Many years ago, I went to a conference in London to learn about the opportunities that were rapidly emerging online. From that, I took my first steps to learn online skills, which started with social media.
I got my first opportunities for teaching and training businesses in the world of social media marketing after focusing on my own online presence to showcase skills and know-how.
My career then moved from teaching to managing social media accounts and content creation for chosen businesses.
I was hired by my clients so that they would be able to do online promotion but save a lot of time and headache by being able to focus on the offline side of their business.
Remote work crept in because the better a job you did for business, there was less and less need to meet in person, such that now even doing different online work types, I rarely meet a client offline more than once.
I have clients I have never met in person, and I work for these clients on an ongoing basis.
Also, this realization along the way awakened my interest in project management and freelance tools that make so much possible remotely, so I focused on being more of a remote worker.
In the last four years, I had a "Joe Kennedy moment" when the shoeshine boy was giving him business advise. For me, it was about how to run social media accounts for business as it were. It became very apparent to me that I would alter my online offers to focus more on online digital content creation for local businesses.
Currently, I am working on:
New WordPress websites
Designs (setups-new websites) for new clients
Creating Monthly digital content for other clients whom I work on a project basis. (Where I create a mix of Video, SlideShares and Blog Posts and Local Marketing).
Proposals for ongoing Leads - reviewing their online footprint and offering a digital marketing plan for them going forward.
I personally believe a good morning routine is essential to be productive. I have a rule before I start my day that I go for a decent walk with my dog and like to read something positive or inspirational before I open any emails, communication, or social media accounts.
When I begin work, the first thing I do is go through the essential tasks for my current customers - Which includes updating customers with the progress of projects.
I have a strong belief in scheduling emails or tasks to hit clients at the times that I know they are in their office (not at 3 am). It helps keep work on track and also put it on a higher priority list for clients when the timing is right.
I also time block, so I can focus on different projects and avoid distraction. This is very important as I work in different sectors where the work can take a different mindset to be at my most productive.
Also, it is important that you have a clear understanding of when you are available and unavailable. I usually take lunch early as I start work early.
Most days, I go for another walk late in the afternoon then do a little more work until about 7 pm. A good routine is very important for any of us to be at our most productive.
Yes, my routine has changed over time as the more I have worked, I find out quickly what suits my customers best and my own body clock.
As much as possible, I plan to work office hours nowadays and take my weekends off. With time you become established, and you then put a time plan together that lets you enjoy the benefits of working remotely even more.
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Yes, I do have a dedicated workspace, which I think is very important as it gives you the right mindset that you are now working. My desk is for work, not play analogy.
I would highly recommend that you explain to family and friends that when you are working that they do not disturb you.
Finally, I ensure my workspace is both quiet and comfortable - it is difficult to give or take instructions in noise.
I prioritize what is my most important work to be done—not long-fingered—believe me, this makes life simpler.
Lists, checklists, and more checklists. If one gets distracted, like, for example, if a client has an extra priority, you can go and do it and then check your list and then get back on track.
Also, as much as possible, I arrange calls with my customers to catch up in the afternoons, and that gives me time in the mornings to focus on getting creative work done in peace and quiet.
I really put effort into avoiding distraction as it can be hard to get back into the flow if you lose track of your plan.
There are lots of things I like about remote work. Being able to focus on doing work for my clients and myself rather than being stressed out and losing valuable time in life - stuck in traffic, finding parking, and feeding meters to list only a few stress points.
I enjoy learning and enhancing my online remote work-skills because nowadays, learning never stops. That I can do at my desk with the time saved and not wasted travelling etc.
Being part of the freelance community means that I feel flexible and feel I can adapt sooner to a changing world.
Also, in my network of freelancers, I have colleagues who have been able to maintain and indeed build on careers when they in real life have health and mobility challenges. That is inspiring to me because if they were not remote workers, then what?
Finally, remote working is a growing industry with growing opportunities, and more different skill sets are now being sought out remotely.
At times I miss meeting people I work with offline.
Also, having to continually enforce “realistic expectations” with online startups.
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Here is a list of some of the tools I personally use to keep organized and on track:
Product Management - Trello - Which I use for tasks, checklists and assigning work.
Time management - MyHours - I use it to manage time and projects as well as create reports.
Bookmarks - atavi - To keep a list of all websites I use often whether for work or personal. (It is all organized in one place that I can access anywhere with Wi-Fi or internet.)
Organization - Airtable
Copy/Corrections Grammarly (huge timesaver all around)
Passwords & Management LastPass (a lifesaver)
Powerpoint - I use it every day and believe me it can do much more than people realise.
Photoshop Essential - Visuals matter in what I do.
Be willing to continue to learn and gain more skills. The online space is ever-evolving, so the demand for different services can and often change with time, and you want to have adapted, so you do not lose work.
Also, on an ongoing basis, when you have created quality work, and have a happy client, ask for references/recommendations from them.
If relevant, create case studies so that you can show new customers your track record. If you do not have a portfolio of samples of work that you created - then you could start with displaying samples of business work that you can do that you believe your ideal clients want.
Also, emphasize your true skills and that you can deliver a quality service.
Don't take work for the sake of it, leave leads with unrealistic expectations behind. Its better in the long run.
Lastly, never forget expenses: Yes, you work from home or remotely, but there are bills too (gas, heat, light, internet, phone etc). Factor them into pricing.
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Much of my work is project-based, often with time scales. So that affects my priorities and what type of work I am focusing on day to day.
Finally, remember to continue to market yourself and look after your own business as well as your clients.
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When working for local businesses or projects that are seasonal, during those times, I push myself to get a lot more done in that seasonal timeframe and reward myself afterward with time off and a treat.
One must have a work-life balance as it’s so important to look after your health when you are working for yourself.
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To have a clear action plan and vision, and to be dedicated without overpromising.
As your clients see you do a good job, your track record of work will get you more work.
Be willing to learn and to adapt. From my own experience, the more you learn, the easier it is to learn new skills when needed.
Have a clear structure of work and set goals for what you want to achieve
Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and the better the foundation you create for your business with skills and knowledge, the easier it will be to get work.
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Before I work for new clients, I speak to them (usually on the phone) and learn about their business. That way, you can measure if you and the potential client are a fit for each other or not.
Run when you must if the project or the expectations of you are unrealistic.
A good rapport on both sides is desirable when working remotely; the better you understand your clients, the easier it is to do good work for them.
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Working on your own projects is very important as you have complete flexibility that you might not have with clients.
With your own projects, it’s easier to test tweak and revise.
The more experience you have through trial and error then the better the job you will do for your clients.
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At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Rosemary O'Shaughnessy?
Rosemary is an Irish freelancer, who specializes in digital content creation for local, health and StartUps business. One of the things Rosemary really likes about being freelance is the flexibility of working remotely to balance work and life. She loves having the flexibility to walk her beloved (rough collie) lassie dog during the working day. Visit her website for more information about her services, and see her on LinkedIn.
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Betsy Ramser is a content manager, blogger, and teacher who helps other remote workers thrive while creating a daily routine that works.
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