Could We Get the Best Freelance Writer Job Ads… in 5 Minutes a Week?

Carol Tice

I do a lot of thinking about how to improve my freelance writing and blogging business while I’m on vacation. I try to look at the big picture. How am I doing? Where am I going? Am I on the right track? What should I be doing that I’m not?

This time, I thought a lot about how I could make Freelance Writers Den an absolutely priceless resource — one that struggling freelance writers would be just plain crazy not to join.

OK, it’s already got more than a half-dozen e-courses, busy forums where you can get your questions answered by a pro, live events for more questions like today’s marketing Webinar, and the chance to send me questions privately, too. Soon, there’ll be affiliate sales where you can make your membership free by just referring a couple of friends a month.

But how can I make the Den even better and more useful?

Every way I turned it, the answer came out the same:

Job ads.

Not just any old job ads, but great job ads.

Good-paying, quality job leads with all the baloney — the $5-an-article offers — cut out. This would be a valuable service, huh?

How many hours each week are freelancers all over the world wasting combing through the same job ads, trying to find those few needles that are buried in this week’s giant haystack of junk ads?

I don’t even want to know. Let’s just say it’s a major time-waster.

There’s got to be a better way.

And I think we can find it together.

I’m exploring a few ideas for how we could create an exclusive, quality job board in the Den.

One might relate to my recent alliance with eByline, a new site that is helping journalists connect with markets seeking to buy stories. (It’s also a self-syndication platform, which I find pretty fascinating, since that was always tightly controlled by a few big syndicators in the past…possible great opportunity there.)

Maybe I could get a widget with their ads. But if you don’t have a journalism background, I think it’s not going to help you.

Ultimately, we need something broader-based, that would have something in it for writers at all career levels.

One way I encourage writers to dial down the job-ad hours is to encourage you to more actively market your business.

The other way it could work is to give you a better job-search option that saves you time. It could free up more time to do other forms of marketing, or just bill more writing time.

The question is: how?

I have a couple of ideas, and I’m hoping you’ll give me some feedback below and suggest more ways.

My ideas:

1) Use membership money to hire a virtual assistant. I train them how to comb the ads, and they create a weekly list for all of us.

2) Members create the list in collaboration. Each member (or perhaps just a couple dozen members, who get a discount?) commits to taking one source and scanning it weekly. They send the best listings in for our weekly list.

3) I market a Den job board and land exclusive, paid listings. This would create a quality list, but would likely involve a lot of effort to attract and sell employers on the idea that our community is the place they want their ad. I’m concerned it would take away from the main point of the Den — for me to have loads of time to answer writers’ questions. Perhaps I could also hire a marketing coordinator to run this project?

Why a weekly list?

Looking at job ads every day sucks too much time.

Also, a lot of the flaky ads get taken down after a day because they’ve already gotten 300 resumes, and we want to skip all of those lame ads. So a week to me is the perfect interval.

By coming together as a community, we could share the workload. We could get better job ads faster. Everyone involved in the community would have better leads and more writing and marketing time.

Now, I know providing online job ads has been a thankless task for many who’ve tried it. Over on About Freelance Writing, Anne Wayman did it for years, but when she explored making it a for-pay thing, people wouldn’t go for it. So she stopped doing them.

Jenn Mattern over at All Freelance Writing did a quality list for a while, posting only gigs that paid more than $50 a post or article. But she was drawing a lot from Elance listings, and after Elance instituted their writer-spyware policy, she pulled the plug.

But maybe within a paid membership platform we have the resources — both the money and manpower — to deliver the holy grail for online writers: quality job listings with all the junk removed.

What do you think — could we build a better job board? Leave a comment and give me your take.


  1. Melody

    Good morning Carol

    While the 1st option would probably produce results quickly and accurately, it would actually cost you unless you were able to find someone somewhere who was looking to do an intern spot or volunteer. In the end, I’m really not sure that the cost of hiring someone would be made back in terms of new members that the job board may or may not bring in.

    Option 3 I have a feeling would be extremely difficult to get started and gain momentum. I’m sure that because of your rep and history that you would be able to pull some ads, but I feel that with employers paying, it would still take well over a year, or more, before the listings were plentiful.

    To start with, I think it would be wise to go with option 2. I’m sure that there are many on here who would take the time needed to scan ads, verify information and what ever else is required to receive a discount on their membership fees that is in direct relation to the amount of work / time they put in. This costs you nothing out of pocket, you will probably have more than one person working on it so you are not just dependent on one person doing it all, the time could be taken to weed through all the garbage, and you don’t have to worry about taking the time and effort to market to companies in attempts of getting them to pay you to list their postings.

    That’s just my $0.02. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you do decide to go with option 2, I would gladly sign up to help out.
    Enjoy your day!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Melody —

      I think I’ve found someone to do option one in exchange for Den membership, which is a great deal all around. We’re going to give it a try and then the Denizens can tell me what they think.

      I think the coordination required to manage 30-40 different people all contributing leads from different sources might be a pain, though I sort of like the idea of it being a community effort.

      It’s all early days, so we’ll experiment and do whatever the members want and need.

    • Melody

      That’s excellent Carol! I’m looking forward to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Tiffany Barry

    I love Ty’s option, but I’d like to see it expanded to encompass more than just Craigslist. Maybe pull ads from a variety of freelance job boards?

    I think maybe having a feedback system for company’s may also be a good idea. Writers could post about companies they have worked for, what the experience was like, and so on. This could help other writers build confidence approaching large clients on their own.

    The first option lets writers see who is looking for freelancers while the second option keeps writers from forgetting to market themselves.

    • Carol Tice

      That’s exactly what we plan to do Tiffany — may take a week or two to get it organized, but it’s looking exciting for creating a real timesaver for Den members, that will comb the ads across many channels for people.

  3. Di Mace

    Hi Carol,
    I so love the way you work thru things in the comments…and when you have a brainwave, it’s like being inside your head!
    Speaking of which I think your brainwave is the way to go, for a few reasons.
    Firstly, I’ll go back to the premise of your site and the mantra you extol – don’t work for nothing, or at least flick the lousy paying gigs. To me, going to a job board (any of the 3 options) is lowering the integrity of your site, Den and your beliefs.
    Secondly, the saying goes ‘definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result’….not saying you are insane, but by doing any of the 3 you are repeating already tried methods that have proven to be unscuccesssful.
    Thirdly, I think your offering (to add true value) should be something different, exclusive and special – underpinning the value of being part of the Den. Your brainwave is just that (and a new approach), and its doesn’t undermine your principles of marketing your butt off and getting out there (while waiting for gigs) and looking for clients rather than passively waiting for them to ‘discover’ you.
    Think I’ll get off my soapbox now…….

    • Di Mace

      Happy to share my soapbox anytime ๐Ÿ™‚
      We can add an annex/extension if more wanna jump onboard!

    • Carol Tice

      Well…I want to say that I have gotten some decent jobs off of online ads. Even a few off Craigslist, though surely not my best clients.

      So it’s not like online ads are entirely without value. Occasionally somebody stumbles onto Craigslist who doesn’t seem to know it’s a cesspit and just posts a great job, complete with their company name, URL, and real rate they plan to pay.

      I do think it might be interesting to position the Den as a place for fill-in freelance needs at places that have writing staff. Definitely not being done anywhere else, and I know from my own staff-writing experience there is definitely a need.

      That might be something I could coordinate with eByline as well, maybe collaborate with them on it too. Rest assured I am going to be exploring these ideas in the next couple of months!

      But nothing takes priority over getting up affiliate sales for the Den…hoping for this week! Want members (and others interested) to be able to make some income recommending the Den to writer friends.

      And I love how MALW readers HELP me work through ideas! The readers of this blog are a smart bunch.

      BTW, congrats on your Virgin Blogger Notes post!

    • Sarah Porter-Pennington

      I was about to shoot you an email to ask about the affiliate program. I’ve already blogged about the Den a lot, and been talking like crazy, but once affiliate sales open, I’ve got a handful of part time writers I’m really going to hound about it. I think they would really enjoy it. And one, who was a teacher for 2 years (straight out of college) before she realized she hated it. She’s content mill writing now because she doesn’t think she’ll stick with working from home. I want to convince her otherwise; I think she has a lot of potential. I figure I’d let her be stubborn a few more weeks and then try to get a little discount on my own membership by converting her. LOL

    • Di Mace

      Thanks Carol – was rather excited about the guestie and another on Write to Done soon! I know you’ll make the perfect decison for your site and the Den, as you always seem to make sure its the right deicison for not just your integrity, but also those of the members. ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to hearing the final wash-out.

  4. Edna

    Hi Carol,
    Great ideas you’ve got here. Thanks. Yes I used to spend lots of time hunting on line for jobs. I did get a couple good clients that way but it does take away alot of time we could be writing or marketing our business.

    I do marketing for small businesses but have a tough time marketing my own business, sometimes its exhausting and endless, so I’m teaming up with other people who also do marketing to help them with projects and also to have them market my business. Its taken a while but it’s a win-win for both of businesses as long as you can find honest business owners with integrity and experience. Also a difficult undertaking some days ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve gotten much more business using that method lately than looking online for work.
    It’d be great to have a place to go to look for quality writing projects and to be able to pass
    leads on to other people who may have experience with something I can’t possibly write about.

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