Since the beginning of the “remote worker” trend/lifestyle change, one of the most common paths into remote working, is through design (graphic design to be more specific). It’s a profession that for the most part, caters to the remote lifestyle, whereas, you receive an assignment and turnaround a final product without ever having to meet the company in person. An initial meet is usually ideal, so you can put a face to an email address, but not at all a mandatory aspect of the job.
Whether you are creating something small/simple like a business card or company logo, all the way to creating unique graphics for all customer facing marketing assets across all platforms, it’s more about the creativity and skill of the designer than the part they play in company culture (i.e. in office personality). So, whether you are a chatty Kathy or a dedicated introvert (like me), this profession is pretty ideal for just about anyone.
I recently reached out to Michelle, one of the graphic designers currently traveling with WiFI Tribe and dug up some great stories about her time living the remote worker life (SPOILER: IT’S AWESOME)!
I am the brand designer and creative director of MKW Graphics, a freelance design agency that specializes in helping small businesses turn their brand visions into beautifully functional visuals. I work with entrepreneurs and small business owners by collaborating on designing their logos, brands, websites and content marketing.
I also am the co-author of Small Biz Start Up Guide, a New Entrepreneur’s eBook that walks through planning, legal and branding.? We just launched recently!
How long have you been a remote worker/how did you get started? //
I started my business between my Junior and Senior year of University. I was a Visual Arts and Art History double major at the University of San Diego and got a job on campus doing homecoming posters and student org flyers without totally knowing my way around Adobe Creative Cloud softwares. Many hours of Youtube tutorials (and a lot of trial and error later), I realized I loved graphic design because you had to find a creative solution to a design problem.
Design has always been a part of my life, and so has business. My mother is an Interior Designer, her grandmother was a designer, and my aunt, grandma and sister are all business owners as well. What I loved most about seeing my family be self-employed was the lifestyle that it allowed them… work when you want, for who you want, where you want. I knew I wanted this same lifestyle for myself and graphic design clicked right in place.
Top Essentials while travelling //
My Passport External Hard Drive – It’s small and has tons of storage. When I am running Illustrator, Photoshop and other Creative Cloud programs, my computer can get really backed up by big design files. Having a hard drive for back ups and just to work from is super helpful while I travel. Whenever I am back stateside, I make sure to backup those back ups to MyBook hard drive.
HATS! And other hair accessories – I started to develop a bit of a reputation on the Split chapter for having what some would call a ‘strong hat game.’ Hats (and also loving silk scarves) are great for when your really don’t want to do your hair of face, and make you look way more polished and put together in pictures. I love to pick up hats in the places I travel, but you can never go wrong with a unisex, well-structured Panama hat for the summer.
Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray– I am OBSESSED with this Rose Water spray especially when I travel because it makes me feel super fresh and clean. It’s the perfect refresher after a long travel day that will make you feel like a new person.
Why WiFi Tribe? //
I chose WiFi Tribe for a multitude of reasons, but the best ones I covered in my blog recapping my first tribe in Costa Rica:
- The application process is thorough on purpose – there’s an application and also a Skype interview. After talking with Diego, one of the cofounders, this is totally by design and helps to ensure that everyone shares the same core values and beliefs.
- Everyone’s got a location independent job – aka my very first coworkers! It was super motivating to be around people who wanted to work hard, play hard. For the most part, almost everyone was grindin’ from 9 to 5. When you work at home or work by yourself, it’s sometimes hard to get in the groove of consistently working and clocking in those hours and this trip probably helped me do that more.
- Adventure is on the agenda, but it’s up to you to plan – One of the things I disliked about study abroad during university was that the ‘cultural experiences’ were scheduled and mandatory. This is the opposite. WiFi Tribe takes a completely hands-off approach as far as extra curriculars. Naturally though, our group did almost everything together.
- Genuine friendships with people across the globe – as corny as it is to say, I feel like I made some lifetime friends this past six weeks. Post-grad, it is particularly tough meeting new people and this was something I kind of struggled with before I left San Diego. BUT, from the first week in a new location with WiFi Tribe, you’re all at kind of starting at square one. Everyone wants to explore, try new restaurants and experiences and that was one of my favorite things about it. Not only that, but when you are working across from someone, or walking back from a cafe, you inevitably get to talking about what they do and how they do it. As a self-proclaimed networking fiend, I loved learning about everyone and their goals and aspirations in life and in business. Then, after office hours, we got to get to know each other on a personal level, be silly with each other and start inside jokes. Mems guys, mems.
What pushed you to finally go remote? //
I studied abroad twice in college and loved everything about it. I really enjoyed being in a place for an extended amount of time, working during the day, and then exploring on the weekends. There is something about traveling at that pace that really clicks for me, and I think that’s why WiFi Tribe has always been such a good fit.
What has the remote worker life taught you so far? //
So far, I have really learned that I can adapt my life to be less of a week-to-weekend pace and more of a month-on/month-off pacing. When I travel, I am in hyper-social mode, and being with the tribe is super motivating. I love talking to all the members, getting to know what they do, where they are from, and of course I hate missing out on big dinners, weekend trips and adventures!
On the flip side, when I am back in the states, I go into hermit mode… I literally dry out from drinking (ehem… Kent) and then work my ass off to get myself to my next trip. I do a lot less socializing, but a lot more networking, and am always brainstorming how I can collab with other tribe members! So the biggest lesson I’ve learned from traveling/not traveling is that I can consider my time in ‘batches’ of weeks or months, and try to stick to the goals I have in that time frame.
#1 Productivity Aid? //
I live by Harvest App (sidenote: one of our very own tribers helped develop the Harvest app, check out her interview here). Although I no longer bid projects on an hourly basis, I set up projects and then measure my hourly against the project. This helps me track my exertion on the different projects I am working on (between 15-25 at once!) and keep me on track as far as when to get things wrapped up with a client who may be slow to make a decision. It’s great to also tally up my hours at the end of the week and keep myself accountable for getting my own work done. Being your own boss has the perk of no one breathing down your back, but I know if I weren’t tracking my time I would think that I was working a lot more than I really was.
Last Advice //
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. There is so much to be gained by working with people who you normally wouldn’t. I’ve loved working with other tribe members on client projects, personal projects or simply just learning something that I otherwise wouldn’t make time in my schedule to know (like blockchain and bitcoin for example). Take the time to get to know who you’re traveling with and what they are interested in.