Copywriting samples are never the bee’s kneecaps
In fact, it’s downright stupid annoying.
You need samples to get a gig, but you need a gig to get samples.
It’s a head-banging-into-the-wall situation. I’ve been there, done that, burned the t-shirt.
When I first started out, I was running in circles for a while. I didn’t feel like I had what it took to create portfolio pieces of my own or even the means to do so.
But my samples eventually came around, utilizing the following tactics.
1. Blog Posts
Some of the best ways to take advantage of your blog is to write posts within your:
- Niche (E.g. healthcare, digital marketing, personal finance)
- Expertise (E.g. blog posts, landing pages, about pages)
- Experience (E.g projects you’ve done, lessons you’ve learned, books you’ve read)
Everything you write about can be used as a sample to show your knowledge and credibility in any industry you’re trying to work in.
You may be thinking, “What if no one cares? My website isn’t a huge name and it doesn’t have high traffic yet!”
But they will care. Your clients want to see something- anything, really- that shows your skills.
2. Guest Posts
Guest posting is one of the best ways to secure quality samples. It extends your reach, furthers your reputation in your niche, and helps you practice communicating/pitching.
You can search for guest posts by typing in (niche) write for us, (niche) guest post, or similar lines. You might be surprised at how many prominent brands allow freelancers to guest post on their websites. I certainly was!
When you do this, make sure you follow their guidelines to a T. Their website, their rules- be respectful of the process.
Almost all guest posts are not paid gigs, and it’s not a guarantee that your content will be published. At least you get to keep the content for your blog if all else fails!
3. Mock Samples
This is where your document software comes in. Whether it be in Google Drive or on your desktop, you can create your own fake copywriting samples.
But I get it- you can’t just poof copywriting inspiration out of nowhere. You need something to work as the foundation for the direction of your piece!
The best way to do this is to find brands that are in your niche, and pretend you’re creating copy for them. For example, you’re in the cosmetics niche. You could go to Covergirl’s website, study one of their product lines, and then create a fake email sequence about the line.
Bada bing bada boom- copywriting samples.
Don’t let anyone tell you that this is silly or wrong. As long as you let clients know that the pieces are mock samples for showing off your abilities only- it doesn’t matter.
4. Archived Content
Have you ever considered digging up the fossils you’ve tossed aside over the years? You might be neglecting some great pieces.
Whether you think your old writing isn’t relevant to your niche or business direction, you’re embarrassed by it, or you think it’s too off the wall, hold your horses.
You’ve got to provide your potential clients with something- anything you’ve created. In the end, it’s not a big deal if it’s old or right on the money with your business.
It’s your writing, your work, with your brain’s bits and pieces built into it. Give your archives a look over and spruce up. You might be surprised what you find (hopefully in a good way)!
5. Asking a Family Member/Friend
Do you know someone who has a platform on the internet? Literally any kind of platform that could benefit from content creation?
There’s no harm in asking if you could whip them up some copy!
And keep your mind open with this one. You might think it’s fun and games to create Twitter posts for your friend, but you could label this as social media managing. Or, you might think it’s just helping your mom out with her Etsy profile description, but this is technically bio copywriting.
It doesn’t matter if your samples come from your roommate’s blog or Forbes. Content is content!
6. Free/Garbage Paying Gigs
I’d never recommend this in any other situation. But if you either don’t care or are desperate for extra samples, you can keep this one in your back pocket.
This is a little bit more helpful than mock samples, or creating content for family and friends. The content will actually be utilized somewhere bigger and it won’t have any immediate-circle affiliation to you.
But please don’t take on downright bogus gigs. If someone is offering to pay you 2 cents a word for a 2,500 word article, stick your nose up and don’t look back.
It ain’t worth it!
There are a few tips here that leave room for pay. Though this isn’t the main point for creating samples, I’m going to show you out with a PSA:
You deserve to be paid for the quality of your writing.
If you take a route that has you creating content for someone who is in a position to pay you, ask to be paid. You’re sacrificing your effort, time, and creative abilities here.
But you know, if you want to give mom a discount on her Etsy bio, I’m not going to get in your way.