If you had told me 9 years ago that I would work hard for 7 years to create a consulting business and then basically walk away from it I would have said you were crazy. However, that is just what I did, and I don’t have regrets.
I worked a lot when I worked for myself, but I think I work a lot more now. I am going to break down what is required to do a good job working remotely, how I work, the tools I use, the help I need, and how I stay sane.
Who I Work For
First, let me explain what I do. I am have been an associate at Moz for over two years. I currently handle social from 8am-12:30pm Eastern Time and I help out with certain aspects of YouMoz. When my shift is over I jump right into working for AuthorityLabs doing a variety of tasks, but the main focus is editing and social.
What is Required to Do a Good Job
I am going to give you my philosophy on this and please note that what I say has nothing to do with Moz’s or AuthorityLabs’ beliefs – this is what I think and what has worked for me.
#1. Work your darn butt off!
Give them everything you have and be the best worker you can be. People are trusting you to work from afar, so be someone they can completely depend on.
The truth is you can be replaced at anytime by a remote worker or someone in-house. That is always something that hangs in the back of my mind. I feel like I have to give more because people aren’t right there with seeing how hard I work, nor are they forming the same attachments they would with in-house co-workers.
What is so great about what you offer a company? Try to offer something great. Working hard and caring a lot about doing great job – this is not something that is easy to find in a worker. Become as invaluable as you can.
#2. Be as diligent as possible.
Watching social for a brand is really an extremely serious job. Complaints, or saying the wrong thing, can turn into a crap storm real quick. So, when I say I watch social for Moz from 8am to 12:30pm I mean I don’t take my eye off it. If I get up to get a drink the laptop is coming with me, or my phone with social tool apps right in front of my face. I take the trust they have placed in me seriously and I don’t want to let them down.
I suggest going beyond and be as diligent as possible.
#3. Learn as much as you can about the company.
Moz and AuthorityLabs both offer tools. I have tried to learn as much as I possibly can about their tools, their support teams, their strategies for everything and upcoming changes. What can you do to make things easier or better for others? I focus on this daily.
Fact: You can’t run social without knowing all the things I mentioned above because you are the one that has to answer the wide range of questions that come in.
#4. You HAVE, HAVE, HAVE to be self-disciplined.
If you can’t work hard every hour of everyday and want to achieve “more” without someone pushing you to do it then you cannot be a remote worker. Part of your job is essentially to make the lives of those you work for/with easier.
Additionally, when you are sick or unhappy or have distractions all around you work can’t stop. Without self-discipline you won’t make it.
How I Work
There are few things that make my work life easier.
A very smart man named Todd Malicoat, AKA @Stuntdubl, told me to never feel guilty about buying good computers because they are what supports my work. So, with him yelling “Push the button!” I bought an iMac (and later a Macbook Pro).
My computers are expensive, but they work non-stop without any problems. This is what I need and what the companies I work for deserve.
Managing Both Moz and AuthorityLabs
The strategy that I have found works best for me is to have a dedicated browser for each company. Moz has their own browser with all tools open for work in tabs; this includes email. The same goes for AuthorityLabs.
All tools with apps for both companies are on my iPhone and iPads. No matter what I can chat with either company or access tools. This is REALLY important when you have unreliable Wi-Fi (if you follow me on Twitter you know which company I have).
Food and Drinks
Believe it or not, there are times when 4 hours will go by on social and you haven’t had a second to take a break to make food or a drink. I have a back up of frozen foods and canned drinks for these occasions. You can’t let your blood sugar drop and be grumpy on social 🙂
Giving More Time Than You Are Paid For
While both Moz and AuthorityLabs pay me for about 5 hours a day of work I actually give them more time than that. To do a really good job for these companies I have to keep up with as much as possible, all day.
Moz is a large company with several moving parts that never stop. If I just stopped working at 12:30 and never looked at anything I would not be ready for work the next day. Reading all the team emails is critical to doing a good job. What is happening, what is changing, what do I need to know about, what do customers need to know about and what is happening tomorrow – all these things have to be looked at daily when my shift is over. 8pm for me is only 5pm for them & these people work beyond 5. I check Moz emails until I go to bed, usually around 12:30-1am.
With AuthorityLabs I keep an eye on the company chat rooms for the exact same things I mentioned above with Moz. I talk with Brian LaFrance all day about work agendas, events, social, SEO, traffic and a billion other things. This happens along with editing and social. They are based in Phoenix so their day ends far into the night for me. I try to keep up and be prepared for the next day.
If you work remote you have to give a few more hours.
Scheduling Personal Social Shares
I would say about 95% of the things I share on social are planned the night before or during a break. Thank God for Buffer, it handles all my accounts. If you need to keep up with social for personal branding you have to schedule shares while you are working.
I won’t say which tools I use for each company; I am just going to break down the tools I use daily. Whenever you work for a company remotely it is your job to make sure you know how to use the tools they use well. This requires a bit of studying and practice on your part.
My Daily Tools – I suggest everyone learn to use each of them.
- Buffer – how I love the Buffer!
- Trello – great for organizational planning and tracking.
- Twitter Analytics
- Google Analytics
- True Social Metrics
- Google Docs
- Google Hangout
Getting Work Help
I am a mom that works, but a mom that wants to be involved as well. When AuthorityLabs offered me 25 hours a week of work I knew I couldn’t handle all the work I had alone. I had clients, Moz, a home to maintain and a child heading into middle school.
So, my husband and I made the decision that he would quit working and come work with me. It was a tough call and financial risk, but the truth is I couldn’t handle everything at home and working 10 hours a day by myself. He handles all work I can’t do until my shift with Moz is over. I now have support, help with tasks that could distract me and when I don’t have time to eat he brings me food <- this is no little thing (low blood sugar). Having my husband work with me was the best decision we ever made.
While my philosophy of working your butt off has worked for me thus far, it also tends to burn me out. I have had to find ways to avoid burnout. Some strategies I use:
- Force myself to take a couple of breaks a day.
- Try to eat breakfast and lunch.
- Drink water – seriously 🙂
- Vent when frustrated.
- Super decompress on weekends – start Monday ready to go!
- Get some additional sleep on the weekends. Sleep later or take naps, or both.
- Include humor throughout the day – memes, videos, tweets.
Mistakes kill me and I try so hard to avoid them. I made a mistake last year and people were upset and it totally wrecked my day…I admit there were tears and to this day it bugs me.
My challenge – I have to remember that being perfect isn’t possible. I tend to push myself really hard and have had to tell myself mistakes are okay (every once in awhile).
Be honest with those you work with. If things are not going well, just tell them.
The only way to really stay sane is to know yourself well and be able to notice when you are about to be pushed beyond your limits.
Before You Choose to Work Remotely…
Be honest with yourself. Do you need to be around people? Do you need that one-on-one with others? Can you push yourself to work hard throughout the day on your own? Are you organized enough to create a system that works for you? Are the companies you want to work with supportive? If the answer to these is “no” you will need to evaluate if you can make working remotely work.