Is the Global Economy Negatively Affecting Your Local Design Business Income?

by Calvin Cox on December 2, 2008

As I’m doing my research on the various ways designers find work; I stumbled on many different sites that designers use to find work. The questions is, do these sites give you the work you want at the price you ask for… or is it more like the work you need at the price you have to take.

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Designer From The Ukraine Profile on Odesk.com

I talk about the global economy a lot. And the reason I do is because I’m fascinated by the business reach and earning potential of this new economy, BUT… I recently did a survey, which I will reveal the results once I’ve analyzed the data, but from that survey I’m under the impression that there are mainly four (4) services employers use to find designers and to fill open positions.

1) Job boards – like Style Careers, Coroflot , Monster, etc
2) Referrals – Getting referred by a friend or colleague
3) Temp agencies – like 24 Seven, Project Solvers and the likes
4) Freelance Projects Auction Sites – like Elance and Odesk.

Now 3 out of 4 of these options, the designer has somewhat of a local control more or less over the competition with which he or she can bid for the design project. But freelance auction sites like elance.com and odesk.com tend to be truly a global effort. Where you are competing with designers all over the world for a local project. Conventional thinking says that the broader your business reach the better, but is that always the case? With websites like Elance and Odesk one would suggest that an obvious flaw or lopsidedness of this type of system is perhaps the dynamic relationship between the project price and designer location.

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Same Designer from the Ukraine Hourly Rate $12.22/Hr

What do I mean by this? Well let’s say a company in New York decides to use odesk.com for a design project. Using current rates for local designers in New York, this project can be easily quoted at $70/hr and up. Whereas on Odesk.com that same project can be bid down to $15-$20 an hour. Therein lies the million dollar question.

Even though we are now working in a global economy, designers still live in their respective local economies with local bills to pay. How does a designer from New York, Austria or the UK compete with designers living in Africa or India?  This is obviously not a new question I’m proposing., but I would really like to get your feedback on whether or not designers find this kind of service useful when looking for new design work?

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