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That CV Won’t Help You Get a Writing Job

CVs really suck when it comes to freelance writing

Image via The CV Inn on Flickr

I was recently chatting with Dainis from, a friend and one of my clients, on Skype recently when we started talking about a freelance writing job offer he posted online recently. Dainis talked about getting over 250 emails from prospective freelance writers interested in getting the job and that out of all those 250 emails it was only around 50 that were impressive. The other emails were mentioning things like college degrees, CVs and the likes.

Your College Degree Won’t get You Anywhere, at least, Not as a Freelance Writer

I’ve always been an advocate of going to college, and just so you know, I have plans for college early next year – but I’m not just doing it for the sake of the degree and I will advise you not to do the same if you really want results as a freelance writer.

To really succeed as a freelance writer it is very important for you to realize that your college degree won’t take you anywhere. The fact that you had PhD in English doesn’t make you a perfect writer and the fact that you are the best student in college doesn’t make you an ideal candidate for that freelance writing job.

If you are thinking that your college degree will increase the chances of you getting a writing job online then I’d tell you to stop dreaming. I know some clients will require you to have a degree in English before hiring you, but the majority won’t. I know a lot of freelance writers making it big without a college degree, I’m one example, Carol Tice is another great example.

Let me tell you what being successful as a freelance writer is all about…

Being a Successful Freelance Writer is all about THIS…



And results.

Your clients don’t give a damn about whether you had straight As in high school or whether you have PhD in English. They are spending their money and as far as they are concerned the only thing that matters to them is results.

The key to getting a lot of clients is having experience, and having a lot of it. By experience I’m not saying you should have spent a gazillion years in college, I’m talking about real experience that comes from writing regularly. You should have great experience in writing down your thoughts, you should have great experience with storytelling, you should have great experience with writing content that moves people and you should have great experience with getting published on other bigger blogs in your field.

I personally like to think that the way we write online is different from they way we write in school. That is exactly why the writing of a professor online might be extremely boring. They write as if they are writing that assignment, or they are writing for that student whereas what people really need to learn is their thoughts.

Here’s the Key Instead

Since I’ve helped you realize that having a CV with a gazillion work experiences won’t help you with most freelance writing jobs I think I should let you know how to get those jobs instead.

Instead of focusing on writing that CV of yours with all the excellent college degrees you have why not start focusing your efforts on getting the big people online to publish your work. Spend a lot more time writing that great thought in your mind, spend a lot more time writing what you see around you, spend a lot more time reading the works of great writers and spend a lot more time getting published on the top blogs in your field.

My experience with cold pitching has shown that it’s not about how many degrees you have, or how brilliant you were in college; it’s about social proof.

At the end of the day, it’s about where you have been published before. How reputable is the publication? When the time comes for clients to hire you, they won’t be taking a look at your degree, but your work will be speaking for you.

So, if you want to land a writing job with a client in the health niche, the fastest way to do this is by getting published on one of the biggest blogs or magazines in the healthy industry. It’s that simple.

P.S. If you want to build a successful freelance writing business but don’t know where to start, you definitely should get my Success Starter Guide. It also comes with a case study of a successful cold pitching experiment, that resulted in $625 in writing income in 2 hours flat.

35 Comments on "That CV Won’t Help You Get a Writing Job"

  1. Andy says:

    I agree to a point but I am frustrated when I see such a small bubble talked about. “Get yourself published on Problogger/CopyBlogger”. Why? I don’t write about blogging or copywriting. My articles on synthesizers or family issues won’t go down very well there. Also, freelance writing is not all about blogs. What about writing for larger organisations that have an online presence? Education can’t be completely shunned either. A good qualification backed up by solid experience can be useful in some spheres, though I agree that provable experience nearly always trumps academic achievements.

    I’m not wanting to have a go at this article because much of it rings true. I’m just irritated by the general insularity that seems to come out of metablogging. Sure, most of us are intelligent enough to translate the ideas to the niches we are involved with, but I’m a little worried that those who aren’t will simply flood the saturated blogging about blogging/writing about writing niches because that’s where they think they should be focusing their attentions.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Andy,

      I think that if you are writing on other niches than blogging or writing, you could still get more exposure by posting on other blogs within the same niche as yours that may have a higher rank.

      Of course ProBlogger or CopyBlogger are not the only ones.

      About qualification, I agree with you, it’s really good to have. But, I can assure you from my own and other people I know experiences that what we really call “qualifications” DOES NOT come from a college degree. It comes more from real hands on experience.

      As an example, my native language is French and I know a girl who is graduating this year with a French major. Well, she doesn’t know much French in my book. I know that for a fact!

    • Onibalusi says:

      I think you misinterpreted my point Andy! I wrote that article in a way as if I’m talking to a younger writer in me. I really don’t mean you MUST get published on Copyblogger and Problogger – all I’m trying to say is that you should work on getting your work published on some of the biggest blogs in your field so as to be able to use it as social proof of what you are capable to achieving with writing.

      I definitely understand your frustration and I think you have every right to be! I really hope this article helps you!

  2. commercial cleaning in Glasgow says:

    When I applied for a job online, I was offered the least wage I can get than stated on my resumme. The client said that my skills are not enough for the wage I suggested. I agree that our degree will not warrant our security to get hired and paid highly as well. Clients need SKILL sets and proven outputs of your skills online to get hired!

  3. Jarod Online says:

    And there goes Oni, the man with the divine pen, again! I think I’m becoming too addicted to this blog now. I swear. I can relate to this all the way around 720 degrees!

    Great post!

  4. kalyan says:

    True Oni. Just your degrees won’t speak for you. I guess another good way is to own a blog (though it requires lot of time, a bit of technical as well we marketing knowledge). With your blog, you can do two things; First, make your own business out of it and spread the word that you can write good stuff which visitors like. (again this requires a bit of SEO too ;)) & rest is your luck. Not all are lucky enough to get good clients. Well said Oni.

  5. Jamie Northrup says:

    Great post Oni, but even better is your new design, I really love it!

    • Kalen Smith says:

      Couldn’t agree more Jamie! I love the site and would like to pay for these designers for my own some day!

  6. Very well said. My college degree isn’t close to relevant to writing (Environmental Sciences… go figure!), and I’m sure my clients don’t care what that particular piece of paper says. What they want to know is what my writing style is like and whether or not it’ll help their specific projects.

    And for that, writing samples and content published on major websites can’t be beat 🙂

  7. Vert Studios says:

    I think you highly some great points. Having a college degree won’t really help you as a freelance writer, I think having quality work and providing a good portfolio will help you the most.

  8. Oni, you’re right. You don’t need a CV, as a freelance writer who is looking for clients, but the portfolio (e.g., your past clients and how you helped them, samples, and so on) is key.

    Keep up the great work, and I look forward to sharing my freelance writing ideas, tips and insights on your blog soon.

  9. cash4wealth says:

    you are quite right college degree wont help at all what really matters is results,and ofcourse style of writing in achieving such results. by the way your theme is really unique with your dollar favicon,very interesting indeed.

  10. Loving the new site.

    You’re right. Writing online is very different from writing books/articles etc on other forums. I’ve had experience with both and I can vouch for that.

    The thing is, I write a lot about relationships and personal-development on my other blog (the one I want to promote), so guest posting opportunities are a bit few and far between.

  11. Eric Murphy says:

    yet another a good post from you Onibalusi. You always write nice posts. I am impressed.

  12. Hi Oni, you’re right. Believing in school degrees and others won’t help someone who is thinking of starting a writing career or even those that has been doing it for a while. Results do help because without it, you can’t go anywhere.

    Thanks man for this great post. 🙂

  13. I agree with you Onibalusi that a proven track record is more impressive than a resume or CV. A resume or CV is intended to show people that you have that experience. Even if you do not have formal training it is easy with all of the resources available to get training and experience.

  14. sam @ goa carnival says:

    I am agreed from you. When we are search for a new job them only our experience will count on that profile but which all experience we have for mention these experience detail we need to make a CV and when we present our CV in front of interviewer then i think he/she judge many things after look our CV.

    So my point of view CV is also play very important role when we are searching a new job.

  15. Nina Man says:

    I have never paid much attention to my CV, but thanks for the tips, indeed I still believe that the most important part is the interview!

  16. That is so very true! Even though I have done my Masters in English Literature, but so often I see it is of hardly any use where online writing content is concerned.The language and way to writing online is so very different, and I couldn’t agree more with your point of having your own expression and experience where writing is concerned.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. Kalen Smith says:

    I have to agree for the most part. I have found a couple of clients who were impressed by the fact that I have an MBA, but that is only when I am writing for an authorative business site. Otherwise, I NEVER mention it. If it is irrelevant and detracts from my message, I don’t want to focus on it. I let my work speak for me.

    By the way, I was one of the writers Dainis hired to write about social media and SEO. Before he gave me the position he asked for some description of what I did to show that my techniques worked. That’s key to these projects.

  18. sokun says:

    Great post, this makes perfect sense. Internet life is much different from real life. Internet business is all about results.

  19. I agree, no point in having degrees or CV’s as a freelancer. Experience and portfolio, best friends you could have when searching for clients.

  20. Anuttama says:

    I’m a kind of person who is great at doing a lot of different kinds of things. I find writing a resume for myself particularly irritating as it can’t showcase who I am at the workplace. Anyone know of other ways to find me a job?

    • Saswati says:

      Come to think of it, I know exactly what you mean! I’m a software guy but that’s hardly the only thing I do. I do sales and marketing as well! My resume seems confused!

      • Steve Lanning says:

        You face what a lot of people face–maybe you think you need a job first. But I would argue, in the face of your many talents, find out what you are TRULY passionate about–first. THEN find your job match. It may be that you will have to take ‘less than you think you deserve’ at first. Yet that is a small price to pay for ending up in a job where you have a “TGIM Attitude” (Thank God, It’s Monday!)

        @Saswati: You are a rare bird! The majority of software or coder folks don’t like to be around people. And sales and marketing types would go crazy if they had to look at a screen more than 30 minutes. I live just outside the Washington, DC beltway and EVERY Sunday, the Washington Post has lots of sales positions open for sales folks who actually know what they are selling in their software niche! ( As a sales and marketing guy, I wish I knew more about working with software myself!)

        The thing about someone looking at a resume’ is that you are focused. You can have two or three different resumes for two or three different niches, but you should NEVER look to be a ‘jack of all trades’ in a resume. It just means you are aiming at nothing. And when we aim at nothing, we hit the mark 100% of the time!

        Best regards in your quests!

  21. rakesh kumar says:

    according to me, You are partially right Oni, College degree can not guarantee, That you would get that job but it tells at-least that the fellow has some basic knowledge about the topic and that can help him a lot in his persuasion. Some sample work on famous sites will surely help us to get that job easily.

  22. fazal mayar says:

    first of all very nice design mate

    and you are right, a college degree is simply a piece of paper but the skills you have= not a piece of paper but real things

  23. Marry Hotmail says:

    Its just your thoght.
    I think nice, clean, true CV can really help you in some situations.

  24. googler says:

    Thanks for the information Oni.
    Good thing you wrote an article regarding this topic.
    I was about to worry about my CV since I have no experience when it comes to article writing.
    As you know I want to explore the fields of freelance writing.

  25. Sylviane Nuccio says:

    A lot of people out there still think that you are a nobody if you don’t have a college degree. I also know that a college degree doesn’t make you smarter and richer, so I tend to agree with you Onibalusi. Great post 🙂

  26. Monja says:

    Nice post, Oni, thank you.
    I also don´t think that a college degree helps you to succeed or fail – i is more the engagement, the passion for a job which makes you successful or not. if you just try to impress with dry writing and a college degree nobody wants to engage you for her business.

  27. Bathroom Towel racks says:

    Oni, I am totally agree with you that college degree isn’t everything to get online client for writing. You are not a native English writer. But you are doing great I mean far good then so many native English writer

  28. Bharat @ Online Tips says:

    My college degree never helped me to get a job…

  29. Kelli says:

    I think the degree would be important for a number of reasons, but I do realize how few employers look at degrees when hiring a contractor.

  30. That’s very true. Any hardcore CV of degrees and experiences wouldn’t attract much attention from clients like us. It is always the sample write ups they submit for us to lend some attention.


Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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