Did you know that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of advertising?
This same survey by Nielson also suggested that 73% of people trust anonymous reviews online.
In short – as a freelancer, what people say about you matters. Whether that’s through word of mouth, or positive online reviews.
Most freelancers start getting their first clients through word of mouth. It’s a great way for freelancers to score contracts but it has its limits: word of mouth’s range of influence is as big as your network.
On top of that, most big clients won’t be swayed by word of mouth unless it’s from a very respectable source.
Most clients will be intrigued to work with freelancers that have a track history of very positive reviews.
That means, if you really want to work with dream clients and get big gigs that you’re passionate about, you need your existing and past clientele to vouch for you.
It ain’t easy getting clients to rate you online, nor is it straightforward. But that’s why I’m here, to help you out!
Here’re a few ways you can collect client reviews with finesse. Stay tuned and at the end, I’ll also tell you the biggest mistake freelancers make that jeopardizes their chances.
A testimonial doesn’t necessarily have to be a written essay by the client.
Sometimes, a client is quite fond of you but they aren’t big on writing glowing reviews. Instead, you’ll have the occasional compliment from a client.
Actively listen to what the clients are saying, if they say something that makes you feel kind of warm on the inside, ask them for permission to use it as a testimony.
From time to time, sentences like “Wow, your work exceeded all expectations!” or “Have I ever told you how great it is to work with you?”, etc etc.
Those are positive testimonials right there, you just have to grab it and write it down.
By listening to the client and asking for consent to quote a verbal testimony, you’ll realize how much positive feedback you missed out on.
Most freelance platforms have rating systems built in. Clients will rate a freelancer’s performance and quality once the project is done.
These testimonials would be a good addition to the ones you will put on your portfolio. Some clients can be cautious of testimonials all from one single source. This is because dubious cases of forging testimonials are quite common.
Having testimonials on a separate non-affiliate site might bring more weight to your credentials. Of course, having positive reviews on your own profile works wonders as well. But by presenting both to your client, it increases the credibility of both sites.
A survey is great for general feedback, and sometimes, clients will surprise you with lovely testimonies.
The simpler a survey, the better. Short questions such as how satisfied are they with your work, what could you have done better, and a 1-10 rating system.
Avoid including difficult, interpersonal or long questions as this might be detrimental to the cause.
In fact, it is reported that only 2% of people will bother to complete long questionnaires from brands. For freelancers who want bigger gigs, that small number is… dismal to say the least.
Instead, stick to questions such as:
A client would be inclined to complete a 30 second survey rather than a 10 minute one. So, the general rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet.
Some clients also prefer anonymity – having that as an option is a good idea to think about.
Creating a survey should be as easy as it is to answer it. Most freelancers create their surveys through Google Forms. It’s a fast and easy way to create simple surveys for free.
Some prefer services such as SurveyMonkey. It provides more advanced features such as analysis and notifications but has monthly fee packages.
Once you’ve created a survey, don’t forget to casually mention it in emails. The most effective methods I’ve seen are mentioning it as a friendly reminder or underneath their email signature.
There’s a lot of potentially great testimonies buried in your past.
Try digging through your previous emails with past clients. You’ll be surprised at the amount of good testimonials hidden in the annals of your inbox.
Another option is asking those around you that’s worked with you before. Disregarding the typical friends, family and clients, you have another demographic to work with, particularly if you’re just starting out as a freelancer – educators.
Send an email to your favourite educators or the ones that were in your current field. It could be in a semi-formal catching up kind of tone as well. Of course, include your portfolio for them to see how far you’ve gone.
If you’re a writer, send an email to your literature professor. Web developers can reach out to their programming professors. Etc, etc!
More than likely your previous educators would endearingly provide you with a great testimonial (plus it’s just a great way to catch up to the people who shaped you today).
This is going to be a short and simple one, as we’ve covered a whole topic on portfolios!
By putting the best testimonials on your portfolio website or your blog, you’re able to promote your accolades to curious clients.
The best locations for your testimonials are the home page or at the bottom.
If you’re going with the homepage, put it somewhere towards the middle or close to the end. AVOID putting testimonials as the first thing you see on the page.
Anybody would be turned off by brands that introduce themselves as “HEY! We’re the best! Look at what everyone says!!!!”
Putting it at the bottom lets clients see your testimonials last. Which is not a bad thing.
Many innovative websites actually put their testimonials on the bottom of the page, along with notable clients and affiliate logos.
Next up, the simple secret to tie all of this in together and get you swimming in positive reviews.
The biggest mistake freelancers make that make them lose out on good testimonials is not asking enough (and asking too much on rare occasions).
Times like this, I remember the wise words uttered by my friend’s wise but visibly drunk uncle during Thanksgiving.
A majority of freelancers are either too shy or think it’s shady to ask for feedback. But, realistically, you miss all the shots you don’t take.
Most clients actually do have a positive opinion of you, but they can’t be bothered to say it. To them, they might think it’s unnecessary to mention. It’s an easily overlooked aspect.
Think about it – how many of us forgot to give ratings to food deliveries or ridesharing services because it wasn’t mentioned?
It never hurts to ask, and a friendly reminder goes a long way.
A bigger turn off, albeit much rarer is asking too much. Nobody likes being pushed to answer questions they don’t want to. Not you, not me and definitely not the clients.
Going back to the ratings metaphor, regardless of how good the service was, if I was pestered consistently about giving a 5 star rating, the best case scenario I would give is a no rating.
Asking once or twice as a reminder is alright, but try to keep it to a professional and understanding standard.
By following these tips and tricks, you’ll soon be swimming in positive reviews. The more medals you have to show for, the more likely your next email would be a contract offer from a global conglomerate or dream client.
When you’ve amassed a substantial number of positive client reviews, feel free to give us a shoutout!
David is a content creator and freelancer. His journey started with writing songs, poetry and academic dissertations in Vancouver. David has freelanced for multiple companies around the world. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.