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“The objective of ServiceScape is to allow a client to buy service from a freelancer as easily as buying a product online.”

ServiceScape is an online service marketplace that connects clients with editors, translators, and graphic designers. With ServiceScape, you can browse hundreds of freelance profiles and view each professional’s description, credentials, portfolio, and client ratings of past projects. You can send a message that details every aspect of what you need, or set up a conference call and communicate directly with your professional. Discuss your project, exchange ideas and information, and establish a clear understanding of who they are and what they can do.

Unlike other freelance sites, ServiceScape makes it easy for clients to submit and pay for projects within just a couple of steps. There is no waiting for bids or for contest submissions. Except in the case of custom projects, all aspects of project creation have been predefined by ServiceScape. A client simply enters a few pieces of information, and ServiceScape creates a project tailored to their specific needs that includes price, due date, and all relevant service options.

MO: What inspired you to launch your business?

David: Usually what inspires me is a lack of alternatives in a given market. Back in 2000, I launched an editing service marketplace called EditAvenue.com. The big reason behind the business idea was the fact that when I was looking for freelance editing services a few years before, I couldn’t find anything that I liked. So I built EditAvenue to supply what I demanded as a client. The same thing went for my second site, LanguageScape.com, which was a translation service marketplace. Then in 2007, I decided to merge the two websites and add graphic design services to the mix. After many years of development, I was able to launch ServiceScape last April.

MO: What are some ways that you promote your clients’ services using a wide variety of marketing initiatives while?

David: ServiceScape freelance promotion is based on cost-per-click campaigns and social marketing. We promote our freelancers using Google, Bing, Facebook, and other online marketing methods. The big trick, from my standpoint, is to determine marketing effectiveness per campaign. To achieve this I have developed custom tracking programs for every form of promotion so that I can bridge the gap between marketing cost and revenue generated. Once a clear understanding is established and I know what works and what doesn’t, I can orient our marketing budget towards the most effective sources of income.

MO: Can you expand on the development process behind your website and why it took a bit longer than the average site?

David: The ServiceScape development process was difficult for two main reasons. First, I had to add a significant amount of flexibility to the design. The objective of ServiceScape is to allow a client to buy service from a freelancer as easily as buying a product online. However, there is a significantly greater amount of variables for delivering a service online versus delivering a product online. That’s why most freelance sites are based on simpler models, such as bidding or contests. My job was to integrate everything a client wants from a freelancer into the website with a price and turnaround associated with it, and that task took a prolonged period of time to accomplish. The second big reason was translating the user interface into 14 languages. When web content has 14 different versions, the amount of time it takes to program and test grows exponentially. Working with several translators, adding their translations to the site, and testing each language variant definitely delayed the launch for a couple of years.

MO: What advice would you give to a student considering a career in graphic design?

David: Graphic design is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. I would recommend to anyone thinking about graphic design to focus on a specific field. Trying to be everything to everyone will probably get you nowhere. I would also recommend getting an internship to see how the business works from the inside and to start networking with people who can help you down the road. Finally, I would recommend developing online and print portfolios so that your work can be viewed and appreciated by potential clients and employers.

MO: What influenced your decision not to seek outside funding? How has this decision helped shape the vision and direction of the company?

David: The business has been self-sufficient for over a decade, so outside funding has never been a priority. Outside funding may be critical for some business models, but I was able to launch and grow my business without it mostly due to the fact that the vast majority of my costs are variable. I can increase or decrease most of my costs so that they are proportional to business income. Of course, it took longer for the business to grow without outside funding. But during those lean years I learned a lot about the business environment and it gave me time to refine and strengthen the business model.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

David: Promoting graphic designers is going to be an exciting new part of the business. Over the years I have learn a lot about hosting and marketing freelance services. Now the business is entering a new market with a lot competition but also a lot of opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing how our graphic design marketplace grows over the new few years.


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