Good morning dreamers and do-ers!

Last week, I wrote about choosing a platform to launch yourself as a freelance writer. Today, I’m following up with the lily pads that helped me hop my way into a new, independent career.

Step 2: Craft a catchy profile.

No matter which platform you choose to establish yourself as a freelance writer, your profile needs to stand out among thousands of other profiles. Including these elements will help you shine…

1) A punchy byline. Don’t begin your profile description by saying “I’m So-and-so, and I’m a content writer.” Put your service before yourself. Tell clients what you do, not who you are. Tell them why your service is important, not why you’re important.

When I was choosing a freelancer to edit my first novel, EleanorI was attracted as much to my final choice’s byline as to the follow-up paragraphs that detailed her qualifications. Those first few lines?

“Making sure your prose sings, your facts and story are straight, and your unique voice shines through.” 

Notice she isn’t saying anything about herself (and if anyone has bragging rights, it’s this highly accomplished young woman). She’s telling you about her service in a way that makes you want it.

If you want more fabulous examples, just go to Upwork and search for top-rated freelancers. Find the profiles you like and study them before you write your own. Where is the wow factor? How can you emulate it?

2) Writing experience. So maybe you didn’t get your English degree from Harvard or Yale–maybe you don’t have an English degree at all! Still, if you have such a passion for writing that you are considering it as a career choice, that same passion has probably also driven you to  take on extracurricular hobbies related to writing. 

At the time that I started freelance writing, I was pretty far down a career path into biology. I had studied biology in college, and I was working in a research laboratory at Vanderbilt University.

But when I dug deep, I found that I had never quite been able to mothball my love of writing. I had minored in English; I had worked as an English tutor in college; I was currently volunteering as an ESL teacher. I had the makings of a resume without ever intending to pursue writing as a career.

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Writers don’t grow on trees. Most of us have cultivated the habit of writing through various hobbies.

Ask yourself what you’ve done to make yourself a great writer or how the skills you’ve acquired in a non-writing based career (research, interpersonal communication, sales, time management?) can relate to writing. Make these experiences talking points in your profile.

3) Built-in features. Many platforms provide tests that allow freelancers to prove they’re qualified writers. Don’t neglect these tests, but don’t rush into them either. Take some time to brush up on the subject matter, then have at the test. A high score will let potential clients know you can live up to your claims.

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A badge from your freelance platform can distinguish you in the eyes of potential clients.

4) Quality writing samples. You might feel intimidated by the need to post writing samples if you’ve never written for a client before, but just put your thinking cap on for a moment, and you’ll realize that you have plenty of resources at hand.

If you have a blog, use some of your best posts as writing samples. Simply copy and paste them into a word document, make sure the photos and alignment look good, save the document as a PDF (in case your clients don’t have MS word and can’t open word files), and upload them to your profile.

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Don’t wait for your first client to break the ice. There are plenty of resources to get exposure for your writing online!

If you don’t have a blog, use some pre-existing platforms to publish your work, then use those posts as writing samples. Try putting together a Wikihow article or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, submit an article to a website like The Write Life, Lonely Planet, or TripAdvisor.

With an attractive profile, you should be able to pick up your breakthrough client, but that doesn’t mean your profile is set in stone! As you continue to work as a freelancer and your experience mounts, re-visit your profile. Add the skills, accolades, and writing samples that you’ve picked up along your journey!

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