Does it make sense to have a jobs site geographically oriented?

The Freelance Nation logoLocal entrepreneur Jay Lohmann has been promoting his site The Freelance Nation.com, and specifically the local Boulder Colorado version Boulder Freelancers.com.
He explains:

“BoulderFreelancers.com is listed on the first page of Google for relevant KW/KP and is a great place for [local freelance consultants] to market their services on the Internet. We also have 3800 freelance jobs listed from partners Jobster and Simply Hired and are working hard to get more “organic” jobs posted.”

According to his background materials, he has 119 local sites a la Boulder Freelancers, which begs the question: is regional slicing the right approach to this sort of dataset?
The thing about being geographically based is that where someone is located is only relevant if you’re looking for a very short term hands on consultant. Need someone to paint your house? It doesn’t make sense to fly them in from 1100 miles away. Need a great CSS hacker, though, or Flash animator, and isn’t it irrelevant whether they’re based in Des Moines or Bangalore?
As I learned all those years ago as a manager at Hewlett-Packard, it’s all about results, not appearances (though that’s less true at HP than it was in the past. This cultural change is definitely partly due to Fiorina, this “death of the next bench”, but that’s another story for another blog posting)
If you hire consultants and freelancers based on their ability to deliver, wouldn’t it make more sense to have something like FlashFreelancers.com or similar (which might already exist, for all I know) where you’re going “vertically” not “horizontally” (who comes up with these wacky spatial metaphors anyway? 🙂
Everyone I work with at Intuitive Systems is geographically dispersed, with my main graphics guy in Vancouver, Canada, my systems guy in San Francisco, my IP lawyer in Indiana, etc. The only local people I work with are my general legal counsel and accountant, and for all I know they might outsource basic grunt work and data entry to firms in Szechwan or Sri Lanka. As long as they do the job, and do it well, isn’t that all that really matters?
Ah well, if you are looking for freelancers, then there’s no question that Jay’s umbrella site The Freelance Nation.com is a good place to check out. Just make sure you also have a presence on LinkedIn and any job boards specifically related to your area of expertise and market niche.

7 comments on “Does it make sense to have a jobs site geographically oriented?

  1. But there are many organizations that think a techie needs to be local. These are the same type of groups that don’t let people telecommute. I can see a regional job site being very useful.

  2. Dave,
    Thank you for your post concerning The Freelance Nation. Let me clarify the concept behind our service, as well as some of our features and benefits that will counter a few of the points you laid out.
    First:
    Although we have a network of 119 local freelance job boards, all of our Members, no matter their location, are listed in the parent site – TheFreelanceNation.com. People are not limited to searching local sites. I also have to wonder why you presume the best talent can only be found on niche job boards or how the proximity of the client to the contractor “is only relevant to very short term”.
    Second:
    You, me, and many of your readers are extremely networked and Internet savvy professionals who work with virtual vendors on a daily basis, but we only represent a very small portion of businesses who do so effectively. There is a huge population of SMB owners and businesses that prefer to work with local talent. They want the personal contact and accountability of working with a vendor in their geographic region. For them, we offer the individual city sites like DallasFreelancers.com, NYCFreelancers.com, SanFranciscoFreelancers.com, SeattleFreelancers.com, and so on. And lets face it, with the proliferation of the Internet, MOST companies CAN find the skill sets and talent level they need close to home. If they can’t find it through their local site, again, they can search our parent site.
    Third:
    While you and others have launched successful virtual agencies, the fact remains that they majority of start-ups have a physical office where employees go to every day and work face-to-face with one another. One of the main reasons we have regionalized these communities is that it allows for greater collaboration between people of complimentary skills. A freelance copywriter will need an art director. A website developer will need a programmer. A graphic designer will need a photographer. By networking locally, we increase their chances of partnering and starting small companies. Whether they formalize under one banner or not, all of them need a place to seek advice and share best practices (Collaboration Nation is our freelance forum), and since they are self-employed, they will need help running their business. That is why we have a place to find local business consultants, tax advisors, accountants, etc.
    Fourth:
    If someone wants work with freelancers overseas, there are international websites that can meet their needs. However, there are inherent risks associated with engaging talent and sending money to overseas where you have little recourse should the project go bad. By limiting our membership to those in the United States, we create a fair marketplace environment where freelancers do not have to compete with international pricing. We offer U.S. jobs from clients who want American venders, and then we protect the value of the project through 100% blind bidding. Websites that promote public, reverse auctions that drive prices through the floor are detrimental to the freelance industry because quality, professional talent cannot afford to work for $10 an hour or $100 a project.
    Unlike most Internet job boards, we are building a comprehensive community that does more than help freelancers find freelance jobs and contract work, we also offer a place where they can network and collaborate with other local freelancers, provide them access to administrative and support personnel and, most importantly, help them market their services on the Internet through five (5) different strategies.
    1. Members get 2-for-1 listings on our network for $4.95, one profile in TheFreelanceNation.com, and one listing in their home city e.g. LosAngelesFreelancers.com, PhoenixFreelancers.com, AustinFreelancers.com, etc. This is what I like to call the “Big fish in a small pond, small fish in a big pond” strategy.
    2. For additional exposure, Members can target additional cities and categories, and sub-categories, via our “a la carte” “marketing menu.” This exponentially increases a Member’s exposure and enables them to get business from other cities and sub-categories.
    3. Members can boost their profiles’ search engine optimization by adding their own custom meta data and tags to increase their exposure on both the national and local levels.
    4. Members who really want to boost their Internet presence and drive potential clients to their profile can have their business featured on any (or all) of the 119 city-specific websites in the network.
    5. Each website in the Freelance Nation network is highly search engine optimized to increase visibility on the search engines.
    For your international readers who are freelancers and appreciate the concept and power of being part of a large network of self-employed individuals, we have something for them as well. In addition to owning over 100 brand consistent URLs in the United States, we also own over 150 brand consistent URLs throughout virtually every city and country in the world which we are going to launch under the parent company “TheFreelancePlanet.com”. Stay tuned. Our goal is to provide the best service in the world for the self-employed and we have what it takes to succeed.
    Thanks again for the chance to present my arguments. You are a great resource for inspiration and information for tens of thousands of our colleagues and the work you have done with BlogWorldExpo is a testament to how you are propelling the industry and Internet forward.

  3. While we web workers enjoy the fact that we can work from wherever we want and get jobs wherever we want, there are still times when the importance of understanding the area that’s the focus of the job is more important than the ability to get it done cheaper and faster.
    Programmers may be able to work from anywhere, but one can definitely argue those that write content for sites and those that can understand how best to grow and develop those types of sites are normally in the market they write about.
    There are also some that would rather give the work to the person who’s in town rather than someone from out of town because they’d rather help out the local market (taking Jay’s point one step further).
    I use my network outside of Birmingham as a sounding board for ideas, but I rely heavily on those in my metro area to help build out solutions as they are the ones that best understand what will work and what will not for my readers.
    Results will always be the most important issue and what everything is measured by. There is still the need to be relevant that depending on the project is harder to do given our flattened world.
    And a belated thanks for this year’s BlogWorldExpo as well; I took away a great deal of information, advice and connections that I hope will be beneficial for a long time to come.

  4. I’d like to chime in also about the importance of a regional marketplace for my industry, audio/video/film. As a freelance engineer and technician, my local region shows employers where my home base is. Many people bring a production or event to Dallas prefer to hire personnel locally to the venue. The great thing about Jay’s freelance boards is that you can find that information on the national board or on my local board “dallasfreelancers.com”.
    Another note is that the site allows you to search by zip code and in turn lists freelancers meeting your search requirements by proximity to you. If someone is looking to hire a freelancer local to them, this is a very handy tool.
    Thanks Dave and Jay for opening this discussion. You guys are doing great things for communication and technology – keep it up!

  5. I use The Freelance Nation to source talent for the social-purpose media we develop. And I can tell you when it comes to communications, marketing, and outreach, it DOES matter where the freelancers are located. It’s been my experience clients want local people to do business with them. Local talent better understand the personality of the market, key players, and what will fly. I agree there is a lot of “supporting activity” that can happen in other places, which for the most part is invisible to the client. However, I find companies and organizations that spend money on creative want to develop strategy and have key implementation done by hometown professionals. I can search by both market and area of expertise using TFN to find creative — and I always start with the market.

  6. Hi Dave-
    I also reviewed The Freelance Nation site a while back on our blog, and most freelancers I spoke to appreciated the ability to get contracts closer to home and abroad.
    I personally think it’s a nifty feature.
    -Shama

  7. I think it’s nice to have a chance to land a local freelance job. Just becuase i don’t want to move to another city just yet. I think the concept of local talent will grow as the market gets bigger. This will bring more jobs in new media trends that big companies can not ignore.
    John

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