As a freelancer, you might be wondering if word of mouth works for you. Most freelancers are entirely remote, isolated from the coming and goings of the average business, which means that it's less likely that they will get word-of-mouth conversion clients. But is that true? Not at all! Here are some ideas of how to get word of mouth business.
How Can I Get Referrals?
How does one kickstart their referral process? Check out these top ways to get word of mouth business.
One of our favorite methods of getting referrals is to create friendships with other freelancers. Take, for example, that you are a freelance translator for English and German. Imagine you go to an in-person conference, think tank, meetup, powwow, online seminar, or some other event where you can network with other freelancers like you or in a similar field. Perhaps you make friends with a Spanish translator or a copywriter, you can ask them to send German translation business your way if they come upon it, and you will do the same for them if you know of someone in need of their services.
ProZ.com is the world's largest community of language professionals, a great spot for making freelance friendships.
Creating a trusted, transparent relationship with another freelancer is an excellent way to network and gain word-of-mouth business. Remember, though, to only develop relationships with high-quality people who value their business and clients as much as you do. You never want give out referrals unless backed by a trusted relationship and knowledge of excellent services.
Asking Existing Clients
Your clients are one of your best resources for future business. If a project is completed successfully, there is a good chance that they will come back for a repeat performance as well as tell their friends and business associates.
You can also nudge them towards giving you a referral by including a “make sure to tell your friends about me” style message with your thank you note (*always say thank you after a project*).
If you really want them to refer you actively, you can offer an incentive. How you want to structure an incentive is up to you, but a standard method is offering the client 10% off their next service. Keep in mind that the offer should only count for referrals you end up creating a contract with.
Ask for Reviews
At the end of every successful project, you should always ask your client to leave you a positive review on your platform(s) of choice. We recommend asking for reviews on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and of course freelancer sites like ProZ.com.
When a happy client leaves a review, other potential clients may see it. Positive reviews shine brightly on your work ethic and character; even though this isn't a direct referral, it's still word of mouth benefitting you.
Stay in Contact
Stay in contact with your clients. You don't need to be in their face, but just a presence in case they, or someone they know, needs your services. I recommend following their business (with your business accounts) on social media, sending holiday cards or business updates a maximum of once a quarter, and reaching out every six months with an inquiry to how they are doing, how their business is progressing, and gentle reminder that you are there if they need you.
Today, our last piece of advice is to remember that creating and maintaining a solid network of clients, partners, and friendships may take a while to develop, but the long term gains will lead to a fruitful career as a freelancer.