"Whatever you write matters, so save samples of your best work!"
Years ago when I interviewed for my last corporate job, I was asked to provide a writing sample. At the time, I didn't know what a writing sample was and why one was needed as qualification for a legal job. However, fortunately for me, I was running an online magazine at the time and had some samples to choose from. The one I chose was an opinion piece I had written about a lawsuit being filed against a giant oil company in Nigeria. I provided that piece and a college paper with an "A" grade. It worked! The General Counsel examined the sample in front of me and nodded to the hiring manager who would then become my direct boss. In the end, I was hired as a legal associate/paralegal, but I ended up doing most of the department's writing and editing work, which helped boost my confidence and launched my freelancing career.
That experience taught me one thing when I decided to branch into freelancing: whatever you write matters, so save samples of your best work.
Had I not saved my old college papers or had a blog, I wonder if I might have gotten the job. For all I know, it was the one thing I provided that everyone else who interviewed for the job had not been able to provide. I have since learned the value of having writing samples or a portfolio.
A writing portfolio is simply a collection of your best "published" written work. I place published in quotes because that's what is mostly sought these days. However, as you can see, college research papers qualify too, especially if you're just starting out after college. As a more seasoned freelancer, anything you have written on the web or print qualifies, so round them up and pick your top 10 samples that reflect your writing style, voice, skills and industry knowledge and use these.
If you have never written for a publication, don't worry, it's never too late to start. Find publications you'd like to write for and pitch them your ideas. We offer a writing community right here at The Brielle Agency. Simply sign-up on the blog tab and once you're approved, you may begin writing on topics of mutual interest.