Should a Freelance Writer Create Free Samples for New Clients?

As a freelance writer, you are bound to come across clients that ask for free samples, but is it worth writing new articles with no hopes of getting paid?

As a freelance writer, you are bound to come across clients that ask for free samples, whether you have just started freelancing or you have been at it for years. I still get requests from clients to provide ‘samples.’ Of course, none of them use the term ‘free,’ They call it test drives, test gigs, and what not. But at the end of the day, if it’s about doing work that you might not get paid for, then it is a free sample.

As a freelance writer, you are bound to come across clients that ask for free samples, but is it worth writing new articles with no hopes of getting paid?

The dilemma with free samples for a freelance writer

Personally, I have only given free samples to clients or publications when the opportunity was too big to pass. When the chance of getting published or working with a great company meant more than getting paid. I got one of my biggest clients by writing a test sample But again, I wrote that because at that point, I didn’t have any relevant samples to show the client. A test sample was my way of showing them my potential, and it worked!

That being said, there are many fake clients out there who ask freelance writers for free samples, use them, and then never pay the writers. So you have to be extra careful about taking up free samples. After all, if you end up writing more free samples than paid ones, then it doesn’t really work out for you.

In this article, we will be discussing how to decide whether you should write a free sample or not.

Do you have a portfolio?


That’s great. Send the client relevant samples from your portfolio instead of writing one. Try to send them the most relevant articles that align with their requirements and not the most latest ones.

Is the client still not convinced?

Considering you have a very relevant sample and previous experience, and the client is not confident, suggest a paid test gig where they pay you in advance for the first article. If they don’t like the quality, they can easily go their own way.


If you don’t have a portfolio or any relevant work experience for the project you want to take, then you may want to consider writing a free sample. But don’t go ahead writing just yet.

Check the authenticity of the client


  • Can you not find anything about them online?


Whether its an individual or a company, look for their online presence. Try searching for their name on LinkedIn or Facebook too. If you still hit a dead end, its best to not write a free sample at all. Instead ask for an advance and a signed contract.


  • Is the client a really big company?


Don’t go writing a sample if you know the company is big and you have heard about that brand. Trust me, some of the biggest brands continue to not pay freelance writers or delay their payment by months, all in the name of formalities and financial processes.

Go through LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Twitter, and Facebook. Search company name + freelancer/freelance writer to check how the company treats freelancers. If you find a freelance writer already working for them, get in touch with them to ask about their honest opinion.

Does the client want to discuss rates before the free sample

This is one of the most important points that you need to notice. Is the client too eager for you to work on a free sample and they don’t want to discuss rates at all? If that is the case, then there is a big chance you won’t ever get paid for it. After all, how can a client just ask you to write an article and not care about the budget?

Set the rules for copyrights in case things don’t work out

So, you have decided to write a free sample for the client after discussing your pricing. That’s great but before you send the client your content, set grounds for copyright — What happens when things don’t work out? The client shouldn’t be allowed to use your work if you aren’t getting paid for it.

Create a contract including all those terms and ask clients to sign them. Be sure to include their company name, GSTN, PAN, and registered address. You should also mention that you will hold the copyright to the content until you are paid for it and you are open to take a legal action against the clients if the client chooses to use your content without paying for it.

If the clients are not willing to pay, this is the least they can do to imbibe trust. If the clients are not even open to signing anything, then it’s time to move away and not waste your time in any free samples.

After sending the sample

If the client stops responding, send a reminder email after 7 days. In case they still don’t reply, send a copy of the signed agreement to remind them that they cannot use your submitted work anywhere since they haven’t paid you.

Also, use Google search or Copyscape to make sure your submitted work hasn’t been published anywhere without your permission.


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8 thoughts on “Should a Freelance Writer Create Free Samples for New Clients?”

  1. Very insightful points here.

    I do understand there is this huge dilemma of doing the work for free.

    But, like you said, you do research first:
    – who is the client
    – is he authentic
    – is the opportunity good enough
    – is it going to be long term

    Answering these questions will simply help you answer the ultimate question “should you work for free?”

    There have been cases where I’ve worked for free too, but it did turn out to be a paid project later on.

    One more key is to set a clear term with the client before you start the project.

    Something where you work for free for the first month, but then it turns out to be a paying assignment.

    This way you’re building your portfolio too.

    1. Hi Zubin

      I DO NOT endorse writers working for free. In fact, I am strictly against it. There are too many clients out there making writers feel that they shouldn’t be paid and in return, clients get content for free.

      Writing a free sample does not mean working for free, it just means you may or may not get paid for the article. If you don’t get paid, make sure you have the copyright to the content, the client isn’t allowed to use it, and move on. There is no reason to work for free for a whole month in hopes that it would transform into a paying assignment. Because even if it does, the clients will probably be paying peanuts.

      1. Yep, I am against it too.

        In fact, you can tell if the client is a ‘good client’ from just researching around.

        Working for free can be strategic, but for someone who is just starting out, that is surely not a recommended option to go after.

  2. I agree with you ritika, we ourselves need to respect n acknowledge our hard work and donot allow fake clients spoil the dreams of aspiring writers. No free samples is my way of working too.

  3. Informative article for a new writer to boost up confidence in deciding whether to write free samples or not… Really providing great insight… Thanks Ritika.

  4. Thanks for providing so much information. Plz tell me whether we need a freelance writer contract even in case of working through a content website where both the writer and the client are registered.

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