Written by toomaime
Last Updated 🗓 2 months ago
How to grow a job board - interview with the founder of Wellpaid.io
Hey Chris, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you are working on?
Hi Tobias. Thanks for having me.
I’m a contract developer by day, and prolific coder / maker by night.
When I started out contracting, I didn’t know what to charge or where to find a contract. Remote work seemed like a distant dream. I inevitably ended up charging way below my market value and finding a contract I didn’t like via a recruiter.
Over the years, I’ve seen this happen countless times to new and experienced contractors. There are a real lack of good resources for contractors.
These experiences have led me to start wellpaid.io, a transparent contract-only jobs board for the tech industry, with an emphasis on remote jobs.
We recently wrote an article about the difficulty of running a job board and the “chicken and egg” issue. First of all, what is your main way to add jobs to your site?
The chicken-and-egg problem is the main thing I spend my days trying to solve for. It’s impossible to convince companies to post jobs on a jobs board without candidates on the site.
Once you have jobs, you can build a great experience around them that works for your niche. For wellpaid.io, that means building features that contractors want, like making it easy to find remote contract jobs or to see trends for market rates.
These features will bring in job seekers, which will in turn attract companies hiring contractors to direct listings. At least, that’s the theory.
This is starting to work for me, and I’ve had a handful of direct job postings from people in my personal contracting network.
"It’s hugely important to understand your demographic, so it helps that I’m a contractor myself."
How do you get the right users/candidates to your site applying for the jobs?
Right now I find the right candidates by having laser focus on building the right features for my niche and getting the messaging right, whilst leveraging my personal network of contractors.
If I’m building the right product, and my messaging resonates with my niche, it should be attractive to the right people. You then need to find where those people live, and preach your message. It’s hugely important to understand your demographic, so it helps that I’m a contractor myself.
Product Hunt is not only a great place to launch, but also a great place to attract people in the tech industry. Hacker News is even better for tech, and is a great place to do content marketing for developers.
One growth hack I’m using to attract developers is open sourcing parts of wellpaid.io and linking back to the site at the top of the README, then sharing those libraries with developer communities. A good example of this is https://github.com/chrisvxd/combine-pagination, which recently landed on GitHub trending.
Leveraging my network is another way I attract great candidates. The network effects in the contracting community are strong, so if I can get good contractors to use the platform and they have a good experience, they’ll bring in other good contractors.
What is your plan to find companies hiring in your niche?
Once you have a strong pool of candidates, you have a good sales pitch to companies looking to hire. There are two strategies I’m using.
The first strategy is reaching out to companies that are already featured on the site via aggregation, and seeing if I can get them to post directly via wellpaid.io, or just up-sell them features.
The second strategy is to find startups and SMEs who need technical resource but don’t want to commit to permanent employees. Remote hirers will be my first port of call, since they can access a much larger talent pool.
Leveraging my network will play a part again (the only direct listings I’ve had so far have come from my network), but this will also involve reaching out to companies who already have job listings for either permanent or contract positions, and pitch them wellpaid.io. I’ll also target fast-growth startups who have just closed funding rounds.
Off the cuff, the pitch might go something like this:
> I noticed you are hiring a front-end developer, but wanted to ask if you’d considered hiring a contractor? I understand what it’s like running a startup, but also as a contract developer, and think you’d really benefit from the flexibility.
> I’m currently running a jobs-board for tech contractors, wellpaid.io, and my goal is to make it easy for startups like you to hire contractors without relying on an expensive recruiter. The site sends hundreds of applications through every month from an amazing pool of candidates, including contributors to React core.
> What do you think? I can jump on a call 11am tomorrow morning and answer any questions you might have.
Outside of paid job posts - do you have other plans on monetization?
Promoted jobs is something I’m looking at. This provides an up-sell to companies posting direct listings, but also opens up a new revenue stream via companies who’s jobs are already listed on the site due to the aggregation.
How important is social media for your job board?
Very. I already mentioned the network effect in the contracting world, and social media is a good way to tap into this, so having good social share functionality is important.
Additionally, all “remote” and “high rate” jobs are posted to @wellpaidio on Twitter. These get automatically hash tagged with their respective skills, and get picked up by people in the relevant communities. This drives a significant proportion of my traffic.
Are you using any SEO strategies for wellpaid.io?
SEO is important for jobs boards because Google is often where people start their jobs search.
Besides following good SEO practices - headers / meta data / server-sided rendering, I’m trying to focus more on content marketing.
I’ve already talked about releasing open source libraries and linking back to your platform. This is effectively highly technical content, and should tap right into the core of the developer community and build your SEO profile.
Additionally, I want to start producing useful articles for contracting, like “Why you should become a contractor” and “Contractor survival guide”.
Google also has a jobs search that’s very easy to integrate with. I haven’t done this yet, but think it will be a quick win.
What advice would you give to someone to get his first 100 customers?
For jobs boards, you need to understand how you’re going to solve the chicken-and-egg problem of a two sided marketplace. Hack the supply side and build features for the other side. Don’t waste your time building features for hirers before you have candidates. Once you have candidates, leverage them to bring in hirers.