Requesting References

The most difficult times in a writer’s career are those first few seconds after she hits ‘send’ on an assignment. At that moment you’ve already put your best work down; you’ve gone over it again and again to catch any typos or grammar mistakes and you’ve reworked it at least twice. You’ve leveraged every bit of knowledge about your client (whether a magazine editor or a small business) into that copy, making sure it appeals to the right audience and reads true to the client’s tone.

No matter how many times I comb through a piece, I always feel in those first few seconds after hitting send that I should have gone through it one more time. Checked again to ensure each comma was properly in place and each their, they’re and there were used correctly.

So it was really rewarding recently when I sent out requests to a number of clients I’ve worked with previously to ask if they’d be willing to provide references on occasion, should I need them.

Not a single client said no.

Here’s the email I sent out (feel free to use it):


I’m looking for a few prior clients who would be willing to provide an
occasional reference when the occasion arises. Would you be
comfortable doing this?

I’d greatly appreciate it and in return would be happy to offer you
15% off a future project, for you or a friend.


I figured the offer of a discount on their next project would provide some incentive–for them to agree to give a reference, but also incentive to come to me with their next project, or to recommend a friend come to me. I don’t offer discounts often… but when I’m asking for a favor, it’s always nice to sweeten the pot a bit.

Is there anything you’ve done to bring back old customers? How do you get references or testimonials?

[Image Credit: Jo@Net]

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