Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways for freelancers to get new work. People like to hire freelancers that come recommended, as they can trust the work will be good. But not every client will be a chatty person who likes to talk you up to their friends.
Even if your clients don’t recommend you directly to their peers, they can still help your business by providing testimonials. These will provide an additional guarantee to potential clients when they consider whether to employ your services.
What Are Testimonials? How to Use Them
In marketing, testimonials are written or spoken statements that recommend a certain product. As a freelancer, your services are the product you have to market and sell, so providing testimonials from satisfied past clients is a perfect way to convince new clients that you’re worth the investment.
You’d usually see testimonials at the bottom of freelancers’ websites, which is the most popular way to showcase your services online. Most people present it as a slider, showing multiple quotes and their attribution, to provide additional value to the portfolio. However, there are many more places to showcase them.
As mentioned, testimonials are a great marketing tool, and as such, should be used across your marketing efforts. For instance, if you send out cold sales emails, they can help support your pitch. They can also be featured (or at least one of them) in your email signature, or newsletter footer.
LinkedIn is also a great place to showcase testimonials, to strengthen your resume, although these are slightly different (more on that later). Finally, testimonials look great on your different social media channels.
Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, a well-designed picture with positive feedback about your services can go a long way to securing new projects. It can also help you raise your freelance rates, without losing clients in the process.
How to Ask for Testimonials as a Freelancer
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use a client’s testimonial without their permission. So, for instance, if you had a nice conversation with a client, where they thanked you for your amazing work, you can’t just write that on your website.
For one, that client may not want their name to appear on your website. And if someone approaches them as a result of that testimonial, it can harm your future relationship with them. Second, not every client wants to advertise that they’ve hired you.
Ghostwriting is a perfect example, where a freelancer writes content that is later attributed to a company’s CEO. If you advertise working for them with a testimonial, you basically invalidate their credibility.
With that in mind, how do you approach a client for testimonials, without seeming too pushy or demanding?
1. Ask for Permission to Use Private Conversations
If a client really enjoys your work, they’ll often let you know during conversations or via email. It is true you can’t advertise that without their permission, so why not just ask for it?
Once you receive an email with positive feedback, you can reply with something like: “I’m pleased that you enjoyed working with me, as I felt the same. Would you mind if I use your kind words as a testimonial on my website?”
2. After You Finish a Successful Project
As a rule, it’s best to ask for feedback after your project is done. If you do it during your project, it may open the door to complaints and suggestions for improvements. It’s even better to ask for a testimonial after you finish a project that was successful. That way, you can ensure the clients will give you a glowing recommendation.
Once a week or two have passed (but not much longer), email the client, mentioning how much you enjoyed the work, and how happy you are with the results. Then, ask kindly if they’d mind providing a few words for your website, to showcase the project’s success.
3. Send a Feedback Form as a Part of an Offboarding Process
If you feel too shy or self-conscious to ask for feedback, you can incorporate it as part of an onboarding process. These will be the steps that you always go through, whenever you finish a project.
So after you settle the accounts, go through all the revisions and ensure everyone is satisfied, send your clients a Google Form. Tell them that this form is a way for you to improve your services in the future. The last question on the form should ask for permission to use what they wrote as a testimonial.
Here are some of the questions you can ask:
- Did I meet your expectations?
- What did you enjoy most about working with me?
- What could I have done differently?
- Would you recommend my services to others? If so, what would you tell them?
4. Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation
We talked briefly about LinkedIn recommendations at the beginning. The platform has its own system for testimonials, where you can’t just write whatever you’d like. You have to send an invitation through the website, which will then be featured on your profile, with a link back to the person who wrote it.
There are several benefits to this method:
- It eliminates the embarrassment of asking for a recommendation, as it’s just a simple click of a button.
- It’s even more credible, as it links to your client’s profile.
- It can also double as a reference for your website, as the person who wrote it already agreed for it to be public.
To ask for a recommendation, first, you need to add that person as a connection. Then, go to your profile, scroll down to the recommendations and click Ask for a recommendation. Then pick your client and write them a personal note.
5. Offer Testimonial Exchange
Our final suggestion is more relevant for other freelancers. If you collaborate with others on certain projects, and you know they can benefit from your testimonial as well, you can ask for a peer-to-peer recommendation (which is most useful on LinkedIn).
You can also offer companies a testimonial for their careers page, which can help them with future recruiting efforts, in return for feedback about your services.
Take the First Step
The hardest part about asking for testimonials is actually asking. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable. In many cultures, there’s value in being humble, and when you ask for testimonials, it directly contradicts that.
However, once you take the first step, you’ll find it gets easier. People are mostly happy to say something nice, and if they don’t have anything nice to say, they’ll just say no, which is also fine.
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