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I Make My Living as a Freelancer—and I Do it at Night When My Kids Are Asleep

Skillcrush Stories: Sarah Greer
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Flexibility in your career is a huge deal for a lot of working parents. Being able to fit work around the other things happening in your life is something a lot of parents dream of, but never really imagine is possible.

Sarah Greer is proving otherwise. She works remotely, which in itself isn’t that unique anymore. What sets her apart is that she gets her work done in the evenings and at night, after her kids have gone to bed. This lets her focus on homeschooling her kids during the day, something a lot of parents don’t think is possible if they’re also working.

Sounds like a pretty cool gig, right? Sarah is able to have this kind of flexible career that works around her life because of her tech skills. She builds websites for small businesses using HTML, CSS, and some PHP (that’s the programming language that WordPress is built with).

You can read more about what makes Sarah’s remote work life so awesome as part of our Skillcrush Stories series this week. Head on over to her Story page for more details, and even a great video of her explaining what she loves about tech and remote work.

And if you’re wondering what kinds of skills you might need if you wanted to have a similar career, read on for some of the things you should add to your resume if you want to start looking for a remote job.

Self-Management Skills

When you work remotely, you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re staying on track. That means you have to be able to manage your own time to meet deadlines and get everything done in a timely manner.

You also need to have good interpersonal and relationship-building skills, since working with a remote team means you can miss out on a lot of the automatic team-strengthening things (like chatting over coffee or at the water cooler). You’ll need to seek out ways to build relationships on your team, while still maintaining good professional boundaries.

At the same time, you need to be able to work autonomously and independently. You won’t always have a coworker or your boss available (especially if you’re spread out across the world in multiple time zones) if you run into a problem. That means you need to be able to make decisions for yourself (and also determine when other team members are really necessary for making those decisions).

Organizational Skills

This is really closely related to self-management skills, but staying organized is key to successful remote work.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most naturally organized person out there. Controlled chaos would probably be the best descriptor for my desk. BUT, over the years I’ve figured out systems that work for me, including paper to-do lists, Google Calendar reminders and events for pretty much everything time-sensitive, and a great familiarity with the search function in Google Drive.

You’ll want to make sure you have a task manager or to-do list app (or analog system like the Bullet Journal method) to keep everything on your plate organized and prioritized. You’ll also want to make sure you’re comfortable using project management software for collaborating with your team (there are a lot out there, but most have similar functionality, so learning one will make learning others easier).

And last but not least, make sure you’re up to speed on how to use cloud storage apps like Dropbox and Google Drive for sharing files with your team members.

Communication Skills

Email, video calls, and team chat make up the trifecta of communication on a remote team. You’ll want to make sure you’re super comfortable using all three.

Email is pretty self-explanatory. Video calls are often done with either Google Hangouts or Skype, though you may also end up using Zoom or other apps. Don’t worry, they all pretty much work the same. Most of them also allow you to turn your camera off, just in case you have to tune into a super early (or late) meeting and aren’t feeling camera-ready.

As far as team chat goes, Slack and HipChat are the two most common, though there are others out there. They let you communicate one-on-one with other team members, as well as with larger groups of your coworkers.

Tech Skills

You didn’t think I’d write an entire post about all the skills that make landing a remote job easier without mentioning tech skills, did you?

Because so many of the best remote jobs are in or related to the tech industry, learning some basic tech skills is pretty vital. Those basic skills include HTML and CSS at minimum. Other things to learn that will be a big help are a content management system, also known as a CMS (WordPress is the most popular by far, but there are others out there), Git and GitHub (for version control and working on code with other team members), and some design skills.

That’s it! With the above skills, you’ll be well qualified for tons of amazing remote jobs. Take a page out of Sarah’s book and find a remote career that lets you focus on the things you love and that are important to you, without having to sacrifice having a rewarding work life.

Get Our <span>FREE</span> Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners

Get Our FREE Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners

Make a plan for learning the tech skills you need to land a new job with this 60+ page FREE ebook!

Cameron Chapman

Cameron is a staff writer here at Skillcrush, and spends most of her time writing and editing blog posts and Ultimate Guides. She's been a freelance writer, editor, and author for going on a decade, writing for some of the world's leading web design and tech blogs. When she's not writing about design, she spends her time writing screenplays and making films (and music videos for rock and metal bands!) in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.