Should a freelance writer like you consider using LinkedIn ProFinder?
Many freelance writers are wondering if LinkedIn ProFinder is worth the cost and effort. Troy Lambert has used the service and shares his perspective in this review…
We all know freelance job boards like Upwork are tough places to find good paying freelance gigs. It can be done, but the good jobs posted there are rare.
There are a few job boards that can be worthwhile: “move up” boards like Contently and EByline. However, as long as you are using an intermediary and not getting your own clients, you are giving up a percentage to someone else. The idea is to find your own clients.
Along that line, LinkedIn has created a new job board for freelancers called LinkedIn ProFinder. In theory, it should be a better and more professional job board, but it comes at a cost and it does have its limitations.
First, a little background on LinkedIn for freelancers.
LinkedIn for Marketing
LinkedIn is not just for finding jobs and building your resume. It has become a more professional social media network where you can interact with your peers or influencers in your industry. Many users are using LinkedIn to build their personal brand. With the right paid LinkedIn subscription, you can even learn from the company with LinkedIn Learning.
Not only that, but as a freelancer you are offering services that companies on LinkedIn need. By commenting on posts, writing articles, and other efforts, you make it easy for them to find and contact you. You can even run an ad campaign on LinkedIn when you first start out if you are searching for clients.
With a LinkedIn Free account, you will be limited. When you first get started, that might be enough; however, the expanded search options and the professionalism attached to Premium might be worth the extra money every month.
There are different levels of LinkedIn Premium: some are designed for business professionals who are recruiting, while some are designed for job seekers. The first level, Premium Career, works well for job seekers and lets your network know you are serious. LinkedIn has, however, created a job board for freelancers and businesses who want to hire freelancers. I tried it recently to see if it was worth it, because it does come at a cost. Here is what I found out.
LinkedIn ProFinder Cost
As a freelancer, for you to have access to LinkedIn ProFinder, you must have a minimum of a Business Plus membership, and that runs you $59.99 a month, unless you pay annually, which works out to $47.99 a month. If you are already paying for Premium in the lowest “Job Seeker” bracket, which runs $29.99 a month, this doubles the amount you are spending. So what do you get for that extra money?
- LinkedIn Learning: This is another premium LinkedIn offers, but it is included with Business Plus. This gives you access to ongoing education in the LinkedIn Academy, and there is some pretty good stuff in there, provided you take the time and effort to utilize it.
- InMail Messages: You get 15 InMail Messages a month with this plan, and those can be very useful for contacting people who have viewed your profile or who you want to reach out to for work.
The primary thing that is important to freelancers, though, is that you can respond to ProFinder projects. That can be a big advantage. So how does it work?
How LinkedIn ProFinder Works
A person or company who has a project posts a proposal describing it. The proposals are restricted to a regional area: if you are in Idaho like I am, you will not get a bunch from New York. You will, however, get a bunch from Utah, where a number of companies looking for freelancers are located.
You can bid on the jobs by the project (a total project cost) or by the hour. This is another part that can be tricky: some of the projects contain several components, or may be ongoing.
If your bid interests them, the poster will contact you for more details. If your needs and theirs line up, you get the job. This is similar to other job boards, although in my experience so far, the responses are much more professional than places like Upwork and Demand Media, and the poster has already seen your rate of pay. They are usually ready to at least negotiate from there, but you have already set a starting point instead of reacting to a low bid.
It never hurts to review proper business communication tips when responding to proposals: if you are one of the first to reply, and your communication is brief and professional, you will have a better chance of winning the bid.
The Pros of LinkedIn ProFinder
There are, of course, good and bad aspects of this program, like with any other job board. The pros are simple to outline:
- LinkedIn Profile: Your LinkedIn Profile offers the opportunity for you to showcase more of your skills and experience than other job boards. It’s like a really extensive resume, and you control what shows there and how it appears.
- Professional Connections: For the most part, connections on LinkedIn are professionals, and they will treat you like a fellow professional. They expect to pay reasonable rates for services, and usually won’t try to lowball you on a project.
- Regional Limitations: While this also appears on the con list for another reason, on the pro side, a company from your region knows the general cost of living and the market rate for services. They should be offering you similar money to what other clients in your area would pay. Plus, even if they are in another city, you can potentially meet them in person, or you may at least be familiar with their organization. This dramatically increases your chances for success.
- Competition: You also will not be competing with ESL writers from abroad or Fiverr people who will do anything for a few bucks. You’ll be competing with other professionals, which means you will have stiffer competition, but they won’t be hugely undercutting the rates you need to make a living.
- LinkedIn Recommendations: Because you are already connected on LinkedIn and at least the start of the transaction is happening there, you already have a place where you can ask for recommendations. Those recommendations go a long way towards helping you stand out from the competition when you bid for jobs.
The Cons of LinkedIn ProFinder
And now the downsides:
- Cost: For $59.99 a month, you can do a lot of more direct marketing instead of waiting for jobs to show up in your area. Of course, there is a positive to this too: you could pay a lot more for leads as well. The problem for a new freelancer is this is pretty steep compared to just a Premium membership. It depends on the number of viable leads you get every month, which will depend on your area and the freelance services you offer. The free trial month is a good time to evaluate this for where you are.
- Regional Limitations: This was listed under the pros, but it is also a con. If you are in a less populated area with fewer companies who hire and use freelancers, the proposals you see will be limited. Yes, you will have less competition as well, but with few positions the competition may be a bit fierce. Developing and maintaining a good reputation is critical in this case. On the flip side, if you are in a large metro area, you will have more opportunities, but you may have more professional competition as well.
- Proposal Format: Proposal formats are limited to hourly proposals or to entire project proposals. But many proposals do not lend themselves to either of those models. There needs to be a place to select “Other” so you can outline clearly in your proposal what exactly you would charge. True, the company can ask you this when you get past the proposal stage, but an opportunity to do so within the response area might win freelancers more contracts since they can communicate charges more clearly.
Like many other job boards and freelancer services, you will have to evaluate the value of ProFinder for yourself. However, we need to look at one last thing: ROI.
Return on Your Investment
I used ProFinder for a month during the free trial, and then signed up for the service. The results were moderate. I entered several proposals, and managed to land two of them. Both were with companies I probably would not have landed any other way. One was $1100, while the other was a $600 gig and went pretty quickly.
So is it worth it? Well, a $1700 return on a $60 a month investment is not too bad, but it will take more time and development to see if this is a viable long-term solution. If I get even a $600 one-off gig with a company per month, the investment will pay for itself, and the potential for ongoing contracts is worth pursuing.
Is LinkedIn ProFinder worth it? It depends. Where do you live? What freelance services do you offer? What are you spending on marketing in other areas?
The long term viability of LinkedIn ProFinder is still up in the air for me. But it is easy to submit proposals, and so far the time and money I’ve spent has not outweighed the benefits. It never hurts to try it for a month for free.
Have you tried ProFinder? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or share your thoughts and concerns about the service.
Troy Lambert is a freelance writer, editor, blogger and author who lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with his wife, son, and two very intelligent dogs. When he is not writing, he is hiking, cycling, skiing, or generally playing outside. More of his work can be found at troylambertwrites.com and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.