How to Create Freelance Writing Samples: The Ultimate Guide

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 04/20/23 •  9 min read

When you’re starting as a new freelancer, getting your writing samples up is intimidating. You’re not sure how to write them. And maybe, you’re not even sure what to write.

So today, let’s answer the questions you have on creating freelance writing samples.

Read through this, and you’ll know exactly how to create an online writing portfolio that will help get you jobs.

So if you want to do that, let’s jump right into it.

But first, if you want to learn more about how to become a freelance writer. Check out this post.

And if you want to check out the video instead?

How Many Freelance Writing Samples Do You Need?

One of the most common questions I hear from people trying to become freelance writers is, how many of these things do I have to write?

The great thing is you don’t need that many to get started. Rule of thumb, three to five is a good number of samples to start with if you’re just getting going with your freelance writing business.

If you have more than that’s great. But, in most cases, when a potential client asks to see your work, they’ll want to see around that many samples.

How to Get Inspiration for Your Samples

Generally speaking, there are two routes you can go when you’re just starting freelance writing, and your samples revolve around these paths. So let’s cover those first.

If you’ve got a specific skill set, interest, or expertise, then you can niche down and make that your focus.

Here are a couple of examples where you can niche down through both industry and the type of work:

If you aren’t sure what your niche is or frankly don’t want to get into one right away, then you can start as a generalist.

It’s kind of a niche in itself. It makes you the MacGyver of freelance writers — and you should sell yourself that way.

You can learn about something quickly. You can write topics about just about anything.

But I’d recommend sticking to some general areas to show your range:

But vary the lengths and styles of these posts. With generalists, you need to show variety and range.

Ok, now on to what to write about.

If you’re drawn to one specific niche and want to niche down, start writing samples around that, just like with the finance example above.

Here’s how to find inspiration:

On the other hand, if you’re a generalist, you want to show you can write about a lot of different topics and a lot of different styles of writing.

So your samples should reflect that. Have some long samples, some short ones, and have them across a variety of different industries.

That shows you’re versatile, can learn about a topic quickly, and write about it even if it’s not something you’re not super familiar with.

Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Can You Have Too Many Freelance Writing Samples?

I don’t think so.

The reality is the more samples you have, the more opportunities you have to show off your skills and show off what you can do.

But you don’t want to add samples just because you think you need to have 10 before you start marketing — the reality is you may just be procrastinating.

You want to showcase your best work. So don’t throw something out there for the sake of it.

When you add samples, make sure it’s high-quality work. This is what is going to get you hired. So spending time and effort on this matters. It’s better to have three great posts than 15 mediocre ones.

Then, over time, as you get more jobs, more samples, and become a better writer, rotate in new samples or replace them with live links from your clients.

It’s fine to have 15-20 samples (a mix of stuff you wrote for clients and what you’ve written on your own) on your site as you build up a client base and experience. That’s going to give potential clients a really good idea about your knowledge, skills, and abilities.

What Should Your Samples Be About?

Okay, now let’s talk about content.

What topics should you cover in your content writing samples?

I like to start with the same writing sample topics:

Check out the above for ideas.

So let’s say your niche is home improvement.

Here are a few writing sample examples you can create from this topic:

The reason I like using these templates is they are essentially the most common forms of blog content you’re going to find. They’re generally clickable, interesting, easy to write, and going to be valuable for most of your clients.

So if you show off your skills and can write that type of content, that’s going to bode well for you when it comes to getting clients.

If I was just getting started as a generalist, I’d write two articles in each of those categories but with each article in a different niche. That’s going to show that I can write in a variety of industries.

Here are some popular niches/industries to consider for freelance writing samples:

You may also want to mix up B2B writing and B2C writing too. If you have eight samples, make 2-3 of them B2B content to give yourself a wide range.

How Long Should Your Samples Be?

This is another chase to showcase your versatility.

Most clients ask for content somewhere in the 750-1500 word range.

Make sure most of your samples fall into that word count. Then, have one or two samples that are much longer, closer to 2,000-3,000 words, and another one that is super short around 500 words.

That’s going to show potential clients you can cover a topic clearly, go really in-depth on a topic, and write compelling content succinctly.

But at the end of the day, you want to have samples that are similar to what’s on your ideal client’s site.

If you want to be a home improvement writer, read a ton of home improvement blogs. See the kinds of posts they have and the length. Then match those.

To make yourself a great hire, you want to make it really easy for your potential customers to imagine your work on their site.

So having posts on similar topics, layouts, and lengths is huge. They can imagine you sliding right into what they have.

That’s why paying attention matters. Spend time before you start writing to see what’s out there.

If you plan on niching into a style of content, then focus on that.

For example, if you just want to write long-form posts, then make sure everything is over 2,000 words. If you want to write emails, make your samples of different types of emails. If you want to do copywriting, then have a sample sales page along with shorter copy examples, and so on.

A Secret Weapon to Avoid Writer’s Block

A lot of people get stuck writing samples because they can’t come up with a topic. Well, now, with AI writing tools like ChatGPT or Content at Scale, you don’t have an excuse to worry bout a blank page.

If you don’t know what chat GPT is, it’s essentially an AI chatbot. You can give it input, and then the AI is going to spit back out what you asked for.

So, going back to our home improvement writer. If you’re stuck on what to write about, go to ChatGPT and ask it to give you 30 topics about this niche.

And in about 15 seconds, you’ll have a list.

chatgpt writing samples

Pick a topic and start writing. You can even ask ChatGPT to help you come up with click-worthy headlines and outlines to help get you started.

Don’t fear AI writing tools. Instead, use them to help boost your productivity and make you more effective at your job. The freelance writers that embrace AI and embrace tools like this and learn how to use it properly are going to have an advantage over those that are either scared of it or don’t want to do anything with it.

In about three minutes, you can have a list of topics, a compelling headline, and an outline.

Now, all you have to do is write.

Start Writing

So, that is everything you need to know about freelance writing samples and how to get started.

Here’s the biggest thing to keep in mind. Don’t overthink this part.

I know it can be overwhelming, but there’s one key you should keep in mind: digital ink doesn’t dry. So that means you can always change your samples, edit them, rewrite them, and get rid of the ones you don’t like.

Don’t think that everything has to be absolutely perfect to get started because it never will be. But you should get started because there’s so much opportunity out there for freelance writers on the internet right now.

There’s such a demand for it, and I truly believe freelance writing is the best way for most new entrepreneurs to get started.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *