Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved stories.
She enjoyed doing things like slipping a pillowcase over her legs and floundering on the floor. Why? Because the way she saw it, the pillowcase was actually a fishtail, and she was a mermaid princess. Other times, she became a horse — she’d hop on her bicycle and pedal furiously down the street, all the while pretending she was a Triple Crown champion. If she could dream it, she could be it.
As the little girl grew older, she fell in love with video games and started to read lots of books. The way she saw it, the two pastimes were the same idea — the same art — just expressed across different mediums. When she would play an RPG (role-playing game, for you non-gamers), or read a novel, it was like going on an adventure. She loved getting to know the characters, the settings, the conflicts. But most of all, she loved the stories. Whether reading words on a screen or words on a page, she loved them both for the stories they told. That art, she later learned, was called storytelling.
But the little girl eventually grew up. You see, it was time to go to college. And at college, she’d have to pick an area of study that gave her the best chance at job security. For her, that area of study was math.
So she pursued math and lived happily ever after. The end.
As you might have guessed, that little girl was me. And I was absolutely miserable until the age of 29 (see: Monday Morning at the Office), when I landed a job at Uber and got my first opportunity to do content marketing. Now, fast-forward to five years later. I work full-time, making a comfortable salary with full benefits as a copywriter. The best part? I work remotely. From Northwest Arkansas. Monday through Friday, I sit at home in my favorite sweatpants and t-shirt, working with people who sit in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta. It’s awesome.
Want to know how I pulled it off?
I embraced the discomforts and challenges presented to me during the last eight years of my professional career. That’s it. With some patience and tenacity, I went from doing work that was operational in nature (while sitting in a cubicle), to doing content marketing at home.
Below are the top 6 learnings that helped me land my ideal work situation. If I did it, so can you.
6 Tips to Help You Land a Remote Writing Job (or Any Job)
- Be willing to start at the bottom.
If you’re like I was, and you want to completely switch career paths, you have to be open to starting over. There’s a good chance you’ll take an earnings hit. After all, you’re essentially starting fresh in an area you have no formal work experience. You’ll have to put in the time and effort to reconstruct how you look on paper. If you can accept your new place at the bottom of the totem pole, you’re already well on your way to getting the job you desire. So take the plunge. Go ahead and apply to that entry-level role that’s in the field you want.
- Actively seek out opportunities beyond the workplace.
When I was between jobs, I started a personal website and blog. These served as stepping stones to help me gain experience in content marketing. I taught myself about SEO, web design, and content writing. That way, I could bridge some of the gaps in my professional portfolio and résumé. It showed potential employers I was self-driven, and that I could flourish outside of a traditional office, too. If you have the opportunity to do freelance work (or even to help a friend as a favor), leap at the chance. Your experiences tell employers you have the knowledge, skills, drive, and focus to do the work.
- Speaking of work — do great work that makes you an asset.
This might seem like an obvious one, but let me be clear. When you consistently take on projects and knock them out of the park, you prove your worth. You gain leverage. I was able to negotiate remote work at my last two companies before my current role came along. For one of those companies, I had only been an employee for two months. When I approached them and asked if I could work from home, they said yes. How? While working in-office, I took on more clients and more responsibilities. I showed them I could manage several projects while still producing high-quality work. I earned their trust. Rather than lose me as an employee because they weren’t willing to accommodate my request, they gave me that flexibility so they could keep me. You have to gain leverage to get what you want. And then you have to ask for it. What’s the worse that’ll happen — they say no?
- Network. Network. Network.
Sometimes, it’s about who you know and what you know. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help if you’re qualified to do the work. Up until my current role, I had never gotten a job by referral or knowing someone. I went to the company’s career site or LinkedIn post and applied online, just like everyone else. Here’s the thing. While you embark on your journey to land your dream job, you’ll inevitably meet all kinds of people who have influence in the area you hope to be a part of. Develop relationships with these people. Share your professional goals and aspirations with them. Fostering a meaningful relationship can one day open the door to a role you want. That’s exactly how my current opportunity presented itself. I worked with a woman who had years of experience in copywriting and editing who had also seen my work first-hand. At the next company she joined, an opportunity came up that sounded like something I’d be interested in, and she reached out to me.
- Market yourself on LinkedIn — or really any social platform.
This is the second part to #4. If your job lacks opportunities to network in-person, start networking with industry influencers and recruiters online. Know that handy website and blog you created? Now would be a great time to establish yourself as a sort of industry expert. Write blog posts or share videos that show you’re knowledgeable about the industry. You have to market yourself. Engage in educated discussions with industry players. Put your best foot forward, and then connect with people. Word of mouth is a great way to uncover those opportunities you might not have otherwise heard about.
- See a job you’d be perfect for, but it’s one time zone away? If all else fails, ask.
I’m mentioning this again because it’s important. Sometimes, if you really want something, you just have to ask for it. You have to create the opportunity. Say you’ve made the career switch to pursue your dream role. You’ve kept up with your website and blog and made connections with people in your ideal field. You’ve done exceptional work and rounded out your portfolio and résumé. You’re ready to take on the next challenge — but from home. Now what? Log in to your LinkedIn profile and search for jobs. Anywhere. Seriously, look for roles in other cities. When you find one, reach out to the job poster and introduce yourself. Tell them why you want to join their company, summarize your qualifications and the reasons you’d be an excellent fit, then ask if they would consider remote candidates, if qualified. Do this with job posters, recruiters, and hiring managers. Have grit. Be confident. Showcase your qualifications. Fortune favors the bold. Many missed opportunities come from never asking.
By pushing up your sleeves and laying the groundwork for your future self, you actually can switch careers and get the kind of role your free-roaming heart desires. All it takes is patience, knowledge, and skill. (And being vulnerable enough to ask.) These were all the exact mindsets I kept front and center while I made the leap from roles like “Sr. Derivatives Operations Specialist” or “Innovation Project Manager” to “Marketing Manager” and “Copywriter.”
Somewhere, pop star Sandra is jumping up and down on the sofa, singing my praises. You see, I never gave up on stories. In fact, I got to be in the business of storytelling. Whatever dreams you have, never give up. Exercise these mindsets and I have no doubt you’ll one day realize them.