by Carly Schuna
Okay—lest any of you try to slam me for false advertising, I’d better be up front about one thing right away: I’m far, far from a millionaire. Like, almost a million dollars away from being a millionaire.
But still, I’ll stand by the title of this post, which implies that freelancers can and should use Craigslist to help them along the way to reaching the millionaire mark. A little bit of background: I quit my job a while ago to become a full-time freelance writer and editor. I had a few side gigs going at the time, but all of those have fizzled out since then (such is the freelance life, right?). I planned to get a part-time job waiting tables or answering phones until I had enough freelance income coming in to pay for all my expenses. Except . . . I didn’t have to. After a couple of months went by and I took stock of what I was making, I found that it was more than I had been making at my full-time job. How did I accomplish this?
That’s right. Currently, every single one of my gigs comes from Craigslist, and in the past, 95+% of them have. So I may not be making millions (yet!), but I’m spending half the hours I used to work and making more than I used to make by using Craigslist. Here’s something more: I haven’t gotten scammed once. I have yet to work for a single deadbeat client. Some of them have been a little unstable, sure, but that’s hardly a phenomenon that’s limited to Craigslist.
Let me share how I got to this point and the tips I’ve picked up along the way.
• I spend about an hour searching for and applying to leads daily. I go to Craigslist and click on each major U.S. city it lists. Then I click on the “writing/editing jobs” and “writing/editing gigs” links for each of those cities. I quickly scan the headers and open a separate window for each title that looks promising.
• When I’ve finished that process, I go to each of the windows I opened and quickly scan the job descriptions. Here are the red flags I look for immediately: on-site (delete), in-house (delete), commission (delete), and no pay (obvious delete). I can’t work on-site because I don’t live in any of the big cities, and commission or profit-sharing isn’t going to make an amount of money that’s worth my time.
• As you might imagine, those filters weed out a substantial portion of the ads that caught my eye. After that, I read each remaining ad more closely. If it’s vague or only a couple of lines long, I’ll delete it. If it offers terrible pay (most do), I’ll delete it.
• There are only a few ads left after all these hurdles (but I’ve gotten so good at filtering that these previous steps only take about 10 minutes total). I e-mail the ads that are left to myself through the “email this posting to a friend” link in the upper-right corner, then I go to my inbox.
• I have a form cover letter that I tweak and customize when applying to new gigs, so I dust it off and send it along with my resume (including no personal information but my name and e-mail address) and samples to the gigs that end up in my box. I don’t get a great rate of reply—maybe 10% to 20%–but since I’ve done so much filtering at this point, the jobs that do reply are usually legitimate and pay what I’d accept, and I often end up getting them.
Sound like a lot of work? It is, but by scanning quickly and not bothering with anything that looks worthless, it only takes me an hour a day. Deb is right when she says that there ARE high-paying and good-quality Craigslist jobs out there—but if you’re not looking, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
This post was contributed by Carly Schuna, who (for just one of her Craigslist gigs) writes about Halloween costumes over at StarCostumes.com.