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How to Strengthen Your Freelance Writing Resume


Think being a freelancer means you’ll never have to deal with an employer again? If so, you’re wrong.

No matter whether you call them clients, customers, or employers, being a successful freelancer means learning to jostle the demands of multiple “bosses.” In fact, you’ll likely be applying for new jobs every single day. Even the most prolific freelance writers on the planet still compete with other active writers to land new contracts.

I recently helped one of my largest clients embark on an intense recruitment drive for new writing candidates, and boy oh boy, have I seen my fill of sad applications. One candidate told me he “couldn’t wait to here from me,” while another started his resume with an “obejctve” that was a strange blend of the Sinner’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, complete with a “so help me God, Amen.”

Potential clients look for a few things in a freelance partner: writing skills, experience, and training. If you’re trying to build a career as a writer online, hopefully I don’t need to tell you that stellar writing skills trump everything else.

Amateur freelancers often lack the training and experience clients value, which makes it imperative to build a strong freelance writing resume. Use the following simple keys to transform your limited work history into proof that should help you land your next contract.

You Need a Professional Website

This isn’t rocket science folks. You want to write online? Build a great website to showcase your skills.

WordPress offers a great starting ground for freelancers. Choose an attractive portfolio theme and spend some time working on the copy of your site. Spend the extra $10 and purchase a relevant domain name for your business, and think about investing in personalized email solutions like Google Apps. If you want to charge professional rates, sell a professional product.

Get Involved with Writing Organizations

Think networking is only for workers running the rat race? Nope! Networking can help land you better jobs, but it also allows you to learn from freelancers who have walked this path before you. Best of all, you can showcase your affiliation with professional organizations on your resume and portfolio.

Groups you might want to think of joining include the Freelancers Union and the National Writers Union. There are also plenty of local writing groups and niche organizations you should consider.

Short on Clips? Try Guest Blogging.

Listen, nobody wants to write for free. After all, you’re in this business to make money, right? Trying to land jobs without a portfolio of clips is no picnic, however. I recently received a job application that said, “I’ve written extensively over the course of my career, but unfortunately, all of my work is strictly confidential. Life is short—why not take a risk on me?”

Guess what? I didn’t take the risk. I had a huge stack of other applications sitting in my inbox, all of which included a large selection of published clips. I’m hiring a collaborator here, not hedging my bets at the casino.

Guest blogging offers a pathway to paid work, but you can also contribute to local publications or create your own blog to boost your writing creds. For more information on how to use free writing to build your portfolio, check out this recent post in the Huffington Post.

Even Great Writers Need More Training

No matter how long you’ve been writing for the web, you should still be investing in training resources to improve your skill set. I particularly like the CopyHackers books, if you’re interested in writing compelling sales copy.

I’ve purchased a couple of writing courses on Udemy in the past, but I’ve found that their quality varies greatly across the board. You might want to instead try courses on Lynda.com, which was recently acquired by LinkedIn. I took their Writing for the Web course on a whim recently, and I was pleasantly surprised by how insightful I found it.

Lynda course certification can be displayed on your LinkedIn profile, but you should also list your training certifications on your resume to gain more traction.

There is always a certain element of luck when it comes to landing a freelance job, but you’ll find it much easier to secure work if you take some time to work on your resume.

What tools do you use to convince potential employers of your writing expertise? Have I missed anything you’d like to add to the list?


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