As freelancers, we’re always looking for ways to find new clients. After all, it’s what keeps food on the table.

That being said, you might be trying every trick in the book to consistently find new clients. Blogging, social media, pitching, you name it – you’re probably doing it!

Constantly using this marketing tactic can leave you feel worn out.

What if I told you there was a simpler way to find clients? Would you jump for joy and shout “Thank the Lord” from your workspace?

Well, get ready to do just that!

The simplest way to find freelance writing clients is through referrals. And, unlike the majority of marketing tactics, it doesn’t suck the soul out of you.

get more freelance referralsImages from my favourite guys at HauteStock!

How important are referrals?

If you didn’t know already, referrals come when another person (most commonly a fellow freelancer), refers your business/services to someone that they know, looking for what you offer.

But, why are they so damn good?

Because people trust word-of-mouth.

As old-fashioned as it is, people like to hear that someone they know have used your service OR know you. It’s like a personal vouch for you, to someone who is explicitly looking for what you offer.

Other freelancers LOVE giving referrals if they receive an enquiry that isn’t suited to them. It keeps them on good terms with the contact, and their reputation is built by recommending someone who could help.

People trust word of mouth. That's why you NEED referrals as a #freelancer! Click To Tweet

How to get referrals as a freelancer

The simplest way to get referrals is to simply ask for them. You don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

Now, when I say this, I don’t mean sending a spammy email with 200 people CC’d in. That’s not the way to do it, and it’s pretty annoying.

Instead, get strategic about who, and how, you ask for a referral. I like to do this by:

1. Ask your online biz friends

Our online biz or blogging friends are a great source of support.

It doesn’t matter whether you chat on Twitter or are involved in a Mastermind together; these people that you chat with online already have a connection with you.

These people, especially if they’re freelancers themselves, might be able to help you out. That’s what friends are for!

The next time you chat with an online biz friend, drop a sentence at the end of your email to let them know that you’re open to new clients.

If they receive an enquiry that doesn’t match their skill set, or spot someone searching for what you offer, they might point that company in your direction.

freelancing referrals

2. Get in touch with former clients

Another valuable way of getting more referrals as a freelancer is to ask the people who actually work with you… your clients!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Elise, why would a client refer me to their competitor if I’m doing a fantastic job?”.

That was my thought process at first, too.

However, asking your former clients for referrals doesn’t have to mean that they give away you, their secret to success, away to competitors.

Why? Because your former client might have friends who run businesses which don’t directly compete with their own offering.

A few months ago, I wrote blog content for a social media marketing agency. After finishing the project, I mentioned that I’d be grateful if they could recommend my services to anyone they knew who was looking for someone like me.

Within just a few days. an enquiry popped into my inbox from a social media software company. Ten points for guessing how they found me!

Your family and friends might know people who're looking for your services. Ask them to refer you! Click To Tweet

3. Ask family and friends

As much as you may want to keep work and personal lives separate, you can get more referrals by asking the people you know.

Have a quick search down your Facebook page. Do any of your connections, or their families, own a business? If so, send out a quick message to let them know you’re currently booking new clients.

If you don’t recognise the fact that your Facebook friends don’t have their own businesses, this technique still works. You might not know that your friend has a cousin that runs a business in your niche!

Every few months, write a post on your Facebook feed to let people know that you’re open to taking on new clients. That way, you’re covering all bases (and promoting your biz in the meantime).

freelancing referrals

4. Pair-up with other freelancers

You’ve just received an inquiry with the subject line “Can we work together?“. Great, you hard work is paying off! Until you actually end up opening the email and they’re looking for something completely different to what you offer.

It sucks, but they could potentially turn into a client in the future. If that company is ever looking for a freelancer to help with what you do in the future (or anyone they know is!), they’ll come to you because you were so helpful with their initial query.

You can use this ideaology to buddy-up with freelancing friends who offer different services. That way, when you receive a new enquiry that isn’t suited to you, you can still keep your client happy by passing them onto someone who can help.

Here are some good pairings:

  • Freelance writers and web developers
  • Web developers and web designers
  • Photographers and videographers

If you notice that you’re getting a lot of enquiries about a certain thing, find that person and refer them to your enquirier.

Then, let the freelancer know. The chances are, they’ll return the favour, should they have any enquiries that fit your business in future!

Building a referral network is an awesome way to get more clients when #freelancing! Click To Tweet

5. Write a blog

If you don’t feel comfortable asking to be considered for referrals, that’s cool. I didn’t at first, either – but it doesn’t have to limit the referrals that you do receive!

Writing a blog is an awesome way to do get referrals indirectly. That’s because by proving your knowledge in a specific niche, people will think of you when that type of work crops up. What happens then? They recommend your services!

I, personally, use this approach when making referrals all the time.

Whenever I receive an enquiry that isn’t suited to anyone within my referral network, I point the enquirier in the direction of a person’s blog I read, within that niche. Since I already know that they know what they’re talking about, I’m confident to pass them onto the person who emailed me.

Having your own blog lets people do this, to you!

To increase the number of referrals that you receive through blog readers, pick a niche. This is an essential step that helps you become known for being an expert at one thing; not a generalist in a few.

Publish content regularly, optimise your blog posts for SEO and find your audience.

Blog readers are there because they love your content, and you’re good at sharing it. Use that to your advantage!

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. View my full disclosure here.

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