Remote Work taught me to create a better time manage and plan for execution.

Remote Work Stories
4 March, 2022
Brandon Smithwick

Hi, Can you please introduce yourself?

I am a family-oriented person. Since the pandemic I've been able to work with my brother and sister by helping them build their online presence with their businesses using an array of digital marketing strategies.

I have a vast background in digital marketing which includes website, content development, graphic design, paid ads, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing. Most of my knowledge has been self-taught, while I do hold an undergrad degree in eCommerce and Marketing as well as an MBA in Internet Marketing. Previously,

I have been on an advisory board for Hilton and Marriott to help direct their digital future. I am very tech savvy and love providing solutions to complex situations. Additionally, I teach digital marketing at the University level to hard working people who have a desire to do more. My motto is, People are MY business.

What’s your profession, what do you do?

Chief Digital Marketing Strategist. I have worked with many clients in the hospitality, accounting and service industries by providing comprehensive digital strategies to help grow their bottomline.

What company do you work for? Are you a freelancer or Digital Nomad?

I currently am employed with ThriveDX as a Digital Marketing Lead Instructor teaching across multiple universities. I also have my own digital marketing agency, iBrain Web Marketing, which focuses on family owned businesses by providing them a full comprehensive digital strategy.

How did you start with a remote work journey?

One of the primary reasons I chose digital marketing as a career was because I could work from anywhere while still earning an income. Starting off I was based in an office with occasional remote work, as I advanced in my career I earned roles that were 50/50 between office and home and now I solely work remote.

What do you think are the main benefits of working remotely?

Working remotely has taught me how to better time manage and to create a plan for execution. The extra time I earn in the day by not commuting to an office daily can amount to greater productivity. It has opened the doors to being more comfortable on camera with all the Zoom calls I do with people from all over.

Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

I'll admit, I miss people and the general in-person interaction. I don't have a family to contend with at home so working remote is a little easier for me.

From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? What are your favourite countries or cities to work from?

Any place outside of the city which I live! I love seeing new spaces. Over the years I've worked remotely in major cities like Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, DC. I am not picky as long as it isn't cold!

From what type of places do you prefer to work? Home, co-working spaces, coffee shops, or others?

I primarily work from my home but have used a co-working space on occasion. Coffee shops are good if I don't have a conference call to be on.

What places would you like to travel to while working remotely?

Looking to the future, I'd say Hawaii or even Australia!

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Share your remote productivity, communication, management, etc. tips based on your experience!

The biggest challenge is being an effective communicator. When you are working remote it takes more effort to communicate what you are working on. Since you are not in an office, your co-workers do not see you. They rely on phone calls and heavier email communication. You have to over communicate to not only your bosses/team but your clients as well. By over communicating you reassure your audience you are great at your job and you are fulfilling what is required. You can no longer go a week and not email your boss. He/she will be wondering what you are working on. It's not enough to just send a report.

Managing people would be my 2nd biggest challenge. It takes more effort to build a rapport with your team. Early on I was decent enough to hold weekly meetings with my team and I also made the effort to connect with them one on one with a phone call every 1-2 weeks. Fast forward to where we are today, video chats is where it's at. Let's place a name to the face! The more effort you put in to build rapport with your team, the greater the return. Phone calls still have their place, so don't forget about those!

What tools do you use to improve productivity and manage work efficiently?

My Calendars 5 app from Readdle! My FAVORITE app. It works seamlessly across my iPad and iPhone and allows me to add all my calendars so everything is in one place. I'd die without it! I have begun using a digital notetaker for tasks to allow for better productivity. They also offer an email app called Spark which I love!

How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?

Since I am based in the US this is pretty simple. I use an online accounting system as well as reaching out to my tax accountant when needed through phone, text or email. This is a critical area where organization is a must! I document everything as it happens so I don't have a pile up at the end of the month.

What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely?

If you are not a self-disciplined individual then working remote may be hard and would be a skill you need to learn. You have to dig deep to find your motivation since you are your own boss in a sense. You may have a boss who manages your work from a far but you are still responsible to manage your workload effectively on your own.

Do you work on any side projects?

Yes, always. Anything digital marketing related.

Would you like to share earnings from your side projects? Please share.

Can be from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the project.

Would you like to share any interesting stories while you worked remotely? Please share if you can.

Zoom attire. Let's talk about that! Some get very casual while on a video chat which if that is how they are, then cool. Please, though, check yo'self before you get on camera!

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