This is a guest contribution from Susan Finch.
Landing lucrative contracts from job boards that goes beyond paying your bills and actually sustains your lifestyle – it’s what every aspiring and highly experienced writer dreams about.
You may even dabble in applying for positions on job boards and experience mixed results. Maybe you’ve landed a few random clients, but have no idea if you just got lucky or hit on a winning technique. And as you accumulate more rejection emails than positive responses, you start to think finding success on job boards is a unicorn in the world of freelancing.
But in reality, landing work on highly competitive job boards is well within your grasp. I would know. I’ve landed several high-paying clients on the ProBlogger Job Board and similar sites. In fact, my last application on ProBlogger beat out 200 other freelancers and I won the job 45 minutes after I applied.
I don’t win these jobs because I’m more talented or smarter than the rest of the crowd. It’s because I take the time to figure out how to stand-out from that crowd and position myself for success. Here’s how I do it.
1. Devour the Job Posting
Thoroughly digesting and understanding a job posting is one of the easiest ways to beat out your competition on any job board. I’ve also hired freelancers from ProBlogger for my clients, and there’s an overwhelming trend in the responses. Freelancers seem to gloss over the most important parts of the job posting.
If a post talks about trying to increase a company’s content marketing and lead generation, then you need to talk specifically about that topic at length. Running through a laundry list of your skills, who you’ve worked with, and where you’ve been published tells a client almost nothing about how you can actually help them with lead generation. Connect your experiences and skills directly to what a client wants.
2. Follow Every Direction
Don’t skim your job postings. Savvy clients often request that you reference a code word in the subject heading. They also bury very specific details about what to do when applying. I won a job as the Managing Editor of a popular podcast because the client asked applicants to record a short video of themselves discussing their skills and posting it to YouTube. Despite hundreds of applicants, I was among the handful that actually followed instructions.
Clients aren’t just doing this to see if you’re capable of recording a video or following directions. They know they’re going to get a huge influx of responses and are purposefully weeding out the majority of applications. It makes their lives easier when someone doesn’t follow directions. And I guarantee they will not read your application anyway based on how talented you seem.
3. Research the Client
It’s tempting to think you can digest everything the client needs just by reading their job posting. But in reality, you know almost nothing about them except they’re hiring a writer or content manager.
Spend five minutes looking at their website or LinkedIN presence. Browse through their blog to see what type of content they’re publishing, and figure out how you could make it better. See who else they’ve worked for to get an idea of what they focus on. For example, a client who has worked extensively in graphic design, but is now running a content marketing firm is probably going to fixate on visuals. Include lots of information about the infographics you researched and created, as well as the high-converting Pinterest pins you designed.
4. Match their Tone
It only takes a few minutes to figure out your client’s brand personality by looking at their website, blog or LinkedIN presence. What type of language are they using? Are they friendly and sassy? Is their content highly journalist and in-depth?
You can seize upon that tone and match the style in your own applications. This can give the impression you are the absolute right fit and voice for the job. However, this isn’t about faking your personality. It’s simply about bringing relevancy and personality to your applications.
5. Offer Immediate and Actionable Suggestions
It usually takes me minutes to figure out if I can actually help a client. The job I won in 45-minutes was an easy assessment. I could see exactly where the holes were in his Pinterest strategy, precisely how I could help with content tweaks to gather more subscribers, and other easy and actionable tips. So I told him what I thought. Nothing I suggested was proprietary information that he couldn’t figure out on his own. But freelancers are there to make clients’ lives easier. Period.
I ended my email by telling him to run with any of my suggestions, even if he felt I wasn’t the right fit for the position. Why? Offering up your ideas to anyone who wants them commands attention, is generous, and can tip the scales in your favour. And if you don’t get the job after all? That person will remember your unique approach and think of you for positions down the road.
6. Make it Super Easy to Say Yes
Potential clients need to know how to best use your talents. They’re not going to study your resume, clips and online portfolio and figure out how to piece it all together. So just tell them how you can help and why. Share the results you’ve seen with other clients or your own personal projects.
When the time comes, tell them your salary expectations and terms. And let them know this can be re-evaluated in 3-months or a time of their choosing. Tell potential clients you can get started right away, and which initiatives or responsibilities would be the easiest and fastest to tackle. Make them see the value in hiring you immediately. Don’t make them guess.
With a little practice and refinement, you can dramatically increase your hiring rate from job boards and win big. The trick is staying persistent enough to nail down a winning formula that works for you.
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content strategist that teaches you how to rock the job boards and find invisible clients at FreelancersGuidebook.com.