Last week, we talked about where to find potential entrepreneurs locally. Then I saw a Tweet from my friend Jon Swanson, saying he’d just opened a tiny storefront online.* That’s when I realized I forgot to list the online places to look for local entrepreneurs.
Right now, rural people from all over are making at least part of their living with online platforms. There are so many platforms, I asked for suggestions of platforms from fellow readers on the Small Biz Survival Facebook page. Here are ones we came up with:
- Upwork, Fiverr and crowdSPRING for freelance professionals
- Etsy, Handmade by Amazon, and Scott’s Marketplace for handmade items
- Amazon, eBay and Shopify for online stores
- Cafe Press, Deviant Art and Society6 for art prints and other custom printed items
- Lulu, Blurb and CreateSpace for books by local authors or photographers
These are just a few of the platforms. There are also specialty sites you’d never guess. HyenaCart features handmade and eco-friendly gift items. Steve King from Small Biz Labs has written extensively on independent workers and the gig economy. He says there are hundreds of different sites, complicating your search.
Most of these online platforms don’t let you search for people by location. (Etsy and Upwork will let you search by location, so that’s a bonus. I found a few locals from Alva, Oklahoma, population 5500, on each platform.)
You’re more likely to find these folks by asking around, by starting conversations online and with others you know are working online. You can start a Pinterest Board of local sellers, and open it for group submissions. You can post on Facebook and ask who has an online side gig. Facebook local “swap” or “buy/sell” groups may be a great place to look as well as ask about other potential entrepreneurs.
How else might you go about finding locals who make all or part of their living online?
* Jon’s tiny storefront is a Cafe Press store of mugs for chaplains.
This article originally appeared in Becky’s email newsletter, A Positive View of Rural. Sign up here.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.