By Angie Mansfield
I was a frustrated freelance writer.
Late last year, I was finally starting to gain traction in my freelance writing business, but I still wasn’t as busy as I wanted to be. I was doing okay. But I wanted to take that next step to being able to tell my lowest-paying clients, “Sorry, I’m fully booked right now.”
As it was, I felt like I had to take their cheap gigs in order to fill in the gaps. I needed to replace them with higher-paying gigs to do more than break even every month.
The Rave Review
My chance came when I asked one of my freelance writing clients for a testimonial. I was fresh off of my initial project for her, an article and blog post based on her CEO’s book.
In her opinion, I’d knocked it out of the park, and the testimonial she wrote for me was nothing short of glowing.
Instead of just thanking her and going on my merry way, I thanked her — and then told her I had a little time in my schedule coming up. Would she mind sharing my contact information with colleagues who might need my services?
Turns out, she wouldn’t mind. In fact, she was thrilled to send an email introducing me to one of her clients.
And what a client: A small marketing firm that has run direct mail campaigns for a few little companies you might have heard of — Lowe’s, Petco, and RiteAid, among others.
Here’s the first thing I learned about referrals: They make the process of closing a deal extremely easy.
My new client didn’t ask for clips. She didn’t ask what experience I had. She just responded to the introductory email to ask if I was available for an immediate assignment!
After getting over my initial shock at how easy that was, I took the gig — to the tune of $1,000 extra for January.
The Hidden Bonus
If the story ended there, I’d have counted it a solid success. A new, lucrative client always is.
But it didn’t end there. When I told my first client that I had some time available in my schedule, it also prompted her to send me more projects herself.
Not only do I credit her with helping me land that extra $1,000 from her referral, but she sent me another $2,000 in projects of her own.
All from one simple request in response to a positive testimonial.
The Moral of the Story
I haven’t stopped marketing. I know that, eventually, these current projects will be finished and my clients’ editorial calendars may slow. I’m continuing to send out LOIs, telling prospective clients that I’ll be available in after this current workload is finished.
But now I know that referral requests should be a part of my marketing plan, too. Which reminds me, I need to ask that new client for a testimonial … and a referral.
Angie Mansfield is a freelance copywriter, moderator-in-chief of the Freelance Writers Den, and “mom” to a chatty bird, a bratty cat, and a bouncing baby goldendoodle.