If you’re working as a freelancer or independent consultant, you know the competition is stiff and only getting tougher as more talented people turn to freelancing for their primary or even alternative source of income.
So if your rivals are offering similar services at identical price points, what can you do to show potential clients that you deserve the next contract?
Set yourself apart by showcasing your proven track record with customer reviews. What people see online, matters: 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations — this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent year over year. This, of course, translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is.
Are reviews really that important?
Yes. According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews. That’s more than just a few potential customers you’d reach with a good review. Just think about your own buying habits? When was the last time you booked an appointment with a new doctor or hair stylist, bought a new pair of jeans online or picked out a new TV without looking at online reviews first?
And this reliance on peer review research directly ties back to sales — the presence of reviews produced an average of 18% uplift in sales.
How do I get customer reviews?
Just ask. Unless someone has a negative experience to share, the average customer is not going to look for ways to leave your company a review. That’s why you need to ask them to post a review.
When you eat at a restaurant, the waiter will ask you whether you like the food. It’s accepted as common practice, but how many other businesses ask us what we think of their services? It’s the same principle, your customers will understand how important reviews are to your business, and as long as you provide an excellent product or service, they won’t be annoyed if you ask for a review.
Where can I send reviewers?
Moonlighting makes it easy. If you are a freelancer who’s just getting started or are picking up a few gigs on the side, you might not have a website that can host or easily accept your great reviews. Join the Moonlighting freelance marketplace to access a robust toolset that helps you easily build a professional freelancer profile and put you in front of a community of employers ready to hire on-demand.
Then, simply ask anyone you’ve worked with in the past (even clients outside of Moonlighting) to leave a review for you on your Moonlighting profile. This is an effortless way to get started online and will make getting discovered by new clients even easier.
When should I ask for a review?
Right away. After every job. Don’t wait too long; customers are more likely to give you feedback right away. The review will be more detailed, accurate, and exciting if you catch them while they are still thrilled by what you’ve done.
To be most successful, make reviews a part of your work process. You can make closing the work loop as simple as: Step 1) Do stellar work. Step 2) Send your invoice. Step 3) Send a review request.
What can I do if I get a negative review?
Get more reviews. Many businesses focus on how to remove one or two bad reviews, but the most effective way to combat a few negative words is to load up on the rave reviews. This means you’ll need to encourage every one of your happy customers to take just a minute of their time to write about their experiences.
Having good reviews of your freelance service will bring in more sales. And if you ask your customers to share these good reviews with their friends, you can get even more customers and sales through word of mouth. Make that referral machine work for you!
Originally published at usatoday.com on April 9, 2018.