Building a great job board website can be tough, but it’s a challenge that’s worth taking on. You start by creating an awesome resource for your audience. Then, as you continue delivering the best content, you become a truly trusted and valuable website.
When you’re established, it’s a natural extension to add a job board where applicants know they will find work, and recruiters trust you to attract the best talent.
That’s a philosophy at the heart of Smashing Magazine, the most complete and useful resource for web designers and developers everywhere. In addition to being a “one-stop shop,” a leader in the space, and a great community for all things web-related, Smashing Magazine has built a thriving job board.
We sat down with Smashing Magazine CEO, Markus Seyfferth, to talk all about Smashing Magazine, its success, how they built a job board, and the secrets to making it successful. Our interview follows, lightly edited for length and clarity.
Expertise in Your Niche is Vital
Before coming to work for Smashing Magazine, Markus was already working in a related area, producing books as part of a print design agency. It was his work on Smashing’s books that brought him to the attention of the magazine. They offered him a full-time position overseeing the books and the magazine.
Markus believes it’s important to have deep insight into the industry, that way you can understand what candidates and recruiters need, provide truly valuable resources, and share unique content that draws in your desired audience.
Having expertise in your niche, and building out a great website from that is one of the most important ways you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Do One Thing, and Do it Really Well
The concept of providing value is crucial to creating a successful website and job board. Markus and his predecessors built Smashing into an incredible web developer’s resource and he sees the job board as a useful addition to that — not the other way around.
That’s certainly helped with Smashing’s longevity.
But, Markus knows what really drives the internet!
Despite the internet and its love of cats, Smashing quickly found a gap in the marketplace — a lack of really useful, technically competent, innovative approaches to web development.
This is why one of the most important considerations for any online entrepreneur is finding the right niche. It’s only through extensive research and learning how a niche is currently served that you can provide a powerful and compelling alternative.
You’ve Got to Be Unique
Successful businesses often have a unique or unusual approach, product, background, or solution. This was crucial in the early days of Smashing Magazine, and helped it to get noticed. It made the website a powerful online destination for the people who needed what they were providing.
There are countless blogs about web design techniques, but often they have flaws or share incorrect approaches, ideas, or techniques. At Smashing Magazine, we’re professional web designers, first and foremost. We know our audience too, we’re not publishing articles for general business owners, or people who don’t know how to build a website.
But, if you’re a professional web designer, if you’re making a living from building websites, Smashing is the place to go.
The other unique aspect of what we do is that we don’t charge anything for our articles. All the tutorials are available for at no charge. It’s all free and accessible content, but we also put money into making sure everything is easy to read and is technically accurate. ”
One of the most important shifts in thinking for a job board owner is to see the job board as secondary to the content, not the other way around. You should first focus on creating awesome content and promoting it — this helps you attract an audience.
After you’ve done that, you can add in a job board to create a complete resource for recruiters and applicants.
A Job Board has Been a Great Addition to Smashing Magazine
As a central resource for web developers and designers, adding a job board to Smashing Magazine just made sense. It provides both a great way for applicants and recruiters to connect, and for Smashing Magazine to monetize outside just advertising or selling books and eBooks.
We did that in several ways — starting a series of Smashing books, running conferences, and starting a job board.
Just relying on advertising to run a website is dangerous, so having multiple sources of income is essential to long-term survival and growing the business. ”
We recommend that all entrepreneurs diversify their income as much as possible. We’ve shared plenty of ways to monetize your job board website.
But, Starting and Maintaining a Job Board Isn’t Always Easy!
Technology evolves rapidly. It’s why you have to stay on top of changes in the marketplace, and update your website, back-end software, and job board to keep up. This is something Markus has experienced first hand, as they migrated Smashing Magazine off of its old platform.
Supporting three different platforms comes with a big maintenance overhead, and it means that every change to the site has to be done three times, which creates a lot of work. We are relaunching our site to unify all the different areas of the magazine into just one system. ”
This is something we really understand at Smartjobboard. It’s why we’re updating our software all the time to make it as easy as possible to use, and to eliminate any maintenance overhead.
Getting Around the “Chicken and Egg” Problem for Job Boards
One of the main issues for new job boards is the “Chicken and Egg” issue — attracting enough recruiters and enough applicants to make it worth everyone’s time. It’s a particular problem for “two-sided” marketplaces. Fortunately, it wasn’t a huge issue for Smashing Magazine.
Even though it wasn’t a big issue for Smashing Magazine, Markus still has some insight for aspiring job board entrepreneurs on how to solve the issue.
We know how much of an issue the chicken and egg problem can be, and we have some great suggestions on how to solve it.
Building Up a Powerful Email List and Social Media Following is Vital
One of the main areas that Smashing Magazine has been focused on since the beginning is building up its email subscriber list and social media following.
All the job listings that we are posting on the job board are also mentioned in the newsletter. We also use our social media channels, especially Twitter and Facebook to post new job listings from the job board. We have more than 1.3 million friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook. ”
There Are Constant Challenges in Growing a Job Board
Even a website as popular and long-lasting as Smashing Magazine does run into issues, especially with reduced job listings and declining revenues, mainly due to competition.
But, Smashing Magazine relishes the challenge. As Markus points out, it’s all about getting a competitive advantage.
The majority of our competitors focus much more on a niche inside a niche audience, for instance, CSS Tricks, who are focussing mostly on technical tutorials on CSS.
Smashing, on the contrary, has a much wider approach, frequently publishing articles both technical but also UX design tutorials. It’s vital to understand what your audience needs, and deliver that. Thanks to our diversified readership, we are able to drive a lot of traffic to the job board as well. ”
Smashing Magazine’s Job Board Continues to Grow
Finally, we asked Markus how Smashing Magazine is doing, what their job board numbers are, and their plans for the future.
Smashing currently charges $225 for a full-time job post (around 80% of all posts) and $75 for a freelance job post (around 20% of all posts). Assuming an average of 35 full-time and 7 freelance job posts a month, that’s monthly revenue of $8,400 (just over $100K a year).
Clearly, that’s already a good amount of success, but Smashing Magazine isn’t sitting on its laurels. Markus gave us some insight into their future plans to grow the job board.
There we have it — some insider knowledge on how an already successful website found its niche, created awesome content, added a job board, dealt with challenges, and is growing for the future.
We’d like to thank Markus for his time — if you’re a professional web designer or developer, go visit Smashing Magazine now. They have an amazing selection of in-depth technical articles, some great books and eBooks, conferences and workshops, and of course, a job board where you can find the perfect role!