Marcado: Employment website

Pay a Fee to Apply for a Freelance Gig? No Thanks!

Posted: 26 Jan 2011 04:57 AM PST

Editor’s Note: Wednesday is normally when I post an open thread. But as some of you know, this blog had some technical difficulties last week, so I published Friday’s guest post on Monday and Monday’s post on Wednesday in an attempt to get things back on track.

Before I launch into today’s post, though, I wanted to encourage all you bloggers to BACK UP YOUR BLOG. Seriously. I know it feels like your posts will always be accessible courtesy of that magical cloud in cyberspace. But stuff happens and you’ll wish you’d spent the two seconds to back things up. Trust me on this. And now, back to your (ir)regularly scheduled programming …

I’m not usually a fan of freelance job boards, because the work can be low-paying and clients can get inundated with responses. That’s why I don’t respond to listings that are too vague about the pay or project needs. I tend to focus on networking and prospecting for myself. But occasionally I’ll spot a job listing that’s so right it almost feels as if it were written for me.
That’s what happened last week.However, the catch was that while the job board let freelancers peruse listings for free, it charged a fee if you wanted to actually to respond a listing, sort of like a subscription-based online dating service. I’d been following this board for a while and hadn’t seen other listings that interested me, so I wasn’t about to cough up the cash for the “privilege” of responding to a single client. It might pay off if I landed the client, but he might never write back, and then I’d be out of luck.

Instead, I pieced together as much information as I could from the ad (like the client’s location, the industry, and the contact’s name, though it didn’t list a company name or email address) and tracked down the contact’s LinkedIn page, which led me to the company’s website. From there, I emailed the contact directly and heard from him within a few hours. Turns out he thought I’d be a good fit for the project, too!

Here’s why this strategy works:

  • Differentiates you from other applicants. The fact that you’ve taken the time to track down the company shows initiative. And in some cases, emailing the company directly may set you apart from the dozens of other freelancers who applied through the site and g0t filtered into an email folder to review later.
  • Gives you more direct access to the company. Applying through a website puts an extra barrier between you and your prospective client. There’s no way for you to follow up either. By emailing the company directly, you make it easier for them to respond and for you to follow up.
  • Allows you to research (and screen) the company. The trouble with blind job listings is that it’s often hard to tell if it’s a client you’d actually want to work with. This way you’ve already done a preliminary reading of the website and determined a certain level of interest.

Sure, you may not be able to sleuth out the client in every situation (and in some rare cases the client may not like this approach), but it’s worth a shot.

Your turn! Would you pay money to respond to a freelance listing? Have you employed similar strategies to circumvent pay walls?

Flickr photo courtesy of borman818