How to Write a Freelance Writer Resume

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2008/08/how-to-write-a-freelance-writer-resume/

by Jodee Redmond

When you are looking for freelance writing jobs, you need to have an up-to-date resume to show to prospective employers. I’m going to share how I have set up my own. I hope you will find this information helpful.

The resume that I send out to prospective client that I am contacting online is written in a chronological style. I put my name and e-mail address at the top of the page. If a client wants my mailing address after I’ve been hired, then I will provide it at that point.

The next thing on my resume is my career objective. It states that I want to provide freelance writing services from my home office. That way, the person reading it knows that I am not looking for an on-site job.

The next portion has to do with work history. Here, I’ve described myself as being self-employed and provided a description of the kinds of work I have done. A lot of my work has been for ghostwriting assignments, and I describe the kinds of work I have done without mentioning where the work appears or the client’s name.

Here’s what it would look like:

  • Self-employed (X year to Present)
  • Provide freelance writing, editing, copy writing services for clients, including SEO articles, web copy, autoresponders, ebooks, etc.
  • I have written on the following topics [list topics you have written on]

I have a couple of jobs where my work appears under my own name, and I list them as well, with links to the appropriate web sites.

I do list my employment history from before I became a freelance writer. It gives a prospective client a better idea of who I am and what I have done before.

Along with employment history, I also list my education and the kinds of software that I know how to use. I also indicate that I will provide references on request.

How do you set up a resume you are going to send to a prospective employer? Do you have one resume for freelance jobs and another for salaried positions?

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the article! I’ve def. been needing to beef up my freelance resume a little. This should help!

  2. Jodee…can I ask a favor of you? I’d like to try and get my resume worked on this weekend at some point because it definitely needs it. However, when I get it finished, can you take a look at it and tell me the areas that I need to improve on? I understand if you don’t have time, I just thought I’d ask.

    Thanks!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I have just started transitioning from office to freelance work and felt like I was flying blind on how best to format it and present myself. This helps a lot!

  4. Thanks so much Jodee. This is really very helpful & timely.

    Since I have been a freelancer only for a few short months, my resume still reads almost like a full-time one, listing my previous writing-related work history in detail. The only difference is that I have added my most recent brief, freelance writing experience at the top. Also, I have included a block that highlights the types of writing I have experience in at the very beginning – something similar to what Jodee describes. I usually mention in my cover letter the specific experience or skills I have that, in my opinion, make me a good fit for that position. In my case, most of the times, this experience is related to my full-time positions. Does anyone else face the same situation? How do you transform your full-time resume into a freelancing one when you are just starting out & don’t have many freelancing projects to list?

  5. @ Kristy: Send it over whenever you are read. :)

    @ Rupa: I include my previous work as well, because it’s all relative. Just list what you have and keep adding to it as you gain experience.

  6. Thanks for this, Jodee. It’s pretty much what I have on my own resume, so at least I know I’m on track! I also include the url to my online portfolio, so that prospective clients can have a look at my work in its web and pdf format, which looks way more impressive!

  7. Interesting article. When I first started freelancing, my resume was easy to do but years later and hundreds of published clips, it got really complicated. Originally I was listing each clip and publication but that became a problem. I came across another writer’s resume and she had listed her clips in a more appealing way. She had two headings – Online Publications and Print Publications. If she had written several articles for the same publciation, she listed the publication name and added ‘multiple articles’ beside it. Her resume looked great and she had managed to get the names of some relevant publications in her resume as a reference.

    I have done my resume in the same format and it makes sense. Often I will want the recipient to know where I have previously published especially if I have written similiar pieces or for a similiar publication.

    As a resume writer, I am always on the prowl looking for new and unique ways to present work history information and a freelance writer’s resume can be a challenge.

  8. Chris Clark says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I’ve been struggling to put together a freelance resume (as opposed to traditional) and failing in the struggle — this is exactly the info I needed. Yaay, Jodee!

  9. Great post! You have given me some great ideas as to how to revamp my online resume (and the .doc versions of it that get sent out from time to time).

    Yer amazin’!
    Thanks!

  10. Thanks for the great post and very timely as well. I’ve been trying to work on my resume all week. I have my objective listed, and then skills broken down into writing, editing and Internet based skills. Finally, I have a list of actual places I’ve written for. This is the area I’m most concerned about because I mainly work for individual clients and not companies. Should I just list all of their names?

  11. Captain Caveman says:

    I think that far too often we writers are so busy writing for other people that we neglect to keep on top of relevant writing assignments for ourselves. An up-to-date resume is critical, and you don’t want to be scrambling to throw one together should a dream assignment pop up.

    For my own resumes, I actually have three different ones — one for literary writing, one for copywriting and one for internet marketing/e-writing. I think it’s important that when you’re vying for an assignment, that you brand and position yourself as specifically suited for the type of work that’s being advertised, instead of throwing a generic resume and list of writing credits their way.

    Also, I keep a word document of both my publication credits as well as a list of links to my online samples. This comes in very handy — just make sure you stay on top of this and keep it current each week.

    Thanks for the timely and topical post, Jodee!

  12. Hi JOdee

    I read you every time you post because I have alerted google on the keyword Freelance writer and you appear in my inbox.

    HOw about adding your website address, if you have one, at the end of the resume if your list of articles published is really long but you want the client to know? The website can be an updated one.

  13. I really appreciate this as a budding freelancer. Thanks!

  14. Great post.

    I wanted to mention that my resumes includes a short list of my home-office equipment (strange as that may seem, it’s helped a few times). That way a client already knows I have additional tools that may be needed for the job (DSL, a full-function fax machine, laser printer, etc.).

  15. AAAAAAUGH! Typo! Typo in my last post! And I can’t fix it! AAAUGH! *ahem* – I’m okay now, really.

  16. I’m not the expert on this by any means, but I’ll say I do this: I tailor the cover letter/application letter for every job, and I don’t mean changing a word here and there. I fully tailor it and describe why I fit that magazine/publication. (I spend a long time on that usually, but it has worked well for me.) Sometimes that means making generalizations about previous life experience and subject knowledge, sometimes it means being more specific. I mention my experience vaguely sometimes (ie: writing for a “local newspaper.” I consider the name less important than the subject I wrote on – this can get you by if you wrote for a local publication that is less well-known).

    I rely more on clips than a resumé… which can be limiting but that’s how I do it for now, as I’m building myself. (Like I said, not an expert on this, but just sharing.) I include one clip that’s very descriptive and the link to it online, and then include another that’s very long and thorough and well-researched, and mention that I’m passing it along to demonstrate my research skills.

    Tailoring the first letter shows them your writing skills, as do the clips; giving them a chance to research how great local newspaper x/publication y is, – if they are gonna take the time to do that – doesn’t necessarily. I think it’s your skill that should get you the job, while experience is like icing… because there are great writers with limited resume experience to list (feel like it will look unimpressive? Impress with the cover letter/ application letter), who need to impress otherwise. If you have a lengthy resume, great, but if you don’t, I’d say make your ‘recent clips’ bangin. (I read about this in Six Figure Freelance, the book that got me started, excuse the plug, but it really did help me).

    Vague language can sometimes be helpful to get you in the door. And I amp up my interest in the subject – genuine, as I try to write about things that interest me – and mention my work ethic and passion for what I do. *I never say anything untrue,* but sometimes I’m more general or more specific, depending on the job. I try to come across as confident as possible, even if saying I’m honestly less experienced. That often means saying: “My experience in x is limited, BUT I HAVE DONE y, and hope to do more of x at (name of publication).”

    IMHO, you have to show them that you care; resumés can do this, but not necessarily; it depends who you are, and I think we all just have to figure out what works for us. I am building my resumé, though, and hope to make it work for me more in the future and this post was very helpful!

  17. Sorry that was so long… hope it was interesting and/or informative in some way! :-).

  18. Great article! This has always been a struggle for me, since starting freelance writing a year ago but something I’m getting better at.

  19. Echoing the others, THANK YOU! Very informative! I do have a question, though… what if you are just starting out and you don’t have prior writing experience? I only have a few writing credits to my name, most of which are unpaid. Would it be wise to list my previous employment and highlight the parts of the job that required writing, even if that writing was not necessarily journalistic in nature? (such as preparing briefs and point-papers, marketing copy, and general correspondence) Or is that too amateurish? Thanks!

  20. @ Roxie: Your comment was very interesting and informative. I also write a custom cover letter and include links to relevant samples there.

    @ Lynn: I would include your previous employment and your writing credits, paid or not. All of those details help give the employer an idea of who you are and what you can do.

  21. Just want to be another voice thanking you for this article… man, I’ve really gotta update my resume! I’ve been struggling with it since I started freelancing. I had some professional writing/editing experience back in college (seven years ago now, yikes) and then only in the past year or so have I started to write again, so I have this weird gap in my relevant work history and I’ve never been sure how to gracefully present it. But your article here give me some ideas, so thank you.

    One question: Your resume here sounds an awful lot (or at least gives the same information) as what I would write in a cover letter, particularly for some blind craigslist ad (i.e., “Large company needs web content on a variety of subjects, send resume and clips”). I generally try to tailor my cover letter for each application, but sometimes they don’t make it easy. In that case would you skip the cover letter? What would you write in its place? Seems like I should write more than just, “I saw your ad on craiglsist and I would like to apply. I have attached my resume and three clips.” But at the same time I don’t want to repeat everything I say in my resume…

  22. @ Sonya: I would include a cover letter anyway. Use it to highlight your writing experience and set out how competent, enthusiastic, and reliable you are. ;) Then invite the client to read your resume to learn more about you.

    Hope that helps.

  23. It does, thanks. But I already have another question. :)

    If I’m going to be including my non-writing work history on my writing resume (I don’t have a lot of writing experience quite yet), how far back should I go, and how much should I include? I have the problem that semi-relevant work history (library clerk, office assistant) is sandwiched between completely irrelevant work history (retail, janitorial). If I include everything, then my resume is going to get pretty long, but if I skip over the irrelevant jobs, I have big gaps in my work history. (It’s not that I intentionally did a lot of job-hopping, it’s just that I had different work-study jobs every year in college.)

    How long is too long when it comes to a resume? I’ve always heard that it shouldn’t be longer than one page, but I can’t imagine how a person can possibly fit everything important onto one page, especially not if you’re using TNR 12 and appropriate line breaks for readablity.

  24. I actually have a master resume which lists everything. From this I create more specific resumes that can be sent out. I have a general writer resume, and I have several that are topic and genre specific.

    I update my master resume as I get significant items to add to it, and I then update the appropriate topic and genre specific resumes. This post by Jodee has given me some ideas as to how to revamp the format style I have been using into something that may well be more effective in presentation.

    On my website, I have the master copy, with links to sections so that anyone accessing it online may just click on relevant heading links rather than having to read a bunch of stuff that doesn’t apply.

    Its funny how many writing jobs I have seen that actually want other experience and skills as well. I have even seen a few that seem to stress certain education, degrees, and work experiences more than writing experience. It reminds me of that saying about if you sit somewhere long enough everyone will pass you (I’ve heard several versions of it). If you search writing job ads long enough, you will see something for everyone at every skill and experience level.

    All of us started somewhere – if you are new to writing, just hang in there and keep trying. Just as it did for us, something will come along for you! There are lots of ways to get clips, and even certain content mills and blogging can lead to bigger and better things.

    One of the best things I did was find this site and apply the advice given by the writers here and many of the community members. There is a lot of true talent around here – and a lot of very helpful and kind folks.

    Good luck to the newbies!

  25. @ Sonya: Ask away! We’re here to help. :) Your resume shouldn’t go over two pages. I’ve been working at various things since the late ’70s (Yes, I’m that old) and after a certain point, I just list “other employment” and the dates (no descriptions). Does that help?

    @ Dani: I still draw on idea and things I learned from my first job today, so all experience can be used as part of your freelance writing repertoire. I actually got hired for my first article writing job with no clips and no resume. The client gave me a test article and I went from there. I did make a mistake with it; it was much shorter than what he had asked for. :( But he did give me the chance to fix it (and prove that I could actually read instructions) and I wrote for him for several months.

    You are right that one thing leads into the next and everyone starts somewhere. And thank for the kind comments about FWJ! :D The people who visit here are truly special.

  26. May I ask a quick question please?

    Is there a more professional way to list the website where most of my work is archived? I did not have it listed on my resume because the link is pretty long. Any advice on how to do this?

    Thanks.

    Kimi

  27. @Kimi:

    For resumes that are requested by email, I submit my links as active so they can just click on them – rather than have to type out or try to copy and paste. I think it looks a little better, but that’s just my opinion.

    By ‘active’ I mean I type up the title of the piece and insert the url in the popup box (in Thunderbird click on ‘insert’ then ‘link’). Voila! An active link with no messy url stuff, but they know what they are clicking on.

    For printed resumes – I don’t know a way around it. I have just put the whole darn thing in there. :-(

  28. @ Sonya: You’re building your writing experience, so I recommend you do what I have done – don’t include a resume, just write an application letter. List some key experiences, be vague when you need to (again, never say anything untrue), and include “recent” clips that you believe will help with that job. Amp up your interest in the subject if you can, and make sure you mention your work ethic and talk yourself up by saying why you are good for the job (ie: versatile, knowledgeable on subject, respect for deadlines, great communicator, excellent research skills [because of "x"?], a certain voice [developed by "y"?], ability to find credible sources, passion for writing itself, etc). Say what will interest your potential client and sound professional as always, of course.

    Those tailored letters will hopefully get you more writing work so you can later build a resume that will not be just full of money-making fillers, but one that will IMPRESS.

  29. This was very helpful. I’m on the verge of trying to find actual work as a new freelance writer. I’m very new at it. So new, I’m just beginning. I have a question. What do you do when the articles you have written are available in the magazine only but not online? Is it professional to say articles upon request? I wrote two articles for a Bellydance magazine called Zaghareet. Although they have a website, I don’t believe these article are available online.

    Also, is it a good idea to include published books you have written. I self-published a book. However, it has not really sold many copies. I’m continuing to work on my niche. Perhaps I should leave it off?

    All and all, this article was very helpful indeed!
    Lizjul

  30. Hi, Jodee.

    I know I’m late in finding this one, but I just wanted to say thank you for a great post. I’m breaking into freelance, and it’s really helping me out. I think my “new and improved resume” looks a lot sharper and cleaner. Thanks again!

    - Tanya

  31. Hello,
    Thank you for your help. I’m new to free lance writing and I can use all the help I can get. When I read things put down by people I feel I can trust, I really take what they say to heart. That’s what I’ve done with you. I just pray it will help me like I think it will.

    Thanks again for your work,
    John

  32. Great Post, thanks for this great Post. I will come back soon .. Great Resume writers : Miami resume writer

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  34. Hi Jodee,

    Thank you so much for sharing these resume tips. I am currently updating mine for the freelance writer world! Though I have little experience, I am confident that the resume will still look decent, since I will leave my previous experience in. Also, I used to have a section that highlighted my qualifications; basically, a summary of my qualifications from my experience. Sounds as though this is now obsolete, or was redundant in the first place! Just a thought for anyone else who may have had this.

    Thanks!

  35. Great article. But what if you are new to freelance writing and don’t have any articles to show only you education? What then?

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