Friday, March 28, 2008

When You Shouldn't Use Your Blog as a Writing Sample

I found a mention on Words on the Page the other day pointing to a post on's freelancing site about whether or not blogs are "legit" writing. Should you call yourself a writer if you blog? Can you be respected as a writer? And can you legitimately show your blog to clients as a published writing sample?

I believe blogs, like any other writing form, show off your writing skill--and that yes, they should be used as a writing sample. They can show clients how you write, how you think, how you organize your work, and how experienced you are with positioning yourself as a market leader. But they're not appropriate for all jobs, and not all blogs are created equally, either. Here are a few examples of when you should avoid using your blog as a writing sample.

When the client is a bit old-school. Some clients are not blog-friendly. I'd suggest that if you're going after an account with a direct mail company or a print publication, they may look down on your blog just because it's a blog. I'm not saying all of these potential clients will--but I am saying that older, more established companies and publications may not be as cutting-edge as you. Give them writing samples that show them work you've done in an area that won't cause them to think twice.

When your blog doesn't do your writing justice. When your client goes to your blog, what will he see--simple, 100-word blog posts that don't say much, or more thoughtful posts that demonstrate your writing skill? Some blogs are run just for Adsense revenue or SEO purposes, and many of these don't have the best content. If you spend only a few minutes writing each blog post, it may not be the best sample of your work.

When the client is looking for a different type of writing. I wouldn't send a client looking for a sales letter to my blog. It's mostly informational and educational, and I have other samples that show my selling skills more clearly. If your client is looking for an educational brochure or website content, by all means send them to your blog--even if it's not the same format, you're demonstrating the same type of writing. But most blogs aren't salesy, so I'd avoid using them as a sample for that type of work.

Your blog can be a great sample of your work for the right client. But not every client is looking for the same thing, and the more you can customize the samples you send, the better chances you have of landing the job. Before you send a link to your blog as a sample, take a second look at what the client's looking for and what type of writing you're showing them.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,

You say about blogs - "They can show clients how you write, how you think, how you organize your work, and how experienced you are with positioning yourself as a market leader."
I would also add that blogs show clients how you deal with other people's comments (good, bad, and everything in between). It gives them an idea of how you may interact with them if they should decide to employ your services.


Jennifer Williamson said...

That's definitely true--your online personality can either appeal or be a turn-off, and it's especially apparent in your comments section.

Anonymous said...

Blogs are great for promoting your expertise and differentiating yourself from the competition. They also allow you some brief freedom to write the way you like and a refreshing break from tricky, stiff corporate copy.

Unknown said...

Very good post, Jennifer. There are definitely times when a blog may not be the best marketing tool available. Thanks for the link love. :))

Like "anonymous" said, the interaction may be an indicator for some potential clients as to how you will handle both positive and negative comments. If I were applying for say a job as an online editor, you bet I'd point the employers to my blog. However, if I were applying for a financial services gig, uh, not so much. :)

Pushan Banerjee said...

Thanks for the advice. I was actually gonna put up my blog address on my resume.

Anonymous said...

HI Jennifer- Thanks for the link to About Freelance Writing. I think I've been meaning to "meet" you- your name sounds familiar! Anyway, great post.