WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Living the Remote Dream

Thursday, July 2, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET

Let's face it. Working from a home office opens up all kinds of benefits. But living the dream, peaking out performance and avoiding distractions can be challenging. Until now.

Join Darren Murph, author of Living the Remote Dream, in this month's webinar offering actionable advice for becoming more productive and efficient when working from home. You’ll learn how to cut out the distractions and communicate over cold mediums, and create a reputation for your “remote” self that speaks volumes and wins. You’ll learn how to stand out from the pack with tips and tricks to seriously up your game.

In this webinar you’ll learn…

— How to transition to the home office
— Secret tools to maximize productivity
— Trends to make the case for remote work
— Tips and tricks to up your game

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.






Video Transcription

Kate: Alright, welcome everybody. Thank you so much for joining us today! My name is Kate, I’m with WriterAccess. I'm just going in there really quick introduction and then hand this over to the speakers. This Webinar is called ‘Living the Remote Dream’, with Byron White, at WriterAccess and Darren Murph, author, blogger, and great speaker. We’re happy to have you both here!

 

Darren: Thanks, it’s good to be here!

 

Kate: Just some quick housekeeping notes, this webinar is being recorded. You can look for an email from Byron with the recording and slides this afternoon. We’ve got about 15 minutes for Q&A at the end, which is awesome! So you can submit your questions throughout, using the control box, I’ll be keeping track of those, and we’ll go through all of your questions at the end. You can also join us on Twitter, #livingremote. You can screenshot your favorite slides or share some quotes. You can also use our Twitter handle through our speakers, which you can see here. So, Byron White, he is an author, speaker, radio show host, he’s actually quite impressive! He’s the founder of WriterAccess. I’ll let him say ‘Hello’.

 

Byron: Welcome everybody! First of all, it’s great to have Kate on board! Kate will be taking over out event management and marketing efforts here at WriterAccess, and also Content Marketing Conference. We stole her away from WordStream and she was working with Larry Kim, who many of you may know, he was a speaker at Content Marketing Conference and is an amazing guy! And we’re super excited to have her on board. And I’m happy to be talking about ‘The Dream’ once again with Darren! Darren it’s great to have you here today!

 

Darren: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

Byron: Darren and I conducted an interview over on ‘Life Tips’, a radio show that I’ve been hosting for almost 10 years now, strangely enough. We're approaching the 300 podcast mark over at ‘Life Tips’. Some of you that are listening in that are regulars may not know that, but you can to lifetips.com and click on podcast and actually hear the interview that’s now up and live over at ‘Life Tips’, that I recorded few weeks ago with Darren. And it’s funny, Darren is, I believe, the first guest that I’ve had from ‘Life Tips’ over to the WriterAccess webinar series. So Hats off to Darren for really giving a great interview up for the ‘Life Tips’ fans, I was so impressed. I thought his insights would really bode well for the WriterAccess community, both the customers, many of which work remotely and have challenges with managing projects and time, and writers of course, probably 99% of our writers are at least working remotely when they complete work. I just wanted to really give this brief introduction to Darren, it’s his content that you’re here to read today, not my thoughts on it. But, I’m going to have some groovy questions for Darren at the end of his presentation. So without further ado, Darren over to you and welcome to the WriterAccess Community.

 

Darren: Thank you so much Byron, I really appreciate that introduction. I’ll do my best to live up to it. I’m happy to be a pioneer over on the webinar-side and I’m going to tell everybody here a bit about my background with the intro of my slide. So I guess we’re about ready to begin!

 

Kate: Yes, I’m going to hand the controls over to you Darren. You can share-screen and jump right in. And, also I’m going to let you guys know I’m going to put that ‘Life Tips’ URL in so you can check out that podcast that’s in your chat box right there. So you can get the full interview there. And without further ado, Darren take it away!

 

Darren: Cool, thanks so much! Again everybody, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to tune in to this webinar! It’s much appreciate it, I know just how valuable an hour is in the life of a writer. I’ve been there for very long time, so I get it. I appreciate it and I and I hope that everybody finds this useful and applicable in some way. So, let’s start with some background! Who is this guy? Why am I listening to him? And what does he know about anything? So, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my story. I spent almost 8 years at Engadget. I came on to Engadget when it was a tiny tech publication. We only had about 5 or 6 people, this was in ’06 and really the blogging career as it were, had just begun. And so, I got in really early. I just had a feeling that there was something there. I was making almost nothing, but I loved the content, I loved the subject matter, and I loved the reaction from readers who were taking part. And it most certainly trumped the cubicle day job that I was going to every day, working on spreadsheets day after day after day. It was a lot more exciting than that and so I stuck it out, I wrote a lot in my nights and weekends. Eventually it came to a point to where decided, I’m just going to try this full time! I freelanced for a while and then I became a full time staff member at Engadget, eventually becoming managing editor. Along that road, I actually earned the title of Guinness World Record, The Planet’s Most Prolific Professional Blogger, which is a fancy way of saying I was really determined about writing. Over the course of 4 years I wrote, over 70,000 articles for Engadget and it breaks down to an article every 2 hours for 365 days a year, for 4 straight years. It’s difficult for me to even comprehend that. Now, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it again and I don’t know it I recommend it, but that’s shows that if you find something you really love and you find content that is appealing and you’re really passionate about you really can make a difference. You can hone your skills and get better and fast. That’s what this webinar is about today.

 

So, ‘Living the Remote Dream’, is actually based on a book that I just put out on Amazon. There’s a Kindle version and a hard copy version. The reason why I wrote this book, it was during my time at Engadget and I was frantically writing and trying to manage staff, train staff, and vet stories, and I really didn’t have time to write a book or I didn’t want to make time to write a book. But along that path, a lot of people asked me, ‘hey man can you put in book form the tips and tricks that you use to be quicker, more productive, and more focused and things like that?’ And so, I was hearing this along the way and sort of mentally putting it in the back of my head.

 

Once I left Engadget in the fall of ’13 I said, well it’s now or never. I finally have something of a low in my life. I’m going to start putting together some ideas on how to put this into book form. I also wanted to encapsulate some of the craziness that went on during those 8 years at Engadget. Because, what the writing world, as it applies to the internet, really changed a lot. When I started writing, the original iPhone didn’t even exist. So things have obviously transformed quite significantly since then. The book itself is part auto biography. Anybody that’s worked in writing or remotely will probably be able to relate to some of the stories that I’ve lived through; some of the crazy hours you have to pull to get things done for clients. And then, it’s a part how-to guide on pivoting to a remote career. I’ve met a lot of people that have seen what I’ve done and they think, ‘Man, why am I doing this daily commute every day? There’s got to be a better way. Perhaps there’s a career that is open to working remotely and I would like it.’ Obviously not every role and career is open for remote work, manufacturing is a good example that’s probably never going to go remote. But maybe there is something. A lot of people are looking for a good reasons to enhance their career, but also find more time for family and soul searching and things like that. So, that’s what I put this book together for. And that’s what I’m going to touch on today. 

 

Byron asked me to highlight some of the tips and tricks I had and pull those from the book in this webinar. So that’s what I’m going to do here for the next couple of slides.

 

It all starts with adapting the home office, and so, if you’re coming from a cubicle environment, which is very structured, and where there are usually doors involved or somewhat of privacy, there’s some sort of structure involved, that doesn’t really exist in the home office.  If your office changes from day to day, maybe it’s an airport one day, maybe it’s the middle seat in isle 36, and maybe it’s your home another day, and maybe it’s a coffee shop another day. These things can change a lot and it’s actually quite a challenge for remote workers. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, these folks have it easy! They can just work anywhere’, but the truth is, when you work ‘anywhere’ there’s a lot of things that are in constant flux. So what I found really useful was to create house rules and to establish hours exactly like a typical office set-up. A good example is, when I’m home and I’m in my “office”, it doesn’t have to look like an office, it can be a nook in the kitchen, or in your bedroom, or what-have-you, but it’s your dedicated home office, it’s good to set up rules and boundaries with your family and friends. When you’re in that space you’re actually at work, it’s not like you’re in a place where you can goof off or break away from work, or what-have-you. It’s a distraction-free zone and the folks that live with you or around you need to really be in tune with that. If no, you’ll get over-rammed with distractions and it will quickly get out of hand. I know a few people that, for whatever reason they just can’t have that at home. It just never seems to work, it’s always breaking down and I really recommend, if you’re in that situation, consider a co-working space. There are tons of co-working spaces in almost every major city in America.  They are just amazing places to go because you get some sort of structure and somewhat of privacy, but in addition to that, everybody that shows up to a co-working space is kind of in the same boat and most of these people are freelancing to some degree, looking for different projects, looking to meet people that have good leads. If you end up being one of those people it ends up being a fantastic networking place, you can meet a lot of people with the same mind-set and a lot of people that are looking for work and have leads on work that you can’t exactly find at home just scrolling through LinkedIn. So even if your home office I working out okay, consider a co-working space if you’re looking to expand your portfolio.

 

Peace and quiet, this is more important than a lot of people give credit to.  There’s a couple of scientific studies that I love and I mention in the book that prove that long uninterrupted periods of time are absolutely critical for maximum productivity. If you can set aside a 4-hour block, say from 8 to noon every day that is completely distraction-free, you close your email, you close your notifications, and you are just going to plow through work. It is truly amazing what can happen and the reason why it’s so amazing is that our culture has become one that invites distraction. We invite notifications when we have an app saying, ‘Hey can I send you push notifications?’ our default is to hit yes instead of no and over time those things have crept in to create just a gauntlet of distractions. One thing that I recommend is to email and notifications in batches. So maybe, every 3 hours you have a notification come up, so then you can do email for 15 or 20 minutes and then you go back to work. Then at the end of the day you do a large batch to take care of everything else. Now obviously this doesn’t work for everybody, but if you look for areas in your work flow where you can push things aside so that you can do it in chunks and batches, instead of 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there, I think you’ll be a lot better off. Cut the chit-chat is a good way of saying ‘Don’t let easy distractions seep in.” So if you’ve got a few minutes here and there it’s pretty easy to hop on Twitter or Facebook and kill those minutes, but the chit-chat can actually be a detriment over the course of a day, and a week, and a year. That adds up.

 

One thing that I’ve loved when I was working at Engadget was to put myself in the hot seat all the time. This pressure-cooker mentality is sort of a challenge to yourself that every day when you get to work put yourself in a position where the deadline is actually sooner than it really is. This is more of a mind-game than anything else, but I tended to work better under pressure. If I think that the heat is on and I have to have something by a certain time you let everything else fall to the wayside and whatever it takes to get the task at hand done is top priority. If you do that task to task and project to project you’ll save 30 minutes here, an hour here, over the course of a year it really add up. It can get you more projects and it looks good on the other end, when you deliver anything to a client that’s ahead of time and is high-quality. It puts you in an upper echelon in terms of deliverables.

 

There’s a chapter in my book titled ‘Focus and Productivity’ and believe it or not I dedicated an entire chapter to it. It just matters so very much in terms of taking on more projects, doing more than you think you’re capable of and increasing revenue, especially in the life of a freelancer. It’s usually pretty simple, if you can take on more work you can make more money. And, there are but so many ways to take on work without farming things out to your friends. I really leaned on topics I was passionate about. So when I’m looking for a job, try to find something that you’re interested in, something that you’re familiar with, something that you have a passion about or you’re an expert in because you’re going to be excited to work on those projects and you’re going to plow through them. It’s not like you’re going to dread them or waste time thinking about how you should approach them. It’s going to come out natural, and anything that comes out natural will get done more quickly. On the other side of that, you will need to learn new passions. For example, when I was at Engadget, there came a time where we decided we’re going to cover science topics. We had largely been a consumer electronics publication and then we said, ‘Well our readers are interested in knowing how science impacts the technologies that they’re using every day.’ I remember getting assigned this article about some incredibly difficult to pronounce chemical that was being experimented on to make batteries last longer and less likely to explode. There were actually quite a few years where laptop batteries and portable media player batteries were overheating and exploding. I remember looking at that article and thinking, ‘I know absolutely nothing about the scientific makeup of this chemical and I have no idea how this actually applies to real life. It’s going to take at least an hour or two just to research before I can start working on distilling it down for our readership.’ So there’s a couple of ways you can look at something like that, you can dread it, you can put it off, you can try to find something else, you can waste time not doing what you’re eventually going to have to do, or you can see it as a challenge, jump on it immediately and don’t waste any time diving into it and leading something new. That’s what I did and sure enough it didn’t take long before I was sort of the go-to science guy of the team, because people knew, ‘Oh year Darren will take these science articles without any lip so we’ll give him the science articles.’ If you’re working on a freelance basis being given a story is sort of the icing on the cake. You don’t have to pitch the story, you don’t have to wait for it to get approved, and it comes to you! And so, things like this that you’re willing to do and learn and others aren’t it usually works out pretty good for you.

 

The only improvement goal, this is a cliché type of thing you know, make goals for yourself. Set small goals, baby steps things like that. It truly, truly makes a difference! Especially in the freelance world. Saving 5 minutes or 10 minutes are an improvement of finishing an article 5% faster than you were able to a month before. Those small gains over the course of a career are absolutely huge and most people don’t really do a great job at setting improvement goals. They sort of take it as they come and whatever happens happens. If you put yourself in the shoes of someone that is going to set goals you’re automatically going to be the upper echelon of writers and it will show to clients, it makes a difference. There’s an old saying that’s like ‘80% is just showing up’ and this sort of applies to this, 80% of being the upper echelon is just looking for small improvement goals. You don’t have to make vast sweeping changes, just small goals, step-by-step, it really does add up.

 

Streamlining is another major topic; life is crazy and it’s really easy to let clutter and small things add up and before you know it you’re committed to so many small things that it’s really hard to just focus on everyday projects and work that you’re passionate about. What I recommend is to try and zero out your to-do list on a daily basis. This is obviously easier said than done, some projects take a lot longer than others. But, I have a to-do list that is just a 24-hour list and then one that is for a weekly or monthly type project. That 24-hour list is the one I focus on the most. If I have to go to bed and something is still on my 24-hours list it really bothers me. You get to the point to where you are that person, you won’t have too many evenings where you go to bed if something on that list. It just eats at you and you just got to figure out a way to get it done. And again, this goes back to almost playing mind games with yourself, putting the pressure on yourself even if it isn’t really pressure in reality because you always want to be ahead of that to-do list. Because trust me, life is going to throw some things that you won’t anticipate being on that to-do list. The cooler it is, the easier it is to deal with balls coming out of left field.

 

Commit to only what you can achieve, this for me when I was at Engadget I wore a lot of hats and took on a lot of things and I knew the end of my step there, burn out was definitely a factor. I had tried to train too many people at once while maintaining a good clip on putting content up and managing a lot of different processes and sleep, fitness, and health all of that started to fall out wayside. With that productivity gains were actually lost. It is good to take on more as a challenge, but it’s also good to pace yourself and not burn yourself out. It takes a while to recover from that kind of burn out.

 

I love the statement, ‘If you aren’t playing you’re working’, and if you keep this mindset it will really keep you focused. If you wake up and you say, ‘Okay, I have 8 hours to work today’. Well maybe you’ll get through all of it in 7 hours and then you’re playing, so if you’re not working you’re playing, if you aren’t playing you’re working. If you keep that mentality it gives good motivation to get through things without playing around.

 

The little things that make all of the difference. The devils in the detail and all of those other clichés are absolutely spot on. If you make minor time savings, minor gains in efficiency and productivity over the course of a year or a career it’s going to make a huge difference. This like keyboard shortcuts are such an incredibly nerdy thing to learn about, but they save tons of time over the course of a workday. If you work in Photoshop or any of the Adobe products there are infographics out there that have every keyboard shortcut possible on one image and they’re amazing to print out and just keep nearby. When you learn those and you map your mind to those you’ll save a lot of time, from clicking around and things like that. Same goes for a lot of CMSs and other word processing systems. Keyboard shortcuts are just a great example of something that seems so incredibly minor, you’ll only save a second here and 2 seconds there but they add up. At least for me they add up. Leverage apps and software to make your life easier. There’s an incredible application for Mac called Alfred, which is basically the spotlight function but on steroids. It looks into everything in your system, just a quick keyboard toggle will allow you to search for something and you can pull up emails, documents, dates, old calendar appointments, and anything you need to jog your memory and pull something up quickly. It essentially works as an extension of your brain and it’s better than having to dig through something, sort through something, and waste minutes and hours looking for old items, apps and software can do a lot of that thinking for you. There are plenty of websites out there that recommend great productivity software, if you haven’t dove into that I would highly recommend it. A lot of those apps are loaded and are worth the investment and time.

 

Read other great writing. I’m assuming most of those listening in on this webinar are writers. So if you’re a writer you’re also a reader and I think one of the things that helped me the most during Engadget was that I was forced to read all of my rival sites. So Gizmodo, The Verge, and TechCrunch and all of that. I read them on a daily basis religiously and I invested a lot of time in reading. Over the course of many years you’d figure out who are great writers and writers that you’re passionate about, and they create content that you love. It the same time that you’re reading that you really start to soak in some things and that they do and you can apply that to your own writing. Even something as simple as reading the free dictionary’s word of the day, which sounds incredibly minor, but I can’t tell you how many words over the course of eight years you pick up and add to your vocabulary to make your writing stronger. The first day or two might not make that much of a difference, but at the end of the year you’ve learned over 300 new words and how to use them and that makes a difference and it stands out. Something like expanding your vocabulary as a writer definitely makes a difference when you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of other writers trying to get the same project.

 

Another chapter in my book is entitled ‘Nonlinear Workday’ and this is probably my favorite chapter in the book just because it’s the ultimate luxury, I think when you’re working remotely, that you aren’t stricken to a 9 to 5, the actual hours on the clock. When we think about it, 8 hours, those numbers are really meaningless, I mean a 9 to 5 of EST is not 9 to 5 in London or Asia or anywhere else. A lot of this is just structure that’s been put in place by society to make things operate more smoothly, but if you don’t have to be confined by that, life gets a lot more interesting. In the book I made mention of a specific day where I get up at 5 or 6 am and I plow through a few hours of work and then once it’s daylight I’ll go out and take a hike, or go skiing, or go see some friends of the family, just something that’s great to do during daylight hours, which most people don’t have the luxury of doing because they spend most of their daylight hours locked in a cubicle. Then later in the evening you can come back and plow through work, while most people are out trying to enjoy the few hours that they do have. You can come back refreshed and revived and ready to go, so this is almost like flipping the workday or inverting the workday. I find it great! Being able to get outside while there is daylight is a great luxury. If you’re able to work remotely and you’re able to set your own hours, definitely take advantage of it. If nothing else, I think it really makes a difference in how refreshed your soul is. A lot of people, especially when daylight savings time hasn’t kicked in, they’ll get off work at 6pm and it’s already dark. If you ask people and they’re honest with you, it really bums them out. So, having the ability you should definitely take advantage of that.

 

I do spend one chapter in the book talking about tools that I use, a lot of what I talk about is making small gains and focus on productivity and setting up your workflow to be the most efficient possible. But, it’s true that what you have in terms of hardware does make a difference. I definitely advise people to spend money on good, fast hardware. If your computer can’t keep up with your brain then that’s a boat wreck, and so the best computer you can buy I know that sounds really simple but something it makes a big difference. I remember the first time I bought a laptop and it had a solid state drive over a hard drive, it was night and day difference unbelievable speed improvement, a total game changer.  So things like that, having access to good equipment definitely helps.

 

Mobile data connection is huge, most mobile plans these days will support tethering, so if you have a smart phone with a data plan, that can act as a portable hotspot, but I actually have a Verizon hotspot, which does nothing but that and the battery will last almost all day. If you’re a remote worker and you’re a writer and you can’t file without an internet connection so having one on you at all times and being able to take advantage of that is a big deal. Especially if you’re working from a place like a coffee shop where maybe the Wi-Fi is intermittent. Having your own as a backup connection is a big deal.  One thing I really recommend is to over-organize and label. What I use is Google Drive so I keep all of my old documents there, from old bills to old client projects and everything in between on Google Drive and everything is labelled, everything is in a folder, everything is tagged. I know just hearing that come out of my mouth sounds like an incredibly daunting task, but the truth is, if you start today, it’s not that hard. These things aren’t really hard to do in real time they’re just really difficult to go back in time and relabel, resort, and refile So if you don’t have time to go back it’s totally understandable, but starting today keeping things organized makes tools like Alfred that much more useful. If you put in the labels now they’ll be easy to find later and again over the course of a year in a career in makes a big difference.

 

So Byron also asked me to talk about marketing yourself because one of the challenges when you work remotely and you don’t have a face to face connection with some of the clients you are working with, is standing out of even seeming like a human instead of a number or a robot. I’ve spent my entire career based in North Carolina and even though Engadget was co-headquartered in New York and San Francisco I would only go to those offices once a month or so. You have to really put yourself out there and strive to be communicative if you want to seem like an actual person that has an actual relationship with colleagues and co-workers. This is another thing that gets overlooked by people that, ‘Oh remote workers they have it made’. But, you actually have to put in a lot more effort than the typical office dweller when it comes to just building relationships and keeping yourself marketable.

 

LinkedIn is the new resume, it has been for a very long time, and almost no one will hire a freelancer without looking at their LinkedIn page. So, like it or not, it’s a big deal. It needs to be concise, it needs to be thorough, and you do need to invest time in making sure that your key projects are listed there. A great headshot goes a long way, again like it or not first impressions really matter and photos do a good job of just how professional or serious you are. So, a selfie is easy to take, but a selfie probably isn’t going to get you a major job with a major client. Even something as simple as finding a studio nearby, one that does professional headshots can dramatically improve your marketability. I look at LinkedIn 3 to 4 times a day either on my phone or on the website, mostly because, once you connect with a lot of people you basically see a steady stream of either job opportunities, people have changed jobs, or people are looking for this freelance person or a recruiter is looking for this and if you aren’t there and you aren’t working at it, you’re going to miss it. It works a lot like Twitter in that way where if you aren’t looking at the stream, you’re going to miss out. I would recommend connecting with trusted recruiters. Ask around, look at recommendations, a lot of recruiters are on LinkedIn and a lot of them want freelance workers to come on and handle projects here and there. It’s actually an amazing tool. Before LinkedIn finding these jobs was an incredible chore and now the entire world is at your fingertips. You’re able to connect with people and so, LinkedIn is like a digital co-working space and if LinkedIn is not working out that’s why I recommended going to a co-working space and start some of those relationships face to face.

 

The last suggestion here is, start with why, not what or how. If you actually Google that line it will bring up a TedTalk from a few years ago that is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It effectively says, ‘The best marketing starts with why, and not knowing people what someone can do or how someone can do it.’ The case study is Apple. Apple usually starts with why they have decided to build a product. When they introduced the Apple watch they started with ‘Why we felt like we should build it’, not how many megabytes of ram is in it or what it can help you do. They wanted you to know why the people inside the company did a certain thing and that seems really subtle, but it makes a huge difference. You meet somebody for the first time and you tell them why you’re passionate about something, why you do what you do it makes a much bigger impression than if you say, ‘Hey this is what I do’, or ‘This is how I do things.’

 

Nothing without soul, so this goes back to using your daylight hours for something other than just work all the time. I have definitely found that creativity is best found outside of the office. I’ll have projects that have complicated deadlines and complicated structures that I’ve got to figure out and more often than not, if I go take a long walk with my dog the answers will come there vs. starring at my keyboard and slamming my face into my desk, which usually doesn’t work out too well. And it’s amazing that in society that’s not really encouraged, in an office setting usually what you’ll get is they’ll send people together for what they call a brain storm and suck half an hour away from everybody. They just try and sit there and siphon ideas off of each everybody else in the room and in some cases that works okay, but getting outside, finding a place to clear your head, it really does wonders for solving complicated projects and coming up with fresh ideas, especially when it comes to new story ideas to pitch or new approaches to current projects. Investing in your health is a major thing that I recommend and it’s a lot easier for remote workers to do this than office dwellers. If you go into an office every day you probably not going to have access to your own refrigerator and an oven, so what you’re left with is spending a lot of money on healthy food or eating unhealthy food. And again, over the course of year or a career something like that makes a major difference. Being able to cook for yourself invest in fitness, workout at home small things, but they really change the course of a day and if you focus on those types of things, you’ll start to realize just how lucky remote workers have it. It’s difficult for office dwellers to sneak out to the gym or go back home and cook.

 

Work to live, it’s yet another cliché, but it’s one that I’m really passionate about. If you put the time in now you get a lot of freedom later. At Engadget there would be some really intense months especially in January with the consumer electronics show, where everybody in the staff knew we were going to be working more hours than we should, really. We would lose a little bit of our sanity, but if you plow through projects and you over-deliver it does buy you some time. It gives you a little bit of breathing room over the backside of it. What I found best for me is to grab something maybe a little bigger and bit off a little more than I can chew and then just plow through it. Then you get one or two days on the backside of that where you can just take a breather and you can afford to blow off some steam. I definitely don’t recommend going sleepless or recharging whenever possible, definitely on a macro scale, if it happens a couple of times a week that’s alright, sometimes you have huge projects and you got to do what you got to do. But again, like I said, it can definitely lead to burnout and as a freelancer, that’s not a place where you want to be. Creativity is so critical that if you don’t have enough sleep or rest those amazing ideas aren’t likely to come up.

 

The bucket list, so how about a little bit of fun here. They made a movie about the bucket list and people reference the book like it’s some crazy ideological type of thing, but really, what’s stopping you from creating a bucket list immediately after this webinar? You can probably think of 10 things you really want to do, places you really want to go, or charities you really want to help, and in 5 minutes you can have this list started. A lot of people talk about a bucket list, it’s something they’re going to do when they retire, or later, or now is not the right time. You know what I found? That there’s never a great time to travel or create a bucket list or do things other than what is necessary day to day to make ends meet. So you just have to do it! You just have to force it into life and it’s amazing how well that works if you do that. If you say, ‘Look, I’m going to establish this list, I’m going to make some goals for myself,’ you really have no choice but to figure out a way to accomplish them. It’s amazing what you can do, humans are incredibly adaptable. If you put these pressures and goals on yourself you’d be surprised what comes out of that. So, my wife and I have a bucket list, we’ve had since we were married and we’ve been knocking things off and we seem to add 3 or 4 for every 1 that we knock off, but honestly that’s how a bucket list should work. When you look back at it, it’s great that it keeps growing because every place you go or everything you do inspires you to want to do something else and that keeps the good times rolling. So, if you haven’t started a bucket list, as crazy as it sounds, you should start one! Then look at it on a weekly basis and ask yourself if you’re improving towards it. It works as pretty good motivation.

 

You choose what matters. In a freelance world, when you’re taking orders from clients a lot of times you feel like you don’t really have any choice in the matter. Your counsel may go in one ear and out the other and things like that, but there are some ways to take control of the situation, and any chance you get to do that I think is really powerful and keeps you going. A positive attitude is so essential, waking up every day excited about the work you’re going to do even if you aren’t really excited about it. It helps to learn new passions, helps broaden your horizons, and it keeps you from being stagnant. By doing more than what’s required, maybe turning in a project 2 days early, or just going above and beyond in any small way. It makes a huge difference, good help is really hard to find, good creatives are actually really hard to find, and good writers is really hard to find. If you put in more effort in your craft now than the average writer, it will definitely show.

 

Reliability is so critical, it’s a lot rarer than you’d think. To say, I’m going to turn this project two days early, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and actually do it. Mostly because, life gets so crazy that sometimes there are things that throw a wrench in the works and mess you up. But, if you keep your to-do list clearing out daily you’ll have more flexibility in dealing with those things and maintaining good reliability, it goes a long way. A lot of times when I hear back from clients on a project the one thing that sticks with them after the project is done is whether or not you were reliable and whether or not you delivered on time and up to their expectations.

 

Remote transition. So, I’m assuming most of the people on this webinar have already made the remote transition or are already looking remotely, but if you have a full time job and you’re also supplementing remote work on the side, there’s a couple of chapters in the book that focus on transitioning from an office job to a remote situation. It actually is possible. A lot of times people will take a job in an office and then immediately assume, ‘I’m locked in this office forever.’ But, while I was working for Engadget in their earlier years, I was freelancing Engadget, but I was working a FT job at a telecomm company where I had to go in on a daily basis and mess with spreadsheets all day. It wasn’t the most embroiling job, but it did the trick for a time. But after a few months there I started to think, ‘You know, all I do every day here is show up, turn this computer on and work on spreadsheets and in theory, I can do this from anywhere. We’re a telecomm company and we understand the internet.’ So, once I built up a decent rapport with my manager I was able to bring this up to him and say, ‘Hey, a couple of days a week, would you mind if I do my job from home? I’m happy to put in even an extra hour because I spend at least an hour commuting so it’s kind of a win/win. You get an extra hour out of me, I get to work from a place I’m comfortable and we can see how it goes.’ And so, that’s how it started, ‘Yeah, sure. Take Fridays, work from home and we’ll see how it goes.’ If you take Friday to work from home and just completely blow everything off manager will notice and it won’t work out too well for you. If you take that opportunity to get out of the office chit-chat, don’t play office politics, just focus on work you’ll actually over-do over on Friday, while everybody in the office is under-doing work, so that can work to your favor and so now you’ll get Thursday and Friday off, or Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off to work from home. There’s an entire chapter in there, if that’s you I hope that some of that proves useful and you don’t have to accept the status quo. A lot of jobs can be done remotely, it just takes the right person and the right attitude and the willingness to stay focused even when you’re outside of the office and no one is looking over you except for you. So with that, I will present you with a background of Byron Bay in Australia, as a tip to the hat to our wonderful host.

 

If you have any questions, or Byron, if you have any questions I’m all ears. Love to hear them.

 

Byron: Fantastic presentation, really great stuff. I have quite a few questions and then we’ll let Kate jump in with some of the questions that hopefully people have been chiming in with and asking. First of all, loved so many parts of the presentation, loved the pressure-cooker tip particularly. You know, putting yourself in the hot seat, great concept and great idea. I’ve done that over the years, almost oddly like a superstition or something. Like, if I don’t get this done today, then I’ll get in a car accident on the way home.

 

Darren: Absolutely!

 

Byron: So, no one pay attention to my bizarre nature there, but I was wondering, when you set those deadlines for yourself do you put consequences on yourself, like if you don’t finish and what might those consequences be?

 

Darren: Yeah, I do. A great example of this was, in Engadget there was a time where I was traveling to press events and conferences on a very regular basis and I had a routine 35 minute cab ride from my home to the airport. 35 minutes is not a ton of time, but in some ways it’s a lot of time, so what I told myself was, ‘Okay, every time I have this ride back or forward from the airport I’m going to crank out one Engadget post.’ So if you take like 60 of those trips per year, so 60 times whatever you’re getting paid for that article, that’s pretty hefty. So, I took that and I said, ‘Alright, this chunk of change is going to be my play money or my savings money,’ make it whatever you want. And if you don’t do that, at the end of the year, if you’re maintaining your budget then you don’t have that to invest in whatever it is that you want. It worked as great motivation for me. Whenever I got in the cab and I was like, ‘I really don’t feel like writing’, it’s like, ‘No that thing that I really want, that thing that I’m really working towards, that goal that I’m working towards will not be accomplished if I don’t knock these off one by one.’ It worked! It worked for me and everybody has something different that they’re working towards, maybe they have a child who wants something and they want to be able to save up and get it for them. So a lot of times it will always come down to money, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. The other consequence I would say is that, if you really take your daily to-do list seriously and that is one of the things on it, it will just eat at you because you never want to see something from Tuesday show up again on Wednesday. Because, what you’ll see happen is, life just sort of snowballs and if you leave something there longer than it should be you’ll get hit with something on Wednesday. Honestly, back to the superstition point, you might think, ‘Gosh, if I would have just knocked this out yesterday this thing on Wednesday probably would’ve never happened.’ It’s like fate it telling me to get on top of it so I don’t continue to snowball whatever these tasks are. So again, it all comes back to mental games, but the pressure-cooker works so well for me, it was probably what helped me increase productivity and focus the most. Because most people hate pressure and they’ll do anything to avoid putting themselves in a deadline situation, so if you go against that grain and you make everything a top priority and everything a pressure situation, inevitably you’re going to get through things faster. You want to get out from under that self-encouraged pressure as soon as possible

 

Byron: Great answer! Here’s a question about your ‘create house rules’, working from home can be lonely, particularly if you’re working all of the time from home without much interaction with people. As a result of this do you’d become more interested in social media and even human connection? Do you find yourself talking to the FedEx person for like 20 or 30 minutes because you’re lonely? Or do you find yourself scouting Facebook more frequently? And, is that a distraction that you need to be cognizant of particularly as you transition from the cubicle to the remote setting?  

 

Darren: Yeah, it can definitely be lonely. If you’re in that situation, where loneliness is actually a detriment to you getting work done my first recommendation would be to seek out a co-working space. That’s exactly what those were designed for, to bring creative minds that don’t want to work alone to a place where they don’t have to work alone. Once you’re in there, if you need 4 or 5 hours of privacy everyone will respect that. But, you’re around real human beings that all have a like mind and most of these are very minimal costs, because it’s a shared cost. Shared costs between hundreds of people that share the space. If a co-working space is too far away or you’re too remote or too rural to get into that, yeah absolutely, social is the next best thing. I mean, these are real friends, real connections on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s to your benefit to interact with these people and maintain a relationship with them exactly as if you were seeing them on a daily basis. Look at what they’re up to, see who has changed jobs, what projects they’re working on, catch up with them. The trick is to not let it become your whole day, so make sure it’s not chit-chat, make sure it’s actually relationship building. And, this is another thing I recommend doing in batches. It’s not really healthy to check in on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter every 5 minutes, between projects, or between paragraphs. That’s a great way to break your concentration and break your flow, but every couple of hours or if you just need a mental break from what you’re working on that’s a great time to batch that type of activity and it works pretty well. You can definitely keep in touch with people on those mediums, it goes a long way for relationship building and for eventual networking, even if you don’t need another project right now, you never know! Life is crazy and it doesn’t hurt to know as many people as possible.

 

Kate: Those are some great answers Darren and some great questions Byron. If you’re still there, we can’t hear you at this time.

 

Byron: Oh, yeah! Just one more question, I know that Kate has got some questions, but I got just one I’m going to sneak in. And, I’m sorry, I had my mute button pressed, just out of my protocol. My other question was, did you need an inner sense of accountability to be successful remotely and wouldn’t you acknowledge that some people are just less accountable than others? Or more accountable as the case may be. And, would you worry about people who are not driven by this sense of accountability working remotely? Do you say, ‘Okay you can start working from home now,’ would you be worried about that? Would you need to send them into a boot camp of accountability before they attempt working from home?  

 

Darren: You know, I think it’s like a total case by case basis. There are undoubtedly cases where if you let certain people roam free and work remotely they will take advantage of the situation, they’ll exploit it and they will blow off projects and do whatever they want. The truth is, I found that these things regulate themselves pretty quickly and pretty fairly. If you enable an employee to work from home and suddenly none of their projects get done 1 of 2 things are going to happen. You’re either going to bring them back into an office setting, I suggest that they go to a co-working space, or you part ways with them. It’s pretty easy to tell if someone is going to work. I think the biggest sign is, if you let someone work remotely and their productivity goes up, that is the person that you know is suited to work remotely. Because they have that innate sense of accountability and they put themselves in the pressure-cooker every day, they don’t need anyone watching over them. They are their own watch dog and most of this comes from the motivation of, ‘The faster I get this done and the higher quality I’m able to produce, the more free time I’m able to buy myself.’ And it’s almost like a daily transaction, where that is the reason why you push yourself further, because you want more time for yourself. In some ways it’s an extremely selfish transaction, but it’s a win/win. The person doing the work gets more time to spend with their family, or charity, or whatever it may be, and the person on the client side gets work that is timely, reliable, and it works both ways. You definitely need an innate sense of accountability. If you’re really the type of person who really only functions well when you’re being micromanaged, it’s going to be tough to transition remotely. Unless you are able to get a manager that, even on a remote basis, is highly communicative through IM, phone, or skype, or whatever that may be.

 

Byron: Loved it. My last question. I loved your slide ‘Nothing without soul’. By the way I’d love to see a picture of your dog in there as you mentioned. I think that would be a great background for you to tie that in.  My question is a conflict that I want you to address and you actually talk a lot about this notion about playing and working at the same time. Taking a break, and going for a hike or going for a walk or and then, Kamboom! The solution to the problem will hit you, but do you think that we should be cognizant of what’s going on there? We’re missing the continental divide, which I think you think is healthy, which is separating work from play. I worry that people who work remotely might become thinking about work all of the time, because they can’t separate the drive, the physical element of going to the office where they are going to get into the work mode and then of course the drive home, where you enter your side street when you’re like, ‘Ahh I’m done with all that.’ Can you talk about that distinction and how you should handle that?

 

Darren: Yeah, sure. I’ve actually learned this the hard way because honestly for remote workers the default is to just let work and life completely overlap and there really is no dissolution of work/life balance. In the book I actually mention an example, there were many years where I would go to family gathering for holidays or what have you, and I would be there in the flesh, but mentally I was not there at all. I was completely absorbed with projects coming in on my smartphone or texts or notifications or whatever because I didn’t have to leave and go to an office for that work to continue coming to me. So the default is, yes it can completely consume your life and over time it leads to burnout and that’s not really healthy. Strangely enough, you mentioned that commuting to a job and away from a job sort of acts as that transition period for a normal office dweller where within that commute period they know they can start shutting down and transitioning back into the person outside of work. I think for remote workers it can work exactly the opposite. If you wake up and you walk 3 ft to your computer and you start working, you are completely in work mode, but if you look up at a certain hour and you say, ‘Okay I need a mental break,’ and you commute out to a hiking train where you walk out to wherever you’re going to begin walking your dog, your actual physical move and commute to the activity which is not work, that is a mental break. Then when you come back, it switches that. The only difficulty there is, inside the home it’s really subtle. Maybe there’s a home office and a kitchen that are literally 5 steps from each other, how do you make sure the work doesn’t come from the home office to the kitchen? That just blows down to having a strong family structure and encouragement around that when you step out everybody knows you’re out and when you’re in, everybody respects that privacy. If it ever gets treated as the same it’s going to be difficult to separate them. So it comes down to the person making the choice that when you step away, you’re outside of it and it’s definitely easier said than done. I’ve missed many family gatherings being mentally absorbed into work and you just have to make the choice to not do that otherwise it will happen.

 

Byron: Kate over to you. Thank you so much Darren.

 

Kate: Awesome, so I have a ton of questions so I’ll do like a rapid fire for you. You mentioned your dog, I’m looking at him online, and Gangster, is that his name? What kind of dog is her?

 

Darren: That is right, my dog’s name is Gangster and he is half French bull dog and half Boston terrier. The gangster thing really came together when I visited Taiwan and there dressing up your dog is a major thing. They have entire clothing stores just for dogs. So I got him an outfit that really looked like an Al Capone when I was visiting and when I came back and put it on him, my wife got an amazing picture of him where it almost looks like he’s growling. He wasn’t growling, but it looked like he was because of the angle of the picture was just perfect. So he’s my little gangster and he’ll lick you to death if he sees you.

 

Kate: You should put that picture on Twitter, it sounds hilarious.

 

Darren: Yeah, I will definitely do that. I love showing him off, he’s a good guy.

 

Kate: You mentioned apps for saving time, can you tell us some of those apps that we could use?

 

Darren: Yes, so Alfred (as in Alfred Hitchcock) is the most powerful app that I can recommend. In terms of just finding things on your network drive or your computer, it is truly incredible what it can pick up and how fast it can pick it up. It’s great for referencing old projects and digging up old things that you forgot about 5 or 6 years ago. So Alfred is an amazing one. Another one is ClipMenu, there’s an alternate version for Window, but this one is for Mac. Effectively what it doesn’t, everything that you copy and paste from snipits of text to images, to htmls code, anything it maintains in an archive. It maintains about the last 1000 things that have been copied and pasted. As a writer I cannot tell you how many times ClipMenu has saved me from lost text to or Word crashes or system reboots, or things like that. So having ClipMenu will literally keep everything you copy and paste and it has saved me many hours of redoing work, that’s a big one. I could go on and on. I will say you should look up a site called Todoist. There’s a gentlemen named Taylor Martin who does a weekly podcast on really great productivity apps. Again, his name is Taylor Martin if you look him up on YouTube you’ll definitely see his channel and I recommend subscribing to that. He talks about apps that you’ve never heard of and really do help with productivity.

 

Kate: One of the questions that comes up with, our freelance writers are spending a lot of time collecting assignments on the computer. So, how can you do that and still get a lot out of your day? Still be productive in that time where they’re collecting and waiting for assignments?

 

Darren: Yeah, that’s one of those things that gets easier with time. So, for people just breaking in you’ll spend the majority of your time doing administrative tasks like that and looking for assignments, trying to find projects, and then actually doing the projects is the minority of your time. What happened in my case is, the more projects I took on, the more references that I was able to get, and eventually the tide starts to shift and projects will start coming to you, if your quality of work is superior or above average. Because, people talk, and if they find somebody that does a great job on something they’ll keep coming back to that well. Repeat business is a major benefit and the longer you’re in any career the more repeat business starts to become a real part of your life. So, initially it’s tough. That’s definitely what you’ll spend the most time doing. If you tackle projects and do them well and outperform and you actually try to connect with these clients on LinkedIn and build a relationship, then whenever something comes to mind you’ll be the person they go to. And that’s when you start seeing absolutely maximum productivity gains, when stories begin to come to you.

 

Kate: Cool, I just want to say it’s 2 o’ clock now, if some of our attendees need to head out that’s fine. Darren, do you have time for a couple of more questions? Or do you have to head out?

 

Darren: Sure!

 

Kate: One question, how do you manage a team that works remotely? A few people are asking this.

 

Darren: Yeah, that is no easy task. I managed Engadget, like I said from North Carolina, and I have to say, we managed the team using a pretty old school chatroom, virtual chatroom and you guys know you have it a lot easier thanks to a company called Slack. They make a chat tool that is just phenomenal for maintaining communication and maintaining relationships with remote teams. It is truly remarkable tool. So if you’re in the position where you have to manage a group of people who work in different areas, definitely get everybody on Slack. It’s just amazing the digital archive. Like, if you’re managing a 24 hour shift which is what happened at Engadget, we would have situations where our team in Japan would be talking in a chatroom and then all of that knowledge would be lost after that shift, because there was no archive. So if you’re using a tool that has an archive and they can scan back through and see what the highlights were, that’s what helps bring the entire team to one place. What it really requires though, is someone that is passionate about working remotely and isn’t afraid to be highly communicative. That’s not to say, be a micromanager, but you have to be able to do things in a way as if people were standing in front of you with the same request. I would get emails constantly about, my payment didn’t come through, or do you think I would be able to apply for this open position. If someone were standing directly in front of you in an office that would be instantly a top priority. You would go above and beyond to try and address that person’s concerns, so mentally you have to take an email with the same level of sincerity. You have to be able to drop everything, be quick to respond and treat people like they are right there in front of you and it’s a lot of work. It’s usually a lot more time consuming to type something back or make a phone call vs when you’re in person, but that’s a good way to keep a remote team engaged. The final thing I’ll say on that is, make sure you hire correctly. There are some people, as Byron mentioned, that remote working just isn’t really cut out for, maybe they can’t focus well or they just need the oversight. That’s not who you want on your team, but when you have the entire world at your fingertips in terms of resumes and location doesn’t matter, finding people who are passionate about it and that are able to self-regulate, those are the people you want on your team. It’s usually pretty obvious within the first few weeks, if you’re going back and forth on slack, whether or not someone is truly engaged with the team and can voice their opinion and personality over a really cold media mic, IM or text message.

 

Kate: Awesome. I put that website in the chat for you guys as well. Another off-shoot from that question, some of our attendees have been working remote for years and they find that there’s an expectation from others in that conditional office to be immediately responsive or if you’re not immediately responsive it’s kind of assumed that maybe you’re not really working. So how do you calm that without being on email or IM all day long?

 

Darren: Yeah, this is an incredibly good question and a lot of this revolves around a company culture. It’s crazy as it sounds. There are some companies that they are phonetic and high-paced and they want everyone in the office to be highly responsive, so to you remotely, they are going to still have that same expectation. Truthfully, at Engadged when we were working or handling our shifts, we to some degrees expected that of everyone, but when it wasn’t their shift we understood that it wasn’t their shift and we would expect that it was going to be a while until they got back to us. So much of this comes down to laying the ground work before you make the remote transition. I currently work with a PR firm that for the most part does not allow people to work remotely or at least they don’t hire remotely. Most of their people are in-offices, they do have some people that work remotely, but they are definitely the minority. So what I did was, before I started on day 1, I had a heart to heart with my manager and we laid out what the boundaries would be, what the acceptable time limit and response time would be and what methods of communication, in terms of tier 1 importance, tier 2, 3, 4 , how does this work. That’s very granular, but if you don’t set those expectations up for your manager and your colleague, people will undoubtedly end up on different pages. And that’s just not great for the relationship because one person will assume that this is an acceptable amount of time, another will assume something different, and if that is misaligned for too long you end up in a really tore up working situation. So, definitely put in the effort to compromise and tell them what is acceptable for both parties.

 

Kate: Great advice. This is a quick question. I know Byron can chime in. What job sites are available for remote workers or remote writers?

 

Byron: WriterAccess that’s my only answer!

 

Darren: I figured as much. No, really WriterAccess is amazing. It’s really amazing that at the top.

 

Byron: Feel free to talk about any of your favorite, there are awesome sites out there. eLance, oDeskm Scripted, Contently, Skyword, I mean there’s tons of writing sites that are free for everybody to apply to. Have at it! But your thoughts would be wonderfully welcomed here.

 

Darren: Yeah, the list he just went down is the exactly the list I would go down, the only thing I would add to that is communicating with real people. Be it at a co-working space or on LinkedIn. A lot of times you’ll find recruiters that are looking for odds and ends and things that needs to be done. It’s just a great place to go to, to get a first selection of what’s out there and recruiters are all over LinkedIn. Some of them are better than others, but you can usually find out pretty quickly which ones are good and which one aren’t. These recruiters are in the business of finding great freelance talent and fill slots very quickly, so your expectations align pretty much out of the gate. They need somebody that’s great, they need them fast, and you need a project that you don’t need to spend a lot of time looking for. Just connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn again, is where I would start. It’s pretty easy to find an eclectic selection of work on there. Of course not every one of them will pan out, but it can’t hurt to connect with people. If you land one job and you do a great job, again, they’ll keep coming back to that well. It’s the most efficient thing for them and it’s the most efficient thing for you.

 

Kate: Awesome! I know that you are a Guinness World Record Holder for Blogging, is that correct?

 

Darren: Yup, that’s right!

 

Kate: Alright, so we’ve got someone who wants to start a blog so you probably have great advice of where do you start?

 

Darren: Yeah. Honestly, I will say it’s much tougher now than it was in 2006, mostly because of the democratization of content. So, the internet has gotten to a point where it’s pretty easy to find free news. You no longer have to go out and pay to find really good content. The thing I would recommend most is be specialized. That is your best bet in getting traction if you’re starting something new.  Just as an example that obviously I’m most affiliated with technology sites, so John Gruber has a site called DaringFireball and it’s just a one man show, one man blog, really simple, almost no pictures, but he’s very specialized. It’s almost all based around Apple products and has almost a 20 year history conquering those products. People trust that voice specifically for Apple. There are similar people that cover specifically for Windows, Microsoft, and other topics. There’s a gentleman named Ben Thompson that’s lives in Taiwan that started his own blog Stratechery and he’s found enough people to pay whatever it is, $10 a month to support him, because it’s just a one man show. So you don’t even know in the subscriptions that it’s a one or two man show, to support their lifestyle. There’s a website called The Information, I think the average staff is maybe 10, and they charge a pretty hefty subscription for getting access to their content. But again, they don’t need to sell a million subscriptions because it’s 10 or so people. So if you’re looking to get into it definitely specialize and don’t try to do what everybody else has done, unless you’re joining a team that is already successful at that. Definitely harder, but if you can get specialized and you’re really good and really specialized and really insightful at what you do it’s easier to get it going.  

 

Kate: Cool, great! Last two questions and then we’ll let you go. OneNote, EverNote, or a different app to organize work information, to-do lists? Personally I like EverNote, but I’m interested in hearing your opinion.

 

Darren: Yeah, so I would agree with EverNote, and the reason actually says a lot more about my preference in general for workflows more than notes. Whenever possible, I like to tap into things with a multiplatform, and so, OneNote is definitely multi-platform, but it’s more built by Microsoft and works fast on those platforms. Whereas EverNote really has no skin to regain, they need to work great on IOS, Andriod, Ac, PC, and so forth. So for people who are juggling multiple computers or multiple devices, having EveNote allows the same UI to transfer across everything, no matter where they are at they can have access to that. So I would prefer EverNote for that reason, but this also applies for basically everything else. I know that a lot of people like to listen to music to get into the zone when they’re working and this is why I prefer Spotify over iTunes, because Spotify will work on an Android tablet, whereas iTunes does not. So whenever I can find something that is in a multi-platform, that’s usually the approach I’ll take.

 

Kate: Cool, and last, but not least. Do you ever hired a virtual assistant to help you out?

 

Darren: I have, at Engadget. At Engadget I hired over the course of my career there over 30 people in different capacities, some were interns, some were assistants, some were writers, and some were designers. So, yeah I definitely have done that in the past. Currently, I do not. Anything I’ve done on my own, freelance-type operations I’ve just done myself. But there are a lot of people that do, there are a lot of small consultant agencies that need graphic designers or copywriters that are looking for people that would be at this webinar. Just a final tip of a place to look, I work in PR now, in marketing and ecomm, so I switched from one side of the fence to the other. One thing I’m seeing explode right now is companies want to create their own content, vs relying entirely on the media to tell their stories. That’s an amazing opportunity to start a copywriting career with a company that is just looking to start into that. Blogging has been around for 10 or so years in terms of being able to make it a career, but in terms of companies telling their own stories, it’s at the very forefront of all that and that’s where Contently is starting to tap into. A lot of opportunities there. A lot of companies don’t even know they want that, but if you have someone that works at a company that does marketing and comm, bring it up to them! You never know, they may say, ‘You know what? A blog would be amazing idea for our company let’s get something going.

 

Kate: Great, Thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks Byron for your amazing interview skills. Everyone that is still here look for an email with the recording, slides, and we have a free chapter of Darren’s book that you guys will get access to and hopefully will want to buy the rest of it. So Thanks for joning us! Thank you so much Darren, Thanks Byron!