A lot of freelancers today would be wise to expand their offerings beyond their local communities. Today’s technology enables you to offer your products and services to a whole new group of customers. Thing is, working remotely can be complicated if you’re not used to it!
Remote work myths.
I have been working remotely for over ten years. It is absolutely possible to work in Toronto and have clients in New York City. With today’s tools, as long as you have a high-speed connection, and the right mindset, you can work for anyone, worldwide.
Here’s the thing though: not everyone believes that a true connection can be made remotely. They come up with excuses that it’s too hard to organize projects with other people online, and that it’s too hard (or too impersonal) to conduct meetings remotely.
You will absolutely run across people who doubt that remote freelancing is possible, but those people shouldn’t be your clients. It’s that simple. There’s a growing desire out there for remote services, whether it be graphic artists, accountants, or almost any service professional. So, you can either spend your energy converting people who are doubtful, or you can target people are ready to work with you.
Another myth is that you won’t get the work done because there are too many distractions at home. Have you ever worked in an office with cubicles? Then, you know that there are just as many distractions in a roomful of colleagues than in a home with a cat. Again, this is largely a personality-based decision. Some people are totally fine working in crowded coffee shops! Nevermind the naysayers and let your own personality dictate how you prefer to work.
Expand your network.
If you want to work remotely, then you’ve gotta start telling people that you’re available as a remote freelancer. Word of mouth is really powerful, and while your local network might know that you’ve got your own business, they might not be aware that you’re available to work remotely.
Make it a point to make that super obvious. Post it on Facebook, let people know on Twitter. Tell your local circles that you’re all setup to help clients internationally. This way, if one of your local clients has a friend in a different city that needs your services, they’ll recommend you!
You can also expand your network through digital marketing. Whether it’s SEO or advertising, growing FB groups, a YouTube channel or a Twitter feed, there are all sorts of ways to reach out to, and get noticed by, a whole new clientele that isn’t only local to you.
Get the right apps.
When it comes to apps for remote work, there are a whole slew of articles that recommend what apps to use for your business. Thing is, some of these apps might not work for YOU. Personally, I really enjoy using Google’s suite of products, including their Drive for shared folders with clients. I like their docs and sheets because I use them from my desktop and mobile computers. I can even compose articles on my phone through Google Docs.
When it comes to productivity, some people enjoy Trello, others like Basecamp. Some like JIRA, others like Github’s products. When it comes to choosing apps for your freelance business, take note of HOW you work, as well as your client’s tolerances for technology. Don’t try to use something just because it’s popular, especially if it’ll knock your productivity down a notch, or if it’s hard to get your clients on board. Research the apps you need and pick something that fits you best.
It takes a change of mentality.
If you’re used to working a job in an office, or if you’ve always just worked with local clients, working remotely means thinking beyond your local culture. It means answering emails in a timely manner. It means considering different time zones.
I find that remote work is more of a lifestyle than anything else. And, it might not be for everyone. You’ll need to be super organized in order to do it well.
When you work remotely, a lot of what you do will be done in writing. Whether it’s composing emails, or chatting with clients online, or managing sub-contractors, you’ll want to practice expressing yourself clearly. Nothing wastes more time than a poorly written email with unclear expectations.
The more you’re juggling clients, and the larger you expand your network, the clearer and more efficient you need to be. Be sure to upgrade your writing skills accordingly!
Better work/life balance.
If you’ve made the plunge to remote work, then great! By cutting out a commute, you’ve freed up a bunch of time in your day. Thing is, it’s easy to overwork. Once you’ve setup your home office, you’ll likely feel more productive than ever.
However, careful not to overdo it. Instead of working the extra hours, consider spending more time outside. Or playing with your kids. Or picking up a new hobby. Remote workers enjoy more sunlight hours in the summertime, so take advantage of that!
Whatever you do, the choice to work from home is a very personal one. Make sure it fits your personality just right. Some people just work better in bland office spaces. And some people have no desire to expand their business beyond their local network. And while remote work is finally more socially acceptable, don’t do it ’cause it’s cool. Do it because it’s a perfect fit for how you work.