Alexandra Cote
Digital Marketing
March 09, 2020

Interview with Alexandra Cote, a remote digital marketer and freelancer

Alexandra juggles freelancing, a full-time remote job, YouTube, and Skillshare instructing. How does she manage it all? Find out in her interview.

How did you get started with remote work?

I just always knew I wanted to work remotely. The thought of spending an extra 2-3 hours on the commute and getting ready for work was just life-draining to me.

So when I was offered a remote position, I had to say yes! I did have an in-office position before, but it was part-time, so it wasn't taking up too much of my time.

I've always heard excuses like "Why would they hire someone remotely?" from non-remote workers.

The reason why I got hired in the first place and why many teams are fully-distributed is because companies need access to the best talent pool out there.

Even if that means you'll be working with people across multiple time zones.

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What are you working on?

Currently, I'm a full-time digital marketer, along with doing freelance writing and strategic development on the side. My clients are the bomb! Mostly SaaS and marketing companies, along with a couple of smaller B2C projects that are dear to my heart.

I'm also trying my hand at YouTube in my spare time, and I'm a Skillshare instructor which helps me connect with so many people worldwide.

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What's your typical work routine?

Email. Slack. Lots of article writing which I prefer to do in the morning when I just have too many ideas and need to get them all on paper ASAP.

I'm not a big fan of digital tools because they just take so much of my time. So I stick to the basic Google Docs, email, SEO stuff, and Canva [for images].

Besides my regular day, it really depends on what I work on. For articles, I just research and write until I can't write anymore. 😅 But that's good because it means I have a full grasp of the subject, so the ideas just keep flowing.

For my YouTube videos, I tend to get straight to filming. I mainly review design tools and techniques, so I don't really need a script since I've used most of them before regularly, so I'm already familiar with them.

Course creation takes up most of my time. This includes creating scripts, presentations, video editing, audio tweaks, all those fun parts that need to be covered in order for me to provide the best possible insights to my students.

I don't have a work routine. Instead, I have a life routine.

I know when I need my breaks, I know I need to take time to cook something delicious, work out, go for a walk, or just talk to people.

To mix work and life a bit, I've made a habit out of talking to people. So my LinkedIn networking game has never been stronger.

As a rule, I connect with 10-20/people a day on social media or just via email.

Of course, not everyone has time for a chat, but those who do always have meaningful things to talk about.

Feel free to connect with me. I love questions!

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

Kind of. I literally work on my kitchen table [hands up if you do that too!]. It's higher and thus "healthier" for my arms and hands. I guess.

I always work from there. No office though. It's not something you need. A good laptop is your entire workspace. Once you get to work, you'll transport yourself into the digital realm, so an office is fairly useless.

However, I do know people who can't work from a cluttered environment or just when things are not in the right place. If that's you, set up a safe haven to keep you productive!

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

I'm going to be boring here and tell you I've nailed productivity back in school, so I don't have any issues staying focused. I'm also the exact opposite of a procrastinator.

In time, I've come to realize I need to take care of important tasks firsts if I want to achieve my top goals. This is why I always try to finish ALL of my work first and then just take a larger break. Works for me, might not work for you. Always remember to take breaks though!

If you need motivation, just think of your higher targets. Then, make decisions based on how each action of yours will help you get towards your main goal.

This is really the only secret you need: only do things that will help you with your key life goals. All else can wait.

I do use certain small tools and Chrome extensions that have honestly become a part of my life, so I see them as essentials, not just tools. Google Docs, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Canva [I'll count it as a productivity tool because I also use Affinity Designer for complex work, but Canva just makes it all faster.], Grammarly, and MozBar.

These essentially save your life so many times.

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How do you stay on task?

Again, it's all on a mental level for me. Lots of years of studying for school and college helped me develop this habit of never leaving work for later. Later is for fun, duh!

So when I know I have something to do, I just do it until it's done. If I have multiple things to take care of, I just choose one based on priority, interest, or I just begin with the task I have more ideas for.

I do have one trick, though. And it's good. No matter how productive you are, you'll come across distractions. Let's say I'm writing an article and need to check Twitter for what other people are saying on the topic.

Twitter is full of distractions, but instead of getting caught up with them, I simply bookmark everything. When I get a bit more free time, I just check all of my bookmarks. I've been doing the bookmark trick for 10+ years now. Always works. Surprisingly, for many of them, I have no interest left, so I'm literally getting hours out of this.

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What do you like about remote work?

What's there not to like? I'm aware it's not for everyone, but most people who go remote, never turn back to their office jobs.

It depends on your personality, really. For me, the benefits are all of these:

  • Work from wherever you wish
  • No commute
  • Lots of money saved on food and clothes
  • More free time and energy after work
  • Extra scheduled flexibility
  • No work commitments
  • Breaks! Breaks! Breaks!
  • Higher salaries for people who live in countries that aren't the best at giving out wages

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What do you not like about remote work?

I love it! As mentioned, though, it's not for everyone. So if you're working with someone who's not a fit for this culture, communication can get tough. And annoying. Especially if you're a hard worker who hates seeing that people are not doing anything and the company's not moving forward.

I was once part of a small project and had to be part of a team for a week. The team was supposed to be online for three hours each day. Obviously, since the team was fully-distributed, they weren't working to their full potential, and instead, they put in less than even those three hours of actual work.

I honestly felt like the only one who was working. Safe to say the company wasn't going anywhere, and they're still struggling.

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Do you have any advice for remote workers?

Make sure to test out the remote life before going for a full-time gig, just to see if you're the right fit for this culture.

Then, try to choose a decent workplace from the beginning. A company that's known for caring for its employees and not those that have a score of less than four on Glassdoor. Huge no!

Beyond this, work on staying productive. It's easy to get caught up in your freedom and forget about the development of your career. All things aside, if you want to work remotely and one day go into a higher management or leadership position, you seriously need to consider a remote job just like an office one.

Professional growth is part of all kinds of career paths, but it's something you can easily forget about when you have a safe job, you're working remotely, and you're busy traveling this beautiful world.

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How do you decide which clients to take?

I've been relying a lot on cold pitching. Mainly because it helps pick the companies I want to work with. Other than that, a simple email exchange or call is good enough for me to realize whether working together will lead to something productive.

I hate writing just for the sake of writing, so my ideal clients need to value good content and not be another one of those people who think they can find cheaper writers. My rates are on the higher side.

This has helped me keep my professional image and cut down on working for people who don't value their content or employees.

Your rate says a lot about you, and it literally picks your clients.

I also recommend you go for a project-based rate instead of all else. Safer and worthy of an expert like you.

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What is the best advice you have ever received?

To help people. Like truly help them with real-life problems. Not business needs.

Too many humans are stuck in the business loop where only profit and growth matters even if it's at the expense of other people's mental health and sanity.

So I've taken this advice to find a more meaningful purpose in life. My long-term commitment now, besides being a remote work advocate, is to support people when it comes to choosing the right career for them and keeping their wellness at work.

Both issues are not often talked about, but it's imperative we discuss them more often to avoid fatalities caused by job burnout, anxiety, overexertion, lack of job security, money problems, and all the like.

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How do you avoid burnout?

I'll leave here a list of ideas you can go through that I've also tried and might be of help to you:

  • Talk to a close friend or just a psychologist.
  • Change your job.
  • Create and schedule free time even when you don't feel like you need a break.
  • Sleep more and sleep in.
  • Meditate before going to sleep.
  • Find the main goals that will make you happy in life and do your best to achieve them.

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How has your routine changed over time?

Yes. I used to struggle with creating a boundary between work and life, as this is a common issue for remote workers. So from my 9-to-5, I've switched to a more life-friendly schedule that allows me to focus on my mind and body and not just career.

After all, what truly matters at the end of our lives is not how successful we were or how many companies we helped grow but how healthy we kept ourselves, how we helped those around us, and what worthwhile experience we had outside of work.

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What has been the most challenging part of freelancing?

Having to live with uncertainty. Not being sure if you'll get more clients this month, not knowing if you can take a few weeks off, and not knowing if the client you work with will be super happy with your results.

Luckily, all of my clients have been pleased with my work, but I've always had my doubts in the back of the mind since I mostly work with people I've known for a short while, so you never know if there's a tiny little thing they want more attention put onto.

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Biography

Alexandra Cote

Alexandra Cote is a SaaS content writer and strategist with a passion for content marketing, social media marketing wonders, and artificial intelligence. She’s also a strong supporter of staying happy at work and choosing a career path that’s healthy for people’s wellness. Reach out to her via Twitter @cotealexandra11 or her blog

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