My accountability partner and I are in the midst of a (friendly) debate. She has been running a very successful freelance writing operation in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA for more than 11 years. Her business has flourished over the years. She belongs to a number of small business groups around town which also happens to be where she acquires most of her clients.
Now I’ve been freelancing full-time since 2007. When I first started I was servicing clients almost almost entirely online(my first two clients were from a craigs list ad). These days I may occasionally deal with clients locally who seem to be more comfortable meeting face-to-face once or twice. It’s not something I encourage as a mother with four kids under 11 because quite frankly time is not always on my side.
My writer friend has recently expressed an interest in working with clients on an exclusively virtual basis reducing the number of times she has to schedule in person meetings. Because she’s such a likable person and really knows her stuff, face-to-face meetings tend to work in her favor. She’s built an impressive business by taking time out for meetings in person, but they can be so time consuming – especially when she has to drive for over an hour into Los Angeles fighting insane traffic to meet with a client only to fight bumper-to-bumper traffic back home to Santa Barbara as well.
The problem as she sees it is the town she lives in is a very close knit community of people who value knowing one another. Entrepreneurs and other businesses prefer doing business with one another face, but they are also good about passing along referrals. She’s not sure of how to transition her business to operating as (mostly) a virtual operation. She recently partnered with a couple of website development firms who send clients to her that are in need of copywriting services from time to time which is a start. I’ve been trying to brainstorm with her to come up with a strategy to make it happen.
I haven’t had a problem with this because it’s how I’ve always operated. I think part of what could be holding her back is apprehension. Sometimes the first steps to doing something different are hardest.
Do you work mainly with local clients in person, exclusively online or have a mix of virtual and local clients?