Interview with Digital Nomad Sage

Digital Nomad SageDigital Nomad Sage is a freelance, remote based UX Consultant. You can follow him in Facebook, Twitter, and instagram.

1. How did you start working remotely? 

I came back from teaching abroad in South Korea in 2015 and job hunting was terrible. It seemed like the job market was still in a bad situation in my area. I tried to learn web development as quickly as I could but without a mentor it was a struggle. I abandoned that so I dabbled in Amazon FBA (Selling Private Label Pet Supplies) but quickly learned that I should have researched the competition in my niche a bit more.

I didn’t succeed with Amazon FBA but luckily my former Japanese language teacher took me under his wing for his UX company. He trained me in UX Research and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2 years. For someone with no formal training in UX, I was extremely lucky to have this opportunity. I also do Kindle Publishing and sell ebooks on Amazon.

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

Free Time & Savings: I live in a “Commuter Town” which is mostly residential. Most people in my town have to drive over an hour to go to work. By working remotely, I have 2 hours of additional time in my day. I also don’t have to spend a fortune on gas and car maintenance.

Time with Family: I get to play with my niece and nephew when they come over to my house. Living abroad in South Korea for 4 years taught me the importance of family. I get to see my niece and nephew grow up!

Sleep In: As long as my day ends up being productive and I get my work done, I can sleep in whenever I want!

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

Miss having Co-Workers: I really miss being able to talk to co-workers about my awesome weekend or hearing about theirs. Nothing can replace real interpersonal human interaction. Sure there’s video meetings but it’s just not the same!

Sit-down restaurants: I miss being a regular and having a waiter/waitress remember my order. This ties into being with co-workers. Lunch time with co-workers is a great time to relax for a bit. Co-workers also have great recommendations for food dishes that you otherwise would have ignored.

Communication: When you work in an office, it’s much easier to ask someone for help. You can visit someone’s cubicle and get a quick answer. When you work remotely, your question may be buried under a mountain of e-mails or chat messages.

4. From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? 

Seoul, South Korea. Seoul is an amazing city. It’s filled with amazing nightlife and has plenty of coffee shops! You can be in a bustling metropolis one moment and then enjoy fresh air in one of many parks the next! The variety of delicious Korean dishes is amazing too. I really recommend Korean BBQ!

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

I prefer coffee shops. Cafe Bene is a coffeehouse chain based in Seoul, South Korea. Drinking coffee gives you a dose of caffeine to help you concentrate and “get into the zone”.

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

I like to visit museums while working remotely. My favorite place in South Korea was “The War Memorial of Korea”. There I could understand the true sacrifices made during times of war. Museums give you unique insights into a country’s culture. I highly recommend going to museums in your host country!

7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?

I would say that there are plenty of talented people that have highly valuable skill sets. In many cases, remote workers work above and beyond their in-house peers.

I would also say that remote workers are more resourceful. They are used to being self-sufficient. So their productivity is much higher as they can resolve problems much faster than in-house workers.

8. What tools do you use to work remotely?

  • Microsoft Office: I use Microsoft Office for benchmarks when I do UX business research on companies. I also write up my reports in Microsoft Word.
  • Hootsuite: I use this tool to schedule my Social Media posts on various social media platforms.
  • Canva: I use this free tool to help me design my Social Media posts.
  • Survey Monkey: I conduct UX Research Via surveys and this service is instrumental in aiding my research!
  • Adobe Creative Cloud: I’ll use Adobe Illustrator to make graphics and Photoshop to edit pictures. I also use Adobe Premiere to edit videos. This software suite has everything you need to make great content!
  • Publisher Rocket: I use this tool to find keywords and analyze competitors. It’s been instrumental in helping me as a Kindle Publisher to have an edge over the competition.
  • Divi: This tool allows me to create websites fairly quickly. I’ve hand-coded a website before and it took a really long time to make a simple website. This tool has saved me so much time!
  • Udemy/Skillshare: I use these services to learn new skill sets in a short period of time. If a course on Udemy looks expensive, you can almost always find a discount code if you do a google search and get most courses for around $9.99
  • Balsamiq Wireframes: I use this tool to make wireframes.
  • Amazon Advertising: This service allows me to maximize my earning potential by bringing additional traffic to my ebooks through sponsored ads.

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

TurboTax is great and I have a tax preparer that handles all the details for me.

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

For people looking to work remotely, I would advise to pick up a skill set and master it. Whether it’s Copywriting, Web Development, or something else… you’ll definitely want to be proficient in it as best as you can. Make a strong portfolio that you can show off to companies that are looking to hire remote workers. Or use your network of friends and see if you can do work for them. Have them refer you to others and include the work you do for them in your growing portfolio for social proof.

For companies making the remote switch, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Unfortunately, there are some bad apples out there that give remote workers a bad name. So my advice is to vet the remote workers that you hire. Hire the best talent possible and then give them the freedom to do their utmost best for you. I made the mistake of hiring an SEO remote worker without vetting them in the past. I won’t make the same mistake again!

I would also advise respecting your remote workers as if they were in-house employees. They are just as valuable as the people you see every day at the office!

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