How to Use an Online Marketplace to Grow Your Small Business

By MBO Partners | October 10, 2023

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Key Points

Independent professionals are increasingly relying on online talent marketplaces as a sales channel for their services.

A marketplace allows you to highlight your skills and experience while searching for project opportunities.

Highlighting relevant work, including a professional resume, and optimizing keywords for SEO can help your marketplace profile stand out.

Finding new work is always top of mind when you run your own business. Independent professionals are increasingly relying on online talent marketplaces as a sales channel for their services. In 2022, 41% of independents who provide services to businesses said they found work on talent platforms, an increase from 15% in 2015 and just 3% in 2012. Over the next 12 months, 46% of independents say they plan to use an online talent platform to find work.

What is an Online Marketplace?

A marketplace enables a transaction between a client and an independent contractor directly online. As an independent, you can create a profile that highlights your skills, and then search for opportunities that align with your experience. On the client side, managers can also search through candidate profiles and invite independents to apply for a specific role.

These platforms often use algorithms to help match profiles with projects, so the keywords you use in creating your profile and how you talk about your experience is important. If you’re considering using a marketplace to find your next project, here are four ways you can create a winning profile.

Optimize Your Profile

Recruiters active in marketplaces tend to focus on a few key points when looking for talent: specific experience, the clients you’ve worked with, keywords, and duration of projects. To optimize your profile to stand out, there are a few important things you can do.

  • Write a compelling title: the title or headline of your profile should offer a brief description of the services you offer while highlighting any specific expertise.
  • Use keywords to enhance search engine optimization (SEO): using keywords in your title and when describing your experience will help your profile appear in searches. Keywords are the most searched words based on the industry or service you’re trying to sell. If you’re not sure what keywords to use, try using tools like Google’s keyword planner. You can also look at other people’s profiles who may be direct competitors. What sort of language and keywords are they using?
  • Consider including a photo: including a professional headshot can help personalize your profile.
  • Include a profile summary: a profile summary should concisely recap what you want a prospective client to know about you. Include a short list of SEO-optimized skills, relevant awards or certifications, and what your industry expertise is. List a few of your recent projects with a very brief overview, key results, and client name if you are able to use it.

How to Create a Professional Profile for a Job Marketplace

Include a Professional Resume

If you come from a traditional job background, you’re probably familiar with the basic format of a resume. As a self-employed professional, the same ideas apply. Including a resume on your marketplace profile shows professional credibility and can be a helpful summary of work for a curious hiring manger.

To create a resume, consider organizing by skill rather than the typical chronological order. This can help potential clients clearly see your skillset rather than just sorting through a long list of chronological projects. List 3-4 primary skills or services you offer and then consider what key accomplishments or projects best highlight each of those skills, listing client names if you can.

Next, fill in some detail for the projects you listed. Try and keep these details short, to the point, and easy to scan while reading. Remember, you can always answer questions about these projects later or give more detail if asked.

Be sure to list your relevant education, professional affiliations, certifications, and licenses if you have them. Include a link to your professional website, LinkedIn profile, and social profiles if you maintain an active presence.

How to Create a Self-Employed Resume

Showcase Your Skills

When listing skills on your marketplace profile, try to find a balance between being too detailed and not detailed enough. You want to be matched with opportunities that fit your skillset, but don’t want to be so specific that you aren’t matched with anything.

Within your skills section, there may also be space to list your key experiences and some project details. Again, you don’t want to be overly detailed here, but you do want to give any viewer a brief bullet list of key accomplishments. Be sure to list any degrees, certifications, awards, or licenses as well. There are often important keywords here that recruiters will search for like Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft PowerPoint, PMP Certified, etc.

How to Market Your Skills in a Job Marketplace

Highlight Relevant Work and Awards

One of the most valuable sections of your profile to a prospective client is your relevant work. After all, what you’ve done and accomplished in the past is indicative of what you have to offer them in the future.

When writing about a project, be sure to list the dates of the work, a client name (if you can), and any relevant results. Including examples of your work can be very valuable to a hiring manager as well. examples can be anything from a case study or marketing campaign to photos or videos of your work. If there isn’t a specific section in the marketplace to showcase work examples, consider creating a specific page on your professional website and then linking to that page. Directing hiring managers to your website can have the added value of establishing greater credibility and showcasing your full brand.

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