Fiverr Forum

So You Want to Hire a Writer - Should You ask for Samples?

#1

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Let me guess. You have arrived here because you are looking to hire a writer on Fiverr, but some of the people you have been messaging won’t let you see examples of their work. Why is that? Are they ignorant? Untalented? Best to be avoided?

As a freelance writer, I get a lot of people asking to see samples of my work. Whether it is on Fiverr or elsewhere, everyone wants to try before they buy. As it stands, though, I politely refuse every request. When people ask why, I then end up repeating the same information over and over. In this case, I’ve decided to summarise all of my reasons here.

This post may also help some people start shopping a little smarter on Fiverr. I say this as many people whom I refuse to give samples, return days or weeks later to order anyway.

Why this happens is simple. Potential clients go on to message other sellers who do provide writing samples. However, after placing paid orders, some then find that sellers aren’t capable of delivering the kind of quality they expect. (Despite having been rigorously vetted beforehand.)

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In short, reading this post in full could help you save precious time and money. :wink:

The Best Writers on Fiverr Do Not Provide Samples - Here’s Why

If you are looking for a writer on Fiverr, you might think that it is perfectly reasonable to ask for a writing sample before placing an order. As you see it, good writers will have completed lots of orders for past clients. They should, therefore, be able to send you some examples of their recent work. Alternatively, they should be able to link you to articles published online. However, it is important to think logically.

How Do You Know Samples are Genuine?

As a writer, I work with hundreds of different clients. In no case, though, do my clients have any obligation to credit me as the author of work I produce. This is thanks to the fact that Fiverr terms and conditions stipulate that as soon as an order is complete, all rights transfer to my clients.

What this means, is that when you ask for a sample, I could copy and paste absolutely any article from the Internet into an MS Word document. I could then send this to you (or send a link), and say that I am the original author of the article in question. You will never be able to prove otherwise.

Conversely, if you were to place a test order with a seller, you would be able to verify that delivered work is genuine. All you would need to do is use a free online plagiarism checker to check delivered content. An article curated only for you, will not already be published elsewhere online. Best of all, if you were to find that a piece of content has been ripped from the Internet, you can dispute an order and get your money back.

Sellers Who Give Samples, Don’t Care about Copyright or Client Confidentiality

In the past when I have presented the above argument to potential clients, some have rubbished the idea that sellers might resort to such tactics to fulfill writing sample requests. However, many buyers open themselves up to precisely this kind of skullduggery.

  • Typically, people who want writing samples want specific samples. However, the more specific a writing sample is, the more likely it is to have been ripped from online. It is far easier, after all, for a faux writer to plagiarise an article, than it is for a decent writer to sift through thousands of past articles in delivered work folders in search of a suitable sample.

  • Seasoned writers often have negative experiences working with people who ask for samples. More often than not, people who ask for samples are professional resellers who end up presenting samples as their own to their clients. Good writers rarely give free samples to anyone for this reason. People asking for samples, therefore, start gravitating toward lower quality writers who will oblige requests. (Which defeats the objective of asking in the first place)

Most importantly of all, sellers who provide samples of work created for past clients, break copyright rules and breach client confidentiality.

Let’s say that a client pays me to write a blog post about their hair salon. Now let’s assume that a different client comes along later, asking to see samples of blog content related to the haircare and cosmetics industry.

I don’t know who this person is. Nor do I know what their real intentions are. They might take the post which by rights belongs to my former client, and reuse it in some way. If they did this and the original client found out, I could be accused of plagiarism. Worse, even if the original client did not find out, their SEO ratings might suffer as a result of their content being reused.

There is No Such Thing as a Free Sample

When potential clients on Fiverr message me to request samples, I try to explain all of the above as succinctly as possible. In response, some people suggest that in this case, I should have a blog which I can direct them to.

At face value, such a request is reasonable. What is more, I do have a blog. I also have five published books on Amazon and the Apple iBookstore. However, as already mentioned, most people who ask for writing samples want specific writing samples.

Today, a writer might get asked for a beauty blog post sample. Tomorrow, the same writer might get asked for a writing sample related to the automotive industry. Writers, therefore, find themselves in Catch22-like situations, where they need to continually create new sample content for little (if any) return on investment.

To get around the above inconvenience, writers can include caveats in gigs, which state that they reserve the right to use delivered work in their portfolio. Sadly, this can deter people from ordering. From a data privacy perspective, all such articles would also need to have references to client brands and businesses redacted, before being provided to anyone else as samples.

In short, there is no such thing as a free writing sample. Good writers know this. They will, therefore, often invite new clients to place test orders. This way, writers don’t risk their professional integrity. At the same time, they can dedicate more time to already underway projects from paying customers.

But How Can I Asses the Quality of a Writer if I Can’t See Samples?

When I politely decline to offer free samples to prospective clients, I inevitably get the same response. A potential buyer will seem shocked. Often, they will also make some sarcastic comment along the lines of, "there are thousands of writers on Fiverr, your loss."

The question you need to ask yourself, though, is would you be happy with someone redistributing work you pay for to other people without a second thought?

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As it stands, no purchase made online or in the real world is ever without risk. On Fiverr, you can mitigate risks involved with purchases by looking at seller reviews. You can also send sellers a message to ask if they would be happy to work on your project. Asking sellers for samples might seem like a logical way to reduce risk further. In reality, though, things simply aren’t as black and white as that.

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#2

Very interesting take. I totally get where you’re coming from too. I do voice overs so people have asked me for demos of a whole script and I tell them I can do a small section but not the whole thing. Nice to see a new view point!

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#3

The problem here is that this is still work. Also, if you did this for everyone, you would never have time to get any paid work completed. More importantly, if you have samples in your portfolio already, why does anyone need to ask for a sample?

Either people ask you for specific samples so they can use these as their own, or your buyer has said to their end client. "how about I get you samples from several VO artists, any you choose which one you like best?"

In both cases, you are working FOC for a type of buyer with a higher likelihood to cause problems if they do place a paid order.

It’s simply not worth it. At least not in my opnion.

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#4

As a writer, I would like to give my input as well.

I totally understand your POV, but I don’t agree with you.

For this discussion, I exclude stubborn clients that don’t know how to treat people, because they are not worth the time. Let’s talk about legitimate people that are looking to find a good writer.

Having REAL samples to show a buyer is more than proving one’s quality. It also shows the style and how the writer adapts to the topic overall. A text sample says much more about a seller than we can imagine.

How would you recognize the quality of Picasso or Beethoven without seeing or listening to things they’ve created before?

Like it or not, people are admired for their work, for what they create. A legitimate sample tells more than 30 reviews can.

What you should do as a buyer? You simply go with the fact people like them and that some virtual freelancing platform is “guaranteeing” you will get what you ordered? I hardly doubt there are guarantees here.

In fact, if you get a low-quality article, the best you can do is leave a 1-star review. That doesn’t bring back the money spend or time wasted.

What you are asking for is kind of blind faith, don’t you think? And not all creators are suited for everyone! There are different styles for different folks.

I don’t say that writers should breach copyright terms and show samples they’ve done for others! No, definitively not.

But everyone can create samples FOR the purpose of sharing them with their clients. I don’t think it’s that hard to create 5 or so articles on the niches you cover to showcase your style, that you can publish on your blog to avoid stealing from clients.

This is NOT working for free or copyright infringement.

Consider that you lose much more time trying to explain why you don’t have samples than you could have lost creating samples. Not to mention people that turn away from this kind of attitude, myself included.

When I hire writers (on rare occasions), I do ask for samples. That gives me insight on more than the quality of the writer. I can see if they breach copyright agreements or not, and I can see if they give importance to having a beautiful portfolio or not. It shows me their style, their discipline, and how good they are.

Would you hire a designer without seeing things they’ve designed before?
Would you hire a musician without listening to music they did before?
Would you hire a web developer without seeing websites they did before?
Would you hire a home decorator without seeing what they’ve decorated before?

If no, why a piece of text should be treated differently?

After all, writing is an art, even if people consider it like this or not.

If I would be your buyer, you would basically ask me to have blind faith in you and assume that you are fit for me just because you have good reviews. Tons of people like the Kardashians, that doesn’t mean I like them too.

What if you’d have your own website? Do you think you could have got away with the fact that you don’t provide samples of your work?

Reviews improve the odds of getting an order, but they are not a guarantee. And they are not always a good reflection of the quality provided.

At least, that’s my opinion. :slight_smile:

2 Likes
#5

Very, very interesting post. Here is what I think.

This is partially true. Some writers might be just starting out and do it just because they wouldn’t know any better. I think that would be fine to learn and grow in writing.

What would NOT be fine is a seasoned writer who goes in and shares work from big companies, not having the right to do so.

Also, although I do not recommend sharing previous work done for other clients, some clients do not end up really using what you’ve done (not because you’ve done a bad job but because they were unsure about their business ideas) so sharing some things wouldn’t be the end of the world.

That said, I agree with you that it should not be done and that other methods should be used.

These are people who do not understand the value of human-vetted work. They think people on Fiverr are machines ready to churn through twenty articles in three days. The loss is on them for thinking about business and people this way.

I find that a good brand image is the best indicator of quality on Fiverr. If a writer has 1000 reviews, but recycles the same “cutesy”, non-professional picture throughout their profile, I think of them as bulk writers, which is mostly the case. That doesn’t mean that they provide bad quality, it just means that they operate in a way which is not custom fit or specialized, which is generally not what a business would want. Maybe a small, non-savvy one, but definitely not big ones.

I mean, if you have to work that much for it, it’s much better to create a blog. It also shows expertise in areas other than writing.

— — —

Overall, great topic guys. I learned a few things.

1 Like
#6

If you are talking about people asking you to write a sample for free, I get it. I would not. But it is industry standard to provide writing samples. I find my samples seal the deal most of the time, or at the least let the client know what to expect from my style and tone up front.

Can I supply samples for every conceivable niche I write in? Of course not. So, I use a quick response, give the sample link, and explain how my work helped that client and what the goal was.

Not giving samples, IMO, makes you a stubborn seller, and I would see why buyers would gloss you over. In such a competitive place, you have to prove yourself. Sample help show why you stand out. Otherwise, you are just another face in the crowd asking for a handout. Why give you the job when some other strange unknown quantity will give it for cheaper.

The nature of this marketplace is competition. I understand you feel tired of doing this every time, and it must be exhausting to refuse people and explain why every time!

And people have a general trust worthiness we do not give them credit for. Many look for work with out bylines. While others understand we ghost write. And if you are pointing someone to a url with the work on your previous clients site, it should be ok by that client. Clients usually tell me when not to use their work in my portfolio. And I always point to the website the work is on… never just a word document with sample as a watermark.

I think you are missing a HUGE opportunity to sell yourself.

1 Like
#7

As I stated in my post, sellers can do this. However, as I also stated, I find that doing so is ultimately loss-making.

When I started freelancing, I created a dedicated portfolio website which featured articles covering a variety of topics. I also have a folder full of Yoast-SEO optimized articles covering several topics which I send to non-Fiverr buyers when they ask for samples. Topics cover everything from cosmetic dentistry to sales copy pieces for Forex trading bots.

Sadly, experience has taught me that buyers on Fiverr (and to a certain extent elsewhere), usually respond by asking for more specific samples. This makes creating samples a largely loss-making marketing endeavor. Worse, the majority of people who ask to see samples, are resellers who usually have an ulterior motive for requesting samples in the first place.

And how does a buyer know they get a REAL sample from you without paying for it? As well as that, how does a non-paid for sample show how a writer adapts to different sets of requirements? You can’t demonstrate the latter unless as well as a sample, you provide details of the order brief you were issued within the first place.

Yes, I hear they gave away a lot of free samples in the beginning. Tough time back then. Especially for poor Picasso, who painted all of his life for free and didn’t make a dime until he was dead… :thinking:

Again, we are back to the legitimacy issue. I’ll bet that the vast majority of writers on Fiverr give away samples. Personally, though, I’d prefer it if a seller I was asking for samples politely declined my request, while also letting me know a thing or two about how to check for plagiarism. (Even though I might decide not to order.)

As it is, on Fiverr at least, about 50% of people whom I refuse to give samples order anyway Of these, most become repeat buyers. The other 50% usually let slip that they are resellers and to be honest, I prefer not to work with too many resellers anyway.

No. I think that when sellers get over 200+ predominantly 5-star reviews, there is a case to be made that those reviews might mean something.

If I charged as much for an article as it would cost to build a new website or have a new fitted kitchen installed, I would probably be more flexible when it comes to samples. :wink:

2 Likes
#8

Agree to disagree but when it comes down to it some can’t take the risk of providing samples. When I first started out freelancing, I was asked for samples and learned later that my samples were being used. Now if I’m asked for samples I explain that a test sample can be ordered to which the client goes elsewhere.

I’ve been burned several times too many by clients that want work done but don’t want to pay. It got so bad that at one point I got an order to write about different hair products to which the client responded that it wasn’t what they were looking for only to discover the article I wrote for them was published on their site word for word. It’s tough turning clients away but it has to be done.

5 Likes
#9

Like others mentioned here, I also have a Fiverr-approved portfolio with just a few samples of different types of writing on it that I do share if a potential client asks. Very few ask. I do explain that due to TOS and confidentiality, I will never share outside or actual client work with them. I suppose some may consider I copy-pasted the articles from elsewhere, though I’m sure the intelligent ones can check easily. I’ve never had a problem with this before. To each their own.

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#10

Unless they’ve asked those clients for the permission to use the specific piece as a sample.

I did it a few times, and now I have a few samples to show to buyers. Sometimes those samples help, sometimes not.

1 Like
#11

It seems that people are missing the point of this post. If I wanted to have a discussion about whether samples are a good or bad idea, I would have started a conversation thread.

As it is, I wanted to point out the 100% logical reasons why some sellers do not offer free samples. As well as that, I think it is important that all buyers on Fiverr know how to check any work for plagiarism. - This and understand that if a seller does give samples, it may be the case that any work a buyer orders may be shared by a seller with anyone who asks for samples in the future.

To me, these are valid concerns which every buyer should consider before ordering from anyone.

So far, the majority of responses here ignore the advice I have given. Instead, they focus on a non-quantifiable ‘feelings’ based argument, that proposes that sellers who don’t offer samples are just stubborn. If that is how you feel, that is fine. However, it kind of misses every point raised in my original post by about two football fields.

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#12

I have done this too. However, given the likes of GDPR and new copyright laws, I would argue that it is also important to remember to redact any mention in such articles of specific brands and businesses.

Also, I’m not comfortable with this myself, due to the fact that a lot of people who do ask for samples, do so with the express intent of stealing content.

Like @maitasun, I have been burned by people like this in the past. The most recent case involved a person who did order from me after I send them a link to my blog, but who also copied several articles from my blog to use on their own. (I’m guessing it was not really theirs but a site which belonged to their client.)

I don’t feel comfortable asking buyers if I can use their work in my portfolio for this reason. That said, when I do source samples this way, I do occasionally use them when applying to other writing platforms which ask for writing samples, or which allow users to upload samples into protected areas where they can not be copied or downloaded.

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#13

May I ask why?

I keep the samples as they are (that’s what my former buyers allowed me to share, after all), mentioning specific companies and all, and tell the potential buyers who ask for samples that I’ve received the permission to share those samples, and only those samples (that’s also useful when they ask me for other samples, I explain that I don’t have the permission to share them, and that it would be a breach of confidentiality; serious buyers like that, and those who complain, well, I don’t work with them).

1 Like
#14

:thinking:

Maybe we should go back to our days in elemetary school and start writing about:

  • My house.
  • My dog.
  • My cat.
  • One day at the beach.

Remembrance is fun and perhaps it would be enough… :sweat_smile:

1 Like
#15

Under GDPR, you are not allowed to store or distribute personally identifiable information concerning individuals. At least not without, letting those individuals know how you intend to use this information and who you will share it with etc. To explain why this is important, here’s a working example:

One of my main repeat buyers operates a major SEO and web development firm in Canada. They outsource the content needs of clients they have worked hard to acquire themselves. Recently, I was approached by someone operating a similar agency, who asked for samples.

If I had consent to share samples from my existing buyer, I could have impressed them with samples covering a variety of industry sectors. However, if I had done that and not redacted specific business names and brand mentions, I would have essentially just handed over the contact details of all my existing buyers clients to one of their direct competitors.

Because my buyer is Canadian, this isn’t really a GDPR issue. However, it does demonstrate how you can involuntary breach the trust of clients (and potentially damage their own business) by issuing non-redacted samples to just anyone. - And most of the time, you have no way of knowing who is asking for samples or what their motives are.

From a copyright perspective, it is even easier to understand. I have (and I think this will apply to most writers) experienced cases where people have used sample content I have provided in their own portfolio and elsewhere. If content which I have provided to one client ends up published elsewhere without a canonical tag, they can get penalized from an SEO perspective for publishing duplicate content.

If the original client were to look into this matter, a person hosting a duplicate copy of their content would only have to show that this was delivered by me via a message, to show that they had not simply ripped content from my original clients website. (Basically, they can legitimately pass the buck).

At that point (and unless I have explicit proof of consent from a buyer detailing that I might send work they allow me to use for sample purposes to others, which also stipulates how content may end up getting used online by a third party) I could then be found in breach of Fiverr TOS. If the client is based in the EU, I could also be found to be in breach of the upcoming EU copyright directive.

In short, anyone who does get permission to use work from clients as a work sample, must make it clear how they intend do use this and guard against problems like those outlined above. As I see it, the only way to legitimately do this is to host sample content on a blog where content can’t be copied, printed, or downloaded.

3 Likes
#16

Thank you for a lengthy explanation! I understand now (or think I do, anyway).

I’m using 3 video scripts as samples. The names of the organizations are mentioned, and in one case, the website. The buyers all allowed me to use these scripts as samples to show to potential buyers. Do you think it’s fine?

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#17

Excellent post! I have samples on my gig anyway, and redirect people to there. I do NOT do free samples.

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#18

I don’t know, to be honest. In samples I have from people like a Texas law firm, I change the firm name to an imaginary one and remove all links. I just prefer to err on the side of caution. However, it depends on what you have agreed with your buyer and how you share your samples.

The best way to share your samples and cover all your bases might be to use Google Drive:

Stop, limit, or change sharing

To prevent commenters and viewers from downloading, printing, or copying your file:

Select one or more files you want to limit.
Click Share or Share Share.
In the bottom right, click Advanced.
Check the box next to “Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.”
Click Save changes.
Click Done.
Note: You can limit how people share, print, download, and copy within Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, but you can’t stop how others share the file content in other ways.

Source

I do this to occasionally share samples with off-Fiverr buyers. It prevents downloading and copying content. However, technically someone could screengrab your work and use an OCR reader to steal it. They would just have to be pretty determined. :wink:

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#19

Thank you! :slight_smile:

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#20

When buyers are determined to steal work, they will no matter what - whether through samples or chargebacks /refunds.

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