As a new writer, you might be tired of facing the dreaded question, “Do you have samples?”

It sends you in circles, since you won’t have samples until somebody hires you for a project, yet those who could hire you often want to see samples…

So, how do you get writing samples when you’re a new writer?

One way to solve this challenge is an option many people overlook. It starts with finding companies who need projects finished fast.

If you can demonstrate how you can help them, they’re less likely to ask for existing samples, and you’ll start building your own set of live samples quickly.

Where can you find these companies? Look no further than start-ups.

Many start-up founders don’t have the time to learn about persuasive writing. So if you can explain how you can help their bottom lines with great copy, they’ll likely be open to working with you.

Where to Find Start-Ups You Can Write Samples For

Before you can offer your writing services to a start-up, you’ll need to find one. Fortunately, you don’t need to live in Silicon Valley to do this.

Instead, use sites like AngelList to discover start-ups in your preferred niche. Start-up owners and those interested in working with start-ups use this site to meet, connect, and network.

You can search for particular industries or particular jobs, such as copywriting. Perform simple searches to find companies in a particular area or industry that would be a great match.

Another great place to look is Kickstarter. Find a product or technology you’d be interested in writing about and see if the contact information for the owner is there.

How to Approach a Start-Up for a Writing Project

Start by looking at what the company has live, and create three ideas for how they can market their product. Some ideas to get you started:

  • A lead magnet they could give away
  • An offer or deal you think they could roll out to customers
  • An email sequence they could send out to people who subscribe to their opt-in list
  • An appeal asking people to donate to a campaign

When you reach out, let them know you’re a writer and you’re looking to get quick writing samples. Explain that you’re interested in the product they created and want to help them out.

Many start-ups are run by just a small group of individuals, so everyone is busy. You might have to reach out to 10 or 20 people before you find somebody who has the time to answer you.

When you approach them, let them know why they should talk to you in the subject line. Explain the benefits you can give them if they work with you.

Don’t send just one email. Send a follow-up email. And every time you contact them, you should add value. Here are a few valuable follow-ups:

  • Point them to an article specific to their industry
  • Share a tip on how they can improve their marketing today
  • Share an article you wrote that could help them

Every content idea you send should be useful for their specific audience and needs. So even if you’re contacting five different technology firms, note that they might be serving five different audiences.

How This Leads to Getting Paid

Of course you want to be paid for your time. But that may not mean getting paid in dollars…

If you want to work only with people who can pay actual fees, check the company profiles on AngelList or Crunchbase. These sites list the amount of funding raised.

Keep in mind, companies with large investments often answer to an advisory board, which could make the process of getting hired as a freelancer quite tedious.

If you want quick reviews and to build up your reputation, my advice is to start with Kickstarter. You can offer your services in exchange for a detailed testimonial.

They might also be able to serve as a future source of referrals. Remember, the more people you help, the greater number of people you have in your network to help you in the future.

Working with start-ups is a great way to get a few live writing samples quickly. It’s also an easy way for you to get real assignments and build your reputation.

Plus, testimonials and a referral source are just as important as money when you’re first starting out. If you’re one of the first writers these clients work with and they become successful, there’s also a lot of future opportunity.