Getting referrals for your website is one of the best marketing moves you can do, because it doesn’t only bring you traffic, but it also brings you potential customers. People tend to follow leads and tips from people they know, so a link from someone a user has worked with before will improve the chances of you getting hired as well. There are several ways to get referrals and we will take a look at some that I thought of.
The easiest way to get referrals is obviously to ask for them. There is no shame in telling a co-worker of yours that you would like him to link to you (while you will also do the same for him), because everybody in the business knows how important recommendations are. If you could be a valuable asset to a freelance project he will definitely link to you – and if you are good, he probably already does it. Don’t ask someone for a link if you do not check his webpage first, it would be embarrassing to ask for a referral to someone who already recommends you.
Another way, which might sound a bit strange, is working for referrals. There are many volunteer projects on the internet you can join and get referred there. It sounds useless, but it is not, because any referral you get is worthy and important when you create a brand image for your company. Try to tell your employers from the beginning that you expect a link to your website at the end of the project and they will be more than happy to work with you. And if you do a good job, you won’t need to come back and ask for the link – they will put it on their page themselves.
A good tip is to work for charity associations. They all have websites (sometimes very popular and with huge traffic – look at UNICEF, UNESCO, YFU, Greenpeace or Red Cross) and they always need things to be done. Local churches are always looking for ways to raise more money – make a campaign for them and even if they do not have a website, give people a business card with your name and job on it – one day someone might just call. Even if this is not a direct referral, clients might come to you thanks to it.
After you deliver a project, ask for referrals anyway. Former employers will be more than happy to offer them to you even if they haven’t been part of the deal – just because they are happy with your delivered results. If not, then ask your former employer if he could introduce you to someone. People in different business have connections all the time and he might just know someone who might just know someone who needs a webpage. This is how it usually works on the internet. Take a shot, you never know where you’ll get using this simple method.
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I’ve once designed an iPhone webpage for a client in Australia and asked if she knows somebody else interested in something like that. I didn’t have to look for other projects for a month, I got so much work that I couldn’t handle, and all of this only because I asked. There’s no harm in doing it and it might completely change the way your business is heading.
Also, when you ask for direct contacts, do not ask for companies, but for people. It is much easier to deal with a person than with the whole of bureaucracy, phone systems or computer network of a company. Get the number of the one in charge and propose something new and exciting to him.
The basic concept of getting referrals without having to ask for them is to be good. It sounds simple and might be a cliché, but it is the pure truth. If you do good work people will be happy and recommend you without asking. Focus more on the results and do not think about getting recommendations and links until you deliver a final, worthy product. Then you can have expectations, but until then just do your job properly.
Do not wait for all the work to be gone and start trying to get referrals when you are in a high lack of clients. Try to create and maintain a network for yourself all the time, even if you have so much to do that you don’t have time to handle it; you never know when the pipeline will dry up. Don’t forget to thank everybody who sends links to you and to send links to them back. If a copywriter helps a designer find a new job, why wouldn’t a designer help the copywriter back? Giving referrals is perhaps the best way of getting them.
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Add in your e-mail signature and on the business cards that you appreciate people referring to you and that you would like to get a link, if possible. Most people will not read or will not do it, but why not try? The more chances you take, the more chances you have to succeed.
If the clients you work for are not familiar with links and referrals, then ask for a normal recommendation, like a testimonial. There is always space on your webpage for a short paragraph about yourself, from somebody else, who says good things about you and recommends your services.
If you formerly worked in partnership with other fellow designers, ask for referrals from them. They do web development, you do front-end design, and then there is a chance you will be able to work together sometime in the future. Why not try to maintain a good relationship and ask for a referral in exchange for one from you?
Do not forget to always have a few business cards with you and spread them around. We can’t really call these referrals, but as I said before, they might bring in clients at some point in time. Use viral as much as possible as well. The word of mouth is very powerful in today’s hectic and busy internet world. A recommendation from a friend will always mean more than a link thrown in the sidebar on a webpage.
These were my tips on how to improve the number of referrals you currently have on your website. Do you have something else? Is there a special strategy you use and you would like to share it with us?