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3 Reasons Why You (Probably) Should Ignore The Freelance Writing Job Boards

Freelance writingOkay, I used to post jobs for freelance writers, editors, etc. here. And I still maintain a list of places to search that I know can be productive. I also occasionally search for new gigs myself – my niche as a book ghostwriter is pretty narrow when it comes to finding leads online.

While I suspect all of us occasionally look online for new freelance writing jobs, experienced writers know that spending much time looking can be non-productive. On the other hand, recognizing these three facts can make your online job search much more effective.

  1. Hundreds if not thousands of folks are applying for the same writing job. Sure, people email me every day thanking me for helping them find a gig or two. Not so incidentally its this number of applicants that overwhelms those looking for writers, and the biggest reason you never hear from them unless they are interested in you. Nor will they take time to answer a question, so don’t bother asking unless they contact you first. The key to getting noticed, is to demonstrate quickly and clearly that you can solve their problem.

  2. Most of the writing jobs I find online are NOT well paying gigs. Occasionally they are. If you’ve got questions about how to set your fees, including how much you should charge, there’s a whole category called Setting Your Freelance Writing Fees here. Despite what’s often said on the internet there really are plenty of well paying writing jobs out there.
  3. Applying for writing jobs through my site or anyone else’s is probably not the best use of your time. Particularly if you spend a lot of time at it. Sure, spending an hour or maybe two running through some selected freelance writing job boards can be part of an effective marketing play, but if it’s your only strategy you’re probably going to fail. Discover and use other marketing tools like your own website, cold calling, cold emails with phone follow up, letters of introduction and/or queries.

Marketing yourself is learnable and doable – give it a try.

Oh sure, there are exceptions. My job listings can be a decent way to land your first few paid gigs and get you links for your credit list. And it’s probably worth spending a few minutes gently perusing each list every now and again to see if there’s anything that’s right for you.

But if you’re spending a lot of time you could be writing and marketing working my job lists and others, you’re largely wasting your time.

It’s so easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking we’re working at our writing when we’re not actually putting words on paper or actively engaged in trying to sell our writing and skills. Endless searching for gigs is one way to kid yourself. Don’t do it.

Instead send out some articles to consumer or trade magazines on spec. Cold call some local businesses. And if you do spend time with the job boards, make sure you’re actually applying for gigs, not just finding reasons not to.

The only way you’ll succeed at writing is to write.

What percentage of your workweek do you spend looking at job boards? How else do you find your writing gigs?


Please, share this post with your network… it really helps.  Thanks!

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Excellent post, Anne! Totally agree. Job boards are good for supplemental jobs, but shouldn’t be the basis of a career.
    Lori recently posted..Shipping Up to BostonMy Profile

  • I peruse the job boards now and again. I finished my non-fiction book for teens and have been focused on finding a literary agent. I may self-publish instead which means I’ll be spending a lot of time marketing and selling my book. This includes holding workshops, TV, and radio gig.

    • Rebecca, congrats on finishing your book… heck I look at the boards once and awhile too.

  • Ken

    So true about the job boards. Sometimes by the time people see postings, several hundred others have already applied.

    More writing and more marketing is the key to landing more clients, both off-line and online. If people are going through job boards, use listings from sites like this here at AFW. Check them out quickly though over your morning coffee and then get on with writing.

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