How to Get Clients: 9 Best Alternatives to Traditional Freelance Job Boards

Need help on how to get clients? You're in luck! Here are 7 alternatives to traditional job board sites that will help you find well-paying clients and give you more control of your work.

This is part one of a three-part #nomorejobboards series about how to get well-paying clients by avoiding traditional methods. This week I’m focusing on how to get clients without using freelance job boards.

Since I started freelancing on the side of my day job in the summer of 2011, I’ve been on a mission to educate newbie freelancers about how to stop using job boards as a means for building their client-based businesses.

When you’re just starting out, or looking for more clients, it can be tempting to go straight to traditional job boards like Guru, Upwork, Fiverr and Elance. But, for the most part, these job boards do nothing but make you work for little pay. They are just content mills that don’t put a focus on the skills or value you have to offer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a VA, writer, content marketer or social media manager, these sites will help you find high quality clients and bigger paychecks. I’ve personally proven it!

I started my own freelance career by avoiding job boards and because of this I was able to establish myself as an expert and can now command much higher rates than I would if I had used job boards.

How to get clients without traditional job boards

So why don’t I like or use traditional freelance job boards? Mostly because job boards are geared towards the client and don’t give the contractor any control. They put clients in the position of “owning” the freelancer simply because they took out the job listing.

But that’s not what makes a successful relationship. The client-freelancer relationship should be a symbiotic partnership where you’re both on the same level contributing to the project at hand.

Another reason I don’t like freelance job boards is because you simply apply for the gig — along with thousands of other freelancers — compete for pennies and hope your portfolio stands out.

Often times a company or client may have even taken out a job listing and paid extra money to make it the featured listing on a job board. How is that even remotely fair?

You’re the one who’s doing all the hustling to build your reputation, find clients and work on different types of jobs, so you’re taking on quite a bit of risk too. The client shouldn’t be the one with the majority of the control.

If you’ve ever used a traditional job board, you know that the company charges you a percentage of the money you’ve earned in order for you to collect your funds.

Again, this seems very counter-intuitive because the more work you do with them the more fees you have to pay. Shouldn’t you be given incentives to perform more work for less fees? This is money you’ve worked hard for and spent a good deal of time working on. You should be able to access your payment without paying additional fees.

This is also one of the reasons that so many freelancers try to take the payment process outside of the job board and work with the client directly. Which is even more proof that the traditional job board system is broken.

Job boards force you to compete on price instead of the value and skills you bring to the table. This is not at all the type of freelance business you should be building.

I know it’s difficult to wrap your head around not using traditional freelance job boards as a way to jumpstart your business. How else are you supposed to grow a freelance business from scratch?

To help with this dilemma I’m sharing 9 of my favorite alternatives to traditional job boards. These are sites I personally use to connect with clients and land more freelance work.

1. Contently

Contently is a New York based content startup that helps big brands and companies connect with freelancers of all kinds. Back in 2014 I had the pleasure of speaking on a Freelancing Panel with the CEO of Contently and learned what an awesome mission they have.

I personally use their service, which is free for freelancers, and have even worked with brands like, American Express and Spark Business by Capital One, because of Contently’s connections.

One of the things I really like about Contently’s service is that you get paid once you’ve completed the assignment, even before it’s been approved or has gone through the editorial process. So you’re paid no matter if your work is published or not. And there are no fees! How awesome is that? Not many job boards offer that. Contently is also great for displaying a personalized portfolio of work to share with potential clients.

contently portfolio example

2. ClearVoice

Much like Contently, ClearVoice is a content platform that connects freelancers to awesome clients. Some of the clients I currently work with through this platform include, Intuit and DriveTime.

In comparison to Contently there’s little difference except for the fact that you can get exposure to different clients. You get paid after the assignment has been approved but not yet published, and I personally like the ClearVoice platform layout a bit more than Contentlys.

The ClearVoice team is also very approachable and helpful so if you’re looking for a particular job, you can always chat with them. They even have their own blog where they hire ClearVoice freelancers to write content related to marketing, advertising, social media and the like.

ClearVoice also allows you to display your portfolio in a simple and clean way that automatically imports your latest publishings. You can also add links manually and it will display these posts based on when they were published, as well as the number of social shares. The important thing is to keep your ClearVoice portfolio updated so you continue getting the best leads and new gigs.

clearvoice portfolio example

3. Craigslist is another great free site that has occassionally brought in one-off freelance projects for me. If you’re aiming to find more local clients then Craigslist is especially helpful. Visit your local Craigslist site and search the Jobs or Gigs sections. You can view the jobs by available position or the gigs by job type.

There are usually a variety of jobs available with some good gems hidden among them — if you have a bit of time to sift through them. And don’t be afraid to expand your search to other cities. Craigslist often features both remote and virtual job listings.
you are the boss quote

4. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Jobs

One of the unexpected places I still get several leads a month is through LinkedIn. The reason I think it’s unexpected is because I don’t spend any time marketing myself, or my content, on LinkedIn. Seriously, LinkedIn is not part of my marketing strategy.

The only thing I do regularly is keep my resume updated and add the latest positions and companies I’m working with. Then every few days I log into the LI app on my phone and check the messages received, as well as requests, from people to join my network. Usually I have 1-2 messages from potential clients who are looking to work with me.

Another way to stay connected to your professional network is with LinkedIn Jobs. Keep an eye out for contacts who have “Recently Viewed Your Profile” on LinkedIn and reach out and connect with them. Mention that you’d like to explore ways to collaborate and how you can work together.

LinkedIn jobs example

5. The Write Life

The Write Life has partnered with job listings conglomerate, SimplyHired, and features freelance work on their job board that relates to copywriting, publishing, editing and journalism. They’re categorized by type and by the fact that you can work remotely.

In the past, I’ve worked with The Write Life team and they’re amazingly passionate about helping writers, specifically, find well-paying jobs. They’ve also established some great relationships with well-known entrepreneurs which can help get your foot in the door.

The Write Life job board

6. Facebook groups

While Facebook groups may not be the usual place you expect to find jobs, you can connect with fellow freelancers who can become potential clients, or connect you to clients via referrals. Most of my coaching clients come from working with freelancers that I’ve connected with in the Careful Cents Club and other groups, like One Woman Shop.

Most connections are made online, while actual relationships are cultivated offline. But you must first be willing to invest the time a few hours a week in Facebook groups and be open to sharing comments, advice and asking questions related to your particular field.

There’s a wealth of information inside private Facebook groups, and usually you’ll come across someone who needs the help and expertise you can provide as a freelancer.


SparkWrite is a brand new freelance platform that connects writers with clients. It was actually started by a friend, and fellow Club member of mine, Kayli Barth of This service differs from sites like UpWork in that in order to become a verified freelance writer you must first be screened and interviewed.

They do this to prevent fake accounts from competing for super low prices and then plagiarizing or outsourcing the work. And since you’re vetted as a professional the clients are the ones who pay a membership fee to be a part of the community.

SparkWrite never takes a fee for a cut of the work you do as a freelance writer! Plus, they’re taking on qualified writers now to head over to their site to apply.


8. ProBlogger job board

While the ProBlogger job board is a bit more like a traditional job board, where you have to scroll through listings to find the right gig and then follow the instructions to apply, it has an awesome reputation for offering excellent gigs.

I’ve personally found several well-paying gigs throughout the years, specifically in the editing or social media management industry. You can connect with some really cool clients and the best part is that the ProBlogger job board is free for freelancers.

Problogger job board

9. Use your blog to convert clients

Back in January 2014 I started an experiment where I optimized my blog to help clients find me instead of always searching them out. Since then I’ve been able to create a simple strategy that brings clients to me with a high-converting “Hire Me” page.

In the Convert More Clients course, you’ll learn how to attract more clients than you can handle with your blog and how to convert these leads into paying gigs. No more endless pitching. No more wasting time replying to job board applications. Get clients to come to you!

Want to know more about how to Convert More Clients? Click here to learn more!


Join the #nomorejobboards revolution and stop using traditional freelance job boards. They only put you in a rush to bid on jobs that you wouldn’t normally seek out and force you to compete for pennies.

Since using these sites I’ve worked with many well-known clients and have been paid as much as $1,200 for one article. Now I earn an average of $600 per assignment. 

Don’t sell yourself short, even if you are a newbie freelancer. Take your time and have patience. You will find the clients who are more than happy to compensate you well for your work.

And don’t forget, click the link to catch up on the entire #nomorejobboards series.

Have you ever used one of these non-traditional freelance job board alternatives? What was your experience? Got another one to add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Thank you, thank you for this list! As a blogger trying to break into freelance writing, I have been feeling the same frustrations with freelance sites like Elance or Fiverr. This is a great reference. I’ll be waiting early for parts two and three! 🙂

    • Carrie says:

      I’m glad I was able to help you see that freelance job boards aren’t the best place to spend your time! More good tips coming up in parts two and three for sure. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    I feel the same way as well Rachel! This was a great post! I’m just starting out and very inspired to dive into the freelance writing world.
    Two of your lines stuck me:
    1. “Job boards force you to compete on price.” I just finished a book that talks about if you are competing on price then you are a commodity and I would like to think I’m a little more advanced than milk or bread. 🙂
    2. Don’t sell yourself short – even if you are a newbie freelancer. Just starting out I feel like I need to wait a little more until I have more of a portfolio built up which is fair but I should probably make the leap before I think I’m ready because I might sometimes sell myself short.

    Looking forward to the next week – Sarah

    • Carrie says:

      Hey Sarah, I’m so glad these two points stuck out to you. They are rules I remind myself and live by in my own freelance business. That book you read is spot-on with it’s advice! It may take a while to get a good portfolio built up but I promise it will be worth it. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!

  3. Christie says:

    How do you get Contently to work out so well ? I opened a portfolio and have added to it. I never get any communication from them regarding work. Are you ranked by social shares ??

    • Carrie says:

      You aren’t ranked by social shares but the Contently team does look at your profile and work inside your portfolio to determine which clients you’d be a good fit with. They usually reach out directly via email (or you can get in touch with them) for project details. It took me a few months but now I’m able to work with clients and even pitch potential clients ideas.

  4. Michelle says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post! I’ve launched my side hustle and just completed my writer website. The next stage is samples and clients, and I was tempted to try out upwork to accomplish both tasks. However, after looking over the listings, I found it depressing! Thanks for steering me on a better path. I might also suggest as a source of seemingly good job posts. The annual fee is only $30. I’m going to take your advice! #nomorejobboard

    • Carrie says:

      Yay! Glad you’re on the same with the #nomorejobboards mission, Michelle. 🙂 The jobs available on most traditional job boards are depressing and don’t usually reward anything for all your time and hard work. I’ve heard mixed things about from within my Freelancer’s Club Facebook community, but have never personally tried it. But thanks for the suggestion, it may be helpful to other freelancers!

  5. Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for these and the reminder of Contently. I suffer from information overload and am therefore very grateful if I find the same information nicely packaged this way again. I’m going to get right on to it and set up an account now.

    Thanks for another very useful post!

  6. Michele Marie says:

    Carrie this was wonderful! Could not have come at a better time. I will be putting my efforts towards these 7 ASAP!
    Looking forward to Part 2!

  7. Emily says:

    This is such a great resource, thank you! I typically do technical writing for ed. companies, but I think I’ll try Contently and ClearVoice to see if I can branch into blog work. I’m looking forward to your next two posts in the series!

  8. Fantastic post, Carrie! It seems like writers often wonder why they can’t seem to make a decent living. Well–one HUGE reason is that they often seek work from those who don’t value their skills and who aren’t willing to pay a fair fee for them. From my perspective, that’s not the fault of clients. It our OWN fault for not valuing ourselves and what we offer. We have to first see and believe in our own skills before others will change their views. And one way to start doing that is to promote ourselves well on sources like you mentioned in your post. Very nicely done!

  9. Allan Seabrook says:

    Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for your great post fully of great info!

    For the past few months, I’ve had a paid subscription with Contena which also comes with a coach. While the coaching service is extremely superficial, the jobs on offer are less than impressive and largely focused on full-time opportunities. Despite numerous pitches, I have yet to hear back on a single application.

    Bottom line: Don’t waste your time and money on Contena!


    • Carrie says:

      Good to know, Allan. I’ve never personally tried Contena but I have been curious about it. I may have to test it out myself sometime soon, but your feedback is much appreciated. Sorry it didn’t work out for you though.

  10. Michelle says:

    I strongly disagree that sites like Upwork are always a bad idea. I understand that they keep you in the mindset of being an employee, but I think that can be a really great place for some people to start, especially if they are nervous about diving headfirst into freelancing.

    I have 3 steady contracts that currently pay the bills and one of them is through Upwork. It’ll be the first to go once I’m ready to raise my rate, but it’s been a great way to dip my toes in the water of freelancing. I actually never had to apply to any jobs and had multiple offers come to me, so maybe I’m just a lucky fluke, but I always recommend the platform to anyone who’s interested in getting started as a freelancer.

    I’m curious how many of these sites handle payments, because that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m happy staying with Upwork. While I hate having to give away a chunk of my check every week, I find that Upwork’s service fee is worth the fact that I get paid reliably. There’s nothing worse than spending weeks hunting down a client for payment.

  11. This was a great little gem that popped into my inbox today! I too just wrote a book and finding freelance gigs has been tough. I am a beauty/ salon marketing writer. This was super helpful. Thanks!

  12. Madeline says:

    Hi Carrie,

    Sharing your wisdom with us is always a blessing, thank you. Are these job sites good to use for freelance bookkeepers,too?

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