Day 11: Create a Job Board Strategy

Even when you’ve been freelancing for several years, you can find some worthwhile opportunities on job boards. The problem is, though, that searching through job boards — looking for those worthwhile opportunities — can be incredibly time-consuming. You can wind up spending half the day sifting through Craigslist, freelance writing opportunities and other listings and still only find one or two adds you actually want to respond to. You need a strategy that will let you find the opportunities worth bothering with, and fast.

Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

A big chunk of the time it takes to look for writing gigs is spent going from site to site and sorting through the opportunities on each site. But you can go through all those listings on one website, in a way that lets you identify likely prospects quickly.

If you already use an RSS reader to read blogs, you may have noticed that you can add feeds from job sites just as easily. If you don’t use an RSS reader, I’ve put together some basic instructions that will get you started right now. If you follow these instructions, it should only take you about 15 minutes to get your list of jobs ready to go.

  1. Go to Google Reader (reader.google.com).

    RSS icon

  2. Click ‘Create an account.’
  3. If you already have a Gmail or Google account, you can click the ‘sign in here’ link at the top of the page. If not, fill out the form for a new account.
  4. Click ‘Add a subscription’ (in the upper left corner)
  5. Copy the website address or feed address of each the sites you want to check each day. If Google Reader doesn’t accept the website address, you can access the feed address by clicking on the RSS icon on the website you’re interested in.

Google Reader will automatically list any updates to the job listings of the sites you add whenever you log in. That allows you to scroll through, looking for listings that mach the niches you write for and the pay rates you require. You can ignore all the rest — once I respond to the listings I’m interested in, I click the ‘Mark all as read’ button, which gets rid of all the jobs I don’t want. I’d suggest playing around with Google Reader: you can create folders and organize your feeds as you want.

Which Job Boards Should You Check?

There’s no set answer on what job boards you should keep a close eye on: there are different boards that cater more towards different types of project, options for looking in your own area and more. However, I can make the process of getting started much easier by providing you a list of the sites that I have in my RSS reader.

I’d like to note that none of these sites are bid sites. I don’t like them personally, but I do know many freelancers with other opinions. Most of the major bid sites make it easy for you to see jobs via RSS, so that may be an option you choose to explore.

Processing Job Listings

With a little practice, you can flip through job listings on your RSS reader in a few minutes every morning. I make a point of just opening up the listings I find interesting in a new tab on my browser, and then responding to them in one go. I can generally make it through all the job lisitings and responses I want to make in about 30 minutes.

Part of the reason I can be fairly speedy at going through listings is because I’m ruthless. I don’t stop for anything below my minimum rates and I don’t consider anything outside my niches — even if I would happily take on the project if one of my clients asked me to. I get much better responses on those unusual projects from my existing clientele, making it not particularly worthwhile to chase projects I don’t really want. It’s easy to get focused on the money of a project (even when it’s below what you want to be making), but it’s important to just pass on those projects that aren’t going to pay off for you. You can find some gems on job boards, but only if you ignore the listings that are less useful to you.

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