As you learn more and more about being a successful freelance writer, you may come across advice about displaying your client testimonials. They’re labeled as “important” for your business, but how do you actually get them? And why are they so important in the first place?
The Importance of Testimonials
Client testimonials are important for a host of reasons. Most of these reasons boil down to things like “marketing.” Here’s what that looks like –
Testimonials are blurbs of praise that your clients send, expressing their honest opinions about the work you provide for them.
They’re like a product review, except the “product” is you or your services, and not an actual product. What a testimonial offers that your own copy can’t is a little thing called “social proof.”
Social proof is the idea that people are influenced by the behavior and opinions of others, because we tend to operate under the built-in assumption that other people know more than we do in any given situation (especially if it’s a new situation).
Positive feedback from past clients shows potential new clients that you’re trustworthy, you deliver what you promise, and you are a part of your clients’ success.
One or two sentences from past clients can offer more compelling “proof” of your qualifications than all the sales copy you can draft in a month — because testimonials don’t come from you.
This means a great testimonial can become a powerful influencer to your prospective clients.
Once you’ve got testimonials, find ways to use them. You don’t have to use the whole thing — just use the bits that make sense for your copy. They can work well on a home page, in sales copy, and even on their own page within your website. Present them dynamically, with colors or photos, and they’ll become magnetic.
A great testimonial can become a powerful influencer to your prospective clients.
Which Clients Do I Ask for a Testimonial?
I tend to ask every client for a testimonial when a project wraps, because that gives me a regular stream of feedback.
If testimonials aren’t as excited as I’d like, I might follow up and ask the client if there are any areas where I might improve, in an effort to keep improving as a writer and business owner. And if I have an ongoing contract with a client, I might ask for a testimonial (maybe calling it “feedback”) every 4-6 months, depending on the volume of work and the relationship I have with the contact.
Some freelancers only request testimonials from new clients. Others only get them from seasoned clients. And still more (like me) will ask any and every client.
Use your judgment. You may feel more comfortable only asking for testimonials from clients who have already given you positive feedback, or who have shared the success your work brought them. If you’re getting thanked by a client, that’s a great person to ask for a testimonial!
What to Put In Your Testimonial Request (and When)
If there’s no easy insertion point for a testimonial, such as when your client sends you huge praise for the work you just submitted, come up with a testimonial-generating system that works for you.
I tend to send testimonial requests when I receive final payment – I package it as a confirmation of receipt plus a request for a testimonial. Others send testimonial requests along with their invoice, or with their copy.
Use the timing that makes sense for you… just make sure you do it!
Some freelancers will send a list of possible questions to answer in the testimonial, to help guide clients who aren’t sure what to put or who don’t have a lot of time to sit and draft something off the top of their heads. Possible questions might include any of these:
- Why did you choose me for this project? What made you believe I was the right person for the job?
- What were the results of working with me?
- How did I contribute to the outcome you wanted?
- Did my work on this project meet your expectations?
- What types of projects or businesses would benefit from working with me?
Others simply ask for a testimonial and look forward to some unadulterated positive feedback. Any method could work, though it may depend on the client as well as what you’re looking for in a testimonial.
Ultimately, the more specific and positive these positive client testimonials are about what you provide, the more effective they’ll be at persuading your prospective clients that you’re the one to hire.
No matter how you ask, the important thing is to make it easy for the client to respond. If your request is too long, there are too many questions and they feel obligatory, or it’s been a really long time since you wrapped that project, the client might feel burdened and end up ignoring the request.
Make it easy for yourself, too, by setting up a template or two to send along so you don’t spend time drafting the same request over and over. You may also want to set up a document or email file where you save all your testimonials in one place instead of rifling through an archive every time you want to update your site.
As there are in many aspects of successful freelance writing, there’s an element of trial and error in gathering testimonials from clients. Try different approaches and templates, and you’ll find what works best for you.