What Is Sample Writing? A Guide for Job Seekers

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

what is sample writing

A lot of people ask me, “what is sample writing?”

It seems like a simple question but in my experience, it’s really something that can make or break your job search.

Think of sample writing as your way of showcasing your amazing ability to convey ideas, stories, and information in a way that resonates with readers.

It’s like offering a sneak peek into your writing brain, giving potential employers or clients a taste of your writing style, skills, and work experience.

In today’s post, we’ll explore the different types of writing samples and how to create samples that capture attention and open doors.

Table Of Contents:

    Why Is a Writing Sample Important?

    From landing that dream writing job to wowing potential clients, having solid writing samples can often be what sets you apart from the competition.

    But why are they so important, you ask?

    1. They Offer Proof of Your Writing Abilities

    Anyone can say they’re a great writer, but a writing sample proves it. Your resume tells them you’re capable and your cover letter tries to show why you’re a good fit, but the perfect writing sample shows you can walk the walk.

    2. They Provide a Window Into Your Writing Style

    Every writer has a different voice and your writing samples reveal yours. It allows potential employers or clients to get a sense of your tone, whether it’s formal, conversational, witty, or technical, and see if it aligns with what they’re looking for.

    3. They Are Evidence of Your Expertise and Experience

    Your writing samples should showcase your grasp on a range of topics, styles, and formats, reflecting the depth and breadth of your skills and experience. By reading through a portfolio of different writing samples, someone can gain a deeper understanding of your abilities.

    4. They Help Secure Freelance Gigs and Writing Jobs

    Freelance writing gigs often require writing samples. It helps companies see if you’re the right person for the job because it gives a realistic representation of the quality they can expect.

    Make sure the writing sample you submit is clean, well-written, and free of grammatical errors so you have the best chance of landing the job.

    Different Types of Writing Samples and When to Use Them

    Just like a good chef has a varied menu, you’ll want to have a portfolio filled with different writing styles. This helps you come prepared, no matter the situation.

    Let’s take a look at a few.

    Blog Posts

    Blog posts are one of the best ways to showcase your writing ability to any hiring manager or potential client. If you’re an expert at creating informative and engaging content that captures and keeps a reader’s attention – then you’ve got this nailed.

    Most blog posts should be at least 300 words, but long-form blog posts perform better in search engines like Google, so keep that in mind when you submit writing samples to clients or use your blog posts as part of your writing portfolio.

    Not yet into blogging? Learn how to start a blog and make money.

    Social Media Posts

    Social media posts showcase your ability to engage readers with very few words while also having a clear call to action. Make sure you understand the platform you are writing for because things like character count vary. Use that to your advantage when crafting the perfect post that includes relevant hashtags.

    Website Copy

    Were you responsible for creating captivating website content?

    Let’s face it, we all want higher conversion rates – show how your website copywriting did just that.

    Pay attention to things like sentence structure and make sure the content flows — this will make it more enjoyable for your readers.

    Press Release

    While press releases are official public relations documents, you still want to find ways to make the company’s message shine. This proves your understanding of newsworthiness and your ability to follow journalistic standards.

    Press releases are written in a specific format so make sure you fully understand the structure before sending one.

    Case Studies

    Case studies dive into a problem or challenge and present an effective solution, highlighting the value of a company, brand, or individual. It allows potential clients or hiring managers to get an idea of the kind of deep research you’re capable of.

    When submitting case studies as part of your portfolio, share multiple case studies that showcase different industries and types of projects you have worked on.

    Email Campaigns

    Show your magic when it comes to grabbing your audience’s attention right away with enticing email campaigns.

    Don’t be afraid to showcase the higher open rates you’ve achieved as proof.

    Include things like subject lines, calls to action, and a breakdown of the results you achieved in the past.

    News Articles

    Do you possess the art of objective reporting while still captivating readers?

    A well-structured, unbiased, and compelling news article speaks volumes about your writing.

    Just like with press releases, news articles are written in a specific format so make sure to familiarize yourself with it.

    Choosing The Right Writing Sample

    So, how do you know what to submit as a sample?

    When sending a writing sample, make sure it is a good representation of your work. This means that it should be free of any spelling errors, grammatical errors, and be formatted correctly.

    Read The Instructions Carefully

    Before hitting “send” – did you double-check their requirements? Many companies outline specific types of writing samples and the ideal word count. This also shows the potential employer that you pay attention to instructions.

    Be sure to submit the correct file format they are requesting.

    Relevance

    Pick samples relevant to the job. There are certain instances where you might need a writing sample from a school assignment. This could include a research paper you wrote that got a good grade.

    Quality Over Quantity

    A well-chosen and thoroughly polished writing sample is more impactful than multiple mediocre samples.

    A 750-word sample or shorter generally tends to work best.

    How to Write Stellar Writing Samples

    Creating exceptional writing samples that showcase your skills and expertise is essential. But sometimes getting started can feel a bit overwhelming.

    To stand out and capture attention, your writing should always be unique and demonstrate your writing skills.

    Understand Your Target Audience

    Knowing who you’re writing for will allow you to strike the right chord and captivate the recipient from the start.

    Keep it Original and Error-Free

    No one likes a copycat. If your sample has lots of grammatical or spelling errors, it will reflect negatively on your skills as a writer.

    Plus, who wants to spend hours on something that ends up tossed aside anyway?

    That’s why using professional writing tools like Grammarly and Content at Scale is crucial for catching any last-minute boo-boos.

    If you were asked to submit your writing via Google Docs or Microsoft Word, double-check that you have granted the appropriate access.

    Showcasing Your Samples

    Think of your website as your very own virtual writing empire. You wouldn’t show up to a job interview in a tracksuit and muddy boots, right?

    The same thought process goes for your website – create a professional, easy-to-navigate space for potential clients and employers.

    Create a Portfolio Website

    If you haven’t done this yet, why not try creating your portfolio website through WordPress?

    You can showcase writing in multiple niches that you may specialize in. Having samples that have been published on other sites is a great way to add credibility to your writing skills and portfolio.

    Highlight Your Samples

    Having a dedicated page that’s easily accessible will give people a glimpse into your amazing writing skills. Don’t make them hunt for it — place it front and center on your site.

    Leverage Content Platforms

    Think Medium and Contently – share those literary gems with the world.

    Platforms like Medium provide another avenue to showcase your expertise, connect with readers, and direct them to your services. Include a call to action at the bottom of every piece of content that links to your portfolio.

    Conclusion

    So what is sample writing?

    It’s simply a piece of your best self, your best writing, all wrapped up in a compelling package that screams “hire me” to potential clients and employers.

    By crafting stellar writing samples and showcasing them effectively, you can increase your chances of landing freelance gigs, securing your dream writing job, or captivating clients.

    Remember to tailor your samples to each specific opportunity, showcasing your skills, experience, and the value you bring to the table.

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