Since this is my second time being a freelance/contract worker, it’s my goal to eliminate, or at least reduce the impacts of the feast-famine cycle that seems to be pretty common in this world of being your own boss (or perhaps more accurately, the manager of multiple bosses).
One strategy is to just always be looking for new prospects and opportunities regardless of my present workload. That’s easy to say when there is the time to look, harder to do when I’m slammed on multiple projects. The easy answer was to have some technology do the looking for me.
Strymr is an RSS reader that I built several years ago when I decided that none of the other options out there really met my needs or looked the way I wanted them to look (and there are lots of RSS readers out there – I really shouldn’t be building my own but again, I guess I’m particular in my digital products). I’ve used it personally for years to keep up to date on websites that interest me. But it can do more than just keep me up to date on the various exploits of adventurers around the world and the latest pizza dough recipes — it can be set up to do the job searching for me.
It’s pretty easy to find the RSS link on craigslist job pages and on the various job boards like Guru. I used to spend way too much time browsing through these various pages and performing crazy searches to get the results I need. Now I just add these RSS feeds to Strymr and it automatically collects the jobs for me. I will admit that I no longer get the small satisfaction of actively searching for things, but that’s exactly the type of busy-work that makes you feel like you’re doing something, but you’re actually just wasting your time.
Of course it’s been proven by multiple studies that 98.3% of jobs posted on job boards suck and aren’t worth your time to even look at. Ok, I may have made that number up, but the point is that most of the stuff that was being added to my collection of jobs was garbage, and even though I was saving quite a bit of time by feeding it all to one place, I was still wasting time by looking at low-quality prospects. I added some filters to help with this.
In Strymr, it’s pretty easy to add filters to a grouping of RSS feeds, and I know this functionality exists in other RSS readers out there as well. I have list of keywords, where if that word is present, it won’t display the post. It’s a growing list and it’s been nice to see the quality of my job listings improve over time as I add more and more filters to it.
So far, this system is working great. During the busy times it’s much easier to quickly glance at my nice list of filtered results. When times are slower, I can use that time to contact past clients to see if they need any work done, work on my own projects, or just head to the beach for an afternoon off.