From fighting Atlanta traffic to becoming a remote work evangelist

1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Chanell, and I am a remote freelance writer. I have been freelancing for the past five years, and I enjoy helping companies reach their target audiences through effective and engaging content. I am an Atlanta, GA native, graduate of the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, and thoroughly enjoy a good soccer game and plane ride abroad ✈️. 

The experience of freelancing and remote work has been utterly freeing, and it has allowed me to pursue some cool things that I did not think were possible. Today, my experience has caused me to become a remote work advocate. I routinely share information about remote work on social media and with those who are thinking about embracing this work lifestyle.

2. What motivated you to choose remote working?

Honestly, I needed a big change. If you live in Atlanta or anywhere in the United States, you know that in major cities, traffic can be a huge problem. In Atlanta, my commute was almost over an hour each way to my job in midtown. I loved what I did, but the treacherous commute was a drain. 

Also, I wanted to have more autonomy, and work where I felt the most productive. It was hard to focus at work because I was consistently dealing with distractions whether it be co-workers or phone calls from clients. I knew that this was a major part of the job, and respected it as such.

However, I felt I needed an escape and a working environment that genuinely allowed me to focus. Every distraction made it challenging to get back in the groove (especially with the amount of writing work that I was doing). After a conversation with a colleague about her freelance writing side business, I was hooked and wanted to learn more.

3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?

After landing my first couple of freelance writing clients, I knew that I could support myself and my family. So, I left my full-time job to pursue freelancing full-time. In the beginning, it was definitely an adjustment. 

I was still on 9-to-5 mode, and it was hard to drop that feeling. I was putting pressure on myself to still work at normal business hours, constantly check my email, and feel like I had to always be “on.” Also, the initial isolation of going from being around colleagues who were across the hallway to working alone was a shock. 

However, after a couple of months, I got into a good rhythm and flow. Now, I get the opportunity to choose when I interact with others, and how I work. I still keep normal business hours, but I am embracing the flexibility of working from home more than I did in the beginning.

4. How did you find remote working roles?

Ultimately, I ended up choosing to freelance over full-time remote work. I did this because I wanted a bit more flexibility in my schedule. If I needed to take off to go to the doctor, take my dog to the vet, or take a small vacation, I wanted the ability to do this without having to deal with allocating sick or vacation time. 

I find many of my freelance clients using LinkedIn, Upwork, Indeed.com, and Twitter. Social media has definitely been helpful for getting in touch with potential clients. I have been blessed to find steady work. However, I am always seeking new clients and open to discussing how I can help make a company’s content more engaging, and attractive.

5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?

The Best 
Having the opportunity to truly work flexibly. I can work at a library, coffee shop, cowork facility, or at home. I also get the chance to choose when I want to socialize and ensure that this aspect doesn’t negatively impact my productivity, which happened when I was working in an office. 

The Good 
The money I save on buying lunch for work, work clothes, and gas 💵. Atlanta has one of the most chaotic commutes in the country. This meant that I was spending a lot of money on gas each month, even though I have a very small car. So, I am excited that I get to save on the typical costs that come with working outside of the home. 

The Bad
I would say isolation. It has been an adjustment to not have someone in a cubicle next to me to speak with. While I do enjoy the solitude, it can be draining. As a result, I have had to force myself to get out there and meet others. Now, I regularly meet with the “Atlanta Ladies Who Work Remote” group, and I try to meet with a friend at least once a week.

6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?

It would have to be: 

  • Asana for my day-to-day project scheduling. 
  • Wave App and Paypal for invoicing and receiving payment from clients. 
  • Google Docs for collaborating on content with clients. 
  • Grammarly for editing my content. 
  • Hootsuite and Later.com to schedule my Twitter and Instagram posting respectively. 
  • And last, but surely not least, Canva for my graphic design needs. 

Questions like this always strike me because it is so easy to forget about the tools you use on a regular basis. I have gotten into such a rhythm, that it is almost weird to think about the tools that help me do what I do each day. 

So, if you are thinking of remote work of any kind, be sure to invest in the right tools. They will definitely improve your workday and allow you to thrive in the work you do.

7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.

I will never forget the first time a client sought me out. I was in California on vacation and I get this email from a company I knew pretty well. They wanted me to handle some writing projects for them, which I was excited about anyway.

However, when they told me how they found me, I was stunned. I write for a company that deals with subject matter that is relevant to the type of content the client wanted me to produce. So, they literally searched for the topic, found an article I had written, and then reached out to me. I was shocked, elated, and excited that someone found me that way and that the content I produced led someone to reach out to me 😎.

It goes to show, the more content or projects you produce, the easier time your clients will have seeking you out. There are people out there who need what you offer, help them find you by creating content.

8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?

First, I would advise them to find their tribe. You are going to have those moments where you feel isolated and like no one truly understands the challenges you face as a remote worker. So, whether it is a Slack group, Whatsapp chat group, or an in-person crew, find people who are doing what you are doing. 

Second, find tools that will make your life easier. We are lucky to live during a time when so many things can be automated. Take stock of what you do on a daily basis, and see what you can automate. You will thank yourself as you move throughout your day. 

Third, be patient with yourself. Rome was not built in a day, and it will take you some time to adjust. For many, remote work is an entirely new concept that many people are still trying to figure out. So, don’t be discouraged with yourself if you are still learning how to make this arrangement work. Find your normal, and you will then develop your own rhythm.

9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?

I am definitely excited about the future. While I love freelance writing, and it will likely always be a part of my career mix, I also want to pursue a few other things that are a passion of mine. I have a huge love of photography, so I am looking to get into stock photography.

I am also working on an e-book that is meant to help professionals transition from the 9-to-5 work life to freelancing/working remotely. So, be sure to be on the lookout for that at my website in mid-January 2020 😃. Between those three things, and some business ventures my husband and I are looking to develop, there is a lot coming our way in 2020 and beyond.

I am grateful that I live in a time where businesses can be started anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection. So, I plan to take full advantage of that as the years go on.

10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?

I definitely feel that it is going to become more commonplace. At some point, for many positions, it will be expected that there is a remote work option. As urban centers become more expensive to live in, and suburban and rural areas become more attractive, it will be essential for companies to offer more options for work flexibility. 

Also, the up-and-coming Gen Z group has never known a world without high-speed internet or flexible work arrangements. As they enter the workforce, they will likely expect remote work to become the norm. 

Lastly, as remote work becomes the norm, more advanced collaboration tools will arise. Before we know it, technologies like VR offices, software automation, and cloud computing will take on an even more prominent role in how we work. Remote work and technology will continue to become synonymous with one another which will have wider implications for our professional and personal lives.

11. Where can we follow you on?

I am always sharing tips, resources, and advice related to remote work and freelancing. I can be followed with the tag @Chanell_Alex1 on both Instagram and Twitter. I also share my insights on freelancing and entrepreneurship on my website: www.chanellalex.com

Are you a remote worker too?
Would you like to share you story?
Just reach us at hrishikesh@remote.tools!

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