Remote Work Story of Giulia Cian Seren: Digital Marketer

Remote Work Stories
5 September, 2021
Giulia Cian Seren: Digital Marketer

Key Highlights

  1. Giulia is a self-employed digital marketer since 2013.
  2. Giulia is fluent in speaking English and French.
  3. Giulia has traveled to many countries across 2 continents while working remotely.

Can you please introduce yourself?

Hi! My name is Giulia Cian Seren. I was born and raised in a small town in Northern Italy, but it always felt "too small". I've always been an avid reader, and at age 13 I switched to reading books in English only. That really helped - by the time I finished high school at 19, I had near-native fluency in English and a decent French.

I knew that being able to speak more than just one language was necessary if I ever wanted to work abroad. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I "grew up", but languages were non-negotiable.

What’s your profession, what do you do?

I've worked as a self-employed digital marketer since 2013. Early in my career, I chose clients and projects that would allow me to learn as much as possible rather than pay well. I studied Political Science at uni so all I know, I learned on the job. After a few years, I leveled up from doing WordPress development & social media management to being a "full-stack" CMO & strategy consultant.

These days, I work with traditional businesses to help them catch up with the 21st century through tech systems and marketing automation that makes their job easier. I love it!

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

I have my own company of one - Juicy Pickles. Up until 2016, I was a freelancer with a legal base in Malta first, then my home country of Italy. In 2017 I moved to South East Asia and set up shop in Singapore.

How did you start with a remote work journey?

By chance, really.

Right after my bachelor my best friend and I decided to move to a sunny place (our uni town of Gorizia is very humid & rainy). We booked a one-way ticket to Malta and threw caution to the wind.

We were 22 at the time, with our entire working life ahead! We didn't want to lock ourselves up in an office right away and start the rat race. So with no plan and no job offers, we landed in Malta.

Soon after, I connected with an Italian startup that was looking for help in their marketing & sales department and was ok with being remote. They became my first client!

The idea of being rewarded solely on results and not hours worked made sense to me. I was instantly in love with the freedom that came with working remotely and asynchronously.

8 years in, across 2 continents, 100+ clients later - I'm still a big advocate of remote work.

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

  • Freedom is the key for me.
  • Being free to take a random 2h walk on Tuesday morning, free to wake up without an alarm, free to choose which city to live in based on my own preference, and nothing else... it's priceless.
  • Working remotely enables me to love every day of my week - Mondays included. I make my own rules and I'm accountable only to myself.

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

Not really. Or perhaps I don't recognise them as disadvantages because I've never had a regular, corporate job - so I have no idea how it feels to be on the other side. Lol.

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

I have lived (=spent more than 6 months/rented an apartment long term) in 7 countries so far: Malta, Serbia, Estonia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and obviously Italy. In total, I've travelled to 40 countries and too many cities to count.

Malta will forever be in my heart since it was the first place I moved to as an adult. I love the vibes in Belgrade & Sarajevo and still have many friends there from my AIESEC days.

In Southeast Asia, my favourite cities are Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, and Phnom Penh. I was based in Singapore for 4 years and used it as a base to explore the region which was great.

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

I've never really liked offices or co-working spaces. I find them distracting. I have my portable home office setup which is quite minimal and travels with me: a 13' laptop, mouse, webcam, foldable light.

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

Travelling to Bhutan while working remotely was a dream come true!

I'd love to explore more of Central America - I've never been there.

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

Unreliable internet, blocked websites, timezone accidents.. you name it, I've experienced it!!

The biggest challenge, especially early on, was taking on the wrong type of clients. So many companies out there say they are "remote friendly" when in reality they're just trying to re-create the office but on Slack.

Yeah no. That doesn't work.

Everything starts with being clear on your boundaries. For example: I don't want my clients to expect immediate replies, and that's why I don't give out my phone number and I don't do "quick calls" that aren't scheduled.

Giulia Cian Seren: Digital Marketer

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

I'm quite minimal when it comes to tools I use daily.

Google Workspace + Roam Research (notes + todo) + Memex (organising links + resources).

I don't track how I spend my time or use Slack. I find it takes more time than it's worth.

I do however make an effort to make plans outside work - which helps me to be more productive by having something to look forward to.

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

My company is incorporated in Singapore, and I bill everyone through it. I use Zoho Books + Stripe to handle payments. The system in Singapore is quite straightforward - there are not as many hoops to jump through as Europe, definitely. I have a trusted Company Secretary/Accounting company that handles all the compliance for me, PikoHANA.

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

Don't just focus on lifestyle arbitrage and instead, find ways to connect with your community. Learn the language, volunteer, make friends who are not "digital nomads".

Do you work on any side projects?

Yes! Since we're in another lockdown, I started 2 new blogs.


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

They're both costing me time and money at the moment! I'm starting them to keep my skills sharp and do something fun rather than to make money. Perhaps one day I'll be able to monetise them via affiliate marketing, but it isn't a priority right now.

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

I make it a point to volunteer my time and skills to local businesses. Especially during COVID, many businesses have been negatively affected.

Just last month, I went horse riding on the beach and discovered that the place was actually a one-of-a-kind horse rescue center!! I immediately befriended the owner and came back the next day with my laptop to help her digitalise her scheduling, payment, and accounting system. I even forced her to start a YouTube channel.

Stories like these are what make remote work and long-term travel worth it! The fact that I'm able to meet people I never would've come across in my "normal life" and help each other by sharing our skills and experiences.

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