Freelancer-friendly small towns: the future of America

Abbey Woodcock
4 min readMay 1, 2019


Small town in Upstate New York town is ready to usher in a new era

The Freelance Co-op, which strategically chose its Oneida location, opens Sunday, May 19 to connect creative freelancers with the resources they need to be successful in the new “gig economy.”

Freelancing in America is on the rise. Approximately 11 percent of the working adult population in the U.S. are working primarily as full-time independent contractors and more than a third of Americans have done at least some freelancing in 2018.

By 2027, more than half of American workers — 58 percent — will have had some experience as independent contractors. (source)

What does that mean for small towns?

Because most freelancers are location-independent, the most talented and educated members of the workforce no longer have to look to large cities to find work.

This is a huge opportunity for small towns across America to create freelancer-friendly cities. And Oneida, NY is taking advantage of that opportunity.

Oneida, like many small towns, is the perfect place for freelancers.

  • Oneida has a lower violent crime rate than both the New York State and national average. (source)
  • Housing costs are about half the national average and overall cost of living is lower than both the state and national averages (source)
  • The small local school districts offer tailored student experiences including AP courses and award-winning drama, music and art.

The Oneida City Center neighborhood, previously a railroad hub was designed to be walkable and the recent addition of the Oneida Rail Trail makes use of previous industry.

And for freelancers who need to attend industry events or meet with larger clients, Oneida is within a short drive to several major metropolitan areas in the northeast, including New York City, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

In the early 20th century, downtown Oneida was a central railroad hub with a thriving downtown. Oneida hit peak population in 1960, but the economy changed for Oneida as commuter rail service stopped and many of the city’s manufacturing plants closed or moved away… a story shared by towns throughout the Northeast region known as the “rust belt”

But now, because of location-independent freelancers, Oneida’s population is growing again, almost returning to peak population levels. (source)

Taking it to the next level

I’ve lived in Oneida my entire life and built a successful freelance business here… living, working, and raising my family for the last decade.

And now, with the help of the Oneida business community, we’re taking what we’ve learned and love about this community and put it all together in the Oneida Freelance Co-op.

We connect creative freelancers with the resources they need to be professional business owners that are in control of their own story and their own success.

Here’s just a few of the services now available to Oneida, NY freelancers.

  • Coworking: The Co-op offers coworking and connection at its downtown Oneida space. The facility houses collaboration centers, meeting space, and a recording studio for videos and/or podcasting.
  • Workshops: Each month, the co-op runs free and low-cost workshops (both online and in-person) on topics freelancers struggle with the most — finding clients, negotiation, marketing, client wrangling, and more.
  • Templates: Created by lawyers, tested by freelancers — freelancers can find contract templates for any type of project like retainer agreements, royalty deals, and big, sticky projects
  • Scripts: Dozens of freelancers contributed their best-working scripts for sticky situations like price objections, scope creep, ending a project tactfully and more
  • Experts: If a freelancer finds themselves in a tough situation — the co-op connects the freelancer to someone in a position to solve it. They have partnerships with local and virtual experts in legal, taxes, hiring, project management, and more.
  • Software: The co-op provides recommendations (and discounts) for software needs at every part of a freelance business — bookkeeping, project management, communication, and design.
  • Guides: For quick wins, they provide members downloadable guides in topics like getting better sleep, setting up a business bank account, and what to do when a client doesn’t pay.
  • Workflows: Freelancers can map out every project from start to finish. The Co-op provides training on automation and outsourcing so freelancers are protected, paid, and stress-free — even during huge overwhelming projects.

Oneida Freelance Co-op Grand Opening

We’ll celebrate the new era for Oneida at our grand opening and City Center Celebration Sunday, May 19 from 3pm-7pm.

Music by popular local artist Gary Johnson, local food trucks, and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Abbey Woodcock

Been a direct response copywriter since 7th grade when I wrote a 30-page sales letter asking my crush to the dance.