A reader was asking the other day whether it’s a good idea to include writing samples every time you apply for a freelance writing job. I think that it’s a good idea to provide all the information that the person reading your application will need to determine whether you would be a good fit when you apply. A prospective client may not have the time (or the inclination) to contact you to ask for samples, since some ads get responses in the hundreds.
It’s a good idea to send your resume and a link to your web site or some of your published work when you are applying for a freelance writing job. Your cover letter alone may not give the reader enough information about who you are and what you can do for them. You also might get hired for a different project than the one you originally applied for if the client knows more about your skills and experience and feels that you would be a better candidate for it.
Including more information at the outset may seem like a little thing, but may make the difference between being put on the short list and having your application rejected outright. The exception to this policy is where the client indicates that they don’t want samples unless you are specifically asked to provide them. Reading the instructions carefully and following them is always your best bet.
Do you always include samples or links to your work when you apply for a freelance writing job?
I always provide links to samples (which, hopefully is more convenient for them than attachmetns or downloads). I think it’s better to provide TOO MUCH information than not enough (after all, the client can choose not to view the samples).
What stuns me, however, is when I provide a link to my main page, note that it contains several writing samples of different genres, the client doesn’t bother to *look* at the samples (I have stat trackers on my site) and asks me to complete a lengthy writing test anyway. At that point I’m unsure as to whether skipped over the part where I mentioned samples, or if they’re just trying to get a job completed for free.
^ ^ ^ Ugh. Typo-palooosa. Lonnnng day here.
JR Moreau says
I have go-to samples that I send with virtually any cover letter and resume. I suck at writing resumes and my cover letters really need the supplemental punch of a writing sample!
Joel Falconer says
As a freelance writer, I would always link to writing samples (I did all business correspondence by email — no phones or letters, so links always suited). I always made sure they were samples the client would be interested in seeing; someone who wants blog posts doesn’t want to see your sales copy or fiction.
When I hire writers now, I discard applications without samples, and if there are samples but they aren’t in some way relevant to the job I’m hiring for, I don’t bother taking a good look at them. There are simply so many applicants in most cases that the client must have direct links to samples (not the main page of a website that somewhere deep inside has a portfolio of work in it) that are in the style and format I’m after and demonstrate the writer’s knowledge of the field (audio in this case).
@Kendra – in some cases the practice of linking to a main page or index could be letting you down. Find your best pieces of work that are similar to what you’d be producing in the role you’re applying for, and send links straight to the content itself.
Some people won’t have samples in the right style or format for a job. In my case, I have to overlook these potentially competent writers as it wouldn’t be suitable for me to hire newcomers to the niche. But bear in mind that samples don’t need to be works you wrote for a client, and that’s a way to get around the issue of not having published in a particular niche before. Just set aside time to write up some of that kind of content, call it a marketing expense, and if it’s good quality the boneheads making hires like me won’t know the difference.
Carey Sessoms says
When I first began a few years ago, writing samples kept me from losing hope. Those spec ads helped nab my first gig, a second and then a third. It’s the best practice a freelance copywriter can do — and it will pay off. In improved talent. And in new clients.