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7 Best Alternatives to Traditional Freelance Job Boards

Since I started freelancing on the side of my day job in the summer of 2017, I’ve been on a mission to educate newbie freelancers about how to stop using job boards as a means for building their client-based businesses.

When you’re just starting out, or looking for more clients, it can be tempting to go straight to traditional job boards like Guru, Upwork, and Fiverr. But, for the most part, these job boards do nothing but make you work for little pay. They are just content mills that don’t put a focus on the skills or value you have to offer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a VA, writer, content marketer or social media manager, these sites will help you find high quality clients and bigger paychecks. I’ve personally proven it!

I started my own freelance career by avoiding job boards and because of this I was able to establish myself as an expert and can now command much higher rates than I would if I had used job boards.

How to get clients without traditional job boards

So why don’t I like or use traditional freelance job boards? Mostly because job boards are geared towards the client and don’t give the contractor any control. They put clients in the position of “owning” the freelancer simply because they took out the job listing. But that’s not what makes a successful relationship. The client-freelancer relationship should be a symbiotic partnership where you’re both on the same level contributing to the project at hand.

Another reason I don’t like freelance job boards is because you simply apply for the gig — along with thousands of other freelancers — compete for pennies and hope your portfolio stands out. Often times a company or client may have even taken out a job listing and paid extra money to make it the featured listing on a job board. How is that even remotely fair?

You’re the one who’s doing all the hustling to build your reputation, find clients and work on different types of jobs, so you’re taking on quite a bit of risk too. The client shouldn’t be the one with the majority of the control. If you’ve ever used a traditional job board, you know that the company charges you a percentage of the money you’ve earned in order for you to collect your funds.

Again, this seems very counter-intuitive because the more work you do with them the more fees you have to pay. Shouldn’t you be given incentives to perform more work for less fees? This is money you’ve worked hard for and spent a good deal of time working on. You should be able to access your payment without paying additional fees.

This is also one of the reasons that so many freelancers try to take the payment process outside of the job board and work with the client directly. Which is even more proof that the traditional job board system is broken.

Job boards force you to compete on price instead of the value and skills you bring to the table. This is not at all the type of freelance business you should be building.

I know it’s difficult to wrap your head around not using traditional freelance job boards as a way to jumpstart your business. How else are you supposed to grow a freelance business from scratch?

To help with this dilemma I’m sharing 7 of my favorite alternatives to traditional job boards. These are sites I personally use to connect with clients and land more freelance work.

1. Contently

Contently is a New York based content marketing company that helps big brands and companies connect with freelancers of all kinds. Back in 2018 I had the pleasure of speaking on a Freelancing Panel with the CEO of Contently and learned what an awesome mission they have.

I personally use their service, which is free for freelancers, and have even worked with brands like, American Express and Spark Business by Capital One, because of Contently’s connections.

One of the things I really like about Contently’s service is that you get paid once you’ve completed the assignment, even before it’s been approved or has gone through the editorial process. So you’re paid no matter if your work is published or not. And there are no fees! How awesome is that? Not many job boards offer that. Contently is also great for displaying a personalized portfolio of work to share with potential clients.

2. ClearVoice

Much like Contently, ClearVoice is a content platform that connects freelancers to awesome clients. Some of the clients I currently work with through this platform include, Intuit and DriveTime.

In comparison to Contently there’s little difference except for the fact that you can get exposure to different clients. You get paid after the assignment has been approved but not yet published, and I personally like the ClearVoice platform layout a bit more than Contentlys.

The ClearVoice team is also very approachable and helpful so if you’re looking for a particular job, you can always chat with them. They even have their own blog where they hire ClearVoice freelancers to write content related to marketing, advertising, social media and the like.

ClearVoice also allows you to display your portfolio in a simple and clean way that automatically imports your latest publishings. You can also add links manually and it will display these posts based on when they were published, as well as the number of social shares. The important thing is to keep your ClearVoice portfolio updated so you continue getting the best leads and new gigs.

3. Craigslist is another great free site that has occassionally brought in one-off freelance projects for me. If you’re aiming to find more local clients then Craigslist is especially helpful. Visit your local Craigslist site and search the Jobs or Gigs sections. You can view the jobs by available position or the gigs by job type.

There are usually a variety of jobs available with some good gems hidden among them — if you have a bit of time to sift through them. And don’t be afraid to expand your search to other cities. Craigslist often features both remote and virtual job listings.

4. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Jobs

One of the unexpected places I still get several leads a month is through LinkedIn. The reason I think it’s unexpected is because I don’t spend any time marketing myself, or my content, on LinkedIn. Seriously, LinkedIn is not part of my marketing strategy.

The only thing I do regularly is keep my resume updated and add the latest positions and companies I’m working with. Then every few days I log into the LI app on my phone and check the messages received, as well as requests, from people to join my network. Usually I have 1-2 messages from potential clients who are looking to work with me.

Another way to stay connected to your professional network is with LinkedIn Jobs. Keep an eye out for contacts who have “Recently Viewed Your Profile” on LinkedIn and reach out and connect with them. Mention that you’d like to explore ways to collaborate and how you can work together.

5. The Write Life

The Write Life has partnered with job listings conglomerate, SimplyHired, and features freelance work on their job board that relates to copywriting, publishing, editing and journalism. They’re categorized by type and by the fact that you can work remotely.

In the past, I’ve worked with The Write Life team and they’re amazingly passionate about helping writers, specifically, find well-paying jobs. They’ve also established some great relationships with well-known entrepreneurs which can help get your foot in the door.

6. Facebook groups

While Facebook groups may not be the usual place you expect to find jobs, you can connect with fellow freelancers who can become potential clients, or connect you to clients via referrals. Most of my coaching clients come from working with freelancers that I’ve connected with in the Careful Cents Club and other groups, like One Woman Shop.

Most connections are made online, while actual relationships are cultivated offline. But you must first be willing to invest the time a few hours a week in Facebook groups and be open to sharing comments, advice and asking questions related to your particular field.

There’s a wealth of information inside private Facebook groups, and usually you’ll come across someone who needs the help and expertise you can provide as a freelancer.

7. The Client Connection

Back in January 2019 I created the Client Connection membership as a way to help educate and coach freelancers who needed help getting started and finding better paying-clients. Today, this platform is a full-service membership and library with video workshops, worksheets, freebies and 24/7 access to me via email.

Some of the trainings I’ve done include a Services page workshop to attract more clients, a FreshBooks tutorial so you can get paid on time and a Brand Ambassador workshop to start working with brands directly. As a member you also get access to pitch reviews and contract templates that I’ll personally look over.

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