We ask for samples at the ice cream store.
Sometimes we ask for samples at the deli counter.
And sometimes, we nab samples of carpet or tile flooring to bring home so we can decide if we’ve made the right choice.
I get it. Samples help you make a more informed decision.
But asking a content creator or writer for an unpaid sample isn’t the same thing. Nor is it fair.
You wouldn’t ask a contractor to build you a “sample room,” right?
Nor would you ask a web designer to build you a “sample” website.
And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your “sample” toilet.
You would rely, instead, on their previous work, referrals, and testimonials. As a content creator for busy entrepreneurs, I want to share with you 5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Asking Writers for a Sample.
Don’t throw tomatoes at me just yet. If you’re in the market for a solid writer, you should take a moment to read this, especially if you want high-quality content.
1) You’re Asking Them to Work for Free
Maybe you don’t realize this, but when you ask a writer to give you a 1,000-word blog post sample, you’re basically saying to them, “Hey. Can you give me three to five hours of your time without compensation? I may or may not buy the piece, but I want you to give up your personal time and write for me for free.”
It can take a seasoned writer up to five hours to compose an SEO-friendly, well-researched, compelling piece of content for you. I’m not talking about a listicle or a Top 10 kind of post, either, I’m talking about a valuable, engaging, action-oriented post that your readers will want to share and comment on. (And then share and comment on some more.)
I have a sinking feeling you wouldn’t give up five hours of your time creating something for someone.
Why would you expect someone else to?
2) You’re Not Taking Their Experience Into Consideration
If you reach out to a writer like me, my experience is sprinkled all over my website. Not only do I have samples on top of samples, but I have testimonials from very happy clients, too.
Links to already published blog posts, white papers, and sales pages are available at your disposal and for your review.
Just like you would look around a showroom for a dress or countertop or car you like, you can look around a writer’s website for content you like.
If you happen upon a writer’s website that doesn’t share samples, ask for them.
Those samples reflect:
- The writer’s ability to put thoughts and sentences together.
- How a writer creates and organizes content.
- The writer’s ability to use proper grammar and punctuation.
- Whether or not the writer can research and use proper hyperlinks in the piece.
3) Your Expectations Are Unrealistic
Forgive me and please refrain from stabbing me in the eye, but when you ask someone to create something for you without proper compensation, you are disrespecting their time, talents, and craft.
It is unrealistic to ask anyone to do work for you without paying them for it.
I’ve had potential clients ask me for samples, claiming that they want to see if I can write their content for them.
Well, of course, I can. It’s what I do for a living.
But I’m willing to bet they didn’t ask their web designer to create a “sample website” to see if the designer could pull it off.
I bet they didn’t ask a contractor to build half a room to make sure it met their expectations.
A smart, seasoned writer who respects themselves won’t give you their time and expertise without payment first. It’s just smart business.
Have I ever written a sample for someone? Absolutely. But they are always paid.
When I see a business owner willing to pay a writer for “sample” work, this tells me that they value their contractors and recognize that all entrepreneurs and business owners should be paid accordingly. It’s just good business.
4) It’s Not Really a Sample
If you want someone to write something for you, then hire them to write it. It’s that simple. More than likely, you’re going to use it.
I know this because you wouldn’t be considering hiring them if you didn’t think they had the ability.
If you’re uncertain that a writer can provide decent content for you, I’m willing to bet you felt that way with other contractors you hired out. But you hired them anyway. You took the risk. And not because you didn’t believe they didn’t have the ability, but because you knew that they DID.
So do we.
Having said that, I have a secret to tell you…
If you found a writer willing to write a “sample” for you, they aren’t as savvy as they say they are. If they’re willing to sell their soul and you’re willing to let them, your partnership will last about as long as this blog post.
I’m sorry. I really am a nice girl. I’m just being brutally honest.
They’re desperate for work and you’re desperate for a writer. It’s that simple.
5) Your “Sample” Can Always Be Rewritten
When I have to redirect potential clients to my portfolio and testimonials, sometimes I get, “Well, we would prefer a freshly written sample so we can be certain you can deliver.”
Yeah. I felt the same way after I dropped $5k on a Social Media Manager and Facebook Ad campaign.
I wanted certainty.
I wanted to know she could deliver.
I wanted to know my target market would be nailed.
I wanted to know that it was going to work.
When I told my SMM that, she said, “I know this is what you want. Me too. That will be $5k, please. Now let’s go figure this out.”
I am willing to bet if I said to her, “Can you create a sample FB ad for me, run it, and see if it works for free?” she would have laughed for hours after hanging up on me.
If you already know and like the writer’s style (and you do, because you looked at existing samples), then you already know they’re competent.
So pay them.
Pay them to write a post for you. If you don’t like the way it turns out, guess what? Ask them for a rewrite.
That’s what rewrites and conversations are for, to make adjustments that cater to what you need.
In a Word…
If I had to sum up everything I just said, I would simply say this:
Nothing is for free. Nothing good, that is. Just like you would like to be paid for your time and expertise, so would competent writers.
Thank you for not stabbing me in the eye. I need it so I can keep writing.
Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned content writer and ghostwriter based in Central New York.
(No, not New York City. Not even close. )
Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com