Published on 19th Feb., 2017

Why Your Writing Portfolio Is More Important Than Your Resume

Think about it for a minute: can you count the number of publications you’ve pitched to over the course of your freelance writing career? Whether you have two months or ten years of experience, we’re betting you’re well past having lost count. It is a numbers game, after all: the more good, publication-tailored ideas you pitch, the more work you’ll get.

And after all that pitching, you’ll likely have learned one thing: your resume doesn’t really matter. Sure, many (if not most) publications will ask that you send a resume along with a submission, especially if it’s a first-time inquiry. But most editors pay little attention to writing resumes, and focus instead on portfolios—here’s why.

Your Resume Doesn’t Prove Anything

Sure, you can list a bunch of big-name publications you’ve written or worked for, which can heighten your appeal when scouting for freelance writing gigs. But if an editor can’t easily access an article you wrote, it won’t matter if it appeared in the New York Times, or just your personal LiveJournal. Your portfolio can showcase both the breadth of your writing—how much you’ve actually written—and all of the publications you’ve written for.

Also, for a freelance writing gig, your job success doesn’t really matter. While an editor wants you to be receptive to criticism and good at making deadlines, the quality of your writing is most important. Besides illustrating your aversion to grammatical errors, that’s not something your resume can effectively illustrate.

There’s No Good Way to Link to A Resume

For many writers, especially those who write mainly for digital publications, having a social media presence is becoming more and more important. Can you think of one writer you admire that lists their entire resume in their Twitter bio? Probably not, but there are certainly plenty who list the main publications they write for, plus a link to a portfolio.

A Portfolio Is Not the Same Thing As “Writing Samples”

When you apply to a new gig, you will almost always have to send writing samples (and you may even want to be weary of the publications that don’t request them, as they may not be legitimate publications). You’ll want to tailor the writing samples you send to the specific publication, based on tone, content, and audience. Your portfolio, however, should showcase a variety of the type of writing you can do. Even if you have a niche portfolio, it still serves to illustrate your range of writing skills.

Your Portfolio Showcases Your Organization

Finally, organized writers are the best ones to work with. Your portfolio is somewhere you can easily show off your organization—not just by how you arrange it, but also by how often you update it. If an editor sees that the most recent thing you have in your writing portfolio is from 2012, they might be skeptical of working with you. Keeping on top of your portfolio by updating it on a monthly, if not weekly, basis shows that you’re serious about your work, and you’re willing to put in the time necessary to building your brand as a trusted content creator.

Living, writing, and following dogs around in Upper Manhattan. Managing Editor for The Financial Diet. Major proponent of the wide-leg jean.

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