Day 7: Request Testimonials and Recommendations

When you’ve got happy clients, they can be one of the best (and easiest) ways to market your writing skills. You do have to ask for a little help from your clients in order to get it, though: in an ideal world, if you completed a project ideally, your clients would tell everyone they know about this amazing writer they have the pleasure of working with. In the real world, though, many of your clients would be happy to help but simply don’t think of it on their own. That makes it necessary to ask.

Ask For a Testimonial

It’s pretty rare that a client gives you a testimonial-worthy comment out of the blue. Generally, though, you know which clients especially like the work you’ve done for them. I’d say it’s ‘just’ a matter of asking, but it can feel a little awkward to ask your clients to tell you how awesome you are — what if they will think you just want to brag or otherwise won’t want to offer you a testimonial. The truth is that some of your clients won’t give you a testimonial, for one reason or another. It could be something as simple as losing your email in a full inbox. But that shouldn’t stop you from asking.

When I need something, like a testimonial, from one of my clients, I have a standardized approach. I send a polite email, asking for exactly what I need, and explaining how it will be used. I’ve included such an email below:

[Client Name],

I’m working on a project that I would appreciate your help on: I’m putting together a few testimonials about my work for my website. I enjoyed working with you on [Project X] and I remember you telling me how pleased you were with how it turned out. Would you be willing to write a short testimonial for me? I would need it by the end of next week.

Thursday Bram

It’s nothing fancy, but it works well. And it’s important to remember that if you don’t like a testimonial that you receive, you don’t have to use it.

LinkedIn Recommendations and More

Social networking has made recommendations a little more complicated than simple testimonials that you can add to your marketing materials. On sites like LinkedIn, you can request and offer recommendations. This approach can offer a shortcut to gathering testimonials: you can actually offer recommendations to your clients, and use the system to request a recommendation in response. You can also delete recommendations that don’t reflect your work.

There’s an added benefit to having a wealth of recommendations on social networking sites you are active on. As you build up your presence, such sites will rank highly in the search results for your name. If a prospective client searches for you in an effort to check out what your past clients have thought of working with you, they’ll see all the positive recommendations you’ve seen on sites like LinkedIn.

Do you have any special techniques for gathering testimonials? Please share them in the comments.

Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!


  1. Mary Jo Campbell   •  

    Thanks, Thursday! Your letter requesting a testimonial is very helpful. I plan to ask several parents of my young writing students to give their testimonials to my teaching and workshops. They’ve already expressed their gratitude to me either in person or via email, but this will make it more official and let them know I plan to use their praises on my upcoming website.
    I’m loving your “31 days” posts!
    : )
    Mary Jo

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  5. Susan Johnston   •  

    Great reminder to ask for testimonials! I would add that it often makes sense to *only* ask for a testimonial if you’re willing to reciprocate. I’ve heard of clients asking for freelancers to give them recommendations on LinkedIn and that can get dicey if you had a less-than-stellar experience with the client’s communication skills or record of payment.

  6. thursday   •     Author

    @Mary Jo, Glad to hear the letter will come in handy. I know that when I first started freelancing I couldn’t find any sample letters, so I figured having something to model yours off of would be useful.

    @Susan, I’ve found that on LinkedIn, you’re completely right about needing to be willing to reciprocate recommendations. When you’re just asking your clients on your own, there’s less of a need to write a testimonial in return (typically because you aren’t using their products). But in most of the cases where a project did not go well for one reason or another, I’ve found that I don’t get the best testimonials whether I’m ready to reciprocate or not.

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