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Building a niche job board: 1 year in

It's been a year since I bought the qualified.ie domain and built my (highly targeted) job board for recently qualified accountants in Ireland. Some stats:

  • €700 MRR
  • 3 customers
  • 320 subs to the weekly jobs newsletter
  • 1,100 instagram followers (main distribution channel)

Getting the first customer

Once I had built the email list up to about c.150 subs I worked up the guts to email a few companies who had posted jobs relevant to Qualified on other sites.

This did not go well (i.e. zero responses).

So instead I went down a different route and targeted recruitment agencies who were active in the accounting space.

I think this is potentially a better route for some indie job boards.* If you're an internal recruiter in a big corporate who has existing subscriptions to Linkedin/other big job boards, it's a bit of a hassle to post on this new, unproven job board that's solely focused on a very specific niche.

But if you're a recruitment agency who is recruiting for roles in the niche every single day then it's an easier sell.

*Note: this advice does not apply if you are Pieter Levels or Anthony Pompliano and already have a massive audience in your niche. If you are in that rather wonderful situation, you will likely have the ability to drive significant traffic to your site and you should by all means target corporates from day 1.

Talking to recruiters and "launching"

There were about 25-30 agencies in total who I thought might be interested in using Qualified.

After chatting in person/on the phone to c.10 agencies I had lots of interest but no firm committments. So I decided to put together a little launch video that I thought might pique their interest further.

This worked great and led to our first two customers paying €200 per month each.

One thing I learned from all my conversations is that the recruitment agencies would definitely like an alternative to Linkedin. It sure works in terms of getting applications in, but Linkedin is seriously expensive.

I also learned that generating leads in the recruitment space is a good business to be in. The average recently qualified accountant is likely to get a salary of €50,000 - €60,000. The agencies typically get 10-15% of their first year salary for placing them.

So if your job board can help the agencies place even 2 candidates in jobs that they otherwise wouldn't, that's worth €10,000 - €18,000 to them. Makes a €200 monthly subscription seem quite small by comparison!

Future plans

There's a limited market for Qualified. But that's fine - this is really just a fun side project rather than a life-changing business. It takes c.2 hours a week to run and while there's plenty of other stuff I could be doing to improve the site, I've learned from past projects that the most important thing is to just be able to stick with something.

One year anniversary

The launch video worked so well that I decided to get another video done for Qualified's one year anniversary.

No new customers on the back of it yet, but it definitely gave a few people a chuckle based on the replies I got!

  1. 3

    Hi Gank great post. Possibly, the best I have read in this space. Agencies are def the place to go imo. When speaking to agencies, did they give you a ball park figure as to what they pay on LinkedIn?

    1. 1

      Thanks for the kind words @Sun1!

      Nobody gave me an exact figure but they kinda indicated that what I was suggesting was considerably cheaper.

      Linkedin operates much like Google ads in that you set a daily budget. The higher the budget you set the more clicks/applicants you get. So hard to say a price per slot, but I wouldn't be surprised if agencies were paying €1k per job they post.

      An interesting problem that nearly all recruiters mentioned about LinkedIn is that they might get 300 applications for a role which sounds great, but 295 of them would be totally unsuitable.

  2. 2

    Great story! If I may ask, how did you come up with the idea to create this job board specifically for "recently qualified accountants"? And what factors pushed you to create that?

    I am considering to open a job board as well and I was wondering what are the main considerations that someone need to have before moving ahead with the idea.

    Cheers!

    1. 2

      Thanks @Whistl3r!

      I chose the recently qualified accountant niche for a few reasons:

      1. I had a few friends who worked in that area and was able to ask them for early feedback and get them signed up to the email list.

      2. There's a well worn path where trainee accountants do their 4.5 years in a Big 4 accounting firm and then get qualified and move on to a new role. This meant that my target audience was pretty concentrated in only 4 companies which made it much easier to spread the word.

      3. There's relatively high demand from companies for these people.

      I believe it was Sam Parr of the My First Million podcast who said that the equation to judge the suitablity of an industry for a niche job board is:

      Value (i.e. salary) × turnover × industry size.

      This seems like a pretty good way of thinking about it to me, although I would also consider how "Linkedin-ified" the industry is.

      In general, industries where the vast majority of employees are active on LinkedIn are that bit tougher for indie job boards (Qualified actually suffers due to this, while the industry size is also quite small given then local nature of it).

      1. 1

        Thank you for your detailed answer!

  3. 1

    Hi Hank. Good post! Congrats on your monthly payers too. How are you finding the marketing side of things. So when you list a job on your site, on average how many candidates do you get applying for that specific job?

    Thanks
    George

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