Freelance In 40 Days [Day 11]: An Introduction To Job Boards

Posted: September 14th, 2009

Photo by Kevin H (Flickr)

Photo by Kevin H (Flickr)

This is Day 11 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today will be an introduction to job boards for finding freelance jobs.

Its likely that you’ve hit the online job boards online at some point in your working life. You know, mass emailing your perfect resume and receiving hits from obscure employers and headhunters. In other words, they are a lot of work if you want to find a job through one of them.

Luckily for freelancers, there are job boards specifically catered to us and the process to hunt down projects is simplified quite a bit. While you can sometimes find contract positions on freelance job boards, they primarily post individual projects. The number of projects you find on job boards, though, can number quite a lot.

Where Do I Start Looking?

There are numerous freelance job boards out there and some of them are free to use while others require a registration fee and/or a fee per project you win. So a common question for the new freelancer is which one is right for me?

To generalize, paying a fee to use a job board provides one or more of the following benefits:

  • Pre-screening employers
    You can read reviews and ratings from previous freelancers who have worked with employers providing the projects.
  • Methods to insure payments to you
    Usually there is an escrow service provided where a job board receives a project payment from an employer before you start the project then release the funds to you upon completion.
  • Targeting specific freelance fields
    Projects are categorized into very specific fields (i.e. flash designer, web content writer) so it is easier to find projects to bid on that suit you well.
  • Number of projects available
    The job boards with the higher fees usually have a wider selection of projects available. This can save you time from having to check out multiple job boards for projects.

The best way to see which job board is best for you is to have a look at multiple sites and take note of their services vs. their fees. The following are some of the bigger, well-known job boards which are good for a new freelancer to start:

  • eLance: One of the first freelance job boards with a huge selection of projects to bid on. 9.95 USD monthly membership fee. 8.75% per project fee.
  • Freelance Switch: Selection of projects is OK. 7.00 USD fee per month to use.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs: A classifieds for freelance writers. No fee to use.
  • Guru: Another of the first and largest freelance job boards also offering a very large selection of projects. 29.95 – 99.95 USD membership every three months plus 10% per project fee.
  • iFreelance: Good selection of projects for all major fields of freelance. From 4.69 – 9.00 USD per month with discounts for 6 month, 1 year and 2 year membership purchase. No per project fee.
  • JobServe: Huge selection of jobs/projects worldwide. Free to use but catered to jobseekers as well as freelancers.
  • Monday Works: Posts projects primarily from Germany and the European Union. 7.90 USD membership per month with no per project fees.
  • oDesk: Large database of projects in all freelance fields and no membership fee. A 10% project fee is added to on top of your fees to the employer.
  • RentACoder: A wide selection of programming projects. No memebership fee but there is a 15% per project fee.
  • Project4Hire: Wide selection of projects in all freelance fields. No membership fee but 5% per project fee.
  • SoloGig: Good selection of projects with no membership or project fees.
  • For other job boards, check out the monster list of job boards at AllFreelance and Freelance Switch.

Your Homework For Today

  • Have a look through these job boards websites and take note of the benefits and services they provide in relation to cost.
  • Select up to three that are best suited to you (more than 3 can be too much to keep up with).
  • Create a profile in each one. Remember to use your brand and refer back to your portfolio.
  • If you are feeling ansty about applying for projects, try it out! We’ll go over tricks to bidding on projects in the next few tutorials, though.

Are Paid Job Boards Really Worth Their Cost?

Posted: August 18th, 2009

These days, given the high number of job boards, its easy to ask yourself “Why should I pay to use a job board?” when there are plenty of free options available. After all, freelancing is a business and you need to minimize expenses. This is especially true if you are a new freelancer and want to cut down on your initial start up costs.

The truth is that there is really no difference in the quality of projects you can find on paid or free job boards. Paying to use a job board doesn’t mean you’ll be able to score projects much easier either. So what gives? Is it a complete waste of money to fork over a small fortune if there is no perceived benefit?

Well, the answer is that paid job boards actually do provide quite a few benefits to freelancers and are worth your while to check out. For instance:

The ability to pre-screen potential employers

It is always reassuring to have a little background knowledge on an employer to all but guarantee a level of trust before you start working for them. When you view available projects, there is usually the ability to view an employer’s business profile, the projects he has offered in the past (and what was paid) plus comments by other freelancers who worked on those projects. This way you aren’t completely in the dark about working with a new employer.

Believe it or not, there are scammers out there who post projects on both free and paid job boards. More often than not, they ask a freelancer to do a project then bail and leave the freelancer hanging when they have the completed work in their hand. Any knowledge you can gain from an employer before you work with him can keep this from happening to you.

Virtually guarantee payments

The biggest advantage of using a paid job board is that they provide an escrow service or some sort of guarantee that a freelancer will get paid for completed work. An escrow service works by requiring the employer to pay the project cost up front to an intermediary (usually the job board itself) and, upon completion, the funds are released to the freelancer. This eliminates the worry that a new employer may stiff you in the end.

They are targeted to specific fields

While free job boards usually lump together project postings, whether it be writing, programming or web development, paid job boards organize their postings by field. Therefore, rather than filtering through hundreds of offers unrelated to what you do, you can view dozens of offers from your field in a single list on all in one place. This ultimately becomes a major time-saver for a freelancer.

Using a paid job board will cost a little dough though. Here is a sample from the three of the biggest out there:

Guru: $29.95 – $99.95 membership fee every three months. 10% project fee. 2% fee for use of escrow service.

Elance: $9.95 monthly membership fee. 8.75% project fee. Free escrow service.

oDesk: No monthly fee. 10% project fee (added to your project estimate upon bidding). Does not provide escrow service but offers guaranteed payment for hours worked.

These fees are, admittedly, pretty steep for a freelancer. Add to this the PayPal fee you would likely use to receive payments and you are left with a small fortune already gone before payments hit the bank account. The simple solution, however, is to simply pass these fees on to the client when you create an estimate. They’ll understand.

A good rule of thumb is that if an expense helps your business perform more efficiently, then spend it. Paid job boards, as expensive as they can run, can really save you some time searching for projects. More importantly, though, it just may save you the hassle of having to chase down a rogue client for leaving you high and dry on a payment.

Top Ten Freelance Job Board Disclaimers

Posted: January 15th, 2009

If you’re a freelancer and have had a go at the job boards, you may have noticed that sometimes employers  get real specific in their project description. Here are some of the favorite disclaimers we often hear… ok, maybe we exaggerate them a little.

10. “We’re a small start up so please price way below a fair market value and include lots of freebies.”

9. “Looking for a skilled freelancer with preference from Kokomo, Indiana.”

8. “Willing to pay up to $10.99. Overseas bidders welcome.”

7. “Applicants must speak and communicate effective medieval English.”

6. “WARNING: ADULT THEMED (psst… hardcore, gang bangs and lesbian action).”

5. “This should only take fifteen seconds for a freelancer who knows whatever the hell it is they do.”

4. “Canned responses will be put in a pantry for emergency use only.”

3. “The right freelancer will have the opportunity for continued work digging ditches outside our office.”

2. “DO NOT apply if you are not familiar with  Java, JQuery and John 3:15 of the Bible.”

1. “You must provide a resume, portfolio, references and hand in your water bong.”