The dream to own and run your own business as a creative and establish a freedom lifestyle in regional Australia is something many of us pursue.

What usually starts out as a side hustle and a passion for doing what we love before too long the passion becomes the enemy. It eats away any spare time, family relationships and turns the creative into a slave of another type. Trading one type of slavery working for someone else to working for the client.

I've seen many creatives in regional Australia start and finish after only a few years finding it too hard chasing work and stacking clients' work into their work queues. Exceptional designers, but what eventuates is they overcommit and burn out leaving a bad reputation for themselves and their business. Instead of working on those 100 projects maybe knocking back a few and concentrating on the golden customers should be a better choice.

Focus on quality, not quantity

My take on this is that the only way to balance your time and work is to focus on the "ideal client" and charge more. If you don't have the ideal customer yet then you're going to need to target them with your own local-based marketing. The key here is your unique point of difference is your personal presence and while you still going to need to win them over with your steller portfolio the quality that you can offer them in a face-to-face relationship is far preferred than one over email or over the phone. Think big and try and try again for those customers who are worth the risk.

Bes of all winning over a regional client could mean winning them away from a Sydney web design agency. Have confidence, you're a shoe-in, locals love to locals. Sack your low paying clients that make your life and take 90% of your time for 10% of your income. You can see these clients coming a mile away and if they don't value your time and are prepared to pay you for it they're better off on fivr or freelancer. And then theirs those customers who use you as a pixel pusher and not a professional that understands all aspects of your profession.

If you're going to offer a wide range of services then you need to be able to outsource these to other reliable regional locals or a network of regional professionals that help you to service your ideal client. That's where RWD fits in, offering services you don't specialise in or services that take you more time than you can charge your customer for. A good example of this is web development or social media work two things that have elements of design involved which means their hours and income are still here for you.

Think of yourself more as a builder of a house who gets all specialists trades together to do a great and they manage the project overall, they may even have a separate project manager. You "the builder" still have involvement and income from everything, either through your own % markup to the client or using your skills where you can specialise and bring value to the process.


You could also be in a small team and your finding overwhelmed by work because your processes and workflows have bottlenecks. Your team have strengths in certain areas but you're still trying to do too much in areas that are not your speciality. A small team still can't offer all the services your customers require. RWD are for you to help you offer more services so you can help.

As a professional, I also believe self-reflection is also important and if you promise a customer you're going to deliver and miss deadlines then this is an obvious indication you have taken on too much. Your choice should be to either fess up and tell the client you can't get it done or tell them you can get someone else to help and still make sure it gets done right. Your integrity should be as important as the money you get paid.

The easy life of running your own business is a lie!

The industry is very focused on leaving a full-time job and being an entrepreneur and starting a business that can scale. Getting others to work for you the same as you may have been working a regular JOB in the past is a recipe for disaster and doesn't work the way you might recruit someone to work in a factory or a school. Just because you have the extra resources doesn't mean you are twice as productive. You might get lucky and get someone in a situation that needs a regular paycheck and this will work only for a while but the time and effort you put into someone like this will inevitably want a bigger slice of the pie.

As a designer, you don't own any physical assets that restrict your employees or other start-ups from entering the market at a low cost. This barrier to entry is so low which is exactly why you will not be able to maintain employees long term.

As regional people and locals we have the point of difference that we can be face to face with people but locals also want to support and trust other locals. You’re a shoe in before you get started and having the confidence to deliver a proposal to a customer based on trust and relationship is your key to getting more business.

It can still be hard growing an agency in regional areas though with smaller operators doing work on the side of their main job for next to nothing. Everyone starts somewhere right, I personally built the agency I work with over 10 years with work on the side but found the right people to collaborate with over this time and produce some steller outcomes for our customers. (If I do say so myself)

Here are five things you can do to get more local business pretty easily but they are all things that have a clear value statement that is contextual the customer’s scenario. While they might seem obvious to you they may not be as obvious to your prospect so identifying them as a way and making it seem easy for them to get a good outcome and return could benefit both you and them.

  1. Restaurants and cafes – A booking system will save these business time and money so they can concentrate on the process of their business and not on just booking enquiries. While most locations have adopted these systems usually on a monthly fee for specialist system approach the can be expensive. Some of these may SMS the customers reminders and be better than others. Get familiar with the best system and do a comparison of native platform paid plugin one off solutions that could be meeting the same requirements for a cheaper end solution that has the same benefits as a paid SaaS solution.

  2. Google places management – You may do this for free as part of a website setup but you shouldn’t. Getting a google local place or business verified and setup takes time and you should look at what business are verified their listing and if you can help to verify those that haven’t. Doing so is not only helpful but gets you the admin right to assist with updates and branding. You could charge a small yearly fee for this maintenance such as $10 per month noting that it could deliver a large increase in business if it’s done correctly and testimonials are also used with the listing. Setup I would charge probably $200-$300. There are tools available such as LeadsGorilla which can help with figuring out if Google or Facebook pages have been claimed by their owners and if they are missing certain information.

  3. Check for broken links – This one is super simple and you can use a tool like broken link checker to simply check a prospects website for broken links.

  4. META Information – Another super simple one that takes a minute to check but can be more difficult to communicate. If the site is five years or older though there’s a good chance you’ll make an impression if you approach it the right way helpful and willing to listen to the customers other problems.

  5. Financial Advisors & Insurance Brokers - These industry regulated business’ need to make updates regularly to their policies. They might already have someone in-house or a freelancer or agency helping with this. A content update plan as a monthly might just work for these guys but you need to establish trust and a relationship first up.

Become a member and network with other like minded regional marketers, designers, creatives of all types in different parts of Australia and share ideas to grow each other’s business’.

This is a rather hard topic because I know there are lots of people part of the network that love SquareSpace, Wix, or some other hosted website builder but is it really the best solution for you and or your customers?

Perhaps it’s better to do the design part yourself doing the UX wireframe and UI concept for approval by the customer rather than just jumping in and doing something with a nice template. Often it comes down to cost of time and money where you might have a win 60% of the time and that’s good enough to decide these tools are your best tool. I have to point out that these platforms are really nice, well designed for the most part and easy to use which is why your customers might like them at least initially and you can get the kudos you deserve for putting something together that your customer is satisfied with.

  • You’re discounting your skills and talent by using these platforms that a five year old can use. You’re telling everyone that it’s easy anyone can build a website and endorsing this to the world. Put up a picture and some text and get an IT guy to do the techy stuff to delegate the domain.

    There’s a solutions process that should be followed which is best practice that involves specialists in each area in order to get a more professional product that delivers results. You could use the process with specialist with these platforms but it doesn’t change the fact they are targeted at the end user as a DIY solution.

  • You’re not seeing the project long term for yourself or your customer. You want to have a relationship with your customer that grows their regional business. You want to see them succeed and be part of their story. You want them to shout from the rooftops you’re the best agency in the world. Ok, maybe a little bit too far but the point is using a hosted platform means that you’re delivering your customer to that business for them to make lots of money out of them in hosting and other charges. While you get something up front for the build their may not be as much of a need for you to be involved with them in the future and if you are to charge a maintenance fee, what exactly are you charging for? A couple of emails a year wishing them merry Christmas or letting them know that their website is down.

    Far better to have a hosting and maintenance fee that sustains you and gives you freedom to be able to properly manage and be part of their business in a way that means growth for you and for your customer. Why not host the site yourself on a platform you trust with a support team you call by name in Australia. You just need to cover yourself with an SLA and backup, backup, backup and be able to restore or have a site restored for you within 24-48 hours. Sounds terrible I know but most regional customers unless it’s an ecommerce store putting through thousands per day won’t even notice.

  • Accessibility and SEO – I put these two together although their really not related all that much. Many of these DIY builders do not have the same level of support for screen readers or WCAG support. SquareSpace for example don’t have alt tags on their images just to name one. WordPress and Drupal out of the box ticks most of the boxes on basic WCAG requirements.

    SEO has seen a big push from marketers on the DIY builders to try to address this negative point which has been a long time argument from professionals that these types of sites just won’t compete for speed and performance. There’s a lot of truth that comes from these marketers, it’s not just all fluff DIY builders do use some super quick content delivery networks (CDN) setups, caching and optimised images ticking the boxes where they can.

    However like any platform it often come down to the user or site architect on what they do with the platform after starting the project. For example I’ve seen a SquareSpace score an “F” on a performance rating while getting the same site on WordPress with the same assets score an “A”. One of the things I love to do is to take a site that is performing poorly on a DIY platform and rebuild it using our website builder of choice WordPress with an Oxygen builder setup to rebuild the site within a day and take it from an “F” to an “A”.  We then host the site ourselves so we get ongoing revenue from it rather than the DIY platform.

  • Flexibility to customise – If you’re really truly going through the steps of developing best practice in a business marketing solution then you don’t want platform constraints to hold you back or have to use a work around to achieve the outcome your looking for.

    While there are plenty of layout, colour, font, image and content choices there are still plenty of things that can’t be done in these DIY builders that can be done with WordPress or Drupal. Creating custom content or post types with fields is one for me that maintains structure and layout consistency and is something that always gets used on most projects.

  • Webbooks and automation plugin customisation – Most marketers would look at these things ad think its geek stuff. There is however real benefit to a customer being able to integrate multiple systems using web hooks and APIs.

I once ran a large project using Drupal where we had to migrate thousands of records GEO spatial records from a CSIRO database through to some custom mapping capabilities. Some customer modules were needed to be built to pull this data and to interface with the external database on a regular basis. There’s no way this could have been done with an off the shelf DIY builder like SquareSpace or Wix.

My skillset is a developer so it’s natural that I like numbers and facts. Don’t stop reading now just because I’m a geek, these numbers help marketers to reach out to business to establish confidence in their geographical location.

From the 2020 estimated percentage of increase change since 2016. Noting this is before COVID so the increase I would expect to be far more significant in more recent years.

Regional cities have increased by 383,760 over four years. Regional population makes up 36% of Australia’s overall population and although not a majority is still 9.36M people.

The following link presents some interesting statistics on business and lifestyle growth in Australia with the top 5 areas boasting the highest entrepreneur rate of business start-ups.

My favourite two stats here though is the % of time of your workday average spent commuting and % of your income spent on mortgage.

  1. Sydney – Whatever way you define a workday 7.5 hours or even 12 hours your spending hours travelling to work every week. I actually think these numbers are quite conservative, when I lived in Sydney easily 10 hours per week travelling would have been my routine.
  2.  Toowoomba – About half an hour a day or 15 minutes each way.

On the housing affordability side:

  1. Sydney – Over 600% of your yearly wage would be mortgage.
  2. Wagga wagga – 257%

This indicates you can pay off your house more quickly and have more money in your purse to spend on weekly bills and activities. You’re less of a slave to your assets and happier as a result.

Workbook: Busting Regional City Myths final (

There’s no doubt over the past couple of years people have been moving out of the cities in droves since the COVID pandemic working remotely and living in safe non-lockdown locations has seen a steady increase.
It has changed our lives forever and may I dare say for the better. Gone is sitting in traffic waiting to arrive at your destination or sitting on a train or bus for hours of your day.

Regional Developer embraces this change in our lifestyles for people to take the opportunity to make the switch and move to regional areas.

It’s good for these local economy’s to have population growth and boosting local economies but what’s also great is the increase in health physical and mental benefits.

I will endeavor to provide ten reasons you might want to take on a regional lifestyle working as a regional creative, marketer or developer.

  1. Your job can probably be done anywhere – So why not embrace the face that you can work from anywhere just as efficiently and as effectively as you might work in the office. If there’s something that your job requires face to face then why not set aside a week every three months to spend in an office if you have to otherwise Skype, Zoom, Teams and the list goes on.
  2. Family relationships – This is by far something that has been ignored for too long that hundreds of years ago you’d work alongside your family members in whatever role or job you’d do every second of every day. Whether it be in the field farming or a market you’d work with your family and look after them, caring for their needs. Working from regional Australia means you have more time with family instead of commuting. You can be home for the kids when they get home or go for lunch with your husband or wife.
  3. Living affordability – While housing has increased in pricing due to the move of thousands of people to regional areas over the past couple of years it’s still relatively cheaper to live in regional areas than in the city.
  4. Mental Health – As I’d originally alluded to your mental health is important, your happiness in regional areas around a routine that you love is something that can be found in regional Australia. Depending on your job you might be able to manage your times around starting early or finishing late, doing your hours but injecting some time at school or with your spouse. Unless you work near-by to your loved ones living in the cities this is generally not possible.
  5. Physical Health – Want to get buff or lose some weight regional areas have had a boom in Gyms and fitness in the last ten years with some areas having up to 20 gyms available to go and workout. There’s no cost to your time away from family or your job, just time away from commuting and sitting in a cubical. If you’re a cyclist why not ride 50Km per day or go mountain biking. The small regional town I live in there are several groups of cyclist that get together every morning and head out for a ride before work. Riding or running in the country is a much safer alternative to the cities and has mental and physical health benefits.
  6. Opportunity – There’s plenty of opportunities but you might have to get off your but, be a bit creative or work for it - Moving to the country, you bring skills that others may not have or could be employed to improve the lives of others. Why not seek to take hold of opportunities that you may have seen in the cities in a regional area.
  7. Global Internet community – Through social media, slack or any other number of networks including regional developer you can network with teams, run your own business, work for someone else remotely and still be able to access rich resources and skills you would normally have to be in an office for.
  8. Internet Infrastructure – While the NBN isn’t great in regional areas with most areas still on a FTTN type setup struggling to get 25Mbps there are affordable alternatives like Starlink which will deliver you speeds above 300Mbps and enable you to video conference and work like you’re in the same office building. VPN technology has also evolved so if your employer wants you to be on the same office network this is also possible as if you’re in the next room.
  9. Facility costs – While electricity, gas, water is generally more expensive in regional areas you will find many other major expenses cheaper such as private schooling, transport, rates, weddings, cars, insurances, rental of commercial properties.
  10. Broaden your skills – Because there are less specialists in regional areas we often take on more skills for better or worse. With Regional Developer we seek to take a specialist approach to problem solving so that the end product is of a higher quality. Regardless of this you will find that you still need to fill some gaps that you wouldn’t normally have to in marketing jobs in the city because you have more people and more resources. What’s to say though that even though you trained as a Graphic Designer you might want to make a switch to Copy, Developer or project manager? Living in Regional Australia may assist you with making the switch and finding your true love and passion that you can devote 100% of your time in.
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Based in Wagga Wagga networking regional freelancers and agencies