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SEO Copywriters: How to Handle Client Requests for Writing Samples

Updated on February 16, 2010

SEO Help, Advice & Tips for Web Writers

While the title of this piece may imply that it’s a straight forward request, there’s a twist to this one that many SEO copywriters – especially those new to the trade – may encounter. I received the following email from a fellow SEO writer who’s still getting her feet wet. She wrote:

On my copywriting site, [her site URL], I currently have samples of blog posts/copy in my portfolio that I've done directly for current SEO/SEM companies (these are some of my best samples, as I have only recently graduated to acquiring better paying clients and am still currently developing a more comprehensive portfolio). While this isn't in violation of any of my NDA's, I'm sensing that this may be a hindrance of some sort to acquiring new SEO/SEM companies as clients.

Could you please let me know if you think that I am potentially hurting or jeopardizing my chances by using (or removing these samples), or in the way I am submitting samples in general? (emphasis added)

[Editor Note: For those who don’t know, an NDA is a non-disclosure agreement.] Following is my advice on how to handle it.

The short answer to this SEO writer’s question is, yes, she may be hurting her chances of snagging other SEO writing jobs by listing samples from other client work. Why?

Because clients quite frankly don’t like it when you use the work you’ve done for them to snag other clients. After all, if you did it to your other clients, you may do it to them. And, this is why I advise against doing this.

However, this is a surprisingly easy situation to remedy. Following is one really simple way to do it.

SEO Copywriters: How to Create “Authentic” Writing Samples & Not Breach Client Confidentiality

Let’s say you write content for a pharmaceutical company. You think it’s some of your best SEO writing work (and it’s in a high-paying niche), so you want to add it to your portfolio. Don’t.

INSTEAD, create a similar sample. To do this, create a fictional drugand write about it just like you would if the drug in question was real. Let’s say the drug was a diabetes drug. Talk about it that way. In your copy, use real statistics, draw from real case studies and mention real publications as “sources.”

Just point out to clients that this is a sample and that you’ve written copy like this, but “so as not to violate any client confidentiality, you created SEO copy that illustrates your abilities in this area.” This type of “sample writing” is almost as good as the real thing because everything you used to create it was real (research, statistics, publications, etc.).

SEO Writing Samples Tip: Why It's Important to Get Client Permission

Most clients, by the way, will assume that you’ve gotten permission to use any samples they may see on your site. So make sure you do because if they contact the company directly to ask about your work, and they find out that your client didn’t give you permission to use the sample, it could cost you your existing client . . . and a possible new SEO writing client.

Get more specific information on how to handle sticky situations you may come across in your SEO copywriting services business.


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