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:
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.
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.