Wondering if you need a copywriter resume? Hint, the answer is yes. So stop procrastinating and get writing!
One of the biggest challenges for newbie freelance copywriters is landing your first gig. It’s easy to feel like you’re up against a mega-sized brick wall with no idea how to peek over the top and stand out from the competition.
And I’m not gonna lie, it’s tricky for sure! So you need everything possible working in your favor, and that includes your resume. Besides a wicked portfolio, a solid resume is another tool you NEED in your arsenal. It’s your first opportunity to make a good impression on potential clients, and if you don’t take the time to craft a quality document, you may never get hired.
Your copywriter resume needs to kick arse. Apparently, online job postings receive around 250 resumes each. How accurate this is, it’s tricky to say as there’s little primary data out there! But it’s definitely worth thinking about.
As a freelance copywriter, you’re responsible for your own success. You need to squirrel out the jobs and contact clients all on your ownsome. That means trawling the job boards, reaching out to folks on LinkedIn, cold emailing companies, or using job sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and the like.
And yes, your portfolio of writing samples is critical, but some clients like to see a resume before they decide to hire you. And yes, I also get it might seem superfluous in the face of a portfolio that already showcases your skills. But, some people still love to get their mitts on a resume. So if yours isn’t up to par, you could lose out.
Wondering how you create a copywriter resume that’ll help you land those dream clients? Keep reading to find out. First, though my keen friend, let’s start with the basics…
Table of contents:
What is a copywriting resume?
A resume is a document that outlines your skills, experience, and qualifications. Er, isn’t that a CV? Technically, yes, but also no!
In the UK and many European countries, CV and resume are pretty darn similar. While in the United States and Canada, it may refer to two different things. The CV is often used by peeps applying to jobs in academia, research, or medicine and includes a full history of your academic credentials — whereas a resume is used to apply for general jobs. It’s a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position.
A resume is traditionally one to two pages long, and with good reason. Hiring managers — aka clients — have to sift through a lot of applications. Think about it. If your resume is five pages of solid copy, their eye’s are likely to glaze over before they get to the good stuff, and there’s a huge risk they won’t even bother reading the whole thing.
A well-written resume is no different. You need to produce a short and sexy document that’s easy to read and highlights all of your relevant and juicy details.
Remember that a resume serves to give an employer or client a snapshot of your potential to do the job. It’s not an exhaustive list of everything you’ve ever done. So don’t try to cram in every single job, project, or client you’ve ever had — that would be overkill.
As a freelance copywriter, your resume is in itself a writing sample. It’s an opportunity for you to use powerful language to sell yourself and your skills. Aim for clear, concise, error-free, and persuasive. Just like your best copy!
Do I need a copywriting resume as a Freelance Copywriter?
Yep. In some cases, a resume may be the only shot you get to make a good impression on a potential client. So you need to have one at the ready. You’re missing out on potential work opportunities if you choose not to create one. Especially when it’s pretty easy to sort one out!
Plus, if like many copywriters, you’re considering applying for a job as an in-house writer, you’ll need a resume and portfolio that convinces the recruiter of your exceptional writing skills.
Tons of writing clients are happy with just writing samples, but some will ask for your resume. You may see it listed in the application check-list of a job posting, or a client may request it when you’re chatting.
Clients often request a resume if they’re looking for specific experience like journalism chops or if they want to see you have the skills for more technical or corporate writing. They may also request it because it’s part of their hiring process for every new role, or because they’re old-school and like things done a certain way.
Sometimes a job ad has a big fat list of requirements but doesn’t specifically request a resume. Awesome! You may be thinking. Thank fuck I don’t need to send one. But the thing is, you’d be better off sending one even if they don’t explicitly ask for it. I mean look at this ad:
Look at the skills they’re looking for. You’re better positioned to show them how you can do the job by leveraging your resume. You can include their keywords, which you can’t with your portfolio. Your writing samples can’t showcase your editorial mindset, proficiency with WordPress, or that you’re a quick learner. If you’re cunning, you can adapt your resume to cover all the skills they mention and appear like their ideal candidate.
How to write a copywriter resume
The key to writing an effective and creative copywriter resume is to keep it short, sweet, and relevant. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much information or include things that aren’t relevant to the job at hand.
You should include these sections:
- Contact deets
Shoot for clear language that describes who you are and what you can do. You want to show your personality, but in a professional manner. Yes, you’re a creative, but don’t get too cutesy or downright weird. It’s not the place kids!
But what about if you think you have sweet F-all to put on a resume?
Help! I have zero freelance writing experience
So it might feel hopeless staring at the blank sheet, but remember that EVERYONE has to start somewhere. Literally every single senior copywriter out there was in your shoes at one point or another.
The key is to focus on the skills and experience you DO have, not what you don’t.
If it helps, sit down with a good old sheet of paper and write down every teeny-tiny experience you’ve ever had, no matter how big or small.
Ask some handy-dandy questions:
- What did you study?
- Did you graduate with a degree?
- Did you take a leadership role in your class projects, or clubs and groups at school?
- Play sports?
- Did you write for a college newspaper?
- Have you got a Facebook page?
- Do you write lengthy LinkedIn posts?
- Done any customer service work?
- Want to make a difference in the world?
- Are you passionate about XYZ?
- Are you great at analytical thinking?
- Do you love working as a part of a team?
- Are you great at multi-tasking?
Even if something doesn’t seem directly relevant, think about the skills you used. There may be something you can use in the skills section.
Also, rather than mention specific accomplishments, you can say things like ‘proven creative thinker’ or ‘natural wordsmith’, or even ‘nature enthusiast.’ Obvs what you put should be tailored to the gig.
If you’re really really struggling here, you could consider volunteering your services to a charity as a way to build up your experience, while also helping out a good cause.
And you can also include a cover letter, which I always recommend. It’s an opportunity to explain you’re new to the game and highlight what you can bring to the table. You can also offer your work on a suck it and see basis. Let them know you’ll do a couple of pieces for free to show them what you can do.
So without further ado, let’s deep dive those sections.
Your resume summary is a header. It’s a teeny nugget of you right slap-bang at the top of your resume, just after your name. Keep it short — one to three sentences max — and make sure it’s relevant to the job.
If you’ve no idea where to start, think about the kind of work you want to do and kind of client you want to work with. What would make you an ideal candidate for that role? Use your summary to address those points.
Consider creating a resume header like this:
‘Creative and strategic freelance copywriter with experience crafting compelling ad copy, web content, and email marketing campaigns. Proven ability to capture a brand’s voice and deliver on objectives. Experienced in working with small businesses, startups, and global brands.’
But, what about if this is your very first resume, or at least in this field. How does that work? You’ll need to think about your pre-freelancer life. What did you study? Did you graduate with a degree? What’s your work history? Are you passionate about technology? Do you want to make a difference in the world? Great! Mention it!
A little something like this:
‘Creative freelance writer with a degree in English and a passion for writing blogs, social media posts, and emails for the fashion industry. Eager to engage with new audiences and help businesses achieve their marketing and communication goals.’
This is where you get to shake a tail feather and show off. Time to big up your skills, no matter how big or small.
Back in the olden days, resumes focused on experience in a big way. Which is all well and good if you’ve been hard at it for years, but if you’re just starting out, your skills are going to be more relevant. So, make ’em count.
In fact, skills-based resumes are on the rise. This resume style focuses on your specific transferable skills, rather than your chronological work history. It’s perfect for newbies and is a great way to get your foot in the door.
One of my fave resume writing tips is to keep a master resume that lists abso-bloody-lutely everything. Every skill and every tid-bit of experience. Then, you can copy and paste the relevant bits into a unique resume for each job application.
When writing your skills section, focus on those that are relevant to the job description. You can learn a lot from the ad and the keywords they use, so make sure you read it carefully and mirror the clients wording. If they’re looking for someone who knows their way around Google Analytics, make sure you mention that you have those skills.
Include both hard and soft skills. Hard skills include stuff like using content management system, research skills, or Search Engine Optimization writing.
Soft skills are more ethereal and harder to quantify, but just as important. They include things like being a good communicator, working well under pressure, or being able to handle criticism. You can’t showcase these things in your portfolio, so make sure to mention them on your resume.
Some soft skills that every good freelancer should have:
- Works to deadlines — Clients need to know they’ll receive projects on time.
- Can take criticism — Edits and rewrites are part of the job.
- Confident communicator — You’ll need to liaise with clients regularly.
- Flexible — Projects and deadlines can change at the drop of a hat.
- Thinks outside the box — The best ideas often come from left-field!
- Problem solver — When something goes wrong, you need to be able to fix it. And quickly.
And of course, if you have technical skills, include them. If you’ve written blogs, web copy, a monthly newsletter, press releases, landing pages, product descriptions, marketing copy, advertising copy etc. etc., then it should be included!
The experience section is your opportunity to include RELEVANT experience. And this is where you may need to be creative and view your experience through the lens of a freelance writer.
Let’s say you’re applying for a gig writing parenting blogs. Maybe your 3 years working in a shop isn’t relevant, but if you worked in a kids clothing store, it totally is.
If you don’t think you have any relevant writing experience, that’s fine too. You can always mention the volunteering work you do or the blog you write in your spare time. Anything that shows off your writing chops helps.
Just consider the client’s industry, the type of project they need help with and how long it’s likely to last. Then tailor your experience to match.
Depending on what the client’s looking for, you might not even include much traditional work experience. Let’s say they’re a pet accessory brand looking for someone to write some fun, engaging social media posts. They’re not going to care about your experience as a barista or that time you worked in an office. What they will care about is that you rescue dogs in your spare time and have a knack for writing catchy Instagram posts, even if it’s for your own accounts.
As a general rule, you’ll use reverse chronological order for the experience section when you’re listing employment history. So your most recent position comes first.
Do you need a degree to be an independent copywriter? Nope. Not even close.
In reality, most clients couldn’t care less about your education — they just want to see great writing. Buuut, if you do have a relevant qualification — journalism and English lit, I’m looking at you — make sure you mention it in the education section. It’ll give you a leg up!
Take lil’ ole me. I have a Masters in Public Health, so when I started applying for writing jobs in the health and wellness industry, I mentioned my degree. It helped me stand out from the sea of other copywriters vying for the same gigs.
Even if you don’t have a relevant degree, I’d include it. Why? Because there’s a ton of skills you learn from studying that can be applied to freelance writing, like:
- Analyzing data
- Synthesizing information
- Working to deadlines
- Writing long-form content
Just pick the skills that are most relevant to the gig and give them a shout out on your resume.
Try to include this section even if you don’t have a lot of experience. Everyone has to start somewhere!
And your accomplishments don’t have to be super-impressive or world-changing. They can be small and personal, as long as they’re relevant to the gig you’re applying for.
For example, let’s say you write a blog in your spare time. You could include details on the numbers of blog posts you’ve written, how many shares/likes/comments each one got, and whether you grew your blog’s following over time.
After you’ve been freelancing for a while, you can use this section to really show clients that you can produce measurable results. People love to see stats about the increase in conversions, number of website visitors, and sales that your words generated. But if you’re just starting out, don’t sweat it.
Pretty self-explanatory, this one. But make sure you include:
- An email address that sounds professional i.e. not your old high school account
- A link to your website or blog, if you have one
- A link to your writing portfolio
- Your location (city and country is fine)
- Your socials (providing they’re profesh!)
And that’s it!
Should I include a Cover Letter?
Yep, I would. Even if a client doesn’t explicitly ask for one, a well-written cover letter can make all the difference, and it’s more space to sell yourself and your skills.
Your resume outlines your experience and skills, but a cover letter is where you get to show off your personality, explain why you’re perfect for the gig, and give examples of your work. It’s your chance to make a good first impression and address any concerns the client might have about hiring a newbie writer.
A cover letter helps demonstrate why you’re the perfect person for the job, and it should be unique. Sending a one-size-fits-all cover letter is a surefire way to land yourself in the ‘no’ pile.
Personalise each one to the specific gig, and show off your knowledge of the company and their target audience. Do your research! If you can, try to find out the name of the person who’ll read your application.
How to create a copywriter resume
You’ve got options. There are tons of helpful online tools to make an easy to read but visually appealing resume. Here are a few:
MS Office Word
There aint no shame in good old Microsoft Word. If you’re not comfortable using design-y tools, or if you want to keep it simple, Word is a great option. You can find some solid resume templates, or you can just start with a blank page and get creative!
Little known fact: Google has a bunch of awesome, free resume templates too. You can find them by opening Google Docs and over at the right hand corner, just above the little ‘plus’ icon, is a template icon. Click on this and voila! You can scroll through a few formats and designs.
It’s not a massive selection, but there’s bound to be something that catches your eye. And if not, next up we have…
Leave the best till last right!? Now I KNOW you have a LinkedIn account as a freelance writer because it’s one of the first places clients will look to check you out. And it’s my number one place to get high-earning gigs.
If that’s not enough, it ‘s also a fantastic — not to mention insanely easy — way to create a resume. Just head over to your fully optimized profile, and click on the ‘More’ button under your name. From there select ‘Build A Resume’ and ‘Create From Profile.’
The LinkedIn fairy gets to work and guides you through a few options. In a matter of seconds, you’ll have a beautiful and professional resume, populated with all your stellar work experience, writing skills, education and more from your profile. You can download this as a PDF or DOCX file to save for later, or you can share it directly with clients via the link.
Some final tips for writing your copywriting resume
The number one tip, is of course — drum roll — proofread. It’s critical that you check and double check your spelling and grammar. If you use excellent writing, but it’s full of errors, then you’re done for. You can’t land a gig writing copy with spelling mistakes and typos, so take the time to look over your finished work and make sure all is well.
My number two top tip is to read the job description. Yep, I know we’ve touched on it, but like the spelling, double check. Ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes and included everything they need in the application. If they’ve asked you to use specific resume formats, do it.
Time to make your resume and get that gig!
And that’s it! You’re ready to start applying for gigs with a skilled copywriter resume that’ll make you stand out from the rest as you show off your skills. Just remember, your resume is not a static document. As you gain more experience, be sure to update it regularly to reflect your new skills and accomplishments.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any tips and tricks for writing a copywriter resume. And if you have any other questions about freelance writing, feel free to ask away. I’m happy to dole out some expert advice!