These are the top 3 ways I find clients:
- Referrals from my clients.
- Facebook groups.
- Referrals from others in my niche.
I've tried a million different ways of getting clients: cold emailing, Twitter, LinkedIn, guest blogging, Facebook ads, advertising... the list goes on. While some of these have worked (I used to have great success in landing small projects through Twitter!) they just haven't worked as magically as the 3 above. Not by miles.
I've already touched on getting clients from Facebook groups. But how do you get clients through referrals? How do you get real people to persuade other real people that you're good enough to take on their project? It seems tricky, but it's not when you try your hardest.
Referrals will keep your business afloat, especially in dry times when you don't have time to market your services. With a steady amount of referrals coming in, you could...
- Halve the time you spend marketing.
- Stop stressing out because you haven't booked enough clients.
- Take time off and still get plenty of inquiries in your inbox.
- Book more clients and earn more money.
Most freelancers who have been up and running for about a year should already have referrals coming in.
- Are good at what you do
- Have awesome work in your portfolio
- Have kickass testimonials from your clients
- Have a streamlined, organized process that makes working with you easy
...then you should be getting referrals already, and plenty of them! Because when you do all of the above, people will not hesitate to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. People will only refer you if you're trustworthy, talented and efficient. So make sure you're known for being these things!
If you're doing all of the above and still not getting referrals, something needs to change. You need to think outside the box.
Here are 7 smart ways to get referrals from clients and friends:
- Ask directly. When wrapping up a project, as your client directly if they know of anyone who may be in need of your services.
- Ask indirectly. If you feel that asking them upfront is a little too forward, then ask them in your testimonial form. (A testimonial form is a short questionnaire you get your clients to fill in about your time working together, and you create their testimonial from combining their answers.) As your final question, ask 'do you know of anyone who may be in need of my services?'
- Collaborate. Write to a few friends and offer to send work their way if they send work your way. This works especially well if you're both in different creative industries.
- Create a referral program. Offer your friends and partners 5-10% of every successful referral. So, if they refer a client to you who buys a $2000 package, they would receive 5-10% of that. I know a few well-known coaches and writers who do this, and it works wonders for them!
- Offer an incentive. Offer your clients a discount or a freebie for every successful referral.
- Refer work to others. Only refer work to people you admire, trust and respect. People you genuinely think your clients will love. And when you send work their way, let them know you've done so by dropping them an email or a tweet. It opens up the way to a friendship, which could lead to them sending clients your way.
- Email others in your niche. Sometimes people email me asking if I will keep them in mind for referrals. If their work is good enough and their email is sincere and modest enough, I do!
I'm going to be discussing how I personally find and book clients in The Shelancers Club- an online community for freelance women that I'm launching in April. If you're interested in learning more then sign up for updates before the launch!
Last weekI ran a quiet giveaway for The Shelancers Club, and this week I chose a winner at random: Nicola at Belle Noir Loves! I'll be in touch with you soon. Thanks to everyone who participated!