Most referrals for freelance work come by word of mouth. In fact, freelance word-of-mouth referral is the most effective way to build a client rotation that stands the test of time.
The numbers don’t lie: a recent survey featured in the Harvard Business Review revealed that solopreneurs making $100,000 or more per year get 84% of their work through word-of-mouth. In another survey, 90% of freelancers reported word of mouth as their top source of work.
Prospects trust word-of-mouth referrals because they come from people they trust. When you build strong client and colleague relationships in your industry, you establish a built-in trust that will carry forward to your new referral clients.
So what’s the secret to breaking into the ranks of the highly recommended?
In Short: Do Exceptional Work, Every Time, On Time
There’s nothing more important in your freelance journey than turning in exceptional work on time. Make your quality of work your top priority.
Although the market may seem saturated, it’s saturated with freelancers who don’t meet their clients’ expectations. I can’t count how many clients have hired me after having a bad experience with another writer. They come in skeptical, and it’s my job to deliver copy that hits the mark and delights the client.
To do quality work for your clients:
- Pay close attention to what they’re asking for
- Follow their instructions
- Ask clarifying questions and keep following up as needed
- Take time to study any examples or inspiration pieces they provide
- Create a quality product with intention and care
- Turn the product in by the deadline
It’s a smaller world than you think; business owners and managers in every industry talk about the freelancers they hire. If your name is going to come up, do everything in your power to make sure it’s associated with high-quality work and a satisfying customer experience.
This is the first and most important tip to follow if you’re looking to become highly recommended via word of mouth. However, the following points will help a lot too.
Cultivate Strong Friendships with Colleagues and Other Professionals in Your Industry
I don’t like to think of networking as “networking.” Instead, it’s all about building authentic friendships. Cultivating strong friendships with colleagues and other industry professionals will give you a leg up in terms of getting word-of-mouth referrals. That’s because you will have built your relationships on a foundation of shared interests and rapport, rather than as a means to an end.
You won’t always be able to predict where work referrals will come from, so you can’t necessarily build relationships with an end goal in mind. When referrals do come, they’ll come organically–and they’ll come because your friends will see the kind of work you do, and they’ll be happy to recommend you.
Connect in Real Life
This article was written by Haley Walden and originally published on Elegant Themes Blog.