How to Improve Your Samples as a New Freelance Writer


The ticket to getting your first freelance writing job.

Yes, it’s that important.

How to Improve Your Samples as a New Freelance Writer

It’s not entirely impossible to land a content job without any sample writings. Although I did have a sample when I landed my first gig, it was not relevant at all.

Yeah, you read that right. I had one sample to provide when I pitched. Ouch! But, you know what? I kept pitching and kept landing work. Eventually, I built my portfolio to what it is today.

Over this time, I learned what makes a good sample. It’s more than the actual writing. In fact, the ways to improve your samples can help you boost the quality of your writing.

Your Samples

Your samples show an example of your writing ability. Nothing speaks more to prospects than a sample of your best writing. They can immediately tell whether you,

It’s important as a new freelance writer to have at least three sample writings under your belt. They should also reflect the type of writing you want to get paid for. For example, if you are interested in press release writing, having a sample of a press release is ideal. The same goes for if you want to write blog posts or sales pages.

So, how can you improve the samples you already have?

1. They Are Relevant

Remember when I mentioned that I was able to land my first gig using a sample that wasn’t relevant? The pitch was for an auto-enthusiast writer and my sample was for proper gut health. Go figure!

I’m surprised they hired me 🙂

If you’re a new writer, I strongly suggest you have samples that are relevant to the pitch. But, I’ve also mentioned that it’s a great strategy – when you’re new – to pitch to anything and everything you’re slightly interested in.

But, you can’t have 10 samples in 10 different niches.

Instead, have up to three samples and to choose topics that are in your niches. Later down the road you can pare down your niches and write for one niche (as this can help you make a living as a writer). For now, having around three can help you pitch to more job ads.

If you’re having trouble coming up with topics that will wow your prospects, one of the best things you can do is take some time and research blogs in your niche.

For example, lets say you are interested in writing in the WordPress niche.

Take a look at these blogs to get an idea of topics you can create your samples around:

From here find topics that interest you. For example, writing about trends for the next year shows prospects that you are up to speed in the WordPress industry.

You can also visit job ads in your niche and check out those blogs as a way to see the type of content these businesses may want.

Finally, if you follow freelance writers in the same niche as you, you can also go to their portfolio and get some ideas to help you with your samples.


2. They Are Formatted

One of my pet peeves as a writer is writing that isn’t formatted for online readers.

What does this mean?

Short Sentences

Reading online is hard enough if you’re on your mobile, so make it easy for everyone to have shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. By doing this, you make it easier for people who scan your content – that’s 79% of us.


Do you see how this blog post has subheadings? Why am I doing this?

It’s another way to help readers actually read my blog post. We are all scanners, so when we read a subheading we can decide if it’s worth the read. One thing I don’t like is when people use a list as a subheading.

This is a no-no in my books. Your WordPress editor makes it easy to find those headlines:


And if you’re writing your articles in Microsoft Word, you can find you headings in your styles menu:



Most marketing content has a call-to-action. This is something they want the reader to do such as sign up to their newsletter, download an app or make a comment.

If you’re interested in blog writing for example, make sure your samples have a CTA at the end of your post.

3. They Are Published

Ahh, here’s the tricky part for many new freelance writers. They don’t have any published samples. Want to know another thing about my first pitch that landed me the gig?

My sample was a PDF.

So, yeah, you can totally land a gig with your PDF’s, but it will be harder to land that gig. The people who are reviewing your pitch and samples can find a quality writer with a published sample and decide to hire them.

What does being published have anything to do with landing a gig?

  • It helps your credibility as a freelance writer
  • It shows that your writing is more than a hobby
  • It shows you’re legit

That’s why I recommend all new freelance writers to get their samples published. How can you create publishable samples?

You can start a blog and create blog posts in your niche. For some reason, I didn’t do this. I created a blog and blogged about content writing. I think I did that because I was excited to just blog!

Another way is to guest post. There are free and paid opportunities and it’s not that hard to get your post published on another blog.

Feel free to send your pitch if you want to guest post over at FreelancerFAQs.

For me, guest posting is the best way to sell your samples to your prospects. It definitely shows that you are a freelance writer.

But, if you’re totally brand new, the next best thing is to create a sample document and publish them either on Medium or LinkedIn Pulse.

Medium is a blogging platform and some small businesses actually use Medium for their blogs. For example, one of my clients uses Medium:


It’s easy to set up your profile and start writing within that hour. I set up a profile and syndicate my blog posts as a way to grow my brand and audience.

So, go ahead and write your samples on Medium!

Or, you can go to LinkedIn Pulse and create a sample. I made a writing sample in the digital marketing niche (but I didn’t know that was my niche at the time) early on as a new freelance writer.

Finally, you can use Contena Publishing. It’s free to set up and you can start writing right away!


Both of these methods work great for a brand new freelance writer, so turn those PDF’s into published links online!

Let Your Samples Speak For Themselves

For a lot of new freelance writers, getting your samples can be a challenge if you haven’t figured out your niche or you’re persistent on getting a guest post and not even looking at other ways to get your samples.

But, if you want to make a go out of this, you need to prioritize your work. In my free course, I lay the foundation on getting your first client. And the first thing you need is a niche.

After that, it’s all about getting samples and then from there it’s time to pitch.

So, do your samples speak for themselves? I hope these three improvements will help you land more clients!

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

Leave a Reply


Hey, Elna. Thanks for the amazingly helpful post! I have a question. I’ve chosen education as one of my niches, and I want to display some of my formal writing so I can get into curriculum writing. I happen to have an academic portfolio profile where I can upload my papers and projects from school. Would it be a worthwhile investment to set that up with my academic work and link it to my website to show that I can use formal writing styles like APA formatting?Reply to Kris
Hi Kris, Yes! That’s a fantastic idea! If you want to attract curriculum clients then for sure show proof you can write academically!Reply to Elna
Well-detailed post as usual, Elna! Thanks for always giving out your best to help new freelance writers. I don’t have any published sample yet, or any suitable ones in a relevant niche. But I’ve done some writing jobs for my friends offline. Do you think I can add those ones as samples too? Also I want to ask. Will you suggest I get a domain name, host it and start a blog in my chosen niches, or for the moment, I should write on Medium only? I must say that I’m afraid to pitch for guest posting as I’ve not had any online articles. I don’t know if my post will be of interest to the blog readers.Reply to Claudius
Hi Claudius, You can use the ones from your jobs as samples as long as they are representative of the topics you want to write about and are of top quality regarding your writing skills. You can write your samples on Medium and then link to them in your pitch but the most converting thing you can do is have your own dedicated website for your freelance writing business!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, such a relevant and engaging blog post 🙂 I just have a question. Can my samples be personal and correct in the eyes of potential clients?Reply to Jeremy
Hi Jeremy, I would stay away from creating personal content as a way to attract clients. Clients want a writer that’s knowledgable with up-to-date stats and that can write to engage THEIR audience. Unless the client asks you to inject your personal stories (two of mine have) I wouldn’t make that a focus in your content for clients.Reply to Elna
Hi Elna This has been helpful, even for me, who’s actually (miraculously) broken into the work-for-hire children’s book writing business. Thank you for providing valuable information. I do have one question though. Now that I have some published books under my belt, I’d like to revisit some book packagers and publishers that I haven’t heard from in a while. A couple have indicated they liked my original samples and that I was free to revisit them “with any new writing samples” if I haven’t heard from them. My question is: am I allowed to use excerpts of published books as my new writing samples, since at the time I originally contacted them I had no books published? Would this help my chances with them? Would I get into trouble from excerpting any of my published books?Reply to George
Hi George! I’m not familiar with publishing requirements or disclosures! So check that out first!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, thank you so much for such a useful post. As I’m totally new to freelancing I was stuck at the same problem you mentioned, “where to publish my sample articles?” I thought one needs to own a domain and have an official site to continue this as I read on most of the blogs like bloggingwizard and smartblogger. It’s only after reading your post I got to know that it can easily be done on linkdin pulse and medium. I’m definitely gonna share this article of yours. Once again thank you so much for it. Sadaf One of your subscribers 🙂Reply to Sadaf
Hi! That’s great you found another and alternate way to guest post. Yes, you can publish your own content on these platforms without a website but if you want guest posting to work, it’s best to get a website first so that you can link to your site in your author bio. That way readers can click to your site!Reply to Elna
Hi, I set up my LinkedIn profile but I am struggling to find the words for my profile summary. I don’t have experience writing, my experience is mostly all customer service. I used to write short stories but that was all personal. And I am only beginning to get back into writing again. What can I write when I have no experience in this field?Reply to Ruth
Hi Ruth! In the beginning your description may be sparse. Just mention that you are a freelance writer for hire and that you write about X and list topics you want to get paid to write in. Make sure your copy focuses on the CLIENT and not on your love of writing. Benefits (not features!).Reply to Elna
Thanks, for this, I find the tips very helpful.Reply to Gladys
I’m glad you found this post helpful. Improving your samples as a freelance writer can really help you make more money!Reply to Elna
So useful! thank you so much, Elna. You give tips and advice that resonates to all of us, freelance writers.Reply to Abigail
Hi Abigail, You’re welcome! Glad you found some tips to improve your samples.Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, It’s very important for us to ensure we send our applications with relevant samples. This boosts our chances of getting hired. Thanks for sharingReply to Mercy
Hey Mercy, Usually, writers send a pitch email along with their samples. But, I know there are some ads that require an application. Remember, as a writer, we aren’t not working for clients; we are working WITH clients. It’s a collaborative relationship and that doesn’t usually require one to fill out an application.Reply to Elna
A lot of my samples are in the writing/publishing niche but I’ve found that because they’re about writing (albeit fiction) I can almost make them relevant for blogging jobs because it still proves I can write! But I’m working on having samples in more relevant niches so I can pivot into writing more profitable content. I love your blog!Reply to LJ
Hey LJ! Makes sense. Any sample is a good sample, in the beginning. But if you have can some time to make relevant samples for your pitches that will help you land some gigs!Reply to Elna
Sharing! Great article! I actually give my favorite samples in my letter of introduction for my future clients! Well written, Elna!Reply to Janine
Hi Janine! Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed my post!Reply to Elna
Great post as always Elna, Couldn’t have agreed. Sincerely, getting those first clients can be a pain in the ass. If you don’t have your name out there yet, you find it so daunting to get those first jobs. However, if you can make your samples to speak for you then, you have won half of the battle. It’s a matter of making it relevant and formatted enough so it quickly grab your prospective clients attention. Nice post Elna. Thanks for sharing. BTW: I sent you an email, don’t know if you got it? It’s actually about a kindle book i just published on Amazon and is currently free. The exciting part is that it’s my first kindle book. Do you mind checking it out? It’d be very happy if you do that for me 🙂 Let me know if i should go ahead and send you the link 🙂Reply to Theodore
Hi Theodore, Thank you so much! Yes, getting your samples up and running can be a challenge for a lot of new freelance writers. You want to make sure that your writing speaks for you, right? But at the same time, you need to show your knowledge in online content too!Reply to Elna
Thank you Elna for another useful post! I think I’ve to work on all of these 3 points. The idea of creating a relevant sample is just on point and I’ve to do it. More work to do on samples. I also liked the idea of publishing a word docs to online forum i.e medium etc. This is definitely a good option.Reply to Arfa
Hi Arfa, You’re welcome 🙂 I’m glad you found some useful tips to help improve your writing samples.Reply to Elna