Worst-Case Survival Scenario: Finding Work Fast

by Carly Schuna

If all of your clients suddenly vanished and you had only one month’s worth of income saved up, would you be able to find enough new clients in four weeks to avoid being evicted and Dumpster-diving for meals of stale Dunkin’ Donuts?

It’s not a pleasant scenario, and we all hope we’ll never be there. But if you feel just a little bit nervous about your ability to find new work in a high-pressure situation, read on.

Got Boolean?

If you’re not having as much luck as you’d like with the FWJ listings, it can be nice to search for your own gigs in other places.

That’s where Boolean comes in. Boolean search terms involve typing in qualifiers to help a search engine give you more tailored results. If my specialty is marketing and I’m looking for some new copywriting gigs, I can go to Google and type in “‘seeking copywriter’ AND marketing.” The quotes around “seeking copywriter” will throw me only results that include that phrase, and the “AND” makes sure that all of the results will include the keyword “marketing” as well.

Other Boolean terms that can prove useful are “NOT,” “OR,” and the “*” (star) key. “NOT” and “OR” are self-explanatory, and the star is used to signify that a search word might have multiple endings that are all OK—for example, searching “copywrit*” will turn up results including the terms copywriting, copywriter, and copywrite.

Not all engines work with all Boolean terms, so be careful, but it’s a handy trick to have in your pocket. Here is a quick tutorial for how Boolean works with Google.

Consolidate Your Searches with Simply Hired

Not all job search engines are created equal. Some will let you upload resumes and track your application information; some won’t. A few include a steady stream of telecommuting, work-from-home, and freelance positions, and some don’t.

Simply Hired is the mega-mother of all job search engines. It saves your recent searches automatically without forcing you to create a profile, and its advanced search function is incredibly skilled at weeding out the dreck of job searches. Here’s the really great part—in addition to sweeping zillions of job boards to find new postings every day, Simply Hired also searches sites like Elance that are almost exclusively for freelancers. They also offer RSS, e-mail alerts, and a helpful salary calculator.

MediaBistro for Freelancers

Did you know that MediaBistro lists freelance opportunities every day in addition to their full-time and part-time job postings? They also list temporary, contract, and project-based jobs.

If that’s not enough for you, try their Freelance Marketplace, an area just for freelancers. It entices clients to come to you by letting you custom-build a profile, list all your most marketable skills, post a resume, and link to samples of your past work.

And if you’re still not satisfied, you can head over to the Freelance Marketplace Forum to give and get advice from other freelancers, look for more job leads, and gripe about pay rates (sound familiar?).

With Boolean, Simply Hired, and MediaBistro all on your side, you can rest easy and replace those stale Dunkin’ Donuts with champagne and filet mignon in no time.


  1. says

    Hey, thanks for this article! Very helpful info… I’m familiar with Media Bistro but haven’t used Google much so the boolean should help with that, and Simply Hired definitely sounds worthwhile. Appreciate the concise recommendations.


  2. says

    Hi #4,
    Though I’m just beginning to look into Media Bistro, I had not heard of Simply Hired or the use of Boolean. Thank you for your post.

  3. says

    Don’t forget about temp agencies. Places like Aquent hire “web content providers” and the like for short- or long-term assignments.

  4. #4 says

    Lori, Annie, Melody, and Jenny…. thanks! I’m glad there was a little something in here for all of you.

  5. #4 says

    La Shawn, I hadn’t even thought about temp agencies. Great idea! They may not be accessible for everyone, but they certainly can help in some scenarios.

  6. #7 says

    #4, your boolean tip is awesome. That’s the kind of stuff my techie friends are always trying to teach me. They know all the ways to streamline processes. And so do you! And now I do, too. Thanks.

  7. says

    Thanks for the Boolean tip! That’s a great idea. I’m in the middle of the exact scenario you described (minus the donuts), so I’m hoping this will help!

  8. #4 says

    Rachel, hey, thanks! Please stop back and let me know how the Boolean tips worked out for you.

    Jason, thanks for that link. That’s really helpful. I wonder how many of those engines list a lot of freelance results… I know Simply Hired does, so that’s the one I primarily use, but I’m not as familiar with the others. In any case, thank you.

    #7, why thank you. I’m blushing.

    Lindsey, uh-oh! I hope you don’t have to resort to the donuts anytime soon! Have you considered freeganism? Seriously, though, I would love it if, after you have a chance to look around, you let me know if any of these tips turn out to be helpful to you or not and why.

  9. #9 says

    Excellent post #4, especially the Boolean search…now *that’s* one I hadn’t thought of before. Oooh, I love learning new things! Thanks for the tips! (I so love MediaBistro…it’s a tie with FWJ, of course.)

  10. #4 says

    #9, thanks. I haven’t done a ton of hanging around MediaBistro’s forum area but I do love their job listings and they have bulbous amounts of helpful information out there for writers.

  11. says

    Great post! I actualy never thought of using simple google search to find work. Soemtimes it’s the basics that we forget to use.

  12. #4 says

    Right on, Genesis. As another candidate said in his/her post, if you have enough work, you can always apply for additional gigs and turn them down if you’re offered them but can’t fit them in. If they’re better or higher-paying than what you already have, it’s worth a try!

  13. #4 says

    Colleen, I am doing a little dance here at my desk. No joke. I’m so happy for you and so glad the tip worked!

    Andrea, thank you! I appreciate you stopping by to say so!


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