The perils of freelancing are many, but none are uppermost in our minds more than that age-old question: Where and when is my next gig? A large body of well-placed friends is helpful, but not always feasible. An intricate network of contacts built up over the course of thirty years of contract work is also helpful. Yeah, right. In the past four years, though, the Internet has slowly changed the face of freelance positions – particularly creative-end freelance positions. Examining a few of these websites, and evaluating their relevance to the freelancer, should prove helpful in your next, frenzied job search. Monster.com, HotJobs.com, Ants.com, Guru.com and WorkExcahnge.com will all be evaluated below in a few different categories. These categories are: 1) Ease of navigation through the site 2) Amount of freelance jobs offered in a creative capacity and 3) The quality of the freelance postings.
Monster is one of the largest job-posting websites out there, and one of the most difficult to get through. All of these sites have a search engine that can narrow the fields between position, title, location, etc. but the layout at Monster is a little confusing, The color scheme is annoying and their pull-down menus tend to blend into the site’s background. They are also limited in filtering your search. To find a job posting for a copywriter in Evanston, IL for example, you will have to view all of the postings for Creative/Media (or Advertising/Publishing) in the entire Chicagoland area. The major plus at Monster is the total amount of positions that are posted on the site. Blessed with an interesting domain name, most job-posters go to Monster first. Unfortunately, a majority of the Monster postings are either permanent positions or completely misleading garbage. Once again, looking for that copywriting position, you will hit 100 “Make Money at Home” postings and three ads for “Adult Actresses Needed.” For the one or two interesting positions that you might find on Monster, the 98% of trash that you have to rifle through just doesn’t make it worth it.
Hot Jobs is the second largest job-posting website. Leagues beyond Monster in the ease of website navigation, Hot Jobs is probably the most user-friendly of all the posting sites. The filter system works like a charm and finding positions and locations are very easy. With the amount of postings, though, you run into the same problems that Monster has. A great deal of permanent positions, a lot of garbage and some shady characters looking for very cheap labor.
Ants is one of the only completely creative freelance site of any value. The ease of site navigation (every different area that Ants subscribers need, i.e. Writing, Marketing, Public Relations, Design, etc. are right on the start-up page) is probably due to the small number of postings that the site offers. There are, currently, only about a hundred jobs total on the site. On the plus side, almost all of the postings are genuinely interesting, challenging and valid job postings and are all freelance positions. Too good to be true? Your right. Ants works on an “auction system” where freelancers must bid a price and turn-around time to be considered for the job. Even with a sterling resume and samples it’s inevitable that the fresh college grad that will work for Easter marshmallow chicks is going to get the first phone call. On the other hand, it never hurts to post a bid.
Guru is probably the best site out there. Guru was designed specifically for the freelancer, much like Ants, but is geared for all aspects of contract work, from acting to accounting. It is fairly easy to navigate, right around the Hot Jobs range. The job postings are subdivided very well within very clearly defined master headings. There is no middle ground like “Publishing” where typesetters sit next to managing editors. Guru also has quite a few job postings. It doesn’t come anywhere near the levels of Monster and Hot Jobs, but as a purely freelance website, it is chock-full of fun and potential clients.
Work Exchange is a study in what not to do. Imagine the harsh brutality of Monster’s layout and design, the amount of postings that Ants has and the type of job postings found in Ottawa Falls High School Newspaper and you’ll have Work Exchange. Claiming to be a freelancers hotbed of job postings, it delivers about 200 jobs total and a majority of those seem a bit shady (much like the “Adult Actresses” of earlier). Avoid Work Exchange as a serious option for your next gig, but check it out anyway. Much like a horrible train wreck, it must be seen to be believed.
There you have it. If you happen to be one of those poor souls that does not have a CIA-like webwork of industry contacts then check out one or all of the sites listed above. Just remember, like anything else, do some research on the job posters. Don’t send off your specs, portfolio or resume to just anyone on the Internet. Do your homework, polish up that portfolio and let the offers come to you.
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