Are you ready to start looking for a freelance job? Or you have applied for that dream writing job, but you don’t have an idea how to write a writing sample.
You are not alone.
In the beginning, I started out thinking I would just use my blog as my “sample” while that did work for guest posting, it wasn’t enough.
Because of serious publications and business, I looked like an on-the-side hobby blogger, which is not the vibes I wanted to send out into the world.
I am a writer.
Therefore, I must reflect on that, and so I created my writing samples.
Trust me, it is super easy!
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Why do you need writing samples?
Think of writing samples as your resume. The samples you create demonstrate how well you write and what you are capable of.
Writing samples can come in several different types of pieces, based all on the niche or specialty that you are targeting.
Such examples can be the following:
- Landing Pages
- Social Media Campaigns/Ads and content
- Case Studies
- Product description
The type of writing sample you choose must be well researched and thought out.
When you use your portfolio as a writing sample for a potential client, you are showing examples of how well you can follow directions, research, execute the ideas and demonstrate your eye for details.
If the potential client asks for specifics, be sure you stick to those, they are looking for a writer who can match their brand and demonstrates an understanding of their products and services.
How to Create Your Sample
Read the description to fully understand what the client is looking for.
Don’t send in a random article you feel is a good fit.
Print out the description, reread it, highlight the important details and then take notes if needed.
I do this because I must have paper. In fact, for this article, I wrote notes out by hand, typed then printed them for editing.
Nuts, I know but trust me, it works when you are trying to create good work. (either for yourself or others)
Take your time to analyze and study the instructions, then once you feel ready, decide what skills they are looking for and your approach to demonstrating your skills.
What: We’re looking for a long post on (Title). While we want it to be written exceptionally, entertaining, engaging, and unique-we simultaneously want it to be an organic attraction to our audiences and inspire the reader into our offer.
Must haves: Structure the article as explained in the following pages, internal linking, links to resources outlined in the following pages
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Steps to Create your Sample
1. Read the job post
I know I said this before, but it bears saying again. You should read, dissect, and highlight the vital information listed in the description.
Not only will you be ahead of the competition, but you will show you can follow directions and, above all else, demonstrate you pay attention to details.
2. Research the brand
When creating a piece, it is essential that you get to know and understand what they are about.
Look at their website, their adverts, and social media.
Take note of anything you can use in your same.
Learn from the content they post on their website and social media to get a genuine feel of the voice.
When I worked with a strict client, who I adore and respect completely, I learned so much from them about the tone or voice I use.
I learned that when working with a client, it is not enough to be a fantastic writer; you are hired or hoping to be hired to write in the place of someone from the business.
Understanding their voice and tone will help seamlessly incorporate your writing into their content. I learned this increases your value as a writer.
While researching, you want to understand who they are and what makes them stand out.
Understand their purpose. What are their goals? What problems are they trying to solve, and what solutions do they provide.
Who is their target audience?
Knowing this will help you understand how to craft your piece, which leads me to the voice.
Speak to the audience, and discover what tone you should use. Serious? Fun? Informative?
Again, check out their website; it is the holy grail for information.
3. Come up with ideas
Brainstorm how you can improve their content, how can you add value to their content with your expertise?
The directions in the job listing for your writing sample is a great source to help you during this part of the sample.
4. Comb through for the best ideas
Read what you have come up with and highlight what you feel are the best ideas.
You will want to use those to help you choose the best ideas to look for the following:
- What excites
- Is most valuable
- Aligns with the brand’s purpose
- Fits their voice
- Targets the audience
- Does it fit the job description or instructions for submission?
- Write your sample
As you put the article together be sure to format it as they would on their website.
Doing this will add an extra level of paying attention.
If you are adding this sample to your online portfolio, check out your favorite blogs or online publications and decide which formatting best suits your article.
I discovered this tid bit from an online friend who helped me establish my portfolio.
Personally, I think it also demonstrates your skills in formatting, if anything it helps you to practice.
5. Now take a break
You know like Ross and Rachel?
Take a break.
Have yourself a nice bubble bath or read a book, whatever you like to do to relax.
Then, perhaps the next day, come back and read what you have created.
Why take a break?
To help give you a fresh perspective on your piece.
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6. Edit Edit Edit!
Once you are satisfied with the article or particular type of sample you have created it is time to edit.
Really take your time. I personally first read the article a few times then I turn to Grammarly.
I take my time there as well, and sometimes argue with Grammarly but hey AI isn’t always perfect.
Once you feel you’ve edited enough, or you’ve gotten a 90% on the Grammarly meter, then submit or post on your portfolio.
Type of Samples to Create
Can’t think of a sample to create?
When I began my portfolio, I wanted to post anything I ever wrote. But that was not the best choice because the articles I had were varied in my skill, but they were lacking in bits.
I needed samples that could highlight what I could do, not something I recycled from my previous blog.
The type of samples you want to think about are:
- Blog post-that offer value, such as a book review or a how-to post
- SEO Post-something that demonstrates your knowledge of SEO and ranking
- Landing page
- Long-form articles
- Guest post (Link)
- Specialized Samples:
- Sales pages
- Landing pages
- Ads for social media such as Facebook or Instagram
- Product descriptions
- Case Studies
Looking for a writing job is undeniably stressful, especially when you are asked to give a writing sample.
Remember, you are a writer, and as a writer, your resume isn’t a typical piece of appearance you send to clients.
Your writing samples are your resume that clients look out for to determine if you’re the right fit for their brand.
When I started quillsandtypewriters.com, I wanted to throw a lot of articles into my portfolio, but as I researched and read my samples, I realized that many of them were not worthy of a portfolio.
Before you begin putting pieces in your portfolio or sending articles to clients, study them and determine if each article is indicative of your value and what you can do for companies.
Be sure to make sure you edit!