You’ve chosen a name for your business, paid for branding, found a great cheap web host, and got a website live. Clients should be falling at your feet, right?
Not so much!
When businesses look for a freelancer, they’re looking for one they can trust. So, great copy and a nifty design simply aren’t enough. You need to demonstrate your worth and fill your website with social proof.
That might mean showcasing your qualifications and industry memberships. But, more often than not, clients want to see testimonials and reviews. Without them, you’re just another name offering the same service as your competitors.
But how can you get testimonials from your clients and, more than that, how can you make sure they’re good?
In this article, we’ll discuss four methods for collecting effective testimonials from your freelance clients so you can boost your brand, prove your worth, and bring in those big-ticket clients.
Let’s get started.
What makes a good testimonial?
Before we drill down into methods, let’s talk about what makes a good testimonial. Certain advice like ‘highlights key numbers’ are not relevant to every industry, so we’ve focused on three things all testimonials need, regardless of what you do as a freelancer.
There’s nothing more jarring in a testimonial than inauthenticity. Yet we’ve all seen those cookie-cutter testimonials that look like their fresh out of a free online template. They simply don’t work as social proof.
You need to collect testimonials that are honest and, sometimes, that means leaving in less desirable quotes. Maybe your client didn’t expect much from the project but was blown away by the end. Don’t cut that first bit, it makes the rest seem more powerful and authentic.
You don’t need to ask your client to explain the number of blogs you wrote for them or what file types you can produce graphics in. But you do need them to be specific outcomes about the outcomes of your work.
Has your writing generated 1000s of views and hundreds of click-throughs for their site? Has the landing page you designed achieved a high conversion rate? Potential clients want to know what your work can achieve for them and including this information in your testimonials is the most effective way to do that.
Don’t fall into the trap of over-editing client testimonials. If you remove their figures of speech and quirky turns of phrase, you’ll lose everything that makes that testimonial unique.
Your testimonials will appear more trustworthy if each sounds like it’s produced by an individual. Someone with their own way of speaking and explaining things.
Each of the methods described below have its benefits and drawbacks. Some are better at capturing honesty and other natural language or specifics. Which you choose will depend which of the above you think is more important for your brand.
Four ways to get testimonials from your clients
1. Exit interviews
It can be embarrassing to ask for testimonials. After all, we all feel the keen sting of imposter syndrome from time to time. But what if your client really didn’t like your work? What happens then?
It’s unlikely that asking for a testimonial will stir up negative feelings. But you can minimise the chance by asking at the right point in the workflow. And that’s where exit interviews come in.
Exit interviews are short interviews you conduct with your clients after they’ve signed off on your final work. In them, you can ask questions like:
- What were you happy with?
- What do you think could be improved?
- How does the work compare to work you’ve had done by others?
And so on…
If you make clear from the start of your relationship with a new client that an exit interview is part of your process, it won’t come as a surprise and your client will come to the exit interview better prepared.
At the end of the interview, you can ask your client whether they’re happy for you to write up their answers in a testimonial. Send them the draft to review before you put it live on your website.
Encourages: Natural language
2. Email feedback forms
Email forms automate the process of collecting client reviews and can give your clients the chance to be a little more honest than if you’re interviewing them face to face.
If you already use an email marketing platform, you can set up a campaign for your client workflow that automatically sends important emails along their journey like your contract, sign-off form, invoice and testimonial form. Alternatively, recreate the method manually using an online survey software like SurveyMonkey or TypeForm.
Simply create a survey or web form that asks the same questions as you’d ask in an exit interview and send it to clients with or just after your invoice.
You could even give them the chance to add a rating out of five or ten and include a tick-box to confirm they’re happy for you to use this information for a testimonial.
Remember, you must get permission to use a person’s name and other personal data, especially if you intend to put it on your website.
Hinders: Natural language
3. Quotes from informal emails
Have you ever sent work to your freelance client and received glowing feedback via email? Don’t let these moments slip away because they’re not ‘formal’. Simply ask your client if they’d be happy for you to use their words in a public-facing testimonial.
This method can dramatically increase the number of testimonials you collect because the client doesn’t have to take time to give additional information.
Plus, feedback given in an informal email may be more emotively written than feedback given in a formal setting like a form or interview. Often, it’s this kind of passionate and friendly feedback that potential clients respond best to.
This is an especially good way to get testimonials for long-term projects that don’t necessarily have an end date.
Encourages: Natural language
4. Swap testimonials and endorsements on LinkedIn
There’s no easier way of receiving a testimonial from your freelance client than offering to give them one in return.
LinkedIn is a mecca for business connections and adding testimonials to your profile builds an undeniable level of credibility. You can’t fabricate the message as it’s come from the freelance client, verbatim. Your feedback could even act as a pitch for future work if prospective clients read about the service you provided one of their connections.
It’s important to shoulder both good and bad feedback. The bad will ultimately lead you to create better work as you know what could have been better – and consumers value honesty. Search Engine Journal report that a near-perfect rating can appear less credible, and lead to consumer scepticism.
Hinders: Natural language
The last word
No matter your industry, gathering great client testimonials will help you build a thriving freelance business. Not only do testimonials help build credibility, but they also add a little something to your marketing materials.
But to get the information you need takes strategy, perseverance and time. So test the above methods alone or in combination and let us know how you get on in the comments.