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The Year of the Job Board

Your road map to creating a niche job site with 90% margins

2 Minute Read

If you haven’t launched a job board in 2019, you’re missing out.

Entrepreneurs have picked up on this high-margin platform by targeting a simple formula:

  • automated job aggregation
  • a large existing traffic base, or a focus on organic traffic within a specific niche
  • high CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads in the form of job postings

Dozens of these independent sites have been launched this year alone on Product Hunt.

Other platforms that already draw in a large and targeted user base, like DribbbleBehance, and AngelList, are tacking on job boards to take advantage of this simple monetization technique. Even Facebook (2018) and Google (2017) have gotten in on the action.

The beauty of the job board is that it’s perhaps the only ad format that comes without a stigma. As Earnest Capital’s Tyler Tringas recently noted on Twitter, “Job listings are the one ad unit people actually like to see/share and are probably the best and least intrusive way to monetize a community.” 

The numbers aren’t bad either.

Remote OK, a remote-specific job board that shares all of its metrics openly, sports a dazzling $39 CPM vs. the more typical $1-2 CPM you might get on another digital medium.

New-age job boards also take the most difficult and budget-consuming part of digital media––the content curation––and leave it in the hands of automation. Some tools have taken it a step further, by building JBAAS (Job Boards as a Service), like Job Board Fire or Sheet2Site.

These dynamics result in compelling margins. In fact, many niche job boards are created by independent bootstrappers, who are reaping margins of up to 90% (compared to net margins of the advertising sector in the single digits).

The opportunity: Just whip up a basic UI and a couple of cron jobs, and traffic will pile in, right? Maybe not. 

The big question that remains for new job board prospects is how to actually get people’s eyes on the prize. Pieter Levels, founder of RemoteOK, cautions enthusiasts not to create a job board without targeted traffic or at least a plan to get there.

Job boards bring in revenue the same way other digital media does––as a function of traffic volume and traffic quality––just at significantly stronger multiples. However, that still doesn’t discount the requirement for substantial and high-quality traffic: 0 page views x $39 CPM is still $0.

The key to tackling this opportunity will be for savvy marketers to:

  1. Find existing sites with targeted traffic for which a job board can add value
  2. Identify greenfield niches with search volume largely untapped

We’ve pulled together a Google sheet with a list of 27 job boards, ranging from niche to unicorn size, along with some metrics to give you a sense of what it takes to make this model a winner.

For more info, check out our July 30 email on the next, where we discussed the opportunity to create sites for blue-collar jobs that don’t require a degree.

For starters, here are a few industries with big job shortages:

  • Construction: 263,000 construction jobs went unfilled last year. Average salaries are $40k and increase to $50-$70k with a bachelor’s degree and up to $80-$110k for some specialties like residential carpentry.
  • Mining: Mining and oil rigging jobs grew 6.9% last year. Average oil riggers make nearly $75k, with opportunity for experienced drillers to make up to $200k. RigUp is a gig work marketplace for oil rigging and has raised over $120m to tackle this.
  • Trucking: Large fleets are scrambling to hire entry-level drivers. Today’s driver shortage of 60k is expected to grow to 174k by 2026. The median pay for truckers is about $43k. But they can purchase their own trucks to become owner-operators and make six figures annually.