A trade editor just told you the article you turned in was one of the best he’s ever read. A corporate writing client let you know that you’re the fastest writer she’s ever worked with. The editor at a consumer pub gave you kudos on your researching ability.
You do the happy dance, thank the client, and move on. End of story. Right?
Wait! Don’t let this opportunity slip by. You can turn a compliment from a client into a marketing tool that will help you get more work.
Let me preface this by saying I’m not talking about testimonials; those you typically ask for, and you ask for them because you plan to use them in a particular way. I’m talking about the unexpected compliment from an editor or client who is happy with your work. Compliments make you smile, but they typically don’t help you get more assignments — unless you know how to make them work for you.
1. Add it to your website.
Ask the client if she’ll give you her permission to post her comment on your website as a testimonial. She may agree and even let you use her name — but even if she wants to remain anonymous, that’s better than nothing. You can still mention the magazine or company the client works for.
You can compile compliments on a testimonials page, or scatter them throughout your site. Hiring a new-to-you writer is a risk — who’s to say you won’t flake out at deadline time or turn in horrible copy? — but seeing these testimonials helps prospective clients feel more at ease hiring you because you’ve gotten a stamp of approval from another client.
2. Ask for a referral.
After you thank the editor or client, ask if he’ll introduce you to other people who may be in the market for a writer. For example, you can write to an editor, “Thanks so much for the compliment! I love writing for you and am glad you like my work. I’ve actually been thinking of pitching some of the editors at other magazines in your group — would you consider introducing me to them via e-mail?”
I’ve done this with great success; for example, after I responded to a compliment asking for a referral, my editor at a custom publishing company referred me to a colleague in the marketing department — and that editor hired me to write all the articles for a mock-up magazine they were creating as part of a proposal for a prospective client.
3. Add it to your pitches and letters of introduction.
Sometimes you can add a compliment to the credentials paragraph of a query letter or to a letter of introduction (LOI) — if it’s relevant. For example, if your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that you’re a good researcher, you can mention that an editor at X magazine recently complimented you on the research you did for a feature about homeschooling. If your USP is that you’re fast, be sure to include the fact that your client at Humongo Bank told you that you were the fastest writer she’s ever worked with.
4. Keep a list of compliments.
Whenever I get a compliment from an editor or client, I add it to a list that I send off to prospects as part of my Information Kit that includes my fee schedule and samples. I don’t use the complimenters’ names – I just write something like this:
“Thanks so much for turning around that rush article so quickly. It turned out great and the editor-in-chief was so pleased. You make my job easy.”
“Senior Editor at Noodle Manufacturers’ Fortnightly Magazine
I do this as part of my marketing for my corporate writing services, but it would probably work just as well if you included it with your e-mailed clips to a magazine or website editor.
5. File it away.
Whatever you do with the compliments you receive via e-mail, be sure to file them in a special folder you can turn to whenever you need a boost. I call mine “Nice Stuff” and it’s got close to 200 e-mails from editors, clients, students, mentees, Renegade Writer readers, and more. Love it!
How does this help you get more work? Well, think about how many more queries, letters of intro, prospecting e-mails, and cold calls you do when you’re feeling confident and on top of your game versus when you’re feeling underconfident and desperate.
What do you do when you get an unexpected compliment from an editor or client? Post your tips in the Comments below! [lf]