Sometimes, landing a great freelancing gig can seem like a happy accident one stumbles across with blind luck. But if you’re dedicated to making freelancing a legitimate, profitable career, blind luck doesn’t always (OK, never) pay the bills. With so many freelancers out there, how do you grow your reputation and image in a way that helps you retain clients while getting new work?
Referrals are one incredibly effective way to do just this—if given the right amount of structure, guidance, and dedication, that is. What better way to gain exciting new talent than to get a referral from a colleague or business that is known and trusted? To win more referrals as a freelancer, it’s key to prepare, pre-empt, and encourage clients to actively share your greatness.
But don’t worry, it’s easier to do than you might think.
Although it might seem like moving a mountain when it comes to planting, nourishing, and growing your reputation, there are small steps you can take right now to sew your freelancing seeds:
Remaining professional at all times will help build your reputation, sure. But more than this, it’ll help you do an amazing job. Remembering to keep up timely communication, following instructions diligently, negotiating a freelance pay raise, and asking clarifying questions are great ways to always be professional.
Staying on top of your freelancing schedule can get more hectic than you might first think, especially as your business grows. Keeping your day organized, scheduling your writing routine effectively, and knowing how much time you realistically need to complete a project are all ways to stay well ahead of deadlines.
Putting everything you have into the first part of a project, only to lose wind part way through is a great way to not get referred. Providing the same level of quality all the way through ensures your clients can trust in their expectations of your deliverables.
Treating yourself like a business means acting like one. Building a professional website with the ability for clients to leave testimonials, creating business listings, leaving positive reviews on social media, and networking aren’t alien concepts to the professional, referrable freelancer.
Brilliant communication encompasses all aspects of staying in touch with your clients. This includes everything from providing prompt and straightforward updates to utilizing the latest internet software tools, to being sure to streamline both voice and data communication via the cloud.
There are so many easy, second nature ways in which you can keep in touch with clients, including both past and present:
You might be creating a network loop already as a freelancer and not even realize the great referral power behind it. Creating a network loop in a professional way means actively building and maintaining relationships between you and other freelancers with similar or complementary skills.
If you’re a great web designer, you may want to build relationships with marketers, writers, and developers in a professional way. These relationships have many benefits, including having a go-to, trustworthy team if you need to outsource some of your own projects. But beyond this, your network can refer you for projects that they know you’re suited to.
One great way to form a network loop is by simply keeping in touch with colleagues you’ve enjoyed working with in the past. But if you want to cast your net wide, passively networking at conferences, online, at workshops, or at other events can make a big difference.
Using software tools may seem a little, or a lot, daunting. So how can freelancers harness this bountiful resource and scale it down to size? It’s all about the right software and taking tips from successful businesses. It can be as simple as adopting a contact center recording methodology so you can listen to and better understand communication from your clients.
For example, testing software can be a freelance web developer’s dream come true when it comes to standing out. Optimizing a continuous testing feedback loop, right from the beginning of a project, will allow you to deliver web and mobile applications faster to your clients by eliminating the typical bottleneck between development and testing.
Project management tools, calendar tools, financing tools, or video chat tools can help you stay on track, communicate effectively, and above all make you stand out. Using software is a professionalism booster, and will instantly make you more referable.
Cultivating organic and naturally beneficial relationships with clients will lead to more, and better quality, referrals in the long run. Small courtesies can make you much more memorable to clients, and it’s easy to achieve:
Getting more freelance referrals is about taking the opportunity to build relationships with clients in a way that promotes positive experiences on both sides. When you have a good relationship with a client, you’ll love the work you do and your client will see this shine through your deliverables, and this can’t help but boost your referrability.