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How to Get High-Quality Referrals for Your Freelance Writing Business

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.


In lure to get more and more clients, freelance writers generally aim to perform their best, so their current clients can refer them to their colleagues, associates, and friends. This certainly happens, but it is also a myth that’s floating in the business world for years. It is obvious to be disappointed when this fact doesn’t come true for you.

Certainly, I am not writing this article to sympathize with this issue, rather I am here to discuss some ways through which you, and even me, can generate high-quality referrals for our writing business.

First of all, don’t completely rely on it. I won’t say it doesn’t work, it does work actually, but it’s better to be self-reliant.

If you have successfully finished a project, don’t expect them to refer you to others all by themselves. It might never cross their mind. They’ll be satisfied with your work and doing a happy dance for your wonderful contribution, but referring you will be the last on their to-do list.

This can be because of several solid reasons. Both business and life work on the same principle - You get it, if you ask, else you don’t. And the same applies to client referrals.

It’s alright to ask them to refer you, but it requires careful thoughts and beforehand preparation. A bit of flamboyance won’t hurt, either.

Referral Statistics

Referrals often come by itself. According to a study, it is concluded that most of the referrals come from:

  • Colleagues
  • Related service providers
  • Personal recognition
  • In-person seminars
  • Endorsement from third parties

A stamp from clients and colleagues increase your chances of getting hired manifold times. The prospect is confident and considers you to be the right candidate.

The time taken in building a healthy business relationship with the clients is termed as the sales cycle. As per a rough estimation, it takes somewhat six to eight months to turn a prospect into a promising client. A high-quality referral can shorten that time to a few weeks or even days.

The main source of growing business for most of the service providers is mere though referrals. More than 90% of their projects are referral-based. The process starts when the freelance writer declares to his friends and business contacts that he is open for business.

Since business contacts always have a long list of feasible clients, they quickly come up with a bunch of promising prospects. And you are flooded with more than required work requests. The freelance writer, finally, dives into the sea of self-employment and sees no trouble ahead.

End this habit now

  • The problem is you, as a freelance writer, has delved deep into this habit. You are always hard binging on your phone to ring or email to burst up with lots of work messages.
  • If you are good enough to talk about, they’ll, certainly, refer you. But for how long, does it stay in practice? At some time, it has to reach the saturation point and you’ll be ruined of your self-employed status.
  • This non-marketing way of gaining success method has its limitation that may damage your career in the long run.
  • Using this technique, you are letting the business happen to you, while in fact, you must make the things happen. A much better way is to generate these referrals are on roll and keep your system is in place by ensuring they are of high-quality.

Not all referrals are worth your time

A referral is just a conglomeration of unknown names, phone numbers, and email addresses. It is possible:

  • They are or are not looking for your services.
  • They can’t afford to pay
  • They are unfit for your business.
  • They may not be well-known by your clients or colleagues.

Your clients and colleagues must have worked with on a variety of projects at different levels. Thus, everyone has a different viewpoint about you. It is, indeed, better to put your own efforts and work on filing your business associates and personal networks by yourself.

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Finding quality referrals

Enlighten your clients

To make sure you receive the best quality referrals, educate your clients as well as your colleagues what kind of individuals or businesses you are looking for. What're your criteria for selecting prospects? It may include several factors such as:

  • Project type
  • Industrial area
  • Prospect size
  • Their location
  • Their capability to pay your fees and so on

Being specific is not worthless

Going specific looks like setting limits on yourself, which sounds risky, but it isn’t.

  • You are not closing the door for a wider range of referrals, indeed you are making it easier to reach the potential clients.
  • Being too detailed with your explanation may confuse your client to whom to look for.

On the other hand, being a generalized writer may degrade your credibility. If you always ask for a small or mid-size company to work with, you are really underestimating your worth. This is a fact must consider when you are dealing with business associates.

Figure out the good fit

Referrals are more of a numbers game, figure out which these numbers belong to the high-quality referrals to generate better income and positive results. It doesn’t make any sense in chasing someone who is not even a bit close to your specifics and probably, is a bad fit.

A phone call must not be the only option

Make sure to move a little forward and add them to your social accounts. The best option is to check them on LinkedIn and derive out some possible contacts in their network. You can start with a crafty message to get your hands on your next possible client. You can write something like the following:

Hi Alex,

I noticed Stella Ross of Make My Cuisine Corp. is in your LinkedIn contacts. I’ve been studying about their work for a couple of weeks now and it seems I can be of assistance to them for their SEO marketing campaign. Quite similar to what I accomplished for you. Would you be willing to introduce me? Thanks! Also, haven’t seen for a while. Let’s catch up. Lunch is on me. Let me know what time suits you.

Exploit your social media as much as you can

Social media is the king of every sort of job you need. Check your clients’ social media profiles. It may help you gather some important contacts.

Besides this, ask your colleague to bring possible prospects to your seminars, presentations, and conferences. A very simple way to kick a leg with your new potential client.

You can also try adding case studies in your email marketing campaign. Speaking the truth with proof is the most powerful asset to win over. But, remember these need to be structured either in problem, solution, or result format. In the end, you can add something like, “Perhaps, you or someone you know find this profitable for alike projects. If yes, give us a call or send an email. Looking forward to it.”

Ease your referrers’ mind

Finding potential prospects to build up a list of promising clients is the first thing. There’s more you need to do to build up a fortune out of your freelancing business.

Clients are always worried to find reliable and cheap labor. Well, you might not come at an affordable price, but you must be reliable and well-sticked to the deadlines.

Always remember to promise less and deliver more.

Coming up with referrals through your present clients put a great stake on your clients’ reputation if you turn out to be less assuring.

Communication, a well-styled communication indeed, plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy relationship with your client, ask them to contact you during business events and seminars. Most importantly, speak limited, listen more and prepare a smart way to introduce yourself.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma

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