I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993 and started writing SEO content in 2007. Prospective clients request samples all the time, and it’s standard to send them out. I received a question from a new SEO writer about this when an incident of stolen content came up. This freelancer wrote:
“I read your recent newsletter where one SEO remote employee monitoring writer told how a client received 100% plagiarized content from a previous writer . . . HORRIBLE. Well, that got me thinking . . . how do you protect your writing samples when sending them out for work? Is this even a major concern freelancer should have now?”
Following is some insight into how to do this. But let’s address the second part of the question, which is should freelance writers be concerned about protecting their samples. Some people can also use online tools to reshape your articles but the following protective measures would keep you safe.
Content Theft: Rampant and Growing
Content theft (i.e., copyright infringement) is rampant online. And it’s only going to grow as more and more businesses come online. Also, Google and other search engines have made it clear that content rules online – and many don’t have the time, energy, know how or skill to produce it. So yes, in my opinion content theft is a concern every freelance writer should have. And, they should take proactive steps to prevent it.
How to Protect Your SEO Copywriting Samples from Content Theft
It should be noted that every freelance writer is different. So the following is how I handle forwarding writing samples to clients. Before I forward anything, I have clients sign a Writing Samples Confidentiality Agreement.
How Many Writing Samples to forward to Potential SEO Writing Clients
I have one writing samples document that I send out to clients. In it are four different articles. The articles are on different topics – everything from real estate to tech. I usually send three to four samples so that clients can get a good overview of my writing skill.
What Format to forward in SEO Writing Samples
I send my writing samples document as a secured pdf file – one that can’t be copied or pasted. Now, while a really ambitious thief may take the time to retype the content; most want. That’s why they’re thieves – they’re lazy. So they’ll just move on to the next freelancer’s work (unfortunately).
Should You Forward Samples of Work You’ve Done for Previous/Existing SEO Clients?
I do – only IF the content was written for wide distribution anyway, i.e., for article marketing campaigns. Why? Because just in case someone does steal/plagiarize the content, it’s not like it’s original content that can’t be found in other places on the web. Furthermore, I only forward pieces that are one year or older – not recent stuff.
SEO Copywriters: Why You Should Not Use Original Content as Writing Samples (If You Can Help It)
As a matter of course, in my opinion, you shouldn’t forward original writing samples to prospects simply because of content theft.
While it’s perfectly fine to use original content you write just for your portfolio as samples (eg, if you’re a new SEO writer and didn’t have samples to start with), get maximum use out of these pieces by using them in article marketing campaigns, posting them on your blog, in your newsletters, etc.