Client’s Geographical Location
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One of the nobler sentiments about the Internet is that it is the great global equalizer. Especially when it comes to online commerce, there’s a strong notion held by many people that it doesn’t matter where your business partners are located. In fact, globalization and the low cost and high speed of transcontinental and international communication have played a large part in the rise of new industries such as online freelancing. Consider that thirty years ago, nearly all freelancers worked only for local clients; only in niche fields would clients hire freelancers from different countries, whereas now it is done all the time.
All that said, we are still pretty far from the goal of having a world where it is just as easy to work with someone across the globe as across the street. There are some issues you need to keep in mind when working for clients who are far from you geographically. Some of these are soundly grounded in practical considerations, while others are based on observations or sometimes even prejudices, but all are important to know about.
Remember also that clients will be thinking about these same issues with respect to you when you bid on their projects.
The first issue with respect to location is figuring out where prospective clients are actually located. This seems like it should be a simple matter, but often is not.
All freelancing sites allow clients and contractors to specify their locations in the profile section. Some sites insist upon it, but others do not. This means you may not see a location indicated for a prospective client when considering whether or not to bid.
When you do see a location specified, the next concern is accuracy. Most sites use the “honor system” when it comes to location, because it would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to attempt to verify where every client or contractor lives. This leads to inaccuracies in displayed region for reasons such as the following:
These issues are not common—most of the time, the location that the client gives is correct—but they do occur. So don’t assume that the client is always going to be where their profile says they are.
And if it seems odd that people would mislead others about where they live, the last couple of subsections below will explain that. Again this is not very common with clients (it is quite common with contractors, much to the chagrin of those looking to hire on freelance sites.)
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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