3 Questions Every Web Writer Should Be Asking Clients to Increase Referrals

If you want to make more money as a web writer, you have to either: (1) Get more clients; (2) Get more work from the clients you have; or, (3) Charge more.

Charging correctly for your services is a complete discussion of its own, so for now, let’s focus on the other two options.

Even in today’s age of paid traffic and automated lead generation, most business owners and entrepreneurs say they get their best new customers through referrals. This holds true for web writers like you and me, too.

But, how do we get those referrals?

We have to ask for them.

In a moment, I’ll share the three questions you should be asking to increase referrals. But first, let’s define what I mean by a referral…

I like the Oxford Dictionary definition: an act of referring someone or something for consultation, review, or further action.

That’s exactly what we want. We want a new potential client to reach out to us for a consultation and hire us to take further action on their behalf… specifically, to write for them.

Referrals are powerful, because they’re warm introductions made by someone your new prospect already knows, likes and trusts. This gives you instant credibility in your new prospect’s eyes, which can dramatically shorten the time it takes them to hire you.

So, how do we ask for these warm introductions?

To Get More Referrals, Ask Your Clients Any of These 3 Simple Questions:

  1. “Who do you know in (your industry/your area/your trade association) that I should also know?”
  2. “Who else do you know who wants results like we’ve achieved together?”
  3. “Which of your customers could use my help to better market their business, so they can grow and do even more business with you?”

Note these questions are all open-ended and can’t be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.” That’s important.

Journalists are trained to ask open-ended questions, because they elicit fuller responses. They’re thought-provoking.

Let’s face it, your clients don’t lie awake at night thinking about referrals they can send your way. You need to jump-start their thought process. These open-ended questions will do that.

These questions are designed to get your clients to see you as a valuable resource they can share with their friends, colleagues and customers. We humans feel good about helping someone else, and giving referrals is like double-dipping into that good feeling…

Your clients can feel good about helping their friends, colleagues and customers find a new resource that will help them. AND, they can feel good about helping you by providing the introduction.

Sometimes, I’ll say this before asking one of my three referral questions:

“So, (client), are you ready to be a hero?” 

This is a fun way to get them immediately in the mindset to help. And, it works! Who’s going to say no to being a hero?

It generally gets a laugh, which relaxes them (and me, too!). It also sets the stage to make the referral question more natural.

Note, also, the questions don’t include the word “referral.”

What response do you think you’d get if you asked this question:

“Hey, (client), do you have any referrals for me?”

From your client’s perspective, this doesn’t feel as good. It puts you in a position of “taking” rather than “giving.”

And, it can be answered with a “no,” or a “not that I can think of.”

It doesn’t encourage a conversation, and, in my experience, rarely works. Or, at least not as well as the three questions I gave you earlier.

Of those three, the one I’ve found to be the most effective — at least with my clients serving other businesses — is the last one:  “Which of your customers could use my help to better market their business, so they can grow and do even more business with you?”

This question works so well, because now there’s something in it for my client, as well — the potential for more business they’ll receive from their customer. This question makes us partners in serving a common client.

And, “partner” is a stronger position to be in than “vendor,” when asking for help.

Ask This Bonus Question to Get More Work From Your Existing Clients…

Remember, if you want to make more money as a web writer, you have to either: (1) Get more clients; (2) Get more work from the clients you have; or, (3) Charge more.

Asking the three questions I just revealed will increase your referrals and get you more clients. This bonus question will get you more work from your existing clients… because, in essence, they’re referring themselves to you for additional projects.

Here it is:

“What other work should I be doing for you to better serve you in reaching your goals?”

Like the third referral question, this one also puts you in the role of partner. You’re reminding your client you’re there not simply to write words but to help them reach their goals.

It helps to start this conversation by reminding your client of a recent success. For example, “Now that your website is ranking so well after we improved your search engine optimization, what other work should I be doing for you to better serve you in reaching your goals?”

Or, “Now that you have a follow-up email sequence in place, what other work should I be doing for you to better serve you in reaching your goals?”

Your client may not know what other work they need from you, so be ready to offer some suggestions.

Finally, if you want to confirm you’re charging appropriately, check out AWAI’s Pricing Guide for Web Copywriters.

And, let me know how it goes after you start asking these questions! I’d love to hear about your success!

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Michele Peterson

Michele Peterson is a direct response web copywriter, online marketing strategist, speaker, and coach. She draws on 20+ years of sales and marketing experience to help her clients tell their stories, engage their audience, and make more money. On a personal note, she’s the wife of a winemaker, baseball mom, back pain survivor, SF Giants fan, former cheerleader, gardener, master networker, tech geek, avid reader, and fan of all things Disney.

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