Looks like you’re being exploited my friend. Imagine this scenario:
Frustrated by my unsuccessful attempts at landing new accounts, I decide to boost my business and image of my company in this way.
-I’ll do searches of all the portfolio sights for the hottest, kicka$$ images that are sure to impress potential clients the way they impressed me.
-I’ll ask for permission from those designers to use THEIR work to help promote myself (oh excuse me, promote them), with the promise that they’ll be on my underground freelance network. So when something comes in that may be up their alley, I may shop it out to them (not necessarily though).
-Now MY company has a hot portfolio, looks like the shiznit and clients will be banging down my doors. I’ll get more accounts and work. If I get too overburdened with work, then I’ll shop it out to one of my “extended staff” (but lower than the prices my company charges so I can make a profit).
Generally, this is what freelancers do and how we’re used, (myself included) so I’m not knocking it, but I think that the fact that he wants to use your own portfolio images as representative of the work his group does is a little shady. Especially if you’ve never actually done work for him or recieved a paycheck yet.
He’s using you to generate work for himself, the overflow of which may or may not get sent your way. Seems like he’s walking a fine line there.
Your website looks better than his, the clients he attracts from your images could’ve been clients you rightfully could’ve gotten on your own. He may have just successfully assimilated his competition (with no real money, just maybe’s) and will have the work sent his way.
Virtual offices are fine, I know 2-3 person firms that use freelancers as virtual staff. But they get the work based on THEIR own reputation, skills, and portfolios of past work, the freelancers complement them. That’s the right way to do it.
This is what I call one of those “middleman” work models which I hate. Here’s an example. Right now I may potentially have to take one of my freelance clients off of my hitlist. I was approached by a recruiter, said he had a client looking for something. He told me who the client was, and it turned out to be somebody who I was already in contact with, I’ve already met on my own due to my own efforts a while back, etc. I had even just recently emailed them an update to my status a couple of weeks back, etc. I just haven’t gotten work from them recently.
So he goes and approaches them about me (granted they already know me). I don’t get accepted for what their looking for (fulltime) but they tell him that I may be good for contract stuff later on (which they’ve already told me). He tells me that and wants me to call him if they contact me for any freelance stuff so HE can iron out the details?!
He didn’t do anything for me in my opinion, but he just plopped himself in the middle of my process and now expects to make money off of it. It would be something different if it was somebody that I’ve never dealt with, that I only knew or made contact with due to his efforts.
Sorry for the rant, just had to get that off my chest, a little cheaper than a therapist!! Anyway, I don’t think you should work with this guy, seems extremely suspect. Anybody can just snatch up all the freelancers looking for work, use their images to represent themselves and look like they’re a good talented firm. You’d probably do better on your own (and would make more money also). Good luck to you.