During a recent call with a Seattle-based client, I asked if there was anything I could do to be of better service. Her response: she wanted me to arrange a trip to Seattle (at my expense) to spend some time working face-to-face with her. We never met in person because I connected with her after I moved to Denver. However, she was a referral from someone who knew my work—and me—very well.
I’ve never had any issues with this client (nor she with me) and many of my clients are based in Seattle, so her response was a surprise. None of my other Pacific Northwest-area clients have complained about the distance between us. However, a few of my contacts are people I used to work with, so my face is, well… established… with them.
Since that phone call, I’ve landed three new clients, one of which is officially an ideal company (meaning a variety and diversity of copywriting projects). The interesting factor: they are all local. The second interesting factor: they contacted me. I did not send an introductory email or make any cold calls to these businesses.
Overall, Denver has a strong commitment to supporting local businesses. One organization here has conducted a very successful Colorado Local First campaign, highlighting statistics like “every dollar you spend at a local business will recirculate [sic] at least three more times before leaving our community.” Given this sentiment, it doesn’t surprise me that my new clients are local businesses hiring local talent.
But the Seattle client has me wondering. Is local the future of freelancing? If so, what’s brought that about?
Seattle, my beloved city for nearly 14 years, has taken quite a beating in this economy. As layoffs increased and budgets were slashed, trust became pretty bruised. At least one of the biggest Seattle-area employers has also outsourced, sending jobs out of the country. Has that increased the desire to do business people you can see face-to-face?
Many of my fellow freelancers have clients across the country, so I’m certainly not declaring that it’s a “local or nothing” economy. But I wonder if we’re seeing changes. Will your location as a freelancer matter more?
I’m not the type of copywriter who conducts business only by email and charges extra for phone calls. My ideal clients are long-term, relationship-focused companies. I am fortunate to be the go-to person for copywriting as well as marketing and communications consulting for my key clients. I’m not interested in offering off-the-shelf products, like a press release template or a 10-page website package. So, I’m far more likely to attract businesses that crave putting faces to names.
What’s your experience? Are your clients local or long-distance? What’s the ratio: more long-distance or is your local client base growing? How do you feel about local clients? Does it require more in-person meetings that you’re willing to do? Please share in the comments here.