This post was originally published in May 2017, and completely updated in June 2020.
For nearly a decade, I’ve worked with my team at Express Writers on a 100% remote basis (we just celebrated our ninth year in May!).
This is AMAZING for a ton of reasons.
- It allows me to hire passionate, savvy experts from anywhere in the world.
- It saves us thousands of dollars in overhead office fees, which we can invest instead in the much-needed technology we’re building for our new upcoming site and writer platform.
- It’s the best way to live life on our own terms. We are productive, happy, and consistently the best in our own environments. You could say we are the “most alive” at home.
So, what’s it like to be in a remote team? Is it all bunny slippers and working in hair curlers? How do my writers, content strategists, and staff ramp up the motivation to keep going when there’s no one looking over their shoulder?
In today’s blog, you’re in for a treat. I’ve asked core members of my team to write a day in their life for you, and they rose to the challenge!
Enjoy the snippets of the colorful lives of our team, based all around the world. ⬇️ See a day in my life and how I schedule projects at the end!@JuliaEMcCoy and her team at Express Writers work on a 100% remote basis. It's the best way to live life on our own terms - think flexibility and working when we're most alive. Learn our routines and how we work ✔ Click To Tweet
The Story of Express Writers: How I Started My Remote Company
It all began with a dream.
Flashback to 2011. I was a college dropout with nothing but $75 in my pocket. I had no safety net, and no support from my family — in fact, the opposite. (I wrote a memoir on my full story, released February 2020, to prove that following your dreams IS possible despite, well, anything. Get your copy of Woman Rising: A True Story.)
What kept me going was my dream: to make a living doing what I love.
For me, that was writing (I once wrote a 200-page medieval fiction novella when I was 12!).
Three months after dropping out of college, I started Express Writers. I committed to one goal — to grow my business through what I sold.
That meant no paid ads and pushy marketing tactics. I focused on growing my brand’s presence solely through top-notch organic content.
Fast forward to today, my company has grown into a team of 90+ writers, Content Strategists, editors, and staff members.
We now have over 100,000 site visitors per month. We are the 25,700th most popular website in the world, according to Alexa. We have 19,000 keywords indexed on Google, which would have cost over $200,000 on an ad campaign!
The Express Writers remote team accomplishes milestone after milestone together.
Here’s a look into what it’s like in our team.Express Writers started with a dream and $75. Today, we see over 100,000 visitors/month and have grown to a remote team of 90+ writers. How do we work? Hear it from @JuliaEMcCoy and resident writers/editors/managers. Click To Tweet
A Day in the Life of Express Writers’ Remote Staff
A completely remote company does have a secret life of its own. Think work-at-home ninjas!
And since we don’t have office cubicles, overly-bright fluorescent lights, and a corporate coffee stand, each individual team member lives life on their own terms.
Kira, Content Strategist: A Day in My Life
Kira is based near Madison, Wisconsin.
My day usually starts later in the morning with me waking up to my parrot asking me, “Who’s a pretty bird?” I make sure he knows it’s him. I then give myself a few minutes in bed to browse social media. I also use this time to see how many client calls I have scheduled for the day.
When I finally drag myself out of bed, I work on getting breakfast and some caffeine to help with motivation. I’ll also say good morning to my sister if she’s awake and check on my fur babies to make sure they have food and water.
Depending on my workload for the day, I’ll either get straight to work or I’ll take a little time for myself. If I don’t need to get started right away, I’ll usually play a video game or work on something crafty to help me shake off the early-morning jitters.
I typically spend anywhere from 1-2 hours on the phone a day and the rest of my time is spent working on emails assisting our clients, as well as completing content strategy projects. I never know when my day will end until I see my schedule, but I think that’s part of the fun of working this job. I like how I can take the time I need for myself and my animals, but still am able to deliver the best experience to our client base. I love what I do and I’m so grateful I get the opportunity to do what I love every day.
Rachel, Social Media Specialist: A Day in My Life
Rachel is based in Prince Frederick, Maryland.
My day starts at 6:30 a.m. Before I sit down at my desk, I like to get in a morning yoga session and have breakfast. You can usually find me listening to podcasts while I eat because they serve as a great boost of motivation.
Once it’s time to get started with work, which is usually around 8:30 a.m., I begin by making a to-do list. Then, I block off time in my schedule to ensure those things get done promptly. Any tasks I have are always scheduled around one of the main things I do for Express Writers, which is participating in Twitter chats and managing our own #ContentWritingChat.
I join about 13 Twitter chats each week because it’s a large part of growing our Twitter presence and building a community online. These chats are scheduled throughout the day, with them taking place morning, afternoon, and night. In between those chats, I’m usually scheduling social media content or creating the #ContentWritingChat recap. So, it’s safe to say I don’t really work your typical hours! My day ends when the last Twitter chat does!
Nikki, Expert Writer: A Day in My Life
Nikki is based in the Philippines.
My day begins with getting licked in the face by my Jack Russel Terrier, Boot. I take her for a walk around the block, then we get breakfast going. Sticky rice with sugar, a cup of chocolate, a juicy golden mango. Plus a tall glass of iced coffee (because it’s hot where I live).
After breakfast I take a shower (because it’s hot where I live!). I start work with a towel wrapped around my head. I read emails and go over my writing projects for the day. I do research, scratch my head over the opening sentences of my introduction, and keep the coffee flowing.
The Pomodoro method works great for me. 25 minutes work, 5 minutes rest. During breaks I step out onto the balcony. If it’s a windy day I’ll smell seawater, salt, and scorching sand. If it’s not, it’ll only be sun and cats climbing coconut trees.
Lunch is a quick sandwich and an apple or orange imported from China (complete with sticker and characters in Mandarin). After lunch it’s back to work until 5 p.m., when I go for a run around the village with Boot.
I spend evenings reading (favorites include Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez), watching Julia’s course videos, checking how my stocks are doing in the market, or finishing up on a project. If it’s the weekend, I’ll drive over the Marcelo Fernan Bridge to Cebu City to see my family or hang out in a coffee shop with old friends.
I LOVE my lifestyle. No rush hour, no class bell (I used to be an English teacher), no rigid schedule. It’s the definition of freedom.
Lorien, Client Success Agent: A Day in My Life
Lorien is based in Pretoria, South Africa.
My day usually starts around 7 a.m. with a HIIT training session followed by a quick breakfast and a strong cup of coffee. From there, you’ll find me behind my desk checking emails, social media, and our team chat to see what happened around the world while I wasn’t looking. I’ll fill my mornings with a few QA projects, perhaps some writing, and of course time with my two busy toddlers. Luckily for this mom, they love each other’s company so they keep themselves busy all day long.
My official workday starts at 2 p.m., and will continue until around 1 a.m. — so I’m always burning the midnight oil! This is when I handle client emails, live chats, price quotes, and everything in-between. Then it’s off to bed for a good night’s sleep and I get to do this all over again.
With the pandemic on our hands we’ve been on lockdown for almost eight weeks. But this means I get to spend a lot of time with my husband and two kiddos, which is quite a blessing. Somewhere in the week I get a few study hours in, too, so being a remote worker really has its benefits.
I guess you could say that I don’t have your typical 9-5 working day, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Danielle, Content Specialist and QA: A Day in My Life
Danielle is based in La Rochelle, France.
I usually wake up at around 8 a.m., thanks to my cat who also acts as an alarm clock that never fails to get us up in the morning – so I start the day going straight to the kitchen to feed her breakfast . After doing my cat mom duty, I study French for half an hour – reading a few pages of a book in French, doing some short exercises in Duolingo, and reviewing grammar handouts. Right after studying, I do a short morning yoga session (or sometimes some quick cardio workout for a change) to get energized. Then I jot down some priority to-dos for the day in my planner while having breakfast.
When it’s time to do my editing or content strategy work, I get straight to the industry expert or authority content that takes time and requires careful checking. I prefer doing the toughest tasks in the morning as I can concentrate better during those quiet hours with the help of some relaxing classical or electronic music. Then I try to catch some easy tasks later like checking content images, WordPress posting, and course support.
Working from home becomes manageable as long as I stick to the day’s to-dos and use a Pomodoro timer app to make sure I’m taking breaks to at least move around and take my eyes off the screen. But I very much accept accomplishing tasks on-point isn’t always possible, especially nowadays when we’re getting more long-form expert content to edit! So I just go with the flow and enjoy what’s great about working from home: the freedom and flexibility to do errands, work, and study. I get to also squeeze in some time for painting and experimenting in the kitchen after work.
Cassie Boss, Expert Writer and QA: A Day in My Life
Cassie is based in Downers Grove, Illinois.
A worker with many hats, my day typically begins at 7 a.m. This girl likes to enjoy a cup of coffee (or two) before hitting the ground running. Once the caffeine has been consumed, I like to take my doxie, Abby, for a short walk and some fresh air. Once the blood is pumping, it’s time for either a home workout or some quiet meditation – depending on my mood and intentions for the day.
Of course, little Miss Abby follows underfoot no matter which path I choose, and once it’s time to get to work, she plops down in her executive chair, and nap-time ensues!
For me, however, the workday truly begins by checking my to-do list. My tasks are prioritized by writing assignments due, followed by my quality assistant hours. Finally, throughout the week, I get to interact with the Write Blog community by responding to questions and sharing thoughts with readers.
As a full-time, remote worker, now more than ever before, I’m learning to prioritize my well-being. I’ve been blessed with a team who understands that the recent pandemic takes a toll on everyone mentally and physically. So, if I’m not researching for my various content creation projects or editing those in the queue, I’m taking time to continue my own education through various content workshops and my own personal development.
I’m a firm believer that to become an expert writer, you must have a love of reading – so I never stop. Whether it be pieces on content creation, how to better my physical or mental well-being, or even my favorite fantasy stories…. If you can’t find me at my desk, it’s safe to say I’m off in a quiet corner with my nose in a book or my kindle, with little Miss Abby never too far behind.
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Dara, Course Student Success Lead and QA: A Day in My Life
Dara is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
I’m a homebody, and my day, Monday through Friday, looks pretty much the same: First thing I do after rousing from sleep is roll to the side of the bed and reach for my caffeine pill bottle, strategically (lol) placed on the nightstand, and take one 100mg tablet. Crazy early, I know, but I am not remotely a morning lark, so I need the jolt to get my day running. I take 40 minutes to an hour browsing through my social media timelines, checking my feeds, and visiting my fav forums – Reddit and the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, a space for grammar enthusiasts like myself.
My morning isn’t complete without my gang of four cats helping me out of bed (by mewing furiously !) to clean their litterbox, change their water, and put some food on their plates. Without them, I might linger in bed for an hour or longer (somewhat a perk – not always – of working from home). Later, around 8 a.m., I brush my teeth, start up my favorite workout music playlist and do some morning workout, lasting 40-50 minutes – 5-10 reps of push-ups, dumbbell bench press/lateral raise, and squats. Then I take a much-needed shower. I live in the tropics, with temperatures clocking in at over 80 degrees in the morning, so my morning is incomplete without a LOOONG, cold shower.
I finish this routine and breakfast around 10-11 a.m. I am a quality assistant and copy editor here at Express Writers, and my QA hours don’t start until 3 p.m. CET, so I get started on some of my personal and assigned tasks, if any. I am writing a book, too, so, there’s that. Around 2:30 p.m. I leave my phone in the bedroom for a break from distractions, stroll into my home office space, and start getting ready for my QA hours.
I love it here at Express Writers – there’s the industry thought-leader CEO, a content/team manager who pretty much rocks, and colleagues/teammates comprising experienced web content professionals. It’s overall been both a privilege and a pleasure being a part of the EW team and able to work from home.
Korilynn VanDyke, Content Manager: A Day in My Life
Korilynn is based in Ogden, Utah.
My day typically starts around 5:30 – 6:00 a.m., no matter what day of the week it is. I am one of those people who don’t require an alarm clock and wake around the same time daily – trust me, I’d love if my brain would let me sleep in.
Since the schools shut down due to COVID-19, the time I wake up is about the only constant in my day-to-day schedule. While my three kids are finally done homeschooling, we are doing summer schoolwork, chores, and decided to take on a puppy (a cute little Siberian Husky named “Scout”).
I get my morning coffee in before any of the kids are up (I’m sure they appreciate that I’m caffeinated before they are up, too), and usually my first cup is on the back porch while Scout runs around and explores the backyard. I cannot start the day without two things: coffee and a morning brain dump, which involves writing in my journal.
Journaling with a new puppy, however, has become more of a write one sentence, stop and play, write another, fetch something she’s chewing on that is not a toy, and remember where you left off. Despite the chaos that has been tossed into my once very predictable morning routine, I do enjoy sitting outside and having a cup of coffee with no screens, and some peace and quiet. I only wish the temperatures would warm up out here – right now that peace and quiet comes with the price of sitting in 30 to 40 degrees.
The rest of my work and day (and evening/night) are staggered between the kids and puppy. I have learned to make my work as mobile as possible, with my phone available to keep up with emails and the team, a tablet nearby with a Bluetooth keyboard when I need to type out something more extensive, and then my office when the kids and puppy don’t require my attention.
Julia is based in Austin, Texas.
My day used to look quite different before lockdown — you would have seen a schedule that started at 6:30 a.m., with nice intermittent periods and lots of kid-free time to work (while my five-year-old was in school). One of these days I’ll most likely be back there again (at least, here’s hoping!), but I’ve had to do a ton of adjustments since the pandemic affected all of us.
My day these days begins around eight a.m., and after I get the kid settled, I head into my sprint for the day.
My workday is not easy to sum up. It’s usually a roundup of intensive business mapping (new products, new system planning, editing and adding services and planning next big steps on more than five sites and brands), maintenance for my brands (improvements to everything we do), team hiring (HR for Express Writers and my course teams), and marketing (from blog topic ideation, to Airtable scheduling, to writing an email, recording an Instagram story, and beyond!).
I work best, I’ve found, in sprints for projects coordinated to days. So, each day gets mapped to one or two projects I want to finish or work on. To avoid brain overwhelm, I don’t typically schedule more than two big projects across one day. During that day, I sprint through that project. My head is down and I stay focused in my office with my ergonomic setup, submerging into the depths of creating big things, and I surface for my team and their questions on Slack. (And lunch, when I remember. Just kidding. Health and nutrition are vital!)
For example, Friday May 29th was for two big projects: Finishing the waitlist launch of The Unlearn Essay Writing Course waitlist, a project of more than two weeks that included site copy, video recording, editing, and producing, and a new website; and doing payroll for my agency at Express Writers. A third project popped in – speaking to Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang’s student group — but I try my best not to do that. It usually makes for a late workday. That day, I stepped away from the computer around 7:30 p.m. after starting at nine. Sometimes it happens, and when it does, I feel gratitude that I can be a part of big things. I wouldn’t have it any other way.How @JuliaEMcCoy works remotely: 'I work best in sprints. Each day gets mapped to one or two projects I want to finish. To avoid brain overwhelm, I don't schedule more than two big projects across one day.' Click To Tweet
An ergonomic setup, nine years of experience working remotely, and having the ability to flip through a myriad of tasks with dedicated focus for each one is how I work. My standards are high, and I work hard to never let one drop. My brain loves a good challenge (I’m Enneagram type 8, The Challenger), so I often come across ideas for launches as I work to solve a real pain point in my agency. I’m so thankful and blessed that I get to do what I do with an amazing team.
A Day in the Life, Summed Up
There you go!
A day in the life of Express Writers remote team.
Yes, it’s all about getting up when you want to and working in your PJs (if you want to). But also, it’s about superhuman discipline because there’s no one looking over your shoulder.
It’s about commitment, passion, and the desire to ROCK the content world.
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