When it comes to freelance job boards, people tend to have one of two opinions: they love ’em or they hate ’em.
I relied on job boards quite a bit to find freelance gigs when I was just starting out as a writer. I hadn’t perfected my cold pitching skills yet and my freelancing network was still pretty tiny. So job boards seemed like a great solution for scouting out clients.
And I learned a few things along the way about how to use them correctly–and the biggest mistakes to avoid.
Because while freelance job boards can turn up a lot of great leads, they can also contain a lot of junk. And the last thing you need when you’re trying to get your first freelance writing job (or your next one) is to waste time chasing work that isn’t a great fit.
So I wanted to help you out with a few of my best tips for leveraging online job boards to find freelance gigs. Because the goal is to nail down writing jobs quickly and easily so you can get on the path to being a six-figure writer, right?
I hope so, anyway because I believe every freelance writer should take earning what they’re worth seriously. With that in mind, here’s exactly what you need to know about using freelance job boards to find legit writing work.
5 Ways to Find High-Paying Writing Gigs With Freelance Job Boards
1. Choose your keywords wisely
Any good freelance job board is going to have searchability. That means you can filter out the results to narrow down the field to freelance gigs that fit your niche.
That’s a good thing because it can save you the trouble of having to sift through search results. But here’s the key: you have to use the right keywords.
If you go too vague with your keywords, you could end up with search results that aren’t relevant to the kind of writing jobs you’re looking for. Go too narrow and you may end up with no results at all.
Ideally, you should be picking keywords that are super relevant to your niche. So if I were using a job board to look for work, I might search using these terms:
- “personal finance”
- “personal finance writer”
- “investing writer”
- “remote finance writer”
- “credit cards writer”
Since my niche is personal finance, any of these keywords would likely turn up the kind of results I want. I might also use keywords like “banking”, “insurance” or “debt”, depending on the kind of jobs I’m looking for.
And you might be wondering whether you should add in “remote” or “freelance” for your initial search. The answer is, it depends.
If you’re only looking for freelance or remote writing jobs, then using those keywords can weed out in-house or on-site writing gigs that aren’t a good fit. On the other hand, if you’re open to the idea of a full-time writing job then you may want to leave them out. It’s totally up to you.
2. Check freelance job boards first thing in the morning
Many of the freelance writing job boards and general job boards I used to find work as a beginning freelancer posted new jobs in the morning. And I can tell you that it pays to be the early bird.
Some writing jobs will naturally attract more responses than others and the sooner you get yours in, the better. Editors and content managers are busy people and they don’t have time to pore over hundreds of pitches or emails.
Getting yours in their early gives you a better shot at grabbing an editor’s attention. It’s more likely to remain fresh in their mind if they’re at the beginning of the sorting process.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still apply for a freelance writing gig at 10 pm but if the job was posted 12 or 14 hours earlier, you might have a tougher time getting noticed if lots of other writers have also applied.
3. Read freelance job postings carefully
Before you hit send on an email or application for a writing gig you found on a job board, check the posting twice.
More than once, I came across job listings that required writers to include a certain keyword or phrase in the subject line. Editors and hiring managers do this to make sure you’re reading the job posting and following the directions.
So if you’re just quickly skimming postings after filtering out search results using your keywords, slow down! Read over the ad again to make sure that:
- It’s relevant to your niche.
- You’re including all the requested or relevant info you need to apply in your email.
- You’re sending your pitch or application to the right person.
Sure, you might spend a little more time with job boards this way. But it can be well worth it if it helps you avoid making a simple mistake that costs you a gig.
Also, make sure you’re checking the rate if it’s advertised in the job posting.
If you’re desperate for money, then you may be okay with applying for a freelance job that pays less than your minimum rate. But if you aren’t necessarily pressed for cash, consider whether it’s worth spending your time applying for something that pays less than the rate you’re targeting.
4. Sign up for freelance job board alerts
I get that you may not have all day to spend surfing the listings on job boards for freelance gigs. Aside from being a full-time freelancer, I’m also a homeschooling single parent and a part-time mom blogger.
One insanely simple way to avoid being chained to your computer all day looking for work is setting up alerts from your preferred job boards. This way, you never miss the latest job listings, even when you’re busy doing something else.
All you have to do is set your filters, plug in your email address and check your inbox a couple of times a day to see what’s new. Again, it all comes down to picking the right keywords to search for so you’re only getting job listings that are relevant to your niche and experience.
5. Use the right job boards to find freelance writing gigs
I saved this tip for last because it’s the most important one, in my opinion.
There are a lot of job boards out there that you can use to find freelance writing work but they aren’t all the same. Some are paid, others are free. Some are focused exclusively on freelance and remote work while others also include other kinds of jobs.
So, which ones should you use?
Personally, I think it’s good to try out every kind of freelance job board when you’re just starting out to see what works for you and what doesn’t. For example, here are some of the job boards I used in my first year or two as a freelance writer:
- Indeed.com (Free; general job board)
- JournalismJobs.com (Free; freelance job board)
- Freelance Writing Gigs (Free; freelance job board)
- ProBlogger Jobs (Free; remote and freelance job board)
- BloggingPro (Free; freelance blogger job board)
- FlexJobs (Paid; remote work job board)
- Contena (Paid; freelance job board)
Now, you’ll notice that there are a couple of paid freelance job boards on the list. And you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth it to pay for job listings.
The short answer is yes, it can be a great investment if you’ve really narrowed down the kinds of freelance writing jobs you want to find. Both FlexJobs and Contena feature job listings that you won’t necessarily find on free job boards, including ones that pay in the thousands of dollars.
Here’s a quick shot of some of the most recent listings from Contena.
What’s Good About Contena
As you can see, the writing jobs offered on Contena pay well and they’re legit. You won’t find scammy or spammy ads asking you to write for pennies here.
You can apply for as many jobs as you want, as often as you want. There’s a huge variety, in terms of the type of work you can find.
So if you want to write ebooks, for example, there are companies that hire through Contena for that. Or if you want to be a paid blogger, you can find freelance blogging gigs. Just about every niche is represented, from sports writing to finance to tech.
Aside from that, Contena offers a comprehensive range of tools and training to help you build your freelance writing career. Those tools are available through Contena Academy.
Now, you’re thinking..what’s the catch?
There’s no catch, per se but since Contena is a membership site, you have to pay to use it. Membership plans come in different tiers but the lowest ones start at $42 per month when you’re billed annually.
Contena doesn’t offer a free trial period but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can give it a try and see how you like it and if it doesn’t pan out, they’ll refund your money.
What’s Good About FlexJobs
FlexJobs isn’t exclusively freelance-focused; you’ll also find remote jobs here and non-writing gigs. There are part-time and full-time jobs, independent contractor jobs and full-time employee gigs.
What’s great about FlexJobs compared to other freelance job boards is the care they take in curating jobs and researching hiring companies. This is not a junk job board, in other words.
The job listings cover over 50 remote and freelance fields so you’re practically guaranteed to find something that’s a good fit.
FlexJobs also offers some handy resources, including a guide for moms who are returning to work and a guide to finding remote jobs. You can even get resume review services to help you fine-tune your writer resume.
Like Contena, there is a fee to use FlexJobs. Pricing starts at $14.95 per month but you can save over 70% when you sign up for a one-year membership.
Again, there’s no free trial. But you do get the benefit of a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so if FlexJobs just isn’t working for you, you can request a refund.
Are You Using Freelance Job Boards to Find Paid Writing Work?
I hope these tips have given you some direction on how to use job boards to your full advantage to find paid gigs. While I don’t rely on job boards anymore, I found them to be invaluable for getting established as a brand-new freelance writer.
Do you have a go-to freelance job board for finding quality gigs? Head to the comments and tell me about it!
And of course, I’d love for you to pin and share this post!