Hi Abigail, I'm local to Atlanta, about 45 minutes north actually.
I can't speak to private money lending too much myself, but I'll send you some info I came across.
Hopefully it helps.
I would stick to bigger reputable companies and friends and family starting out. There are a lot of scammers when it comes to hard money. A good lender will help you evaluate a deal too. They are a partner in the transaction so your success is their success.