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4 Ways to Build Up Samples (When You Don’t Have Any)

Do you want to start getting paid to write online, but don’t (yet) have any samples?

Then you can’t get started, right? It’s one of those vicious catch 22’s, isn’t it?


A lack of samples is just another excuse. It’s fear masking itself as a reason you can’t get started or succeed.

So let’s bust through that fear today! Here are four ways you can build up samples – starting right now if you want to!

1. Start Your Own Blog

How To Build A WordPress Site In Under 10 MinutesStarting your own website and blog is one of the easiest ways to gain samples. You don’t have to wait for anyone to publish what you’ve written, approve titles, text or anything else. It’s all on you to set one up, write something and hit publish!

You could get started with a free WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr account. But if you’re serious about becoming a freelance writer, you’ll probably want your own website someday soon anyway.

My advice?

Spend the ~$100 and invest in a year’s worth of hosting (Freelance Freedom Fighter uses Siteground) and your own url. If you’re serious about this business, then you can probably scrape together a hundred bucks to get started.

Use a free template and don’t overthink it. You just need a name, your headshot and your writing chops to get started. The rest can come with time.

What do you write about? Well, what do you want to get paid to write about? I would start there. You can always change direction in the future.

2. Write for Free

You can always apply and get an unpaid writing gig first. I did this with HuffPo (or The Huffington Post to those of you not in “the know”).

I found an ad, which described HuffPo was looking for unpaid regular writers and I just went for it. I didn’t have many samples at the time. For the most part, my submission WAS my sample.

Do you have any friends or family members that have a web presence? A company without a blog or with an inactive one? They are great people to ask for an unpaid writing gig.

And hopefully, you can knock their socks off and ask for it to become a paying gig in the future.

3. Guest Post on Other Sites

This was another thing that I did in the beginning to get samples. I was a part of a Facebook group of other “hustlers,” or people that were looking to achieve their dreams. I just asked if anyone needed a guest poster in the health/fitness category and bam! someone responded ‘yes.’

She had a new blog, but clients don’t really know the wiser. It was a sample, it showed my writing skills and voice and it wasn’t a site I owned. Someone else thought I was good enough to write and get published (with a byline) on their site.

Who do you know that blogs in a niche you want to get paid to write in? If you don’t know anyone, ask your friends and family if they do. And if they don’t, do a simple Google search to get some names. Then kindly reach out and ask. The worst they can say is no!

4. Write Samples in Word Docs

build samples as a freelance writerIf all else fails, write up some articles on topics that you’d like to get paid for in Word or Google docs. It’s a sample, right? And you could also sell it, as it’s ready to go!

I actually attached two Word docs to my HuffPo pitch as samples. I also said I was new and trying to “break into” the freelance writing space. And even though I was a complete newb, they still said yes!

Writing samples in Word or Google docs takes nothing but time and effort on your part. You don’t have to have a website first. You don’t have to have any special tools or software. All you need access to is a computer, the internet and your keyboard. No monetary investment required.

Now where’s your excuse? 😉

Get Pitching!

Now it’s time to get pitching. You can pitch for paying or non-paying writing gigs. You can pitch for guest posts. And you don’t have to have samples to pitch to any or all of the above.

Most new freelance writers that I run into are scared of pitching. I think it’s due to our innate fear of rejection.

It’s time to get over that fear and do it anyway. Taking action and pitching is the only way you’ll get clients. Go and do it now!

Which method sounds the easiest for you to get started acquiring samples?

Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers coaching services and really enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and download your free copy of 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career off on the Right Foot!

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