Tools for Marketing Freelance Services
Moonlighting showed up in our regular search of the best marketplaces for finding freelance jobs, and it immediately stood out for its innovative approach to marketing freelance services for people on the platform.
That’s because Moonlighting confronts a basic problem of many freelance marketplaces: The excellent profile you built may just sit there without any potential clients ever seeing it.
The approach at Moonlighting is to push your profile — and allow you to push it — out into the channels where your clients are. The goal is to have clients discover you. In that sense, Moonlighting is partly a marketing partner or digital advertising service for freelancers.
For this, you pay a $10/month fee up front instead of high commissions later. In exchange you are put in front of real clients, and real clients are more likely to find you and to reach out to you directly. Premium users also get first-look access to the jobs that are posted.
You can try it for yourself for free, though, because Moonlighting is offering Nation1099 readers a three-month trial of their pro plan. (Nation1099 is a Moonlighting affiliate and may earn a commission if use their service.)
They also have a growing suite of proposal, contract and payment tools designed to work effectively on smartphones.
Moonlighting’s founder and CEO Jeff Tennery talked with us about trends in freelancing and what their research shows about how freelancers build successful businesses.
When you talk to experienced freelancers, what problems do you see them struggle with?
They have a hard time finding new clients or having new clients find them. We call that discoverability.
The second area is the professional tools they need to secure a client. “Once I get somebody interested, how do I close them? How do I look professional? How do I come across as knowledgeable?”
Third is around how to get paid in a timely manner.
Moonlighting is a Swiss army knife with the tools to help people go from to letting the world know they are available for hire to securing a customer in a professional manner and then helping them get paid.
At first glance, marketing freelance services ought to be easier than ever since we have so many channels. What are some of the friction points you are trying to address with Moonlighting?
People are very accustomed to posting on social media. What they don’t understand is how to run ads in digital media. They don’t have the vehicles, and they may not have the time to do it.
We wanted Moonlighting to be the easiest way for someone to be in the gig economy in three clicks or less. We make it as simple as posting on your favorite social media platform.
People don’t know that you’re a freelance photographer. They don’t know that you’re a designer. They don’t know that you’re an accountant. We created this platform to allow people to tell their story.
How are freelancers advertised outside of the platform where clients can discover them?
We have newspaper partners — the top 150 newspapers around the country — where we syndicate all our content so that readers in these locations can find you.
We had to do that in the beginning to avoid what’s called “the empty room syndrome.” Now we have plenty of people visiting the platform, but we believe you have to put the freelancer in as many positions possible to be discovered so they can be successful.
We also made it really easy to put profiles on other platforms. You see people posting on Moonlighting and then sharing it on LinkedIn or on Instagram so more audiences can see it.
Can you give me some examples of how the newspaper syndication works?
If you were reading The Miami Herald online, you would see, for example, Jeff Tennery the freelance photographer show up in with a 350 by 250 ad within their jobs section.
What results have you seen?
On average a gig is worth about $250 and $300.
Our paid users only have to pay $10/month for this service, and when they do they are getting a position within search results.
We also have a recommendation engine where we send the best jobs to our paid users. They get the first shot at earning the client.
What’s the quality of the jobs on the demand side?
One of the problems for the gig economy as a whole is that some companies don’t want to post jobs on these platforms. They just want to go directly to the freelancers and engage them, and that’s what we do. It’s open. You price as you want to. You connect and engage as you choose.
So a lot of the demand isn’t your classic job post that you apply to. That’s one way to use the platform. But a lot of recruiters just come in and find the candidate and go directly to them. Recruiters love the idea of just finding people who are clearly available because they are already freelancing.
What other tools are built in besides marketing for freelancers?
Our view is that people have to work at work, so let’s provide the best tools.
We have a really cool proposal tool that acts like a virtual contract that people can sign and agree to before you start work. You won’t get burned for starting the work and not getting paid.
We also built invoicing and payments where people can text money like in Venmo.
We know what the pain points are for freelancers. They want to make sure they don’t get hosed. They want to focus on proposals and putting their best foot forward. Essentially, we have a canvas where people can paint whatever type of job they want to find.
I understand you have a lot of dual users on both sides of the platform.
We have more of a community feel. Thirty percent of users are people who are promoting their work and then turn around and hire. It’s the web designer who needs to get taxes done. It’s the CPA who needs to get a website up and running.
We’re more like AirBnB than like Uber. Uber drivers don’t generally use Uber to get rides from other drivers. But AirBnB hosts use it as guests when they travel. We’re the same way. Our users are small business that are growing and so need to hire help outside their core expertise.
What trends do you think experienced freelancers should be alert to?
We’re entering the world of blockchain. We’re making a bet that people are going to want to work in a blockchain platform because the data will be more trusted.
One of our goals is that people will be able to take their Moonlighting profile to be able to sign on to any marketplace so that they don’t have to sign up 72 different times. Everyone should be using as many different channels as possible. You’ll need a portable and verifiable identity to do that.
What would you say to companies reading this about trends in the growth of freelancing?
Most large job boards have an antiquated applicant tracking system. If you’re a millennial and you’re on mobile, there’s no way you’re going through an 18-page application process.
The processes of recruitment have changed dramatically. People want speed, accuracy and credibility. It’s got to be mobile, and it’s got to be something I can get through in a minute.
You need to get your recruiter to a person who is ready to be hired, and the freelance world is a really interesting place because if you need something done, you can get it done quickly.
We believe we’re creating leverage for freelancers. The number one problem is the consistency of revenue. The idea for us is to get recruiters in companies the right candidates very quickly right from their mobile phone as easily as ordering an Uber driver. That’s going to be the 21st century experience of recruitment for lots of jobs.