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The Allure of Nashville for Freelancers

There’s a world beyond country music waiting for those who are willing to see for themselves.

It is the summer of 2013 and the retirement town I called home for the last twenty-eight years is shrinking away in the rear-view mirror of a rented SUV. I’m on a fourteen hour drive to the place I will begin my first real attempt at freelance writing; Music City, Nashville, Tennessee.

Now that I’ve been here for just over a year I realize how it is nothing like I thought it would be. It isn’t just cowboy hats and twangy music. I mean, there is a lot of that but there is just as much to offer that aren’t those things. There is a surge of music, culture, art, and fashion that is beginning to stretch beyond the rhinestone borders of the city.

The Opportunities

One of the main reasons I moved here is because a growing city brings changes in culture different than what is the norm within the already established market of entertainment. This brings a change in music which brings in different demographics which brings in more business opportunity. In fact, Nashville is the third largest growing city in the United States based on the gross metropolitan product (GMP). The GMP measures the goods and services produced in a metropolitan area. Based on that figure it is safe to say people are coming here to start or continue their businesses.

Upon searching for ‘freelance in nashville’ I pulled up these mediums currently in demand:

  • Make-Up Artists
  • Accountant/Book Keepers
  • Writers
  • Publicists
  • Animators
  • Hair Stylists
  • Models
  • Web Designers
  • Social Media Marketers
  • Video Crews
  • Consultants

There is a chance for anybody to find his or her own niche here. There are commercials, television shows and music videos being shot. There are craft beer events and marathons. And, of course there are live shows and albums being recorded. It really is a playground for the freelancer.

The Cost of Living

Opportunities are growing with each new high-rise condo being built in the Gulch or houses that are going up two by two on one lot. While we all know living downtown or in its boroughs can be pricey, the overall cost of living in Music City is fair.

Kiplinger ranks Nashville the fourth most affordable city in America. Let’s do some math:

  • Average freelancers make $45,250 in Nashville (Average of writers, graphic designers, web designers, and accountants/bookkeepers)
  • Average annual cost of living is $30,404 (rent, internet, phone bill, food)
  • That leaves you with $14,846 disposable income annually or $1,200 per month

Those numbers, of course, can vary greatly. Where one chooses to live or have influence those numbers. But, freelancers seem to be savvy people. We know that the periods of feast and famine are an inconvenient truth so planning accordingly is a must.

But, like any growing city, housing prices are going to start going up and the talent pool is going to grow larger and larger. Meaning a freelancer’s average income will go down while the cost of living rises around him or her. So, if you wait too long you will come in to the depths of the ocean instead of the bottom of a puddle.

The People

The first day I arrived I went to the Bi-Rite down the road to pick up some groceries. I got smiled at and “Hi”ed more than I can remember. Especially in a city area. At first I thought these people were up to something. They knew I wasn’t from around here and they were making me feel welcome with a fake sense of hospitality just because we’re in the south. I was wrong. The majority of people here are just that kind. It is the south after all.

The kindness of the people in this city leak into the world of business and freelancing. Most seasoned Nashvillians are more than willing to show a new person around and introduce them to their folks. All you have to do is ask.

Plan-B (also known as ‘Funding for the arts’)

Creative energy is in the air. If you’re conscious enough you can feel it once you step out of the doors of BNA or mingle with the people of East Nashville. That energy is put there by the hundreds and hundreds of people pursuing their goal--freelance or otherwise. Pair that with the considerate people of Nashville and you have yourself a population who understands the bigger picture in life. Especially when it comes to freelance work.

IF your freelancing career isn’t running off the ground as quickly as you thought there are part-time jobs amok. Restaurants are popping up, coffee shops are becoming more frequent, and food trucks are basically everywhere. The managers at these places know that their employees are chasing dreams they’ve come here to obtain. Hell, most of those managers are in bands or are photographers themselves. They understand what it is to be a creative in a time where everyone is out to do their own thing. This understanding goes a long way when it comes to growing your business while also having an extra income to pay the all-important rent.

Nashville is a great city. The short time I’ve been here my dream of being a freelance writer has become more obtainable with each month that passes. I’m not where I want to be just yet but I’ve only been at it for a little over a year and haven’t been homeless yet. So far, so good.

The people here are worth getting to know and finding a niche is easy if you are able to think outside of the box--even if it is just a little bit. With that being said, I have noticed that it is becoming a bit more cut-throat as the city expands. Fewer and fewer people are offering to help as more and more people file in. But, like I said, us freelancers are savvy. It takes more than an unhelpful person or two to keep us away from our dream.



Josh Baker is a freelance writer from Vero Beach, Florida. He moved to Nashville to obtain his goal of being a full-time writer while healthily fleeing the small town he grew up in. Follow, stalk, or obsess over him online at any of the following:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jbbyrann
Facebook: http://facebook.com/ithinkitsswelling
Blog: http://beensaidbefore.wordpress.com