One of the first concerns I had when I began to work for clients from abroad was: "Should I lie about where I am based?"
The reason why I even contemplated doing this was that I thought that my clients may be turned off by the fact that I was living abroad. I thought that if I pretended that I was working from my home country then I would surely be able to find more clients.
I didn't have many problems with the practicalities—all of my work was carried out via email and my bank was also in my home country so there were no problems with payment.
As far as anyone could tell, I might as well have been living just down the road from them.
But the question is: Is it the right thing to do?
Building a Business Founded on Lies
In the end I chose to be honest. However, at the time this was not due to any ethical concerns, but rather because I was worried about getting caught.
There are certainly ways to track IP addresses within emails and I did not know just how easy it would be for someone to work out where I was really based, and I really didn't want to have to admit to a client that I had been lying to them the whole time.
And then there was the whole trust issue. It was clear to me that basing a business on lies is not a great way to build trust. Even if it was not a big deal at all, if I suddenly told a client that I had not been honest with them, this would completely change the dynamics of our relationship.
No one likes to be lied to, no matter how innocent the lie.
And so I decided that it would be better for all concerned if I just announced it from the start and then there would be nothing to worry about.
In the end, it didn't make much difference at all, as discussed later in the article.
The Ethical Concern
So apart from the whole concept of lying to your clients, is there really any ethical dilemma with saying that you are based somewhere else?
This arguably depends on what line of business you are in.
With freelance writing, there is accountability. You enter into a contractual agreement with a client, and if something goes wrong (you write something libelous, for example) you may end up being the responsible party.