How 4 Freelance Resume Writers Earn Money (One Made $320K Last Year!)

Updated November 7, 2016
by Kelly Gurnett
Contributor
Professional resume writers

If you’ve been thinking of starting a freelance business but aren’t sure what service you should offer, maybe it’s time to extend your search parameters… to the job-search industry.

Roughly 7.8 million Americans were unemployed as of August 2016, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — and that’s not counting people who have jobs but are looking to change them.

And the common denominator among all of them? They’re all sending out resumes, and most of them are getting it wrong.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 54% of job seekers send out generic resumes, which don’t do much to differentiate them from the competition.

This is where you might come in — if you’ve got the right skills.

A freelance resume writer helps job seekers turn their boring, bland resumes into well-crafted marketing tools that show off their skills and experience in the most compelling light.

Sound like it could be up your alley? We interviewed four people who earn money as freelance resume writers, either full time or on the side, to get the scoop on what they do, how they got started and how much you can expect to make.

1. The Full-Time Resume Writer

Charmaine Pocek critiques resumes and LinkedIn content on Fiverr. Last year alone, she made $320,000 on the site, according to a representative of Fiverr’s PR firm.

How did you break into freelance resume writing?

I worked in corporate recruiting for more than 15 years and had been revising and critiquing candidate resumes before sending them out to clients.

My husband actually sent me an email about Fiverr one day to look into the different offerings on the site. I thought, “maybe I could offer a gig myself.” Resume writing and critiquing was the logical next step.

Where did you find work?

I joined Fiverr back in 2011. When I first started, I had zero feedback and no referrals, but it allowed me to start getting work done quickly on the site. I spent the next year and a half critiquing resumes from all over the country.

After that time, I recognized that I’d built up my reputation and customer pipeline enough enough to transition to full-time in 2013.

How much can someone make as a freelance resume writer?

The great part about Fiverr is that it gives you flexibility. You can decide what you offer with a ton of specificity around the scope, how many hours you’d like to work and what you want to charge for your services.

Fiverr allowed me to transition from my corporate job to full-time freelancing in 2013, all the while earning more than I previously had. The flexibility and control have been great for my career and my family.

2. The Seasoned Business Owner

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is the owner of Feather Communications and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

How did you break into freelance resume writing?

When I first started writing resumes in 2008, I initially did it as a favor to several family members and friends. I found I really enjoyed it and started researching the industry. I realized that people made a living writing resumes and assisting people with their interview skills.

I joined two professional organizations, the Professional Association of Resume Writers/Career Coaches (PARW/CC) and the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA). These types of organizations allow you to keep abreast of changes within the industry and connect you with other resume-writing professionals.

Then, I obtained the Certified Professional Resume Writer certification from PARW/CC.

While I utilized my website to obtain clients, word-of-mouth referrals have been the biggest marketing source. In addition, I provided several (free) workshops at local schools, colleges and chambers of commerce.

By positioning yourself as an expert in your industry and telling people what you do, you are able to build a clientele. At this point, people know what I do, I have an active blog on my own website and have been featured and/or quoted on Monster, TopResume, Recruiter, MSN, The Telegraph, The Ladders, and other sites.

Where did you find work?

When starting as a resume writer, this may be your biggest challenge. Offering free resume reviews is one way to find clients.

Rather than pointing out the “bad” things for them to change on their resume, it is better to identify “areas for improvement” and briefly discuss how they can be addressed. Often, people don’t want to make these modifications on their own or trust you enough to make those changes.

If you can partner with a local job fair, you may be able to have a booth that offers free resume critiques. Contact local colleges and find out if their career services offices need assistance, or partner with a local temporary agency to offer a resume workshop.

Staying in touch with your clients is one of the most important aspects to cultivating an active resume-writing business. Find out how their job search is going, ask them for a Google review, and inquire if they know someone else who could utilize your services. Your word-of-mouth referrals will be your largest component of business.

At this point in my resume-writing business, my new clients tend to be referred from someone else.

How much can someone make as a freelance resume writer?

This varies depending upon the level of clientele you are working with and (potentially) your geographic location.

When I started, I met with people in person and worked only locally. Because of where I live, people won’t pay as much for a resume as in a larger metropolitan area (given that the average wage is probably between $10 – $12 per hour).

If you are working with college students and entry-level professionals, that will be different than working with someone that has 20+ years of executive experience. Some resume writers charge $100, while others charge $1,000+.

Remember that your pricing as a resume writer does affect the perception of your services. Don’t undervalue your services — that turns people away and makes them assume you may not know what you are doing when it comes to writing resumes.

3. The Freelancer-Turned-Employee

Adam Hatch is a freelance resume writer who was eventually hired in a more permanent role by ResumeGenius.

How did you break into freelance resume writing?

I started writing resumes first by making my own, and when I received compliments on it, I began looking for paid work writing them on freelancing sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and career sites.

After having freelanced for ResumeGenius, they brought me on as a writer. I still freelance and have had my work featured on a number of career sites like SkillsYouNeed and Careers.org, but I also have a steady job writing resumes, templates and articles for ResumeGenius.

Where did you find work?

One of the best resources for freelance writers is FreelanceWriting.com. They actually have a useful article on the topic titled Resume Writing as a Freelance Service.

I started charging a lighter rate at the beginning, and then increased it as I got more experienced and successful. I generated clientele first by posting on social media and freelance sites and then more and more by word-of-mouth.

How much can someone make as a freelance resume writer?

I’ve heard of some freelancers taking home six figures in a year, but I have a hunch that these are outliers.

When I was only freelancing, the highest I made per month was just under $3,500. I didn’t have a ton of experience and could likely have earned more over time, but there are also those months where jobs aren’t coming in or work isn’t getting published as fast as you’d like.

(For the record, I was writing out of Northern California, but had clients from all over the U.S. and a few internationally.)

Freelancing is great, and as a supplement, I totally support it. Still, the best thing about it seems to be the doors it can open to steadier income streams.

4. The Side Gigger

Mike McRitchie is a career and small-business strategist who admits that “resume writing was something [he] kind of got into by accident.”

How did you break into freelance resume writing?

I started off creating a business blog. The idea was the blog would support my part-time business-coaching/consulting work.

Although I did get some business from it, it was difficult for me to do part time when I had a full-time-plus job. So I thought, “What service could I sell part-time that my blog would support?”

I ended up testing a resume-writing service. I had been in many jobs over the years. I’d also hired many people and seen hundreds of resumes. I had also purchased a course on resume writing several years prior but had never implemented it. So I offered the service but didn’t get very far through posting it on my blog.

Where it started to turn the corner was when I made an offer for a free resume review via a LinkedIn post. I also made similar offers to people I found by searching in LinkedIn for “Looking for Opportunities.”

Between the two, I got my first resume review clients, and half of them purchased my resume-rewrite services.

Where did you find work?

After proving the concept to myself, I expanded by trying the same strategy on Facebook. (No luck with either posting to my FB page or via paid ads.)

So then I tried Craigslist under the “Small Business Ads” section. I found you could post up to three ads for free; you just had to renew them each week or they’d expire.

I ended up getting the same amount of business there as through LinkedIn. I also had a couple people come through my website via the blog.

I’ve focused my resume writing on the wireless telecom industry, since I have over 1,000 LinkedIn contacts in that industry and am also a member of several wireless telecom industry LinkedIn Groups and publish blog posts there weekly.

How much can someone make as a freelance resume writer?

So far it has been a good sideline business — two to four rewrites a month at $147 each. Over the last three or four months, I’ve made a little over $1,500.

Not big money, but a start and a great way to learn in-the-trenches business and marketing skills.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Freelance Resume Writer?

To do well at freelance resume writing, McRitchie advises, you should possess the following basic skill sets:

  • “Editing. This includes spelling and grammar, the ability to format a Word doc (working with tabs, bullets, font size and spacing), and recognizing what looks good.
  • “Knowledge of what makes a resume effective. You don’t have to make a resume perfect, but you do need to get and stay up-to-date on what works.
  • “Being a good listener. You need to understand what a client is looking for, what they’re pursuing, and where they are in their career progression. Listening intently and asking good probing questions based on their input will get a good result.
  • “Analytical ability. Being able to quickly identify areas of excellence and extract achievements that are memorable from each resume will help prevent it from ending up in the trash.
  • “Marketing skills. If you can’t get paying clients, you won’t get far. This is a business, so you need an entrepreneurial bent.
  • “Organization. As with any business, there are details you need to keep up on, whether that’s invoicing and collections or tracking marketing and sales results.
  • “Adaptability. Ultimately, freelance resume writing is something you can get going fairly quickly if you have the right mindset and skills. As with any business, there is a learning curve, and you may find yourself and your business evolving along the way. Just go with it, and eventually you’ll look back and be shocked at how far you’ve come.”

Your Turn: What do you think? Could freelance resume writing be a fit for you?

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

by Kelly Gurnett
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles