Cracking CraigsList

Newspapers hate CraigsList because it DESTROYED their classifieds (and their revenue).  Most everyone else loves CraigsList…but as a lead-generating source for voice over jobs?  Meh.

Like Guru, O-Desk, Elance, and a number of other online freelance job clearinghouses, CraigsList — at first blush — looked to many of us as a decent possible source of leads.  A lot of it turned out to be doggy-do.

In the interim, CraigsList has had to change some of its protocols and those who were initially discouraged are now returning to the fold for a smarter, more consistent method of searching for VO jobs in all geographic areas.  The result is an encouraging job-generating regimen that at times can yield surprisingly lucrative gigs.

You have to remember:  the average Joe has NO CLUE where to find a decent voice-actor.  Ebay is well known, but it’s about goods.  Where to turn for services?  CraigsList often is top-of-mind, then, in a search for talent.

John Breese

I hope my Chicago-based VO friend, Bill DeWees won’t mind my mentioning that I’ve been impressed with his formula for sussing out VO jobs on CraigsList.

HOWEVER, one of my favorite places to make connections with professionals — LinkedIn — recently led me to a man by the name of John Breese – a Strategic Partnership Consultant, Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Consultant  and self-described CraigsList expert.

I asked John if he’d feel comfortable sharing some of his knowledge about CraigsList for my blog readers, and he was most gracious in reply…that’s my nice way of saying his answers below are a bonanza of information.

Thank You John!

Q & A on CraigsList below:

What’s different in the approach to Craigslist when you’re seeking job opportunities vs. shopping for a product or service?

Well, with shopping for a product or service, the people on the other end are very eager to hear from you and are very receptive – because after all, they stand to gain something from the interaction.

However, the person posting a job ad in hopes of drawing out some candidates is putting themselves in the “payee position” and therefore find themselves swamped with people looking to seize on the opportunity.

How has Craigslist become more sophisticated lately?  If yes, who benefits?  Or is it just that the Craigslist USER has become more sophisticated?

A little of both. Craigslist, just like any other business, experiences its share of growing pains and with that, has implemented measures to keep the flow smooth as time went on.

A couple of examples include the introduction of phone-verified accounts. Back in the day, you used to be able to post on Craigslist without having an account. This opened the door to a lot of SPAM and phone verified accounts curtail a large portion of this SPAM and preserve the site’s quality.

Also, Craigslist introduced “ghosting” to help quell SPAM. How ghosting works is they allow you to post something they deem as SPAM, but the post will NOT actually show up online, despite looking like the publishing process went on without a hitch.

I presume they do this to appease you and make you think you got what you wanted, without prompting you to open another account and try posting the suspicious message elsewhere.

As for the user experience, I guess it depends on the user’s familiarity with Craigslist and the amount of time they’ve spent online in general. For instance, when you look for jobs on Craigslist these days, you always see that same disclaimer:

“SCAM ALERT – affiliate scammers are posting bogus ads promising (nonexistent!) employment, paid research trials, or other compensation, but then notifying repliers that they’ll need to jump through a hoop first, directing them to:

  • background checking services
  • credit checking or reporting sites
  • sites where you are instructed to enter your resume or other personal information
  • sites where you are asked to sign up for a “free” trial offer
  • sites offering training or education
  • sites offering a “system” for making money
  • survey or focus group sites
  • sites designed to deliver malware or misuse your identifying information

all in hopes of earning affiliate marketing commissions or otherwise profiting at the expense of persons seeking employment.

Lots of variations on this scam, but each generally involves dangling (nonexistent!) compensation, and then directing you to a website where you are asked to sign up for something, use your credit card, or input personal information such as your email address.”

This disclaimer was brought on by job seekers who were sick and tired of having people standing between them and just getting a job.

What are the latest trends in Craigslist usage?

—Not much to say about this one…CL isn’t like Facebook or Twitter in that new user features are implemented—

Is it best to search Craigslist using any internet browser, or do you have a favorite app, or plug-in, or extension to help you?

Either is fine, especially given that Craigslist has a mobile version of its site and Escargot Studios created a sharp-looking Craigslist app for the iPhone. Pretty much all comes out to the same. I’d have to say the iPhone app is of advantage to anyone who is spending a day out checking out apartments listed on Craigslist.

Many voice-actors eschew Craigslist because it’s their opinion that only low-paying jobs appear, or that people who post on Craigslist are not educated in the perceived value of a professional freelancer’s product.  What would you say to those skeptics?

What’s funny is the same could be said for any profession on Craigslist. Be it accountants, graphic designers, writers or videographers, you’re always going to see plenty of that.

After all, most posters are very well aware of the facts: Craigslist users self-publish about 50 million new classified ads each month.

Just take a look at the numbers in the image below…

With that kind of traffic, Craigslist is a buyer’s market. When someone posts up a job ad, they are buyers and they have the choosing position.

I don’t know about your readers, Dave, but I used to be a manager and I used to dread posting a job availability on Craigslist. Within a couple hours, my desk would be completely covered in resumes and cover letters.

It appears like everyone undervalues talent, but it’s just that the ball is in their court.

So when your competition is chomping at the bit for jobs, you have to set yourself apart and demonstrate that you have a lot more value than the next person.

How important is it to identify keywords in your Craigslist search?  I ask, because Voice acting has MANY possible keywords:  voiceover, voice over, voice-over, voice actor, voice acting, voice-actor, voice talent, voice-over actor, etc.  Since we don’t know how the SEARCHER is going to spell “voice over” do we use as many permutations as possible?

That can be time-consuming, but there are measures you can take to make sure you get as many results as possible.

For instance, there is a quick method all freelancers can use to secure a lot of job leads FAST and find them in parts of Craigslist one wouldn’t even think to look.

Generally there is not much difference in searches if two words are separated by a space as opposed to using a hyphen.

However it’s up to voice actors to think three-dimensionally.

That’s to say there are people out there who need voice-over talent but have no idea that what they need is called “voice over talent.”

That’s one of the key reasons why there appear to be only a few, low-paying jobs. For example, on the day I answer this question, if I type “voice actor” in the New York’s Craigslist, I get only three jobs.

If I type in the term “voice over,” I get eight results.

However, if I type in the term “audio recording,” we get twenty-two results. Now, not all of these leads will be the right fit, but you’re starting to open more doors for yourself – and this is also where voice-over talent needs to see themselves more as a business than a service provider.

As a business, you’ll need to address the needs of these new prospects.

How important is time-of-day to your search for VO jobs?  How often during the day should one check?

Well, I guess that just depends on the needs and situation of the talent. I mean, if the wolf’s at the door, you should be waking up very early in the morning.

There’s a little trick you can use to “tour North America” on Craigslist in as little as 20 minutes and come out with TONS of leads.

It starts with the search feature on Craigslist:

As you can see in that picture, I entered the term “voice actor” and chose jobs. Most talent might automatically relegate their search to the TV/Film/Video category of the jobs section, but as mentioned earlier, not everyone knows that that would be the proper category.

Believe me, once you start doing it this way you’ll start finding voice acting gigs in every category from office jobs, even in accounting.

The key difference is to remember that everyone is different and therefore their perceptions are different.

Now, for part two of your search…and this is how you cover much ground in little time. So after you’ve clicked on the search, you’ll be taken to the results page.

If you take a look at the URL in the results page, it will look like this:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/search/?areaID=3&subAreaID=&query=voice+actor&catAbb=jjj

No matter what you’re looking for in the jobs section, it will always look like that  – so to tour North America in a matter of minutes, all you do is change the city name in the URL string.

This way you’ll cut through many cities in a matter of minutes.

Then all you have to do is run the leads you picked up through Linkedin and you’re already far ahead of the pack.

Would you advise voice actors to search OUTSIDE their market area, and why or why not?

Of course. In the digital age, service providers almost have no choice and with the advent of Dropbox and Amazon Cloud services, voice actors can deliver their work almost instantly to clients anywhere in the world either for free or at very little cost.

What are appropriate ways to respond to a job opportunity?  Phone?  E-mail?  Any particular approach you’ve found in wording a response that’s effective?

Earlier I mentioned looking at yourself like a business seeking clients more than an individual seeking a job.

This will change everything and ultimately make what work you get more rewarding.

It’s also the way to ensure you pull away from the pack.

If your readers are going to approach this like a job, their chances of landing work will greatly diminish.

We have to keep in mind that since it’s a buyer’s market, the job poster needs to be shown something they don’t know is there.

For instance, if a voice actor were to create a guide title “8 Voice Over Mistakes That Cost The Industry $102 Million each Year,” he/she is immediately displaying more value than the next guy – even if the next guy has a better resume.

And that’s why I emphasize the need for voice actors to shift away from perceiving themselves as candidates and position themselves as businesses. To see themselves as authorities and experts in their field, not just some other guy putting his hand up and hoping to be counted.

So I’d say the first thing the voice actor has to do is choose his or her approach as an expert or authority.

What kind of voice-overs do they specialize in? Radio spots? Cartoons? Whatever it is they do best, they should focus on that. Next, they have to choose a very specific angle to approach a problem in their industry that is of actual concern.

If your readers are interested, I wrote a free course on how to create an information report fast to use to position themselves as authorities, which they can get here: http://www.prongmedia.com/voice-over

Once you have your “authority product” and a few leads lined up, try your best to avoid email. Save it as your form of second or third contact.

Ideally, you should approach by mail first, and then by phone.

This is all the more reason why Linkedin comes in so handy, it will help you pinpoint the EXACT person you should be in contact with at the companies you find on Craigslist.

What am I NOT asking that you think is important to point out about Craigslist as a job-search engine?

Just as Craigslist can be used to find leads, it can be used to draw them in as well. Craigslist has a page rank of 6, which means that in the eyes of Google, Yahoo and Bing, this site is a big deal.

So with a bit of planning and co-ordination, voice actors could use Craigslist to give their websites a substantial SEO jump and get to page one of Google.

But as mention, it will take planning and scheduling to make it work, but once you have that piece of the puzzle in place, you’ll start seeing a difference.

CourVO

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