Jennette Cajucom, or Jen, is a Zambales-based digital marketing consultant and certified project manager with more than 10 years of experience. She is a digital marketing consultant for CEOs who want to improve on their personal branding. She gives free online digital marketing coaching basics as well as free onsite workshops in Subic on how to start working from home. She is the creator of The Digital Commuter, as she used to travel a lot and uses her travel experience in enriching her knowledge in human-centered marketing. With TDC Concepts as her branchild, Jennette also conducts seasonal digital marketing workshops that are tailor fit for small business owners, when not working on client projects.
Once in a while she also writes on Marketing in Asia, Medium.com, and posts her thoughts and insights on LinkedIn. Her influences include Gina Romero, Virginia Bautista, Nela Dunato, Tony Zambito and Mark Schaefer.
In this blog post, she will share her journey from being a corporate slave to becoming The Digital Commuter.
1. Please share your story about how you started working from home. What challenges did you face? What things did you find rewarding?
The year was 2008. That was the year when I decided to be a remote worker after working for almost 10 years as a BPO corporate slave. I remember making that decision one morning after moving into a new condo. I remember not having a piece of furniture then. I bought a 2nd hand desktop with a faulty CRT monitor that sits on top of an old balikbayan box.
Day and night for 3 straight weeks, I remember spending at least 4 hours a day just applying for jobs on oDesk (now Upwork.com), and after applying I would take tests to give clients (who stumble upon my profile) an idea of my skillset. If I still have time, I would check out profiles of seasoned contractors on the platform just to have an idea of how I should spruce up mine.
One of the challenges I encountered when starting out was the bidding stage. There were clients who took notice of my profile but who’ve also told me that they’ve interviewed contractors who agreed to work for a ridiculously low price. It was challenging because it was the part where I needed to make them see the value of what I could bring their table without compromising the rate I was happy to work with.
Finally after 3 weeks of rejection, I landed on my first oDesk gig, and the rest was history. There have been a few returning clients who I’m still in communication with up to this day. Being able to establish trust and nurture our professional relationship, I guess, is the most rewarding part of the whole journey.
2. What areas do you specialize in? Do you think offering specialized services helped you thrive as an online professional?
I’ve always thought that knowing one’s specialization is the best way to attract clients. It’s win-win if you think about it. It would of course be best to choose a specialization that you are most passionate about. It eventually not only helps you become more fulfilled in what you do, it also helps clients find that right worker for the job – not to mention that it also saves them time – rather than look for someone who only does it but not necessarily specialize in it, pay them with a low rate and eventually find out there wasn’t much ROI from the output.
After being a Jill-of-all-trades as a virtual assistant after a few years, I eventually decided that digital marketing strategy and content writing were the two skills I was most passionate about. After being fortunate enough to have worked with digital marketing agencies in the US, UK and Australia as a project manager, I’ve eventually decided that this is what I want to do for the long haul. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to help out clients who needed direction in establishing their digital footprint, their personal branding and attracting their target market.
Now that I am following my passion with the intention of attracting clients who believe in the benefits of human centered digital marketing, I always find myself celebrating even the smallest milestones. As an advocate of human centered marketing with a decade-long experience in customer service, it allows me to give more value in helping out clients who want to be more connected with their target audience.
3. What projects keep you on your toes these days?
These days, I do digital marketing consultancy for clients, particularly for CEOs who want to stand out through their personal brand and level up their game in the world of digital marketing.
I also do coaching and workshops in between, depending on requests and schedule.
4. Please give 5 practical tips to those who would like to successfully transition from being a corporate employee to a remote worker?
Have the right mindset.
I cannot stress this enough.
I’ve seen a lot of people over the years who tried to test the waters by working from home, and eventually found out they were not cut out for it, not wired for it. They ended up going back to their corporate jobs, struggling to convince their bosses that they’re back for good. Some even had to start from the bottom again, just to prove their intentions.
Being a remote worker requires having an entirely different mindset.
When I was still an employee, I remember wanting to have coffee first before attending to any office work. For some reason, work then at the office was a vicious cycle for me. I was just going through the motions – all because I had the same mindset everyday – that of an employee. Even if there was an opportunity to be proactive, I remained reactive. Not that I complained or anything, as being reactive does not always mean expressing something negative. Initiating change, bringing innovative ideas, taking ownership — none of those were consistently wired in my system. My way of thinking then was, “What’s the point?”
It was only in October 2008 when I started working from home that I realized that something needed to change. I badly wanted this (work from home setup) to work, and I cannot expect a different result if I was doing the same thing with the same mindset.
I read a lot about entrepreneurship. I would work from 9 am till 1 am in the morning taking care of my clients’ projects. At 1 am, I would start reading the sites that I’ve bookmarked. Then again at 7:30 am. I would squeeze in an hour or two to read again just before I do the daily grind. I would read another bookmarked site. Then I would continue reading during lunchtime. It was work-read-work-read for me every single day, and it was just addicting. It helps when you read on such topics not only to gain more insights but to also validate what you might already know, just to make sure you are on the right track in achieving your goals.
Have a contingency.
When I left the BPO industry in 2008, I made sure I was 3 months liquid. It was enough to take care of the bills for 3 months and daily expenses while I wait for my first gig. I also felt that 3 months was more than enough for me to reinvent myself as a remote worker and start a new chapter. I also wanted to make sure that my basis for starting remote work was NOT because my funds were already depleting.
I had to think win-win – both for me and my client. I’ve always believed that thinking win-win has a rippling effect. Being able to work on projects that you’re passionate about without having to complain a low hourly rate and without having to worry about paying the bills, in effect, gives a pleasant experience to clients. If you’re lucky, clients who received that pleasant experience would eventually either hire you again for your services or even refer you to other prospective clients.
Research, research, research.
It pays to do your own homework. Don’t get me wrong, I was ALL IN when I left the BPO industry and start being a telecommuter. I simply wanted to make sure I was making the most of my time getting myself ready for my first milestone as a remote worker.
It pays to do one’s research even if you have yet to wait for your first client. There’s a lot of information online that can sometimes be overwhelming and sometimes even confusing but if you know what you what your goal is, it makes it easier for you to be less distracted as it simply directs you to research only on info that help you achieve your goals.
What to research? 3 things: what kind of clients you want to attract, what skills/services they seek, and what you can do to attract them.
Connect the dots.
If you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do and what you think you’re meant to do, try following Steve Jobs’ advice: connect the dots by looking backwards. Acknowledge that there is a good reason why things in your past happened as they did. Whatever you thought was a time-waster in your career was preparing you to do your next big thing. Once you connect the dots, only then will you find the clarity that you’ve been looking for the whole time. And that clarity is so empowering.
Create your personal brand.
Creating a personal brand has its mutual benefits – both for you and your target client. While your personal brand helps you establish yourself as someone really good at what you do, your target clients likewise find it easier to know that what you can do for them is something that they exactly need.
5. What’s your favorite book? What’s it about?
Oh my, that’s hard. I’ve always loved Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat,” as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” but my recent favorite is Nela Dunato’s “The Human Centered Brand.” I just love Nela. It’s like she’s talking to me directly when I read her book. After exchanging pleasantries with her through LinkedIn, I eventually had the chance to interview her online. True enough we both had the same belief that “business IS personal.” I cannot think of a more apt way to treat business as it involves dealing with people, and in my case, their personal brand. It’s like if they fail, you fail as well. And that’s the last thing I want to happen.
To follow Jen and her work, visit her website here…
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