Written By Alexandra Romanov

10 Gigs for New Freelance Writers (So You Can Get Great Writing Samples)

10 gigs for new freelance writers

Without a doubt the first problem to hit new writers is that of samples. Oh, you can write and you have some great ideas on where to find clients. The problem is that everyone wants to see samples of your work and you don’t have any. This is the classic problem: You can get work without samples and you can’t get samples without work.

Getting samples is probably the most important thing for a new freelance writer. You are basically stuck in a holding pattern until you get them. Luckily, getting great writing samples is not as difficult as you might initially think as long as you do a little thinking outside of the box.

Please keep in mind two very important factors where these writing gigs are concerned. First, these are low paying jobs that will not generate much, if any, income. Secondly, this is very temporary. By very temporary I mean that once you have 4-5 samples you move on to writing for more lucrative markets unless you choose to stick around for some other reasons. I still write for certain charities; it’s part of my yearly donation to them.

These are 10 really great places to get your first samples in the ‘wild’ so to speak. Use one or several of them and before long you will be ready to move on to earning money as a freelance writer!

  1. Author or Musician profile

Is there a local author or musician, snag an interview with them for a local newspaper or magazine. Pay attention to visiting musicians and artists as well. These interviews can so sold not only to local newspapers and magazines but also they can often be sold to local websites and newsletters for tourism groups and other media outlets of that nature.

  1. Charity Groups

Charitable organizations can be great places to write for if you need sample clips and don’t mind writing a few articles for free. These groups often have newsletters, press releases and letters to donors that need to be written. These can be some of the best samples you will get simply because there is more opportunity for a number of different types of writings from a single source.

  1. Business Profiles and Reviews

If a local business is doing something, such as appearing on television, expanding etc., write up a short article about it. Often newspapers love to get these because most have their hands full covering the negative news. We had a local real estate agency that was being covered by HGTV’s Extreme Houses a while back thanks to an interesting listing they had scored. From interviews with the realtor to overview coverage of the filming, this was worth great coverage in the local newspaper and fantastic clips for the freelance writer that covered it.

  1. Local Reviews

Have you lived in your town for at least a month? Then you have probably already dined in a couple of local hangouts and shopped in a few stores. This means that you have places to review for online sources as well as alternative newspapers. Many communities have free newspapers that feature local businesses, nightlife or shopping centers. These are all great places to tap as a place to publish reviews of restaurants, stores and bars. Often they also take reviews of new movies. You won’t get paid much, if anything, but you will get a byline which makes it a good sample.

  1. Alternative Niche Newspapers

Many areas have newspapers that focus on niche topics like gardening, religion and various hobbies. This can be a good place to market niche type articles and gain a clip for your website and portfolio. These alternative newspapers of this nature tend to have a focused audience and these readers are generally dependable as readers who will be looking up your website. This is important because potential clients are likely to read your articles in the alternative press and then contact you for targeted writing gigs. In this case you get samples as well as marketing. Not bad for a single article!

  1. Local Civic Meetings

This one requires some dedication or desperation for samples! Here is the deal and I write from extreme personal experience: You attend civic meetings, take notes and write an article on the meetings. Newspapers often need stringers to report on these meetings because in small towns there is often a shortage of reporters to cover these types of meetings. Often, stringers are paid a fee for their articles but there is a caution here: In small towns this can be a springboard to a job at the local newspaper. Don’t take the bait. Small town newspapers don’t offer a salary I would wish on my worst enemy. The meetings themselves can be interesting and exciting but more often than not they are long and tedious. Despite that little issue, these are great clippings with a good bite for your portfolio.

  1. Gala Events

Every town has some sort of festive occasion. In some cases it’s a charity event, in others it’s a major business event. Either way it needs to be written up in numerous ways. You can write it up for the charity to gain publicity, create brochures and write it for newspapers for publicity. Then you can cover it during the event itself for both the charity and the newspaper. After the event it can be covered yet again if there are any boosts to the local community as a result.

  1. Website Content

Virtually every business has a web preference. If it doesn’t then it should. In smaller locations often people create these sites themselves. Even when they use a professional web designer the designers rarely have writers to create the essential website content. This is an easy one because all you have to do is examine the website and focus on how you can improve the written content. If there are products for sale then review the product descriptions as well. Even the most basic website needs content for their ‘About’ and ‘History’ pages and that gives you an opening to create the copy. In the cases of websites, you will probably get paid a modest fee but if you don’t, ask for you name to be on the site as the content creator. This is essentially the byline of websites and is a fantastic sample to have in your portfolio!

  1. News Briefs

These are quick, easy to obtain and newspapers love them. They are short blurbs about news articles that are mainly items that happened close to the deadline and the paper was unable to put together a full story. Often the full story appears the following day in the paper but these little tidbits can be nice teasers; these little sidebar sections on the front page. These will also likely appear on the front page or even as a ticker of the newspapers website.

  1. Brochures and Pamphlets

This is a fun job, can lead to a ton of very well paying clients and is literally worth its weight in gold! The easiest way to get going here is to get your hands on as many local brochures as possible. A great place to get started is the local Chamber of Commerce. Just read them and figure out how you can improve the copy. Contact the respective businesses and make your pitch. Even if you have to do one or two for free, which is unlikely, this is worth it in spades! A brochure sample is one of the top samples you can have. There isn’t a lot of copy in a brochure so creating a new one isn’t normally a great deal of work.

Any of these ideas make for outstanding samples. I can recommend all of them as having the potential for the best samples a new freelance writer can get. Any one of them is good, but for a terrific double punch, you should choose the Charity work mixed with the brochures. Between the two of them you will probably hit all of the best possible samples to have to get started in your freelance career.

Add those two (or any of the above) to samples created with Yahoo Voices and you will have the beginnings to a great sample collection as well as online portfolio. This will give you a broad overview of work, a wide range of samples to give potential clients a good idea of what you can do for them. All of this adds up to starting your freelance writing career with a bang!


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