2 Obscure Ways You Can Create Writing Samples from Scratch

Raise your hand if you’re a journalist and any writing portfolio pieces you have are in print?

You want to transition or moonlight as a freelance writer, but you have no proof online that you can even write.

You’re stuck and have no clue what to do, even though you have years of reporting background or experience writing news stories for your local newspaper.

2 Obscure Ways You Can Create Writing Samples from Scratch

This story isn’t uncommon.

I’ve learned there are many talented journalists with extensive backgrounds and training, but have no way of showing this online.

What do you do in this case?

Let’s look at traditional ways you can build your freelance writing portfolio and then I’ll show you two obscure ways to create online samples from scratch (with an actual link you can show prospects that you do have published material online).

Freelance Writing Portfolio – Where Writing Samples Live

There are a few traditional ways new freelance writers create samples for their freelance writing portfolio.

But, even though they are the standard, they aren’t always the best approach if you’re a journalist.

1. Your Blog Posts

One of the easiest ways to secure writing samples for your freelance writing portfolio is to just create blog posts on your writer website.

You can create sample pieces of content you want to get paid to write about.

For example, if you want to write and get paid for career topics, then create a few blog posts in that niche.

It doesn’t really matter what you blog about really, since prospects are looking to see if:

What’s great about this is, after you publish your posts, you have a link for your portfolio page.

But, what if you don’t have a blog or even a writer website?

You’re a journalist and want to break into online writing, but without a website or a blog this is a little more difficult than you originally thought.

What then?

2. Guest Post

By far, the best way to build your portfolio is by guest posting.

You not only get a link for your freelance writing portfolio, but you also get your name out there (and it’s on someone else blog!).

It’s a great marketing strategy since you get an author bio at the end of your post.

This can help you land clients, or at the very least, get prospects back to your site or your freelance writing portfolio page – if you have it on a free portfolio platforms such as Contently or Pinterest.

But, guest posting can take a lot of time out of your schedule. You have to:

  • Research which blogs accept guest contributors
  • Find out if those blogs are worth your time (i.e. are the sites popular, does the blog produce epic content, what’s their content schedule and time frame for publishing guest posts)
  • Make sure you thoroughly read the guest contributor guidelines
  • Pitch your idea or draft
  • Write the guest post
  • Wait to see if it’s been accepted

And when you do land a guest post, most blogs have a long wait time from the time you submit your post to the actual publication date. This can span anywhere from 2-6 weeks.

But, you need samples now. You want to pitch and to pitch you need sample posts to show prospects you can actually write.

What do you do now?

3. Create Your Own Writing Samples

A final way to build your freelance writing portfolio is to just create samples yourself.

It’s super easy and for journalists – while it might be time consuming – you can transcribe your print material to a MS Word document easily.

You can also create a Google Doc and make a shareable link. You can then link this in your portfolio.

But, this isn’t the best way to showcase your work. For starters, if all you have are PDF’s for samples, it makes you look amateurish. Let’s take a look at a pitch email and tell me which one looks more professional.

This one with links to my portfolio pieces:

sample-links-in-email

Or this one:

document samples in email pitch

The second one screams you’re a new freelance writer.

And you know what?

If a prospect gets a whiff of your newbie smell, they might get scared and move on to a more experienced freelance writer’s pitch email.

Prospects need to know you are a professional and this is your thang!

They are entrusting your with their content marketing strategy to help them generate traffic, sales and loyal customers or readers. If you’re new, they might think you have no clue how to do that.

But you and I both know you DO know, because you’ve been doing this for years…just in print.

If you provide documents or PDFs of writing samples, it just means you are not an online writer.

You are a writer and documents are all you have! So, how can you solve this?

Freelance Writing Samples – 2 Free Methods

Traditional ways just aren’t working for you and you need a way to build your freelance writing portfolio with online content.

You don’t have a website or blog yet, but you know you want to at least start pitching and seeing if this is actually a viable career (which it is!).

Well, there are two simple and great ways to create online writing samples without a website or blog and without guest posting. Let’s look at them in detail.

1. LinkedIn Pulse

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? I hope you do.

It’s the place for professionals to network with others in their industry and it’s also a perfect place to land clients.

LinkedIn has a publishing platform, LinkedIn Pulse.

It’s a place to read the latest news from influencers and other professionals.

It’s also perfect to create your writing samples.

To do this, you first need a LinkedIn profile (it’ll come in handy when you’re a freelance writer!).

Once you filled out your bio and added your experience, you can start publishing content on the Pulse.

On your home page, click on, “publish a post.”

publish linkedinpost

You then have a place to start writing your first sample. Include a feature image by sourcing Creative Commons licensed photos.

pulse

When you’re done, you have your first online sample that you can share on social media, add to your portfolio and provide in your pitch.

This is what I did when I was new to freelance writing.

pulse portfolio

2. Contena Publishing

The final place you can score an online sample is using Contena Publishing.

It’s a job board and a publishing platform. Win-win!

When I was trying to find ways to create writing samples, I learned about this platform and this is what sparked this blog post.

You can write content, link to your blog posts or share them on social media.

 

Just like the Pulse, you can instantly begin typing your sample and adding images to complete your post. You now have another sample you can link to in your portfolio.

While both of these platforms can act as your portfolio, I strongly suggest you use your writer website to house your samples.

And if you don’t have a website yet, then to use Contently.

For more help, checkout the Writing Sample Starter kit!

Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio Today

You don’t have to wait weeks to see your first sample. You don’t even need your own blog.

By using publishing platforms like the Pulse and Medium, you have an easy way to draft up your sample pieces and have them instantly published online.

So, what are you waiting for? Publish a post on the Pulse and sign up to Medium (if you haven’t already) and start writing!

But, if you need more help on sample writing, here’s my guide to how to write a sample for your portfolio.

If you follow me on Twitter, make sure to tweet your first sample and share it on LinkedIn so I can see it!

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.

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65 Comments

Could I start a Medium publication, post 20 stories, and use those as samples of my work in a pitch? Could I redo my Yelp, GoodReads, and Influenster reviews to look more polished so I can use those in a pitch?Reply to Christye
Hi Christye, If you don’t have a website you can use Medium to publish some writing samples and it’s up to you if you want to use that platform other other things. From there you can link to your writing samples in your pitch.Reply to Elna
Hi I came across your blog and youtube channel,and I am totally hooked. ButI am very confused.. linkedin pulse is a publishing platform? Then what are medium and contently? (Publish a post on the Pulse and sign up to Medium (if you haven’t already) and start writing!) Kindly reply back to me, as I am a newbie trying to learn freelancing.. Thanks, Shafmussadiq.Reply to Shafmussadiq
Hi, Oh, thank you so much! Glad you are enjoying my Youtube videos! All of these have a content publishing platform. The Pulse is LinkedIn’s version. So, you can have a Medium account, Contetntly account and sign up to LI and write there!Reply to Elna
Hi Miss Elna! A great help has been provided through your brief articles. I am ambitious to work as freelance writer however there are some kind of hurdles that hinder me to move ahead in this field. I have a query about “Online Sample Writing’, I mean if we publish any article or blog on Social Media as you suggested posting samples on ‘LinkedIn or Medium’, what about, if it is plagiarized? What a new freelance writer should do in this perspective? This thing makes me confused about publishing any post on Facebook, LinkedIn or Medium. Kindly brief it as it will be a great help for me. Thanks in anticipation!Reply to Maria
Hi Maria, People can steal your writing, but it’s not normal. If you are worried you are accidentally plagiarizing, sign up to Copyscape to check your writing. I use Copyscape as a precaution!Reply to Elna
Thank you for this article! I’m still a student, but I really want to make it as a writer. At the moment, the best way to do that is by freelancing. But I have little to no experience of writing articles or blogs. I do, however, have experience in writing fiction on the website called Wattpad. Would ongoing novels and short stories be counted as experience?Reply to Sam
Hi Sam, Well, typically businesses need nonfiction writers, not fiction ones! So practice blog writing and online writing to become familiar with what clients want!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna It’s an amazing post and thanks a lot for all the advice. Although I needed to ask what exactly should a writing sample contain. 😅I feel it’s a weird question but please I would appreciate an answer. Thank youReply to Abdul
Hi! A writing sample should content tips, strategies, and knowledge about your niche topic. So if you are a parent writer your samples would help your audience of parents. If you’re a health writer your samples would help people wanting to be healthy. I hope this helps!Reply to Elna
After having my 3rd baby, I just felt like not going to the usual 9-5 tradition in order to provide for my family. I had this feeling of stay at home, watching my kids grow BUT still being able to take care of them financially. To have more time with family has always been on my wishlist, to manage my household. FREELANCE WORK happens to be just the right way to fulfill my goals. Thank you, Elna, for guiding us on this journey.Reply to dimakatso
Hi! Thanks for coming over! Yes, staying home as a mom is truly a blessing! I hope you achieve this goal!Reply to Elna
Elna, Thank you! You’ve given me a place to start among all of the “must dos”. My list is feeling much more manageable.Reply to Samantha
Hi Samantha, You’re so welcome! Glad you found some direction to creating writing samples for you blog!Reply to Elna
Thank you for this information. for this gives me a good idea of where to start with writing.Reply to Patricia
Hi Elna, Thank you for always sharing helpful information. You provide thorough content. You make it easy to dissect and follow. Your articles always encourage me to keep going. I have a question. Do you have a method for posting a pitch or article on Twitter? Thank youReply to Bonnetta
Hi Bonnetta! You’re welcome! So happy you found some great tips for your writing samples! There is no method for posting an article on Twitter. My blog posts have social share buttons so I just choose Twitter and post it. As for a pitch, I don’t pitch on Twitter; I do mostly warm pitching!Reply to Elna
Elna, I am reading your articles and eating them up. I absolutely love the thorough nature of your writing. Your online course Freelance Writing Prep was extremely helpful as well. I’m filling up my little notebook with so many helpful bits of information. I just wanted to thank you for making it your mission to help beginners (like me!) I have created a checklist and am slamming through it step by step. Now, if I could just really feel like I mastered WordPress before publishing! Thanks so much for all of your useful information!Reply to Ashley
Hey Ashley, You’re welcome and thank you so much! I love hearing you are devouring this content and trying this out! Good luck!Reply to Elna
Hello Elna Thank you for this blog, you have been helping me greatly in many ways. I am just wondering about creating a blog though. I can create a blog today, and post a few things (though they can be more “personal” than “for the clients”). You say blog is good way of sample I can show my prospective clients, but what if I don’t have many visitors or comments on my blog? Same goes for LinkedIn Pulse. Should I wait for my blog to have some traffics to show off before I use it as my portfolio?Reply to Elwin
Hi Elwin, No, you don’t need traffic or an audience in the beginning. This is because you are actively pitching to clients. So get your samples online!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I don’t know what to do to get started. I don’t have anything started at all. Where should I go first. HELP ME pleaseReply to Dell
Hi Dell! The first step is to take my free course! Try that and you can become a freelance writer!Reply to Elna
It´s wonderful how I always find something new to work on. Thanks to Elna and her clear step-by-step guidelines I´ve been more focused lately and less overwhelmed in the extremely wide freelance writing arena. I´m sure she´s helped me to avoid common mistakes as a new writer. Thank you again, Elna!Reply to Inés
Hi Ines! You’re welcome! So happy this post helped you with your writing as a freelancer!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, thanks for the valuable information. This is something I’ve been wanting to do. I lost my job of 20 years a couple of months ago. I’ve always loved writing.Reply to Velerie
hello elna ,how can i signup and start off.Reply to gerrison
Hi Gerrison! Here is a link to sign up! Thanks! https://elnacain.com/course/getpaid/Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Whew, thanks for this post. Help! Full disclosure: I’m in a full-tilt panic. I WAS a journalist, then primarily a marketing manager, then I did the 15-year raising a life mother job. Last week, I deleted my LinkedIn profile because it mirrored my marketing resume, not a change and relaunch of career to a freelance writer. Technically I can build a website quickly and I already have a post-less Medium profile. Do I also need LinkedIn? My writing samples have long since decomposed. Thank you, thank you for your fantastic website and, hopefully, response to my question.Reply to Lisa
Hi Lisa! I hope you’re not in panic mode anymore! Take a breath and start a plan 🙂 Can you create a new LI profile? Just for freelance writing/journalism? It’s not necessary in the beginning but LI is a great way to land high-paying clients 🙂Reply to Elna
Hi! Thanks for putting me at ease while I attempt to dip my toes in the freelance writing river. After a 5 year career as a kindergarten teacher, I am starting a new adventure with my husband. He is in the military and we are moving to Germany for a year. Ah! I have a BA in Writing and am thrilled to have an opportunity to see what’s possible in the writing world. This really helped and I look forward to reading more of your posts, as I still have a ton of research to do. What would you suggest that I focus on? My passion has been creative writing and I never stopped working on a few fictional pieces, but have nothing published and am clueless about blogs. I think our upcoming adventure would be great to blog about, but I’m no travel expert. What would you suggest my focus and starting point be? Thanks!Reply to Katie
Hi, Katie – congratulations on your husband’s assignment overseas! If you’re still interested in building up your portfolio, I’d recommend contacting your garrison’s base newspaper editor and see if they’re interested in you writing for them. It’s a possibility they might. Good luck in your writing endeavors!Reply to Vickey
Hi Katie! Wow! Germany in a year! Our family is moving this year (just to another house in the city) and THAT is an overwhelming thing for ME! I applaud you! I couldn’t do that. Anyways, I digress. 🙂 There are a lot of freelance writers that have started freelance writing and then turned to becoming an author. The two on my mind are Alicia Rades http://aliciarades.com/ and Brent Jones (they both know me so you can always email me them and just let them know I mentioned them!) His FB page is https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrentJ/Reply to Elna
Hello there, thanks for the tips! I have a website (that needs some serious updating), a Contently profile, a WordPress book blog, and a LinkedIn profile (no articles created yet). Is getting a Medium page still worth it to add extra exposure and samples under my belt? I don’t want to feel like I’m spreading myself too thin.Reply to Alexandria
@Alexandria, I’ve got a WordPress blog that needs updating, linked in that probably needs to be updated, medium and contently I don’t remember if I’m signed up with them, I think so, but I’m in the boat of trying to gain writing samples, I’m a total newbie.Reply to Eva
Hi Alexandria, That’s great you have a Contently and LI profile. I don’t think you NEED to post on Medium since you have these other portfolios! But, it won’t hurt.Reply to Elna
Hey Elna! I hope you can help me. I recently came across your blog when trying to figure out how to produce some writing samples when I have not had a communications/PR role since 2014… All of my writing samples from 2014 were good at the TIME; I did not think I would ever need them again due to changing careers and leaving the writing dream behind. Yet, here I am. My computer has since crashed and I am not even sure I can dig up the original files I used to put together my writing sample pdf (I know pdfs are bad, but this is all I have) that I sent out to agencies bad in the day… Do you have any suggestions? I made it to the 2nd round of an interview but they asked for social media post examples. Please reach out–I need your help!Reply to Teagan
Hi Teagan If you have PDF’s you can either transcribe them on your LinkedIn profile (you can publish there) or upload them to a Contently portfolio. Finally, you can create a Medium blog and transcribe it there! The easiest is having a Contently portfolio and uploading your PDF’s there and later linking to some samples.Reply to Elna
Hi Elna — I found your site while Googling for how to create an online link to PDFs. I signed up for Contently and the only option I see for adding portfolio samples is to “Provide a link to your work,” including “Please add a valid URL.” I already included a link to my website, but Contently is requesting online links to recent, individual work samples. Doesn’t look like I can upload PDFs. Maybe this is a change from a year ago. Do you know how to link to PDFs of brochures or to scans of printed direct mail pieces and other samples that aren’t individually posted online somewhere? Thank you.Reply to Barb
Hi Barb, I just checked and it does look like you can add a PDF. I took a screenshot so check it out here: https://elnacain.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/contently.png Maybe add some links first and then see if that works?Reply to Elna
I didn’t see that. Thank you so much! I will add some links then try to upload PDFs. Much appreciated!
I had been wondering if I should have LinkedIn as a freelancer, and this answered my question! It’ll really help house my portfolio until I get my own website up. Thank you very much Elna! I really enjoy your posts for us folks trying to get into freelancing. Your writers voice and advice is very calming for someone who’s very anxious over starting their career! Hehe. 🙂 Thanks again!Reply to Gwen
Hi Gwen! That’s the nicest thing someone told me! Thank you!!! I LOVE helping people like YOU get started on the right path!!!!Reply to Elna
Good evening Elna, I’ve just recently stumbled upon your site and have been feeling more at ease with trying to break into freelance writing. I love to write, although, due to lack of knowledge on blogging, I’ve got a blog at teddybearmomma.wordpress.com, and am wondering if you can help with pointers, advice, tips, anything to get me on the right track to freelance writing? Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank you and have a great night.Reply to Eva
Hi Eva, That’s great you want to start freelance writing. What I suggest is you can either work on blogging and writing over at that blog or turn that blog into a self-hosted site and change that to market for your freelance writing services. Since you are new to everything you can grow with that blog and when you are ready you can create your own site. You can also use Contently to build your portfolio without having a website! So there are lots of ways to get started! Good luck.Reply to Elna
This is excellent. While I already know that guest posts, Medium and my website are great places to host my portfolio, I was not aware of the LinkedIn Pulse. As a freelance writer, I have noted that you have a nice conversational and highly engaging writing style. Keep it up. Let me connect with you on Social Media.Reply to Kegesa
Thanks Kegesa, That’s why I enjoy blog writing; it’s conversational in nature. Thanks for stopping by!Reply to Elna
This post was exteremely helpfyul for me! I am still in the research phase of my freelance career and I am still looking into where to start. Thanks for such awesome information!Reply to Sasha
Sasha, You’re welcome. Glad you found some tips to help you get your portfolio up and running!Reply to Elna
I was wondering if Medium was a good place for me to put my content and this post confirmed it for me! The reason I started posting there is because someone posted a link to an article from there on Facebook and it looks very professional and legit so I made a profile. I like it because I can write about what I want to in the way that I want to. I am not a big Linkedin user, but I do know people who use it as their platform soI will have to look into that as well. Thanks for yet another great article, Elna!Reply to Niccolea
Hey Niccolea! Medium is a neat platform. I’m actually finding a lot of my clients are using Medium to repurpose their content and drive more traffic to their site. LinkedIn is also a great platform to show your expertise in a niche. Thanks!Reply to Elna
Dear Elna, Your article is very elaborate and effective. I have learnt a lot from it. And as per your guidance via this article, I have already published my first post on LinkedIn Pulse. Please read it by clicking this link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-i-won-over-coconut-sneha-tipnis?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish It is really remarkable that you are a Freelance Writer, along with being a mother of two. It has really inspired me to work more, write more and regularly as a Freelance Writer!! Thank you and continue your writing.Reply to Sneha
Hi Sneha! So glad you found my post helpful. For many new freelance writers, whether they have been print journalists or are just new to freelance writing, don’t know how to make samples for pitching. They don’t have a blog and guest posting can sometimes take a lot of time. That’s great you are breaking into freelance writing! If you ever need help just email me!Reply to Elna
Great post Elna, If you really want to become a very successful freelance writer then, having your own website is really very necessary because as i always say, your blog will not only showcase your works, it will also serve as your online office and people can easily reach out to you online via your blog more than any other place. Also, guest posting is also vital and should never be ignored. Its not always easy to be published on someone else blog and achieving that will show your clients that you really know what you’re doing.Reply to Theodore
Hi Theo, All great points! I totally agree with you, but this post is geared more for those that are journalists and writers in print. They see how profitable online writing can be, but with little knowledge on setting up a website and having to wait weeks for a guest post to be published they have no proof they are a legit writer (making it a hard time to pitch). I felt these two methods I mentioned in my post can serve as a quick way to generate samples for them. We’ve all been there before – we have the skills but no proof. At least publishing on Medium or the Pulse can show some proof you are a writer!Reply to Elna
Thanks so much for the great information, Elna! As an experienced journalist trying to make the change to freelance writing one of my biggest obstacles is the lack of on-line writing samples. These tips will definitely help me show the on-line world what I can do!Reply to JoAnn
Hey JoAnn! Love to see your face here! So excited for you and your business! I’m glad I can help. I totally thought of you and some other journalists that I coach and that’s what sparked this post. I was hunting for a quick solution if you don’t have a website or want to blog. And then it occurred to me: LinedIn Pulse. And then, I noticed another freelance writer’s portfolio and followed her link to Medium. And then I went, yes, this is the answer. Easy, quick and you can re-publish content on these two platforms (just mention where it was originally published). Perfect, eh? Can’t wait to see your site soon! Keep my updated.Reply to Elna
Great information for any print-savvy writer looking to transition into freelance writing for the web! As a formal journalist, I also started with a portfolio largely comprised of PDF print samples. Elna coached me to only use hyperlinked samples within my pitch instead of adding PDF attachments, like I used to with magazines and newspapers. I’ve found it really does make a big difference in the web world! Use her tips until you can get your own site up and running – so that you can start getting work NOW and build your web portfolio. Now I’m after those guest post opportunities!Reply to Jessica
Hey Jessica! It’s nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re catching on to how things are run on the web. It’s quite different than the print world. I’m sure I wouldn’t survive on print! I know you’ll kill it as an online writer Jessica! You have the background of a stellar journalist and are picking up the “rules” for online writing with ease! Good luck girl!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna! Loved the tips in this one! I actually followed the “write your own posts” bit a while back, and I think it’s one of the best pieces of advice to take up on. If you combine it with Medium, that’s being published right there, sort of. It wouldn’t be ideal if no-one shows interest, but then again.. that’s where approaching topics that interest people from a different angle come in handy, like you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on LinkedIn pulse, too. I’d love to know what you think about both once you’ve used Medium some more. I get updates from them and some articles are interesting, others less so, but overall it’s brimming with people from every possible profession. Perhaps a little more writing-oriented than LinkedIn Pulse? Ralitsa — rhymes with *crispy* pizza :o)Reply to Ralitsa
Hey girl! Medium seems not bad. I don’t have the time to produce original content since I regularly contribute to FreelancerFAQs, but it’s a great place for journalists that need a quick way to secure some online samples. The Pulse is a great way to really promote your services and direct people back to your blog. It’s great! Nice to see you here and thanks for commenting!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Great post. Writing on LinkedIn and Medium is the best idea to shocase one’s experience as a writer. And also writing on these two platforms and linking back to our portfolio page is a wise idea. What if I publish the same blog post from my blog to these two platforms? I need your thought.Reply to Venkatesh
Hi Venkatash, You can publish a post from your blog on these platforms. Just mention it was originally published on your blog. It’s not always recommended to do this, but you can. For this post, however, I am talking about these platforms to create samples if you don’t already have a blog. I think they are great since most people already have a LinkedIn profile and Medium is super easy to set up! Thanks for stopping by.Reply to Elna
Great tip! I’ve wondered if writers with blogs simply repurpose the content on Pulse, or if they have to write twice as much. 🙂Reply to Jessica
You can repurpose on Pulse and on Medium, but to really make an impact, it’s bets to generate new content on those platforms, especially content in the niche you want to get paid for. Good luck!Reply to Elna