I was working in communications for an educational nonprofit, and while I loved the work I was doing, I realized the brick and mortar office was not for me.
My commute was over an hour each way, co-worker distractions led to tasks taking a much longer time to be completed, and I wanted more freedom in being able to travel while working.
This realization led me to understand that remote work was better suited to my personality.
I began applying for remote work positions in digital marketing management, social media management, and content creation. The field was so competitive that my efforts were proving fruitless, so I figured that I would set up a profile on Upwork just to see what would happen.
I began marketing work I had already done for my current job, and I began to find my niche as a business management writer. I began to find freelance work while I was still at my full-time job. It was a lot of work, but it paved the way for me to make enough to leave within four months. A few clients took a chance on me and the rest is history.
I would offer up the following advice:
Don’t be afraid to pursue a different work style. It was difficult for me because the 9-to-5 brick and mortar work environment was all I knew. It was a risk to pursue something different. However, it turned out to be for my good in the long-run. You know yourself better than anyone, so feel confident in making the decision to go remote.
Be flexible! I originally had this idea that I was going to be a digital marketing/social media marketing associate for a remote company. Well, I quickly found out this was a very competitive field, and that I didn’t have the connections to pursue this fully. So, I ended up finding out that I could be just as successful writing (which I happened to enjoy even more).
Use social media! I have stumbled onto a lot of opportunities while searching different hashtags on Twitter, joining Facebook remote work groups, and keeping an eye on LinkedIn job postings. Job boards are great, but social media can be an awesome resource in finding the next gig.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work where I feel most comfortable. The beginning was a bit scary, but I have no regrets in starting on this journey. Remote work has allowed me to be even more productive than I was at an office. There are always late nights, but I would not have it any other way.
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I am a freelance writer for multiple businesses and content creation agencies. I do not work for one organization, so I have combined various gigs across a couple of different industries for work.
Typically, I compose articles and content related to automotive industry trends, small business productivity tips, video game entertainment, digital marketing, and human resources.
My work has a one or two-day turnaround typically, and I will work on two to three projects a day.
My work involves a lot of research, editing (a big thanks to Grammarly), and conversations with clients about the type of tone and structure they are looking for in their content.
Because my work is deadline based, I do not have to be available all throughout the day. Therefore, my schedule is very flexible as the client’s only concern is that their work is completed by the agreed upon deadline. However, I do make a practice of checking email connected to the platforms mentioned above at least every hour for any updates or newly scheduled projects.
For the types of writing I do, for my video game entertainment client, I compose 25-part listicles that address trends in popular video game titles. The writing I complete for clients in the automotive industry consists of articles discussing automotive technology trends, impacts of legislation, and marketing tips for local dealers.
The majority of my projects are related to small business tips, advice, and list to guide new entrepreneurs and SMBs through business operations and strategy. Projects are typically 500 to 1500 words in length so a workday can vary based on the length of the articles.
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Having a daily routine has helped me to stay grounded in this career change.
I decided to go remote last fall when I saw that I needed a better plan to accomplish real work-life balance. I was doing full-time communications work at a brick and mortar office, and I had been doing some freelance writing work on the side.
Once I transitioned from working in an office to working at home, there were still some things about my work in the office that I wanted to take with me. I decided to keep the same work hours as I had before. I typically begin working at 8:30 am and continue until I finish completing my projects for the day. Unless I received a late project, I usually end the day at 5:00 pm (including all business communication).
To start the day, I take my dog for a one-mile walk. This helps me to relax, and get my rhythm for the day. While I grab breakfast, I usually sit down and look at the schedule for the day. I create my plan for the week on Sundays and add in any new additions throughout the days.
I always start with the longest and most involved project first —since I have the most energy in the morning and early afternoon— and then tackle shorter projects throughout the rest of the day. Once I begin working for the day, I always try to step away at least every hour to walk around and rest my brain. I never realized how much brainpower it takes to sit down really and write, even if you have an outline set and ready to go. Therefore, it is crucial for me to step away and allow my head to rest to gather my thoughts.
I stop for lunch around 1:00pm, and also try to take a short power nap to regain some energy to finish the day. At the end of the workday, I always double-check my schedule for the next day to be sure I have included all that needs to be done (there is always something new to add).
I will check all platforms (Upwork, email, and Trello) one last time for any late day assignments, or confirm deadlines for the next two days. I then end the day with another mile walk with my dog to transition into a time of rest for the evening.
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My routine has generally remained the same, the only thing that has changed is that I pay a lot more attention to my physical and mental health. I used to work straight through the day, and sometimes even skip lunch to get work done.
Now, I make a point to walk at least two miles, visit the gym, do yoga, and even take a nap to rejuvenate.
I also used to do shorter jobs first and tackle the others in the evening.
Through trial and error, I figured out that I have more energy during regular work hours, so instead of breaking work up between the mornings and evenings, I now try to finish everything before the late afternoon/early evening.
Having time to unwind in the evenings with my husband is crucial, so I make a point to stick to my new routine to make this happen.
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I do not have a dedicated space at the moment. So much of my work is done on my laptop, and I do not need any extra equipment such as papers, large monitors, printers, or additional hardware. Therefore, I do not have a need for a significant amount of space.
I usually work on the coffee desk in my living room or basement. It is funny because I created a desk space in my bedroom for this exact thing. Ironically, I am more comfortable elsewhere.
I have worked at coffee shops here in Metro Atlanta, and each experience has been pretty good. I have a friend who also works from home, and we have set up co-working days where we meet up to work at a coffee shop at least once a month.
We use this as an opportunity to try new local coffee spots and catch up while we work.
When I first turned to remote work, I felt a bit isolated and overwhelmed. I did not think I would feel this way, but visiting coffee shops in the beginning really helped. It was comforting to see a lot of other remote workers doing the same thing I was. It helped to settle me down so I could get into my current rhythm.
Now, I do not attend coffee shops as much for two reasons. The first is because the closest coffee shop that is large enough to house remote workers is a bit further than I am willing to drive (I live in the suburbs), and the ones I prefer fill up pretty quickly.
However, I think visiting coffee shops to work are a great alternative, and something I am going to continue to do with my friend.
The second reason is that traffic is not the greatest here (one of the main reasons I left my job) so traveling to a lot of different areas to work defeats one of my original purposes for doing this. As I develop my business further, I do see the value in going to places where other professionals are so I can network.
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I want to preface this by saying this is an excellent problem to have, but I have always had to manage having too much work. In the past, it was intense, so I took a step back to see what I could do to keep my schedule from spiraling out of control. I chose to establish these standards:
I also had to scale back with one of my clients that request long-form articles. Instead of doing two, I reduced it to one for better work-life balance. These standards have surely been a saving grace in balancing time.
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This one may sound a little offbeat, but finding a good music live stream on YouTube always helps me keep productivity high.
I have noticed that I write a lot faster and sharper when I am listening to music. It helps me to focus and concentrate more on the content rather than working quietly or with the television on.
I also like to keep a real agenda to keep track of my work for the week. I have noticed that I do a lot better when I can write down my to-do list and check things off. Not only does it give me a sense of accomplishment, but I immediately know what needs to be done first.
I also make a point not to check email until I complete the assignment. If I do not do this, it is easy for me to become side-tracked and handle something else before I am done with the job I initially started on.
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I love the freedom. It allows me to have the time to walk my dog, go to the gym, visit with a friend, or go on a vacation without the need to ask permission. I have always been excellent at self-management, so having the freedom to manage my whole schedule is excellent for me.
I also enjoy the fact that I get to work on a lot of different projects, and learn a lot about a variety of topics. This part of it helps me to never become bored with what I do.
I genuinely feel that I have the opportunity to work at my own pace, and which is honestly one of the best feelings.
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One of the issues I have with remote work is more so unique to freelance work. As a freelancer, it can be difficult to understand the state and tax laws: paying quarterly, estimated vs. actual earnings, and paying online.
This situation has been a bit of a challenge I have had to get used to and learn a lot about.
The other issue is the isolation. I am an introvert by nature, so working alone is not a problem for me. However, there are times where it would be nice to work with someone who is in a similar situation. I have made a practice of having co-working days with old college friends and attending lunches with professional contacts to combat these feelings.
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I am a huge fan of Google Drive.
I use Google Docs to share content with editors I work with, so they can quickly make edits or add notes for things I need to tweak. I also use the spreadsheets for content calendars and contact information.
In the past, I have used Harvest to track time, generate PDF invoices, and send these invoices directly from the app.
If I need to create an infographic or regular graphic I will use Canva, which is an impressive free and easy-to-use online graphic design app.
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At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Chanell Turner?
Chanell Alexander is a freelance writer who lives in Atlanta and commonly writes about business management tips and video game entertainment trends.
Learn more about hiring Chanell by reaching out via email.
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