Taking your work worldwide with Xolo

Written by Xolo
on July 01, 2019

Asad Zulfahri is an adventurous digital nomad, with a love of seeing the world, and applying his incredible knowledge of SEO while he does it.

We spoke to him about his work, his daily life, and his experience with Xolo Leap so far.

When Asad decided to start his own company, he remembered Estonian e-Residency, which he’d first heard about on a trip to Peru. After extensive research, he became an e-resident, and a customer of Xolo, who persuaded him with their in-depth knowledge of business in Estonia and all-in-one solution.

What does your company do?

My company offers search engine optimization (SEO) services to small business, startups, and enterprises. I focus on the North American and European industry as the market potential is enormous there. Specializing in technical SEO, I help companies build a solid foundation for their online product or website so that it’s easier to scale their business (and revenue!).

Apart from SEO services, I also offer consultation on other organic acquisition strategies such as content planning and distribution, backlinks acquisition with digital PR and influencer marketing. Having a scalable strategy means that you need a robust workflow and the ability to automate where necessary.

With my previous experience in working with small startups to multinational corporations, I know the value of efficiency, so this is why I also offer business advice on how to automate workflows.

My ultimate goal is to create and document an SEO program tailor-made to each business I work with, to ensure their long-term and scalable organic growth with minimal resources.

For the time being, your company simply has your name, but will you look to change it in future? Any ideas yet?

Being a one-person show, for now, it makes sense for me to start with my name. Having a self-named company allows me to offer my expertise while also building a personal brand. I’ll still keep this company as I believe that for any business to excel, you need a personal touch. People want to know on a personal level what kind of person is running the business.

I do plan on creating a software product soon. For this to become a reality, my existing business will need to be more profitable, so I can hire an actual team to work on the product. When this happens, I’ll open a new company.

What is your recent work history, and what do you like about working without borders?

Earlier this year I left my full-time remote job at Zapier after being with them for 13 months. I started freelancing slowly, then expanded to work with companies from other parts of the world such as New York, London, Antwerp, Gibraltar, etc.

Working without borders not only allowed me to travel, but also to work with more international companies that appreciate the value I bring to their organization. Some companies I work with are new to the concept of remote work. Having experience in traveling all over the world while working with Zapier allowed me to convince them that it’s possible to work without borders. All you need is a solid process of accountability, and at the end of the day, the actual performance and results are what matters.

Also, working with all these international companies made me realize the size of the potential worldwide market. There’s a massive demand for technical SEO services but very little supply of experts. This was when I decided to commit to being a freelancer fully.

What does a typical workday look like for you? Do you like to find somewhere quiet and private, or a bustling co-working space?

I only use a co-working space when I travel with remote work & travel groups like Hacker Paradise. They handle everything including the accommodation, a co-working space, and professional development programs.

It’s difficult for me to find affordable accommodation that’s near to a co-working space. So when I travel on my own, I’m more private, working mostly from hotels and Airbnb’s.

I also try to find variety in my day to day life. I usually work in 2 sprints. A few hours in the morning, then take a couple of hours to socialize or sleep in the afternoon, then continue working a couple of hours at night. With my schedule of working both in the morning and at night, it allows me to cover most time zones of the companies I work with. And with periodic rest in the afternoon, I make sure I don’t burn myself out.

Would you recommend the digital nomad life to others? Where’s the most interesting, or rewarding place you’ve travelled to?

Yes and no. This life isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of discipline to balance work and fun while traveling. If you’re not careful, you can quickly be burnt out from overdoing things. It can also be a costly adventure, so having a good sense of personal finance and budgeting is key to surviving as a digital nomad.

The most rewarding place I’ve been to is Mokrin House, a co-living space on the outskirts of Serbia. It was a very peaceful experience. I found myself being a lot more productive at Mokrin since there were no distractions and everything was taken care of. Having a positive and peaceful environment helped me prep for my speaking gig at the Growth Marketing Conference where I spoke about Hacking SEO.

Your website offers an extensive blog including SEO advice and stories of your travels — is it hard to find the time to document everything?

Yes, it’s tough to find time to document everything. In the beginning, I’d always written articles to record everything. But after a while I’ve found it difficult to sit down and write with purpose.

So I recently started to experiment with vlogs. Since I’m traveling to all these beautiful places while working on SEO, it makes sense to have everything recorded on video. I also find that it’s easier to talk about something than writing. So with video, I can distribute content to various platforms such as my YouTube channel, Instagram, etc. I also hire a virtual assistant from FancyHands to transcribe my videos, and with the text, I can automatically have content on my blog. It really saves me a lot of time, so I highly recommend other entrepreneurs to start recording their day to day lives!

While vlogging can also be difficult with having to find time to edit videos (I’m still learning as I go!), it’s worth it, as it’s made my content creation and distribution workflow much more scalable on all online platforms.

How did you first discover e-Residency, and what convinced you to sign up?

I discovered it while on a Hacker Paradise trip in Lima last year. I heard some people were talking about the concept of e-Residency. Although I thought it was a brilliant concept, at that time I was working full-time and didn’t have any need for it.

As I started to think about having my own company or freelancing, I knew I needed to have a company with access to a secure and reliable financial service with the possibility of managing everything remotely.

I was convinced to sign up when I did more research, reading about the technology behind it, its mission and also all the good things other e-Residents had to say. The one crucial fact that convinced me to sign up is how easy it is to create a European company and have access to a global financial service that is reliable, transparent and reputable.

And what do you hope Estonia, and EU registration for your company, will do to help your business in the future?

With the secure structure of the Estonian program, I hope that more global services will partner with Estonia to make cross-border collaboration easier. Having that ‘reputation’ of being an EU company is precious. With more partnerships, I hope to see my business grow not only in emerging markets but also well-established ones.

How did you discover Xolo and what made you sign up?

I had a list of other business service providers in Estonia, but none offered the thorough FAQ & Blog resources of Xolo. When I read through the knowledge base, it answered all of my questions and calmed any doubts I had.

The wealth of information provided, added to the fantastic all-in-one solution, made me feel comfortable signing up and having Xolo handle my business accounts.

Finally, how was your visit to Estonia? Did you feel welcome, and would you like to go back?

My first visit was amazing! From the airport, to strangers on the street, to the staff at Xolo, everyone was super friendly and very helpful. I went on a walking tour and learned all about the history of Estonia. I spent one week in Tallinn but felt I didn’t discover and explore the city enough, so I’ll definitely be coming back soon!