Clients requesting (or demanding) applicants to write sample articles for free is becoming a common practice. It is also one of the most divisive and contentious issues within the freelance writer community. For some, it is abusive. Others, on the other hand, believe it is an acceptable vetting practice. It seems like there is no middle ground.
Personally, I think you can dance on both sides of the fence. There are circumstances in which you should decline – absolutely. However, some opportunities are too good to pass up because you refuse to write a free test article.
Write Sample Articles: Yes or No
Be flexible. Instead of picking one side, you should consider the circumstances. Understand where the client is coming from, and help them choose you. Know when you should refuse or write one for free.
1. Why Do Clients Ask You to Write a Test Article?
I receive 200+ applications whenever posting a job on behalf of my client. Even if I specifically ask for a specific type of article, most applicants would send whatever they have – even if their samples do not meet the criteria. Hence, one of the first things I do is to weed out the unsuitable candidates. These are the individuals who obviously did not read the instructions. By my estimation, only 20-30% remains.
It is rare to even have one freelance writer who happens to submit the exact type of article needed by a client. At this point, I can only see the “potential” – based on sample writings.
I would talk to the top prospects, discussing details – from content, expectations, and responsibilities to compensation. To be sure that the writer could do the job, I also send copies of our articles to talk about the style and thought process. After coming to an agreement, we formalize and complete the hiring process.
Our experience was horrible, mainly because:
- Several writers quit before even completing an article. One, in fact, went AWOL five minutes after starting the timer.
- Most writers we hired wrote articles that did not meet the client’s expectations nor measured up to the sample articles they provided.
Although we managed to find a few people who have proven themselves to be quite capable and have grown so much more, something has to change.
I now ask the top applicants to write a test article after sending approved copies for reference. Using this method, we were able to avoid hiring freelance writers who could not deliver.
2. Why Should You Refuse?
There is only one plausible reason why you should decline – scammers. Unfortunately, there are plenty of them in freelancer marketplaces and Facebook groups.
Most of these thieves are freelancers. They offer competitive pricing for their services. Once hired, they post job offers and ask applicants to write test articles. Of course, they pass it on as theirs to their clients without the intention of paying the original writers.
As if stealing once is not enough, these scammers may ask for more trial articles. Some of them even dare to bug you to write more.
If you suspect that a prospective client might be a scammer, run away.
3. Why You Should Say Yes or Offer to Write a Trial Article?
Saying yes or offering to write are not the same.
Three things need to happen before you say yes. If the requirement is doable, compensation is acceptable, and the client is legitimate, then write a trial article. But that is assuming you were among those chosen on the merit of submitted samples.
What if you do not have previously written articles to show when applying for the job? In this case, offer to write one and hope you are given a chance.
Writing Sample Articles Is a Chance to Earn and Learn
The primary reason why you agree to write sample articles whenever asked is to get hired. You can think of freelancing online as a business in which you provide writing services. Test articles are your advertising expenses.
Even if you were not chosen, did you lose anything?
On the contrary, you are bound to pick up new styles or techniques, which helps you level up. The more you learn, the more you earn. As for the article itself, it becomes a valuable addition to your collection of showcase articles that you can show to other clients.