Remote Work: Elizabeth Ruth Of ER Marketing Services On How To Successfully Navigate The Opportunities & Challenges Of Working Remotely Or From Home
An Interview With David Liu
Boundaries get blurred. It can be harder to distinguish between work and personal hours when you work from home. For myself, I had to make an office with a door so I could shut it and walk away.
Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Ruth.
Elizabeth is the Owner and Chief Copy Writer for ER Marketing Services. The agency empowers business owners to attract incredible clients, connect with their audience, and establish their industry authority. Elizabeth and her team specialize in designing marketing strategies and writing content for websites, blog posts, social media, and emails or newsletters.
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”?
My entrepreneurship journey started when I was in my 20s, and I became an Independent Beauty Consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Even more than selling the product, I learned so much at our weekly team meetings and from reading books and quotes from Mary Kay Ash, the founder.
Alongside my Mary Kay side-hustle, I also worked as a professional fundraising consultant, where I helped universities and hospitals raise multi-millions of dollars towards new programs, facilities, and equipment.
When it was time to start my family, my husband and I decided that I would stay home to raise my two children. When my oldest was one year old, I opened a home daycare and ran that for 11 years.
I found myself enjoying crafting in the evenings and during nap times so I decided to start a handmade business, The Ruthless Crafter. This is still a passion project where I make ready-to-ship knit and crochet character hats, design and sell the patterns, and write children’s books to tell each character’s story.
When it was time to transition out of the home daycare, I took a long hard look at my skills and what I loved to do in my free time. It was then that I realized I loved keeping up with the latest social media platforms and marketing trends and was helping my entrepreneur friends with their marketing for fun. Combined with my English BA Hons and love for writing, ER Marketing Services was born.
Today, the agency empowers business owners to attract incredible clients, connect with their audience, and establish their industry authority. We specialize in designing marketing strategies and writing content for websites, blog posts, social media, and emails or newsletters.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It took me three years to realize that I needed to open a marketing agency! When you have a natural passion for something and do it even in your spare time, it can be hard to recognize that you could make money at it. My business didn’t have a name when I first started, and I was a general virtual assistant. The more I worked with clients; I realized that I was drawn to the writing and marketing tasks.
Over time, when I attended in-person networking events, I noticed that how the business owner introduced their business to me versus how they were represented online was very different. When I investigated further, it became clear that they were outsourcing their marketing and had no input into the digital content. This is when I decided that ER Marketing Services needed to use an interview-style approach to involve the entrepreneur by drawing out their expertise, passion, and unique stories around their products and services. Since we’ve started doing this our clients love working with us and their engagement has drastically improved.
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?
A funny mistake I made when I started was not doing my own digital marketing! What’s the saying… the cobbler’s children wear no shoes? Now I’m on as many platforms as I dare to and I’ve recently started doing short videos. I can’t believe how much fun it is to creatively share my stories and teach about marketing and entrepreneur lifestyle tips.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” by C.S. Lewis. It reminds me that everything is figure-out-able, and I trust my past successes and failures and learn from them both. Every day is a new opportunity to change course to reach our goals in new and exciting ways.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?
Be gracious. Everyone has good and bad days and should be given space to be in both realities. When I’m having a low energy day, as the business owner, I let myself take a nap or watch a movie to wait it out. If I were to continue pushing myself, my work would be sub-par and take far longer than if I took the time to step away and recharge. It’s my goal to be considerate of my team’s lower days and let them take the space they need to work it out. When they are given the flexibility, they come back happier and more productive than before so it’s a win-win.
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 opportunities 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?
Some of the main benefits of working remotely are that there are fewer in-person distractions. It’s easy to notify the team that I’m unavailable for a bit and shut down all notifications to really dig into my tasks and projects. Another advantage is that I’m able to get to know my team in different ways with chat groups. We recently shared Christmas Spotify playlists we were listening to while working, which was fun.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
- It can get lonely. Sure, there are chats and video calls but sometimes you just need a physical pat on the back.
- It’s easy to get distracted with personal interruptions. Perhaps children are working from home, your dog needs to be let in and out multiple times throughout the day, or that pile of laundry is calling your name.
- Boundaries get blurred. It can be harder to distinguish between work and personal hours when you work from home. For myself, I had to make an office with a door so I could shut it and walk away.
- Working remotely can make it hard to truly connect with your team. If you are only using text chats or audio calls, it’s difficult to read body language and engage with the team on a more personal level.
- No impromptu celebrations. When I worked at an office, we had potluck lunches or on Fridays, a few of us would go out to lunch. I would take afternoon walks with a colleague and we had an office pool of who would win Survivor or the Bachelor with a big bristol board colored in with the winner of the week. It’s not the same online.
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?
I think this is where out-of-the-box thinking comes into play. How can you show your appreciation for your team or bring some “in-person” elements into play? Perhaps a chocolate lover’s basket is sent to your team on their birthday. Randomly send lunch delivery to your team’s home on a Friday. Set up an office pool for those who can get the most steps in a week, or a popular sport or television series you all have an interest in. Bring the “I see you and I care about you” element back instead of solely being focused on the end goal of a project.
Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?
As a business owner, I think regardless of whether you are in-person or working remotely it’s important to give value to the team and the company you work for. Just as you would at a networking event, show up and contribute to the conversation. I’m looking to see who on my team gives value and does the best they can in their current role. This will build my confidence in them and therefore I would be more likely to advance their career within the business.
Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?
I firmly believe that positive and constructive feedback is invaluable. How can you learn and grow if you have no idea where you stand with the work you are doing?
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. :-)
I would say that learning how to share stories would be the most significant movement I’d like to see. If you like to read or watch movies or even follow celebrities or friends on social media, I’ll bet you’re in it for the story. Taking what you do every day without even thinking about it could be fascinating for others to read and learn from.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/networkingcommunityforfemaleentrepreneurs
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7X0EXZVNSO1y2PlhhFsvJQ (Marketing Minute With E)
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.