Social proof is an important part of the strategy to become a freelance writer. If you missed it, check out Ciaran’s post explaining exactly why you need it.

This post is the first in a two-part series giving you a step-by-step guide on how to get your first few writing samples. Social proof is a vital step on the road to getting paid for your writing. But it’s important not to let it become a sticking point that’ll get in the way of your success. These posts will help you get it done, so you can move onto to well-paid writing assignments.

You need to be very strategic about getting your first few writing samples. The easiest way to go about it is to pitch to some high-profile blogs. There’s a good chance you won’t get paid for these, or get paid very little. But it doesn’t matter. The aim of the game at this stage is to get 2-3 solid writing samples – samples you can use as social proof to land bigger and better assignments.

Where to Pitch, and Why

I mentioned earlier that the best places to pitch are high-profile blogs. Why? Because blogs usually need a lot of content on a regular basis – meaning your articles have a good chance of being accepted and published fairly quickly. Magazines can be great places to pitch, but it’s more difficult for a beginner to land an article writing gig. Also, you may need to wait months for the article to actually be published!

In the interest of building up writing samples quickly, I suggest sticking to pitching blogs. Make sure these blogs are high-profile enough to give you the social proof you need. This could mean blogs that are recognised by most people – like The Huffington Post. It could also mean blogs that are recognised by the people in the niche you’re targeting – industry trade magazines often have blogs that your prospects read regularly and are familiar with.

Finding Blogs to Pitch for Writing Samples

A simple Google search can give you a list of good blogs to pitch. Here’s a useful search to try “<industry/topic> blogs that accept guest posts.” So, if you wanted to write for health blogs your search would look like this: “health blogs that accept guest posts.

Scroll down through the listings and you’ll see plenty of places that accept pitches. You’ll even find that people have taken the time to compile lists of the best blogs to pitch. Bamidele Onibalusi of Writers in Charge has written some great lists of blogs in different niches that accept pitches. Here’s one for technology blogs, and another for lifestyle blogs. Make use of these fantastic resources to find some blogs you’d like to pitch.

One word of advice here, if you don’t have a particular industry niche, just go with topics that interest you. If you’re interested in the topic it makes things much easier when you come to research and write about it. Lifestyle blogs can be a good fit for people unsure of where to pitch. They cover a broad range of topics, so most people can find an area of interest to inspire a pitch. Have a read through some lifestyle blogs and brainstorm a few ideas.

Compiling a List of Suitable Blogs to Pitch

If you’ve been following along with the steps so far you should’ve quite easily found a number of blogs that look like good candidates to pitch. See if you can find 15-20 blogs that look like a good fit, and save the blog names and website URLs in a spreadsheet.

Got that done? Great. Save the list on your desktop and check back here tomorrow. Ciaran will be showing you exactly what you need to do next, from digging out an editor’s direct email, to pitching within a blog’s writer guidelines. He’ll also be sharing a pitch template we’ve used to successfully get featured on high-profile blogs.

[Update:  Here’s part two on how to start your freelance writing career with no samples.]

Any questions on the process so far? Let us know in the comments.

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