Interview: Bill Slawski

Bill Slawski is a well known SEO specialist who works for Go Fish Digital as their Director of SEO Research. He’s part of a team and works remotely. Most of the team works in offices a few days a week, and remotely the rest of the week. A lot of what Bill does involves researching sources such as patents and white papers from the search engines, which benefits from a quiet place to read. You can follow Bill over his twitter, LinkedIn and Website

1. How did you started working remotely? How did you do the switch?

I started working remotely by beginning to work for myself from home.  This was after working as an in-house SEO and an agency SEO for around ten years.  My father had been working from home for at least a decade, and it was something that I wanted to try after seeing him do it.  He had started up a company in the Plastics industry, and was designing and selling machinery, from home. He had worked in that industry from office buildings for years, and the move to a home office was ideal for him, and something that I wanted to try.  

I was then offered a remote job by some people whom I had met at SEO forums, working for an agency located in Dallas. I ended up worked remotely with them, doing things such as keyword research, site audits, and writing blog posts. Later, I worked with an agency in New Jersey, and then with Go Fish Digital from Virginia.  I moved to California in 2015, and continued to work with the company that I was working with remotely on the East Coast..

2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?

  1. I am able to meet with California based clients in person.
  2. I don’t have to spend any time during the day commuting to and from work.
  3. My schedule is very flexible, and I am able to work into the evening when necessary.
  4. Using tools such as basecamp, hangouts, and email I am able to collaborate with the people I work with even though we are distant

3. Have you experienced any disadvantages due to your remote work setting? Do you miss something by working remotely? How have you overcome these?

I have missed some company retreats and parties and get togethers because I am remote.  We do meet online using video conferencing. Differences in Time Zones can sometimes be inconvenient, but those can help sometimes when working with clients who are on the West Coast.

4. From what cities or countries have you worked since you have started to work remotely? Which have been your favorite? Where do you want to travel next?

I’ve worked remotely from Newark, Delaware, Warrenton, Virginia, and Northern San Diego County, California.  I’ve been in California for the last 3 years, and am enjoying it tremendously. I visited London and Milan in the past year, and I wouldn’t mind spending some more time at either.  There is a lot of California to still see, and I would like to spend some time in Central and Northern California.

5. From what type of place do you prefer to work? 

I really enjoy working from home.  It is very relaxing and convenient, and I have a lot of control over my working environment (much more than a coffee shop or a co-working space).  I recently sent for a beach chair so I can do some reading from there (It is about a 10 minute drive from home.)

6. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in remote work?

I once responded to a call for help at work, as a Sheriff and a Capitol Police Officer who were pursuing an escaped detainee, had chased him into an empty Jury services room, and were fighting with him, and not faring well I heard their cries, and I helped them put handcuffs on the person they were struggling with, who was trying to escape. That wasn’t a typical day, as I worked for 14 years as a legal and technical administrator in the highest level trial court in the State of Delaware.

The focus of working at the court was to provide public services to the people of the state in a large Public Office building helping the Civil Justice and Criminal Justice systems of the State to function.  Much of the work I did working there couldn’t be done remotely, from management of co-workers to interactions with the public.

I remember being introduced to tools such as email, and the internet while at the Courthouse when those entered usage in business and while those became useful to us there, we started seeing signs the use of technology had much value too, such as when we started using video conferencing between the CourtHouse and the Prison Systems holding facilities to hold arraignments, without having to transport people from the jails to the courthouse (Having to walk down hallways behind courtroom walls and sharing those with guards transporting prisoners and judges can make you a little nervous.)

The work I do now,  involving performing site audits, reviewing and analyzing sites, and making improvements to them is something that can be done remotely, and the interactions I have with other people can be done using phones, videoconferencing, email, and other software tools. Some of the other people I work with also work from their homes, and the people whom I work with in offices are in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Arlington, Virginia, and also work some days from home, too.

There are many reasons why people might feel comfortable working remotely, and if you don’t enable them to work with you remotely, you may lose the opportunity to work with them at all. I’ve been very fortunate to work remotely with people whom I have been very happy to work with effectively and productively, and couldn’t have worked with them, if not able to work remotely.  I have worked in offices where I was surrounded by 80 co-workers and I find I can be much more productive working from my home office, when doing things such as setting up training modules in a wiki, or doing site audits or writing blog posts.

7. What tools do you use to work remotely? 

  • Slack & Gmail as communications tools
  • Google Calendar as a scheduling tool.
  • Basecamp as a project management tool
  • Google Docs as a collaborative office suite editor.
  • WordPress as a blogging tool
  • Twitter, instagram, and facebook as social media sharing tools.
  • Screaming Frog as a web crawler.
  • An android mobile device which has a mobile hotspot capability

8. How do you manage your payments and taxes as a remote working professional/business?

I’ve used Paychex in the past to manage paying myself, and taxes.  As an employee now, the company I am working with uses Gusto to manage payroll.

9. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?

As a remote worker, it is essential that you be organized, focused, and able to communicate with those whom you work with.  Grow comfortable with tools such as basecamp and slack so that you can use those effectively. When you have meetings, be able to write helpful recap mails with action items.  Be aware of differences in time zones and plan accordingly.

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