Need some ideas for how to create examples of freelance writing as a new writer?
Solid freelance writing samples can help you seal the deal when landing paid writing gigs.
Even if you don’t check off all of a prospective client’s boxes for experience or skills, you can still get hired if you’re able to demonstrate some quality examples of freelance writing.
But how do you get writing samples as a new writer?
The good news is there are several ways to create freelance writing samples.
Today, I’ll walk you through:
- What is a writing sample
- Why you need freelance writing samples when applying for writing gigs
- What to include in a writing sample for a freelance job
- Examples of freelance writing that you can use for samples
Ready to start grabbing prospective clients’ attention with your writing? Let’s dive in!
What Is a Writing Sample?
A writing sample is a written document that allows you to showcase your writing skills, abilities and expertise.
Writing samples can take different forms, including:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Product reviews
- Essays (I once got a writing gig as a new writer with a poetry essay I wrote in college)
The kind of examples of freelance writing you offer can depend on the type of gig you’re applying for.
But no matter what form they take, the purpose is the same: to show a prospective client what you’re capable of as a writer.
Why Do You Need Freelance Writing Samples?
There’s a very simple reason that writers need writing samples.
Clients want to see writing samples so they know that you’re the right person for the job.
Freelance writing is a competitive business and getting more competitive by the day. But companies may have a limited budget or time to invest in hiring writers.
So they use examples of freelance writing to choose the writers they want to work with.
Having some well-writing writing samples ready to go can help you:
- Establish your credibility as a professional freelance writer and not just someone who writes as a hobby
- Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise within your niche or industry
- Illustrate what kind of writing you’re best at (i.e. blogging, article writing, copywriting, etc.)
Your writing samples are your first chance to make a good impression that hopefully translates to a paying gig.
Here’s another way to think of it. Your freelance writing samples are like the appetizer before the meal–a chance for prospects to get a taste of what you have to offer.
How Do I Write a Freelance Writing Sample?
Writing a good (or even great) freelance writing sample is easier when you have a recipe to follow.
So here’s the secret sauce of what you need to knock out some killer writing samples (that help you land jobs!)
Choose the right topic
Before you actually start writing a sample, take some time to think about what the topic should be.
When sharing examples of freelance writing with prospects, those examples should be tailored to their niche as much as possible.
So if you’re trying to land a writing gig for a digital marketing website, for instance, you wouldn’t submit a writing sample that’s about how to deal with a shedding dog or natural toothache remedies.
It just wouldn’t make sense. And the client likely wouldn’t stick around to read it because those topics are irrelevant to the digital marketing niche.
So researching topics is a good place to start.
While you’re at it, you can use a tool like Keysearch to do some keyword research as well. This can tell you what kinds of topics people are searching for and what keywords they’re using to do it.
That’s all part of search engine optimization. So if you’re writing from a keyword- and search-conscious perspective, you can also demonstrate to clients that you’ve got some basic SEO knowledge.
Write an attention-grabbing headline
The headline is the first part of your writing sample a prospective client sees. So you have a choice.
You can give your sample a safe but bland headline. Or you can wow them with an attention-getter.
There are some things that go into a great headline, including:
- Power words
- Clear intent
If you need some help with writing awesome headlines, I recommend Sharethrough’s Headline Analyzer Tool.
It’s free to use and you can play around with different wording to see which headlines have the most impact.
The introduction or lede is where your examples of freelance writing need to hit the ground running.
If you don’t draw in clients right away with a compelling lede they may not be motivated to read through the rest of your sample. So you need to make those first few sentences count.
Some of the best ways to do that include:
- Asking a question
- Making a colorful and descriptive analogy
- Dropping a shocking/scary/funny statistic
The goal is to create a hook with the first part of your introduction to keep a prospect reading.
Then, you can use the rest of the introduction to outline what your post or article is about.
The body of your writing sample is where most of the action happens, in terms of expanding on and explaining your topic.
If you already have your topic and keywords in mind, you can write the outline next.
Writing with an outline can help you organize your thoughts. And I’ve found that you can write a lot faster when you’ve got an outline to follow.
As you write the outline, remember to use subheads. So, for example, say you were writing a sample about productivity tips for work-at-home moms.
Your outline might look like this:
- (H1) – 5 Killer Productivity Tips to Help You Get More Done as a WAHM (and Stay Sane!)
- (H2) – Why Productivity Matters for Work at Home Moms
- (H2) – How to Be a Productive Work at Home Mom
- (H3) – Tip #1
- (H3) – Tip #2
- (H3) – Tip #3
- (H3) – Tip #4
- (H3) – Tip #5
- (H2) – Conclusion
If you don’t know what H1, H2 or H3 means, that’s shorthand for heading. When you’re using Word, Google Docs or WordPress to draft a writing sample, you can use headings to break up your text.
The most important thing to remember is that they go in order.
So your writing sample will have one headline (H1). Then it can have several subheads (H2), with subheads (H3) under each one.
Here’s a simple guide to how to use headings when you write.
The last part of your writing sample is the conclusion.
This is where you’ll wrap up the piece with a summary of the post. Depending on the type of sample, you may also include a CTA.
Short for call to action, a CTA is essentially you telling the reader what to do next.
So, say you were writing the productivity tips post mentioned in the previous example for a productivity app’s blog. You might include a CTA to download the app to kickstart your productivity.
This shows the prospective client that you’re thinking with brand awareness in mind.
Proofread and edit
After you’ve finished writing your sample, you’ll want to proofread and edit it before sending it off to a prospective client.
I use Grammarly for proofreading and editing. It catches spelling errors, typos and grammar errors.
That’s a must if you want clients to take you seriously as a writer. It’s hard to get hired when your writing samples are littered with mistakes.
5 Easy Ways to Create Examples of Freelance Writing
Ready to get into the business of creating writing samples so you can start getting clients?
Here are five proven ways to get freelance writing samples–and get hired!
1. Guest post
Guest posting means writing a post that gets published on someone else’s blog.
You may or may not be paid for a guest post opportunity. It depends on the site.
But if you’re hoping to get a published link that you can use as a writing sample and create some exposure for yourself, guest posting can be a great way to do it.
So how do you find guest posting opportunities?
Google can be your best friend. Simply type in your niche and the phrase “write for us” or “guest post” and see what turns up.
So using my niche (personal finance) as an example, here’s what turned up with some simple Google searches.
As you can see, the first result is a paid guest post for $300!
If you haven’t tried this technique yet to find guest post opportunities, I highly recommend giving it a shot. You could get a few writing samples under your belt and possibly make some cash to boot.
2. Start a blog
Starting a blog is another great way to create freelance writing samples.
You can choose the blog’s niche so you have more control over what to write. And if you decide to blog regularly, you could monetize it to earn an income from your writing.
Some of the ways you can make money blogging include:
- Writing sponsored posts
- Offering freelance services
- Running ads on the blog
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling a product
Starting a blog as a freelance writer could be a smart move because it can help you build a personal brand. And if you love to write, you have a ready-made outlet for publishing writing samples.
Not sure how to start a blog?
3. Post on Medium
Medium is an online publishing platform where people can publish original posts and articles on just about any topic.
If you’re not ready to start a blog just yet, Medium could be a great alternative for drafting and publishing writing samples.
The site has millions of readers and it’s free to create an account and start writing.
You can even monetize your Medium profile to earn money from your writing.
4. Publish on LinkedIn
LinkedIn offers a built-in way to create freelance writing samples if you already have a profile set up.
You just go to your profile page and look for the “Write Article” button.
You can click on that, type (or paste) your sample then hit publish.
It’s an easy way to create some freelance writing samples. And if you’re building your network to include other writers and editors in your niche this is a simple way to get your writing noticed.
5. Create a PDF or Word doc
Last but not least, you can always create a freelance writing sample in a Google or Word doc.
You might try this option if you don’t want to guest post, start a blog, post on Medium or post on LinkedIn. (Though in the long run, published links may carry more weight with prospective clients than a PDF or Word doc.)
You’d still need to choose a good topic and organize your sample using headings and subheadings.
And if you’re writing in Google Docs, be sure to make the post visible to anyone with the link or download it as a PDF for easy sharing.
Where to Display Your Writing Samples
Once you’ve created some examples of freelance writing to show to clients, you’ll need a place to keep them online.
If you’re not sure where to keep your freelance writing samples, here are some of the best options.
1. Share samples on your blog or freelance writer website
If you’ve started a blog or set up a freelance writer website, you’ve already got a great place to share your freelance writing samples!
So if you’ve got a blog, you can create a category titled “Portfolio” or “Samples”. Then you just add the posts you want to include as writing samples to that category.
If you have a static writer website that doesn’t have a blog, you can create a separate Portfolio or Samples page. Then you can include a list of links to your writing samples that have been published online.
This is a great option if your samples are limited to things like guest posts on other blogs or PDF files.
You can create a catchy headline for your sample to get a client’s attention. Then they can click on the link to check out your writing!
2. Add examples of freelance writing to your Contently profile
Contently is a freelance writing platform that offers premium writing jobs. But you can also use it to create a free portfolio online.
Here’s a snapshot of my Contently portfolio.
I like this site for displaying freelance writing examples because A) it’s free and B) your portfolio could help you get noticed by Contently clients.
I’ve made over $200,000 writing for Contently over the years. It’s one of the best freelance writing sites for landing high-paying gigs!
3. Create a ‘Featured’ section on your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is one of the best resources for finding clients and growing your income as a freelance writer.
Not only can you network with other writers and editors but you can also use LinkedIn as a free place to store your writing samples.
Just click on your profile, then look for the ‘Add Section’ button. You can then navigate to the ‘Featured’ section to add:
This is a super simple way to display your freelance writing samples and build up your credibility at the same time.
4. Share your examples of freelance writing on social media
Social media is another easy way to get your writing samples circulating.
Here are some of the ways you can leverage social media to share your writing samples:
- Tweet the latest post published on your blog to your followers
- Share a link to your latest sample on your LinkedIn profile
- Drop a link on Facebook, including in Facebook groups for writers you belong to (if allowed)
Another plus of using social media to share your samples is that it’s a simple way to build social proof and brand reputation.
If brands can see that you’re publishing regularly and building a decent following, they’re more likely to see you as a pro writer. And that can be key to getting hired.
Freelance Writing Sample FAQs
Still have questions about how to create examples of freelance writing or what to do with them?
Here are more tips to help you get your writing samples together and start landing paying gigs!
What kind of freelance writing jobs require writing samples?
It’s possible that you may come across freelance writing jobs that don’t require writing samples at all.
But odds are, those are going to be on the lower end of the pay scale.
On the other hand, higher-paying jobs are more likely to require at least one writing sample. So you should be prepared to offer samples if you’re applying for:
- Freelance blogging jobs
- Writing gigs that are journalistic in nature or require original reporting
- Copywriting gigs
- Technical writing jobs
- Magazine writing jobs
- Long form content writing jobs
Clients that tend to pay more also need to see more proof that you’re worth hiring. So that’s where writing samples are a must-have.
How long should a freelance writing sample be?
The simple answer is that a freelance writing sample needs to be as long as it needs to be.
Now, that’s not specific I know. But that’s because the type of freelance writing job you’re applying for can dictate how long your writing sample needs to be.
So for example, if you’re applying for freelance blogging jobs then a writing sample that’s in the 300 to 500-word range might be fine.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in writing long-form articles then you may need a sample that’s 1,000 to 2,000 words long.
With copywriting or email marketing jobs, writing samples may need to be no longer than a few paragraphs. But every word needs to pack a punch and deliver a clear message.
What about if you’re trying to score a gig writing e-books or ghostwriting a nonfiction book? In that case, you might need examples of freelance writing that are 10,000 words or longer.
So consider the type of freelance writing jobs you’re interested in first. That can help you decide how long your writing samples need to be.
What are some freelance writing sample ideas?
There are different ways to format your writing samples. The format your freelance writing samples take can depend on your niche and the kind of clients you’re targeting.
Here are some of the most common writing sample formats:
- Listicle. A listicle is just what it sounds like–a list of things. Listicles are a great option for writing samples because they can be easy to put together. And clients may appreciate a sample that’s easily scannable.
- How to/tutorial. Writing a how to guide or tutorial is another way to create writing samples. Writing a step by step guide gives you a chance to highlight your knowledge about a topic and give off expert freelance writer vibes.
- Case study. Case studies offer a detailed look at a specific problem and its solution. If you’re interested in writing for businesses, a case study could be a great way to grab their attention.
- Ultimate guide. An ultimate guide covers everything there is to know about a particular subject or topic. Similar to how to guides, ultimate guides are a good way to position yourself as an expert.
- Personal story. You might consider sharing a personal story as a freelance writing sample, depending on the kind of clients you want to work with. If you’re interested in writing for parenting websites, for example, then a personal story about your biggest parenting challenge could make a great topic for a writing sample.
- Product review. You might consider writing a product review if you’re interested in product review writing or copywriting. This type of writing sample can be short or long, depending on how much detail you want to cover.
So what do these examples of freelance writing look like in the real world?
Say your niche is personal finance (like me) and you want to put together some longer form articles to use as writing samples.
Here are some freelance writing sample ideas you could try:
- 21 Painless Ways to Save Money While Living on One Income (listicle)
- How to Make a Zero-Based Budget Without Going Crazy (how to guide)
- How I Stopped Paying High Bank Fees (and What I Did Instead) (case study)
- Everything You Need to Know About Saving for College (ultimate guide)
- 3 Things I Did to Pay Off $40,000 in Debt in 18 Months (personal story)
- Ibotta Review: Is It a Legit Way to Save Money? (product review)
This same formula can be applied across virtually any writing niche. So if you haven’t started brainstorming ideas for writing samples yet, you can use these freelance writing sample ideas as a guide!
Final thoughts on examples of freelance writing
Getting your first freelance writing samples can seem a little intimidating. But once you know what it involves, you’ll see that it’s easier than you might think.
And if you’re wondering, how many writing samples do I need? remember that it’s quality that counts, not quantity.
One well-written sample can trump five crappy ones any day. So keep that in mind as you sit down to write your first sample post or your next one.
Do you have a tip to share on how to create freelance writing samples?
Head to the comments and tell me about it! And don’t forget to check out my free “6 Figure Secrets Checklist!”