If you’re a freelancer, delivering consistent, high-quality work is a great way to get referrals. But as far as your marketing efforts go, it’s just the starting point.
What if you could leverage your happiest clients to keep earning new business without a lot of extra effort? Enter: the customer testimonial.
As a resume writer, I’ve amassed a long line of glowing reviews that help entice new customers to work with me. I learned how to ask for testimonials through trial and error, until I finally made it part of my workflow.
Below, I’ll share a few strategies for sourcing great testimonials, from fellow freelancers and business owners who’ve done it successfully. I’ll also give you access to my testimonial templates. Use them to build a public record of happy customers!
What is a testimonial and why is it important?
A testimonial is a written or recorded statement that attests to your professional. It's proof of positive results from working with you.
Like customer reviews on an ecommerce store or comments on a recipe blog post, a testimonial from a past client can:
- Strengthen your reputation
- Educate readers on the value of your work
- Get people to trust you before they even know you
7 strategies for getting client testimonials
Asking for testimonials can feel self-serving — icky, even. But to grow your business, you need happy clients who can share their experiences working with you.
Getting these testimonials is actually quite simple. You just need to implement a few key processes to take the “ick” out of it.
#1. Use quotes from customer emails
When brainstorming ways to source testimonials, why not use what you already have: customer emails.
Use email threads to pick out quotes of appreciation and positive reactions from your customers — with their permission, of course. You can easily turn these messages into testimonial snippets, without having to ask clients to do extra work for you.
When I deliver new resumes to my clients, they often express relief, joy, or excitement. I’ll ask for permission to publish their words on my site or post them to my social channels.
Why it works:
- ✓ You can repurpose real-time feedback from customers who had a great time working with you
- ✓ They won’t have to take any time out to write something new
- ✓ Their email responses are often longer and more detailed
#2. Offer to return the favor
If you want to source a positive review, offer to write one in return, businessperson to businessperson. Better yet, write one for them before asking for your own. If they’ve been a dream client, or you’ve used their services to learn something new, let the world know.
Online businesses thrive on positive reviews. To ensure you have a long list of clients who sing your praises, consider a good ol’ fashioned testimonial swap.
Why it works:
- ✓ It motivates a client or customer to write a review
- ✓ Your review helps support and validate their business
- ✓ It makes asking for your own testimonial feel less icky and self-serving
#3. Reward clients who leave a review
We’re all busy, and writing an effective testimonial takes time. Offering customers an incentive is one of the best ways to score more reviews.
Some ways you can encourage a thoughtful review include:
- Offering vouchers, coupons, gift cards, or discounts
- Link to their website. For non-tech-savvy customers, let them these links help improve their visibility on Google
- Incorporating reviews into your current rewards or loyalty program
Why it works:
- ✓ Rewarding customers for more than just purchases increases brand engagement
- ✓ It increases the likelihood of a positive review
#4. Build review requests into your workflow
By incorporating it into your workflow, you can make collecting reviews seem like a natural part of working with you. Automated emails, for example, could be a great way to ask for feedback without seeming like you’re going out of your way.
Here’s how to make sure this approach works for you:
- Decide who to ask and when (otherwise known as a “trigger”): Do you offer a service where they could express their thanks immediately after the project is complete? Or do you offer a product where it might take a while to decide how they feel?
- Use a marketing platform to automate the ask: Build these requests into your workflow using platforms like SurveyMonkey or MailChimp.
- Include specific instructions on how to write a testimonial: Direct them to your preferred review page or use a survey to get feedback.
No matter how you source your automated review requests, it's a good idea to send them out through a marketing platform — you’ll save time.
These service platforms can cost you some money, but they’re tax-deductible. You just need to keep track of what you’re spending to write them off.
Luckily, you can automate expense tracking, too! The Keeper app will automatically scan your account for recurring fees from these platforms, so you can get back to doing great work for your clients. At tax time, you can even file right through the app.
Why it works:
- ✓ An automated testimonial request ensures you collect reviews and feedback at the end of a project or a purchase (while your business is still on their mind)
- ✓ You get testimonials without having to remember to ask for it
#5. Help clients write an effective, detailed review
Generic reviews have about as much flavor as pasta cooked in unsalted water.
If you’re just starting out in your space, invest in sourcing quality, detailed testimonials — maybe even whole case studies. Meatier reviews will help you attract the type of client you want to work with.
Freelance copywriter Victoria Gamlen says, “It’s really important for freelancers to not just slap a bunch of nice words about them on their portfolio. Be intentional. If you don’t have a lot to show, that should be your number one goal — getting [good] testimonials.” (Learn more from Victoria later.)
When asking for a testimonial, let them know what you’d like them to talk about by asking some open-ended questions. Prompt them to weigh in on:
- What it’s like working with you
- The results of your work
- Your skills and abilities
- Your project approach
Why it works:
- ✓ Ensures more detailed reviews that showcase the skills you want to advertise most
- ✓ Helps you attract your dream/ideal clients
- ✓ Simplifies the ask for busy customers and clients, increasing your chance of getting one
#6. Link to your testimonial page on your website
Make offering feedback easy. Something as simple as sharing a link to your testimonials page can be enough to encourage feedback.
Much like seeding a donation box with a few bills, showing your clients that other people have left reviews makes it more likely that they’ll leave you a review too.
Consider placing this link — and a kind but subtle ask to leave a review — in a few highly-visible areas, such as:
- Your homepage sidebar
- Your blog
- Your payment or “book now” pages
- Your email signature
Keep in mind: While you won’t be able to filter out fake reviews on Google or Yelp, you will want to monitor reviews posted to your page. You’ll need to ensure they’re from real customers who’ve tried your products or services.
Why it works:
- ✓ Strategic placement helps encourage reviews when your buyers are ready to write one
- ✓ Reading positive statements from past clients could urge potential clients to hire you
#7. Monitor social mentions
When a user talks about your company, brand, or product, they might tag your page or use a hashtag. To track your mentions, you can set up a Google alert or use a social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite. (These are also tax-deductible!)
Read all your social mentions. And when someone says something nice about your business, reach out ask to republish their feedback.
Why this works:
- ✓ It helps you source reviews organically
- ✓ It’s an easy way to earn more reviews
- ✓ Social media mentions are typically short and sweet — perfect for featuring on your website or sharing on your platforms.
How to ask for testimonials: 3 templates to use
I use a few different methods to source testimonials from my resume clients, but how I ask is usually the same.
- Open with a compliment (“Your opinion means the world to me — would you mind sharing what it’s like working with me?”)
- Provide some direction on what you’d like them to discuss
- After they respond with their review, thank them for their time and effort
- Get their permission to display it on your site.
Remember, most customers are more than willing to talk about you — especially if you’ve been delivering great work. You just need to ask.
It’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Here are the words I use to encourage clients to write positive reviews.
If you’re asking over email
A testimonial request email works great if you:
- Have specific instructions for submitting a testimonial
- Want to offer guidance on writing one that supports your business.
I hope you’re having a great week. I have a request for you. Would you consider being featured in a testimonial on my website?
Positive reviews and customer success stories that highlight what it's like working with me and using my products help strengthen my brand and grow my business. Here are a few notes of inspiration to help you write your review:
- What made you choose [company]?
- How was your experience with the company? Did anything surprise you?
- How has my [product/service] impacted you? What pain points did it solve?
Thank you for considering my request! I appreciate your time.
If you’re sending out a survey
Use this as part of your automated workflow. You’ll build out the questions using a survey program, but you’ll need to provide some context and guidance for the reader before they jump into your form.
We hope you're enjoying [product/service].
Now that you've had some time to try the product, we'd love to get your feedback and hear about your experience. Click this link to share some of your thoughts about using [product/service].
After submitting your review, we’ll send you a discount code for your next purchase.
We appreciate your thoughtful review. Thank you for being a loyal customer.
If you’re asking via LinkedIn
Use this method if your client's contact information is limited. Former clients might have moved on to other roles since you last worked together. If you don’t have their new contact information, LinkedIn is the easiest way to get back in touch.
In the spirit of the new year, I've been setting targets and tasks to further my professional [graphic design] career. One of my goals for 2022 is to increase my online presence on LinkedIn and fortify my website. Would you be willing to write a brief testimonial about our time spent working together on [project details]? I value your opinion, and your review would really help grow my business. Thank you for considering it!
When using LinkedIn’s recommendation request feature, ask permission first.
“It’s always best to provide context and explain why you’d like a testimonial and where you plan to use it,” says Jessica Lawlor, founder of content management agency Jessica Lawlor & Company. “Give your client the courtesy of a heads-up, and give them the chance to say yes before making the request. It can be pretty jarring to log onto LinkedIn and see the request but not understand how someone plans to use the recommendation.”
Where to feature client testimonials
Showcasing your client testimonials is a powerful way to give potential clients a boost of confidence when they’re considering hiring you.
To make the most out of your stellar reviews, remember to:
- Use short, simple snippets
- Focus on client results
- Choose a display formatting that draws the eye
- Feature them in multiple high-traffic areas
Here are some ways to display testimonials in your marketing materials, complete with examples showing some pros have done it.
On your website
Victoria Gamlen, copywriter
Done right, testimonials on your website can pull double duty. Gamlen leverages testimonials to attract the right clients and prove her value as a top copywriter.
Functional design and brand messaging are important to Gamlen. So she spent countless hours ensuring her testimonials highlighted the things she wants her dream clients to care about.
How did she decide what to showcase? Gamlen says, “I strategically picked the hardest-hitting line from each testimonial to showcase my strengths — even if the original testimonial is much longer.”
All together, her testimonials piece together what she’s good at, and none of them say the same thing.
Jessica Lawlor, managing editor
Don’t hide all your testimonials on one page. Instead, place them everywhere they’ll help entice people to want to work with you.
“I include testimonials on different pages of my website, including the homepage, two on my services page, and on my work/portfolio page,” Lawlor says. “These are three high-traffic areas for prospective clients, so I want to make sure the testimonials are front and center.”
On a dedicated testimonials page
If you’ve sourced quality reviews, feature them prominently on a dedicated landing page. For example, I created a testimonials page I can continually add to as I help more clients.
Important note: the bells and whistles you see on many websites aren’t what makes a review work. The words hold the most value. (Heck, you can keep all your reviews in a Google doc and still attract clients.)
There's no need to obsess over colors, graphics, and animations. But thinking through the overall look and flow of your testimonials can go a long way. Ask yourself this: What story do they tell if they’re taken together?
As a career coach, I encourage job seekers to source LinkedIn “recommendations” from former (and current) colleagues who can vouch for their skills.
As a business owner, you can also leverage positive LinkedIn reviews to attract new clients. Chances are, they’ll go to LinkedIn to search for freelance help, so you can show them social proof right when they’re in the mood to hire.
LinkedIn’s recommendation feature makes writing a review quick and painless. Plus, you can review and approve it before it goes live. Afterwards, it’s a cinch to repurpose them for your website — or wherever else you plan to share.
Why you shouldn’t wait to ask for testimonials
Testimonials are a powerful tool for growing your business. If you’re looking for the encouragement you need to start sourcing them now, this is it. The right time to get started is now.
“You only need one happy client or customer to obtain an effective testimonial!” Lawlor says. “Do the best work you possibly can for that initial client or customer, and you’re well on your way to asking for a positive testimonial. As your business grows, you can certainly add more, but one is really all you need to show future prospects or customers.”
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