I can honestly say that millions of people have read my writing. Yet, no one has ever heard of me. That’s the bad news; corporate freelancing is a form of ghost writing. There are no bylines. Your corporate clients own the final documents and your name will not appear — anywhere.
But, there’s good news too; you don’t need bylines to be a corporate freelancer. And corporate clients may buy your writing even if no one else has yet. Unlike traditional publishers, corporations are more interested in your skill than your sales history.
No experience necessary
Your initial contact with the client company is with the procurement representative, who wouldn’t know a good writing sample from a bad one. They’re more interested in your resume to see if you have industry knowledge along with your writing skill.
If you have bylines, awards or sales success numbers, by all means share that information. But don’t despair if you have nothing. The fact that you have no corporate writing experience won’t matter to landing a big client. Your knowledge of your niche industry will.
It’s okay to make up writing samples
Even though you don’t need past experience, you should, however, be able to demonstrate that you can write. While the procurement representative may not be interested in your writing samples, project managers who will become your clients may. If someone asks for a writing sample and your arsenal is empty, make one up. It’s okay to demonstrate what you can do for your target client, rather than what you have done in a completely unrelated industry.
Do your homework before sending writing samples
Whether you make up a sample or send a previously written sample, do your homework first. When I hire subcontractors, I do ask for writing samples. Almost every time, the writer tries to impress me by sending what he thinks is his best writing. But it’s rarely what I want, and it’s not what my clients want either.
Mega corporations have strong brand recognition. That’s how they got to be a mega corporation in the first place. Part of having a strong brand means having a consistent voice and tone in their written materials. Once you’ve chosen a client, pick up some brochures and check out their website to get to know that company’s voice. Then, show them you can deliver that same voice.
If they like short, punchy, easy-to-read communications, don’t send an example of your fanciest prose or most complicated technical writing. This is about their writing style, not your impressive command of vocabulary. By showing potential clients you understand their writing voice, you further solidify your niche and your value to them as a writer.