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 Jacob, a site reliability engineer

In my previous role, I was travelling for the better part of three hours each day (when there weren't any train delays!).

After doing the long commute for a few years, I came to a crossroads. I wanted to take the next step in my professional development, but I also decided I wanted to spend less time on the train and more time with my wife.

I put together a list of qualities I wanted in my next position as well as the maximum amount of time I wanted to spend commuting.

With this list, I started looking around and talking to recruiters and colleagues about available local positions. However, nothing really got close to the goals I had set.

To be fair, I didn't live near any capital cities or sexy tech/startup locations, so most of my searches ended up at small boutique web shops which would lack much of the professional development I was looking for.

One night, as I was scrolling through an online job board, the location filter of "Remote" triggered a lightbulb moment.

Working remotely wasn't something I had previously done in a full-time capacity. Sure, my existing role occasionally allowed me to work from home. However, it was never a well-defined thing, but rather a perk unique to myself and another colleague due to the distance we travelled.

After that night's epiphany, I began searching more and more for remote work.

As luck would have it, I was following someone on Twitter that had become a recent alumni of Envato who, despite going off to his own startup, was spruiking the available roles and how great the whole environment was.

I ended up checking out the jobs page and politely DM'd him some further questions about a role. He then put in a note to the recruitment team to have a chat with me and the rest is history!

Jacob is a Site Reliability Engineer who believes in asynchronous communication and bullet journaling - learn how he maximizes his daily "deep work" time.

Read full interview from Interview with Jacob, a site reliability engineer.


Interview with Mark, a programmer building bespoke business applications

I had my first remote job while still in college. The office was a hefty drive from campus and I could rarely afford the time to make the commute. Thankfully, my employer already believed in the merits of remote working.

In my time there, I learned a lot about the tools and attitude necessary to successfully carry out remote work. My employer believed in the power of results and trust in his employees.

Ultimately, I think my employer's attitude really seeded a lot of my habits and philosophy about remote work today.

For example, he always insisted on video chats so we could actually see each other, and now that tendency is drilled into me. It became so second nature that one time during a video chat, my girlfriend accidentally walked into view with only a towel on! Needless to say, I am now much more cognizant of my surroundings.

Mark thinks that avoiding distractions and sticking to regular hours are perhaps the hardest parts of being a freelancer - learn his secrets to achieving a good work flow.

Read full interview from Interview with Mark, a programmer building bespoke business applications.


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 Eddie, an Engineering Director

I eased into remote work. Around August 2009, I was living 30 minutes away from my job at the time. I convinced my boss that I could work from home 1-2 days a week.

This was a great benefit to me, as we were in the process of building and launching a new SaaS service. It gave me the time and space I needed to be completely focused.

Back then, we still called it "telecommuting", and - given that the rest of the company was all colocated in the same single office - it wouldn't fit what I consider the modern definition of remote work.

Fast forward to 2012, when I joined Litmus. The company was already semi-distributed; about 20% of the company was in the UK, including my boss, who was the developer of our Rails team and one of the co-founders. (If you're reading this, Dave, hello beardy!).

As we grew the engineering team, we decided to hire the best candidates regardless of where they were located. We hired folks in the US, but also Canada, Italy, Berlin and the UK.

By the summer of 2014, remote work was going so well that our founders decided to extend the opportunity to all employees. I leapt at the chance, moved further away, set up a proper home office, and the rest is history.

Eddie is an Engineering Director - learn how he manages to absorb interruptions and manage information overload while staying productive.

Read full interview from Interview with Eddie, an Engineering Director.


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 Mike, a software engineer who works remotely at GitHub

I never intended to work remotely. I'd left my last office job and received an offer from my new, dream organisation that had no offices in the UK. As a result I decided it was worth accepting anyway and just rolling with the whole remote working thing.

Despite thinking I'd miss the social aspect of work, I loved my increased productivity and flexibility, got my socialising done with friends outside of work and chatted with coworkers during the day online (instead of in person).

Mike got started with remote work after getting an offer from his dream organisation. Learn how he works remotely while working on open source projects and publishing books.

Read full interview from Interview with Mike, a software engineer who works remotely at GitHub.


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.

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