I have worked with clients in my city, (Bellingham, Washington) across the country, and worldwide. The question is, does distance affect the quality of communication or work rendered? My short answer is no, not in the slightest. At least it shouldn’t.
It’s all about having the right process. For the success of the project, working with someone who is halfway around the world should be no different than working with your next door neighbor on a project.
I recommend at the start of every project, have the client fill out a questionnaire. Asking your client’s the right questions will render useful answers. The goal here is to extract and discover what the client wants, and more importantly, what the client needs. Some people think they know what they want. It’s your job as the professional to tell them what they need.
By having answers to the right questions, you can establish a solid plan for success, and this can be done over the phone or on your website.
Now, I have to emphasize there can be differences in the overall process if your client is close to you or far away. For example let’s say you are creating a new logo for a local business. Your client will probably want to have meetings in person, milestone check-ins and just to say hi.
In my opinion, meeting a client face to face is a great experience, and I like putting a face and personality to a business. But it’s not imperative. In fact, meeting client’s will inevitably slow the entire project down.
Client’s usually want to meet in person for one over arching reason – trust. A client wants to meet you to also put a face and personality to their project, but to also gauge you as a professional. They want to make sure you’re going to do a GREAT job for them.
Building trust with your freelancer is key, and that is usually done in a few ways. The freelancer’s portfolio, case studies, blog posts, and client testimonials all contribute to how much you trust your online designer.
I’ve done work for people I’ve never met before.
Let’s take one of my clients of over 6 years, Richard. Richard is a web designer who lives in Gibraltar, a British Territory based on the Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsular.
We’ve never met, and yet he trusts me to design brands and logos for his client’s businesses, who have also never met me. Since we never plan meetings together, the entire process is streamlined. We talk regularly on Skype, but these conversations are completely unrelated to work. We’ve become friends, and trust each other. All by the power of the Internet!
Richard trusts my process and that I will do a killer job on the project.
So when thinking about working with a remote freelancer, look to see if they have their process posted and really dive into that. Ask questions about how it will be working with them so you know if it will be the right fit.
The freelancer’s process matters just as much as the client’s. You must remember, however, that when you hire a freelancer you MUST fall under their process because that is when their best work is done.
And if you’re a freelancer, you must respect the needs of your clients and understand their processes. If you feel like it might get in the way then don’t accept them as a client before you start a project. You’ll be doing both of you a huge favor!
I hope this has gleamed some insight into the remote freelancer / client relationship.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to post a comment, or find me on Twitter @jstamby! Thanks for reading.
I am a freelance designer in Bellingham WA. I am currently taking on logo design, website design and SEO projects.