that my online income was kind of low. Retail season is over, so sales are dying down. I also did absolutely no promotion of anything whatsoever this month. My days were so disorganized and frenzied that I barely had time to make content – let alone push it out.

I intend to change that and really focus on keeping everything together for February. Since I’m in a pretty decent mental state, I feel like I’ll be able to do that. I mean, I’m cranking out this 2,000-word report with a smile on my face. That’s leaps and bounds ahead of where I was emotionally at the beginning of the month.

(As a side note, I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to get everything rearranged for the Single AF Podcast. So there’s that, too.)

In other words, I’m going to keep my head down, keep plugging away, be thankful for where I’ve gotten over the last few weeks, and try my hardest to un-abandon you guys.

Because I love you and I love making content and I love what I do.

January essentially feels like a piece of driftwood in the middle of the ocean. I was drowning and frantically trying my best not to go under, and then something came along that I can cling to. But I know that making content and working on my business are the only way to kick myself toward shore. So I’m going to do that.

Be ready.

And so help me god I hope January lasts into February. I’m not ready for an emotional shitstorm this year, guys.

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2 comments on “How Two Strippers Changed My Life: My First 6 Months Self-Employed”

  1. Patrick Cleary Reply

    Very good! I assume you have an emergency fund at-hand that you can keep adding to? Paying off your bills is super-important, but having some available money for that inevitable low time is really helpful, as well.

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