At some point in every freelance writer’s career, a potential client is going to ask for clips. What does a ghostwriter do in this situation? If they’ve signed a non-disclosure, this means they can’t share the work with anyone. That includes in the form of a clip.
There are situations where ghostwriters have permission to use ghostwritten pieces in their portfolios. However, when they’re not, what do they do when they need to provide samples?
Are Clips Important for Freelance Writers?
New writers aside, ghostwriters face a different set of circumstances. Unless they receive expressed consent from their client, it’s not possible to use any of the work they’ve completed for them. When they’re querying or cold-pitching potential targets, the need for clips is evident.
Here are some strategies for resolving this problem:
Strategy #1: Approach a Non-profit
Is there a non-profit or another organization you admire? If so, approach them and ask if you can complete some pro bono work. Their website may need blog posts, or the advertising team may need articles for their newsletter. These pieces of content make excellent additions to your portfolio from a credible source.
Strategy #2: Visit Local Businesses with an Introductory Offer
Check out the websites for local businesses in your area. Are their blogs up-to-date? Do they look like they need help with content marketing? Do the pages on their website lack information or need a refresh? Make a note of what services these businesses need, and offer your services at a discounted rate. Working for discounted rates gives you the opportunity to:
- Break into a new local market.
- Shake hands with a potential client.
- Use those services in your portfolio.
- Develop a relationship with a business that could turn into a referral.
Strategy #3: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Even though you’re used to ghostwriting, it may be time to break out of your comfort zone. Consider querying and cold-pitching markets that will supply you with a byline. Use your resume and background as a ghostwriter to support why you’re the right candidate. Then, include links to blog posts from your website or links to Medium articles you’ve written as samples.
Strategy #4: Write a Personal Essay
One of the best ways to obtain clips is by writing personal essays. Not only are you providing an example of your writing style, but you don’t need to show a track record when submitting. The only one who can write a personal essay is you. The Write Life is sharing nineteen websites and magazines that are accepting and publishing personal essays here.
Your Pitches and Queries are Selling Your SKills
Yes, clips are part of the overall package. However, how you write the pitch or query is the real hook. You’ll lose your target if it’s full of grammar and spelling errors. When you’re writing, make sure your story idea is clear and to the point. You’re offering the potential client or editor a window into your writing. Before reading your clips, they’ll receive an impression of your writing skills from your pitch or query.
Include information about how you’ve read their submission guidelines or content brief. Don’t forget to include that you fact-check all copy before turning it in. It’s also a good idea to mention that you’re willing to work with tight deadlines. Editors like hearing these qualities most often.
There are several ways of obtaining freelance writing clips when you’re a ghostwriter. Remember, when you’ve signed a non-disclosure, that means you can’t use any of the work you’ve completed for a client as a writing clip. Therefore, you’ll need to find alternatives when you’re pitching or querying targets that require freelance writing clips. The strategies outlined above will help you resolve that issue.