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Ep. 137 How this former Dentist left his day job to become a remote marketer and writer with Luis Magalhaes

In this week’s episode, I speak with Luis Magalhães who is the Director of Marketing and editor-in-chief at DistantJob.

He writes about how to build and manage remote teams, and the benefits of hiring remote workers. He is also the host of the DistantJob Podcast, where he talks to world-class remote leaders, learning their strategies and tactics.

Listen on to find out how Luis has been able to successfully build and hire remote teams.

Listen Below:

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Ep. 134 How this online entrepreneur travels the world as a Pinterest Marketer with Molly ho

 

Transcription :

Debbie:   

Hey everyone, thank you so much for being here today. I am so excited to speak to Luis. How are you?

Luis:   

Hey Debbie. I’m doing great. Thank you. What about you?

Debbie:  

I am wonderful. Can you tell us a little bit about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Luis:    

It’s kind of a long story, but I used to dabble when I was young in writing and I really loved writing and producing content. I graduated as a dentist, as a dental surgeon which has nothing to do with writing. But as I progressed in my career, I kept bumping into this passion for writing and I had a feeling that I wanted to do more work in the writing space. So I started building a parallel career and that eventually took over and got me a bit farther away from my dental surgeon career. And eventually, it created the opportunity for me to be not only a writer but an author and a marketer. And I ended up working from home with international clients and that was absolutely nothing that was on my radar when I started my adult life as a dental surgeon. But it’s quite pleasant and I would say offbeat.

Debbie: 

That is a huge leap from being a dentist. How did you prepare for that journey after you made the huge change of transitioning from a whole new different career?

Luis:  

It wasn’t a sudden change. I started with the side hustle. I had some previous experience because before I graduated, I worked for a few websites. So initially I started writing in Portuguese and I worked for a few websites and national newspapers writing about video games, which doesn’t give you any money, but it does give you free games. It was kind of nice before I had any work to get free video games and I already had some practice and I knew that I loved writing. By the time I was into my second or third year of working as a dentist and I never fully dropped it, but that definitely was more of a hobby.

And I started thinking that I could really do that, I started this out as a side hustle, as a freelance writer this time in English because, well again, thanks to video gaming, I developed nice English skills and writing in English pays better. So, I started with the goal to make just a very small amount of money. I expected on my first three months to end up with an average of like 200 euros per month from my freelancing gig. It was a very soft goal. It seemed very achievable. I thought, well by the time that in my freelance business, I make a thousand euros per month, which again is not a lot, especially compared to what I earned as a dentist. I will feel that yes, I am really able to do this.

This is a viable business path for me. So, I started looking on job boards and trying to find freelance gigs and it was very slow, it was not like one day I said, “Okay, I’m sick of the dentist life. I’m going to quit and be a writer.” I wouldn’t advise that to anyone. I’m sure that there are people who were able to do that, but I wouldn’t want to put myself under that pressure and because I honestly enjoy my work as a dentist. This was kind of my way of wanting to have more variety in my sources of income and eventually grew into something much more than I was expecting.

Debbie:   

I love talking to people like you, Luis, because you had created this incredible career already, but you knew that there was something else that you wanted to pursue and I think we’re all scared, right? Of taking that leap, especially one, we had put a lot of education in it and people are telling us we’re crazy to do something different. How did you get over that? I mean, if you even had fears for it, right? Because for me, I know it was a big struggle. There’s a lot of going back and forth with it. What was that journey for you like?

Luis:   

As you pointed out, I had a decently successful career as a dentist, so I basically saved six months’ worth of money. I know that this is not a super inspiring answer, but if you have money in the bank and you work on a profession where you more or less make your own time, you can just say, “Okay, I’m working two to four hours a day as a dentist. I don’t need to make as much money because I have six months worth of salary in the bank. I can just use that time to build a side hustle.”

I ended up working long days. I think that happens to everyone who wants to build a side hustle. They end up having less sleep, leisure time, and free time working long nights and etc. But I never had that fear that “Oh my God, what am I going to do if this doesn’t work out?” I managed to save before I started cutting my dentist’s work hours. And I knew that if I was an absolute failure as a freelance writer, I could go back to just being a dentist. I enjoyed it.

Debbie: 

Yeah. Having that preparation for sure is really crucial to actually make this long-lasting. And it’s also not gonna make you do things that you’re going to be stressed out about. You’re not going to be making decisions out of desperation. I think that’s a thing that a lot of people do and you realize it was a mistake and then you take jobs that may as well have stayed in your day job, right? Because it’s something that you really hate. So that was a really good thing that you did.

Luis:  

I think that what it afforded me to do was to work very cheaply at the beginning and build a solid portfolio and experience as a writer. This happens a lot where people want you to work for free. And actually, in the writer community, there’s always this debate of whether you should work for free or not. And I don’t really have a solid position on it. I can see the advantages on both ends. In some way, I really dislike the idea of someone working for free. I have never asked anyone to work for free before when I was the head of a business.

But I can see the value that I personally took from it. Working for free for websites and magazines really helped me build the skill. Now, I dislike this concept of working for free. I was okay with working for very little because I felt like my finances were in a safe spot. And just really focusing on developing my skill and developing my ability to interact with clients and even negotiating.

I remember that when I started my freelance career, I was working at about 50 bucks an article, which is nothing, right? But I did the best articles that I possibly could and it was a good step. After a couple of articles, after a couple of months, negotiating my rates and that taught me how to negotiate. Again, it was very little risk because I was getting paid very little. So if they said, “No, we don’t want to work with you anymore.” I say, “Okay, I’m not losing all that much.”

Debbie:  

Well, that’s a really good point that you have because honestly in the beginning, especially if you have no background in it, no education, you have to start somewhere. And there is something that you will get out of it aside from monetizing it, right? It’s the experience, you’re getting experience but there has to be a certain point where you should ask for money and you should stop doing anything for free and you need to know your worth, right?

In the beginning when we don’t know anything yet, it’s kind of like an internship, right? A lot of internships don’t pay, but it gives you a lot of experience that will allow you to make the money that you need to make. So that’s a really good point. And negotiation is really crucial to all of this as well.

Luis:   

Yeah. Like I’ve said, I’m a bit divided. I can see how I benefited from it, but I personally would never ask anyone to work for free for me because there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me.

Debbie: 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and it’s also something that we didn’t want to happen to us when we first started, right? Because everyone is working, so it’s worth something. It’s definitely deserve something for that. Now, I know you’ve talked about saving six months’ worth of money for your expenses before you actually left your job so that you feel prepared. How did you actually budget that money to make it last?

Luis: 

I knew how much I spent in a month. I’m a very organized person when it comes to my finances, so I knew all my monthly expenses. I average them over six months and I came up with a number and that’s it. I know that in order to live my life exactly as I live it today, I need this amount of cash per month and that was it. I actually recommend that to everyone especially to creatives, especially for people who live the freelance life.

It’s really important to have your finances in order because it gives you peace of mind. And by having your finances in order, I don’t mean that you need to have a fat bank account that you can rely on. You just need to know how much money you have and how long that money will last. Because you need to know where you stand if you hit the dry season, right?

Debbie:  

Yeah, absolutely. I think we go into this, especially when we’re just new, thinking that we’re going to find a job right away and then we get hit with the reality that it actually takes a little bit of time sometimes to do it. And again, you don’t want to lose your money and then have to go back to the day job that you didn’t want to do in the first place. So if you want to try to avoid that, definitely have that savings, budget your money wisely because otherwise, you’re going to be back to square one.

Luis:       

Yeah. And it depends on each person’s individual risk tolerance. I am a very, kind of, conservative better. When I bet, I am very conservative in my bets, so I have a low-risk tolerance and I recognize that and that’s why I went with six months. If you’re a person that’s a bit more adventurous, you have a high-risk tolerance, maybe you will be okay with two months, maybe you’ll be okay with less than that – it really is. You really need to figure out what’s the spot where you feel comfortable. If temporarily earning less money and trying something new.

Debbie: 

Yeah, you’re right. It’s definitely different from everyone when you’re going into this. It’s just knowing how you are going to be. Now we all have that “what now?” moment after we leave our day job and, I know, it definitely happened to me. I freaked out a little bit. What would you like Luis? What was your “what now?” moment?

Luis:  

When I left my day job?

Debbie:   

Yeah. It could be if you left your day job or even during the time when you have your business and you just look around like, “Oh my gosh, I’m here now. What am I doing? What now?”

Luis:  

This might be a very boring answer. When you have a solid plan especially when you have a plan for when things go wrong because a lot of people have a plan that is about, “Okay, I will do this and that, and then everything will be fine.” And I had that plan, that roadmap if you will but I also had the “what happens when stuff hits the fan” plan which is “If this works out terribly and I lose all my savings and I can’t make any money what will I do next?” And I had the plan for that as well. So I honestly can’t say that I freaked out.

By the time I went to the clinics that I was working for as a dentist and I told people, “Oh, well, I’m not doing this anymore. I was earning more as a writer and marketer than I was doing as a dentist.” So, there really wasn’t that moment for me. I was really comfortable with the place that I was in. I simply juggled the two jobs until one of them went out because I was originally not planning to stop being a dentist. I just wanted to diversify. But it eventually happened that I looked at marketing and I was like, “Well, this is making me good money. Maybe not dentist money, but it’s definitely a much more comfortable and healthy lifestyle and I can live with this money. I can definitely pay my expenses, so let’s do this.”

Debbie:  

It definitely took you to that and you definitely prepared for it beforehand. And I think that’s the preparation that you talked about that really helped you make this into a more smoother transition than if you just left and had nothing, obviously.

Luis: 

Yeah.

Debbie:  

What about right now Luis? Has there been a big setback that you’re encountering currently as an entrepreneur that you’re dealing with?

Luis:       

Yeah. There aren’t setbacks that happen all the time because I try new things. I try new things all the time and I’m part of a growing business. I work now as Director of Marketing at Distant Job and the business is growing. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s growing every quarter. So, as the marketing team grows and I’m responsible for them and as new marketing avenues open up for us to explore, there’s definitely more scope for mistakes, but also more scope for learning.

When I started working at Distant Job, I was the marketing team and all that there was content marketing. But over the past couple of years, the opportunities appeared to do event marketing, to build a sales team, to do social media advertisement, to build a podcast of my own, which I hope I will interview you in it soon.

In all of these areas there were screw-ups, there were problems that arose, and there were failures. And every now and then you get demotivated and you lose money. But, again, as long as you have that plan of “if this doesn’t work, I’m just going back to content marketing because I know that is working”. Some strategists said that you should cross the river and burn the bridge or burn the ships. I mean, I can see how that applies in some sense, but to me, I think that it’s nice to have a safe Harbor where you ca retreat to because this gives you the freedom to experiment, right? This gives you the freedom to advance boldly because you know that worst-case scenario, you know where to turn to and you know where to go.

Debbie:  

So, what would you say is your secret sauce for making your work successful and becoming a really successful content marketer?

Luis:  

I guess there are different answers for those things. I always try to picture what would my reaction be to this content if it’s interesting to me and if it will be interesting to someone. So when I write my books, I write the books that I want to read, right? When I write an article I don’t set out to put my great and mighty wisdom into a blog post so that everyone can benefit from it until the end of time. No, I write about something that I am interested in and I start writing and I research and I learn and part of the article that I write is kind of a report on my learning. So, I write about the topic that I’m interested in because I’m gambling that if I have this problem, this question, it’s very likely that someone else has.

So I can do the work for myself and I can educate myself and I can distill it into something that will help people like me or people that are facing the same problems. That’s why most of my writing is focused on remote management these days. Again, I started as a one-person marketing department, it’s grown steadily ever since. And what have I to learn? I have had to learn how to build and manage remote teams. As I have learned, I have written about it. I write about my challenges a lot and I write about the ways that I found to surpass them.

Debbie:  

Yeah. And guys make sure that you listen to the extended interview with Luis because he’s going to talk more about his tips and tricks on how to build and manage a remote team for content creation. So I’m really excited to interview you for that, Luis. Now let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?

Luis:  

I am almost 37, the life expectancy for males in my family is not that great. So, I think that I am going to be looking at this from beyond the grave 50 years from now, right? 50 years is a lot. 50 years is a long time.

Debbie:  

You never know.

Luis:   

I’m going to go with the manager thing because that takes most of my mental bandwidth these days. So I’d like to be remembered as someone who never held people to expectations that you wouldn’t be able to accomplish himself. I feel that I want to be remembered as someone who never gave other people work or systems or processes that weren’t needed in their place. Walk a mile in their shoes, so to say.

Debbie:  

Yeah, that’s definitely a great legacy that you could be leaving and you would be leaving. Now, what are you working on currently, Luis, that it’s really exciting to you?

Luis:  

The thing that most excites me right now, and I can’t say it’s new because it celebrated one year, but, you know, one year is still a baby, is really the Distant Job podcast because I interview people who are building and leaving remote teams. I’ve had the luck to interview people from awesome companies and awesome teams. I mean from Microsoft to MailChimp, it’s really been great.

And the reason I started that podcast was because I wanted an excuse to learn from these people and if I just send an email to a major Software Lad at Microsoft telling, “Hey dude, teach me about managing my remote team,” he will probably not answer me. But if I ask him, “Hey, do you want to guest on the podcast? Our conversation will be broadcast to a couple of thousand listeners and it will be great,” then you will come on the podcast and I will get to pick his brain for an hour about how to build and lead remote teams. And that’s pretty awesome and it worked out. I’m really proud of the work that I’m doing in the podcast right now. I think that it’s my best piece of content yet. And I look forward to growing it. And again, I look forward to having you to be on it.

Debbie:  

Perfect. And I can’t wait to be on it too, Luis. Now if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?

Luis:   

They can look me up on LinkedIn. You can search for “Luis Magalhaes” but because the Portuguese can be a bit tricky, they can email me directly at luis@distantjob.com. I would say that they could find me on Twitter, but my relationship with Twitter is a bit on and off. So, I’m afraid that I might not be as responsible as a good person on Twitter. So, yeah, LinkedIn and the Distant Job email are probably the best places to reach me.

Debbie:   

And we will definitely put all those links on our website. Thank you so much, Luis, for being here with us today. I really appreciate all the knowledge that you gave us.

Luis:     

It was my pleasure.

 

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WHERE LUIS SHARES HOW TO BUILD AND MANAGE A REMOTE TEAM FOR CONTENT CREATION.

 


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Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

 

 

 


 

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