Ever wanted to establish a career in writing and media as a freelancer in Australia? Then you must log on to www.rachelslist.com.au
Founded by an experienced freelance journalist and media professional Rachel Smith, the website brings you job openings that you wouldn’t find on other job portals. With leading publications and media houses looking for pre-vetted candidates, Rachel’s List is a great job platform for those seeking part-time / freelance media jobs.
When I moved to Australia, I was looking for some freelance gigs and that’s how I found Rachel’s List. At the time, Rachel’s list had free registration for job seekers, if you fulfilled their criteria. Currently, members are charged an annual fees of $25 to view job listings and apply (that’s somewhat just a 2-week coffee allowance!)
Why I recommend Rachel’s List
I signed up with Rachel’s list in 2014 and continue to be a member. I loved their selection process and their quick follow-up until I was approved as a member. Rachel’s List team regularly shares interesting articles, blogs and tips to land your dream gig and discusses industry trends; if you write to them with any concern, they are also prompt with responses. Whether you are a media business, a job seeker or a PR professional, there’s something for everyone here.
Meet Rachel behind the Rachel’s List
I got in touch with Rachel’s List Founder and Director, Rachel Smith, as I was one of her customers who benefited a great deal from her business idea. Enjoy the Q&A below where she shares her startup experiences and tells me why she loves every bit of it
Q. When did you realise that it’s time you founded a media job platform like Rachel‘s list?
Rachel: It was totally an organic thing that evolved out of a) my being isolated and setting up a lunch with other freelancers, and b) that lunch snowballing! I had more and more people wanting to join in. There were so many I started an email ‘list’ to keep track of everyone. When editors learned I had a list of freelancers at my fingertips, they started sending me jobs to send onto my list. It was rapidly dubbed ‘Rachel’s List’ and became an underground way for freelancers to find work – and for editors to recruit them, easily (and for free). Years later, the List had so many members that it was taking up a lot more time to run and was impossible to manage through Outlook. That’s when it became a website. It’s been a funny little journey for a site that now helps a lot of people find work and stay connected.
Q. How did you raise funds for the business?
Rachel: To be honest, I funded it myself. I did everything for free for pretty much a decade. When it was still an email list, fellow journo/PR/photographer Leo Wiles and I joined forces and we both invested a great deal of our own time and money in building the site and putting it out there, which involved everything from design to development right down to printing brochures and doing marketing. We poured literally thousands of dollars and hours into the site before making the tough decision that we could no longer fund it ourselves, even with the help of the job posting fees. It was a case of either closing it down or asking job-seekers to chip in. Still, as I write this, literally every cent the site makes goes back into the business – to oursource our admin (a huge task), to commission writers for the blog occasionally, to pay for development or to patch issues that may crop up and to fund our upcoming custom build which we’re really excited about.
Q. What were the challenges you faced before rolling out Rachel‘s list? And what are the challenges you face now?
Rachel: Financial issues were and are always top of our list of challenges. But back then, we also found it tough finding the right website developer who understood what we were trying to do. We did hire someone and started the process of a custom build but it was derailed when personal problems caused her to close down her business. That setback was huge for us, both in money and time lost; we learned some big lessons. Soon after, we hired Justine Ramsay, my dear friend and a brilliant art director who designed the site and put us in touch with our developer, Regi. Building the site was a long, intricate process but worth it in the end!
The challenges we face now are different. A lot of it is marketing; letting potential job posters know about us, and encouraging them to recruit with us – because we do feel we have an absolutely amazing database of creative people, all pre-vetted, which is pretty unique. Plus, there’s our rapidly evolving industry. That is a challenge in itself, to try and steer the service to the people who need it most, to predict where new employment opportunities are and tap into them, to teach members how to harness new income streams even as we learn to do it ourselves, as freelancers.
Q. Any surprises along this journey?
Rachel: The support we’ve gotten from those who use it has been overwhelming. I’ve had some lovely experiences meeting job-posters and job-seekers in real life who use Rachel’s List. One job-seeker even pulled a bottle of wine out of his bag and handed it to me saying he’d been meaning to give it to me ‘for some time’. On the flip side, I’ve also had freelancers tell me (privately or very publicly) that I/we should still do the whole thing for free. That’s rare though. I think most people understand just how much (unpaid) work goes into keeping the site running, and that we’re not flying to the Maldives in our private plane every weekend! Ha, I wish.
Q. The site design is crisp and simple, how important is technology for an online platform such as this?
Rachel: Super important. A functional site is everything. Our site operates well overall and most people find it easy to use, but it has its limitations, as every site does. We’re trying to address everything in our upcoming custom build. I’m hoping we can re-launch with a site that works even better and offers lots of new things to members as well.
Q. Do you get time to pursue freelance writing, now that you run a business?
Rachel: Yes, I work three days a week for a range of corporate clients and editors. But I’m always working on Rachel’s List too. It’s a juggle as I have a two-year-old and Leo has three little kids also. We have a great assistant, Jonelle, who helps us with the overwhelming admin side of things and I work very closely with her. She has changed our lives and helped us in untold ways get organized, as well as freeing Leo and myself to work on other aspects of the site such as forward planning, our blog calendar, marketing and the new site we’re building. I was always a fan of doing it all myself, until I met her and she saved my sanity!
Q. What motivates you to keep going? How is your team keeping up with changes in media biz?
Rachel: It may be a hard slog running Rachel’s List and not at all lucrative but I love doing it. I’m motivated by our fantastic job-seekers who have helped support us over the years (we love you guys!), and who tell me they’ve scored jobs through the site. I’m motivated by all the job-posters who recruit with us and who come back to tell me they got a great response from an ad they placed. I’m motivated by operating a start-up in one of the most challenging times for our industry, and that we really have to think carefully and laterally about how we steer our little ship. We’re constantly researching and reading and talking to people and trying to stay one step ahead and I hope we’ll continue along the same path for years to come.
Hope you loved reading it. Do you have a great startup story and would like me to write about it? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org