Sorry, I don't normally pick up on people for talking rubbish, but this post is littered with rubbish and is not the only way to compete internationally. I've had a lot of international work; most all of it has come from networking with real people; getting in with bigger agencies where I know someone through networking; not from pitching on elance.
participating in freelance communities like elance or odesk is probably the best way to become professional at what you are doing because you will compete internationally and that's a big thing.
That's very subjective; there are good projects and clients on those sites; as I said myself but the majority are not.
So dont try to get lucky with locals (cause trying to run away from competition is trying to get lucky in my book), try to become awesome.
Depends how you interpret locals; one of the biggest vacation agencies in the world is on our doorstep; I can see their head office from my window; a fortune 400 company is located down the road, the city 20 minutes away has a number of prestigious companies based there, They are local - or regional. One of the biggest manufacturing companies in the country is located 5 minutes away; and so on.
"going local" does not necessarily mean working with tiny, small businesses, but working with the companies who are close to you; where you can build sustainable relationships; be they big or small. Also not necessarily working directly with that company but through contacts there; I have found work with large companies abroad through knowing people within the vacation agency.
There is also an agency nearby who works with the likes of ITV and the BBC on major shows and campaigns; by knowing and becoming friends with the lead developer there; we have had work filter to us behind the scenes; for companies and projects we wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to work on.
The big, international, prolific agencies are often located in hub cities like London, New York, LA etc. because of who else is there; who they become local to; massive companies who can become their clients, who they can network with; where further contacts can be made.
I don't figure out why you think that is "running away from competition"?
There is still competition there; we have 3 agencies, a few small studios and a load of freelancers in our town alone; we are competing with them; and ones in other nearby cities and even around the country and our clients exist within this country and other countries too; so we also compete with firms abroad.
The difference with the start local and branch out approach is that you are competing on a level playing field. (or as level as you can be depending on your portfolio and skill in relation to others).
Being transparent; our clients are probably about 70% UK based, 10% US based, 10% Europe and the rest everywhere else. About 30 or 40% actually comes through agencies we are friendly with; I think this is just by chance of the people we know and how our growth over the last decade progressed rather than a "norm". Probably also because I started when they started and the "mature" internet was starting to appear; so I think it could also be a product of the times at that point, I don't know.
At first it looked like people are undercutting prices there, but after a closer look it turned out that they are not, they are just working 10 times faster and thats why they dont need to charge that much for something they do in 3 hours.
Well if it's 3 hours work it's kind of irrelevant career wise; you are in the realms of "add a quick feature" or something; you aren't building whole web solutions or offering complete services in 3 hours; and if they are doing what would take me a month, in 3 hours; something is awry and that something is usually:
- Sweatshop (big issue with those here; I believe in corporate social responsibility and ethical trade in all aspects of industry, so I pour scorn on that)
- Plagiarism (or sell em a template - of course fine if thats what they have asked for)
- Shoddy workmanship
There are economic differences between countries; to ignore that is disingenuous because it exists; it is there; it is a fact and it will lead to a difference in prices. You can cast if off as whatever you like but it is not going to change the fact. Like I said in my post; I know some good developing world designers and developers (CG artists and game programmers actually; through a personal activity in Unity collab projects) and there are two types of disproportion; normal disproportion that are due to living wages and disproportion due to unethical or unprofessional practices.
The former, is a fact of international trade and one we in the west cannot compete with in regards to price; we have to compete on different factors or avoid that particular market (or a bit a both).
You also have to keep in mind that when people talk about grossly disproportionate, we (well I at least) am talking about; western companies charging $10,000 and developing world country charging $100; that's grossly disproportionate; thats not doing it faster; thats impossible for a western company to compete with.
Also when you get that kind of disproportion there is normally something less pretty somewhere; which you can easily turn a blind eye too if you are that way inclined.
They are not charging less because they are faster; they are charging less because the cost of living is lower, the rules are different and business is not undertaken to the same standards. (I am not talking product quality here, I am ignoring that potential aspect).
I've seen an Indian sweatshop; and to be blunt, if I were to clone it here in England, I'd be prosecuted.
These are facts of life, facts of economies; whether it concerns you and if so; the reasons it concern you are another matter; to deny it exists is junk.
I want to add something; my experiences may not be universal or even indicative; but they are my experiences.
I am friends and work with an Indian business owner in the UK who also owns some businesses abroad including India. I went over for a meeting with him while he was working at one of his Indian company and I accompanied him when he was scoping out some firms to look after some digital assets for these companies over there.
I saw a few of what I would call sweatshops and a few iffy freelance setups; it took a few days to find what we would call a proper or trustworthy setup; the prices being discussed also reflected that quite radically; so my statements above while cynical are based on something more than "armchair critic".
One thing a lot of people do not understand about India is that there is a massive gap between poverty and the middle classes. The effect of that on international trade; especially in areas such as ours, can be ignored or brushed under the carpet; if you get what I'm alluding too.