How a Freelance Writing Job Application Differs From a General Job App

writer typing on laptop
chrispecoraro/E+/Getty Images

You may be used to traditional ways of applying for jobs, but do you ever wonder how applying for freelance jobs can vary? There are many differences in the two, and you may, in fact, be surprised on how much the two can vary.

Common Ways of Applying for Traditional Jobs

The most common way of applying for a traditional job is composing a cover letter that shows how you are qualified. The cover letter is a business letter that has been customized to showcase your expertise and qualification for the job you are applying for.

You should also send in a resume. The resume is more detailed than the cover letter, and most often accompanies it immediately, right from the beginning of the application process. The cover letter and resume are sometimes static documents, but if you have the time (and you probably should), you should rewrite or at least rework both toward the specific position you are applying for. It is always recommended to have several templates of each  so that you can customize them more easily. For example, I have resumes that highlight my work experience in writing for educational clients, and those that highlight my experiences working with biz-tech clients. 

How to Get Writing Freelance Jobs

Applying for writing freelance jobs is very similar. You will likely be invited to use a cover letter or a cover email. The cover letter will show your qualifications along with referencing the posting of the job.

You should also send in a resume that specifically lists your writing qualifications. A portfolio is excellent to have linked to your resume. The portfolio can show actual writing that you have done. If you have had any of your writing published, then this should be added to your portfolio and your resume.

Sometimes the employer uses the cover letter and resume to screen applicants before asking some candidates to submit samples of their writing. The samples should always be some of your best work. It is best to send in samples that are similar to the job you’re applying for as these will best show the employer that you have the qualifications for the job and the ability to compose in the genre.

Similarities in Traditional Jobs and Freelance Writing Jobs

Applying for a traditional job and a writing freelancing job require a few of the same types of documents, although there are differences in the composition of these documents. In addition, the importance of tailoring the application pieces is similar in both processes. Last, but very important, it is absolutely required that the submission materials are perfect (grammar, spelling, etc.) in both instances.

Differences in Traditional Job Application and Freelance Writing Job Application

One of the main differences in getting a traditional job versus a freelance writing job is that most people expect the traditional job to last a while. It’s not likely that you’ll need to keep sending out resumes and looking for work, which is often the practice of freelancers who are trying to establish their client base.

This is an exhausting process, and it is no wonder that freelance writers are often top-notch resume and cover letter writers—we get a lot of practice! Another difference between the two processes is that a writing resume only requires you to cover your applicable writing experience, whereas a more traditional job resume would have you cover more of the employment you have had in the last ten to fifteen years.

In addition, a writing freelance job usually (but not always) lasts as long as the client needs a certain amount of articles, blogs or similar writing projects done. It could last a day, week, month or year, but it will most likely come to an end, and you will be back to searching for another writing project to replace it.

Applying for writing projects is often a volume game, especially at the beginning of your writing career. The higher volume of projects that you apply for, then the better chances of building up a client base.

The last significant difference we’ll touch on is the provision of extra materials. A potential freelance writing job client will quite often have you provide a writing sample, whereas a traditional job doesn’t generally ask for such supporting documents as a matter of course.  

The Final Word on the Different Applications

As you can see, it’s quite likely that you can swing either submissions process if you’ve had some experience in the other kind. You simply just need to be aware of the slight differences and follow the directions of the freelance writing job posting that piqued your interest.