How Do I Get Experience and Writing Samples?

At first glance, it may seem like a catch-22 …

“How will I get experience, if I don’t have a portfolio of samples to show prospective clients? And how will I get samples, if I can’t get any experience?”

Yet, in reality, it’s just a misunderstanding many new writers have when getting started in this business …

Assuming clients won’t hire you without proven experience working for other clients.

Rebecca Matter here – attempting to move you past any roadblocks that may pop up on your journey to living the writer’s life.

And today I’m going to show you how to get past this next one – even if you’re a brand-new writer.

But before we do that, let’s go ahead and set the record straight …

You don’t need to have experience to get hired in this business … or to charge professional fees.

In fact, how much experience you have doesn’t even need to come up if you’re the one in control of the conversation with prospective clients. (More on that tomorrow when I answer, “How do I find clients?”)

Prospective clients simply want you to demonstrate your ability and sell them on what you can do for them – how you can either solve a problem or help them achieve a goal. (Again, more on that tomorrow!)

“Samples” can be any examples of your writing. They don’t need to be actual assignments from a past client, or anything that was mailed, published, or broadcast.

The client just needs to be able to see what you can do with your words.

Here are some great ways to show off your skills …

1. Program Assignments and Exercises

All AWAI programs include assignments where you’re asked to put what you’ve just learned into practice. You can easily turn them into samples simply by polishing them up and making them look professional – like work you’d actually submit to a client.

I know plenty of writers who have launched their copywriting businesses using assignments from the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

2. Spec Assignments

This one is a great way to get samples AND real-world experience …

Offer to write on spec.

“On spec” just means the client doesn’t have to pay you unless they use what you wrote.

Here’s how it works …

You approach a prospective client and offer to write something for free. And if they’re happy with it and want to use it, they pay you. If they end up not using it, no worries …

You still benefit because you have a sample you can show the next potential client, and experience writing copy for a real company and a real product or service.

Just make sure you change the company’s name to a fictitious one if they didn’t hire you in the end. You don’t want to trick anyone into thinking someone was a past client of yours if they weren’t.

3. Your Website

Think of your website as the ultimate sample …

Not only does it demonstrate your professionalism and sell your value, it proves you know what you’re talking about – and gives visitors a direct inside look at just how well you can write.

In fact, according to B2B copywriting expert, Steve Slaunwhite, most B2B clients won’t even ask for samples. Instead they’ll ask for your website.

Many marketers feel they can tell if you’ve got the goods, simply by seeing how well you market yourself.

So, even if you’re just starting out, put up a website and make it great!

Think of yourself as your very first client … you’re writing website copy that sells the services you offer. Then follow these basic copywriting principles:

  • Write in a conversational tone …
  • Highlight the benefits of hiring you …
  • And be persuasive!

Just remember …

You don’t need to tell people you’re “new.” I know plenty of writers who studied hard and were very capable of writing good copy for their very first client.

So, pull together a couple of “temporary writing samples” in case a client wants to see what you can do …

Pretty soon you’ll be loaded up with more winning samples from actual clients than you’ll know what to do with!

And then join me tomorrow, and I’ll show you how to find – and approach – the clients who will truly value what you bring to the table.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: September 17, 2014

9 Responses to “How Do I Get Experience and Writing Samples?”

  1. This is where I am right now. I am not sure that I have what clients want and don't yet have a portfolio. Is it too soon to create a website? There are so many questions about the business end of things.

    Nora KingSeptember 18, 2014 at 2:25 am

  2. Very helpful

    MhbApril 5, 2015 at 6:41 am

  3. About Getting experience And writing samples:
    I found this article very informative. I'm starting to understand why I become so upset everytime a new multistep program is presented to us, for some stuppendous amazing one time deal price if we act right away. I expect it is because I am very passionate about becoming a great copy writer, that I want to learn and not be solicited by the very organization I am part of with my membership. I'm curious if AWAI would even exist if every manual and multistep course was pulled from AWAI, and all it's sales needed to come from outside of its members, what would become of AWAI.
    My passion originating from the desire of a better life, and never having to have to do another single construction job to create income is my prime directive. That and rebalancing my finances so I am earning money rather than letting it slip through my perspective hopes of who I can be if I follow all the steps presented.
    What I recommend to anyone who is looking for f

    Guest (Dimitri Solakofski)February 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm

  4. Learning is the greatest part of writing, it is like learning to read and write all over again.

    RootsNovember 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

  5. Thank you Rebecca for answering the question, and thank you Dimitry for asking the question, I might add that you beat me to it.
    I have picked Grant copywriting as my niche, following the advice of Rebecca and others, who said that we should thrive to choose a niche, because it will let us focus and streamline our efforts to achieving the copywriting dream of success; but I continue to receiving other good suggestions in regard to picking a niche...they are all excellent by the way.
    I'm glad Rebecca who I admire along with her peers, is able to shed light on our concern.

    Guest (clement)August 21, 2017 at 3:08 pm


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