When I first started my small freelance writing business with a basic website, email address and sack full of self-designed business cards, I lived in the heart of Atlanta. My clients dwelled in the tall buildings all around me. I could have attended a networking group meeting every day if I chose. I could find my favorite chai latte on every other block. And I couldn’t throw a rock without hitting other Web workers like me.
But, strangely enough, I found the experience of being a Web worker in the big city lonely and isolating.
It wasn’t until I moved back to my small hometown of Canton, Ga. (population 23,000) that I really felt like a “small business owner” rather than just another Web worker toiling away in obscurity in an overpriced midtown apartment. After a little reflection, I realized that there are a whole lot of pros to doing Web-based work in a small town. Here are just a few:
You’re not a dime a dozen
In a smaller town, you aren’t going to throw a rock and hit another graphic designer or writer or Web developer. When you hang out your proverbial shingle (i.e. website), you may well be the only person doing the type of work you do in your town. Which leads me to the realization that…
People want to do business with people they know
When someone wants to hire another person, they often ask around. As one of the few Web workers in a small town, it’s much easier to be found and chosen. After all, it feels good to do business locally, and clients often feel a sense of ease working with you if they feel like they can pop over to your office from time to time.
You’ll become a subject matter expert
Out of necessity! It might not always be fun to hear, “Hey, so I have a WordPress® question…” when you’re in line at the post office, but expect that kind of thing when working in a small town. On the upside, you’ll quickly become known around town as the expert when it comes to solving customer problems. Now just make sure to charge accordingly when it comes time to do client work!
You have a real voice in the shaping of your town
In a small town, your really have a chance for your voice to be heard.
When former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” I think he meant that it’s up to us to shape the environment in which we want to live. In a small town, your really have a chance for your voice to be heard. Don’t like the way downtown is developing? Show up at a city council meeting and let the powers that be know. Want to start a business networking group? Go ahead – chances are your town doesn’t already have a dozen groups just like it.
Lower cost of living
Sure, all of those other benefits are well and good, but your bottom line is especially going to thank you for choosing to set up shop in a small town. Housing, office rent, food and other day-to-day costs are often lower in small towns. You get to live in a fun environment and realize big profits. What’s not to love?
As I made a life in my hometown, I’ve found all of these benefits and more to being a Web worker in a small town. Sure, there are perks to living in the big city, too, but I wouldn’t trade my life as a small-town Web worker for all the coffee shops in Atlanta.