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Writing QOTD: Do I Need a Resume for Freelance Writer Jobs?

Updated on November 10, 2015
Create a resume for freelance writing jobs to showcase your experience.
Create a resume for freelance writing jobs to showcase your experience. | Source

"Do I need a resume for freelance writer jobs?"

I hear this question in freelance writing forums all the time, and I also hear it from potential freelancers who want to know how to make money as a freelance writer.

You can build a successful writing career without a resume, but having a resume can help you land more writing gigs. A resume may also help you get high-paying writing jobs from companies that respect your skills and want to pay you what you're worth.

The benefits of having a freelance writer resume depend on what type of work you want and where you plan to apply. Whether you make a living writing about sports or prefer to draft fact-filled medical articles to pay the bills, here is some information to help you decide if you should use a resume when you apply for freelance writer jobs.

Why Do I Need a Resume for Freelance Writer Jobs?

Well, you technically don't. As I mentioned above, you can make money writing online without ever submitting a resume. You don't need a resume to write for magazines or publish your own eBooks on Amazon, and you certainly don't need a resume to launch your own writing website. You can write for content mills, advertise your content creation services online, and perform projects for friends and family members without a resume.

However, there are still some companies that want to see freelance writer resumes from writers they hope to work with. More than 53 million Americans freelance, but freelancing is still a foreign concept to many hiring managers and small business owners.

Some companies don't really know how to hire a freelance writer. If you're a writer for hire, you have to figure out a way to stand out in a sea of qualified applicants who all want the same blog writing job or web content position. A freelance writing resume is your way of saying, "Hey, look what I can do!" to traditional employers who are still learning how to navigate the freelancing world.

Do I Still Need a Cover Letter if I Have a Writing Resume?

A cover letter is not a replacement for a professional writing resume. I'll admit that I feel a cover letter is much more important that a resume, especially if you are applying for writing jobs, because it showcases your writing skills more than a resume.

That doesn't mean you should submit one without the other, though. When you apply for writing gigs on Craigslist or via one of those websites that connect writers with clients, go ahead and submit a freelance writer resume with your cover letter.

What Information Should I Include on My Freelance Writer Resume?

You have two options when you create a freelance writer resume: You can treat it just like a regular resume, or you can customize it to reflect your writing background.

If you don't have much writing experience yet, consider creating a traditional resume with one section dedicated to your writing. I'll try to get a screenshot of one of my old writing resumes up later, but for now, I'll do my best to explain it without a picture.

You could do something like this (keep in mind this is just a quick, basic example):

Content Writer

  • Perform freelance writing services for multiple clients
  • Create blogs, articles, and newsletters
  • Utilize knowledge of AP style
  • Consistently meet or exceed deadlines

And so on.

Not sure what information to include on your writing resume? I made a simple chart to give you some ideas. Keep in mind you do not need to include all (or any) of the information below. I'm just throwing out ideas to help you get started.

Information for Your Freelance Writer Resume

Excellent grasp of grammar
Blog writing
Medical certificates
Knowledge of AP/Chicago style
Business writing
College/University degrees
Ability to type X words per min
Marketing campaigns

What if I Don't Have a Professional Writing Degree?

You don't need a professional writing degree to become a writer. A writing degree doesn't prove you're a good writer. It just shows clients that you are capable of committing a few years of your time to a college or university. Yes, that's a good quality to have, but it won't necessarily help you land more writing jobs than someone who doesn't have a writing degree.

Any degree looks good on a writing resume. I am a former nursing student who later switched my major to public health. I spent several years working in the medical field, and this experience has helped me land multiple health writing jobs over the years.

What Jobs Require a Freelance Writing Resume?

I'd say about 10% of the writing jobs I find online require a resume. I have noticed these jobs are typically:

  • Jobs where an employer hires you to show up to the office to work a set schedule for a set pay rate
  • Gigs in technical industries where a client wants you to actually have a decent grasp of what you're writing about without doing heavy research
  • Projects where the client has never worked with freelancers before and has no idea what type of information to ask for in a job posting
  • Jobs where the client doesn't understand that freelancers might have 30 different projects going on at once and cannot focus on one person/company
  • Jobs where hiring managers think a professional writing degree equals a professional freelance writer (I know I told you writing degrees aren't important, but I've come across a very small amount of companies that think all writers should have degrees in English, writing, or creative writing)

If you hope to transition from freelance writing to a gig at a brick-and-mortar place one day, then you need a freelance writing resume. If you're happy writing for content mills and editing the occasional essay or business letter for your loved ones, then a resume isn't a necessity for you.

What if I Don't Want to Create a Writing Resume?

If you don't want to create a writing resume, you don't have to. Many of us choose the freelance lifestyle because we enjoy the flexibility. You are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, when you're a freelance writer. Sure, you might miss out on a few writing jobs or lose a few clients with that attitude, but at the end of the day, the only real boss you have is yourself.

Share Your Thoughts on Freelancer Resumes

Do You Have a Freelance Writer Resume?

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