How to Get More Referrals for Your Freelance Biz

Once you land your first couple projects as a designer, it’s hard to maintain a steady stream of paying clients after that. Why? Because most designer don’t harness the power of referrals. Referrals are an important marketing strategy that can lead to more work. Designers, especially beginners, are reluctant to ask for referrals because they might come off as pushy or needy.

Produce Quality Work

If you produce good work, it’s going to get noticed. With multiple social media networks like Twitter and Dribbble, the Internet has enabled referral marketing to be more effective and easier than ever. Web design is very much a referral business. If a designer can’t take on the work, he/she will refer a designer they know who produces the same quality of work. If your work produces good results for your clients, you’re more likely to see the same kind of clients coming to you again and again.


If you don’t ask, you’ll never know how effective referrals can be for you. Everyone you know potentially has the power to bring in more work for you. The only problem is, these people are never prompted to refer you. You have to ask them first.

At the end of every project, make it a habit to send out a referral e-mail. Even if you can’t take on the work, it’s a good way to introduce yourself and establish a connection with potential business. If your schedule frees up, you can always contact that client at a later time. It might even be a good idea to write down a blurb about yourself, your services and what you can do for your clients to copy into your e-mails to save some time.

Build a Quality Network

The larger your online (and offline) network expands, your pool of potential jobs and work opportunities grows as well. Most people who are going to refer you are familiar with your work and the type of person you are. Customers often value the advice of people they know because they trust them. Building relationships with others designers is important because you can build a network that is willing to refer each other’s services. Let’s say, you’re a designer, but someone e-mails you looking for a developer. You recommend ‘Dave’ the developer. In turn, Dave might be more likely to refer you for your design services as a result.

How to Ask for a Referral

Have a good idea of what types of clients you like to work with. If you understand who your ideal clientele is, you have a better understanding of how you can help them with your services. A lot of new work opportunities are missed because we simply don’t ask. You’d be surprised how many people would be willing to refer your services if you literally just asked them.

If you’ve finished a project with a client (assuming everything went well), ask them if they know anyone else who might be looking for a website as well.

Saying something like: “My schedule is pretty light the next couple weeks and I was just wondering if you know anyone else who might be looking for a web design.”

You don’t sound desperate, nor are you begging them for more work. Be polite and you’ll be surprised how many people would be happy to pass your name along. Remember, don’t be too pushy here – you’re looking for introductions first, business second. If you seem desperate to take on anything someone throws at you, it can be a turn off.

One of the main problems that is hindering designers from getting more referrals is that they are too scared to ask! Tell people on Twitter you’re looking for work, write a blog post, ask friends for referrals or just start e-mailing people. Be engaging and start making connections with others. You never know where your next job might come from!