Growing Your Freelance Copywriting Business with a Referral Program

Looking to scale your freelance copywriting business? A referral program can help you stack your client base!

Referrals are the absolute best way to see explosive growth in your copywriting business.

When someone refers to you, it means you’ve already been vetted and are a “proven” good investment. With that already-established level of trust, you’re far more likely to earn business (and with minimal legwork on your part!).  

Referrals mean less time doing cold outreach, fewer advertising dollars spent, and less time pitching yourself on freelancer sites or to agencies…

…and a consistent stream of hot leads in your inbox.

Sounds too good to be true, huh?

Well.. it’s totally not!

You can do this by establishing a referral program for your freelance copywriting business.

Developing an Attractive Referral Program

So, how do you create and implement a referral program for your freelance business that will help you massively grow your client base and keep consistent income flowing? You do so by establishing incentives, efficiently tracking your referrals, and maintaining momentum in your referral program.

Let’s break down the basics of creating your freelancer referral program:

Creating Your Referral Incentives

First, let’s break down why your clients would benefit from referring more business to you. If you’ve cultivated great relationships with your clients, chances are they’d be happy to refer you regardless of incentive or not, but incentives for referrals are an extension of good customer service. Rewarding your clients for helping you earn more business shows that you value those relationships and are willing to show them gratitude in a tangible way. 

Plus, we’re all in business to make money, right? 

Think of it this way: If a business owner works with two copywriters and one has an incentivized referral program and one doesn’t, the business owner is more likely to refer business to the copywriter that offers the kick-back.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can incentivize your referral program and how your referral partners can benefit.

How do you want to reward your referral partners?

First, you need to decide how you want to structure your referral program. Do you want to offer a cash kickback? Free services? Credits to use with your business later?

The right choice for you depends on the relationships you have with your clients, the length of your contracts, whether you work on an ongoing basis with your clients, and the monetary value of the business that is referred to you.

Does your referral reward increase with the amount of referrals?

An increasing reward system is a great way to gamify your referral program. Let’s say you offer $100 for the first referral, $200 for the second referral, $300 for the third referral, and so on up until you cap it. This type of referral system lights up the ‘reward center’ of the brain and keeps your referral partners playing to win.

Does your referral reward depend on the service?

Structure your referral program out in a way that won’t break the bank. For example, you probably won’t want to offer the same kick-back on a $500 project as you would a $10,000 project. If your services significantly vary in price, offering a % kickback instead of a dollar amount may make more sense for you.

Tracking Your Referrals

Your referral program is only as strong as the structure that supports it! To keep your referral program running smoothly, you need a way to efficiently track your referral leads.

An affiliate program is one of the simplest and most effective ways to track referrals. With an affiliate link, your incoming leads are tracked digitally, showing you exactly who sent the client your way. There are a ton of different affiliate marketing softwares on the market. If you’ve got a large client base and a robust referral network, find the software program that works best for you and keep up that momentum!

CRM/Intake Forms

A simple way to keep track of your referrals is to include a space on your intake forms where you ask who referred you. If the space is left blank, ask again on your discovery calls or inquiry emails; people often don’t read entire forms, and the last thing you want to do is ignore a referral!

Don’t Complete Your Payouts Too Early

It’s crucial to only pay out your referrals once your new client has made a payment. If you offer rewards based on referrals alone and not signed business, you’ll get people who take advantage of the system. Set up your referral program so that you only reward your referral partners once their referred business is signed and paid.

How Can I Generate More Referrals?

So you’ve established your referral program. Now, how do you get people to use it? Let’s look at three ways to keep the referral machine moving.

Make your clients aware of your referral program

The most obvious way you can get your referral program moving is to make your clients aware of it–that means even past clients! Reach out to your entire client base and let them know that you’ll be rewarding them for referrals that you receive.

Another way to ensure your clients are aware of your program is to incorporate information about your referral program into your onboarding and offboarding process. You could include a flier about your program with their welcome packet or other onboarding materials, as well as mentioning it during project wrap-up calls.

Be exceptional at what you do

The best way to earn referrals is to provide an exceptional client experience and make a lasting positive impression. Clients will be thrilled to help tell the world about you––given that you’ve earned it.

Don’t Stop Providing Value

The better your client relationships the better your referral program will be. Even six months–one year, two years–after you’ve worked with clients, you want them to keep you top of mind if someone they know is looking for copywriting services. 

To keep your relationships with your clients strong, continue providing them value, whether it’s by sending them an article about their niche that they might find interesting, supporting them on social media, or even reaching out periodically to ask how business is going.

Make it worth their time 

It might go without saying, but, the better the incentive, the more you’ll get. If you’re only offering $1 per referral, it’s not very likely that your clients will go out of their way to bring you more business. If your incentives are generous, your clients are more likely to go above and beyond to refer business your way.

Social Proof is ALL the Proof Most People Need

Word-of-mouth is exceptionally powerful; people trust reviews from their peers over virtually any other type of advertising. By providing excellent client experiences, establishing an attractive referral program, and keeping the momentum going, you’ll see a spike in the growth of your copywriting business and keep your inbox flooded with potential clients dying to work with you.

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