How One Freelance Writer Got $1000s in New Projects…By Asking for Help

Carol Tice

Woman with help signBy Ben Gran

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for almost two years, and last year I made more money than I’ve ever made in my life, primarily through Elance.

Yes, it is possible to find great freelance writing projects on Elance.

But I had this nagging feeling that I was growing complacent, that I wasn’t doing enough to proactively reach for opportunities.

I wanted to invest some time in identifying the kinds of clients and the types of work that I wanted to do most.

So back in February, I decided to hire Carol Tice to be my freelance writing business mentor. This was one of the things I wanted to do in 2012 — get some mentoring and coaching to help take my freelance writing business to the next level.

Here’s what she said

One of Carol’s first pieces of advice was to add client testimonials to my freelance writer website.

So here’s what I did: I brainstormed a list of some of my favorite clients.

I started reaching out to these clients via LinkedIn and email, and I asked them: “Would you be willing to give me a testimonial quote that I could use on my website?”

The response was OVERWHELMING

Every single client said they’d be happy to give me a testimonial quote.

Most of them asked me to draft a quote for their edits and approval – so I basically got to write my own testimonials.

The work of drafting and collecting these client testimonial quotes was a powerful experience.

3 Benefits of Testimonials:

  1. Re-energized attitude: Just by asking my clients for testimonials, it reacquainted me with some of the many wonderful people I’ve worked with as a freelance writer. The process of collecting testimonials reminded me of the value I deliver as a freelance writer.  “Oh yeah,” I thought to myself, “I do really good work. And I’ve been able to work on some really fun stuff.”
  2. Re-connecting with clients: Some of the clients I contacted hadn’t been in touch with me for several months – and just by asking them for a testimonial, I reminded them that I was still here, still working as a freelancer, and still available to help them when needed. Getting testimonials is also a great way to deepen your relationships with existing clients. Even if you just finished a project for a client last week, asking for a testimonial helps remind your client of why they love to hire you and work with you.
  3. Making more money: Just from the simple step of sending a few quick e-mails to my existing/former clients and asking for their help in providing testimonials, I immediately landed over $3,000 worth of new freelance writing projects. Several of these are likely to be long-term projects. Some of the clients are Elance clients, but others are clients I met outside of Elance, or clients that I no longer required to work with only within Elance.

I hired Carol to help me find new clients, but little did I know that there were some exciting opportunities waiting with my current clients.

3 Testimonial Tips:

  • Keep it simple. Remember that your clients are busy, and even if they’d love to help you, you need to make it as easy for them as possible. So don’t overwhelm them with a long-winded e-mail. Keep it short and sweet: “I’ve really enjoyed working with you on prior projects. Would you be willing to give me a testimonial quote that I can use on my website? I can draft a quote for you and send it to you for approval.”
  • Think strategically about which clients and which quotes to use. On my testimonial page, I tried to create a good mix of clients – different industries, sizes of companies, etc. I tried to tell a specific story with each quote, illustrating the different kinds of value I added for the various types of projects. Make sure your testimonial quotes show the breadth and depth of your expertise.
  • Make it personal. Hopefully my clients’ testimonial quotes give prospective clients an idea of what it would be like to work with me – and hopefully I sound like a fun, energetic, fast-thinking, hard-working person. Testimonial quotes don’t have to be dry and “corporate.” Give your clients a chance to help you tell your story.

Getting client testimonials is another reminder of how the freelance writing business is ultimately about building relationships with people. Treat your clients right and they’ll reward you with loyalty, repeat business, referrals and testimonials.

Ben Gran is a freelance writer in Des Moines, Iowa and is a one-on-one mentoring client of Make a Living Writing’s Carol Tice. He writes blog articles, web content, marketing copy, technical writing, ghostwriting and other business writing projects for clients around the world.

P.S. Want a mentor? As it happens, Carol’s mentoring prices are going up (a lot!) at the end of this summer — and she’s booking the final few August slots at her current price now. Her 1-on-1 students get a whole year free in Freelance Writers Den…which is what makes the current price an insane value.


  1. Ben Gran

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone! I think for me, it wasn’t that I was afraid to ask for testimonials so much as I never bothered to get around to doing it. That’s another reason why it was such a great idea to hire Carol Tice to be my mentor/coach. She helped hold me accountable for actually DOING so many of these “low-hanging fruit” marketing activities. Marketing is not rocket science, it’s often just a matter of cultivating the right energy and holding yourself accountable to get it done.

    • Carol Tice

      So happy to see how you’ve taken the mentoring advice and gone out and DONE it, Ben! The execution part is always where the difference is between earning more and not. I can help people create a marketing plan all day and identify great markets…then the people with the drive to make it happen get out there and do it. And when you tell me you made more money off my advice, honestly I’m happier than if I got a new client myself. It’s really a thrill to help people feed their families, especially in this economy.

  2. J. Delancy

    Asking for testimonials is something that I’m still a little shy about. From the other comments it would seem that the problem is that freelance writers know they should do it but need help screwing up the courage to actually do it.

    • Carol Tice

      If you know you did a good job, why do you need courage? You’re just documenting the wins…pros do that. And clients understand that. Really, reach out and try it and you’ll probably see it’s just not a big problem.

  3. Cathie Ericson

    Not only are testimonials helpful for marketing, but they keep you going too! I started a doc called “kudos” years ago and I copy and paste all those unsolicited comments I get from clients to review when I need a boost.

    Of course I have glowing “real” testimonials on my LinkedIn page, but sometimes it’s those little comments for your eyes only that bring a smile to your face.

    Here’s what I woke up to today, from a real estate client for whom I wrote an article for an industry pub:

    . “I am impressed. You’re good at making me look good. I can’t thank you enough for your help.”

    Also a good reminder to provide that kind of positive feedback to people with whom you cross paths…make THEIR day!

    • Carol Tice

      2 things — anytime you get one of those unsolicited testimonials, always respond with, “May I use this as a testimonial on my writer site?” And boom, you’re done — another testimonial in the bag.

      Also, take those ‘real’ testimonials on LI and copy them onto your writer site, too. I used to make the mistake of just having a link to those on my writer site — don’t make people go hunt for them! Sprinkle them on every page of your site.

    • Cathie Ericson

      Great ideas!

  4. Barbara

    THIS is fantastic! I have bookmarked it for future reference. I need to do this – badly!

  5. Page Huyette

    Very timely post. Just this week I was brainstorming on ways to take my work to the next level, and realized that I mentor a lot myself, but really don’t have my own mentor. Using testimonial requests might be a good way to sniff out some options.

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