How One Freelance Writer Got $3,000 From a Simple Request

Freelance writer makes a simple requestBy Angie Mansfield

I was a frustrated freelance writer.

Late last year, I was finally starting to gain traction in my freelance writing business, but I still wasn’t as busy as I wanted to be. I was doing okay. But I wanted to take that next step to being able to tell my lowest-paying clients, “Sorry, I’m fully booked right now.”

As it was, I felt like I had to take their cheap gigs in order to fill in the gaps. I needed to replace them with higher-paying gigs to do more than break even every month.

The Rave Review

My chance came when I asked one of my freelance writing clients for a testimonial. I was fresh off of my initial project for her, an article and blog post based on her CEO’s book.

In her opinion, I’d knocked it out of the park, and the testimonial she wrote for me was nothing short of glowing.

Instead of just thanking her and going on my merry way, I thanked her — and then told her I had a little time in my schedule coming up. Would she mind sharing my contact information with colleagues who might need my services?

The Referral

Turns out, she wouldn’t mind. In fact, she was thrilled to send an email introducing me to one of her clients.

And what a client: A small marketing firm that has run direct mail campaigns for a few little companies you might have heard of — Lowe’s, Petco, and RiteAid, among others.

Here’s the first thing I learned about referrals: They make the process of closing a deal extremely easy.

My new client didn’t ask for clips. She didn’t ask what experience I had. She just responded to the introductory email to ask if I was available for an immediate assignment!

After getting over my initial shock at how easy that was, I took the gig — to the tune of $1,000 extra for January.

The Hidden Bonus

If the story ended there, I’d have counted it a solid success. A new, lucrative client always is.

But it didn’t end there. When I told my first client that I had some time available in my schedule, it also prompted her to send me more projects herself.

Not only do I credit her with helping me land that extra $1,000 from her referral, but she sent me another $2,000 in projects of her own.

All from one simple request in response to a positive testimonial.

The Moral of the Story

I haven’t stopped marketing. I know that, eventually, these current projects will be finished and my clients’ editorial calendars may slow. I’m continuing to send out LOIs, telling prospective clients that I’ll be available in after this current workload is finished.

But now I know that referral requests should be a part of my marketing plan, too. Which reminds me, I need to ask that new client for a testimonial … and a referral.

Angie Mansfield is a freelance blogger who’s thrilled that “Freelance Blogger” is a real title. By day, she helps businesses create blogs and marketing materials. By night, she helps fellow geeks (and freelancers) de-stress on her blog, TranquiliGeek.

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33 comments on “How One Freelance Writer Got $3,000 From a Simple Request
  1. Pooja says:

    Hey Angie,

    Love, love, love this story!

    Happens all the time. Most of my clients are word of mouth, whereas two years ago, I’d have brushed the very thought of referrals aside.

    Recently, a happy client (business mentor to entrepreneurs) referred me to EACH of his clients. Guess what? I got 3 new retainer clients from that one referral.

    Always ask, and you shall receive. 😉

    Pooja

  2. Nadia McDonald says:

    I love this article! In a nutshell, a freelance writer has to market and put strategies in place to land clients! In addition to strong marketing, one has to network with others to get their name out there!

  3. Willi Morris says:

    I have yet to land a client based on referrals (even though I’ve had several) but I’m hoping to change that. Sent a survey to past clients and will craft a testimonial. Also added a section about referrals! Great job, Angie.
    Willi Morris recently posted…Why I Dumped the Free ConsultMy Profile

  4. Manisha says:

    I think this is a brilliant tip. I am grateful to the three people who have submitted testimonials for my work because it really helps new prospects to understand how I deliver my work.

    Thanks for the referral tip, will make sure I use it when I’m no longer having issues managing my time. Yeesh!

  5. Hi Angie,

    WOW! What an amazing story!

    You know, from what I am gathering about freelance writing, the majority of beginners (sometimes I still fill like I am in this category) try to make this whole freelance writing business tougher than what it is.

    I am not saying that there aren’t obstacles to overcome, but what I am getting at is that just simply putting ourselves out there as freelance writers, in and of itself, does miracles.

    Thank you for such an inspiring piece. Believe me I will be gathering up as many testimonials and referrals as humanly possible in my business!

    My gratitude to you,

    Freelance Writer and Blogger
    William Ballard
    William Ballard recently posted…Freelance Writers: How to Get Your First Writing Client in 1 MonthMy Profile

  6. Jessie Kwak says:

    What an awesome story, Angie. I’ve gotten a few unsolicited referrals from clients, but I haven’t been brave enough to actually ask for them. I’ll try to make that part of my plan going forward!

  7. Great idea on not just asking for a testimonial, but saying you have time for more projects.

  8. Great post, Angie! Referrals have been my method of gaining new clients too. So far I’ve gained four new clients through referrals. Many of the projects have come to an end, but I didn’t stop marketing either. Next time, I might just have to ask!
    Alexandria Ingham recently posted…Want to Earn Money Writing for Yourself? Two New Pay Per View Sites to TryMy Profile

  9. Way to go, Angie! You really deserve this. I’m so excited for you. I’ll bet your new client will have more ongoing work for you because of your stellar work and your strong work ethic.

  10. Jordan Clary says:

    Great post, Angie! I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to ask for referrals when people are usually great about giving them. I love Tranquil Geek, by the way! Great blog.

  11. Hi Angie. I went over to your site and noticed that I recognize your avatar from the Freelance Writers Den.

    Great article, and great story! Totally inspirational.

    I am a newbie in the freelance writer field and I am going to hold on to this idea when I have one or two great clients (where maybe I do some web content and so on).

    My only client subcontracts writing work to me and he does pay well according to my newbie rates. And these past few days I have been wanting to pitch to him the idea of of approaching his clients (business persons) to let me start and write a blog for them, if they don’t have one.

    Or if they have one, let me improve it with my “professional” writing style. So for me, this article is right on time.

    The only drawback is these would be his clients subcontracted to me – so maybe I should market for my own clients instead. What do you think?

    I am just now getting my writer’s website up, starting with my blog as I work through Mary’s “A-List Kickstart Your Blog”. I say this because my site (linked here somewhere) is “under construction” (as they say).

  12. Trish says:

    Awesome share! Thank you for the great tip!

  13. Elke Feuer says:

    Thanks for the tips, Angie! I’m new to the freelance business and will add this to my box of goodies!
    Elke Feuer recently posted…The Dichotomy of Reality Shows vs Romantic FictionMy Profile

  14. Casey says:

    Go, Angie! Yours is a great example of why it pays to ask for recommendations and referrals. It’s an easy request to overlook or to feel self-conscious about, but it can pay off.

    A friend of mine, a successful real estate agent, builds that request into her marketing materials with a signature line about client referrals being the best compliment she can receive. And yes, she does get a ton of referrals.

  15. Daryl says:

    I guess the moral of the story is to always been on the lookout for new gigs, as well as the power of social proof – you’ve already been vetted by the other client, so no need for you to jump through hoops for your new client since they trusted that you were a stellar writer!
    Daryl recently posted…February and March Freelance Writing Income ReportsMy Profile

  16. Nida says:

    Referrals are an excellent way of getting new clients. I asked an old client that ran affiliate marketing websites for a referral, and she sent my contact info out to her entire mailing list. It’s worth cultivating strong relationships with clients even after the work you’re doing for them is finished, and paid for, as they can always act as your champions.

    • For sure, Nida! I think a lot of writers, especially new ones, overlook this super easy way to get new clients. I know I did my first couple of years as a freelancer. 😉
      Angie Mansfield recently posted…Always Look On the Bright Side: Changing Thought PatternsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Wow, that is awesome, Nida! You never know what that referral ‘ask’ will get you.

      Once, I reconnected with an editor I hadn’t written for in a decade, to let him know I was looking for a few more clients. A few months later, he referred me a global, $.50-a-word developer of sponsored special sections that go in daily papers. It was fun, easy work! Plus, I got to gab and catch up with someone I hadn’t talked to in a while.

      The secret about asking your network for referrals is, it can be fun. 😉 Not all marketing has to be a slog through the salt mines.

      • Angie says:

        “Not all marketing has to be a slog through the salt mines.”

        Ha! Great point – referrals are waaaay easier than writing LOIs for new companies. 😉

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  1. […] business. Just ask blogger Angie Mansfield, who harnessed this powerful strategy to land her a $1000 writing gig. How exactly did she accomplish it? Simple. She asked an extremely satisfied client for a […]