If you’re trying to get referrals to book more freelance writing work with little success, you might be going about it all wrong.
Yes, asking your existing contacts for referrals works.
So do testimonials, guest posting, volunteering, in-person networking, email marketing, and building your online presence.
These are proven marketing activities that can help you get referrals.
But there’s an easier and stupidly simple way to get referrals that I’ve been using since I started freelancing a couple of years ago.
It takes very little time, costs little to no money, and can pay dividends far greater than a postage stamp or a few minutes of your time.
I’ve landed magazine assignments, writing gigs, and other types of freelance work with this strategy. And so can you.
Want to learn how to get referrals, more assignments, and be the first person someone thinks of when they need a writer?
Let me show you how this stupidly simple strategy works.
Use ‘thank you’ to get referrals
“Thank you” might seem like a trivial formality, but these two words can help you get referrals and book thousands of dollars in freelance work.
(It’s also one of three phrases in the South, where I grew up, that basically make up the Holy Trinity of politeness: “yes, ma’am,” “yes, sir” and “thank you.”
When I’m scribbling a thank-you note to an editor or thanking someone for toting my groceries, I am truly thankful.
But I also like to think of thank-yous like writing pay-it-forward checks. Sometimes it simply helps brighten someone’s day. And sometimes it can help you get referrals and assignments.
Master the art of thank you
If you think writing thank-you notes requires a ton of creative energy, flowing poetic prose, or enough words to fill the pages of a mini-novel, you’re probably trying too hard.
One day I took a few minutes to send short thank-you notes to sources I interviewed for past freelance assignments.
The result: One of those sources gave me a story idea about 911 rescue dogs, which landed me an assignment for Fetch magazine. Here’s the exact email I sent:
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to allow me to interview you. I can’t wait to share Doggie Food Bank’s mission with Dogster’s readers.
– Cherese R. Cobb
4 stupidly simple ways to say ‘thank you’
If you want to turn thank-you into a marketing strategy that helps you get referrals, there are a couple of different ways to do it. Here’s what I suggest:
1. Send thank-you cards
After I turn in my first assignment to a new client, meet a new PR rep, or conduct an interview, I usually send good, old-fashion thank-you cards. Why? In today’s digital world, it’s unexpected, uncommon, and sets me apart from other writers.
The result: After sending a recent thank-you letter, the person replied with a referral that connected me with a magazine editor that landed me another freelance assignment.
2. Use email
It’s by far the easiest way to say “thank you.” It might not have as big of an impact as taking the time to hand-write a thank-you note and drop it in the mail. But it’s basically free, and you can literally dash off a thank-you message to an editor, source, or contact in less than a minute.
The result: After sending a thank-you email to a contact, she gave me a story idea and introduced me to Canadian Olympian Kaetlyn Osmond, the figure skater who won silver at this year’s World Championship.
3. Give a shout-out on social media
If you have a contact who’s active on social media, that can be a great place to say “thank you.” Wrapped up an interview, published a piece featuring your client, or found a post of theirs useful or insightful? Say “thank you” on social media. Don’t forget to tag your clients, followers, and interviewees if you use social media to say “thank you.”
The result: After Atlanta Pet Life published a piece I wrote for the magazine, I created a Facebook post to share the story on my page. By the next day, I received this message from the editor: “I have some ideas for stories for the next issue that could use your skills.”
Here’s another: And after a thank-you conversation with a popular You Tube channel contributor, one of my regular clients noticed and reached out to me with $540 worth of additional assignments.
4. Try other thank-you tools
If you want to think outside the box a little more with thank-you as a marketing strategy, there are other ways you can connect with contacts and sources. Instead of a hand-written thank-you card, send an eCard. Or use other digital tools like customized emoticons, emojis, or voice messages. It’s one more way to stand out as a freelance writer, build relationships, spread goodwill, and get referrals.
The power of ‘thank you’ marketing
I don’t ever send a thank-you message expecting something in return from a client, prospect, or contact. I do it because it’s polite. It’s like spreading a confetti of kindness that can have a positive impact on others. And I know it works to build relationships, get referrals, and land more freelance writing jobs.
Have thank-you messages helped you land freelance work? Let’s discuss on Facebook.
Cherese Cobb is a professional writer and multimedia artist. When she’s not writing, she splits her time between family, nature, and cat-worship, chugging coffee to survive all three.