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8 Must Haves Before You Apply For A Freelance Writing Job

Get your ducks in a row before you apply for a freelance writing job.I know it’s easy to throw something together in response to a freelance writing job ad.

Don’t! Not if you really want the freelance gig.

There are eight things you need to get in order before you can be sure you’re looking good to prospective employers.

When you’ve got your ducks in order, as it were, you’re much more likely to land a freelance writing job that works for you.

Know what kind of writing job you want 

Do you want to write articles? Copy write? Copy edit? Blog? Ghostwrite a book? You may be willing and able to work at more than one kind of freelance writing job, but thinking about what you really want will keep you from applying to all sorts of gigs that are not appropriate for you.

Full time? Part time? Work at home?

What kind of time are you willing to spend on the job you’re applying for. Will you be happiest with one full time freelance writing job you can do from home? Do you already have a small gig or two you want to keep that will prevent you from full time work? Or do you simply only want to work X number of hours a day or week? Get clear so you know which jobs to respond to.

Know your pay requirements

You need to know how much you need per hour, per week, and per month. Sure, many jobs post a pay rate or range, but lots don’t. If you know what your writing fees are you’ll be better able to pick out the posts that fit you, and know how to respond when someone asks you what you charge. 

Update your writing credit list or resume

Make sure your resume or credit list is current. Double check phone numbers and email addresses. How does it look? What happens if you cut and paste it into an email – test it by sending it to yourself. Create a .pdf version in advance so you can send that when it’s requested.

Createa resume for each kind of writing you want to do

If you’re like me you’ve got more than one writing skill. For example, I ghostwrite, blog and coach writers. Consider creating a resume for each skill. I recently re-wrote a resume for a blog gig I’m interested in.

Often it’s more a matter of rearranging the information than actual rewriting. For example, I put the blog writing I’ve already done at the top of the credit list I sent looking for blog work.

Touch base with your references. I don’t put my references on my credit list. Instead I state at the bottom that I have excellent references. I check in with those folks from time-to-time and occasionally add someone new.

Update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is where many prospective employers look to do a partial check on you. Make sure your profile is current. And pay attention to the suggestions LinkedIn makes to improve your profile. I just looked at mine and it suggested I need more people to endorse me – so if you want to fine. But I’ve got some homework to do.

Get a website up

You’re a writer – you need a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or even hard to do, and it’s more than worth the effort. In fact, if you don’t have a website you don’t look like a true professional.

Now when you actually apply for a freelance writing gig, which we’ll talk about next, you’ll be prepared.

What would you add to this list?

You might also enjoy 8 Top Freelance Writer Business Problems.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer




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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Jenny October 11, 2011, 7:36 am

    Good post, well detailed with your expertise to show the way. Freelance writing jobs are very lucrative and every day there are thousands of people trying to cash in. Thank you very much for the tips.
    Jenny recently posted..Health and Fitness FactsMy Profile

    • Anne October 11, 2011, 10:40 am

      You’re more than welcome Jenny.

  • glorielle felton October 6, 2011, 8:41 pm

    Im looking to start a freelance career. I need assistance/guidance with a response letter. I learn fast so, if you have a template I could review that would be nice. Thank you very much

    • Anne October 7, 2011, 11:10 am

      Glorielle, no template here – check out the how to category.

  • Amelia Ramstead October 4, 2011, 2:01 pm

    I have two different versions of my resume, one for writing and one for editing. While they have basically the same information, the order and emphasis changes. I also edit the resume slightly different to make sure it fits in with the job description.
    Amelia Ramstead recently posted..Maintaining Professionalism While Working from HomeMy Profile

    • Anne October 5, 2011, 12:02 pm

      Yes, I have more than one, and like you say, it’s teh emphasis.

  • Charlotte Rains Dixon October 4, 2011, 1:29 pm

    All excellent points, Anne. Number #6, getting a website up, is crucial, and its amazing how many would-be writers I talk to who don’t have one. I tell them to start a blog–simple and quick way to get a presence on the web.
    Charlotte Rains Dixon recently posted..When is Watching Trash TV is Good for Your Writing?My Profile

  • Ali @ Writers Blog October 4, 2011, 9:14 am

    I agree with all the above points but specially with #5 (and Nick). You should have different ‘versions’of resumes ready so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of updating your resume at the last minute. Buyers are usually flooded with incoming requests for the job and start ignoring requests after the first day or so. It means the sooner you apply, the higher are your chances of getting hired.
    Ali @ Writers Blog recently posted..Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer – The Secret of My SuccessMy Profile

    • Anne October 4, 2011, 1:46 pm

      all true.

  • Wendy October 4, 2011, 5:17 am

    Food for thought! Thank you for the useful information. I notice that I’m on the right track, but still have some work to do. Very helpful article.
    Wendy recently posted..How to Create a Writer’s RenaissanceMy Profile

    • Anne October 4, 2011, 1:44 pm

      Wendy, isn’t it great to discover you’re on the right track, or rather have it affirmed!

  • Alice October 4, 2011, 4:19 am

    It’s also important to have your Facebook and other online accounts to set on private. Often a potential employer or partner will check you out online first. Most people don’t create a positive image with their Facebook account.
    Alice recently posted..Solutions to Debt Problems-My Profile

    • Anne October 4, 2011, 1:40 pm

      One of the things I didn’t say that I often do is never ever put anything online you’re not willing to see on the front page of the New York Times. Facebook privacy cannot be trusted. Better than nothing, but better to be discrete. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Jennifer Brown Banks October 3, 2011, 6:06 pm


    I’ve found that if you’re applying for a position as a paid blogger, having guest posts appearing at influential sites helps considerably.

    Thanks for these valuable tips.
    Jennifer Brown Banks recently posted..Anne Wayman on the 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make…My Profile

    • Anne October 4, 2011, 1:15 pm

      Sure, good idea. Thanks – I hadn’t thought of that one.

  • Nicky Parry October 3, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I really like the idea about writing different resumes for different aspects of your work. That’s something I recently did too – a lot of my stuff is “similar but different”, so it makes sense to have a hat for all events! And I still keep one that’s more general too.
    Nicky Parry recently posted..Get Your Screening On!My Profile

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