My husband owns a brick-and-mortar computer repair business who sometimes hires the best freelance writer and marketer in the county – me. I was your run of the mill 9-to-5 employee before becoming a freelancer.
In my younger days, I worked as a medical assistant in hospitals, labs, and university health centers. I became a freelance writer more than 17 years ago, after moving to a rural area far away from any medical facilities.
I now make my living in the “gig economy,” as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts it.
My first gig was writing for a computer security company. Because of my extensive history in medicine, I began to pick up gigs writing for doctors, surgeons, dentists, chiropractors, and veterinarians. In the years since, I have written for thousands of companies, ranging from ma-and-pa SMBs to Fortune 500 enterprises.
Marketing seemed to be the common thread connecting all of my freelance customers – they all needed great content to advertise their businesses. It did not take me long to realize that, while I specialize in medical writing, I am actually a business writer at my core.
Today, I make myself available for hire to businesses that I find on the internet and in my local community, including my husband’s business. We live in rural town of 900 people and surrounded by corn and soybean fields. The village features one restaurant, bank, gas station and bar. The nearest stoplight is two towns over, 15 miles away. The customer base of my husband’s computer store spans two sparsely populated counties. He hired me as a freelancer to brand, market, and promote his business.
Developing a marketing strategy for a computer repair store in such a remote area proved to be quite a challenge. A great digital divide exists between urban and rural communities, with urban use of the internet consistently outpacing rural use. Twenty-nine percent of rural users own a desktop computer, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, while 35 percent of urban users have a desktop machine. Laptop and internet-enable mobile phone use also lags among rural customers.
I used my skills as a freelancer to create a website, logo, professional voice, and marketing literature to help his upstart succeed in this challenging environment. He also hired me to perform freelance cold calls, paying a bonus for every new customer.
Impressed with the power of freelancing in the business world, my husband also now works as a freelancer, offering services not normally associated with a computer repair store. Freelancing helps him provide unique, appealing services that create profitable and reliable revenue streams. These services and products include:
- Vinyl lettering for signs, windows and vehicles
- Graphic design, such as posters and t-shirt designs
- Wide format printing
- Business cards
- Upstart consulting, branding, marketing
- Instruction in computers, eBay, marketing
My husband has added freelancing metal detection services to his repertoire. For a nominal fee, he locates and maps property markers, finds lost jewelry, and detects and removes dangerous metal objects from public and private spaces. Furthermore, he recently earned his FAA license to be a drone pilot and is launching an aerial imaging service, in which he will shoot drone footage of towers, real estate, and agricultural settings.
We enjoy providing services to private citizens but a substantial amount of our revenue comes from businesses. Many industries left rural areas during the recession, and many of the employees they left behind started new businesses. As an experienced business owner and entrepreneur, I am able to provide a variety of freelance services in the form of consulting. I create sound business plans, for example, teach people how to use business software, and offer branding and marketing strategies.
Working as a freelancer is empowering and intimidating at the same time. Setting my own work schedule is often convenient, for example, but the pressure of having to complete the work myself is often stressful. Whether I succeed or fail is completely up to me – any windfalls or disasters that befall me are truly of my own making.
Integrating a freelance approach to running a brick-and-mortar has paid off. Integrating services not related to computer repair has helped us expand our customer base and connect with businesses located well outside our village limits. In fact, the leaders of our town performed a survey of people and businesses in our area, who graciously named us “Business of the Year” at the annual festival this year.