Is there any greater email of joy than the one that says “I heard about your work from…”? Not only is this the start of a journey with a brand-new client – and all the excitement and reward that comes with that – but the recommendation has come from someone else. We freelancers absolutely love getting referrals. They’re good news for so many reasons:
- Your clients are bigging you up; they’re happy with the work you’re doing and shouting about it to others.
- It saves you the time, effort, and expense of advertising for new business.
- A referred client is more of a known quantity than someone coming to you cold, meaning there’s less risk of unpaid invoices or them ghosting you once they hear your rates.
But how do you go about making these magical referrals happen? Surely there’s not much you can do but hope and wait? Wrong! Here’s the Dinghy guide to getting recommended.
Urgh, we know, we hate the word networking too, but it can be one of your best methods for scoring new work. If it helps, try to think of it more as “making friends with fellow freelancers”. Find freelancer communities on social media or small business groups in your local area. Get yourself on LinkedIn if you aren’t already. By building up connections with other freelancers in the same or related fields, you can help turbo-charge your recommendations. If they get an enquiry and are unavailable for a job, they may refer the client on to you instead. Finding your place in a network of other freelancers has benefits beyond the transactional as well – you’ll be able to build relationships with people who understand what freelance life is like, can offer help and support to each other in tough times and have someone to act as a sounding board for your business ideas and problems.
Ask for feedback
When we’re making a big purchase, the first thing we look at is the customer reviews. It’s no different for freelance services. Whether your potential customer is after a wedding photographer to capture their special day or some SEO support to take them to the top of the search pages, they’ll want some evidence that you know what you’re doing. And there’s no more powerful proof than happy customers! So don’t be afraid to ask your clients for feedback. Gather reviews that you can share on your website and socials. Testimonials can be a great tool for attracting attention or for sealing the deal if a potential client is thinking about getting in touch. Try to keep reviews in the clients’ own words as much as possible and add a photo if you can to help emphasise their authenticity.
Leave clients with a business card
It might seem a bit old-school in the age of LinkedIn endorsements and social shares, but the humble business card can still offer a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to bringing in new clients. Leave a handful with your clients at the end of meetings and they can easily pass your details on to other businesses they work with. The best thing about a business card is that you can use the style and branding to tell a story about your business. You can even get cards embossed with metallics or printed onto seed paper – whatever matches your vibe.
Ask for recommendations
As the old saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”. If business is slow, pop your current clients a message to let them know that your books are open for new work and ask them to forward your details to anyone they think might be interested. You can even add a polite request onto your invoices or email signature to gently nudge for endorsements.
Introduce a recommendation scheme
Take the “ask for recommendations” strategy one step further by introducing a referral scheme. This is where you offer your clients a small gift as a thank you if they recommend you to a friend or another business. This incentivises customers to tell others about you, and the more a customer recommends you, the more they are rewarded! This can be a great scheme to have running in the background to keep recommendations dripping in, and if you find yourself short of work you can give the scheme a bit of a promotional push to try and drum up new business quickly.
As you build your freelancer network, remember that Dinghy also has its own refer a friend scheme. If you’re reaping the benefits of low-cost, hassle-free flexible business insurance for freelancers, why not recommend us to someone else? You and your buddy will both get £25 worth of vouchers if they sign up (sent after their third monthly instalment is paid). And you’ll both benefit from the peace of mind that your business insurance has your back, leaving you to get on and deal with all the new customers coming your way as those recommendations pour in! To refer a friend or two, just head to your online account.