3-Part Guide to Answering the Question “Can We See Some Samples?”

There’s a common catch-22 that many writers get caught up in.

The scenario goes like this: You’re ready and willing — eager, even — to take on paid projects. But you can’t land a paid project until you have work samples to show. And you can’t get any good work samples to show until you land a paid project.

In today’s article, I’m going to share Steve Slaunwhite’s strategy for dealing with the dreaded request for samples when you don’t have any samples to show … or when you feel like the samples you do have are either too old, not relevant, or in some way not up to snuff.

But before we get into his simple, 3-tiered strategy, I want to challenge your thinking a little bit …

Tear Down Your Own Obstacles

I want you to take a good, honest look at whether or not you’re really having a hard time moving forward because you don’t have samples or if the fact that you don’t have samples is providing you with an excuse not to move forward.

I suggest this because many freelancers who are just about to get started, or who are about to start something new (like exploring a new niche), find ways to put obstacles between themselves and their goals.

People do this naturally because it provides a safety net. As long as you can point to an obstacle that’s holding you back — like a lack of samples, for example — then you don’t have to face the real question of whether or not you can make it as a freelance web writer.

The longer you put off starting your new business or your new web-writing venture, the longer wild success remains a possibility.

Once you start putting one foot in front of the other down your chosen path, you start trading possibilities for reality … and that’s scary business. Scary because we’re afraid that imagining the possibilities will be more fun than experiencing the actual thing.

I promise you it’s not. Reality — with all its rough edges and bumps and warts and potholes — is always better than the possibilities. Because it’s real. And it’s yours!

As you build your web-writing business, it’s unlikely it will turn out exactly like you pictured. But once you start taking consistent action to shape your business and your life, the results will start to blow you away. Best of all, you get to live them instead of just picture them. And it really is better.

So, let’s make a pact right now. There is no obstacle that should keep you from moving forward. Determine the next steps on your path and start putting one foot in front of the other.

And if not having any samples has you worried, here are three keys to answering the question, “Can we see some samples?” Even if the answer is, “No.”

First, be honest.

This is very important to establishing a trust-filled relationship going forward. I’ll start by being honest with you — there’s a chance the prospect will decide the timing is not right if you don’t have relevant samples. But don’t let that scare you.

If you take pains now to build a strong relationship with your prospect, you increase your chances of landing the project in question — but even if you don’t, you increase the chances of getting future work.

And even if you have to say, “No,” to the sample question, it can be a qualified “No.” The kind of “No” that will keep you in the running to land the project.

Second, match your skills to the project.

Simply saying, “No, I don’t have anything to show you,” isn’t likely to close the deal. Instead, think about projects you’ve done that have been for similar businesses or of a similar format.

So let’s imagine for a moment that you’re trying to land a white paper project with a company that sells time management software. But you’ve never written a white paper before. You have, however, written case studies and special reports.

You could change your “No,” into something that sounds more like this:

“I don’t have a white paper sample to show you, but I have a great deal of experience writing special reports which require research and organization similar to white papers. I’ve also written several case studies that use a tone similar to white papers and that require the same interview skills I may need as I create your white paper.”

That’s quite a difference, isn’t it?

Okay, but what if you don’t have any samples at all? In that case, focus on experiences you’ve had within similar industries. If you’re interested in writing a landing page for a software company and you’ve worked in the software industry, your answer might go like this:

“I don’t have a specific sample to send to you, but I’ve spent the last five years working in the software industry, so I’m familiar with the language, the audience, and the common objections to be overcome in this landing page.”

Again, way better than a simple, “No.”

Third, be confident.

Striking the right tone is critical. Whether or not you have samples to show that are relevant to the project in question doesn’t really have anything to do with whether or not you can complete the project and do it justice.

So answer confidently. Don’t apologize. Don’t act embarrassed. Keep your voice steady and speak with assurance. Your confidence is infectious. If you sound confident, you’ll create confidence in your prospect.

But if you let the question rattle you and you sound uncertain as you answer it, your prospect’s confidence in you will also drain away.

The best way to be confident is to practice handling this question ahead of time. You can have a friend do a little role playing with you, or you can just practice in the mirror. The idea is to get a feel for how you would answer the question before it comes up. That will go a long way to helping you maintain your confidence.

If you know you’re ready to start handling paid work or you want to break into a new niche, don’t let something like a lack of samples hold you back. Start taking steps to approach clients, build relationships, and land projects. As long as you’re honest and confident, you can highlight why you’re qualified and close the deal even without a sample to your name.

This article, A 3-Part Guide to Answering the Question “Can We See Some Sample?”, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: February 6, 2013

2 Responses to “A 3-Part Guide to Answering the Question “Can We See Some Samples?””

  1. what about offering to do a few copywriting jobs for friends, family members, or current job (for free or low fee) so that you get have some samples to show people?


  2. My first copywriting job was at a radio station. I had no experience so I listened to a few of the spots the station was running and rewrote them. The manager was quite impressed and hired me on the spot.

    Jeffrey Littorno

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