When I first started editing books, I had to seek out my clients, because no one I wanted to serve knew about me yet. One way I found clients was visiting websites where I was a member, such as Free Agent Academy (which is, sadly, now closed). I also sent emails to bloggers and copywriters who made a large number of mistakes in their writing, offering to copy edit and proofread their work. That was gutsy, I know, but it was effective. I offered to do some work for free, and some for prices so low they might seem embarrassing. I was willing to do whatever it took to get my business off the ground, and I was happy to get the work. I’m also happy that I’m able to charge full market rates now.
From the beginning, I asked clients for testimonials, and I made it easy for them to write them. I did that by asking them six simple questions Sean D’Sousa shared in The Brain Audit, the most expensive ebook I ever purchased (the $99 price took my breath away and reminded me of purchasing college textbooks, but it was worth it—far more worth the price than any college textbook I ever bought). Fortunately for you, the price has dropped dramatically in the last several years.
Every one of my clients raved about the work I did for them, so I also asked them for referrals. Each was happy to send prospects to me. Not all of the prospects ended up becoming clients, of course, but enough of them did, and those were thrilled with my work and also send referrals now. That means my calendar is kept pretty well full, with less marketing effort on my part. Happy clients tend to talk (and even to brag about their editor), and that means more business.
Referrals are lifeblood to business
Referrals can be important to any business, but referrals are lifeblood to a business when the owner is a solopreneur. It’s important to ask for referrals. If people like you and the work you do, they may want to help you, but if you don’t tell them specifically how they can help you, they probably won’t do anything. It’s not because they don’t want to do something good for you; it’s because they don’t know what to do, and life is busy—so they do the things that clamor for their attention.
Make clear what they can do for you: ask for testimonials and referrals. If you can, make it easy for them to give you both. Provide them with a list of questions that will allow you to compile good testimonials. Give them a link to share with prospective clients/customers, or copies of your business card with your QR code on it.
Remember that referrals are lifeblood to business, and you’ll see opportunities to obtain more of them. Over time, with enough satisfied clients telling others about you, your schedule could fill up without a lot of extra work on your part. Then you can focus on what you do best: serving your clients well. Before long, you’ll be turning down work and referring prospects to colleagues, and everything will come full circle.