Generally speaking, freelance writing is a competitive gig. There is indeed a lot of demand for writers and the internet helps to make it a truly global affair. However, there are many freelancers available to feed the demand and this means there are usually many applicants for jobs.
This level of competition means you have to do what you can to stand out from the rest. You need to be able to demonstrate your skills and ability to let prospective clients know why they should choose you over your competition.
One way to achieve this is to have a portfolio of freelance writing samples you can show to clients to showcase your skills. In this article, we'll cover some tips and ideas to help you write samples that will help you stand out among the crowd.
Let's dive in!
7 Ways to Outstanding Create Freelance Writing Samples
01. Create Samples Relevant to Your Niche
There are two common ways to find writing gigs as a freelance writer.
- Pitching potential clients via cold emails
- Apply to ads posted on job boards
If you choose the latter option, you'll probably spend many hours scrolling through job boards. Not only is this tedious, but it's likely the posted jobs will be niche-specific. You may come across postings for all kinds of niches, like:
- Online marketing
- Pet medication
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- Computer hardware
Many freelancers will already be an expert in a particular niche before they start writing about it. Others may find themselves falling into a niche and becoming an expert on it as they write more.
You might have an interest in some of the topics you have no experience writing about and decide to apply for the gig any. If so, you might be tempted to submit freelance writing samples in other niches to help demonstrate your writing.
While this might sound like a good idea, it’s unlikely to have the desired effect. Potential clients are far more likely to hire writers who already have experience in their field. Chances are that other applicants will have samples that are relevant to the client’s field.
This creates a bit of a catch 22 situation because you need the portfolio to get work, but you will struggle to get work without the portfolio. But there is a way to overcome this roadblock — and the solution is probably simpler than you imagined.
If you don't have relevant freelance writing samples, create some.
Once you've written one or two, you can easily publish them yourself using LinkedIn, Medium, or another content platform. This will give you links to send a potential client and use in your online writing portfolio.
Remember that people want to read content that has been written by people who know what they are talking about. Make sure your samples are factually correct, useful, and authoritative.
02. Make Sure Your Samples Are Up To Date
That excellent blog you wrote four years ago may still be one of your favorites to share with potential clients.
While the quality will not have diminished over time, it might have become out of date. Facts can become obsolete, for example, and even the general tone of a piece might no longer be relevant or appropriate.
This doesn’t mean you have to throw your old pieces away.
Instead, you can adapt them to make them modern and up-to-date again. Check facts and linked sources to see if they are still up to date. Ask yourself if the piece is up-to-date contextually and in-line with current events.
04. Thoroughly Proofread Your Articles
Even the best and most experienced writers will be able to tell you how easy it can be to make typos and other mistakes. It can also be very easy to miss these errors when proofreading. Samples with errors in them are not going to do well for your chances of landing the job.
Before you do add an article to your portfolio — proofread it again to make sure there are no errors. Be as diligent as possible! Grammar and spelling errors are a big turn-off to potential clients.
Proofreading shouldn't take up too much of your time and the effort spent will be well worth it when you are rewarded with new contracts. Using tools like Grammarly or Writer's grammar checker can help you put your best foot forward and help you spot errors you would have otherwise missed.
05. Consider the Readability of Your Article
The aesthetics of an article will also go a long way toward making them appealing to readers – and potential clients.
Make sure your freelance writing samples are well structured and broken down into manageable paragraphs rather than walls of text. Bullet points and numbered lists are also very effective at helping you get your point across in an easy-to-follow manner.
Images are another great way to improve readability by breaking up texts and supporting the content itself. Infographics are particularly effective as they can help readers visualize what you are saying. They also help to make your blogs and articles more impressive, hopefully encouraging clients to use you over the competition.
06. Start a Blog
An excellent way to showcase your writing skills is to start your own blog. It is very easy to do even with limited technical skills! Web builders like WordPress have templates that are easy to use and personalize to your personal needs and preferences.
Your blog should fall into a particular niche with each of your articles relating to that theme. This helps ensure your followers know what kind of content they'll find on your blog and won’t get turned off by off-topic content that doesn’t interest them.
Having followers also opens up another potential revenue stream: monetization.
You can add affiliate links and ads to your blogs to create a passive income stream. You grow a following of loyal readers before you make significant amounts but many people achieve this over time.
Just keep on providing quality content and your readership will grow. More to the point, an active and popular blog is another great way to have writing samples ready to show to prospective clients.
Related: Why Freelance Writers Should Have a Blog
07. Submit Guest Posts
Guest blogging means creating articles to be posted on blogs owned by other people. Finding guest post opportunities is relatively easy. Google is a great place to start when looking for blogs in your niche.
Guest blogging is often used by people who wish to wish to raise the profile of their own website, whether it is another blog or a business website. This is achieved with the help of backlinks, which let Google know your site is being mentioned.
The more referral traffic you have, especially from high-quality sources, the more credible your site appears to Google. In turn, your website will show up higher in search rankings.
More importantly, writing a guest post is a great way to build your freelance writing portfolio. Guest bloggers typically get the opportunity to create a bio which is added at the bottom of the entry.
With your name and other details on the blog, it then becomes a freelance writing sample you can add to your portfolio. This also creates an opportunity to drive traffic back to your site and get more eyes on your writing and services.
When it comes to guest blogging it is a good idea to look for good quality blogs to publish your content on. This usually means those with high editorial standards and content that is relevant to your niche.
The better quality the blog, the more impressed your prospects are likely to be. Writers who get published on higher-rated blogs will be able to scale their business faster.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When writing and compiling freelance writing samples, the overall emphasis should be on creating good, quality content. That doesn’t only mean being grammatically correct and error-free. It also means creating content that is useful, interesting, actionable, and entertaining.
You will also find that your freelance writing portfolio will expand as you write more; you will occasionally craft a piece that you are proud of and can’t wait to show to other people.
That said, try not to overload your portfolio with masses of samples. Instead, use just a few freelance writing samples and keep them up-to-date.
Last but not least, make some spare time to give your samples the attention they deserve. Doing so can considerably boost your chances of winning great freelance writing gigs.
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About the Author
Nicholas Rubright is a digital marketing specialist and writer at Cyberwaters, a cybersecurity company. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.
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