Home > Remote Workers Q&A > Taryn Barnes

Taryn Barnes Works Remotely

Years Remote
Coffee Shops
Preferred Workspace
Long Beach, CA
Home Base

Freelance Writer

Digital Nomad
Digital Nomad Life
% Time Travelling
PAST YEAR: 6 Cities 2 Countries
CAREER: 6 Cities 2 Countries
*All figures approximate as of October 2016
Taryn Barnes
Interview with Remote.co

I worked in a corporate setting that required long hours and tons of traveling. It took a lot of time away from being part of the lives of my loved ones. While I was making great money, I missed having a life outside of work. After leaving my job, I took some time off to recalibrate. It was then I found out about freelancing. I was intrigued about working for myself as a writer, so I did some research and then took the plunge.

Have a cash reserve for at least 6 months of living expenses. Be realistic about your work ethic and how much you can actually accomplish. Set schedules and manage time efficiently. Talk to veteran remote workers whose careers you’d like to emulate. Be willing to work hard.

As a self-employed worker, I had to convince myself that freelancing was a viable option. I spent quite a bit of time marketing to companies and leveraging my skill set. My biggest challenge was believing that I could pull it off. Once I got over the fear, it was easier to progress.

Autonomy is a huge bonus to working remotely. I can work whenever/wherever I like. In addition, I can spend time with loved ones without having to sacrifice on my work. For instance, I started filling out this questionnaire in Germany. I’m now at a coffee shop in West Hollywood. Having that freedom to be a nomad is definitely awesome! 🙂

It can be a bit lonesome if you don’t manage your time appropriately. For example, I try and keep normal hours so that when my friends are off work, so am I. This enables me to go and visit whenever I can. Another thing is being accountable for yourself. When starting out, I’ll admit that I wasn’t the most strategic with my time—resulting in a lot of stress and procrastination.

Yes: I am an early bird, in addition to having a lot of East Coast clients. My day typically begins at 4 a.m. I then walk my dog for about an hour. After, I check my email, schedule which projects I will work on, and pitch new leads if needed. I’m usually done by 2 p.m. most days.

I’m an analog person, so the majority of my writing is done via pen and paper. I only use tech when I’m editing or submitting assignments. I also try and keep the windows of my web browser to a minimum. Lastly, social media is reserved only for when I’m “off the clock.”

As an introvert, if I don’t regularly socialize, I can feel a bit awkward in social settings. I’ve joined a few writing groups and clubs around my city to keep my social “muscles” working.

I’ve only been to a coworking space once, but I did enjoy it! Klevverdog in DTLA is amazing. Lots of space and they allows dogs!

Yes, I have a writer’s desk. It has a file system for invoices, pay stubs, etc. I also have a printer. I try and keep it low-maintenance as I find clutter to be distracting.

I don’t have teammates in the traditional sense. I do, however, have colleagues who are also freelancers. We usually email or meet up for coffee every so often.

Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping a schedule are huge in terms of money management. It’s easy to mindlessly order takeout frequently if you don’t have scheduled breaks or you didn’t budget time for grocery shopping. Utilize libraries and coffee shops as they’ll cut down on your utility bills.

As a freelance writer in the HR sector, I’ve found that directly contacting companies that need my skill set has been the most rewarding. Most writers use job boards or community postings. I’ve found that those methods, while not necessarily bad, are usually oversaturated and drives down cost. Additionally, I like cultivating new relationships with organizations, so contacting them directly has worked the best for me.

At this stage in my career, I enjoy the flexibility of working both freelance and remotely. It gives me the autonomy to plan my workdays while having full control of my career growth. I can expand at my own pace. If I were to return to the traditional setting, I think it would have to be when I’m much older and settled down. Perhaps in a teaching setting.

It’s helped quite a bit in the sense that it’s prompted me to become more efficient at networking and listening. Meeting new people through work engagements allows me to stay fresh on the industry I write in.

Volunteering. I’m fortunate to have a career that allows me a lot of freedom, so to speak. On my down time, I do like to volunteer at my local library.

I interview a lot of industry experts and attend conferences a few times out of the year. I remain in touch with the people I interact with as I genuinely have an interest in what they’re doing, as well as being sources for subsequent projects.

In the beginning, I had trouble adjusting as I was trying to work in a traditional model. Once I found a schedule that made sense for me, I was able to do more things with my down time. Working remotely has allowed me to get to know myself better. Previously, I was not on board for change of any sort. Freelancing has taught me to go with the flow of life and enjoy things that come my way. It’s also made me a bit of a travel junkie. This year, I’ve spent maybe 3 months (non-consecutively) at home.

It’s been great in terms of being able to spend time with my family. I have 7 nieces and nephews—4 of which were born within the last year. Being able to work remotely gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. For me, my family is incredibly important to me. It was actually one of the major reasons why I became a freelance writer.

It’s definitely a revolving process. It can be tough to take the freelancer hat off, especially if you have clients on different continents. At 5 p.m. each day I stop responding to emails for the day (unless it’s time sensitive) to give myself some sort of separation.

Physical active is incredibly important to me as it helps me focus. I also have an Australian Shepherd mix who requires consistent activity. We’ll go on several walks a day and play fetch. Working out throughout the day allows me to energize my creative process, while breaking up the monotony of writing.

Diet is absolutely key. Eating well is essential to the success of your work production. I find that when I keep a healthy diet, I am more focused and more likely to stay on task of my work flow. Conversely, when I eat poorly, I tend to procrastinate and will get writer’s block.

Totally! Moreover, if you don’t get on top of it, it can make you feel a little crazy. When first starting out, that was a major problem. Since you don’t have coworkers it can feel a bit lonely. I try and keep a schedule that’s semi-congruent with traditional work schedules so that I can meet up with friends after work. In addition, I have friends that also have non-traditional work schedules, so that helps too. I also volunteer, as that allows me to give back, while helping me stay connected to those around me.

I’m very fortunate to have friends spread out throughout the U.S. Typically if I’m at a conference near family or friends, I’ll spend an extra day or two hanging out with them. It makes going to conferences all the more fun, plus seeing people I don’t get to see regularly is awesome.

Try finding common ground. I was totally shy as a kid, so for me, I still use the same tactics as I did when going through school. Find a talking point (i.e., a watch, piece of clothing, etc.), make a comment, and presto! You’ve started a conversation. Most people in life are pretty friendly and are grateful for the interaction, so don’t overthink it when it comes to meeting new people. I’ve met so many wonderful people during my travels and some have become lifelong friends!

Absolutely. My parents were hesitant about the consistency of income—which I completely understand. Freelancing can be hit or miss, depending on what your niche is. For me, I was lucky in the sense that business writing has a need for writers and it pays competitively. I also made sure to have a solid client list. Once my parents saw my business model, they were less skeptical and happy that I had found an industry that I loved.

I was just in a small town in Germany called Vilseck. They had this cute little coffee shop that I would get some work in. Stateside, I’d say Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Las Vegas, for different reasons. Each city has its own unique backdrop that at times lends more creativity, I think.