Once you decide to start a freelance writing business, you need to create some freelance writing samples.
Samples show potential clients that you can write. They demonstrate your voice, style, and tone. They help you land paid writing gigs. And that is what you want.
But, I’ve seen many people get stuck here.
As a beginning freelance writer, you probably don’t have any relevant samples. And since almost all gigs require samples, you don’t feel qualified to apply. It can be a discouraging cycle.
If you’re getting stuck trying to create samples, I want to help you take action. Below are three sure-fire ways to generate your first freelance writing samples as a beginner.
You can create samples by:
- Guest posting
- Publishing on a personal blog
- Writing a sample doc
One final note before we jump in. No matter which method you use, try to create content that fits the niche you want to write for. This will help you land work you love and establish yourself as an expert in your area.
Are you ready to create your first samples? Let’s get started!
1. Create Freelance Writing Samples with Guest Posting
You can write a guest post to create samples. A guest post is a blog post published on another person’s site. Not all sites accept guest posts, so you need to do some research first.
If you’re interested in using guest posting to create clips for your freelance writing portfolio, here’s a six-step process to get your posts approved:
- Identify a site you want to write for.
- Read some articles on the site to get a sense of their tone and style.
- Brainstorm a piece that would be a good fit for the blog. Make sure they don’t already have a post on this topic.
- Email the blog owner and ask for a guest post (see template below).
- Follow up in 2-3 weeks if you haven’t heard back.
- Create a great post and submit it on time.
Step One: Identify Sites
There are millions of blogs out there. You want to pick sites that are relevant to the type of writing you plan to do as a freelancer.
An easy way to do this is by searching on Google for potential sites in your niche. The term (Your Niche) + “Write for Us” works well. Write down 3-5 blogs to pitch.
Tip: While larger blogs have more name recognition, you may have better luck with smaller websites, at least at first. Right now, you’re going for posts published under your name so don’t eliminate sites because you think they are too small.
Step Two: Read Articles
Many people skip this step because they don’t think it’s important and they’re trying to save time. Please do not be one of those people. You need to know what type of content gets published on each site you want to write for.
Taking time to do this research will help you confidently approach the blog owner in step four. You will be able to propose content that would be a good fit, and suggest headlines that go along with the style currently on the blog.
Step Three: Brainstorm Post Ideas
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the content on a blog, come up with some post ideas. Brainstorm topics that would be helpful to this audience. Make a list of whatever comes to mind.
Once you have your list, do some more research. Search the blog’s archives to make sure they don’t already have a post on this topic. If you find a similar post, take time to read it. Understand why your post is unique and deserves a place on the blog.
Try to come up with two solid post ideas for each site you brainstormed in step one.
Step Four: Email the Blog Owner
With your topic ideas in hand, it’s time to do some outreach. You need to ask the blog owners if you can write a guest post for them.
If the site has guest posting guidelines published, follow these precisely. Do not skip a step. You want to show the editors that you can follow directions.
If you can’t find any guest post guidelines, you don’t need to cross this blog off your list. Below is a process you can use to pitch a guest post to any blog.
Now, you may be feeling nervous about reaching out to more established writers. This is normal. Remind yourself that you’re doing something new and it’s okay to be scared. Then take a deep breath and continue.
Always address your email to the correct person. Do the research and find out who owns the blog. Check the about page and look at author bios if they are available.
When you’re preparing your email, keep it short and to the point. Bloggers get tons of emails. And many of them go straight to the trash.
A Sample Template
When it’s time to email the blogger, here’s a basic template you can use.
Dear (Blogger Name),
Your blog has great content about (niche). I especially enjoyed reading your post on (specific post topic.)
But I don’t see a post about (topic you want to write about).
My name is (name), and I’d love to create that post for you. Here’s a quick look at what it’d cover:
(Bullet Point Outline of a couple of main points – don’t give it all away)
I’m the perfect writer to create this post for you because I (name a reason or two – why are you the best person to write this? Be confident but don’t lie!)
Are you interested? Please hit reply and let me know if this would be a good fit for your blog.
I’d love to work with you on this!
Thanks for your time,
Of course, you need to switch this up a bit to match your style and tone. Don’t just copy and paste it and expect to land guest posts. But do use it as a starting point to help you cover the key elements.
Step Five: Follow Up
After sending the email, you may check your inbox anxiously for a response. But, often you won’t find one. Bloggers get busy and emails can easily get lost in the shuffle.
If you haven’t heard back within 2 weeks, send a quick follow-up. Here’s a basic template you can use:
Dear (Blogger name),
I know you’re busy, but I wanted to touch base on this once more. Would an article on (proposed topic) be a good fit for your audience?
I’d love to publish a guest post on your site that’ll be useful to your readers and show them (2 or three benefits from your post idea).
Thanks for the consideration.
To keep it simple for the blogger, attach this follow-up request to the top of your previously sent email. That way they can see all the details by scrolling down.
If you still don’t hear back, try again with a new blog. Keep going until you land a guest post.
Step Six: Create a Great Guest Post
Once you’ve arranged a guest post, make it a point to deliver a quality piece. You want your writing sample to show that you can produce strong content. That way you can proudly include it in your freelance writing pitches.
If you’ve never written a blog post before, here’s an article that can help:
You will typically get a bio with your guest post. A bio is a quick paragraph that tells people who you are. Often it will include a link back to your site if you have one. It’s a perfect opportunity to mention that you are a freelance writer. You never know when a potential client will run across it.
2. Create Freelance Writing Samples on a Personal Blog
Do you have a blog of your own? If you do, it’s an obvious place to demonstrate your writing skills and publish some sample content.
If you don’t, have you considered starting one? If this is something you want to do, check out this post for step-by-step directions to get it going:
On your blog, take some time to think about your posting strategy. Your goal is to create posts that relate to the freelance writing niches you want to cover.
When you write your samples, use a compelling headline. Then write it as if you’re getting paid by a client. Do your best work. Don’t rush because it’s only going on your site. Check the grammar. Read for typos.
And when you have a couple of solid posts, use them as your samples.
You can eventually replace these with samples you generate for clients, but these will be enough to get you started.
3. Create Freelance Writing Samples with a Sample Doc
If you haven’t had any luck arranging guest posts, and you don’t have a blog of your own, you can still create freelance writing samples. You can simply open a Word document (or a Google doc) and begin.
Think of a subject you want to write about. Ideally, this is a topic related to a freelance writing gig you’re applying for. This shows the prospective client that you have experience and can write in this niche.
You want to format your sample properly. Add headings and subheadings. Keep it easy to scan by using bullet points or numbered lists.
Pretend that you are writing this for a paying client, and do your best work. Even if it doesn’t go live on the internet, you will be sharing it with others.
Once you have your sample completed, save it. When you apply for gigs, you can attach your sample.
Start Building Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
You now have three reliable methods to create your first freelance writing samples as a beginner. Keep track of them, and add them to your portfolio.
As you land work, make sure you frequently evaluate your work samples. Switch them out as you improve. That way you always have a few recent, high-quality samples you can send clients.
Aim for two samples in each niche you’d like to write about. This will give you a good number to get started.