The Global Employee
Laptops, the internet and cell phones enable me to work anywhere, from the WiFi enabled lobby of Kansas City International to my parent’s house in New Jersey where internet access comes only in an archaic, mind-numbingly slow thing called “dial-up.”
This week, after working together for well over two years, I finally met one of my clients face-to-face. Our working relationship is incredibly efficient; he sends me copy for online ads (banners, direct response and the like) and I send him back designs. I bill monthly and he always pays promptly. He is, in a nutshell, a dream client.
Years ago, this client ran an ad in a local newspaper for a part-time in-house designer; I responded, and after a long discussion, we decided a monthly, contract-based relationship was the best. Although I moved out of the area (1800 miles away) shortly after the first round of ads was complete, the working relationship is more productive than ever.
Out of my dozen regular (and two dozen sporadic) clients, I have only met three face-to-face. Three. As a freelance designer, I pride myself on being a “global employee.” Laptops, the internet and cell phones enable me to work anywhere, from the WiFi enabled lobby of Kansas City International to my parent’s house in New Jersey where internet access comes only in an archaic, mind-numbingly slow thing called “dial-up.”
Because of this mobility and flexibility, I work with clients all over the country—the middle of Nowhere, TX, all over California, Florida, several in Philadelphia, New York and more. In some weird way, I find this inspiring. Since these clients only know me through my voice and e-mail, I know I keep them through better service and quality deliverables.
For the creative service professional, globalization has leveled the playing field. There are all degrees of creative quality and pricing, from the seasoned art director in New York billing $200/hour to the novice web designer in Kalamazoo who will “do” your site for $100.
But as the extremes find it harder to survive against world-wide competition, they are getting milder. My pricing is competitive, if not slightly above average, so it has forced me to offer superior service on different fronts. I pride myself on fast turnaround and quality design. I have no problem putting in a few late hours for a rush job and nothing leaves my computer until I think it’s the best the client deserves.
Globalization also enables me to more accurately size up my competition. Since most freelance designers and boutique design agencies have websites, it’s easy for me to rifle through their public portfolios to see what kind of work is being shown off. It forces me to sharpen the edge of my presentation and tightly edit the portfolio section of my own site. It’s open-door reconnaissance.
Even though it has taken over two years for me to take one of my best clients out to lunch, neither of us mind. Our relationship is built on the world’s tightening threads of technology, and I could be designing for him anywhere in the world, from a hostile in Germany to the back of a taxi in Singapore. I just happen to choose Kansas City.