How did you get started with remote work?

Question: How did you get started with remote work? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely

I was a freshly graduated young man and I had a choice to make, I could go work a regular 9 to 5 job or go into freelancing which was something I had learned about a few months before graduating as I was planning for the future.

What really made me decide to go into freelancing was that my dad has worked a regular 9 to ... random exit times sometimes as late as 12 AM and he missed out on a lot with his family, I know he missed out on a lot of us growing up because he had to work to provide for us.

There's also the fact that to me it seems like not everyone appreciates what you do in a regular job.

Recognizing this and not wanting this to be my norm, I definitely don't want to miss out on my kids life when I have my own, I went into freelancing, super scared if it would work or not but 3 years later here we are!

I think the most important thing was I was reasonable with my pricing.

I was just recently graduated and starting out in the professional space so I started by charging $10/hour or sometimes even $8/hr depending on the job.

I see a ton of new freelancer make the mistake of charging $15 or more from the jump without 0 reputation to back up that value. You can't expect to be paid what you want without having a way of proving that value in some way.

If you didn't work at a company before or have an impressive portfolio you won't get any clients at $15 or more per hour. Reputation first, then up your prices.

The second thing I did that I think was super important with clients was I delivered days before the deadline, this made the client happy, likelier to work with me in the future and they left a good review praising this which is a good motivator for future clients as it shows I'm a dedicated worker.

John works remotely while using the latest web development technologies, learn how he works by reading his interview.

Read full interview from Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely.


Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years

I got started working remotely in 1998. I had been working in New York City for the first few years of my career. I was eager to make some decisions about my professional life before getting married.

My wife and I had explored myriad housing options in New York and on Long Island but nothing seemed to fit. Restless, I was beginning to see a job change as an avenue to a geographic change.

I had a good job in a big city, yet my heart was telling me that it was not my path.

You might think me naive for doing so, but I told my boss the truth. I told him I was about to be married, and Amy and I were looking to live outside of the New York City area. To that end, my goal was really to inform him that I was going to be looking at other jobs: either transfers internal to the bank or finding another company. I had no other angle. No other goal.

He considered what I said carefully. After just a few beats, he asked “How would you like to work from home?” Mind you, this was in 1998, and working remotely was not as popular as it is now.

Making the switch was seamless, though. The company put an ISDN line into my new apartment in Massachusetts. Several years later when we wanted to move farther away, they were totally cool with it, as long as I could get to New York City when they needed me. Fast forward 20 years, and I’ve been working remotely the whole time.

Scott is a designer and developer that's been working remotely since 1998, read his interview to learn how he's been successful

Read full interview from Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years.


Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything

I started with working remotely quite naturally. The only real 'job' I had was university in that I had to actually physically go there and be present at times.

However I was always working on some personal ideas I had in form of various projects. I discovered GitHub a few years ago and fell in love with how easy it was to share projects I made there. It didn't have to be code and I could write something in a README file and git push and it was online for the whole world to see. I started sharing my notes on GitHub, first as normal files then, in form of mind maps and later it grew into an actual website with code that I helped work on in a team.

Working remotely in that sense was completely natural since Learn Anything is an open source project, there is not one single place I have to be to make any changes to it and improve it. I just need an internet connection and a laptop.

Nikita is an entrepreneur working on his startup while optimizing his productivity—learn how he organizes his life and work to maximize happiness

Read full interview from Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything.


Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog

After I left university, I began immediately working as a copywriter/designer at a small advertising agency. I’m sure we all know the ungodly hours required at an advertising agency. Even though I was finally earning money some good money, I felt I never had the time or the energy to spend them. I was exhausted in just three months.

I had heard of freelancing and working remotely in my university days. But that felt like a zero-calorie chocolate ice-cream- too good to be true.

I didn’t have the experience or the contacts to get work like that.

Then, I got married. I left my job due to some personal reasons and the fact that I was ready to leave at the slightest excuse. The first few months were bliss. Relaxing. Getting up at my own time. But in a few months, I was restless. I needed to work.

My husband is also from the advertising field. Thankfully, he helped me get a remote job. This was on Upwork. The pay was low, but at least it was some work. At that point, I only wanted something to work on.

The experience from that small job helped me land more jobs on Upwork. All this was happening while I delivered two kids and had a lot on my plate. Sometimes I couldn’t work. Sometimes I had no work. But I was in a good zone. It was exhausting but this was something I enjoyed doing.

A few years later, I got the confidence and the know-how to start my own blog. I created the entire blog on my own just by watching YouTube tutorials and help from our reliable buddy, Google. This blog started bringing my good, consistent work. People could now see what I had done. So they gave me work.

Ayesha is a freelance content writer—learn how she made the leap to remote work while building her blog and raising her family

Read full interview from Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog.


Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager

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.

Chanell is a freelance writer working from Atlanta that writes about business management tips and video game entertainment threads.

Read full interview from Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager.


Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company

I was approached via cold email regarding my posts on Hacker News.

They saw the answers I had posted and saw the links to my GitHub/portfolio in my profile and that intrigued them.

We exchanged information and I provided my rate and that's how I began to work with that company on a contract basis. Because of that, the transition was seamless!

Learn how Adam started working remotely from a cold-email on Hacker News, to how he's using a local co-working space to grow his business.

Read full interview from Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company.


Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development

My background - I am an Indian, with a Computer Science and Engineering background. I started my career 19 years ago in Software Development in a small company, in Kolkata, eastern India. Worked there for a bit more than a year and a half, and then got an opportunity to work in Singapore, where I worked as a developer for 6 months.

My next job was in the UK, where I worked as a developer in a start-up dot-com company for 3.5 years. I didn’t live in London or in a big city. Rather, I worked in a quaint village called Burley-In-Wharfedale (near Leeds, West Yorkshire), that had a population of around 1500 people.

The interesting aspect of this job was that I landed in the UK and the dot-com bust took place. So, just imagine the tumultuous emotions that went through my mind as I grappled with fitting in a completely different culture with no surety whether the company I worked on would still be afloat in a week’s time!

However, I stuck to the grind and we scraped through the initial few months of the cull that was taking place all around the world at that time. During that period, the company I worked for was looking for ways to generate revenue, since advertising revenues were plummeting. So, I suggested that we explore the option of opening a software division of our company to execute IT projects with the help of tie-ups with Software companies in India.

Our directors agreed, and we opened a software division of the company and I was the primary contact person and acted as the business development manager for that division. My responsibilities included liaising between the Indian software companies and the UK principals from whom we procured the IT projects.

I was involved in all sorts of written communication between the parties. Starting from vetting the legal contracts (in conjunction with our companies’ legal team), to co-ordinating the conference calls (This was before the days of Skype, so we used to rely on land lines, which were not very cheap!) between the various parties, and so on.

I came back to India around 14 years ago for family reasons and continued working in business development/IT sales for various Indian companies for 7-8 years. During this time, I travelled to the US for Business trips, specifically Orlando, FL and Boston MA to procure software projects. I also went to Los Angeles, CA, and Las Vegas, NV to attend business conferences.

My last corporate job was back in 2010, wherein I led a team of Inside Sales specialists whose job was to sell a software product to various Fortune 500 companies in the UK and the US. All our selling was over email and the phone.

It was during my tenure here, that I developed a skill of being able to write persuasive emails.

I was laid off in 2015 due to a software paradigm shift and thought of taking this opportunity to reassess where my career was going rather than jump into another job right away. I had heard of remote working/freelancing and was entranced with the idea of working on my own and thought of checking it out.

The next hurdle was deciding which area should I focus on when it came to skill sets. Even though there were a few software sales jobs which were available to be done remotely, at that point in time, they were few and far between.

After much self-analysis, I realized that in most of the companies I worked for, I was given the responsibility of writing sales/marketing collateral, vetting legal contracts, and drafting customer facing emails. Since childhood, my passion was the written word, and I had won a few creative writing competitions during my university days. So, I thought of venturing out there and see if I could find any writing work as a freelancer.

A few web searches led me to the availability of content mills, which paid peanuts. But I thought of applying for a few of them to see if I could make any headway. After a month or two of applying randomly for as many jobs as I could, I got my first content writing job – a 1000 word blog post for a princely sum of $5.

I was happy, yet apprehensive. Plunging into research on the web, I soon came up with reference articles, from where I drafted my blog post. After reading and re-reading it at least four times, I finally submitted the blog post and sat back to wait with bated breath. Less than 24 hours later, the client accepted the article, giving me 5 stars for my work, and immediately commissioned me for 5 other similar pieces.

I was overjoyed, because in the depths of my heart, I’d never actually believed that I’d get paid to write!

Cut to a couple of months later and I was writing my heart out, pouring a lot of time and effort into writing close to 10,000 words in a week. But, soon, I faced burnout and realized that this way of working was not sustainable.

While I was writing for this content mill, I used to read the blogs of established bloggers and freelance writers to get inspiration and some direction on which way to go in my writing career.

During one of these searches, I stumbled upon Upwork and realized that this could potentially be a platform where I could leverage my writing skills to get better paying gigs.

I signed up at Upwork, created a profile, took the skills tests, and started applying for jobs there. It took a lot of struggles, and some time, but finally, I’ve reached a stage now, where I can pay my bills while working full time in a freelance capacity.

Deb made the jump from full-time software developer to freelance sales copywriter—learn how he made the transition.

Read full interview from Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development.


Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health

To be honest, I feel like I was sort of pushed into working remotely as a freelancer because of my health problems. I was getting these stress-induced migraines frequently that made it dangerous to drive and impossible to get work done. And I wasn’t sleeping much either which of course wasn’t helping.

The office was full of migraine triggers like fluorescent lights, perfumes being sprayed indoors, a lot of noise, blue light, and the stress of the job. I got yelled at a lot because one of my main responsibilities was to diffuse difficult situations with customers. I tried to go outside, take frequent breaks, meditate in my car, just anything to get rid of that stress, but it wasn’t enough.

The attendance policy was really strict, and I had no FMLA protection left after a medical leave I’d taken earlier in the year. I was not at all willing to force myself to drive with a migraine – not only was the pain bad, but I get aura, which is severe brain fogginess and problems seeing, or hallucinations that are zigzags of light that go across my vision. Public transportation wasn’t an option and I wasn’t allowed to work from home. So, I kept missing work.

So then I was placed on a warning for missing too much work. I’d been trying to move into a lateral position that would allow me to work remotely – some of the available jobs involved work I’d already been doing in my current position so it should’ve been a no-brainer. But this company took months to fill any openings, and once I was placed on this verbal warning I was no longer allowed to move into other positions. For 6 months, or a year, I forget which, I was totally stuck. And if I’d missed 2 more days of work in that timeframe I’d lose my job.

It was really frustrating at the time because I’d been there for 3 years at this point, and they weren’t wiling to work with me at all or try to keep me employed. I felt disposable and realized that the stress of not having a steady paycheck was not as bad as the stress this job was causing me.

I considered trying to find a new job that was 100% remote but those jobs are few and far between and I know there is a ton of competition for them.

Plus I really wanted to control my hours so that I could rest as much as I needed to recover my health. I’d always wanted to be a writer and I’d been studying marketing for months at that point in the hopes of trying to freelance, and I also really didn’t want to get fired – I wanted to leave while it was still my choice even if it didn’t feel like much of a choice. So after a few attempts to quit and chickening out, I finally gave my notice and took the leap.

It was pretty scary to do that but I’m lucky to have a very supportive partner. And after a few months of rest, my migraines went from 3-4x weekly to 1x monthly or even less! I definitely feel like I made the right choice, and now that I’ve experienced the freedom that comes with working from home as a freelancer I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a traditional job. I’m still recovering from the burnout I experienced from my old job, but I’m really looking forward to being able to travel and work from anywhere in the world.

I know a lot of employers are resistant to allowing remote work, but I think those types of companies are going to eventually be perceived as old-fashioned.

There’s so many people out there like me who have a hard time being in a regular office whether it’s because they’re introverted or have health problems (or both). Personally, I get way more work done when I’m at home than I ever would in a typical office environment.

Freelancing is hard and definitely not right for everyone, and remote jobs would create a lot of opportunities. I believe a lot of companies would benefit from allowing employees to work from home.

Jenna started working remotely after realizing her office job was causing health problems—now she works as a freelance writer and writes about self-improvement

Read full interview from Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health.


Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning

I think the experience I get started with remote work is a bit magical.

I started my remote work in the summer of 2014, when I was a sophomore student. At that time, we have a quite long summer, no homework, no intern, etc. Most of my friends are traveling around the country for sightseeing or doing part-time jobs like being a home tutor which is quite popular among us.

I don't have that much money for traveling such a long time nor I want to do the boring teaching thing, so I was wondering to do something that can train my skills, broaden my horizon and earn some tuition in the best case.

I came out of an idea that there should be a remote work site to utilize people's free time and skills around the globe. And if there isn't such one, I will try to build one myself! Then I tried to search it on Google. Suddenly I found Upwork.

I saw there are lots of opportunities on Upwork for me.

So I registered an account, do the verification, figure out how the sites work and then I got my first job on Upwork which is a ghostwriter.

After that, I got many other jobs on the platform including virtual assistant, translator between English and Chinese and so on.

Hanling started working remotely as a student and now does freelance machine learning and data analysis for clients all around the world.

Read full interview from Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning.


Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand

I graduated a few years ago and I started working for some high end fashion brands for a while but after I decided that I would like to focus more on my own brand and find something remote since I was also traveling a lot back then.

I started looking for remote jobs, which wasn’t so easy at the beginning because I had to build up a profile and a more commercial portfolio for my clients on Upwork.

Once I built up my profile and I gained more experience, I started realizing that a freelance job is way more interesting, better paid (maybe just in my case as a fashion designer) and allows me to move, not like a permanent job.

Alexandra is a freelance fashion designer who works remotely while traveling and building her own brand.

Read full interview from Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand.

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