A Quick Way to Get More Freelance Clients From Your Testimonials

Carol Tice

Freelance writers need recommendations and testimonialsMost freelance writers know that it’s good to get testimonials.

Not hard to see why — when prospective freelance clients can read how effectively you helped other businesses or publications, they can envision how it’d be great if you helped them out, too.

If you’re really sharp, you may have learned (as I did a while back from Sean D’Souza) that your testimonials will be way more impactful if you can get mini-headshots to put with your testimonials.

That helps prospects relate even more to your past clients. I use headshots on my Freelance Writers Den testimonials, and it definitely makes them more eye-catching.

You can see there’s a real human being behind that recommendation, and it’s not made up.

All good.

But maybe you wonder if any prospects ever happen on to your site to see those testimonials you’ve so painstakingly acquired.

Recently, I learned there’s a more proactive way to get a lot more impact and mileage out of your testimonials, besides just slapping them up on a ‘testimonials’ page on your website, or getting LinkedIn recommendations.

“Pushing” your testimonials

I was chatting with freelance writer and former newspaper reporter Penny Taylor of Ghostwriting Connection, and she showed me what she does with her testimonials.

Instead of waiting for prospects to show up on her site and find her testimonials, she gives the testimonials to her prospects.

She’s created email stationery with her company logo as a top-bar letterhead, for responding to client nibbles. And she puts the testimonials into a right-hand sidebar.

As you see in this example Penny sent me:

As you can see, she sometimes also drops a photo of herself near her signature to humanize her message and show she’s a real person. Nice idea!

The form is set up for sending client proposals — love this way of differentiating yourself from any other bids that prospect might be getting.

She sometimes also includes logos of writer organizations she belongs to. I’m not sure how much prospects know those or care about them…but the testimonials sure do rock.

Only thing I’d do different is — you guessed it — include small photos of the clients with the testimonial sidebar.

Penny reports she keeps a variety of testimonials handy and changes those out, depending on the type of client she’s sending her email to. Clever!

Penny’s design tips:

“Play with the placement, color, fonts and font sizes.  Don’t use too many different fonts.  Don’t go crazy with colors.  KISS – Keep it simple stupid.”

I’ve never done much with sending graphical emails to prospects, so I’m intrigued by this way of getting your testimonials out there.

Once you’ve created your email template with your testimonials, it’s the work of a moment to press “send,” and presto — your testimonials are right in front of your prospects. And more prospects seeing your testimonials means more gigs.

Consider this your reminder to be on the lookout for more testimonials you could request from clients! Now you’ve got another way to use them to land new clients.

How do you use testimonials? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

Freelance Writers Den


  1. Williesha Morris

    Well, that’s a cool idea. It is turning your testimonials into references! Will look into this for sure. Right now, I just have a page on my website with testimonials. It doesn’t get looked at very often. I’m working on a way to ramp it up a bit.

    • Penny Taylor

      Williesha! Sorry to everyone who read Carol’s great article and then I stumble in two weeks later. I think one of the reasons your testimonial page doesn’t get as many views is the title. It’s a great title, but some people need something more literal. You have a wonderful site. (I peeked.) Perhaps you could take snippets from several testimonials and put one or two lines on each page. Put it in a small frame and lay it out as a picture. That way, no matter where they land they see something good and it moves them to look further. You obviously have a lot going for you!

  2. Katherine James

    I never thought to ask my clients for testimonials (only for referrals).

    I think I’ll get on this right away… Thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah — you definitely want to! I’ve got testimonials sprinkled over every page of my caroltice.com writer site…they make a big impact. I should get it together and get headshots for those, too! So far just have that for the Den.

  3. Daryl

    I’m pretty much the same as Williesha – I just have a page with testimonials, but now you’re encouraging me to maximize the obvious social proof that they offer!

  4. Angie

    Well, that is just plain cool. I’ve got my testimonials scattered throughout my site – will definitely think about other ways to use them to my advantage!

  5. Micki

    I have testimonial on the front page of my consulting website, but this reminds me I also need it on the front page of my writing website. I love the idea of putting together an email template, I could use MailChimp for that.

    Keep up the great content Carol! So many great ideas for new writers! Now, I just have to find the time to put them into action!

    • Carol Tice

      I have a post coming up on that, Micki – on how best to implement advice from experts.

  6. Lori Ferguson

    What a fabulous idea, Carol! Love this! I incorporated headshots into my testimonials page after you offered that recommendation, and have gotten very good feedback. This seems like a great way to differentiate oneself in the proposal process, too and as you say, make those testimonials do a bit more ‘heavy lifting’ for you.

  7. Shauna L Bowling

    Carol, that is so cool! Can the layout be incorporated into any email program?

    • Carol Tice

      Not sure as I haven’t evaluated every email program on earth, but if your program will let you do HTML or graphical emails, it should work.

      • Shauna L Bowling

        What’s the possibility of a follow-up article illustrating how to add testimonials and graphics to email?

        • Carol Tice

          Why don’t you ding Penny about the technical end of it? I gather her site link isn’t quite working yet, but give her a few more days and it will be.

          Most of us just use an easy mailing list program like Mailchimp that makes this stuff a snap, I think, but if you have questions on exactly how she did it, ask her, I’d say.

        • Penny Taylor

          It depends upon the email, but you can usually lay a testimonial in as a graphic. You don’t need anything fancy to do that. Simply open a program like Paint and type it in. Crop it large at first, you’re going to wisk it over to another program. If you have Microsoft Office the world is at your fingertips. Open the picture you just typed into Word, use the picture formatting, crop it to the size you want and put a border on it. I did basic lines in the layout you saw. When I updated to MS Word 2013 I began changing everything. There’s like 20 frames to chose from that you can bevel edges, put in shadows, change the angles. Don’t take away from your writing, but sometime when you have time “play” time mess around with the different looks. You can use them to frame your photos, testimonials… anything. It sets them apart.

  8. Aman

    I have a small doubt, Which is the best place (Home page or Services page) to implement testimonials on a blog/website… ?

    • Carol Tice

      There’s no one answer to that, Aman. I sprinkle them throughout my pages. Some do well putting it in the sidebar. Others do a page labeled “testimonials.” I think any of those can be good solutions!

  9. Dawn Witzke

    I love this idea. Now to figure out how to pull it off.

  10. Halona Black

    Interesting idea. I have testimonials with company logos on a separate page on my site. However I’m not sure how many people see it. I think I will try placing some of them on the widget side of my writing samples page as I often point prospects there.

  11. Sherri

    I think those are called email templates…aren’t they? I Googled it and there’s a ton of them out there!

  12. Carol J. Alexander

    Love this idea, Carol. I’m definitely going to try it.

  13. Raspal Seni

    What a lovely and wonderful idea to use testimonials in an e-mail sidebar! Had never thought about this and I’m sure none of the other readers thought of this. This is a very cllever and nice way of gaining attention.

    I’ve worked on oDesk for a few years but all of my clients were behind curtains. Some never even gave me their e-mail address, forget phone/website/headshot! They contacted me through the oDesk message center only. The feedback/testimonials they gave are very good, but I don’t have any headshots of them.

    I use them on my testimonials page on my writer site, just like everyone else. I don’t think I have any option here other than getting clients outside of oDesk and getting testimonials from them with a headshot. Any suggestion/advice on this?

    My normal e-mail sig contains links to my blogs, writer site and favorite blog posts. But, I’ve been thinking to create a WiseStamp e-mail sig since a while. It allows adding a headshot and links etc. It has a free option too, so do check it out.

    Heading to create my e-mail stationery! 🙂 Thanks Carol … And Penny!

    • Carol Tice

      I think you’ve figured it out…get real clients, outside of oDesk, so you can get useful testimonials. 😉 Testimonials from “a website owner” or “Jane P” are useless.

      • Raspal Seni

        Hi Carol,

        Got two testimonials which have a headshot along with them. 🙂

        Now, am I ready to add these two to my e-mail sidebar?

        It’d be interesting to know which e-mail program Penny used when she e-mailed you.

  14. Halona Black

    Carol, how do you use testimonials from ghostwriting clients who don’t want to reveal that you do the write for them? I want more ghostwriting clients, but how do I prove that I am good at it if I don’t have the testimonials?

    • Carol Tice

      It’s tough. Some people get anonymous ones and just describe the type of client they were. I think with ghostwriting that’s more accepted.

      But do try to do a few credit gigs so you can get real people into testimonials, I say.

    • Penny Taylor

      Halona, when a project is complete, some clients will spontaneously write a thank you in an email and tell you what pleased them. If you’ve had a good working relationship it shouldn’t hurt to ask if you can use a line or two from the thank you and just put their first name, not the name of the project. What you’re putting out there is true, you have their permission, you aren’t identifying their last name and you are not breaking confidentiality that way. I’d like to shout about some of mine, but alas, that’s also part of being a ghostwriter. We live with it.

  15. Lauran Childs

    I have testimonials on my site but I’m thinking what will really make a difference is when the next book comes out, and I’ll have my name on the cover as a writer for the first time – ‘With Lauran Childs’.

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