Work Remotely In Advertising: How Meg Norton Became A Freelance Project Manager

Interested in finding out how you can work remotely in advertising and get companies to agree to a remote position?

Meg Norton tells us about her story from Account Management in an ad agency to becoming a freelance senior project manager digital nomad.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I grew up in a small beach town in Southern Ontario called Picton in Prince Edward County. I grew up in in a home that struggled financially and then eventually I was placed in foster care.

Naturally, I vowed not to have the life that I was living going forward. I saw how my parents struggled to make a living every day and they were good people with something to offer, hence I couldn’t understand why they were struggling other than to “work until it works”.

I went to school to become a social worker because I saw I had something to offer children and youth that came from similar backgrounds and realized in my last year that something was missing for me.

I wanted to play a big game and I saw that I wanted the capital to play that game. And, I wanted something LOUD, EDGEY, FUN – something that I could push the limits on and I could build and grow. Enter: The World Of Advertising

So, with an unfinished university degree and a sparkly new diploma in Advertising and Marketing, I picked the most reputable agency that was doing the best work in the world and offered to work for free for a month. They said yes.

Since I worked my tail off and offered to do everything with a smile, they hired me as an intern. I am now a senior freelance project manager in the advertising & marketing industry.

What do you do for work? How did you end up being a remote worker?

I work remotely in advertising and marketing as a freelance senior project manager.

I started in Account Management, which I was awful at because I was a people-pleaser and always said yes to everything. I don’t do that anymore.

I then moved into Production and Project Management which is my passion. I love creating plans with creative people and empowering teams to do things they did not consider to be possible, while also managing expectations around workability.

I began traveling between contracts which started turning into contracts allowing me to work while I travel, and then I realized that this is the future of work and it works if I do X, Y, and Z. That evolved into consulting with freelancers and businesses to provide them with tools and methods that enable them to live a remote-based life.

How were you able to convince companies to let you work remotely?

My first freelance contract was to cover a maternity leave, and that’s when I first experimented with traveling and creating an income that allowed me flexibility and time freedom. It sounds easy and effortless, but it was during a time when companies were really not cool with it.

Many companies are still uncomfortable investing their fate and their client base in a stranger that they can’t physically keep tabs on, but I would always strongly communicate my commitment and reliability when I request remote contracts. Some companies are open to it and some aren’t.

Sometimes I will be in Vancouver or Florence, Los Angeles or Athens, while other times I might be working around the clock at my desk at home in Toronto without emerging for 14 hours.

I like that I am able to make great money on a contract that would end in 2 months and then have the opportunity to work on something new.

What made you consider becoming a digital nomad?

When that maternity leave contract ended, I chanced upon the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts - which many of us would call the bible – it’s the book Tim Ferriss credits mostly responsible for his NYT best seller The Four Hour Work Week.

My perspective changed after reading that book. Being in an office as a full-time employee working 9am-5pm on a fixed income for the rest of my life was no longer palatable.

What is the best thing about living and working remotely?

The best thing about living and working remotely is that I get to create my day in the fullest capacity available to me in this moment, moment to moment.

I can choose to wake up early and crush work before 10am and then visit the Statue Of David or I can sleep in. The real opportunity in remote work is completing what you have committed to and having your life work around those commitments.

A great coach of mine once said that, “I am the cause in the matter of my life and I honor who I say I am”. For me, remote working is a byproduct of that way of life.

Most favorite city in the world (if you had to pick one) and why.

I actually love where I grew up in Prince Edward County. The house I grew up in is now a duck conservation area. I could go out in the woods and just sit in the middle of nowhere and nothing could get at me. I think that’s when I fell in love with what I call “freedom”.

Then, of course, Pompeii would be a top contender.

There’s also a place in Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy, called Villa Cimbrone. It’s where the beginning of Wonder Woman was filmed and it basically looks like heaven.

Also, the pink sands on Harbour Island in the Bahamas is pure bliss.

I get that I totally cheated here and gave you 4, and I’m going to own that.

How do you balance being a digital nomad while maintaining a relationship when your partner has a location-dependent job?

I’m on and off the road again as needed. My boyfriend and partner in crime has a full-time location-dependent job so he is unable to live the digital nomad life. Hence I do need to be home as often as the relationship and he needs me.

We do have two fur babies (cats) and they are low maintenance, so we still travel together and most of the time it’s me home for a month, away for a few weeks or home for a few weeks, away for a month.

What you wish non-digital nomads knew about your digital nomad lifestyle?

That it doesn’t look as perfect as it does on Instagram, but it is SO damn worth it if you’re willing to do the work.

Creating your own service-based business - whether it be writing, producing, virtually assisting - is an expression of yourself and if you want it, don’t wait to be that version of you. The world needs that “you”.

What are some travel hacks that you can recommend?

Pack light.

Get a pouch to keep all your cords/headphones in.

Treat your backpack/suitcase like your home and have a “place” for things inside there so it becomes how you settle yourself each day. Otherwise, I would go mad being on the road all the time.

Also, create a routine of some sort. “Coffee walk” at 10am gets me out when I’ve been sitting in an Airbnb in Los Angeles for 2 days, when I rearranged my life to be in LA!

Follow Meg on Instagram and her website.

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