3 Easy Ways to Get More Referrals from Your Clients

Get more referrals to steady, high-paying clients by satisfying your current clients. When you do this, your clients will refer you to their colleagues inside and outside of their companies.

Just ask Kristin Harper, PhD, MPH, ELSMia DeFino, MS, ELSHeather Hartley-Thorne, and Ginny Vachon, PhD. The four freelancers are getting most of their new business through referrals from clients.

Why Referrals from Clients Work

“When clients come to you, you don’t have to spend time convincing them to work with you, because somebody else has already convinced them that you are great,” says Kristin, whose company is Harper Health & Science Communications, LLC.

Kristin’s clients are happy to refer her to their colleagues because they know that their colleagues want to work with freelancers who someone they know trusts.

“Finding freelancers is a long, arduous process. It’s not easy to find the good ones or the ones who you know you can trust,” says Keith D’Oria, associate medical director at BioPharm Communications. Keith has worked with freelancers at several companies.

When you get a referral from your client, the client who is looking for a freelancer is very likely to hire you because he/she trusts the colleague. And if you’re working for steady, high-paying clients, the clients they refer you to are also likely to be great clients.

Here’s how you can get more referrals from clients.

1. Always Do Great Work to Get More Referrals from Clients

Freelancers who do great work get more referrals from clients.

Just ask Heather Hartley-Thorne, Ginny Vachon, PhD, and Mia. “When clients trust us to get their work done with the quality, accuracy, and timeliness that they expect, they are more than willing to share our name with other people within their team, company, or circle of influence,” says Heather, a graphics specialist in medical communications and owner of Sephirus Communications.

Heather gets nearly all of her new business from referrals from clients, along with a few referrals from the vendors she’s worked with. When Heather’s clients move to another company, they often recommend Sephirus Communications to their new team.

“Your goal for every client should be to become someone they NEED and can’t remember how they lived without,” says Ginny, a freelance medical writer and advisory board specialist. Her company is  Principal Medvantage Writing, LLC.

“Clients give referrals when they are happy with the work you’ve done, especially if you are easy to work with,” says Mia, a freelance medical and science writer. About half of Mia’s new business comes from referrals from clients.

Make your clients life easier

Doing great work and being easy to work with make your client’s life easier. And making your client’s life easier helps you build a trusting relationship with the client.

You should also work on building client relationships, like Kristin does. “I work hard to make sure that my clients know their success is important to me. A client is much more likely to recommend you to their colleagues if they have really gotten to know and trust you,” says Kristin, who gets about 80% of her new business through referrals from clients.

Get it right to get more referrals from clients

Doing great work means getting it right the first time.

“At Physician’s Weekly, I only trusted a few freelancers completely, meaning I could trust them to get it right the first time and turn in work that fit the exact specifications we needed,” says Keith.

Other freelancers required longer deadlines and heavy editing.

These freelancers didn’t make Keith’s life easier.

“Think about what it does to a company when you’re on tight deadlines and a freelancer doesn’t work out. The work still needed to be done, which meant it fell back on my lap,” says Keith.

2. Build Trusting Relationships to Get More Referrals from Clients

Doing more than expected also helps you build trusting relationships with clients.

“Become a priceless asset,” said Kristin and Mia during a presentation on “Strategies for Building a Successful Writing and Editing Business” at the 2018 annual conference of the American Medical Writers Association.

Ways to become a priceless asset include:

  • Showing enthusiasm for the project
  • Making suggestions to improve the project
  • Solving problems to make the client’s life easier
  • Spending a little extra time on the project
  • Doing a little extra work on the project.

3. Ask for Referrals from Clients

The best referrals, of course, are when our clients just tell other clients about us and those other clients hire us. But you can also pave the wave for referrals, like Ginny and Mia do.

Ginny got two new clients in 2018, surpassing her goal, simply by asking her clients for referrals. “I did this and the results were amazing! All I had to do was ask,” she says. “If you don’t ask, your client might assume you are too busy or not really be familiar with all the subjects you write about,” she says.

Mia agrees. “There are some clients who may not understand who else you work with or other types of projects you are interested in,” she says. Mia often tells her clients about other work that she does so that they know about her capabilities.

And you can ask clients for referrals—as long as you do this at the right time and in the right way.

More on How to Ask Clients for Referrals

Word of Mouth: The Best Way to Get Better Freelance Work

Grow Your Business with Referrals from Clients

Ginny was able to expand her business through a referral from one of her clients for a project she never would have taken on if it hadn’t been a referral.

“This was a huge project that was in a subject area that I didn’t know very well. I was feeling a little apprehensive about it, but the client was so excited about the project and so excited to work with me. I just took a deep breath and said YES,” says Ginny.

Ginny was honest about her experience but knew she could learn what she needed to and was willing to work hard to make the project a success. “I learned a lot working on the project and I got a great new client,” says Ginny.

Get More Referrals from Other Freelancers

Other freelancers are also a great source of referrals to great clients.

The problem is that getting referrals takes more than casual interaction. You need to build trusting relationships with your freelance friends.

More on Referrals from Other Freelancers

Why Other Freelancers Should Be Your Best Friends

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Learn More About the Featured Freelancers

Kristin Harper, PhD, MPH, ELS


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Mia DeFino, MS, ELS


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Heather Hartley-Thorne


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Ginny Vachon, PhD


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