What on Earth is a Sample?

We use the world “sample” a lot here at Trylancer. What is it, and why should you care?

A sample…

  • is a short, relevant example of your work.
  • is designed specifically for the client.
  • showcases one possible way you might approach their problem.
  • consists of text, images, or other media.

Samples should be…

  • Quick. Don't spend too much time on it—ten or fifteen minutes is plenty. You're not trying to solve the client's problem here. Just show them how you might approach it.
  • Short. Don't send the client War and Peace. Don't overload them with options and information. There will be time for back-and-forth later, when the client hires you.
  • Relevant. Make sure your sample answers the client's question, and obeys any constraints they've specified. If they want a picture of a ostrich, don't give them a platypus.
  • Engaging. Make sure the client sees something original, something that hooks them and convinces them that you're the one.
  • Anonymous. Do not include your name, business name, contact information, signature, photograph, bio, logo, or any other identifying information. All samples are submitted blindly, for fairness. Once the client picks yours, we'll put you in touch with each other.

Take Bob, for example…

Bob is a freelance editor looking for a writing gig. He logs into Trylancer.com and browses the available jobs. Lo and behold! He finds this one:

Calling all freelancers! We're a locally-owned cleaning service — offices and homes, no job too small, that sort of thing — and we want to ask our current and previous clients for referrals. We need your help to craft the perfect email! Please send us a single paragraph, as if from an email to previous client, convincing them to send some more work our way. Thanks!

After a couple minutes' thinking, Bob has an idea. He spends five minutes writing the paragraph that he'll submit to this client—his sample, custom made specifically for this job. It goes like this:

Thank you so much for calling us to help you out a few weeks ago. That carpet stain looked a lot worse than it was, and we're sure no one was happier to see it come out cleanly than you were. We'd love to do as much for your friends! If you know anyone who's looking for a cleaner, whether just one-time or regularly, would you please point them to us? If they hire us, we'll even send you a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice. Thanks again!

Bob reads it over once, nods confidently, and submits it.

Within a few days, Bob gets an email from Trylancer telling him that the client selected his sample from all that were submitted. The job is his!

He logs into Trylancer.com and heads to the project's chatroom, eager to introduce himself to his new client.

Just like that. Easy-peasy.

Or, consider Sarah…

Sarah is a graphic artist who joined Trylancer.com so that she could keep her formidable drawing skills sharp. Looking for work on the site one day, she sees the following post:

Help! We're a small, family-owned Italian restaurant in downtown Toledo, and we're going out on a limb experimenting with a few new changes to our menu. To get the word out, we want to send a mailer to a couple thousand households in the area, but we want it to really catch people's eyes!

We have the idea to include the figure of an Italian chef — complete with toque and mustache! — on the mailer, with text that reads as if from him. We've got the text done, but we need someone to craft us an adorable chef!

Please submit one quick sketch of the chef. Try not to make him overweight, especially since our new menu focuses more on healthy choices. Also, family-friendly, please! Thank you!

Sarah grins. She already has the perfect idea, and immediately sets to sketching. Ten minutes later, she looks over her work and decides it will do. She snaps a picture of it with her phone and writes a short note introducing her sample:

I love your idea of an Italian chef! I played around with it a bit and decided that a short, skinny, muscular Italian chef could be a very fun caricature to play with. Further, putting an enormous white toque on him made for a great contrast. Not pictured in this sketch: we could also have the top of the toque like a basket, full of tomatoes, peppers, and other healthy foods. I look forward to fleshing these ideas out with you!

Then, she attaches her sketch and submits it all to the project.

The next day, an email arrives from Trylancer.com, telling her that the client liked her sample best of all. Sarah logs into the site immediately, heading for the chatroom to say "hi".

It couldn't be simpler!