Motivation: without a boss physically looking over your shoulder, you need to motivate yourself to get your work done. It requires more discipline and commitment to a schedule that you follow every day.
As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Fasulo.
Alexandra Fasulo is a full-time freelance writer, host of the Freelance Fairytales podcast, Fiverr millionaire, and owner of the freelancing, side hustle, and gig economy brand, Alex Fasulo LLC. Alexandra has been managing a Fiverr freelance writing storefront for over 7-years, and presently creates educational content that she shares on social media to help other people dive into the world of freelancing.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?
I always saw myself as someone who would end up in politics or as a campaign manager, which is why I went to college for Political Science and immediately took a job in Albany. During my first year as a press coordinator, I realized that was not what I wanted to do with my life — at all — and felt a pull to move to New York City. I applied to over 200 jobs before one PR job finally accepted me. I moved there in less than 2-weeks, and to my dismay, found myself hating my PR job more than I had ever imagined. In just 4-weeks, I decided to quit the job with no plan in place. Desperate to make rent a month later, I started freelancing full-time on Fiverr.com. Little did I know that decision would change my life forever.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In 2018, CNBC decided to cover my story as someone who made 150,000 dollars in 6-months on Fiverr as a 25-year-old. The story hit the airwaves in June 2018 and went completely viral, changing my life overnight. Thousands of people followed me on social media, Reddit hate threads popped up in honor of tarnishing my name, and some individuals in my life who I cherished at the time disappeared from the story altogether. That moment changed me forever.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I ever made was accidentally outing one of my clients to a reporter for an article. The famous client (can’t name them) messaged me and threatened to sue me since, it turns out, the person outsourcing their press releases to me did not tell the (company) that they were doing so. I learned a valuable lesson that day!
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?
I would tell them to encourage diversification in work settings so employees can use both their right and left brains throughout the day. Every single human being is creative — it’s a myth that only ‘certain people’ possess creativity today. Engaging this fun, childlike wonder in a work setting can do wonders for resting and resetting the brain.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?
Working remotely comes with way more pros than cons. Some of the biggest pros include:
- Working flexibility: I have worked from over 30 states and 10 countries as a digital nomad. I have been able to see the world while still making money at the same time.
- Personal autonomy and scheduling freedom: With freelancing, people can work 10-hour weeks, 20-hour weeks, or 60 hour weeks if they want. It’s completely up to them.
- Ability to do what you love: As a freelancer, you can actually do what you want to do for a living since no boss is telling you otherwise.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
- Loneliness: the community and bonding that comes from an office workplace is perhaps its biggest strength. Working alone, at home, or in a café can feel alienating. That’s why it’s so important to join virtual communities that make you feel supported.
- Having to be ‘everything’ at once: remote working can present the challenge of having to be good at your job, marketing, sales, customer service, and planning, all at once. You are more on your own.
- Benefits: leaving 9-to-5s to work for yourself can be confusing in the world of benefits. No one is providing them directly to you anymore (you can still go get all of them, though).
- Motivation: without a boss physically looking over your shoulder, you need to motivate yourself to get your work done. It requires more discipline and commitment to a schedule that you follow every day.
- Imposter Syndrome: those voices of ‘I am not good enough’ creep into our minds a lot more working alone, at home. It’s important to invest in your mindset and mental health when you are working in an isolated setting.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
- Join online communities: I have a Facebook group set up specifically to help with this. I was so lonely during my first few years freelancing, I would have given anything for a Facebook group. Now there are dozens of groups, Discord communities, and more.
- Segment your time: I organize my time every week to ‘batch’ my requirements and content demands. What I mean by that is that I will spend just one day creating all my social media content; another day going over planning for the following month; and another day catching up with past emails.
- Patiently acquire your benefits: every state has a health marketplace where you can shop for insurance. Take your time and find a plan that works for you. I also have a SEP and IRA for retirement, and I use a Dentware insurance plan in Florida for dental, which is not covered by my insurance.
- Wake up early: fall in love with mornings and treat yourself, when you can, for all your hard work. For me, that’s traveling.
- Keep going: the best way to beat the imposter syndrome is to crush it into the ground by overcoming it. The only way to do that is to do the thing you’re scared to do, any ay. When you’re alive on the other side, that confidence will propel you forward.
Do you have any suggestions specifically for people who work at home? What are a few ways to be most productive when you work at home?
- Turn off the social media: Social media, although great for learning new things, is a huge distractor. Take the social media apps off of your phone and turn them off of your desktop for certain hours during the day.
- Treat your mornings as sacred times: How you start your morning dictates a lot about your day. Wake up early, don’t check your phone right away, stretch, work out, write in a journal, do whatever it is you need to do to feel refreshed and relaxed before starting the day.
- Segment your time: Humans don’t multitask as well as we think we do. Block off certain hours of time for particular tasks, and then move on from them.
Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic? Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?
I would say to be understanding it’s going to be different, and that’s ok. Instead of trying to force it back to how ‘it was,’ embrace the new remote setup and encourage travel and life-sharing. Create a channel for coworkers to chat in, like they would in an office setting, and a channel where they can share pictures from their travels. Encouraging this kind of engagement will keep everyone happy.
What do you suggest can be done to create an empowering work culture and team culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?
I would recommend going above and beyond to make each person still feel like a human being with likes, interests, and passions. The community and travel boards will help people to feel ‘seen’ and appreciated for who they are outside of the ‘office.’ Set up retreats or virtual contests as well that encourage people to go above and beyond to get to know each other.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My movement is one of financial freedom: you do NOT have to trade your personal freedom for financial stability. You CAN have both! The idea that it’s either/or is a lie. It’s going to be hard work, but it’s worth it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” Erin Hanson
It’s the idea that we are too afraid to take a risk for fear of falling. The reward of flying is the best feeling in the world, and the only way to achieve it is to jump. I wish I had shared my personal story on social media 5-years ago. I was too afraid to do so for fear of criticism from my peers.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow me on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@alexfasulobiz?.
They can also listen to Season 1 of my podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-freelance-fairytales/id1556252502.
My Instagram as well: https://www.instagram.com/alexandrafasulo/.
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success