Though still relatively new to Denver (I moved in November 2016), I’m getting the hang of freelancing in this wonderful city. Coming from Chicago, I was worried that my opportunities would be smaller, but that hasn’t been the case.
Boundless Networking Opportunities
Perhaps thanks to my sales background, I was a networking fiend back in Chicago. I could, and often did, fill my entire week with various networking events, mixing and mingling with fellow Chicago freelancers, business owners, and agencies.
In Chicago, one of my favorite networking groups was the Business Marketing Association, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out they also operate a chapter in Denver. I now work with them as a board member, and credit many of my new Denver business opportunities to this involvement.
In Chicago, I was a fairly active member of the local WordPress community, speaking at WordCamp Chicago and attending various meet-up groups with other WordPress aficionados. Thanks to a little digging, I’m now helping to organize WordCamp Denver, and have met a lot of awesome people (mostly freelancers!) here in the process.
I can’t forget to mention the monthly Freelancers Union Spark meetings, which I co-lead with fellow Denver freelancers Katy Palmer, Kayleen Burke, and Elle Palumbo. Stop by our next meeting, usually the first Wednesday of every month, and you might learn something that transforms your freelance business!
Carrie Smith Nicholson, blogger at Careful Cents and Freelancers Union Spark speaker, has also had a lot of luck in moving to Denver as a freelancer.
“As someone who is originally from the Dallas area, I find that Denver offers so many awesome opportunities for freelancers,” she says. "My husband and I love living here, especially since we're both self-employed. I'm a financial strategist and productivity expert, while he's a culinary instructor and personal chef. In the 18 months we've lived here, I earned an additional $5,000 from freelance projects and he landed his dream job of leading cooking classes.”
All of these various opportunities in one way or another initially stemmed from my Chicago involvements. As Denver is truly a city of transplants, you may be happy to hear that finding a networking group to get involved with can be as simple as looking up the local chapter of a group you frequented before moving. If you’re lucky, you’ll make more than business connections, as friends are just as easy to come across in this city.
Co-working in Denver
If you’re the type who likes to work outside of your home, you’re in good company in Denver. Perhaps because of the bustling startup scene, there are almost as many co-working spaces as there are freelancers in this city.
When I lived in Chicago, I was introduced to Deskpass, which allowed me the freedom to patronize co-working spaces all over the city for a reasonable monthly price. You can imagine my excitement upon finding out they’ve recently expanded to Denver, with many of the co-working spaces in their network within walking distance of my apartment.
Honestly though, most of the time I try to stay productive while working from home. Another interesting aspect of freelancing in Denver is that if you live in a new building (and that’s most of the buildings here), you probably have more amenities than you know what to do with (and certainly more than you could get for the price in Chicago).
Between the Keurig machines in the taproom of my building, and a free conference room, it’s nice to know that I could easily host a client meeting at my building if I wanted to (and I have).
The Startup Scene
Many years before moving here, I read an article about Denver’s bustling startup scene. After, I knew that I wanted to make my way here someday. While I was freelancing in Chicago, I co-founded a meet-up group called Bloggers Meet Startups. I think there are a lot of parallels between bloggers and startups, and even freelancers and startups.
Startups in Denver are constantly hiring, although mostly for full-time positions. Your best bet for getting involved with a startup is to sign up with various staffing firms, like Creative Circle, or for job alerts from Built In Colorado.
Of course, when deciding to work for a startup, it’s important to understand whether or not they have funding. Those without might try to offer an equity stake instead of payment for your services, and you have to decide if that’s something you want to spend your time on (Hint: I don’t accept anything but cold, hard cash in exchange for my SEO copywriting services).
The Great Outdoors
“The ability to travel for work throughout the state simply cannot be replaced,” says Drew McCullough of MccDrew and fellow Freelancers Union member. I just got back from the San Luis Valley out on location and the whole trip was a treat.”
Whether or not you have a client who likes to hit the slopes (my boyfriend is lucky to find himself in this situation), the flexibility of freelancing means you have more opportunities than the average 9-to-5er to explore all that the beautiful state of Colorado has to offer.
In my short time here, I’ve taken weekend trips to Crested Butte and Winter Park. I force myself off the computer for weekend hikes at gorgeous trails in Boulder and Colorado Springs.
I never saw myself as outdoorsy, but I’m always excited to embrace a new challenge. Now that I’ve purchased the Rocky Mountain Super Pass for skiing (practically a must if you live here), I plan on taking off early some days in the winter to ski nearby. Talk about freelancer perks!
Spark speaker Carrie Smith Nicholson also enjoys the outdoorsy nature of Colorado, especially as it relates to client relationships.
“Aside from the income, we love the work-life balance provided here. Everyone understands that you actually have a life and don't want to work all the time, which makes living here so much less stressful,” she says. “When the weather is nice, we go hiking and camping often—sometimes even on weekdays!”
If you operate an online business, freelancing in Denver is not all that different than any other city. But it’s the little things that set it apart, and provide a unique experience for all of us slash workers lucky enough to live here.
If you’re reading this and live in Denver, I’d love to meet you at the next Freelancers Union Spark event. I promise it will be fun and you’ll leave with something new to bring to your freelance business. If you’re nervous, check out my blog post on how to get excited about attending a networking event.
Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. As a co-founder of the Denver chapter of Freelancers Union Spark, she has a lot to offer freelancers on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com. Get in touch on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.
The next Spark event is Wednesday, July 12, and it's all about networking. RSVP here and bring a friend!