It was after being forced to work from home whilst recovering from a bad dose of the flu that Julie Ta, founder of boutique agency Akin Studio, first realised starting her own agency would deliver the work-life balance she was craving.
At the time Ta was working in the marketing department of an e-commerce company.
“I woke up with the flu and had to call in sick. Unavoidable deadlines saw me working from home that day and by the end of it, I had come to the realisation that I could handle the same workload out of the office.”
Slowly Ta began to scale back on her office job and began working on her side hustle.
“I began networking after hours to build up a digital marketing client base, and once this was established I shifted to part-time at my office job and began freelancing. A few months on, I was confident enough to branch out on my own and become a full-time freelancer – and was even lucky enough to keep my previous employer as a new client,” she tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).
“My boutique agency, Akin Studio, provides freelance digital marketing strategies for small to medium sized lifestyle brands. The flexibility of setting my own hours is liberating, and I can pursue my love of travelling as a half work, half play situation. It has also allowed me to diversify my skills and branch out into neighbouring industries.”
Ta says one of her main challenges lies how to work remotely and still be productive. It’s a challenge many solo operators and remote workers face. She shares her top 5 tips for navigating life as a digital nomad.
1 What’s the plan, Stan?
Planning ahead is key in ensuring you stay on top of your priorities when working from the road, which can be unpredictable at times! iCalendar allows me to see at a glance what I need to do, both on a daily basis and looking ahead to monthly goals. Apps like Asana and Slack are great for keeping a record of your tasks and give you the option to share with your clients so that you can track progress together – regardless of where you are in the world.
2 Prioritise, don’t procrastinate
I like to tackle the small and short tasks first, as it clears space in my mind for the big-picture items, and I experience the ‘quick wins’ straight away, motivating me to carry on. Evernote is great for creating daily to-do lists that ensure you are ticking off enough work on the road while also seeing the sights.
3 Admin never comes last
With multiple projects on the go, I feel the pressure to be hunched over my laptop keeping stock, even though I’d rather be exploring. Fortunately, apps can keep everything from invoices, expenses and payments paperless, automated and effortless. Most importantly, it lets me deal with my invoicing admin on the spot instead of at the end of a long working week when I’ve lost track of what needs to be accounted for.
4 Sharing is caring.
Dropbox is a great system for managing shared files in the cloud. It means that I have my work with me everywhere I go, like a true digital nomad. If I lose a file on my computer or my laptop breaks, I have a constant backup stored in the cloud. Similarly, Google Docs is great for shared working documents. You can update your notes and make amendments with multiple people in the doc at the same time, and keep a running record of your changes.
5 Freelancing doesn’t have to be lonely
Working for myself from the road does not mean I don’t have help. Freelancers on websites like Upwork are a great solution for nitty-gritty activities that are time-consuming. By delegating these tasks, you are free to handle the bigger picture items and can resume the balance in your working life.
“With the rapid development of digital tools that allow me to work remotely, I have found it easy to break the chains that tied me to my desk and conduct my business from the road,” says Ta.
“As long as I have my laptop, phone and internet connection I can pretty much work anywhere in the world – productively, too!”