How To Create Impressive Writing Samples + Examples
Written by Monica Shaw
Creating an impressive writing sample requires attention to detail and showcasing your skills effectively. Here are some tips to help you create a strong writing sample and make it looking amazing in your online writing portfolio.
General tips for creating an impressive writing sample
Understand the purpose: Determine the purpose of your writing sample. Is it to demonstrate your ability to write engaging articles, technical reports, or persuasive content? Tailor your writing sample accordingly.
Know your audience: Consider who will be reviewing your writing sample and adapt your style, tone, and content to cater to their expectations. Research the company or organization you're applying to and align your writing sample with their needs and interests.
Choose your best work: Select a writing piece that showcases your strongest skills and aligns with the type of writing you want to pursue. It should highlight your ability to captivate readers, convey information effectively, and demonstrate your expertise.
Edit and proofread meticulously: Ensure your writing sample is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Edit for clarity, coherence, and organization. If possible, have someone else review your writing sample to provide feedback and catch any mistakes you might have missed.
Keep it concise: Focus on quality over quantity. Choose a writing sample that can be read within a reasonable timeframe. If necessary, provide an excerpt or summarize longer pieces to demonstrate your writing style effectively.
Demonstrate versatility: If you have expertise in different writing styles or topics, consider providing multiple writing samples that showcase your versatility. This can demonstrate your ability to adapt to different audiences and writing requirements.
Provide context: Introduce your writing sample with a brief explanation of the purpose, target audience, and any relevant background information. This helps reviewers understand the context and appreciate your work better.
Follow submission guidelines: If you're submitting your writing sample as part of a job application or project, ensure you adhere to any specific guidelines or formatting requirements provided. Failure to do so may negatively impact your chances of being considered.
Remember, an impressive writing sample is not just about the content itself but also how well you present and package your work. Our aim with Writer's Residence is to make this effortless. If you've created your portfolio with us, here's a few tips to make your writing samples shine as brightly as possible.
How to create a winning writing sample with Writer's Residence
When you sign into Writer's Residence and add a new writing sample, you'll be presented with a page that captures all of the essential elements of a writing sample:
- Publication Title
- Publisher Name
- Publication Date
- Website address (if your sample can be linked to online)
- Attachments (PDF files, scanned images of clippings, etc)
Tips for optimizing your writing sample so it looks good for editors, clients, and anyone else you want to impress:
- Use the Banner Image to make your writing sample more eye-catching. If your sample is from a printed publication, I like to include a scanned image of the clipping itself to really make it pop - see this example from my article in The Writer magazine. Or you can use a representative image that describes the work - for example, in this restaurant review I've included a picture of the restaurant.
- You can use the sample text area in a few ways. You may want to included the word for word copy from your sample (I do this for some printed publications but not online articles because Google tends to frown upon writing that has been duplicated on other websites). You can also use the area to describe the writing sample, with full details of the sample available in a link or a download. For example, in this copywriting piece I produced for Whoel Foods Market, I described the goal of the client and how my work fulfilled that goal.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out my list of writing samples.
Writing Samples FAQs
How can one effectively balance showcasing diverse writing skills without diluting the impact of their strongest writing style in their portfolio?
To effectively showcase diverse writing skills without diluting the impact of one's strongest style, it's crucial to curate samples that collectively highlight versatility while emphasizing areas of particular strength. Tailoring each sample to the specific audience or industry, by choosing pieces that resonate with the job or opportunity being pursued, can help maintain focus and impact.
Are there specific examples of how different types of writing samples (e.g., technical writing, creative fiction, journalistic articles) should be edited or formatted differently to highlight particular skills or meet industry standards?
Different types of writing samples, such as technical writing versus creative fiction, require unique editing and formatting approaches. Technical samples should be clear, concise, and use industry-specific language, whereas creative pieces might focus more on narrative flow and character development. Adhering to industry standards, when known, can also enhance the professionalism of the submission.
What are the best practices for selecting and presenting writing samples when applying to fields with very distinct requirements, such as academic research versus advertising copywriting?
When applying to fields with distinct requirements, researching the expectations of the target audience is key. Academic research positions typically value evidence of analytical and research skills, often preferring publications or detailed research proposals. In contrast, advertising copywriting applications benefit from samples demonstrating creativity, persuasive writing skills, and market understanding. Tailoring the presentation of samples to align with these expectations—such as including abstracts for academic submissions or creating a portfolio website for creative roles—can significantly improve one's chances of success.
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