I was talking to a fairly successful businessman the other day who, upon me stating I was trying to pursue freelance web development, said that there was no market or demand for it in my area and that it was not a wise pursuit.
Being that we both live in a small city in central Virginia, he stated I would have to go down to Raleigh/Durham or up to D.C. to be successful.
Normally people listen to this guy, including me. The businesses he had built are proof that he knows what he is talking about.
However, I completely disagreed with him and here is why:
He stated that he had done research years ago and the results were not good for this type of work in our area. He also stated that by the time I got a team together (project manager, designer, etc.), the costs would not add up.
But that is the misunderstanding between us.
I am marketing myself. I am not putting together a team or a big company. I am marketing my skills and services only.
Many small businesses are turned off by the idea of having to deal with a team of different people. They want one good, personal connection that can do it all. You can be that person as you market yourself and your skills as a freelance web developer /designer.
In addition, if I were not looking to freelance but instead looking to find a job with some company who would hire me to code, then yes I would have much better luck in places like Raleigh or D.C.
But in this regard I believe we were discussing two entirely different business models.
Big Fish, Small Pond
The fact that we live in a small city can have its advantages. For one, many businesses do not know that their websites are horrible until you point them out. They serve customers on site and have built up a good local, word-of-mouth-following, and their websites are only to point search engines their way. However, they are not responsive, they do not have good calls to action, the graphics/colors are way outdated, they are not by any means SEO friendly, etc., etc.
These companies will not come to you because they do not realize the potential they could have via the internet. Often times bigger cities are miles ahead when it comes to technology, but when you can bring this technology to specific businesses in smaller areas, you will have something of value to offer them as well as their potential customers.
For example, there is a local bakery/sandwich shop down the road from where I work. They make excellent sandwiches and deliver big orders to local businesses who call in.
I visited their site the other day just to see what they had for specials and I noticed they now offer online ordering. You can order your food, pay online, and you receive a specific pickup time.
How convenient in a small city where this sort of thing is not as common. Who set that feature up? Who will set it up for the next business looking to imitate them? Let it be you!
Big Fish, Big Pond
The other misconception is that your freelance business is limited to your local customers. You must market to your specific region and if the market is not good, then you are out of luck.
This is 2017. We have myriads of ways to do business, one-on-one, face-to-face, via the internet.
No one is limited by location anymore. One just needs a website, a good portfolio and a thriving and convincing social media/internet presence to attract clients from any area of the world.
Our stores are not only brick and mortar. They are virtual. The sky is the limit.
Every Business Needs A Site
Finally, every business needs a site. And if they have a site, they will need maintenance. This is the bottom line.
Take note of local business on your drive home one day. Look up their websites. If you have some value you could provide for them, offer to do so for them. Look for new businesses coming up in the area. Stop by and talk with them.
Every business needs a site. Remember that and be the person who lets them know that.
So what if there is not a good market in your area for freelance web developers/designers? Don’t believe it. Get out there and offer valuable services to people. Be the best. Be reliable.
Also, get your website and social media presence in order. Look outside of your region for work. Remember, every business needs a site. Every business is looking to add more value. Be the one to tell them about it.
Do you live in a small city? How have you found success there?