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Give it away? Nah. Why it's not okay to ask writers for a sample

Hi there.

Quick survey.

How many of you like to give away your product, service, or talent for free?

I mean do work for nothing?


I didn't think so.

And yet, for some reason, copywriters like myself are often asked to write a test article or content to land a contract writing gig or a job.

I don't know why.

I have seen some people defending it by saying that there is no way to know that the credentials of a content writer are legit.

Or that there is no way to know if a writer is well suited to their brand or their project.

Uh, okay.

Credentials can be checked by asking for references.

And suitability can be determined based on the writer's portfolio.

Simple as that.

Yet somehow, there are still organizations and entrepreneurs that want writers to create something for free.

Or, like the screen capture above, they want writers to create test content and, if they like it, they'll pay.

Uh, okay...

'If we like it' is one of those things that makes me roll my eyes.

It has no merit.

No weight.

It just screams of unwillingness to pay for effort.

So I don't like it.

And I see a lot of it.

Just imagine going to a salon and asking for them for a sample hairstyle and, if you like it, you'll pay for it or at the very least the next one.

You wouldn't.

But people persist in expecting that of writers.

Here's a simple rule of thumb if you are looking for a copywriter or content writer.

Do not ask anything of them that you would not be willing to do in turn for someone else.

Because writing puts food on their table.

Keeps the lights on.

Makes it possible for them to sleep at night.

Also, I don't know if you know this, but writing takes a lot of work.

You probably do because you're looking for someone to do that for you.

That work has a value.

That value is not dependent on 'if' you like it.

So instead of a writing test or requesting a sample blog or anything like that, look at the writer's background, portfolio, references, and online presence, hire them based on that, and pay them for their work.

If you still want free samples, just go to Costco.

I mean, if they're still doing that kind of thing.

This, by the way, is why I never, ever, refer to myself as a freelance writer.

Because I think people hear the 'free' part and stop right there.


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